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Branch Office - Mike & Linda Gilbert

WEEK 16 - Crossing the Gulf of Mexico & Sarasota F
By Mike & Linda Gilbert
Posted on 11/25/2018 3:51 PM

Sunday- November 18th –  Saturday- November 24,2018

Sunday, November 18  We left our last Anchorage spot in the panhandle and are travelling to Carrabelle today.  According to the weather forecast our window for crossing the remains open through Tuesday.  We plan to spend Sunday night and Monday night at the Marina in Carrabelle and will plan our crossing for Tuesday morning.  We were surprised to find that Carrabelle also got hit by Hurricane Michael and there was only 1 Marina to stay at, which we just happen to make reservations in advance, so we were all set. 

One of the many damaged Marina's.

Our view from the bow

Our walk into town a small tribute garden area

The marina offered free breakfast with your reserved slip, so we went to breakfast and there were 5 other Looper couples there; so the captains compared notes for making the gulf crossing.   Three of the couples were leaving Monday late afternoon for an overnight crossing.   We opted for the daylight crossing since Chuck and Peggy had a quest flying in that was crossing with us and he was due in Monday evening. 

Tuesday November 20th -  We left the marina at 5:00 am, in complete darkness, it finally started to get light around 6:45 am.  Linda was glad that we didn’t do a night-time crossing, it was so dark out there, I had to navigate using my instruments and the waypoint tracks I created the night before.    Once daylight broke we were entertained by the Dolphins every now and then.

This picture was taken around 6:00am

Picture at 6:45, starting to see the horizon

Hard to see but there are two Dolphins in this picture

It was a 10-hour cruise across the gulf with 1 – 3 footers that dropped down to less than 1 foot by noon with a beautiful sunny sky.   We were expecting around a 9-hour cruise, but due to the crab pots – we lost time slowing down and dodging them.   That was NOT fun, the crab pots are only marked by a little ball – no bigger than a bocce ball, they were extremely hard to spot and they ran the spectrum of colors, white, green, gray black, blue, red…  that was a chore, and it reminded me of being back in the Mississippi!

Here is a picture of the crab pots, one is red the others are white

Finally, we have land in sight, Tarpon Springs, where we have reservations in a Marina for the night.  We checked in and Linda got some close up shots of the pelicans, they let her get close because they didn’t want to move as they were waiting for the tuna parts that a fisherman, cleaning his tuna, was throwing into the water for them to eat.   Nice size tuna’s he had about ½ dozen, between 2 to 3.5 feet long.    

Once we all got settled in, of course we gathered on our boat for some much deserved cocktails and toasted to our successfully crossing!   That was the one trip that I was anxious about and hoping that Branch Office would come through for this crossing and she did!  The biggest milestone of our adventure
à A Success!  Total travel that day--> 174 miles - used 200 gallons of fuel.

The view from our bow

Sunset that evening

Wednesday - November 21st - Today we are headed to Sarasota to stay at Marina Jacks – made these reservations back in May and we are only 2 days off of when we wanted to arrive!  Pretty good planning by our Cruise Director – Linda, that’s what we all call her.   The trip from Tarpon Springs to Sarasota was wonderful, we were traveling the inter-coastal waterway and there is so much to see along the way, the smell of salt-water, the bright sun, blue sky, it is so good to finally get into Florida!    AND we were escorted by “Flipper” as Linda called them, the dolphins were everywhere, Linda got some great shots!  They like to play in the boats' wake this dolphin started with us as we first left the Marina that morning. 

Inter-coastal sights along the way

Tampa Bay Bridge

After cruising Tampa Bay we joined back up with our dolphin friend!

We arrived at Marina Jacks at 3:30 and got tucked away into our slip and will be here for the next 2 months.  Paradise is staying for a couple of days to spend Thanksgiving together and then they will move onto the Marina near where Peggy’s daughter lives.  It has been a pleasure traveling with them, we made good friends with total strangers and it seems like we have known them forever!  They plan to drive (car) to Sarasota to spend some more time with us, do some sightseeing etc.   We have been making plans with them to travel together to Fort Myers,  Naples, Marco Island, the Keys and Bahamas.  Our boating friends back at A-Bay got to meet them via face time; and who knows we might be able to talk Paradise into coming to A-Bay, in the good old St. Lawrence River and meet our friends real time and show them the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario boating; right now their plan is to stop in Chesapeake Bay for the summer,and head back to Florida for next winter.  

Marina Jack is a great Marina, as we expected, located right in the heart of Sarasota, with concrete floating docks, 3 on-sight restaurants with entertainment and a shuttle that runs multiple times per day to take you around the area.  Annie, the Dock Master, made us feel so welcome, she hugged us and congratulated us on getting here and remarked we were only 2 days off of our original reservation!  

This is the dock we are on - just like home "the long dock" 

Great biking and walking trail!  Time to get those bikes out!

Tiki Bar at Marina - great cocktails

We are looking forward to the downtime and seeing more of Sarasota.    Linda’s childhood friend (since they were 4 years old) Joyce and who stood up in our wedding, along with her husband lives here.  We got together with them on Saturday they welcomed us with Champagne, flowers and treated us to lunch at the Crab and Fin an airy, upscale-casual seafood restaurant, located in the heart of  St. Armands Circle – known for its unique, luxury shopping and best restaurants in Sarasota.   It was such a great day with great company, we do plan on getting together more with them, they only live 30 minutes from the Marina!

We are planning on taking a trip home for Christmas,  can’t wait to see the kids!

So no blog updates until after we get back.   

Ahhhh, Florida beautiful  sunny days, 75 – 80 degrees, very nice,  I see why people live here in the winter!



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