12/2 – 12/5
We only had to wait two days for crossable weather; not too smooth, not too rough. Our crossing took 10 ½ hours, and we were out of sight of land from shore to shore, a first for us. A little unnerving, but everything went fine. Better than the trawlers behind us that took 22 hours and had spend a night “on the hook” in the Gulf during their crossing because they cruise much slower than we do. Our average cruise speed for the crossing was 17.3 mph, with a maximum speed of 22.9. Some choose an alternate route around the Big Bend, following the coastline around the panhandle down to the west coast, but we were warned of the shallow water throughout that area, especially this time of year. We also looked forward to the challenge of open water after being inland for so much of this trip. We made it to Clearwater. Some say this is the furthest north you should even consider staying on the west coast for the winter if you want warm weather. It was time for some sunshine and warm weather. So far, the weather has not been good; the cool temps and clouds have forced our bodies to be clad in jeans and long sleeves except for warm weather here and there. We expect that to change now! We did major grocery shopping here using the trolley system. Amazing how much two people can carry when the need arises; we nearly had to make two trips from trolley to dock. We docked at the municipal marina here and visited the nearby Pier 60, where craftsmen (or is it craftspeople) display and sell their wares. The beach beneath is extensive with beautiful white sand. We thought this a wonderful entrance to South Florida.