New Orleans to Tarpon Springs
Sunday, February 24th, 2002, Day 286
I drove back to the boat in New Orleans today from Little Rock. It was so good to be home on the boat with Richard and Gypsy.
We spent the evening going for supplies and we ate at a rib joint close to the boat. We took advantage of still having the rental car to get errands completed.
I think Richard and Gypsy missed me and it's time for us to be cruising again.
Richard's comments: The South Shore Harbor Marina is owned by the Levee Board and has very limited services. There is no fuel available and the laundry doesn't work. The nearest ice supply is 1 mile away. I was able to get a phone hookup for the Internet. The marina is clean and is right next to Bally's Casino. While Kathy was away, I became a regular at their buffet.
Monday, February 25th, 2002, Day 287
We took care of business at the South Shore Marina and headed out to Schubert's around 10:00 am so they could check out the hesitation in the starboard engine and a slight vibration. It was only a 30-minute voyage to Schubert's and the lake was relatively calm.
We arrived and I took gypsy for a walk while Richard spoke with the mechanic. We made an appointment for the mechanic to check things out around 1pm.
Richard and I headed out on our bikes to the little restaurant we'd visited last time we were here in May, Brunings Restaurant, just a few blocks away. The food was good as we remembered. We stopped by Sintes Marine supply store along the way and picked up a new pair of gloves for me. Can you believe it; I've already worn holes in the fingertips of the pair I bought here in May. I definitely recommend gloves for the line/fender handler. There's a lot of wear and tear on the hands. Just look at my poor gloves if you don't believe it.
The mechanics did show around 1pm and checked things out. They weren't sure what the problem is, but wanted to haul us out to take a look. This vibration has been with us for a long time and we weren't anxious to be handing out a lot of cash so Richard decided to let us wait and think things over.
We called Orleans Marina and they had a slip for us. The weather was turning cold and windy and it looked as though we may not be able to leave until Friday. We settled in and watched TV and had a nice relaxing evening.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2002, Day 288
Awoke and biked a few blocks away to the Mail Boxes Etc. office to mail tax information to our accountant. We stopped on the way back and had lunch at a place called "The Red Steer" just across the street from the Marina. The service was very slow and the food was average.
There are several other good restaurants within biking distance of the Orleans Marina. There is also a grocery store and Walgreens about 3 blocks away. This marina is definitely more conveniently located than the South Shore Marina.
I spent all afternoon doing Laundry in the provided Laundromat. There are only 2 Washers and dryers and we had 6 loads of laundry so it took a long time. I took a book and relaxed while I did laundry.
The temperature dropped 20 degrees and the wind was whipping so we decided not to bike someplace for dinner in this weather. I prepared Chicken spaghetti then we watched a movie and hit the hay. The satellite dish with automatic azimuth is proving to be a real benefit.
Wednesday, February 27th, 2002, Day 289
Cold temperatures this morning. We got spoiled by the 70-degree temps the last few days. I took time to update the journal today and Richard was doing chart research so we spent a lazy morning.
Richard has decided that the weather will hold and we can probably head out tomorrow for Gulfport.
Richard and Gypsy had happy hour appetizers on the aft deck then we had Chef salads for dinner and watched a movie before bedtime.
We decided to wait on the repairs because Richard found other places along the way that would be able to work on the boat if we have worsening problems.
Richard's comments: I have installed a fuel polishing system and the mechanic was bad mouthing it as a system that was not needed and "it is possible to over-filter fuel." With those kinds of comments, I figured he would just blame the engine hesitation on the filtering system. I have been very pleased with the system and Charles Bell and others on the Trawler World List swear by it.
Thursday, February 28th, 2002, Day 290
Headed onto Pontchartrain around 8:30. The lake was choppy, but not unbearable. We breezed into the Industrial Canal because the Seabrook Bridge was up. The L & N railroad bridge was down and we waited about 30 minutes for it to raise.
The ICW was easy going with few tows seen. When we hit Mississippi Sound, we were relieved to see it fairly calm. The Maptech computer-charting program proved itself today. We had plotted the route from New Orleans to Gulfport harbor and using the GPS input and the Autopilot output, it was basically hands free traveling across Mississippi Sound right into the harbor.
We arrived at the Bert Jones Yacht Basin marina around 5pm and the harbormaster, DJ, was there to help us get settled into our slip. This is one of our favorite Marinas. They really go out of their way to make transients feel welcome.
We walked up to the White Cap restaurant for dinner. The seafood was good and the service was friendly and responsive. They have a full bar and small gift shop.
The Grand Casino in Gulfport will provide transportation to not only their casino, and other places in town and even casino's in Biloxi. Just give them a call. Be ready to go when you call. They are prompt and will not wait on you if you aren't standing out by the harbormaster's office. So, at least if we are stranded here for several days, services, restaurants and transportation are available.
Gypsy and I took a walk on the beach, her first Gulf walk cause we've only been cruising the rivers since she was born. She was in Heaven. She chased the seagulls, played with the seashells and ran up and down the beach. She was quite upset about returning to the boat.
Friday, March 01, 2002, Day 291
Woke at 6am to an uneasy feeling and funny noise on the dock. I got up and went out to the aft deck. The wind was whipping 20-25mph. What woke me was a woman on a sail boat across from us working on her boat with the radio blaring. I wanted to march over there and ask why she felt the need to wake the entire Marina, but bit my tongue and didn't say anything. Needless to say, I could not go back to sleep.
The marina staff, true to form, left pastries and USA Today on the aft deck.
Richard and I rode to the grocery store with the marina security chief, Bob. He's a very nice and helpful man. He was there to pick us up after an hour of shopping and helped carry all our supplies back to the boat.
It began to rain, the wind was whipping and the waves were at 7 feet in the bay. Richard listened to weather all day and found that by Sunday the waves were supposed to be 10 feet. Looks like we are here until Monday. So we'll hang tight tonight and have dinner on the boat of Marinated Steak, baked Fries and salad and read a good book and snuggle.
Saturday, March 02, 2002, Day 292
The sun was shining when we woke and the bay was calm, but NOAA made the decision for us with forecasts of high winds and rain.
Richard and I took Gypsy for a long walk along the beach and down the long city pier. She of course was having the time of her life once again chasing every sea gull. There were lots of fishermen along the pier but we didn't see any of them having any luck.
We went to the Grand Casino for an afternoon of gambling and sightseeing. This is a big casino and offers an Oyster bar, Buffet restaurant, snack bar, and Steak house.
I lost money on the slots while Richard lost money playing blackjack. I won my money back playing Roulette. It was a fun afternoon
We had happy hour drinks in the Oyster bar, rode the shuttle bus back to the marina. We had a roast and veggies in the crock pot, so dinner was waiting to be dished up.
In hindsight, we should have gone on to Dauphin Island. But we had a nice day and didn't want to chance it.
Sunday, March 03, 2002, Day 293
Woke to North winds of 20-25mph. We didn't travel today. We did some studying from our travel and cruising guides on places to go and Marina's in Florida. We calculated our arrival for the keys to be around March 28th. We telephoned our friend John Sparks in Little Rock to tell him the dates. He plans to fly down and join us there.
I also researched and supplied Richard with the locations of all the lighthouses I'd be able to photograph along the way. I'm excited about the number of lighthouses we will be visiting.
We went back to the White Cap restaurant for lunch. Our table was overlooking the shore and it was a beautiful sight to watch the wind and waves. How fortunate we are to be making this truly awesome voyage.
NOAA guides our days and nights. I really get tired of that computerized voice, but we are at his mercy. We listened most of the day and were still leery about whether to stay or go tomorrow.
I made chicken fajitas for dinner. Then we watched TV and were rocked from side to side by the wind and water.
Monday, March 04, 2002, Day 294
I woke to the NOAA voice (ugh). The weather predictions were for very cold and high North winds, rough in bays and protected water. It was a no go for today as well.
We a leftovers lunch on the boat then called the shuttle to take us back to the Grand Casino. This being Monday, the casino was not very crowded. Between Roulette and $1 slots, I won about $120 dollars. We went upstairs to the Magnolia Oyster bar for dinner and were treated to a beautiful seaside sunset with our meal.
We headed back to the boat hoping that tomorrow would be the day we finally get to leave Gulfport.
Tuesday, March 05, 2002, Day 295
Up around 8am to a beautiful sunny day with very little wind. It was a bit nippy however with temps below freezing last night, but warming to the 50's today. We bid farewell to DJ at the Bert Jones Yacht Basin as he threw us our lines when we left. Our stay was very enjoyable. He said as we were leaving that his job was to make it a memorable and enjoyable stay. He succeeded.
Marina has 30/50-amp power and water. No supplies on premises. Rate is $0.54/ft
We had dolphins swimming in front of us several times today. What a great sight.
It was very shallow as we pulled into the channel that led us to the Dauphin Island Marina. As shallow as 2.9 ft. on the depth gauge at times, but we made it just fine. We tied at the fuel dock. Greg was there to help us settle in.
The marina restaurant is not open this time of year, but the bar in the restaurant is open. Jerry, the owner, is even considering closing both from Dec. to Mar. as the winter season is very slow. We opted not to go to the bar tonight and I cooked pork chops and mac & cheese for dinner. We watched TV and then off to Bed…
This Marina is laid back, but has 30/50-amp power and water. Rate is $1.00/ft. The marina phone number as listed in the guides is wrong with a change in the area code to 251 instead of 334. The marina has fuel and some supplies.
Will we actually finally make it to Florida tomorrow????? Stay tuned
Wednesday, March 06, 2002, Day 296
Headed out from the marina to Sand Island. We headed south through Billy Goat Hole and Jerry had assured us that it was deep enough this way. First make sure you hug the shore and stay between the red and greens . There are parts of the channel that has very poor markings and as a result we ran aground. Luckily we were going very slowly and we were able to reverse and find the channel. It was pretty scary there for a few minutes. The sun made it difficult to distinguish between the red and green markers.
We took the Mobile bay ship channel and let me tell you it was rough going. We were bounced everywhere. Poor Gypsy turned from red to green.
We had several dolphins swimming along with us and playing around the boat.
The Sand Island lighthouse sits atop a concrete base that used to be surrounded by an island. The Island has long since washed away, but the lighthouse, constructed in 1778, has withstood many storms and hurricanes with grace. In 1865 the keepers house, which was attached to the light, was washed away by a hurricane and all inside perished. She stands alone today as an inactive lighthouse but is on the Lighthouse Preservation Society list for endangered lights.
We rocked and rolled all the way back to the ICW and it was fairly calm cruising after that. We are now officially on the loop, having passed through Mobile Bay.
We also observed a coast guard helicopter on a rescue training mission. It was quite a sight to see the basket sent down to the boat and people going up and down from boat to helicopter.
We were able to photograph the Pensacola Lighthouse as we came into the Pensacola Inlet. This area can get really windy and wild according to the cruise guide. We were fortunate to have a nice sunny day.
We headed to the Beach Marina and Restaurant in Pensacola Beach. The channel for this marina lies starboard just before you reach the bridge. It is located in a small lagoon. This is a wonderful marina. It is in the heart of Pensacola Beach and 12-15 restaurants and bars are within easy walking distance. There is a long city pier across the highway and a wonderful market located at the marina as well as a restaurant, which affords a beautiful sunset view. The Market actually delivered my groceries to the boat. Internet hookup is available in The Market and everyone is warm and friendly. In season a free trolley system operates all over the island and you can hop on and off at any location. The marina has fuel, 30/50-amp power and water. The slip rate is $1.25/ft.
Our recommendations for food are: Flounders restaurant, which Serves Sea food and other things with a nice eclectic atmosphere. Try the huge sampler platter. There was so much food piled sky high. Richard and I couldn't finish it and we definitely didn't need an entrée. I also recommend Peg Leg Pete's. It's a ways down the highway, but the atmosphere and the food is great. Try the big bucket of Maine lobster, crab claws, boiled potatoes and corn on the cob, a huge meal for two.
The Quietwater Boardwalk just across the street from the marina offers shops and restaurants. Even has a Hooter's if you're interested. There's a wonderful large gift shop at the end of the boardwalk. In Season they have Karaoke at a small amphitheater on the boardwalk. There's something for everyone here.
Richard's comments: Now that we are in Florida, it presents pluses and minuses. The water is clear, the areas around the marinas have more amenities and we have seen more aquatic life (Dolphins), but the slip rates are substantially higher.
Thursday, March 7th, 2002, Day 297
Up early and Gypsy and I took a long walk on the beach. As we were returning, I saw the "No Pets On the Beach" sign. Oh well. That seems to be a fairly consistent rule on the Florida city beaches.
Richard used the phone line in the market to obtain Internet access. We had a nice quiet day in beautiful surroundings.
We went to Babaloo's restaurant, located at the marina, for happy hour and appetizers. We watched a beautiful sunset from the top of the building. We keep pinching ourselves and saying is this adventure real?
Friday, March 8th, 2002, Day 298
We left Pensacola Beach around 10am. Our destination for today was Destin. We saw several Dolphins swimming and playing in our wake as we cruised.
We arrived in Destin about 3pm. We docked at the Harborwalk Marina. The Marina is very centrally located within walking distance of many restaurants. There is a small Marina store and a pizzeria in the building. Within short walking distance are several small businesses, convenience stores and fast food. We walked up to A.J.'s Tiki Bar and had a drink as we watched dolphins playing in the bay.
We loaded up the dinghy, grabbed the dog and headed out to explore the coast. This was the first time dinghying since October and the dinghy mishap. We had a wonderful time exploring the area and Gypsy was in heaven. The dolphins are plentiful here and they swam around our dinghy as we puttered along. The pictures are in the standard camera, so we hope they turn out.
We had a light dinner and watched TV then off to bed.
The marina is pricey at $2.00/ft. Very noisy early in the AM with fishing charters heading out. Helpful staff. 30/50-amp power, fuel ($1.06/gal) and some boating supplies.
Another advantage of being in Florida is that the charting software we use (Maptech) now has marinas located on the chart with a listing of phone numbers and services available. Also, tides and current tables are on the charts.
Saturday, March 9th, 2002 Day 299
We were awakened around 5am by what sounded like the dock being destroyed. I got up and looked out but couldn't see any thing. Richard decided it was the garbage truck picking up huge dumpsters.. Why 5am?????
We decided to high tail it to Panama City today because the weather conditions were predicted to deteriorate by this afternoon. The trip was pretty uneventful and a clear bright day with nice temperatures. We arrived at the Bay Point Marina on Grand Lagoon around 2:30.
This marina is the home of the Bay Point Yacht Club. They used to provide reciprocity to other yacht club members but no longer. The slip rate is $1.00/ft with the $0.25 BoatUS discount. Fuel in Florida is much cheaper than we are used to. Filled up for $0.95/gal. This marina comes highly recommended and lives up to it's reputation. Now also are beginning to see huge boats in the marinas.
This is the start of Spring break weekend so we are lucky that this marina is not close to the crowded miracle mile beach.
There is a small deli/grocery store. Which serves sandwiches and soup/salad for lunch. The restaurant, "30o Blue", is very nice with a large elaborate bar. The name comes from the fact that the front door is on the 30 degree latitude. Over all the food is a bit pricey but looked enticing. We just ordered appetizers at the bar.
There is a beauty saloon, Post Office and larger grocery store on the premises. The marina provides a courtesy car for other errands around the city.
Sunday, March 10, 2002, Day 300
It's a clear day,
but very windy with gusts to 30mph. We are glad this is a no travel day. Richard
went to the Marina office and checked our email. Later we took advantage of the
courtesy car and went to Thomas Drive (the main beach drag). We had a late lunch
at Pineapple Willy’s on the beach. The food was pretty good and it has a
sport’s bar atmosphere.
We stocked up at
the Wal-Mart Supercenter then headed back to the boat for a nice sunset.
Our plans are to
make it to Apalachicola tomorrow afternoon.
Monday, March 11th, 2002, Day 301
It was sunny and
calm today. So the trip was uneventful. We continue to see dolphins swimming
along with us.
One thing that
was interesting in St. Andrews bay the reds and green buoys were reversed with
the reds on the right and the greens to port, going East. They switched back
again at Dupont bridge at the entrance to East Bay with Greens on right and Reds
to Port. This occurs a lot along the ICW when crossing or joining an inbound
ship channel. It just points out the importance of watching your charts.
We decided to
stay in Deep Water Marina because of the Claiborne Young cruise guide’s rave
review.. It’s a very small marina with maybe 20 slips. They do have a haul out
service with mechanics on duty.
Ron and Peggy Carter on their boat “Fenix Sunday”. As coincidences
would have it, they are from the Kemah/Seabrook, Texas area and Ron is a member
of TMCA as is Richard. They are waiting out the weather to make the cross to Tarpon
Springs like we will do. We had happy hour on the dock with them and decided we
would make the crossing together. Ron and Richard know a lot of the same people
in Seabrook and Kemah Texas.
Tuesday, March 12th, 2002, Day 302
We were up around
7am checking NOAA again doing the weather watch things. A very nice lady, Peggy, who is a live-aboard here at the
marina, let us borrow her car to make a grocery store run to the Piggly Wiggly.
nice town and is kind of stuck in time. There are lots of large
old homes. The Doctor Gorrie Museum is located here. Dr. Gorrie invented
refrigeration in an attempt to keep his Yellow Fever patients alive.
We had a huge
storm about 4pm with tornado warnings. We waited for it to blow over but the
rain continued. So we walked in the rain with Peggy and Ron to Papa Joe’s
Oyster Bar. We had a great time and met lots of really interesting people.
Richard and Ron tried just about every kind of Oyster and sauce in the place.
They had at least 8 dozen Oysters. We walked back to the boat in the rain,
feeling no pain.
Wednesday, March 13, 2002, Day 303
Richard woke at
7am. We are supposed to be cruising all night tonight if the weather permits so
I wondered why he was up so early. Probably the anticipation.
We took out on
our bikes to tour
the town and met up with Peggy and Ron for lunch at the Apalachicola Grill,
famous for the largest fish sandwich in Florida. Richard tried one of the
sandwiches and it is the largest I’ve seen. We then dashed across the street
to a cute 50’s style soda fountain where we had ice cream. Then back to the
boat to see if the weather would hold for our departure around 3pm.
A note about this
Marina: It’s not very transient friendly so I’m not sure why Claiborne Young
recommended it as the best marina along the panhandle. There’s no fuel here
and no supplies except ice. The
owner Nancy even got quite huffy as reported by Ron when he ask her to use the
fax line phone hook-up for his computer. The Marina does offer a BoatUS 10%
discount and has 30/50-amp power and water. We Can’t compare it to Scipio
Marina that was recommended by several of the other Loopers
because we didn’t stay there, maybe next trip.
The people who
have boats here are very nice and Gypsy especially liked Ralph
the Basset pup who lived aboard with Jim and Peggy Otis on their tug.
The big moment
finally arrived and we headed out with Ron and Peggy following. We made it out
of the bay without incident. On the open sea it was mild with seas at about 2
feet. We settled in for a long night.
All in all it was
a very long and tiring trip. It was made much worse by my illness.
Thursday, March 14th, 2002, Day 304
After one of my
top ten worse cruising nights of all times, we finally arrived in Tarpon
Springs. We headed for the Landing
at Tarpon Springs Marina. The Claiborne Young cruising guide recommended
avoiding this marina because of poorly marked channels and shallow entry. We
called the Marina and Richard talked with his friend, Merle, the owner of the
Marina who said we wouldn’t have a problem. We headed in to the slip they
selected for us and we ran aground. Richard was able to finally to dock the
boat. Merle apologized and offered to send his diver down to check out the prop.
Sure enough it was dinged big time. We carry extra props so he’ll put it on
for us tomorrow.
recently purchased this marina and is making major repairs and upgrades but he
told us getting all the red tape for the permits takes a long time.
The restaurant, Capt.
Jack’s was very good and they now serve beer and wine but in a couple of
weeks, they will have mixed drinks and deck entertainment on the new Captain
The marina has a
lot to offer in terms of marine supplies, repairs and storage. The ships store
has a variety of fishing bait and equipment. There are seadoos and pontoon boat
rentals available. Merle is working diligently to upgrade with floating docks
and dredging. We are here just a little too early.
The heart of the
city is just across the bridge. Tarpon Springs is known as the “sponge”
capital of the world. The Greeks settled here in the late 1800’s and started
this wonderful community. The seaport is filled with the wonderful aroma of
Greek pastries and Greek restaurants. There are sponge museums and every Greek
gift shop imaginable. This is definitely a worthwhile place to visit.
tried to unsuccessfully nap, (too much noise), we headed to Capt. Jacks for a
snack. I then went for a bike ride over in the seaport checking things out.
We were exhausted
from our experience but at least the virus I had was short lived.
also, now in shorts and enjoying the nice sunny warm weather.
Some statistics so far:
Statute miles traveled since we left Houston: 6490
Miles covered per day( includes all the stops): 21.2
Fuel Burned: 6716 Gal
Average fuel consumption: 0.97miles/gal (includes generator useage)
Average speed: 10.5 mph
Average fuel cost: $1.26 (getting cheaper)
Locks so far: 78