Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 118/II Longbeach to St. Petersburg Municipal Marina

We had drifted just a bit to close to this vessel aground for Comfort.

Just 3 minutes down the channel we had to wait for this dredge to get turned around and head out with his load of spoils.

We hadn't cleared Anna Maria sound when we learned what was waiting for us in Tampa Bay.

For the next 3 1/2 hours we took a salt hosing.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is big enough to see through the Spray!

Awwwww....Moored at last.

Wand'rin Star flying her colors in the St. Petersburg Mooring Field

A quick tour of the Marina and I discover three sailing vessels that have been converted to power boats by removing the mast and all there rigging. 

A long day to rent a car, drive to Marathon and bring back up  the Little Truck That Can to St. Pete, this nice sunset was taken just North of Naples.

We are now in the slip near the top marked by the blue spot, Bill Wilson's 33 Morgan Out Islander "Breezin" is just across from us among the slips directly below us in the center of the pic, and Maureen and Cary on "C Lover" are slipped in the center row at the bottom of the pic. 

Day 118/II Longbeach to St. Petersburg Municipal Marina

3/25/13 Departed 0815 hrs.  Arrived 1330 hrs; Underway 4:56 hrs; 24 NM; Avg. Speed 4.9, Forecasted 20-30 mph N winds, Sunny 75-80 degrees

I woke around 0600 and could hear the winds picking up. I was surprised it was so late, I usually wake on auto earlier to check the anchor. I went up to the cockpit to check our position and everything looked good. the winds had shifted to the North and we had shifted around like everyone else. The winds were were definitely in the 20 mph range but all looked good so I went back to bed. I was not really able to get fully back to sleep. by 0630 I got up again and took another look around. Humm...why are we so close to that boat that is aground on the shoal?. I continue to sit and monitor our position. By 0645 I am concerned enough to wake Bill and prepare to move the boat to reset the anchor. After about 15-20 minutes discussing this with Bill I finally realize we are indeed dragging inch by inch and the winds are now gusting to the 30's. We start the engine and I go forward and raise the anchor. We will have to reset it so we can get the dingy up on the davits before we depart. All this and no coffee yet! I get the anchor back down and I do not even care if it drags a bit now cause we have room and we just need a few minutes to get the dingy and motor secured before we take our impromptu departure from the Longbeach anchorage.
Bill takes us to the ICW as I finish getting the anchor and rode secured. We are not even out in the ICW at the North end of Sarasota Bay when a dredge is taking up the entire channel. the winds are now sustained 30 gusting to 35+ knots. Using the AIS to get the Dredges name we call to see if we can pass, he said come ahead but he gets turned around and heads North so we will not have to worry about passing him today. For some reason Bill thinks to ask the Captain of the dredge if we are coming up on his AIS, he responds "negative". What!, I look back at the GPS antenna that is dedicated to the Nauticast "B" AIS and realize it must be blocked by the solar panels. I will just have to deal with that later.
We just have two Bascule bridges to clear today and the first was the Cortez Bridge. The bridge tenders want you to be near the bridge when they open so you can get on through and they can quickly re-open the bridge to traffic. Bill was cautious and stayed a bit off due to the wind and sea conditions so we were a bit late getting through the bridge, Bill made sure to thank the tender and we made our way to the Anna Maria Bridge just a short distance away in Anna Maria Sound. This time there was a barge South bound on the other side and he was having his own issues with the wind, current and sea state. Bill called him on 09 to tell him to pass through first and we would wait. The Bridge tender came on and said he was out on deck and could not answer the radio so he would make sure he knows to pass first. It was a long 15 minute wait, The bage passed and again we late getting through. things that look close are really far away when your speed is 6 knots. Bill again apologized and thanked the tender but I am sure he wrote down Wandr'rin Star on his bad list. They do not really care what  the winds are etc. they just want you to get on through the bridge and not hold up dozens if not hundreds of cars.
Anna Maria Sound was just the intro to Tampa Bay, Shortly after clearing the Anna Maria Bridge we found 4-5' with the occasional 6' short chop seas and the howling North wind on the nose. We motored on at 2200 RPM's making 5+ knots in the opposing flood tide. Bill thought we might want to run over to Fort Desoto to anchor in the lea there and wait it out. I rechecked the weather on the Iphone and now there was a high wind warning out till 1800. Yeah bashing through this was not that comfortable but I thought about the prospects of taking an hour or so to make Ft. De Soto and hanging out there till 1800 or so and still have 3 hours to get to the mooring field at St. Pete so I just wanted to continue on. I was hoping the fetch would begin to die down as we neared the St. Pete peninsula anyway and it did subside as we neared our destination.
It is not like Wand'rin Star had not experienced such conditions before after all we came from Corpus Christi Bay where the winds are routinely 20+ and we had been out several times in 20-30 on the Bay, even with 30 sustained we sailed to the Navy Base and anchored out for the weekend there. The difference though was that this chop was a bit steeper and a slightly longer wave period and for whatever reason a less comfortable ride than what we experienced in Corpus. I am guessing it is due to the much wider and more exposed opening to the Gulf of Mexico here.
We went straight to the Pump out at the St. Pete Marina to get that duty over with and with the North winds pushing us on to the dock we were pushed in naturally, the problem would be getting off once we got the chores done. After hosing off all the salt and taking care of the chores we decided it was enough for the day and to forget going to the fuel dock. I went and checked in, got Mooring Ball #11. I felt like we could easily use a spring line and get off the pilings we were pushed up against. We tried to reverse off fist with a spring on the bow, we waited for the gust to go away but no luck. So we decided to use a aft spring and just power forward off, I was sure this would get us off. But no, we were really pinned.Carl guy who drives the pump out boat was waiting for us to move so he could get in and empty his tanks. He volunteered tp tow us off and that worked just fine but it was kinda of harry!, Making sure the dingy and all the other stuff hanging off the stern did not hit a piling on the way out was a bit concerning but it all worked out well and we went slowly to the mooring field so as not to get any more salt spray on the decks.
On the second try we secured to Mooring #11 and began putting things back in order as Bill packed his stuff and prepared to go back to the real world. The good news was he had a few more days off so he could spend time on Breezin to move along a few boat projects of his own.
My task was to get things back in order since the Admiral was flying back in just a few days. The primary objective was to retrieve the Little Truck That Can from Marathon. Love those 1 way car rentals!. My friend  Johny picked me up early in the morning and took me to St Pete Airport to get the rent cat and then I drove over and John, who crewed with me on the way to Marathon volunteered to drive down and do some of the driving back. After getting through am rush hour I picked up John and we drove straight to Marathon, about a 7 hour venture. I picked up Bill's Stuff at west Marine, we had a fine lunch at Key Fisheries and then we were back off to St. Pete. Bill remembered that I needed a parking permit so he got on for me and left it on Breezin. After dropping John off at Westshore Yacht Club I got back at 2330 hours, stopped by Bills boat to get the parking pass, and then back to the dingy dock. I was back on Wan'drin star around 2400 and happy.

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