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Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.......
Our gulf crossing is complete!
We arrived at Carrabelle on Tuesday morning with an anticipated gulf crossing "day" window on Thursday. We prepped and Tom had a few intel sessions with a local resident expert, Buddy, to figure out the best crossing for our boat. Buddy recommended the 180 mile crossing from Carrabelle to Clearwater with a few lat/long adjustments if the seas got too rough.
Most if not all Loopers follow both Marv Markets buoy/wind advisories as well as Eddy's Weather Wag. Both assist Loopers, unfamiliar with the area and the crossing, with the best windows of time that the waves and wind will be minimal. Thursdays prediction was for 1-2 foot seas and 10-15 mph winds from the NE. Not the best window to cross, but better any time in the near future. Some Loopers have had to wait in Carrabelle for good crossing conditions for 2 weeks or more, so we felt fortunate that it was only a day and a half.
Our float plan was to leave Thursday at the break of day, get on plane (30 mph) and try and get across in 8 hours if all goes well. We had everything ready to go and felt confident with our decision. Then on Wednesday we were introduced to another "go fast" Looper boat from Wisconsin, Fire Spray 2, they wanted to buddy up and follow us across. We briefed them on our gulf crossing plan and they were in.
We took off across the Gulf Thursday morning at 7am on plane at 30 mph and arrived in Clearwater at 2pm. The first couple of hours were fairly smooth and then it got rough and then it got more rough and even more rough. Instead of the 1-2 footers as predicted, we ended up with 3-4 footers. We got bounced around pretty good and at the 160 mile mark it finally started to mellow out and then like clock work we started to see crab pots at the 20 mile mark. We had no other choice than to slow down and dodge them or risk twisting one around our prop. Neither one of us wanted to see if our prop cutters would work so we slowed down and took our time getting to the Clearwater Pass.
We made it safe and sound and so did Fire Spray 2, riding in our prop wash the whole way. We were grateful and so a happy to have that segment of the Loop behind us. After tying up we celebrated with a beer and getting the all the salt washed off Bella before we headed up the street to Clearwater for a celebratory dinner of Pad Thai.
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.