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Messing About in Boats

Friday, April 13, 2007 

Log: 1654

Carabelle, Florida 

Believe me, my young friend, said the water rat solemnly, there is nothing…absolutely nothing…half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing…nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular”

                                                                    From The Wind in the Willows

   Traveling east on the Intracoastal Waterway, when you arrive at Carrabelle, Florida, near Apalachicola, the Waterway simply comes to an end, and starts back up in Clearwater, about 145 nautical miles southeast across the open Gulf. The worst Gulf crossing I’ve ever had in this area was on my friend James Abele’s boat several years ago. We departed Clearwater around noon expecting to reach Apalachicola around 10 pm. However, the wind and seas picked up unexpectedly. Heading directly into six to eight foot seas, the bow of the boat would rise up on a wave and slam down on the other side, forcing us to slow down to idle speed and turning a 10-hour pleasure cruise into a 16-hour miserable trip.

   Today I am traveling on a much slower boat, meaning that the crossing should take about 24 hours. We departed this morning about 7 am expecting to arrive in Clearwater tomorrow morning. However, the seas were rough. Wave heights were only about four feet, but they were very steep wind-driven waves as opposed to swells, and we were heading almost directly into them. We were quite safe, and the boat was performing perfectly, especially with her new stabilizers. But the ride was miserable, and I knew it would not get any more comfortable. I didn’t think we wanted to have a ride like that for 24 hours. Reluctantly, after about an hour at sea, we turned back, coming in the pass at Apalachicola and moving about 15 miles east on the Waterway to Carrabelle. With a strong cold front on the way this weekend, and with my crew member George Broughton due back at work Monday, we’re headed home Sunday. I’ll come back soon and pick up where I left off.

   So we spent the day “Messing About in Boats”. We didn’t arrive at our destination, but we arrived somewhere else, and we were always busy. We had been having leak problems with the new watermaker and George found an O ring at the hardware store here to fix the leak. Our “black water” (sewage) pump was broken and we found Jim of “Jim’s Mobile Repair” right here in the marina with a spare pump on his truck, and he quickly replaced ours. We got the dingy down from the upper deck, charged it up, and ran it around a bit because it had been sitting up since November.

All-in-all, a good day messing about. We’re planning on cooking up a good dinner in a few minutes. We’ll spend tomorrow and Sunday cleaning up the boat and straightening things out. And I’ll be back down in a week or two to mess about some more.

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