Captured in Carrabelle!

Loopers are warned to not be on a schedule, and we really have tried not to be. However, we did have a “plan” to be in Dunedin or Clearwater, FL where we intended to leave the boat for Thanksgiving. But the weather did not cooperate so we have had to leave the boat in Carrabelle, FL which is where it currently sits.

Carrabelle is just south of Tallahassee and is the last port on the GICW before the Big Bend area of Florida – where the water is too shallow and the land is too swampy for it to continue.  It will pick back up on the west coast at Tarpon Springs, but getting there or further south requires a 140 – 160 mile crossing of the northeastern tip of the Gulf of Mexico.  Since this will take us about 8 – 9 hours, we must have a good weather window with calm seas for a whole day.

To top it all off, work has picked up for Mark and he now must make 3 trips to client sites between now and Christmas. This has hampered our ability to be available to move the boat when the weather is good, so now Denise will stay in Winter Park for a few weeks until we get a good combination of acceptable weather and Mark’s availability.  It’s a good thing we are not on a schedule and that we are just a 4-hr drive between home and boat.

Here is the last few days on our adventure before the holiday break:

Tuesday, (11/17) – Apalachicola, FL – This morning we settled into our boat and enjoyed some very nice, albeit windy weather.  It was sunny and the temperature was comfortable, so it was nice to just open up the boat and work from our Island Office.  Denise finally got the last blog post done and Mark was able to get some phone calls in and client work completed.

We visited with some of the other Loopers in our marina, or who walked down to our boat to discuss travel plans this week. Everyone is trying to figure out how to make a Gulf crossing, and the weather is just not cooperating. The high winds are forecasted to continue for the next week with a small window developing for maybe Friday.  This has everyone frustrated; we would be happy to just get to Carrabelle so we can leave the boat and go home for the Thanksgiving holiday. If the weather is good tomorrow we will cruise the 24 miles there and Claire will come down from Tallahassee to get us.

In the late afternoon we walked all around the town of Apalachicola and sought out a friend who works in the courthouse, only to learn she was in Tallahassee all week for training.  We then went to the Owl Café Tap Room for drink and appetizer, and to hang out watching sports on their TV’s.  Later we went around the corner and up the stairs to the dining room at the Owl Café and had a fabulous meal of red snapper (Denise) and black grouper (Mark).  We left the place stuffed and highly recommend this as a great place to eat.

The Owl Cafe

The Owl Cafe

Wednesday, (11/18) – Apalachicola, FL – Our hopes for leaving were dashed this morning when we woke up to howling winds and now high water around the marina.  The SE winds have pushed the water from Apalachicola Bay north into the river and it is flooding all the fixed docks just south of us.

Flooding over fixed docks

Flooding over fixed docks

Fortunately, where we are there are floating docks and we are rising with the water; no flooding here like we had at Dog River in Mobile.

After Mark did some work in the morning, we walked to Boss Oyster for lunch.  This restaurant is very popular and has been written up as one of the best oyster houses in the south.  It is quite eclectic and rustic, and we had the place almost to ourselves. You can tell it is definitely the “slow season”.

Boss Oyster

Boss Oyster

Mark at Boss Oysters

Mark at Boss Oysters

Denise at Boss Oyster

Denise at Boss Oyster

At Boss Oyster

At Boss Oyster

After lunch we walked around to the Apalachicola Marina to see some Looper friends who were docked there, but they were not on their boats.  So we walked over to the municipal marina and saw our new Looper friends on “Salty” to talk about their plans to go all the way to Steinhatchee tomorrow morning. The have a small C-Dory with a shallow draft and can navigate the shallow water there better than we could. They are from Melbourne Beach and are anxious to get back home as they run a marina there and it is boating season in FL. We agreed to stay in touch and keep each other posted about leaving in the morning.

Although it was very windy and there was increasing clouds, we wanted to walk and see more of the town.  Right near the municipal marina is the headquarters and the park which hosts the annual seafood festival; Florida’s oldest maritime event.

Seafood festival sign

Seafood festival sign

Seafood Festival HQ

Seafood Festival HQ

Our trek then took us by St. Patrick’s Church and near the Hine’s house (a house owned by the parents of Denise’s nephew’s girlfriend – Scarlett).

St. Patrick's

St. Patrick’s

Hine's house

Hine’s house

We then went to the John Gorrie Park and Museum, which unfortunately was closed for the day.  John Gorrie was responsible for inventing the technology which led to refrigeration and air conditioning. After a few pictures here we walked back through a few shops in town, then headed back towards our marina, but not before the sprinkles started.

John Gorrie State Museum

John Gorrie State Museum

John Gorrie Marker

John Gorrie Marker

Here are some other pictures we took during our walk:

Gibson Inn

Gibson Inn

City Wharf

City Wharf

Leavins Seafood

Leavins Seafood

Raney House Museum

Raney House Museum

We were not on the boat long before the weather turned really ugly with rain, wind and big gusts.  Suddenly, the weather radio alerts went off and announced a tornado warning (not a watch) for our area.  So where do you go when you are on a boat and there is a tornado warning?  The lobby of the marina hotel!  Fortunately for us it was right near our boat and we didn’t have to walk far. So we hung out in the lobby for a little while until the apparent threat was diminished, then went back to the boat for the rest of the evening.

Water Street Hotel Lobby

Water Street Hotel Lobby

The forecast for tomorrow looked good to move the boat to Carrabelle, so we made plans accordingly and prepped the boat before going to bed.

Thursday, (11/19) – Carrabelle, FL – The morning brought the calm weather that was forecasted and we knew the trip to Carrabelle was short, so we were not in too big a hurry to leave.  However we did expect the wind to pick up a little, and we did not want to be in Apalachicola Bay or on St. George’s Sound if it started to blow strong.  Eventually, we headed out for an uneventful passage to Carrabelle; a town we have been to or through many times before.  We communicated with “Salty” and learned they too had left, but were going to try and make it to Steinhatchee; a very long day for them.

Hiway 98 Bridge - Leaving Apalachicola

Hiway 98 Bridge – Leaving Apalachicola

Entering Carrabelle

Entering Carrabelle

We arrived at the Moorings Marina and first stopped for a fill-up of diesel.  Our next passage will have us heading offshore in the Gulf and we needed to have the maximum amount of fuel possible.

Moorings Marina Office

Moorings Marina Office

Afterwards, we were assigned a slip on the western end of the marina, where the current seemed to grow stronger with each passing slip. Finally arriving at the designated slip, it took Mark three attempts but he finally was able to park the boat.  At first Denise was a little embarrassed that it took so many attempts, but then the next three boats who came in after us had an even worse time so she didn’t feel so bad after all.

IO at Moorings Marina in Carrabelle

IO at Moorings Marina in Carrabelle

Since the weather was not going to cooperate for a Gulf crossing before Thanksgiving, we decided to leave the boat and go home for the holiday. In the late afternoon Denise’s sister, Claire picked us up and took us to her home.  We spent a few days there, visited our nephew at FSU, and then rented a car to make the 4 hour drive to our home in Winter Park.

We will continue with our adventure on Island Office when we can make a safe crossing between our scheduled client visits.

Stay tuned for more very soon!

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