Ahoy Sailors - Capt Jim headed down to Pensacola Fla. Veteran's day to help move a 2005 Gemini Cat to St. Petersburg Fla. and retrieve the new 2012 Gemini replacement. With just the owner and I aboard we departed Saturday am with favorable east winds on a closehauled point for St. Pete, 286 miles across the gulf. Favorable conditions lasted 2 hours, then the wind shifted to the SE, right on the nose at 10-15kts. We flogged the engine, pounding into increasing waves, using more fule then planned. Switching tanks, the engine stalled. "I haven't been using the port tank", said the owner, so water and crud partially clogged the fuel filter and pickup, leaving us limping into Apalachicola for fuel and repairs, and a delicious oyster lunch at Caroline's restaurant. Two more days of pounding upwind put us into St. Pete, where we made the switch and headed back ASAP, due to unfavorable weather forecasts.
The new boat was great, with a generator and dual A/Cheat units. These boat are now built by Hunter Marine at their factory in Alachua, Fla. We had one more day of pleasant SE winds while heading north, but when the wind switched to the NW at 20-25 kts we again bailed out at Apalachicola, arriving in a rainstorm, and anchoring behind a barrier island about 11pm. We stayed inside on the GICW (Gulf inland coastal waterway) for a very pleasant 125 miles back to Pennsacola over the next 3 days, while the Coast Guard weather reported 6-8' seas and small craft advisories out in the Gulf. It's amazing how quickly you recover from the effects of upwind pounding after a couple days of pleasant lake and canal cruising, some of it quite scenic.
I had been joking with the owner about finding a 'Hooters" restaurant "just around the next bend" during the long canal portions through undeveloped areas to goad us into making a few more miles each day before dark, and was happy to find one in Pensacola Beach for our farewell dinner last Saturday evening.
Back home I'm hoping to catch a rockfish or 2 before thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a pleasant Holiday.
Cheers! and happy sailing from Capt. Jim