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Crossing the Gulf of Mexico in a 39 ft Kadey Krogen Trawler

Captain Chris Yacht Services
Crossing the Gulf of Mexico in a 39 ft Kadey Krogen Trawler
Get ready Gulf of we come! Raring to go just before sunrise.
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Making any open water crossing can be a daunting experience…But WITH EXPERIENCE it can be another beautiful day on the water. When we are young children our parents and teachers encourage us to practice, practice, practice, honing our skills. That same advice will take you to the next level of cruising with confidence.

Captain Chris Yacht Services is invited to help make the crossing of the Big Bend from Panama City, FL to the Tampa Bay area. The owner of this 39 foot Kadey Krogen has done the trip before but still has a bit of trepidation. This overnight non-stop run gives him more experience in continuous open water cruising. Having seasoned Captains aboard gives him peace of mind. Weather windows are short due to a number of c-c-cold fronts ripping across the country and this window is no exception. If we are lucky it will stay open a little while longer.
We arrive at the Panama City marina and stow our gear and groceries. It’s a good idea to put on some extra, easy-to-fix grub in the event the seas pick up and no one volunteers to be the galley wench. Pretzels and ginger snap cookies are two of our favorites as they help calm a rumbly tummy. Best to have just-in-case items aboard and safety equipment is no exception. We always travel with immersion suits and discussed that with this owner prior to the trip. He asks that we bring an extra for him as his trawler is not equipped with a life raft. After we complete our engine checks it is time for instructions on how to don the immersion suit. The easy to follow steps are written on the outside of the carry bag but there are tricks to wearing this floatation device. Lots to prepare for yet hope to never need.

Casting off at first light, the winds are calm but a light drizzle begins our 200+ mile crossing. A cargo ship is also leaving port so we give her a wide berth while the pilot boat retrieves the pilot from the ship. We head out 30 miles to clear the shoals of Cape San Blas then change course, steering directly for Egmont Channel Sea Buoy and the entrance to Tampa Bay. This open water crossing is different than running north and south on the Atlantic coast because there is NO ONE out here in the Gulf.

Fortune smiles on us for this December crossing. Most boats have already headed south before the holidays since the fronts are quite active from November on through March. We have coordinated a buddy boat arrangement with another crew we trust. They plan to travel at the same speed heading for the same destination and between the two boats we have a gazillion days of experience on the water. Buddy Boating can be a help or a hindrance so be sure you know the skill and intent of the other captain before you agree to make a voyage together. To help pass the time during a long night, our helmsmen can chat on the VHF with our buddy boat while others in our crew get some rest.

The seas are a nice 2-4 throughout the first day actually becoming calmer after sunset. The almost blue moon is bright, guiding us most of the night. Our weather window seems to be holding. Hints of daybreak streak the sky before our second sunrise but the winds are growing restless. As the sun gets higher, so do the waves. Thankfully the champagne stern of the Kadey Krogen is designed to handle following seas and she doesn’t disappoint. Using the binoculars to scan the horizon we spy an anchored freighter marking the channel entrance to Tampa Bay. Land Ho! And are we glad this trawler has active fin stabilizers when we make our turn at the sea buoy. It’s a regular washing machine out here. Even the dolphins are jumping funny.

Docking at 5pm after thirty-four hours on the open water, our leg of the journey is complete. We made a plan, adapted it for the weather and kept safety in mind throughout the journey…and it was worth it! This trawler owner now has more open water experience taking him to the next level of cruising with confidence.

Our buddy boat follows behind as we leave the Marina in Panama City just before sunrise.
So nice to relax in the pilot house after setting the autopilot on the proper course.
Sunset on a terrific day out on the Gulf of Mexico.
We can keep an eye on Captain Chris as he makes an engine room check. This owner had a wonderful camera set up which allowed us to switch from a view of the engine room to a view from the stern...and a view of what's on the satellite TV in between.
Entertained by dolphins riding the bow. Getting dark so we won't go out on deck anymore unless we have to. Time to get out the night vision monocular.
Sunrise! Still no sight of land. We have a few more hour to go.
Captain Chris has much to smile about - we're almost there and everything is ship shape. The weather is starting to flex it's muscles but we're in the right boat to make a crossing.
Here comes the predicted front. What do you know? NOAA was right this time!
We must be close to civilization. A shrimp boat at work, rain or shine.
This freighter marks our entrance to Tampa Bay. Although at anchor, we still give her a wide berth, just in case.
Look closely...we were trying to focus on our buddy boat just ahead. Instead, the bumpy seas let us capture a few friendly dolphin welcoming us to south Florida.
There's our buddy boat, glad for the active fin stabilizers as the swirling waves try to toss us about.
We're in the Bay and out of the wind...REALLY!
Sunset on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico. Another great crossing...Thanks for having us aboard Donnie!
Almost forgot! We never needed the Immersion Suit but it's a wonderful tool to have for the just-in-case.

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