Howdy Everybody,

 UPDATE #2   4/9 thru 4/18/06.


Most all of you have already read through our first email update that covered the period 4/1 thru 4/9.  We have heard from some of you that you enjoyed hearing about our trip so far.  We hope that each and every one of you on our list will enjoy these log updates and that you will continue to wish us well as we progress.  Please send us your comments, thoughts, and ideas via email.  We are very interested in hearing from ya’all.


4/10   Day 10  Monday      Joe’s Bayou, Destin, FL to Pearl Bayou, just east of Panama City, FL


By 6:45am, we were departing the narrow channel out of Joe’s Bayou.  It was quite a windy morning out on the Choctawhatchee Bay.  Around mid morning, we saw that we had had a missed call.  It was a message from our long time friends from Rockport, TX, Sam and Donna Jansma.  They had passed us just before 9am out on the bay.  We waved at each other but neither Judy nor I registered who it was.  They were headed west after their 3-week voyage from Jacksonville, FL.  They recognized us, but the rough conditions prevented them from coming back after us.  Oh well, we certainly hope to get to see them somewhere else.  Perhaps in the fall as we should both be in Tennessee. 

Interestingly, this is the second time we have encountered some long time friends on the waterway.  Back on 4/6, we came upon a lovely looking sailboat that was schooner rigged.  This is a relatively unusual setup for smaller boats today.  As we passed close by, Judy said, “ that looks like Pat Hopper.  We hailed the “Pretty Molly” on Channel 16 and had a pleasant conversation on a working channel.  There was real surprise in the answering voice when I asked if her name might be “Pat”. She said, “well, Yes”.  With even more surprise when I asked if her last might be “Hopper”.  When we announced our names, she said in awe, “…. What are you guys doing in that big, ole boat?  They had bought their new boat in Biloxi and were headed home to Rockport with it.  Soooo nice…..    We look forward to seeing John and Pat again next time we are in Texas.  Now back to today’s episode……

 Exiting the bay eastbound, we entered an area called the “Grand Canyon”.  It was soon apparent how aptly name it is.  This is a narrow, man-made channel that has experienced an interesting phenomenon.  Erosion of the soil and dunes has sculpted the land into what looks like a smaller version of the Grand Canyon.  The sights were quite similar except on a much smaller scale.  Quite a neat way to spend the morning.  By early afternoon, we had advanced into the Panama City, FL area.  We had been told by Tom Satori to check out Smack Bayou.  We proceeded in but found that the anchorage was already heavily populated by what appeared to be some sailboats that have taken up semi-permanent residence there.  Such a nice place, why not….  We decided to press ahead a little further.  Another recommended anchorage was at Pearl Bayou.  We entered cautiously and found a lovely location eager to receive our anchor.  We set it in our usual manner.  Our skills are improving every day.  We were anchored in the approach flight path for the airbase.  We were treated to an afternoon of formation fly-by’s featuring the finest in military fighter aircraft.  Since we had much of the afternoon to enjoy, I decided to install the XM radio unit that we brought with us but had not had time to install.  It is a temporary installation as we are still awaiting the shipment of our permanent unit.

 By early evening, all was quiet.  The anchorage had numerous boats, however, only two or three seemed to be occupied.  Tonight’s repast featured a delicious, grilled chopped steak smothered in mushroom gravy, Judy’s special sautéed new potatoes and onions, and a dish of cling peaches.  Very superb, very superb….. and XM dinner music to soothe the soul….



4/11   Day 11 Tuesday     Pearl Bayou, Panama City, FL to Carabelle, FL

After 20 minutes of anchor duty, we had finally cleaned off most of the mud packed on our anchor and chain.  Messy, Yes, but it is so nice to know that you have been so secure.  We are using a Fortress brand anchor.  It is a “fluke style” anchor made of aluminum.  With its wide, pointed blades, or flukes, it is well renowned for its ability to dig in and grab in these muddy conditions.  These anchors are often highly recommended for the conditions that exist along our planned routings.  So, at 6:50am we were finally underway eastbound.  It was a bright, sunny morning and all the world seemed right.  Hot coffee, continental style breakfast served on the bridge, and a breathtaking view of the Florida panhandle.  How nice is this?

Our route took us through Wetappo Creek that is a beautiful, winding river.  The Gulf County Canal brought us to the White City Bridge.  It is here that the time zone changes from Central to Eastern Daylight Savings time.  We may have lost an hour, but we gained some beautiful memories.  Lake Wimico and the river brought us to Apalachicola.  

Today we enjoyed the new XM radio and listened to some great comedy selections on the Laugh channel.  Some of that stuff will have you splitting your gut.  Weren’t some of the old comedians terrific?  Brought back some great memories of my Dad as he would be laughing heartily at that stuff.  It really had me going too.

By mid-afternoon, we moved into another area of relatively open water, Apalachicola Bay.  The wind was brisk and the resulting wave action had stirred up the bottom enough to fool our depth sounder into thinking we were in much shallower water.  We decided to take things a little slower through the area just in case the readings were right and perhaps the wind had blown some of the water out of the bay (a situation all to common in the south Texas bays).  As we continued east, the winds subsided and we had a pleasant voyage into Carabelle, FL.  We refueled at Moorings Marina, filled our water tanks, and filled the ice chest.  It was a pleasant evening so we decided to anchor out across the channel.  Tonight, we could sleep late into the morning because we didn’t need to get out early.  We have now completed the GIWW (Gulf Intercoastal Water Way).  As you may remember, the mileages had been increasing since New Orleans.  Carabelle, FL is at mile 379.4 east of New Orleans.  We will now start counting miles progressed from Carabelle.  In the morning, we will decide if we should proceed or rest another day for more ideal weather.  We worked on the anchor wash-down pump that had been used so much on this trip.  We found that the pressure switch was acting up and we need to replace it.  Until then, we wired it directly to the on-off switch temporarily.  Hopefully, we can replace it in Tarpon Springs.  Being quite tired and a little later than planned, we opted for a light dinner.  Judy prepared exquisite sandwiches of white albacore tuna on toast with Pringles chips.  We have no internet connection here in Carabelle.  Tired eyes and muscles prompted us into bed early.  Nighty-night……


4/12   Day 12    Wednesday    Carabelle, FL

It is a beautiful, sunny day at this anchorage.  Up at 7:30am to check weather and review routing.  The weather across the Gulf of Mexico might be OK for tonight but it sounds even better for a departure tomorrow.  We decided to stay put here in Carabelle harbor for another night.  Judy slept in till 9am and then made a wonderful breakfast of cheese and chives eggs mixed with bacon bits.  Served with English muffins, it was great.  Until today, we have enjoyed breakfast up on the bridge while underway.  It has been wonderful with bananas, oatmeal, Danish, cinnamon rolls, or some choice of these.  Coffee is prepared the night before and then brewed first thing in the morning.  Starbucks… “…eat your heart out”.  So this morning was extra special with a sit-down breakfast…. Sooooo Goooood!  We spent a while programming the navigation systems and reviewing the charts.  Updating this log is another event for today.  No internet today either.

A very relaxing and peaceful day it was.  So tell me, beautiful weather, beautiful anchorage, no schedule, an afternoon nap, cocktails, a delightful dinner of grilled polish kielbasa, mashed potatoes, and golden kernel corn….. Is this paradise or what? 

Maybe you want to know more about cocktail hour.  Several weeks ago, we enjoyed a delightful visit from Judy’s brother, Dean, and his really neat friend, Teresa Montgomery.  Well, they arrived early afternoon so being intelligent people that we are, we concluded that it was “5 o’clock somewhere” and thus cocktail hour was available.  Theresa suggested Bloody Mary drinks.  Well, in the process of preparing them, we learned that some of the ingredients are actually “anti-oxidants”.  That was enough to convince me that these were health drinks and that it would be unconscionable to deny our bodies the healthy beverage we had concocted. Ever since that day, I knew that I had turned the corner toward a healthier life and that I should try to partake of this marvelous health drink often.  So far, I’m doing pretty well and I think I have rid my body of many of the evil “oxidants”.  Tonight we rest, my friends, for tomorrow we meet the conquest of the Gulf of Mexico. 


4/13/06  Day 13   Thursday    Carabelle, Fl to the Gulf of Mexico crossing


We had a nice day anchored at Carabelle on Wednesday.  Today’s weather check indicates that conditions should be conducive to a Gulf of Mexico crossing to Tarpon Springs.  At 12 O’clock noon, we were underway as scheduled.  This was the cleanest the anchor has come up since we left.  There is a  much higher sand content to this holding ground.  By 1:07pm, we had cleared the channels and exited through what is known as “East Pass”.  Our official Gulf Crossing had commenced as we rounded the southwest side of Dog Island.  The seas were 2 to 4 foot and that was as advertised for today.  We experienced a beautiful sunset, however, we still did not get to see the elusive “green flash”.  The green flash is a phenomenon that is said to occur exactly as the sun sets in the west.  As the radiating light hits the atmosphere at such a steep angle, the light is purported to refract into its composite colors and, thus, result in a green flash.  For me, it has been elusive as I have yet to know if I really have seen it or not.  Of course, it would be a nano-second occurrence and as such, I certainly could have missed it altogether.  Who knows?  Have any of you seen it happen?  Let us know.  I can tell you that if it occurred this evening, neither of us saw it.  What we did see, however, was the rising of a magnificent full moon in the eastern sky.  I began as a huge, golden orb that began to gain in brilliance as it rose rapidly into the darkening sky.  The lunar reflection cast a broad band of glistening light across a gentle sea.  It is quite wondrous to see the nocturnal beauty of nature upon the seas.

   The seas had quieted to a mere 1 to 2 foot wave sequence early in the evening, but as we progressed through the night, the wind picked up to 15 to 20 knots and the seas were generally 3 to 5 foot with periods of 4 to 6 feet.  AMARSE has her decks well washed with the clear, salty Gulf waters.  Judy and I took turns napping in the cockpit.  The temperature was in the sixties, however, the night air was still chilling and the roughness of the seas made sure that neither of us got too much rest.  Dinner had consisted of snacks instead of the usual spectacular.  It was just what we wanted though since it wouldn’t be very safe to try to cook anything too hardy.  As we calculated our estimated arrival times at the destination, it became apparent that we would arrive to early for daylight.  We decided to reduce power settings and slow our forward speed to ensure that our arrival would occur after sunrise.  Soon, it was midnight and we had been underway for a full 12 hours.  We had kept alert and laughing by listening to XM Radio comedy channel.  A lot of the material was a hoot and also made time zip by.



4/14/06    Day 14   Friday    Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico to Tarpon Springs, FL


By midnight, we had progressed beyond the half way mark of the crossing.  Seas continued to be a little rough, however, the autopilot was handling the course with good manners.  The full moon was now high and made it quite beautiful to be at sea.  As daylight dawned, we were crossing into somewhat shallower waters that began to evidence numerous crab trap buoys.  The small floating markers are to be aggressively avoided.  Many a cruiser has found the prop fouled with the polypropylene line that attaches the float to the trap.  Fortunately, we passed them without interference.  As we approached one of these that was uncomfortably close, I disengaged the autopilot to steer around it.  To my surprise, I found that the manual steering was not responding to the wheel input.  These type vessels have hydraulic steering mechanisms.  While the autopilot was capable of steering the boat, the wheel was not.  We continued to the conclusion of the deeper gulf crossing until we reached a channel just south of Anclote Key.  We anchored just south of the channel in 8 to 10 feet of water.  Although I had never worked on this type of steering unit, I was able to figure out how to bleed the system and restore its effectiveness.  With the delay of only about an hour, we continued inbound on the Anclote River to the Tarpon Springs City Marina.  What a lovely area!!  We enjoyed the natural beauty that led to the beautiful homes along the waterway.  There were lots and lots of boats zipping everywhere.  Good Friday meant a holiday for many people and a great opportunity to enjoy these recreational activities.  By 10:30am, we were tied securely to the dock.  Backing into the slip was good challenge since there were only a couple inches to spare on each side.  It went well and the Marina staff was friendly and helpful.

     You might think we would be exhausted from the overnight passage, however, we didn’t feel like we wanted to waste a second of this lovely area.  Tarpon Springs is a wonderful place.  It is known as the sponge capital and has a rich and interesting history.  The people have retained their Greek heritage and lifestyle.  The area has numerous Greek restaurants and shops that specialize in sponges and items from the sea.  There are several museums and tourist attractions that feature the sponge industry and its history.  There are several boat tours that take tourists out to learn the nature of sponge gathering and show movies about the divers.  For Judy and I, the call of a seafood restaurant was beckoning.  “The Mullet Boat” was highly recommended.  We had their specialty, “She-Crab Soup”.  It was absolutely spectacular and is certainly the best that I’ve ever had.  We shared a grouper luncheon and delicious Greek style bread.  Oh, Oh, Oh…

We decided that we better take care of business and boarded the city bus after gathering our laundry bags.  The Laundromat was happy to accept our quarters into two double load machines and a triple load machine.  As they tumbled, we walked over to Boat/US store and picked up some needed goodies.  Four dryers worked hard to finish all of our newly clean stuff.  We rushed out the back door to catch the bus back to the marina.  Mucho laundry.

  We were excited to see our friends, Ken and Georgia Bray.  They were finally off work now and came to visit us aboard AMARSE.  They live just 8 or 10 miles away in Palm Harbor, FL.  Judy and Ken have been friends for many, many years.  They were both neighbors and close friends in Michigan.  So close was that friendship that they both became Little Caesars Pizza franchisees and subsequently opened business locations in Texas.  Many years later, Judy bought Ken’s locations when he moved to Florida.  It has been quite a few years since we had had the opportunity to visit.  It was a sweet reunion, for sure.  After cocktails on the sundeck of AMARSE, we enjoyed dinner at Satorini’s restaurant right there at the sponge docks.  Ken and I had grouper, Judy had a Greek specialty known as “Gyro”, pronounced “Gee-Row”.  It is a mixture of beef and lamb that is roasted on an upright “spit” and then shaved thin as it cooks.  She enjoyed it even though it was garlic-potent.  Georgia had her grouper fish prepared in a Greek style.  What a great way to enjoy an evening.  Judy and I slept soundly on the boat that night.  We were tired little puppies.


04/15/06  Day 15    Saturday      Tarpon Springs, FL


    We had been told that the marina would not have space for us tonight as they had taken advance reservations for all the slips.  The gal had told us that the inbounds must confirm by noon or they would loose their spot and thus we could stay.  Not knowing for sure, we decided to set out early to re-provision the boat and get all the required stuff done in case we did have to leave.  We took the bus to the grocery store and stocked up on the stuff we needed and headed back to the boat to be on hand at exactly noon to pay for the slip if the inbounds failed to confirm.  At noon, there had been no confirmation and the dockmaster even called the inbounds contact number and got a recording.  We paid for two nights and rejoiced.  We bought day bus passes and went to ACE hardware to get parts for the washdown switch.  We went to Boat/US store and had Kathy, the store manager, arrange for another GPS chip to be made at another store.  We hoped the #19 bus and headed south to find the other store.  It took almost an hour and twenty minutes to get there at Hwy19/118th St.North.  We started back aboard the returning bus as Ken called and said he could pick us up since he had completed his Rotary Club fundraiser.  We jumped back off the bus and Ken had us in his real nice Lincoln Signature Edition sedan.  Much more comfortable than the bus.  We dropped our stuff at the boat and headed for Publix Market.  We shopped for dinner.  Judy and I found swordfish steaks and Ken chose Tilapia filets for them.  We picked up some ingredients for “anti-oxidants” and other cocktails.  What a feast we had.  The poolside BBQ featured salads and baked potatoes to accompany our seafood selections.  Bill Bray, Ken’s son, joined us.  What a great evening with great food, great friends, and great conversation.  This, my friends, is what it is all about…..       We slept very well in the comfortable guest room.



04/16/06   Day 16   Sunday     Easter Sunday       Tarpon Springs, FL


Happy Easter.  

Good Morning with Coffee and breakfast of biscuits, bacon, and eggs to order.  Delish….!  Ken and Bill brought us back to the marina.  On the way, I picked up a Vacuum gauge for my Racor Fuel Filter.  I installed it and it confirmed that our fuel filters were doing OK.  Georgia had planned a big get-together dinner at 2pm so we hurried back to the Bray’s home.  Showered and we were treated to many members of the family and friends as well as a wonderful honey-baked ham, scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole, etc, etc.  Superb !!!!   About 6pm, Bill took us back to the boat.  Soon Ken and Georgia came over and we enjoyed the sunset and cocktails aboard AMARSE.  Soon it was good night friends.

    Now, I had tax details to take care of.  I finally got enough done in spite of losing all my data on another bad CD disc.  Oh, well……


04/17/06   Day 17    Monday     Tarpon Springs, FL to Longboat Key, FL

  We had decided to stay one more night in Tarpon Springs.  We called the marina answering machine and left a message.  We took the bus to the post office to mail our stuff and stopped for breakfast.  When we returned to the boat, we were informed that the marina was booked full for the night.  OK.  Well, we filled the water tanks and the ice chest and cast off for points south about 11am.  It was a beautiful day and good to be back underway again.  With no firm destination planned, we just headed south along the ICW.  Beautiful scenery and magnificent homes all along the way.  The mileage markers have changed once again.  The mileage is now measured from Anclote Key which is outside of Tarpon Springs channel and the Anclote River almost an hour from downtown Tarpon.  Passing communities like Dunedin, Clearwater, Treasure Island, and many more was a treat.  We passed along side of the huge Sunshine Skyway Bridge that crosses the channel to Tampa Bay.  It has a clearance of 175 feet.  We pressed on and as evening approached, we chose an anchorage at the southern end of Longboat Key.  We had traveled the Tarpon exit route through the Anclote River and started south on the ICW (InterCoastal Waterway) starting at mile 152 and to our anchorage near mile 78.4.  It was just at sunset.  There is a nice breeze and no bugs.  Dinner on the BBQ of smoked sausage, rice medley, and applesauce.  We missed cocktail hour tonight but did enjoy dinner out at the sundeck table.  This is great.  I must say, I’m quite tired tonight.  I’ve stayed up altogether too late working on this update.  Nitey-nite…..


04/18/06    Day 18   Tuesday     Longboat Key to anchorage at J N Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge


   By 7am, we were underway continuing south.  The anchorage had been lovely.  The anchor came up clean as the sandy mud just fell off.  Everything was wet with dew this morning but not cold.  The wind has died off.  We could see part of the sunrise then it hid behind early morning clouds.  We passed Sarasota early and transited many different bridges along the waterway.  The weather was wonderful if even a bit hot.  We located an anchorage just off the J N Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge just south of mile marker 5.3.  We are now just a short way from completing the ICW portion of the Florida West Coast.  With our anchor set by 4:30PM, we could relax with cocktails and our evening dinner.  Tonight Bill of Fare featured Chopped Steaks with grilled onions, a rice dish, all preceded by a wonderful dinner salad.  As my Dad might say, “That was real good…”  We are both tired, but I will try to get this update out to all of you now….




"AMARSE".  The name is pronounced "AM-ARE-SAY".  You can find more info about the boat at our website at:   www.amarse.net   .

Check it out for background info and some pics.  We are experiencing some difficulty in getting the trip log section up and running so we will attempt to keep you informed via email until such time as we can do everything through the website.  We look forward to hearing from all of you.  (Please don't send us any email jokes since we have very limited email capacity and speed is slow.  Please do email us with you thoughts and comments and ideas.  Thanks



Lot of Love,

Fred Reed and Judy Law