12-14-09 Clearwater FL and FOG

[Rick] When we awoke this morning we found the fog to be as bad as we expected. You will recall that we are to cross the Gulf of Mexico today, as the winds are down and the seas are to be 1-2 feet. We have made arrangements to follow “Lady Liberty”, a 40 ft Cruisers boat that has radar. Tomorrow is also a possibility before the next wave of wind and bad weather moves in.

We talk to Jim Basset of Lady Liberty via phone and he seems inclined to wait for tomorrow. He talks to some local fishermen who can lead us through the Government Cut and once on the Gulf, the seas should be smooth. The fog, with visibility of less than 100 yards is supposed to dissipate around 1000. The rest of the day is to be sunny and the waves are to become less and less. With this information and assistance, we decide to go for it.

Off we go. The fog is awful. And it gets worse. Near 1000, it does let up for about 15 minutes. Just long enough for us to see dolphins JUMPING in the water. Spectacular. Then, the fog sets in and does not abate until we arrive in Clearwater. It is just awful. Click on this picture to see our view of the front boat that we looked at for 8 hours. We continue on using the autopilot to keep the same course as the other boat. It is here that we are glad for the autopilot. At least we could concentrate on just keeping the correct speed and keeping the other boat in view. Betsy drove the vast majority of the day. At the end of the day, we were both really tired and stressed. Right after supper, at 1930, Betsy went to bed. I believe it is the earliest she has ever gone to bed since we have been married. Did I mention that it was FOGGY ALL DAY!!!!!

We were going to turn off about 40 miles earlier and go to Tarpon Springs. However the fog was so bad, we just followed the front boat to Clearwater. Once we got here, we learned that there are about 12 other loopers here. Five of them were at Port St Joe with us and made the overnight crossing, 22 hours, last night, in the fog.

The trip was 183 miles. We averaged 21.7 mph for the trip with the first hour and a half at 7 mph as we worked our way through the markers and narrow channel with shallow water on each side to and through Government Cut and into the open Gulf. Even the local fishing boat that we were following got confused at one point and had to come to a complete stop to get oriented in the fog. At one point, according to the onboard computer, we did 30.68 mph.

We will stay here for several days. We have a lot of friends here on the docks and some in town. We have 2 months to get to Cape Canaveral for the Feb 13 launch of the shuttle, so we are in no rush. The marina has wifi, many restaurants, and cable, so life is good…

BTW, here is a picture of the leader boat as we enter Clearwater and the fog lifted for about 15 minutes. This would have been a much better view for the prior 8 hours.


  1. Glad you made it okay. We were worried about the crossing. Lance and Becky

  2. Rick, Sounds like you and Betsy are having a trip of a lifetime. Stay safe and be careful.
    Clara and Bruce Robertson