It took a day longer than planned to get here as we stayed an unplanned night at Pass-A-Grille. This was a surprisingly nice town also.
We were actually heading up the ICW for Dunedin when e came upon a new "fixed bridge" and had an interesting little episode. Here's the brief version. Since discovering that there is a 54 ft bridge on the way to Miami (our mast is 62 ft), we always check the bridge clearance 2 ways. First, on the charts, and second by looking at the depth/clearance staff gauge with binoculars before we approach the bridge. This has just become a habit to avoid a costly, avoidable, and embarrassing mishap with a bridge. Those things tent to make it on You tube!!
Our charts (new this year) indicated the bridge as a bascule bridge but under construction - the bridge was not a bascule bridge! Similarly, our 2014 Waterways guide indicated a bascule bridge. Electronic charts from Navionics and iNavX gave no better information. So we called the adjacent (older) bascule bridge tender and inquired about the clearance. After some confusion over our question, the answer was a non-reassuring "I think its 64 ft". Seeking confirmation, I radioed Tow Boat US - their answer was "call the Coast Guard - they will know". So I hailed the US Coast Guard. After checking charts, and other information the Coast Guard came back with "Captain, I cannot find any information on the clearance. But I can try to Google it for you if you like"
By this time I had decided to approach the bridge cautiously looking for a staff gauge - no gauge present. And it didn't look 64 ft (but that is always deceiving), and the fenders were not located under the highest span. There was a barge moored under the highest span. By now we had probably lost an hour and the choice was to risk it, or to go out into the ocean and by-pass it. Unfortunately the next inlet was some distance up the coast. A third option emerged and that was to spend the night in Pass-A-Grille and make the decision tomorrow. I decided this was the most sensible thing -so we spent a night in Pass-A Grille which turned out to be a very nice little town. I am glad we stayed.
Some internet research revealed the grant application for the bridge - which showed a planned height of 64 ft.. Hmmmm.......planned height, and the fenders are NOT situated between what visually appears to be the highest span. I am still not completely convinced! So we opted for a very nice ocean sail up to the Clearwater Pass yesterday then on into Dunedin. I also sent an email to Florida DOT - nice and polite, requesting that they install a staff gauge, and inform the Cost Guard (and their bridge tenders) of the official bridge clearance height. So far I have not received a response.
The sail to Dunedin was great. We set off with very light wind so hoisted up our UPS sail. We were making 6 to 6.5 knots in 9 to 9.5.knots of wind - awesome!.
Then the wind died - as in completely. No wind. Some cloud started to build and the wind picked up again. In no time at all we were in 18 knots with the UPS sail........very exciting, but time to furl it as the wind was still building. We furled the UPS and switched to the regular jib. We were good for a while until the wind shifted and was right on our nose. I suspect a cold front from the north was passing through. On entering the ICW at Clearwater, we motored up to Dunedin. Many shallow spots, but a glass of Captain Salty's Anti-grounding Rum kept us off the bottom and got us safely into the marina. By now it was blowing 20+ and we docked without incident, to the praise of several onlookers and adjacent boat owners. More anti-grounding rum ensued!!
Midnight Sun in Dunedin
Some images of Dunedin - we are planning to stay here several days for a variety of work and family reasons, and I think this will be a good location! Nice, quaint small town. Friendly and helpful Marina staff, and plenty of restaurants and bars within a few blocks - but with no crowds! Yes, if i have to be on land, then this is my kind of place!