After the storm passed to the east of us last night, things calmed down, including me, and it was a restful night. Although, in the middle of the night, Auggie got out of his bed on the sofa and layed on the step up to our bed. Something must have scared him, so I brought him up into our bed. He snuggled under the covers and went right to sleep. This morning, when we took Auggie to shore, Bob treated me to a McDonald's breakfast.
Every Sunday morning at home, he makes me a nice breakfast. Since we haven't been home for a few Sundays, he thought this would be just as good. He was right! We hauled anchor at 9:15 and continued south. We checked the weather and decided to head for home today. The winds are forecast to be kind of breezy at night for the next couple of nights. They would also be out of the wrong direction for the 2 anchorages we wanted to visit, so we decided to go home. We passed under the new Treasure Island bridge. It's quite a beautiful structure!
The next landmark we always like to see is the Don Cesar Hotel, or the Pink Palace, as we commonly refer to it.
We stopped again at Gulfport to fuel up (cheap fuel) and get a pumpout. That way the boat will be full of fuel, in case we would have to make a run for it if a hurricane comes. Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and yet we have our first tropical storm of the season, Alberto, off the coast of South Carolina. I hope this isn't a sign of what this year's hurricane season will be like. It only took us 20 minutes at the fuel dock and we were on our way again. We passed by Eckerd College, where they were having an outdoors graduation ceremonies. That's quite a tent!
It was a beautiful day for a graduation--sunny skies and light winds. Temps were in the 80's. Lots of boaters were on the water on this beautiful Sunday. We started our trip in April with dolphins swimming alongside of us. It is only fitting that we should end it the same way. I never get tired of that!
We had to pick up speed crossing Tampa Bay with 1-2 foot waves on the beam for part of the way. That made for a roll-y ride until we turned to go west. About halfway across Tampa Bay, we heard a loud squeal. Bob felt the starboard engine lose power and then there was a gravel-y sound. Immediately, Bob turned off that engine and went down to take a look. He thought it might be the fan belt, so we motored on one engine. Bob would replace it, while I did the driving. The waves were now on our stern so that helped push us along. Down in the engine room, Bob discovered that the fan belt was still intact, but there was a small amount of oil on the side of the engine. He thought we either blew a transmission or an engine. (I vote for the transmission....it's a lot cheaper to fix.) We finally turned the corner into Terra Ceia Bay and decided it would be best to anchor the boat in the main lagoon at Tropic Isles....our community...and not try and turn 3 corners to get to our dock at home.
After anchoring the boat, we dinghied back to the house where I got the truck so we could off-load some of our things. We wanted to get the freezer and refrigerator items home since there would be no power on the boat. I met Bob at the marina dock with the truck and he made two trips to the boat to load up. The guys at our marina were kind enough to help me carry the stuff to the truck. I left Bob with the boat so he could close everything up and drove back to the house to unload. Bob joined me back at the house and we tied the dinghy up at our pier for the night. The wind had picked up and was blowing quite strongly, so we were a little concerned about the boat in the lagoon. We were the first ones to ever anchor in there, as far as we know, and we didn't know what kind of holding there was below. After about an hour, we got a call from the marina guys who said they thought the boat was drifting, so Bob and I hopped in the dinghy and went over to check it out. He had set up the anchor alarm, which keeps track of the boat's location, and we were right where we dropped the anchor. The wind had changed direction and it looked like we were closer to shore than we had been. In reality, the boat had just swung around. All was well!
I packed up some more things to bring back from the boat and Bob went down in the engine room (now that it was cooler down there) and tried to diagnose the problem. Good thing the captain is also a good mechanic! He determined that it was the transmission that went bad. Tomorrow we would make plans to take the boat into the nearby yard for service. Bob went back to check on the boat twice as it got dark and asked a friend who lives on the lagoon to keep an eye on it. As darkness fell, the wind calmed off a little and changed direction. We would sleep good tonight in our own beds. All in all, we had a wonderful trip. We are thankful that we had this boat problem so close to home. You just never know with boats! We traveled a total of 387.4 miles in almost 30 days. We saw some new places and revisited some familiar ones. Boating is in my blood, but it's good to be home.