Saturday, November 16, 2013

Today I paddled over to the Cayo Costa park dock.  The walk across the island is a pleasant adventure through a rich ecosystem well protected and as natural as can be had where humans are allowed to enjoy.

Interesting quince like bush with ripening fruit.
Another interesting plant.

A pleasant beach scene awaited me on the other side.

The lovely Egret being sailed by owner Dennis Bradley of Pine Island.  Dennis is a member of the West Coast Trailer Sailing Squadron.
I ran into this guy paddling in the now clogged "tunnel of love".

My view from the boat.  Not so well focused because it is zoomed way out.  In summery, the area is richly endowed with flora and fauna.  I am enjoying both paddling and hiking.
I will either leave Sunday, or Monday for parts south.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I'm at the south end of Punto Blanco just down from the Cayo Costa state park docks.  This is a very well protected, quiet and thankfully bug-free anchorage. 
The entrance required do care as the channel is narrow and worse yet, fishing boat was anchored in the middle. 
I put down the hook in six feet of water admiring the beauty of the area and immediately being aware of the rich variety of wildlife all around me. 
I have my own private little beach and access to the island "facilities," where only the gopher snakes, wild pigs and gopher turtles (and lord knows what else).
I got here yesterday afternoon after a pleasant two day stay with Bill Dolan and his wife.  They were most gracious, dockage and  nice bed and shower in there home.  Bill and I seemed to have a lot to talk about.  Most of all the Dolans made me feel welcomed. 
Over the previous two days an infection in my left index finger had rapidly built up a lot of painful pressure under my nail.  A trip to the local walk-in clinic provided me with relief via a drain hole in my nail and a double script for antibiotics.  It certainly looks and feels a lot better.
This morning I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing.  On the other end was Bill Van Dusen saying he would be over to visit by noon.  He also mentioned that a lot of the West Coast Trailer Sailing Squadron members were cancelling there plans for this weekend's get-together here at Cayo Costa.  Clearly, the forecast for the weekend is having a dampening effect on attendance.  For the weekend, I will be exploring the area, hiking across the island to the Gulf side and maybe paddling down to the "tunnel of love" to pass through the mangroves to the Gulf side.  I've heard about this for years and never yet experienced the intimacy of this hard-to-find watery cut through. 
Meanwhile, I am enjoying the music and news on Sirius/XM radio.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Move South--Finally

Today I finally pulled the anchor and set off for parts south.  There was very little wind so I motored at about 6 knots.
I had planed to spend the night at Bunces Pass that borders Mullet Key.  As I made the approach, it was clear that my chances of going aground were good..."brown brown, go aground."  It has silted in badly since I was last there.  Worse yet my approach was at low tide with several hours to wait.
So here I am at Egmont Key in the middle of Tampa Bay.  There is no anchorage, just an area past the pilot boats wharf in about 5 feet of water.  Hope the wind stays down tonight as predicted.
These boats guide the huge cargo ships into the Port of Tampa.

At the other end of the island is a modern lighthouse.  There is a place to come ashore and see the historical sites.  Perhaps I may take some time to do that tomorrow.  For now, I am securing the cabin for my nights sleep.

One of the accomplishments today was to get the APRS and HF radio working.  I simply replaced the coax with a temporary line running over the deck.  Seems like the coax I installed so carefully has a problem.  So the good news is that the Little Tarheel is working well with the new coaxial cable.  Looks like I'll be "playing some radio."  By the way you can follow me on
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

And off We Go

I'm writing from aboard Belle.  It's been a busy week.  We splashed in on Tuesday thinking I would be on my way at the latest by Thursday. 
I must give my thanks to Jim of Marine Concepts for helping me launch and then parking the truck and trailer.
So I decided to spend a day straitening the cabin and attending to last minute details.  The cabin really was, and still is for that matter a bit of a mess.  I am carrying a very full load with an eye toward staying out as long as my wanderlust will keep me.  Therefore, I have as you might have gleaned already, loaded it to capacity and then some with stuff.  Everything I need to survive on my own for two months at a minimum is aboard.  Last minute items were stacked with the idea of letting them find there place as need and priorities dictate.  So that was Wednesday.
Thursday I took off to explore Anclote Key.  I will post those pictures next.  Meanwhile, having satisfied my need to see what the island had to offer, I anchored just off Anclote at the place I anchored in February.  I had just settled down for a nice afternoon nap when the phone rang.
It was my mortgage banker with a sweat offer to refinance my house for a short term loan under HARP with a ridiculously low interest rate lock-in.  Needless to say, I knew immediately that my plans were to be changed.   After a good nights sleep,  Jim picked me up to take me back to my truck.
After a whirlwind trip up to Stone Mountain I am back at the anchorage. The power of attorney document is executed, thanks to a very responsive closing attorney.  Give or take a 1000 extra miles on the truck, I am back where I started and ready, READY I SAY to shove off in the morning.
 At night, this anchorage is quiet as a mill pond.  Not a voice or a motor disturbs the tranquil water which abuts and feeds into the nuclear power plant.  At intervals water is taken in, then subsequently discharges creating about a 4 knot current.  This can catch the unwary boater by surprise as he or she nonchalantly rushes up to the dock.  It can lead to an unhappy slam when four plus four equals eight knots of approach speed. 
I'll post the pictures from Anclote as soon as possible.  Meanwhile watch me on WB4FGF-9