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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Great Mullet Key Cruise

Mullet Key Ft Desoto Florida Tampa Bay 
Mullet key is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay on the north edge of the Mullet Key Shipping Channel. Mullet Key is home to Ft Desoto Park with its cannons hidden behind tall concrete abutments along its western shore in defense of Mullet instead of the Spanish these days.

Even though Ft Desoto is one of the most popular parks in Pinellas County, Mullet Key proper is a place of heart stopping beauty and serenity. In 2001, I believe it was, the North Shore of Ft Desoto Park was judged best in the known world by Dr Leatherman. It shares this distinction with Caladesi Island State Park 30 miles or so north just offshore from Dunedin Fl. Both are highly prized by the HideAways as sailing and in the case of Ft Desoto, beach camping destinations.

The entrance to Mullet Key from the Gulf of Mexico is via an unmarked channel surrounded by Heron Knee Water that extends half a mile or so off shore known as Bunce’s Pass. Navigation of the pass varies each day to the whims of afternoon sea breeze storms, not to mention the rare hurricane or not so rare tropical storm.

In preparation for the cruise HideAway’s Capt. surveyed the channel using a two year old Google Earth image, duly noting that one photo of the entrance to Bunce’s Pass featured a large sailboat firmly aground on a vast beach without a single drop of water in sight.

Bunce's Pass Looking Toward Gulf of Mexico
If you are as unfortunate as to catch Bunce’s Pass in a bad mood the combination of tide and wind can produce, for your afternoons’ sailing enjoyment, 6 foot seas with a short fetch in an unmaintained and uncharted rather narrow channel. No wonder few large cruising sailboats call at this secluded tropical gunkhole.

On Tuesday night last, a group of renegades from the usual marina sailors met at Boca Ciega Yacht Club in Gulfport Fl to discuss strategy. Of the three boats in attendance HideAway, a Compac 23 would be the smallest and the only boat equipped with a nearly modern electric depth finding device and a mostly burned out GPS. Thus HideAway would take the lead with the others, a 26 foot something or other and the largest, a Pearson Wanderer, following. The fact that HideAway has the shallowest draft at 28 inches was over shadowed by the ownership of the electric depth finder without considering that navigation would really consist of bearings from a water tower, past excursions, and a change of sea color.

Thus plans were made, courses plotted, tides observed and rendezvous chosen. Someone added Debby as a possible addition to his crew list but no one paid much attention to the change.

As I write this in the dark, Debby is busy trimming my trees, flooding my street and yard and otherwise throwing a major hissy fit that I fear will prove costly to many.

Tropical Storm Debby - Which Way Will She Go?
Since the hurricane center is convinced that Tropical Storm Debby will head west ignoring the most reliable models that suggest a Florida landfall a nervous night is in store for everyone including the flooded city of Gulfport.

Yesterday we left HideAway spider webbed to the ground in her dry slip prepared for a level one storm event. Meanwhile work continues between power outages on HideAways’ dink sailing conversion.

The Great Mullet Key Cruise will wait for more favorable weather.

HideAway's  Dink Sailing Conversion Under Way