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Port Richey to Clearwater and the Intracoastal Waterway

posted: Jul 27, 09:39 AM

When we last left off, John was safe in Tarpon Springs and was waiting for Tropical Storm Bonnie to pass. Bonnie came through, but wasn’t as bad as John thought it would be. He is now on the Intracoastal Waterway near Clearwater/Tampa. Here is a detailed synopsis of the last week:

July 21: John reached Shell Island in the morning (near the mouth of Crystal River) after a difficult, sleepless night of holding his boat in the waves off shore. Two people on a pontoon boat, Linda and Gary, offered him a lift up the river because the tide was going out. The Twin Rivers marina did not have a restaurant, but John was able to buy snacks, rest a little and clean out his boat. He left about 2:00pm and the tide carried him out. He sailed to the St. Martin’s Keys and anchored in a shallow, grassy area. The wind was very calm and light, but he was paranoid about his anchor drifting. He was able to eventually get some sleep.

July 22: He started rowing before dawn and rowed most of the morning with a stop and start wind. Finally a good wind picked up and pushed him 5mph. John made it to Port Richey but there was no place to camp or stop, he couldn’t find anyone to talk to. He finally rowed into a marina that was closed and under repair, tied up to a dock and went to sleep.

July 23: When John woke up in the morning NOAA was screaming about Bonnie and how horrible it would be. There was a small boat warning in effect for Tarpon Springs to Tampa. John got in his boat and started sailing — he did not want to be stuck in Port Richey. He sailed in a race against time – clouds were coming in, the wind was pushing him 3-4mph. He finally made it to Tarpon Springs. The first marina had no facilities, he headed up-river and the tide was against him – it was a hard row and the sky was getting darker. Then a power boat stopped and offered John a tow. They brought him to Anclote Harbors, halfway up the river to Tarpon Springs. The clouds were really dark and it was starting to rain. The man at the marina was nice, let John shower, and hinted at vacant place next door where he could camp. He actually started thinking about heading on up river to Tarpon Springs. Then John met George Bowmen and Joan Clark and they invited him to go to dinner with them. George and Joan live on their boat, Orion. That night John camped on the porch of an abandoned house next to the marina. It was kind of creepy – he felt like he was on the set of a horror film. Bonnie came through, but it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be.

July 24: John woke up well-fed, kind of rested and showered. He borrowed George’s bike and rode to Tarpon Springs. He talked to an 83 year old sponge man while he was clipping them and getting them ready to sell. He got a little lost coming back to Anclote — said he used muscles he hadn’t use in months. He charged his marine radio and joined George and Joan and a close-knit group of other live-aboard friends for dinner. They watched dolphins play in the water and there was a spectacular sunset.

July 25: Made it to Dunedin Harbor, nice people, but no place to camp. In between storms he rowed out to a spoil island (a little rocky island where rocks and sand are dumped when the channels are dug out). There was a full moon and the fish were jumping and kept him up all night.

July 26: John made it to Clearwater Beach Marina mid-morning and had a wonderful lunch. He said the portion size was incredible and that we was fat and happy! After lunch he continued down the Intracoastal Waterway. Southerly winds didn’t help his sailing. He rowed against the tide and wind all day and camped on a spoil island.

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