Mar 7, Day 45, Monday, Cedar Key to Carrabelle, FL

Big Bend Scenic Byway

Steinhatchee River at the Gulf

Up River 1/2 Mile

The main event today was to be Steinhatchee the other port used by Great Loopers that try to follow the coast. It turns out that Steinhatchee is almost the opposite of Cedar Key with friendly marinas and sheltered water on the river with the same name as the town. There is no downtown with antique and art shops like Cedar Key but there are some restaurants that looked OK. Rather than spend the rest of the day there we decided to head for the Big Bend Scenic Byway to Carrabelle, the departure port for Great Loopers crossing the Gulf. It was 187 miles to the Ho-Hum RV Park on Carrabelle Beach. The 2 lane roads were almost new and there was very little traffic as this is one of the least inhabited areas in the state. Lumber seemed to be the only industry. I was told that March is the busy season here for RVs. Lots of snowbirds that apparently don’t mind the cold are present. The temperatures are in the 60’s now; nothing to brag about. However, spring has arrived with the red buds, dogwoods, and Bartlett pear trees in bloom.

Steinhatchee Home

Mar 6, Day 44, Tarpon Springs to Cedar Key, FL

Cedar Cove Marina

Restaurants on the Pier
Cedar Key Archipelago

We drove 122 miles to Cedar Key. This is old Florida at its best; mangrove covered keys, interesting architecture, neat restaurants, and the Gulf. This is Key West on a small scale. What is missing is cruise ships (shallow water) and anywhere for cruising boaters to dock. The chart shows Cedar Cove marina but it was wrecked in the last hurricane. There are a few boaters there but most of the docks are gone. I got the scoop from one of the boaters. The marina went bankrupt and the bank won’t pay to fix the docks. They are waiting for someone to buy the marina, but buyers won’t touch it without the docks being repaired. At low tide the water depth is zero with the boats all sitting in quicksand. The locals apparently don’t think boaters will help bring tourists. I had Tony’s 2X World Champion Clam Chowder for lunch. It was really good and a little spicy. Aquaculture of clams is the main industry here now besides tourism.  Our campsite, Rainbow Country RV Park,  is about 9 miles east of Cedar Key and is  a good example of an old Florida RV Camp.  We look out at a camper that has been here a long time with his pigeons in the cage on the left and lots of other stuff.

Scupture

 

View from our Coach

Day 25 Nov 12

About 11:30PM the east wind started to ?kick up?. Heading south with a beam wind we were rocking very badly and finally decided to change course to the east. The wind continued to build and we slowed down. At one point we buried the bowsprit in the water. We estimate the waves were 8 feet high from trough to crest. We learned that you get 4 big waves in a row then relatively small waves for a little while. No one slept. You just find a good spot where you can be wedged in. We pounded along heading east planning to stop at Cedar Key if necessary. At 4:00AM as we neared Cedar Key we slowed down even more so we wouldn’t arrive in the dark. At 6:00AM the waves died down to about 2 feet, so we turned south again and headed for our original destination Tarpon Springs. This lucky break saved us 4-6 days stuck at Cedar Key as Thursday the with a cold front coming through the sea was expected to be rough and it takes that long for the waves to settle down. Many dolphins were sighted on the way. They love to swim right in front of the boat. Unfortunately I did not get any very good photos. We got to Tarpon Springs at 2:30PM exactly 24 hours after setting out. The Katy Leigh’s engine ran that long and never wavered. Engine checks were done every hour. Our advice to anyone planning to crossing is always have more than 2 people and an autopilot. It is far too tiring to steer manually for 24 hours in rough water.

Tarpon Springs is the sponge capital. We walked downtown and toured the sponge shops and had a great Greek dinner to celebrate our safe arrival. Mavis had a special bottle of wine we drank after dinner with some baklava bought in town. We all went to bed at 7:00PM.

Mar 5, Day 43, Bradenton to Tarpon Springs

Rainy Rolls Back Seat

Tampa Bay Skyway

Dali Museum

Doc cooked another great breakfast with scrambled eggs covered with cheese and toasted English muffins. We said goodbye and headed across the Skyway Bridge to the new Dali Museum in St Petersburg. The museum has only been open for a couple of months. We had seen the old museum 3 years ago but there is so much more to see now. The Rainy Rolls is homage to Dali’s Rainy Taxi. Where cars are supposed to keep the rain off its passengers in this vehicle things are reversed with the rain inside, thus the diver in front and mermaid in back. We continued on to Tarpon Springs where the main street was covered with tables and chairs and there was lots of Greek music. We stopped at the Greek bakery and loaded up with large chunks of baklava.  Tomorrow we head for Cedar Key one of the stops some cruisers use on the Great Loop. 

Rainy Rolls

Tarpon Springs Sponge Boat