Monday, April 7, 2014

Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs

Well, now I know how Sir Walter Raleigh, Columbus and Magellen felt. It took us 23 hours non-stop to get from Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs requiring us to travel through the night. Because of all our delays we are one of the last "Loopers" to cross the Gulf so had to do the journey by ourselves not in a convoy as recommended. We left Carrabelle about 7:15pm and arrived in Tarpon Springs around 6pm the next day. We took shifts napping through the night and slept with our life jackets on because at one time we were 70 miles from land. I suggested we drive with our spotlight on as well as the usual navigation lights. When it was change of "shift" I went outside and it was pitch dark, no lights to be seen anywhere. The stars (no moon not even a sliver) were absolutely magnificent. I felt like I could reach up into the sky and pluck one down to my boat for light (or maybe "put it in my pocket and save it for a rainy day". I went back into the cabin and took a photo.
What you are looking at are my instruments, the windows and then the guard rail at the front of the boat illuminated by the spot light. As you can see or cannot see is nothing, nada, nowt!! It is completely black beyond the searchlight. I also quickly turned off the spotlight and saw completely nothing in the dark except for the instruments. Can you imagine sailors, explorers in the old days crossing the mighty Atlantic, Pacific etc? Boy, they get my admiration. Our crossing was successful, the waves treated us kindly and the winds were light until early the next morning. I did not know until after the crossing that Gary had been worrying about this trip since we left Canada. Maybe if I had known, I too would have been more worried. I took some photos throughout the journey some of which I show here.

Shrimp boat returning home after being out all day fishing.

Shrimp boat going out early in the morning (taken when we left Carrabelle).

I think this bird is a dowitcher
We slept for approx 14 hours the night we arrived in Tarpon Springs. The next day was warm and sunny and we went into Tarpon Springs to explore. Tarpon Springs has a very large Greek population so there are many Greek restaurants all painted in blue and white. The streets are narrow, winding and border onto the Bayou where fishing boats and sponge boats load and unload their catches. Apparently, Tarpon Springs is the sponge capital of the world. The divers say that supply is 8 times shorter than the demand. We went on a short sponge boat trip to see how sponges were collected many years ago. The diver wore the old diving suit, helmet, lead boots and had lead weights added to his shoulders so that he could walk on the floor of the ocean/gulf. The weight totalled 170lbs.

This is a photo of the diver with his suit inflated and ready to go over the side of the boat. Once on the bottom, he deflates the suit and walks around until he finds a sponge. The sponge is then cut with a special knife and placed in a basket to be pulled up by the crew on board the boat.

Frank after finding a sponge and grabbing it with his "fork".

The diver getting back onto the boat.
Above photo shows the different types of sponges that can be collected. Finger, yellow, wire and wool. Each serves a different purpose. What I found interesting was that a sponge is an animal and not a plant. Therefore, being an animal I wondered how it made baby sponges. I was told by Frank that sponges are hermaphrodite (both sexes) so it is able to procreate all by itself.
After the boat trip we had a great Greek meal at the "Mykonis" restaurant and saw some of the sights.

I saw this sign and thought "what a strange sign", who would want to see a dead belly dancer?
OK, I have messed up here. I thought I had published this blog only to find it was a draft. So, I will publish what I have done and continue the next part of the blog on another date.

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