We made the East pass in 30 minutes after departing the slip. Rusty told me it would be choppy here but the ride would smooth out as we progressed out into the Gulf and he was spot on. This is a pic of the West end of Dog Island where the pass runs very close to the island.
Douglas Dedrick heard I was looking for crew to pass and he came over to the boat to meet us. The timing worked out perfect, he is a boater and has helped others get across. If you need crew to cross just ask at C-Quarters Marina and they will get you in contact with Doug, you can't go wrong.
Entering the Tampa Bay ship channel, the water is flat and calm winds 0-5.
Underway 30:55 hrs, 200.2 Nm., Avg speed 6.6 Kts. 55-72 degrees, Overcast, SW 10-15 Kt. Winds with 2-4'seas subsiding to 0-5 Kt. S winds 1-0 seas.
Tom Conrad sends out an email early every morning reporting the weather and sea conditions to the members of the American Great Loop Cruisers Association. He specializes on just the 200Nm. route from Carrabelle to Tampa Bay area since so many cruisers make this jump since it is unwise to try and anchor or find a marina in the shallow waters along this portion of the coast that either require a draft of less than 3 feet or you must time it just right to go into a pass at high tide. His forecast for the weather window we were looking at said a daytime crossing on either Tue. or Thur. would be ok and advised against a nigh time crossing. If we did not make this window then the next one would not come till 1st week of March and we needed to get to Tampa so the Admiral could make a March 5th flight out to Texas. The Admiral was not interested in making a overnight crossing 60+ miles offshore so I had contacted a friend, Bill, in Tampa to see iif he could help crew. He could but only the last week of Feb. and that would be making it a bit to tight for me but maybe. I began asking the locals in Carrabelle if they knew of anyone that might could crew and so the grapvine is pretty short. By that afternoon Doug Dedrick knocked on the hull and sure enough his timing worked out great. He came over the next day to go over the systems on WS and all his questions were spot on so I knew he would be great crew for the crossing. I called him the next morning to let him know we were in a holding pattern as the Gulf may not settle down enough for a crossing on Tues-Wed. He had seen the same thing so I told him I would stay in touch, that afternoon the NOAA forecast had improved and I heard there were a couple of boats down at the Moorings marina wanting to cross so I went down and talked to them. They planned on going but if the conditions were not good for their 44' endeavour Catamaran Motor Vessels they would make it a short trip to Steinhatchee River. He explained 4' seas were not good for the catamarans as the seas would slap the underside of the bridgedeck making it uncomfortable, they tried to only be out in 1-2' seas. When I got back to C-quarters there was a 42' Beneteau S/V "Happy Go Lucky" and he planned on making the jump to Tarpon Springs. I picked up the phone to call Doug and just then he called. I told him that it was looking good and to be at the boat by 0630 in the am, he was hearing the same reports. Two more motor vessels and 1 more sailboat pulled in around sundown to make the trip as well. I consulted with the local Mariners and they all repeated the same thing, it would be a bit choppy in the early morning and as we made our way offshore things would smooth out.