Manatees & Crab Pots (Day 120)

Yesterday, manatees. Today, crab pots. Florida in late November!

I write this on Sunday night from the small town of Cedar Key, about 30 miles north of Crystal River. Many Moons is almost 100 miles away, moving south as I move north. But I got to see her one more time.

A manatee comes close to my board.

Yesterday, I followed the boat by car from Carrabelle to Crystal River. As planned, I brought medical and cooking supplies to the boat…and decided to spend the night on board, near Pete’s Pier. How could I not? The boat was anchored in the perfect place for water-level visits with the “sea cows!” That’s been on my must-do list for years. (I was hoping to scuba dive with them but that is not allowed anymore, nor should it be.) I was delivered back to land before sunrise and once again watched as the boat pulled away without me. Once again, it felt odd. I have a few days to play with, so sat in the parking lot a long time trying to decide whether to drive south (to its next port) or north (toward my house near Washington D.C.). I drove north.

Which is just as well. Tonight, Many Moons is anchored about four miles offshore in the vicinity of Tarpon Springs. It would have been hard to get to the boat! (I tried to find a marina slip there but none was available, which isn’t surprising with so many Looping boats in Florida right now. At least 15 boats left Carrabelle this morning to cross the gulf, all headed in this direction. I wonder if that’s a record.)

Today’s 66-mile leg for Many Moons was marked by crab pots – lots of them – and a large pod of dolphins. “There were minefields out there!,” said Jeff. (He meant the crab pots, not the dolphins. 😉 ) Skies were gray but seas were calm, and the depth was never over 12 feet as she followed Florida’s west coast from 15 miles off-shore. Isn’t that amazing? Just 12 feet deep, so far out!

Tonight’s stop — #66 of the trip — brings Many Moons back into the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) after 230 miles in the Gulf of Mexico. Tomorrow, Jeff and Tom will head south another 60 miles or so, while I head north more than 800 miles…but not before I explore this charming town a little more. I made a point to come here to Cedar Key, well off my designated route, and I don’t want to rush it. After all, you can “see America” by boat or car! Photos and captions below.

PS: I’ve been calling it the intercoastal. It’s actually the intracoastal. Oops. (See explanation here.)

Many Moons is anchored tonight inside a barrier island near Tarpon Springs.
Jeff and I took the dinghy out in Crystal River yesterday. Lots of watercraft around! It’s “high-season” for manatee-watching.
Heading up Crystal River in the dinghy. How wonderful to see clear water again.
I took my paddle board out for a closer look. That’s a group of snorkelers in front of me. I didn’t have fins or snorkel, but I did put my mask on and put my face into the water while lying flat on my board.
This big guy came so close to me! (More likely a “gal.” Seemed to be mostly mamas and babies here.) It reminded me of working with scientists in a dinghy, in a bay off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. They were studying whale migration. A whale came right up to our boat and raised out of the water, its eyeball almost level with mine. A few feet away! Then it just slid back under. Unforgettable.
Pelicans wait for scraps from the fish cleaning station at Pete’s Pier.
Tom and Jeff head for dinner in the little dinghy. Jeff is getting into the holiday spirit!
Sunrise this morning in Crystal River. About 20 boats were anchored near us.
As I drove into Cedar Key, I saw these Looper boats at anchor and caught up with them on land. What fun!
I enjoyed getting to know Ann and Ann (yes, the same name) from Hallelujah and Out of the Blue. How lucky for me that they were at Cedar Key, as I was feeling “Looper withdrawal!”
This area of Florida is called “the lowlands” for a reason….
A reminder at a tourist shop in Cedar Key about local political leanings…

2 thoughts on “Manatees & Crab Pots (Day 120)

  1. Greetings from Lanse, Michigan! We fully understand your feelings of withdrawal after parting with the boat. We have been glued to your narrations, and look forward every day for a new chapter. We will experience withdrawal as well if you were to stop writing!
    Safe travels on your hiatus, and God Bless! Norm and Gail


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