It was weird leaving Clearwater. We never felt super at home there, but it had become familiar all the same.
We made friends, most notably with "Greenheart" who Hobie calls "Greenheart Dragon Slayer". We watched movies in the park, saw street performers, and I'll always remember when my dad flew in to visit us.
We took an awesome day trip to Tarpon Springs. It was the first time I had Octopus, and when they brought out the flaming cheese we all yelled "opa!" and the entire restaurant stopped eating and looked at us.
I asked LeeAnn if she wanted to stay in Clearwater longer, she said: "I don't want to leave, but I don't want to stay here either."
We considered sailing up to Tarpon Spring, or Duneden, but we've also heard great things about the cruising community down in Boot Key Harbor, so we want to go check that out.
We left the dock in Clearwater around 10am. We were on the gulf by 11. I was a little nervous to be heading offshore. I always am. I think it's the idea that we're stuck out on the water. If the weather turns bad, or something goes wrong, we could be hours from a safe harbor. I also get seasick. This time I took Dramamine when we left the dock.
We made our way out to deep water and turned south. The wind and waves pushed us along. At first, it was a little wallowy and even LeeAnn with her invincible stomach started to feel queasy. But after a few hours, the boat found it's groove, and we enjoyed an incredibly smooth sail.
We had leftovers for dinner and put the boys to bed.
After dark, the wind increased to 20 knots. We rounded a point and adjusted course to the Southeast. This put the Northeast wind and waves directly on our beam (broadside of the boat).
The wind started gusting up to 25 knots, nearly 30 mph. It was clearly time to reef the sails.
LeeAnn was still laying with the boys, so I put on my jacket, harness, lifejacket, headlamp and stepped out on deck.
It was loud, and dark, and wet. Waves slamming into the side of the boat sent explosions of spray into the air. We were flying on the wind. The boat making a steady 8 knots, with bursts of 11 knots as we surfed down the waves.
I reefed the jib first. It was easier and faster. I let out some sail, which caused the jib to writhe like it was possessed by a demon trying to rip it's host apart. I rushed to the other side of the boat to haul in the furling line. I repeated this process twice to get the sail down to the size I wanted.
I then reefed the main to the first reef point, slowly dropping the sail while bringing in the reefing line. With reefed sails, we were still making a steady 7-8 knots.
We made great time and arrived at Marco Island by 10am the next day, clearing the entire 150 miles in just under 24 hours, considering we didn't actually start making progress southward until 11am the previous day.
I'm really proud of this passage. It was the first time LeeAnn and I sailed alone overnight since having kids. We dealt with some pretty strong winds but never felt like we needed to head for shore. The Dramamine was wonderful, no seasickness, however, Charlie did puke so we puke Children's Chewable Dramamine on our shopping list for Marco Island.
We spent almost a week on Marco Island, waiting for weather, and hanging out with my Grandma who lives on the island. She was SUPER awesome and helped us get groceries, bought us dinner, and let us use her pool! It was beyond what we had expected, and we had a great time!