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2011 - Bahamas
Paradise Next Door
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Launching Our Dream
Florida's West Coast
2005 – 2008
Pelican Landing
~ Pelican Landing ~
West Coast of Florida Icon
Clearwater Bay
The Highs and Lows of Life Afloat
We have not chosen to follow a level path. Instead we've chosen to follow the guide of nature's direction, who has provided us with a multitude of crests and valleys on which to journey. Like the waves beneath our boat, our daily lives are filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, leaps and dives. It is a breathtaking adventure to live. The key to happiness in this ever-changing existence is accepting with full certainty that the sun, the moon and the tide will continue to rise and fall.

There are no double digit depths shown on the chart for Clearwater bay. Knowing the shallow depths of the Anclote River, we waited for a late afternoon high tide before leaving Tarpon Springs. Four foot southerly swells made the sail in the Gulf rather amusing, like riding a kiddy coaster as each wave wrapped around our stern, gently lifting and plunging our little vessel as it passed. However this meant anchoring out there would be uncomfortable for the crew, and our kitty was already protesting the roller coaster motion.

Diana with the Marriage Savers
~ Diana with the Marriage Savers ~

We entered Clearwater Pass just when the seas followed the sun on its journey over the western horizon. We'd never be able to navigate along the shallow eastern coast of Pasadees Key to reach our new dock at low tide, so we'd have to find some deep water in this puddle of a bay where we could drop our hook for the night. We glided smoothly under the Sand Key Bridge to the calmer Clearwater Bay waters, and headed south. Following the lights of a dinner cruise ship, we crept slowly along in the darkening Intracoastal Waterway, using our spotlight to find markers that charted waters of 7'. Alas, as we veered off the channel our depth sounder rapidly began dropping digits and at 3" we turned back.

The lights of the cruise ship were fading into the distance, so we donned our 'Marriage Saving' Mariner 500 Headset Communicators, and I stationed myself at the bow of the boat with the hopes that I could distinguish the tangible obstacles from the phantoms that materialized before my straining eyes. Our spotlight came equipped with a short 6' cord, and the only outlets we had for its 12v plug were located in the cockpit. Don stayed at the helm, steering and sweeping the beam across the night, evaporating the ghosts in my imagination and confirming the existence of very real, very solid marker posts.

The communication that was going on between our headphones revealed that our nerves were frayed, our bellies were empty, and our bodies were chilled and tired. We'd zigzagged in and out of the channel as far south as we cared to, then headed north hoping to find respite in some illusive depths. Hours had passed and it began to feel like we were going to spend the entire night cruising up and down the channel. Focusing all my creative powers, I silently began a mantra to the universe – visualizing a kind boater coming along side and guiding us to good anchorage. Then POOF – just like a genie in a Boston Whaler – the Coast Guard appeared.

"Captain – we are coming along side. Where are you coming from and where are you headed?"

"We've just left Tarpon Springs to move south for a bit."

"But you're headed north now."

These guys are so literal. Don spent a fair amount of time clarifying that Clearwater was south of Tarpon Springs, but our dock on Pasadees Key was north of the Clearwater Pass where we'd entered the bay. Apparently our overly embellished answers heightened our security threat level.

"Permission to board?" These boys were so polite. I knew this statement was not really a request but no matter. I was so delighted by the universe's efficient response to my mantra that I was ready to invite them all to stay for dinner if they would just tell us where it was deep enough to drop our hook.

Pelican Sunset
~ Pelican Sunset ~

The captain of the CG vessel pulled alongside while two young officers effortlessly stepped onto Re Metau. I enthusiastically took them to the warmth below to gather up the information they would surly request. Don continued to goose the engine to keep us in motion while chatting with the captain about every mundane topic under the moon. I kept thinking 'Why doesn't he just ask this guy where deep water is? So like a man to refuse to ask for directions!'

"I have a 6' draft and have to keep the boat moving in order to stay in the channel and not run aground."

"Do whatever is necessary to maintain control of your vessel."

Eventually, the captain asked the right question – why we'd been meandering up and down the Intracoastal for the past 3 hours. "There's good water right over there. Follow me!" Within moments Don was setting the anchor and we were both settling ourselves into relaxed mode. I calmly and confidently provided the Coast Guard with everything they requested and we received a clean boarding report. I didn't even have to bribe them with dinner. By 11:00 pm we were warm, fed and ready for bed. By midnight's low tide our keel was sitting on the bottom of the bay.

Thus go the highs and lows of life afloat. I wouldn't trade any one for the other. We love this breathtaking, roller-coaster path.