This time a nor'easter was coming so we didn't even make Carrabelle but stayed awhile in Apalachicola. While there we ordered a generator part for a new problem. (voltage too high - that's different from the old, still unfixed, problem of safety switches burning up)
Apalachicola is a lovely, charming town it's waterfront obviously experiencing a decline from its heyday of bustling warehouses for cotton and lumber with wharves filled with all kinds of steamships and sailing vessels. Still it has lots to offer with its many coffee houses, restaurants, bars, antique shops and clothing boutiques. Some of it's old historic homes have been turned into Inns or B&Bs, others have been restored and are open to visitors, a few are still being lived in.
-On our way to do laundry we stopped at the wooden boat show-
The courthouse sign says it all "Apalachicola, the real Florida". It's coastal location is near enough to the white sandy beaches of St George's Island for sun lovers and fishermen will find lots of charter boats to take them out. But today's oyster and fishing industry means that it's much more then just a tourist town.
- Dr Gorrie's patient with the ice bucket above the bed -
-the Mechanical Refrigeration Machine -
There is also an historic figure that called this town home and like the town he's important but not well known. His name is Dr John Gorrie. He invented the first machine for making ice. His 1851 patent for a mechanical refrigeration machine was first of its kind. Dr Gorrie needed a lot of ice because he realized the importance of keeping his yellow fever victims cool. He devised a way to chill the patient's room by suspending a bucket of ice above the patient's bed, then fixing a pipe that took air in at the floor level, and up through the attic and out over the ice bucket. Thus by sealing the room so no other air entered he could use the "hot air rising - cool air sinking" effect of air to lower the temperature of the patient and the room. It worked,but Dr Gorrie died not being able to market his invention or witness the amazing results that air conditioning would bring to the south.
Part of the fun of cruising is meeting fellow cruisers. The other boat in the Marina was Shaman, from Pensacola. Her owners, Don and Lisa, were making there way to the Bahamas this summer. When they aren't cruising they are big time racers in the Pensacola area. Lisa has her own all women crew and seems to win often. Ellie and Marcie do you think we want her around for LPWSA events? There was plenty time during our 4 night stay to drink sundowners, eat lots of Apalachicola oysters and trade sailing tips.
- our 4 slip marina in Apalachicola -
The marine forecast showed Tuesday morning as the day that the wind speed would slow to 15kts and start to switch around to the west. The waves would also go down to 4-5ft by mid-day so it looked like the day to head out. Roy and I had checked the charts and decided that we could cut off 12 nm if, instead of going out Carrabelle pass, we went through tricky Government Cut due south of Apalachicola. To be sure we got local knowledge around the marina " it shoals, favor the starboard side and all the big fishing boats use it". We couldn't leave early with Don and Lisa as we were still waiting on that part but by noon we'd filled the fuel and water tanks, paid our marina bill and were just waiting for the Ups truck. By 2pm we were on our way. Tarpon Springs was 24 hrs away!
You know that thing about sailors. - "if you don't run aground you aren't trying hard enough" Well we obviously were trying real hard. By 3pm we were aground in Government Cut. And shortly after that we were hard ground as the winds hadn't slackened though they were now from the West and each wave was pushing us into shallower waters. Roy tried and tried to get us free but we soon knew we'd need help. So using our Boat US membership we called and asked for a tow. (for the non boaters - SeaTow and TowBoat are the two commercial rescue operators. A BoatUS membership gives you free towing for $150/year). It was 5:30pm when SeaTow arrived. The captain tried diligently for 2 hours but we were now on a falling tide and it was getting dark. After taking our anchor out to deep water to try and halt our being pushed into even shallower water the captain checked we had provisions and slipped off into the night. It was with a sinking heart that we faced what we knew would be a long night listening to Wahoo pound her keel against the sandy bottom. Roy did what he could throughout the night to keep the waves on our beam and reduce the pounding.
|dusk and SeaTow's last try to free us|
Long before daybreak we were scanning the horizon for our returning savior. Finally dawn arrived and with it a larger, more powerful boat from TowBoat. It still took from 7:30 to about 9am and a rising tide for us to break free. We carefully checked the keel bolts, watched and listened for water seeping in from possible cracks in the keel connections. Things seemed good so the TowBoat Captain led us through the pass and by 9:30am we were once again on our way to Tarpon Springs, having now escaped the Big Bend area of Florida.
Or have they...
How is that keel? Can they take another 24hrs? this blog looks different...