Gulf crossing from Anna Maria Island to Destin, Florida
July 13, 14 and 15th of 2008
Gulf crossing from Anna Maria Island to Destin, Florida in a 60' yacht.
This is another travellog that has nothing at all to do with RV'ing. It is about a trip across the Gulf of Mexico that I made with my son and his Father in Law on his Father in Law's yacht. Steve, the yacht Smilin Time's owner, has been enjoying his yacht in the Bahamas over the winter. He is just now bringing it back to his home in the Florida Panhandle. The trip from Anna Maria Island to Destin is over 250 miles and takes 30-hours when running between 6 to 9 knots.
We left Pensacola early, (very early) Sunday morning in a rental car so that we would be in Anna Maria by mid-afternoon. Our plan was to get some groceries for our trip across the Gulf, unload the groceries on the boat then return the rental car and be on our way. The yacht was located at the Galati docks on Anna Maria and they had a courtesy car waiting for us. I stayed on the boat to put away groceries and got things ready to cast off when they returned.
Smilin Time our 60' yacht at Galati Docks on Anna Maria Island
Here is the Smilin Time that we are about to cross the Gulf in. It is a 60' Carver Marquis for those of you that are interested.
Smilin Time and Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay as seen from the 60' yacht Smilin Time
Within a few minutes of their getting back from returning the rental car Steve had the Smilin Time headed out of our dock space and into Tampa Bay. If you look on the horizon in this picture you will see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that spans Tampa Bay. It is the world's longest bridge with a cable-stayed main span, and a length of 5.5 miles.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge was rated as number-3 by the Travel Channel in its special on the "Top 10 Bridges" in the World.
Some of you may remember when a large ship collided with the bridge in 1980 sending over 1,200 feet of the bridge into Tampa Bay along with six automobiles and a Greyhound bus. I think 35-people died as a result of that collision.
Ok, enough of that bridge history. From this spot we are only a few miles from entering the Gulf and our 30-hour trip across the Gulf to Destin.
Well, --- things didn't work out like we would have liked. We were determined to get underway but the weather had other plans. As we entered the Gulf things were nasty, as in very nasty. Within 15-minutes of entering the Gulf we had made a decision to return to the dock and come up with plan "B". By the time we reached the dock the decision had been made to try again in the morning --- if the wind died down, that was our plan "B".
Here we are back at the dock with nothing but time on our hands. Spending the night on a yacht docked in Anna Maria isn't the worst thing that can happen. I took the time to enjoy the spoil island located behind our dock space. All types of wading birds have adopted the island for roosting and as a rookery. As the sun starts to sink in the sky birds from all around the area fly in and make preparations for the night.
Sunset from the Galati dock on Anna Maria Island
Looking to the west from our dock the sun is going down behind some of the dark clouds in the weather system that has the Gulf so angry.
It is a beautiful sunset but the weather system sure has the gulf stirred up
The old axiom about "red sky at night sailors delight" isn't holding true on this night. The Gulf was no delight at all, and with the wind blowing like it is we may have trouble getting out tomorrow morning. Right now we are just enjoying the view.
Morning arrives with the wind blowing a gail as seen from the 60' yacht Smilin Time sitting at Galati Docks on Anna Maria Island
Morning arrives with the wind still blowing and storm clouds still rolling in from the Gulf. This picture is from the stern of Smilin Time as we sit at the dock waiting for the wind to lay down. The sun is rising over the small channel that leads to Tampa Bay.
Plan B is scrubbed.
When it became abundantly clear that there was no way we were heading out this morning we started thinking of things to do.
With plan B scrubbed (morning departure)..... we turned to plan C..... late afternoon departure.
We still had use of the courtesy car so Jeff and I went sightseeing. Joyce and I winter in this area so I am familiar with it. Jeff loves nature and vegetation and boats and such. As a tour guide I was trying to show him as much as I could in the short time we had to see the area. One of the places I knew Jeff would like is the fishing village of Cortez located on the mainland east of Anna Maria Island.
It is late Monday afternoon when we head out into the Gulf in the 60' Yacht Smilin Time
As late afternoon approached we decided to implement plan "C" and that was to stick our nose out into the Gulf and see if the seas had subsided enough for us to make a run for Destin.
That is the north end of Anna Maria Island on our stern as Steve put the bow of Smilin Time into the Gulf and headed for Destin. This time we did not turn around. Destin will be our next stop and that will be around 10PM Tuesday night.
As you can see the clouds are white and fluffy as opposed those dark clouds that filled the sky yesterday and earlier today. The wind is still blowing but not enough to stop us from continuing.
The wind and waves were on our bow all night.
Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico on a gulf crossing from the 60' yacht Smilin Time
Taking a boat across the Gulf is a lonely job but someone has to do it. Moments like this are what makes the trip so wonderful.
Sunset and rain squall on the horizon during gulf crossing on the 60' yacht Smilin Time
Some sights on the water are best left to pictures. How about this rain squall on the horizon!
This is going to be a pretty sunset
Around 8:30 Monday night the sun started to sink in the western sky on the first night of our gulf crossing.
A gulf crossing has some beautiful moments
How much is a view like this worth?
It will be dark soon as I take this picture looking up the side of the 60' yacht Smilin Time
I just love this time of day during a gulf crossing.
Quality sunset on our gulf crossing on the 60' yacht Smilin Time
Sunset over the Gulf, not a boat in sight and the nearest land is probably 40-miles east of us as we make our way north along the west coast of Florida.
Jeff fighting a nice king mackeral on our gulf crossing on the 60' Yacht Smilin Time
Jeff put out a fishing line and we caught some fish as we made our way home on the 60' yacht Smilin Time.
This king mackeral that was a bonus of our gulf crossing on the 60' yacht Smilin Time
This is a good size king mackerel we caught. Actually, the fish was much larger than this picture makes it look. I am standing above Jeff while he is holding the fish with one hand making it appear smaller. Taking this picture was something we decided to do after Jeff had already cut one fillet off. What you see is the side of this mackerel that still has a nice fillet on it. The other side was nothing but backbone. We ended up with between 15 to 18-pounds of fillets off this fish.
Flying fish on deck during our gulf crossing on the 60' yacht Smilin Time
These are flying fish that landed on the deck overnight. They are between 8" and 10" long. If I would have been thinking (I wasn't) I would have pulled their "wings" out so you could see them.
Weather seen on our gulf crossing on the 60' Yacht Smilin Time
Views are truly spectacular during a gulf crossing especially on a luxurious yacht like the 60' Smilin Time.
Sun's rays bursting through a dark cloud on our gulf crossing
This is one of those times.
Memories of a gulf crossing on the 60' yacht Smilin Time
As we neared Destin the sun was sinking fast. This is what you remember most about a "good" gulf crossing.
This is the way you want to remember a gulf crossing
This was one of the final views we had of the Gulf. I think it is fitting to remember our trip with this picture.
Until next time remember how good life is.
Mike & Joyce Hendrix
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Until next time remember how good life is.