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Gulfport To Tampa....Umm, I mean Pensacola

On Friday, November 19th, we departed Gulfport, MS with intentions to sail to Tampa/Saint Petersburg, FL. Sailors have had strict superstitions for centuries. Supposedly, if you choose to ignore the rules set forth, Poseidon will strike you and your sailing vessel with bad luck. One of the rules is to not depart on a passage on a Friday. My thinking on this is that you can’t chose to follow some of the rules, and ignore the rest. Here are a couple of other rules..1) There should be no women on board when you depart and 2) There should be no bananas on your boat when you depart. Well, it sounds like I am doomed from the get-go since Sandra is on board and she happens to love bananas. Well, we chose to depart on this particular Friday because the weather window appeared favorable for the passage, and the extended forecast was not favorable in the coming 10 days. Did Poseidon reek a heap of bad luck on us ? I will let you decide.


Similar to departing Galveston, we departed Gulfport after a cold front passed through that gave us favorable winds from the North. The forecast called for at least two days of North winds, and then the winds would do the normal transitional shift to blow from the Northeast, then East. The passage was to be 2 1/2 to 3 days. Several weather models showed favorable conditions for the entire passage, a couple of others showed the winds shifting earlier. Well, we got the latter.


Not Pleasant !


The first 24 hours we were double reefed ( main sail reduced) and moving fast. The sea state was rough, so we weren’t sleeping much at all. I would have been okay with this if that would have continued because we were moving quick enough to shorten the passage quite a bit. At the 24 hour mark, the winds didn’t do the predicted gradual shift to the Northeast, they shifted more due East. These East winds were strong, and confused the seas. This made things really uncomfortable. A catamaran, or at least our catamaran doesn’t point well towards the wind in really rough seas. We had to aim farther South to get somewhat comfortable. This presented some problems…We were now pointing towards Cuba and there was another nasty cold front scheduled to come through late on Monday. The biggest problem ? We were not able to sleep much at all.


Bouncing Around


So, we had a difficult decision to make….Proceed father into the Gulf Of Mexico and hope to make it somewhere along the Florida west coast in one piece, or retreat and make it somewhere to safety before the dreaded nasty cold front comes through. The easterly winds were perfect for us to tack and sail a near rum-line to Pensacola, FL. So, that is exactly what we did. We left the main sail double reefed to be comfortable and finally get some needed sleep. My thinking at first was that we were retreating with our tails between our legs, but after the decision was made, we knew it was the right thing to do.



The "tack and retreat". Okay Gulf of Mexico....you won the battle but not the war!


We arrived at Spanish Point, near Pensacola, FL at 4:30 A.M. on Sunday morning. We dropped anchor in a really nice anchorage and crashed. We were exhausted. Was our retreat in the Gulf a waste of time ? Maybe, but we learned a lot. I knew it already, but it was confirmed….the Gulf of Mexico is a real BEAST ! If you watch our YouTube video on this passage, remember that video does it no justice. The waves look small, but trust me they can look small, but deliver a huge blow. Oh, and for the question I asked earlier in this blog post…Did Poseidon reek a heap of bad luck on us for departing on a Friday ? Well, since we did not end up in “Davy Jones’ locker” (<—-Google this..Wikipedia) I think Poseidon was quite kind to us.


Not a bad place to have as an alternative.


After some much needed sleep, we woke and were greeted with a splendid view. The anchorage at Spanish point is part of the GICW ( Gulf Intercostal Waterway) One side of the anchorage is the mainland of Florida, the other a protruding peninsula that consist of beautiful sugar-white sand beaches. There is no road on this part of the peninsula, so the beach is isolated…..simply beautiful !


Sandra giving Namid a well-deserved moment of recognition.


We used our dinghy (inflatable boat) to get over to the beach and checked it out. We flew the drone for a few minutes, but it would not let use fly long due to the fact that we were near the Pensacola Naval Air Station and the airspace was restricted. It’s pretty incredible that the drone app shuts down the drone, but that is exactly what happened. We enjoyed this anchorage for another night before departing on Monday, the 22nd.


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