Saturday, February 1, 2014

Eight Bridges Day

The girls remembered what to do and took their places.
Our month in Clearwater went by so quickly.  Suddenly, it's February and time to be on our way again.  I can't quite get my head around it.  Our whole Cruising life we've been on the move to get HERE!  And now it's time to move on to the next chapter, and we have no idea what it will hold for us.  That's kind of exciting, but a little strange.  

Also strange, was the fact that we just got up in the morning, piddled around waiting for the fog to lift a little, and left.  That's it.  We. Just. Left. No worries, no fanfare, just a wave from our new friends on the dock and wishes for a safe journey...  I guess that's how it's going to be from now on. 

Fog swallowed the Causeway Bridge as we motored past.
We vacillated back and forth about going outside (meaning traveling in the Gulf of Mexico) or staying in the ICW.  There are eight bascule bridges between us and our intended destination, and Bruce would REALLY like to raise sails and stretch out!  Down to the moment we backed out of our slip we were still deciding, but the fog tipped the scales in favor of staying inside.

Bruce on Fog Watch

The winds were to be 10-15 mph and from the South, which would mean we would be traveling directly into the wind and the associated waves.  So in order to sail, we would have to add many miles to our track.  It just wasn't worth it, and with the thick fog that was still hanging around, our decision was made.  

Our first hour and a half were slow.  The fog was so thick, there were times we couldn't see the next channel marker. Several times we would fall in behind a faster moving boat, but lose our nerve and slow back down.   Luckily we have radar and several navigation apps that kept us on the right path until the way became clear at around half past noon.  Then we kicked it up a notch and made almost 6 knots.  

The poolside was packed.
They REALLY DO play Shuffleboard here!
I'm rather enjoying the surprise factor of traveling this way.  For someone who has a need for control, this is part of the surprise!  I can plan and plot and "know" the way, and yet it is always totally not what I expected.  Today was like that.  I expected long stretches of nothingness, and we got long stretches of homes and condos and lots of weekend boaters speeding around. 

It was quite the show.  The channels were winding, requiring total engagement in the process.  We peeled off layers of clothing as the sun shone down on our excited smiling faces as we looked forward to the next new sight, and the next, and the next.  It was such fun!

We passed girls in bikinis and boatloads of dudes with water toys, and poolsides crowded with geezers trying to get into one another's pants.  It was so cheesie!  So Florida fun!  There was even a shuffleboard game in full swing!  How cliche is that???

What about those bridges?  Well, we started off with resignation about dealing with them as a necessary evil, but we breezed through!  

The bridge tenders seemed to take pride in getting the bridges open without causing us to alter speed...  

Even the restricted bridges were not a problem.  Our wait time was short, and it was kind of fun trying to get there by the next opening.  

Maybe we were just high from being on our way again... whatever, we'll take it!  

Well except for the one bridge.... but we made it just fine!

The day was sublime!

Even the fact that we didn't make our intended anchorage did nothing to dampen our spirits.  We're used to early nights.  Most of our journey it's been dark by 5:30.  Here in Florida it's 6:30 but we still weren't going to make it.  We had over 15 miles still to go after our last bridge and it was 4:30.  Not happening!  So we ducked into one of the many alternate spots, North Tampa Bay Skyway anchorage.  

None the worse for wear after our travels.
Sunshine Skyway bridge about to disappear.
We dropped the anchor and grabbed a sundowner to enjoy on the veranda.  Ahhh.  the Veranda!  The winds were light-to-non-existent and the boat rested after her five hour push.  The cats came out and joined us.  There had been no mal-de-mer today.  They looked around, blinked and seemed to find nothing amis.  I wonder what goes on in their little heads...

We talked a bit, but mostly just watched as the day became evening and then night.  The Sunshine Skyway Bridge began to slowly be enveloped in the fog rolling in from the Gulf of Mexico.  First just the bottom, then the roadway, and finally the two suspension structures.  All gone!  Tampa Bay turned to pink and purple and blue.  A cruise ship departed from off to our left and slowly made her way across to disappear beneath the bridge.  We could hear her long fog horn sounding.  

The Bay melted into the sky, or maybe it was the other way around... Slowly undulating and causing my eyes to blink as I tried to make sense of it.  It was indescribably beautiful.  Once again, we found ourselves marveling at how lucky we are to live this life.  

We made the right decision in being here.  We hadn't thought of the fog.  If we had tried to make the dash for Egmont Key, we would have encountered dark and fog before we arrived and our day would have had a different ending.  This was perfect. Our day of Eight Bridges is done.


  1. So glad your underway again. God Speed and may you have fair winds and clam sea, Still looking at Late April for my departure. After my son having surgery and a death of my closet friend and companion of 15 years, I am getting back to getting it together. Looking Forward to your updates.

    1. Good to hear from you again as well Richard. We are in the yard until Monday but then the updates should be a little more interesting, if sporadic as Wi-fi may become the issue.
      I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I too lost a best friend and think of her as if she's still with me every day. I'm sure it helps to get busy with plans for such a positive goal again. WOW! April is almost here! I'm sure you have a lot to do!