Icruise up the Gulf Coast, discover how dangerous sunscreen can be, and…maybe(???) get hauled out?

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VO: In this episode, I take a cruise up the Gulf coast, discover how dangerous sunscreen can be, and maybe get my boat hauled out. Finally? Would that be too much to ask?

BR: Right front tire, low, add air to tire. That's just great. Wholly 22. That's not good.

VO: Not a good to start it.

BR: I'm driving up my street and we got lots of blooming, azaleas and mockingbirds Twittering, and a warning that my right front tire needs inflation.

VO: It turns out it's actually the right rear tire. That's low. Although for some reason, my dashboard is telling me the opposite. I can't hear anything hissing out of the tire. It seems like a slow leak. I fill up the tire, cross my fingers. And grab my first tankful of gas.

Speaking of gas, the minute I get to the boat, there's something I need to do before anything else.

BR: To check the fuel level, I lift up the cushion in the quarterberth where I sleep and open this circular observation port by unscrewing it.

Three quarters of a tank.

VO: I won't say I ever got into trouble for forgetting to check how much diesel was in the tank, but let me just put it this way.

How Not To Sail 101.

Don't bother checking the fuel level. There was fuel in there when you bought 'er wasn't there?

All right. So maybe it's happened to me before.

To be fair, plenty of things have happened to me before. Which is why I consider myself something of an expert and how not to sail.

But this time, I've actually checked to make sure I have enough fuel for what will be about a seven hour motor up to Tarpon Springs. I won't be sailing any because there are several drawbridges and my sails are in the repair shop. That's a whole nother How Not To Sail.

But I'm cautiously optimistic about finally getting my boat hauled out so I can fix those pesky thru-hull valves.

What could possibly go wrong?

How Not To Sail, sponsored by our awesome Patreon patrons. Shout out to Mark Mike Francine and Doug this week.

Latitudes & Attitudes. America's number one, selling boating lifestyle magazine.

Our friend, captain Bob Bitchin at Bob Bitchin dot com.

And I always forget, but the book How Not To Sail at How Not To Sail dot com.

BR: All right. Out of the slip 9:21.

VO: With a few hours sleep after my drive from Atlanta, I'm out relatively early the next morning. And I manage not to make too many undocking mistakes, since as we know:

If there's no one there to witness a potential f--kup, everything will go fine.

BR: 9:37 AM. Crossing west across Boca Ciega. Got out of the slip without embarrassing myself. It's always a plus.

VO: Just a few minutes before 10, time for me to call the first drawbridge of the day.

BR: Corey Causeway bridge, Corey Causeway bridge, sailing vessel Jacie Sails.

VO: Apparently, they don't hear me.

I'm using my handheld VHF because the regular one seems to want to reboot itself whenever I key the mic on channel 16.

Seems like we have a low voltage problem somewhere.

BR: Corey Causeway bridge, sailing vessel Jacie Sails.

VO: Is this handheld working? Am I pushing the right buttons? Who knows?

Bridgetender: ...is Corey, Captain. Come back.

BR: Uh, yes sir. Jacie Sails northbound.

VO: I don't quite remember how many bridges there are today; which open on a schedule and which open on request; or how long they'll make my day.

Bridgetender: Keep it coming, Captain. I can open on your approach right now. We don't start our schedule till 10 o'clock.

BR: Copy that. I appreciate it. Jacie Sails standing by zero nine.

VO: I probably could have just said "nine" instead of "zero nine."

There are varying levels of formality among boaters and among bridge tenders. You'll almost never hear a vessel on the ICW calling the bridge's name three times, even though that's the official way to do it.

It's probably a good idea to listen to your radio a little before you get to the bridge, so you can kind of soak up the flavor of that particular bridge tender.

And it's kind of good to keep her on channel nine so you will be apprised of any unexpected developments.

BR: Hold on, Jacie Sails, I had a pedestrian walk through the gate. She's back now. Copy that. Somebody was trying to walk through the gate.

VO: It's good to make sure the bridge has an opening to go through before you try to go through it. Which is why you often get a helpful reminder from the bridge tender, like this.

Bridgetender: Okay. Roger that. Let the spans open all the way before you go through and stay on channel 9. You copy?

Stay outside the fender system 'til the spans are completely open.

VO: Sometimes I like to help them out, you know, show 'em that I know the score...

BR: I appreciate it. We'll stand outside the fenders.

VO: The fenders we're talking about here are what a lot of people might call guardrails, which are there to protect you from running into the bridge. Unlike the fenders you hang off your boat, which a lot of people seem to call bumpers.

BR: Corey Causeway, Jacie Sails. Thank you much. Have a good one.

VO: That's the one drawbridge down and I don't know how many left to go. At least I know the name of the next one.

BR: Treasure Island bridge, Treasure Island bridge, sailing vessel Jacie Sails. Yes, sir. Just looking for your next opening.

VO: And hopefully that opening wasn't three minutes ago.

BR: Oh, you're right on time at 10:15. Standby on channel nine. We'll get you through, Captain. Roger that. Standing by zero nine.

VO: Again with the zero nine? Neither of these bridge tenders said "zero nine." They just said "nine."

BR: Treasure Island bridge, Jacie Sails. Thank you. And, uh, do you know, is there another drawbridge northbound before the open water?

VO: I feel like I'm being a little bit of a doofus today.

BR: Okay. Yeah, you're going to have a Welch Causeway coming up and they open on the top of the hour and bottom of the hour.

VO: This feeling of being a doofus is confirmed when we get to Welch Causeway.

BR: Yes, sir. Just looking for your next opening.

Bridgetender: Next opening's at 11 o'clock. And the name of your boat?

BR: Jacie Sails. That's Juliet Alpha Charlie India Echo, space, Sierra Alpha India, Lima, Sierra.

Bridgetender: K, can you just say it one more time, please?

BR: Yes. Jacie Sails.

Bridgetender: Okay. Roger that. Let the spans open all the way before you go through and stay on channel nine, you copy?

BR: Copy that. Jacie Sails zero nine.

VO: I've given him zero nine again, and the phonetic spelling of the vessel without being asked.

Bridgetender: Have a good day. Welch on nine.

BR: He doesn't like the phonetic spelling.

Sounds like a Yankee

VO: Not only am I proving to be a complete #HowNotToSailer on the radio so far, I've also arrived at this bridge about three minutes after the previous open.

But that's okay. I'll just whip out my melodica here and I'll show that bridge tender who's got the class around here! If I could just remember that song...

BR: ...Jacie Sails. Thank you.

Bridgetender: You're welcome. Welch on nine.

VO: I may be a dork today, but at least I haven't run into anything yet.

However, I was about to get a lesson in the dangers of sunscreen.

BR: Park boulevard bridge, Jacie Sails. Thank you much. Have a great one.

VO: I got through this bridge without waiting.

BR: Bascule bridge! That's the word I was trying to think of...that means drawbridge.

VO: It was about this time I decided I needed sunscreen. I had a hat and there was the bimini overhead, but the sun reflected off the water all around.

I reached in the companionway and grabbed the sunscreen.

We were chugging up the ICW with just a small adjustment here or there of the autohelm heading to keep us up the middle.

I was feeling kind of relaxed.

That is, until just a few seconds after I put away the sunscreen.

BR: Well, there's a How Not To Sail moment. I almost ran into red marker 22.

I had the autohelm on to put on sunscreen and just kinda chill out, and failed to notice I'd drifted over to the starboard side of the channel.

All of a sudden we were about 10 feet from a triangular big red thing that was taller than the boat.

How not to use autohelm.

VO: Uh, Ah, autohelm is a fickle mistress. I never believed my friend Captain Mitch when he told me how important autohelm would be, but it is.

But probably the most important thing to remember is not to mix too much autohelm usage with sunscreen application. Or anything else that may tend to distract you from big red channel markers you don't want to run into with the nine ton boat.

BR: It's almost beverage time.

VO: Irregardless, as my friend, Bill would say, we go through one more bridge on request.

BR: Indian Rocks bridge, Jacie Sails, thank you. And I believe are you the last, uh, bascule bridge northbound before the open water?

Bridgetender: Uh, yes, you can get out up there at clearwater.

VO: I suspect I've asked an unclear question.

BR: I think that means that there is actually some more bascule bridges north of Clearwater Bay.

VO: Bay, harbor, whatever. Either way, we're now arriving in Clearwater...

...a Mecca for boaters, and right now...

...a playground for idiots.

BR: All kinds of amateurs out today.

VO: A lot of jet skis and a lot of vessels that seem confused about how to drive on the ICW.

BR: We got 1, 2, 3, 4 5 6 7 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Just in the, uh, near area in front of me.

VO: Not my kind of scene, exactly. But it does provide an opportunity to send a message to one of our Patreon patrons, without whom I wouldn't be taking this particular cruise.

BR: I am headed up to, uh, Anclote river and Mar Marina, thanks to y'all's gracious, uh, tip. And letting me slide into that appointment, there. Very much appreciated. All right, I'll get back to my beer now.

VO: I know at this point, you may be thinking, Just let me know, did he get the damn boat up to the boatyard?

BR: Clearwater Memorial Causeway bridge, Jacie Sails northbound.

Bridgetender: Captain, are you trying to call Dunedin bridge, over?

VO: I got to the last drawbridge. Once I figured out the correct name,

Bridgetender: Dunedin bridge is preparing to open, captains. Please stay outside the fender system until the bridge is fully open, over.

Other Captain: Yeah, Boomer copy.

VO: Maybe I'd better confirm it's the last drawbridge.

BR: Are there any more, uh drawbridges before Anclote northbound?

Bridgetender: Negative, Captain, this will be that last one, over.

BR: Copy that. Thank you much and have a great one.

VO: So, no more standing by on "zero-nine." Five and a half hours after leaving the slip, we've left the last drawbridge behind.

BR: Yay. Now we're just between the mainland and some barrier islands up to Anclote River. Tarpon Springs.

VO: Now we're on the final third of our trip. On our left, we pass Honeymoon Island and Three Rooker Island, which is actually where I went aground last season and messed up cutlass bearing.

By 3:30, I'm abreast of Anclote Key and turning east into the Anclote River.

BR: It's definitely breezier than it was.

VO: We're on the home stretch now, which is the most dangerous part. Because as our friend, Captain Pete said, it's the crunchy bits that surround the water that give you problems.

And sometimes other boaters.

BR: So I'm in a flotilla of, like, 15 little runabouts. And they're going just about a half knot slower than I am.

Guess I will have to throttle down.

VO: I should mention that many in this flotilla came buzzing by me, before settling in front of me and then not looking back.

But that's the least of my worries.

When I get to the entrance to Mar Marina, it's tight.

BR: Don't know if they want me to go in the basin there. And there's a little finger pier here near it. Maybe I can get on that.

VO: I'm not expecting anybody from the marina here on Sunday, but they said I'd have a slip to stay in overnight.

BR: Well, they got some fenders strung out on there, so that's good. 6.8 feet. We're getting quite tight.

VO: A note on my Navionics app says, current and wind can make it tricky to get into the docs.

BR: Wind's blowing me off the pier. I think the current's going out.

VO: It does not occur to me that the current's going out because it's a river.

BR: Probably would help if had a dock line ready.

VO: There's a bunch of expensive looking vessels downwind of me. And the boat keeps getting all cattywampus in the channel, which isn't very wide at all.

I try to back out and have another go at it.

I'm sure it'll work out fine.

Yes, it's a cliffhanger.

VO: Join me on Friday the 17th to find out if I actually damaged anything expensive. At least I'm in the right marina. As far as I know.

Big thanks to Captains Douggie and Jeff for the hookup.

Thanks as always to our awesome Patreon patrons,

to Latitudes & Attitudes, America's number one boating lifestyle magazine,

and to our friend, captain Bob Bitchin. Check him out at Bob Bitchin dot com.

Oh, and thanks to you for sharing How Not To Sail with your friends, to everyone who's bought the book How Not To Sail, left a nice five star review on Amazon or left a nice five star review on apple podcasts about the podcast, all of that.

You rock!

Of course, I could tell you about how you can become a patron and support How Not To Sail for as little as $3 a month.

But there's no need to do that because you can just go to How Not To Sail dot com and everything's right there for you.

The whole shebang, the audio podcast, the book, the YouTube channel, Patreon, how to contact me, you name it.

And speaking to contacting me, I'd love to hear from you. You can find the show notes to this episode, and you can comment on it by going to HowNotToSail.com/38 that's for episode 38.

And you'll see the show notes from this episode, maybe some photos, maybe a map. Who knows?

You can always leave your comments or questions by voice at (770) 458-3838.

Or email me at the new email Bradford at How Not To Sail dot com. Don't forget. There's a couple of Ts in a row there.

So tell your friends they got a little less than two weeks to binge listen before we come out with episode 39.

Meanwhile, be careful with that sunscreen. And I'll see you next time on...

How Not To Sail. Screwing up as part of Cruising. Let me show you how.

BR: Clearwater Memorial Causeway bridge, Jacie Sails northbound.

Clearwater Memorial Causeway bridge, Jacie Sails northbound.

Bridgetender: Captain, are you trying to call Dunedin bridge, over?

BR: Uh, apologies that may be. The first one north of Clearwater Harbor.

Bridgetender: Uh, that would be Dunedin bridge. Captain, please hold around the No Wake Zone markers. I have standing traffic on a bridge, and as I can clear that up, and pedestrians, we'll get it open for you, over.

Copy that, Dunedin bridge, I appreciate it.

BR: We'll stand outside the fenders.


[0:15] Leaving with a Leaky Tire
[1:19] Speaking of gas…
[1:41] How Not To Sail 101
[2:03] The Setup
[2:48] Theme Song and Whatnot
[3:19] No Witnesses
[3:49] First Drawbridge
[5:03] Bridge Etiquette
[6:38] Treasure Island
[7:20] Doofus?
[8:54] Beware Sunscreen!
[10:56] A Bad Question
[11:17] Clearwater
[12:19] Are You Trying To Call Dunedin?
[13:22] The Crunchy Bits
[14:25] The Crisis
[16:03] Outro
[18:07] That Last Sound Bite

The route up the ICW…more or less.
This was an interesting house I passed…


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What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor? (Traditional) – performed by Bradford Rogers and Peter Suarez


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Bradford Rogers
Producer. Performer. Sailor. Multimedia Ninja. Author of How Not To Sail, host of the How Not To Sail podcast and YouTube channel.


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