Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crossings

Yesterday at Dog River Marina we woke to bright blue skies,  continuing cold temps in the low 40s, and calm wind.
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Ross, Laura, Carolyn and Susan all dropped by for quick hugs and good wishes until we meet again, and we wish them well in their travels over the next few weeks.
At 9:30 am Sonny Middleton, owner of the Dog River Marina, arrived in his van to pick us up, along with the folks from Oceanus, to take us to the Mobile, AL airport. This is one of the services the marina provides, though we were surprised it was Sonny who took us! He and his crew Rudy and Glen, the ones we’ve met so far, are great folks, and we feel comfortable leaving Next To Me in their hands to work on the boat while we’re home for Thanksgiving. We’ve already received an email from Sojourner telling us work has begun to replace the broken window on Next To Me yesterday.  Woo hoo!
We won’t be providing “days on cruise” or other stats while we’re home; in fact we’ll suspend the count and data until we rejoin the boat. We do have Looper plans this weekend which we’ll report on afterwards.
Loopers by the dozens have recently finished, or are now finishing, their journeys down the inland rivers from Chicago to Mobile. All of us face the same big challenge next, commonly referred to as “our crossing”. This, along with traveling up New Jersey’s shoreline, and making it through the shallow, rocky waters of Georgian Bay, are the Top Three on the list of Looper challenges.
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“Our Crossing” refers to the journey we all must make 300 miles after leaving Mobile and heading east past Pensacola and other stops on the Florida Panhandle. Most boats stop at either Appalachicola or Carabelle to prepare for this 170-mile non-stop journey which takes you 50 miles offshore at the greatest point. Almost all boats do it with one or more buddy boats to stay in contact via VHF radio. Trawlers and sailors who can only travel slowly have to do it as an overnight crossing, usually about 20 hours, departing mid-afternoon one day and finishing mid-day the next. This is the only segment of Florida coastline which has no Intracoastal Waterway (protected water between the mainland and barrier islands, shown in yellow above).
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While we almost always travel at “trawler speed”, about 9 mph, Next To Me has big twin engines, and we plan to make use of that capability to travel 18 or 19 mph when we do our crossing so we can begin at daybreak and finish before dark that night. We have tentative plans to meet Stephen and Charlotte on Jackets II to make the crossing together.
Weather on the Gulf this time of year is not frequently kind to folks wanting to cross, so it requires sitting patiently, very patiently, waiting for a good weather window to open. Sometimes you get lucky and get a good window only a day or two after arriving at your crossing point, but we’ve heard of folks who have had to wait two or three weeks, and there’s not THAT much to do in Carabelle, so we know people get bored and antsy, and imagine it’s tempting to go when conditions may still be uncertain.
So we’re starting to hear from folks who have crossed recently. “Say Good-bye” and “Toucan” had “good” and “okay” crossings. Another boat we’re friends with had an “absolutely horrible” crossing. Blue Heron and Sequel arrived in Carabelle today and plan to cross as soon as the weather allows. We sit on pins and needles for each one, waiting to hear they made it safely across, and that it was smooth and good.

1 comment:

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