Gulf Crossing to Clearwater

We woke up while it was completely dark, but were glad that we had decided to anchor in the open ocean, since all we needed to do was pull anchor and point the boat towards Clearwater. We did not need to do any difficult navigation in the dark.

The water was perfectly flat and remained so throughout our entire voyage across. We watched the sun rise ahead of us and settled in for a long day.

We arrived in our marina Clearwater in the late afternoon, dodging a few crab pots to enter. The marina slip we were assigned looked rather small for our wide beam, and as we tried to pull forward, we found ourselves stuck between the pilings unable to pull all the way in! Luckily the marina had given us another option, so we went to find a spot on their commercial dock next to a dinner cruise yacht. The captain and crew were very friendly and helped us to tie off our lines.

We went for a walk along the beach and the main road and found an interesting tap house for a celebratory drink. We discovered an escape room nearby and decided to do a room before dinner.

Both David and I had a couple of days of busy meetings, so we decided to stay in Clearwater for another few days. These were pretty quiet and we mostly remained on the boat. On our last evening we went out for a great Mexican dinner and did another room at the escape room place.

David had managed to find a boat yard that would haul the boat to perform the engine alignment and replace our destroyed shaft seal to hopefully solve our water problem on the starboard side, so we had a fixed date to get to just north of Sarasota. We spent a few days wandering south down the GICW (Gulf ICW), through residential neighborhoods reminiscent of the Ft. Lauderdale area, anchoring mostly in little bays that were people’s back yards, headed toward the boat yard.

On Thursday, the day before our haulout, we were going to anchor just outside of St. Pete, but the anchorages all looked pretty exposed when we went by them, so we ended up just going all the way to anchoring right outside the boat yard. This boat yard would not allow us to live aboard while the boat was out of the water, so we decided very last minute to buy tickets home to Seattle for the week preceding our planned trip to Big Sky, Montana.

That night, while running the generator to top up our batteries (we were not sure we would be able to be plugged in to power in the boat yard), we ran into an over-heating problem. David checked the strainers and replaced the impeller. When trying to restart the generator, he forgot to re-open the through hull to allow the generator to pull water for cooling…ooops! This resulted in destroying the brand new impeller, which happened to be our only spare!

Apparently no one had cleaned the impeller bits out the last several times it had died

Since most of the marine shops in the area were closed, we decided to wake up early and dingy to shore for a replacement part. When he called the boat yard in the morning, they told us that they could actually haul us out within the hour to a place where we could be plugged in, so we didn’t need to worry about replacing the impeller. This lead to a scramble to finish packing and get the boat ready for us to be away for two weeks!

We managed to get everything together and arrived in the boat yard where they were very particular about being off the boat before it was hauled! They had already lifted us partially out of the water when we all noticed that we had left the upstairs door open and they lowered the boat back in to let David back on to close it!

Though our flights were in the afternoon, we headed to the airport after the boat was hauled, and worked all day from there, since there was nothing else we could do at the yard.

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