Barge Canal to Anclote Key, Tarpon Springs

Our arrival at the barge canal was not without a bit of excitement. We arrived tired and in the late morning without much sleep the night before. Our original plan was to go just past the Highway 19 Bridge and anchor next to the boat ramp for easy access to the dinghy dock and a place to park our car. The bridge is 65 feet and there is a charted overhead power cable at about 75 feet just beyond the bridge. What is NOT on the chart, hard to see when you come in with the sun in your face and no sleep all night, is another overhead power cable just before the bridge that is 50 FEET. Our mast is 57 feet and we found the cable at the very last instant. Once turned around and anchored, we soon found the current was pretty strong and with the prevailing sea breeze against it, the boat was sailing at a pretty good clip all over the canal at anchor. It took quite a while to sort things out and get 2 anchors down to keep the boat under control but once we did everything settled down and we finally had some time to rest up and recover.

The next 3 days was spent catching up with the relatives and friends in the area. Since our cars were here, we did some extensive shopping and shipping. Our satellite TV receiver and the tracking device both decided to give it up at the same time so we made arrangements to get a new receiver shipped and have the tracker shipped back to the manufacturer for repairs. We had been doing great with our monthly budget up until now. The computer, which we rely upon for a lot of functions, has been acting up and on occasion will not boot up. We backed up all of the important stuff and set out to find a replacement. We settled on a Gateway with plenty of power and found one at a great price at Walmart. Now that we have purchased it, the old one will probably not break down for a couple of years. So far for replacements and repairs at this stop, we have just about blown our budget for the month in just a few days.

It is also time to change the engine oil before we set out in the morning for Tarpon Springs at o'dark hundred. It is a 60+ mile trek so we need to get an early start in order to get in and find a spot to anchor at a decent hour. As we spent a week in Tarpon Springs 2 years ago, we will likely anchor at Anclote Key, just down river from the town so we can up anchor and continue south the following morning. We hope to have another great sail and hopefully catch another mackerel/wahoo. There is still a debate about exactly what it was we caught, but all we know is it was tasty on the grill!

I had been amazed that after 4 days with two anchors out for the reversing currents and the wind against current in the afternoon that they had not twisted together something terrible. But by Friday night they were still set fore and aft with no twists. On Saturday, we were up just before sun up and after breakfast got everything ready and started to raise the anchors. Well they twisted up pretty good over night, wouldn't you know. After a bit of work we got them untangled and up and soon we were under way. A visitor had taken up residence in our mainsail while we were there so we also spent a little time coaxing the bat out of the rigging and convinced him or her to head back to shore and stay with his or her other bat friends. We chose Saturday to head south for two reasons. First, the wind conditions sounded good, east wind at 10 knots, since we were heading almost due south, and B, the chances for afternoon showers and thunderstorms would be the lowest of the rest of the week. Don't you know, as we left the canal and entered the Gulf we found SSE winds, almost the direction we were headed, and very light, maybe 6 to 8 knots. If you are going to have head winds I suppose they should be light. So the day was a motor sail the entire way with a once again crappy forecast. With the BILLIONS of dollars in equipment, satellites, ships and more at the disposal of the NWS and NOAA, you would think that every once in a while we could get a fair forecast. But for weeks or more they have not
been correct once. I must suppose that with all of that equipment and information at their disposal they simply do not have people competent enough to formulate it into a usable forecast.

The day was long and the engine did a great job but it gets tiring hearing it hour after hour (not to mention all of the money we burned in fuel). We were also disappointed not catching any fish today, but I suppose that is why it is called fishing and not catching. At around 6PM we dropped the anchor behind Anclote Key near Tarpon Springs in a nice NW breeze and finally shut down the engine. The holding appears to be pretty good here since as soon as the anchor was down it grabbed the bottom with a vengeance. We really like when that happens. We are anchored on the east side in about 10 feet of water and it shallows up pretty fast toward the Key so we are a fair distance out. There is no protection here from north or south winds if they are blowing strong. A bit of not so good news was on the VHF as we arrived. One of the bridges over the Intracoastal that we will need to pass through tomorrow is stuck in the closed position. It is never the other way around, so we may have to do another outside run tomorrow. We'll see.

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