Dog Island to The the Florida Barge Canal, Crystal River

Our morning started out with NW winds even though the forecast insisted it was west and would stay that way all day and be in the 5 to 10 range. Of course this would not be good for us since it put the winds directly astern and at that speed meant apparent winds of about zero. In other words, it would be a motoring trip for about 135 miles to the Florida Barge Canal near Crystal River. By noon we decided to go anyway and see how things shaped up along the way. Shortly after clearing the coast the wind went south then southwest, a perfect wind angle for us. Not only was it SW but also about 10 to 15 instead of 5 to 10. At one point we actually had to reduce sail to slow us down so we did not arrive at the canal in the dark and to take some of the strain off the autopilot since winds were at 15kn with higher gusts. But by 5 PM they had dropped a bit, all sails were back up and we were making good time.

Just as the sun was getting low we had a hit on the fishing line and landed a very nice size Wahoo. At one point during the evening another Wahoo chased a smaller fish out of the water and the smaller fish landed on our deck. The Wahoo came close to doing the same thing. During the night we also had some Dolphins stop by for a visit. The sailing was fantastic at this point except for the seas. The Gulf is not one of our favorite bodies of water to sail on because no matter what the winds do the seas are like a washing machine on the wash cycle. The strength of the wind determines how uncomfortable you are. Especially in light conditions, the swells and waves come from all directions and the boat rolls constantly. But the trip went well and by 4 AM the wind had dropped so we motored the last 20 or so miles. We saw lightning all night from storms over the mainland, but fortunately they stayed there.

At 8 AM we reached our waypoint to the channel that would lead to the Florida Barge Canal. This is another project that was started by the state to cut across from the Gulf to the Atlantic but never got very far. The channel leading in is one of the few along the Big Bend area that we can use with our 6 foot draft. Getting into the canal is pretty straight forward as long as you don't get confused and head up the channel to the nuclear power plant by mistake. Boats usually don't get far before they are intercepted. At 10:40 AM we dropped anchor in the canal near the Highway 19 Bridge and a public boat ramp we will be able to use to get ashore. There is another boat that has been anchored here for a year or more and we can't tell if it is abandoned or just really seriously neglected. Our plans are to stay here till the weekend and visit relatives that live very near by. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are pretty common this time of year so we will have to keep a close eye on the weather each day since these storms can be severe and the canal is narrow. Although the run from here to Tarpon Springs is out in the Gulf, it is a day run from the Canal. Right now we will rest and relax from the overnight since we seldom get much sleep while underway for such a short period.

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