We did it....we actually pulled out of Clearwater. Six of our fellow dock mates left yesterday to cross the Gulf heading north. Sad to see them go. Goodbye hugs and tears are the hardest parts of this cruising life. We left this morning with Don and Gail of Island Tyme heading farther south. They had hoped to leave yesterday, but the wind was not cooperating. There was some conversation again this morning about the wind being wrong, but we decided we just had to get moving along. At 10 am we pulled away from the docks. Lots of good memories!!
We both pulled out like old pros and were soon chugging down the channel. Winds looked promising as we passed the entry buoy, so we pulled up all our sails. This was our first time with the staysail fully rigged. It worked like a charm and the new snatch block was just what we needed to keep the staysail trimmed. We were able to hold about 3.5 knots in the light winds. Then we dipped below 3 knots and dodging crabpots became a little tricky. Mike went to fire up the engine, but nothing happened. Hmmmm...this happened once before. Mike opened the engine compartment, jiggled a few things, and presto...we had a running engine! Guess Mike gets to install that shiny new starter after all.
The wind was supposed to stay from the east, but you guessed it, it turned right on our nose. We fully believe that whatever direction a sailboat hopes to go will be directly into the wind. We kept our sails up for motor assist and our speed quickly climbed over 5 knots. It was so nice without the motor, but, oh well, we wanted to reach Gulfport before dark. As we turned east toward the North Channel we watched Don and Gail sail over the horizon heading south to their destination. We know we will see our good friends again later this summer, but it was still hard to watch them disappear.
The water in the Gulf was a gorgeous clear emerald green against a bright blue and white sky. We even had a visit from a few dolphins. We enjoyed a motorsail at 5.8 knots which was a nice change of pace from the slow progress all day. Even though we would only cover 30 miles today, it seemed like a long trip. We must be out of practice.
At 5 pm we dropped our 44 lb. Rocna anchor in 9 feet of water. Ahhhhhhhhh, that is better. A tasty supper aboard and a beautiful sunset capped off the day as we relaxed in the cockpit at our Gulfport anchorage.