Thursday, October 29, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
The weather forecast was for rough seas in Mobile Bay and we were undecided about whether to leave or not; however, tomorrow's forecast was even worse. So after discussion amongst the flotilla members we decided to try it and if we got out there and could not bear it then we would turn back. Off we went. We had waves of 3 to 4 feet and the occasional 5 footer thrown in. At times, sea water sprayed up over the bow and onto the front window. Ken went out on the bow to secure a burgee and one of the bigger waves hit just then and he experienced a salt water shower. In spite of the roughness, all of the boats handled the seas well and the crew did not feel uncomfortable at any time. In fact, we were quite proud of ourselves! Once we entered the intracoastal 2-1/2 hours later we were in protected water and it was smooth sailing. Tonight we had dinner at Lulu's restaurant which is adjacent to the marina. Lula's restaurant is owned by Lucy Buffett who is Jimmy Buffett's sister. We enjoyed the atmosphere but the food not as much.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
We decided we would stay at this marina for one more night. The
cold front moved through over night and into today bringing with
cooler and windier weather; quite a change from yesterday's hot,
humid day (shorts and T-shirt yesterday, jeans and jacket today).
We had a nice surprise today when Ray & Delila (Sundancer)
drove over from Orange Beach Marina to visit us. They have
decided to spend the month of November at that marina and join us
in south Florida later on. Ben & Sharon (Last Dragon)
left today for an anchorage about 10 miles farther on and we will
meet up with them again in about 2 to 3 days. Bill & Nancie
(Watauga) also left today; they went to Pensacola as Nancie has
a brother living in that area. Ray & Delila had a courtesy
car from their marina and took us to Lambert's in Foley, AL where
we had lunch. Lambert's is noted for their 'throwed rolls'
and 'pass arounds'. As soon as you sit at your table, a waitress
or waiter serves rolls which they throw to you. It is not
unusual to see a waiter throw a roll across the room to another
waiter who then throws it to a nearby customer. After your
meal arrives, waiters and waitresses stroll around the room with
pans of fried okra, macaroni and tomatoes, fried potatoes with onions,
and these are known as 'pass arounds'; they will serve all these
items at no charge to you if you want them. We waddled out
of there and then visited the Bluewater Marine Supply Store. Ken
spent the remainder of the day replacing a bilge pump which he boat
at Bluewater Marine while Brenda did banking and bill paying and
then studied charts (with walks in between). A pavillion behind
Lulu's has been converted to a temporary haunted house for Hallowe'en
so we have heard a lot of shrieking for the past 2 nights. Tomorrow
we will travel to Pensacola, FL where we will meet up with Bill
and Nancie (Watauga).
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Today we entered the state of Florida. It was windy most of the day and in the wider bodies of water there were a few white caps but we only had spray over the bow once and the choppy waters were quite acceptable. The sun made the water sparkle! Our depth sounders decided not to work today and tomorrow Ken will purchase a new one and arrange to have the boat hauled a nearby marina to have the new one installed. Ken saw a dolphin when we first entered the ICW a few days ago but today there were several frolicking in the water beside us for part of our journey. Unfortunately, their jumps were too quick for us to get a photo. We met up with our flotilla friends Bill and Nancie (Watauga) at this marina and we all walked to The Fish House for dinner tonight.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Ken went to the local West Marine store and purchased a new depth sounder with transducer. Since this transducer transmits through the hull, we did not have to have the boat hauled out of the water. Ken worked all day installing the device; he had to run wire from the boat of the boat to the helm area, a difficult task as he had to drill through walls, etc. to keep the wire hidden. Brenda washed all the boat windows and did other housekeeping tasks. In the afternoon Brenda and Nancie took a 2-hour walk into old Pensacola and explored in the historic area. We spent a quiet evening on the boat; after being a contortionist all day, Ken needed to just relax. The dockmasters, Ron and Drew, were 2 of the best we have encountered on this trip so far. They gave information about the area and were willing to arrange a haul out at another marina if we needed it. It turns out the person who helped Ken at West Marine was also an excellent resource. Ken needed an extension for the transducer cable and the man at West Marine went to a competitors location and bought it with his own personal credit card for Ken and then drove it to the marina as he knew we did not have transportation. Ron came early this morning to our boat to make sure that our depth sounder was working and that all was well. He helped both Tellico Lady and Watauga depart from the dock. We highly recommend this marina!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Our new depth sounder worked like a charm! We had another sunny day on the water and many dolphins playing around us as we travelled. As we left Pensacola we saw the Blue Angels doing some practising for their upcoming air show. Most of our travel was in an area known as the 'narrows' which is the waterway between Santa Rosa Sound and Santa Rosa Island. In this part of the ICW the channel is narrow and it is important to stay between the red and green markers. The beaches along this area consist of white sand. There were very few boats on the water today - basically just our flotilla consisting of Watauga, Tellico Lady, and Last Dragon. Tomorrow we will start early as we have to travel approximately 65 miles to Panama City where we plan to stay at least 2 nights.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Today was one of our longer days. The changes in topography also made it a very interesting day. The first 2-3 hours were spent crossing Choctawhatchee Bay which is approximately 45 miles long and 3 to 5 miles long. The winds were not strong so crossing this large body of water went smoothly. We then entered the 25-mile unmarked and narrow portion of the ICW, often regarded as the 'Grand Canyon' because of the high sand banks. The sand dredged to make this portion of the waterway was piled on the shoreline and thus the high sand banks. Brenda had her own private dophin show at one point in the canyon. A dolphin swam along the side of the boat for quite some distance, then twisted and turned from side to side and through in the occasional jump. Of course Brenda was so enjoying the show she did not get many photos. We then passed under the West Bay Bridge and made our way into West Bay and our marina at Panama City. Tonight Ken & Brenda and Sharon & Ben (Last Dragon) walked to Ferrucci's for dinner.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
It was a sunny and somewhat breezy day in Panama City. After spending the morning doing laundry and other boat tasks, we walked about 1/2 mile to Bayou Joe's for lunch. It was a unique experience - the eating area is on the dock at the back of the building. The food was good and the atmosphere unique. We overlooked at small bayou with small boats all around and birds hanging around to try to get some scraps. Signs posted all around the restaurant warn against bird feeding. We then walked around the town for about 1 hour before returning to the boat.
Later in the afternoon some friends, Bo and Carmen Johnson (their
boat is "Old
Grumpy") took our flotilla to their beach home on the Gulf of Mexico.
We met Bo and Carmen 2 years ago at the AGLCA rendezvous at
Joe Wheeler and since then they have visited our home port by boat.
We sat on the deck overlooking the beach and gulf until after
the sunset. We saw people walking along the beach and witnessed
the rescue of a pelican that had become entangled in fishing line.
The sunset was beautiful and we all watched carefully to see
if the 'green flash' would occur just as the sun peeked below the
horizon but it was not to be. After a wonderful dinner and
much good conversation and socializing, Carmen brought us back to
our boats. Tonight was truly a wonderful evening for all of
us and we thank Bo and Carmen for their hospitality.
November 6, 2009
After crossing East Bay we again entered a narrow but well marked
section before finally entering Wetappo Creek. Wetappo Creek
is also narrow but with no markers - you just cruise down the center.
It starts out as low, swampy area with tall grass along the
shore and then changes to a cypress swamp section with more trees
along the banks. After approximately 13 miles we turned to
starboard into the Gulf Canal and entered into St. Joseph Bay and
our marina, Port St. Joe. It was windy when we arrived at
the marina and we all had a struggle to get tied up - a good workout
for sure! We are now back in the eastern time zone.
Saturday, November 7 to Monday, November
On Saturday we walked into the small but delightful downtown.
We came upon a farmer's market where we purchased some local
vegetables and preserves. That night we all took a taxi to
participate in the annual Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola,
FL. It was busy with people everywhere throughout the town.
There was a carnival, booths with all types of crafts, and
live bands; a real carnival atmosphere! Of course, there were
many booths featuring a variety of seafood. While sitting
on bales of hay, we enjoyed our seafood dinner.
On Sunday we walked around the town and then gathered as a group in the afternoon just to discuss our strategy regarding hurricane/tropical storm Ida. We have been assured by the marina staff that if we need to leave our boats they will be sure to let us know in which case we will go to a local hotel.
On Monday we all walked into town where we had lunch at a small cafe called "Provisions". Since we expect to be confined to our boats for perhaps 1-1/2 days we decided to take advantage of the weather while we could. It only rained with a few gusts of winds on our walk there and back. Ken has our boat securely tied and we will keep a watch during the night. Many people who have boats at this marina have come either yesterday or today to secure their boats and in some cases the owners are staying overnight to guard their boats. The biggest unknown for us is whether there will be a surge and if so how much. This is a fixed dock marina, and there is even some thought that the wind might blow water out of Saint Joseph Bay. The following arial view shows you that we are reasonably protected by the barrier islands surrounding Saint Joseph Bay. As you can see, the predicted strong easterly winds might actually tend to push water out the mouth of the bay at the north-west point. We will let you know if we go up or down!
We plan to stay at this marina until hurricane Ida has clearly left the area. Brenda is trying to take Karen Klute's advice and consider this part of the fun of the journey.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Hurricane Ida which was downgraded to a tropical storm passed through last night. The winds were strong with a driven rain. We rocked for most of the night in our slip but Ken had the boat securely tied. Brenda stayed up until 1 a.m. and Ken stayed up until 3 a.m. to monitor the incoming tide and rising waters. If the water came up too high he would have to readjust the lines. Since the fixed dock could be underwater from the surge, the lines had to be adjustable from on board the boat. Anyway we made it through the night. Today we have seen mostly cloudy skies with wind all day long and again tonight. The waters are choppy to rough because of the winds so we will bounce around again tonight. Today we even saw the occasional patch of blue sky but not for long. The marina turned the power off in the early morning hours as one of the docks was very close to being under water. We will stay here another couple of days until the winds subside and the seas settle down, then make one fairly long run to Carrabelle -- the jumping off point for the 22 hour "crossing" from Carrabelle to Clearwater FL. We will go to the marina there called "The Moorings".
Wednesday, November 11 and Thursday, November
On Wednesday we attended to boat activities (change filters, laundry, etc.) and then walked the trail along the beach. The flotilla gathered in the evening for pizza and to watch 'Chicago' on DVD.
Today (Thursday) Ken removed the extra ropes he had used to secure the boat during Ida. The flotilla met to discuss our 'crossing' plans and plot our route. The marina has taken down all the warning flags and the seas are starting to settle down somewhat. The day has been sunny but remains windy. Tomorrow we will travel to Carrabelle our departure point for 'the crossing'. Chuck and Vickie Smith will drive to Carrabelle tomorrow to meet us and stay on our boat. Chuck is going to do the 'crossing' on our boat and Vickie is going to drive her car to Clearwater to meet us at our destination. We will probably begin the crossing on either Saturday or Sunday depending upon the weather conditions and depending upon the advice we receive from Buddy. Buddy is the local weather guru at Carrabelle; loopers seek his advice regarding suitable weather and day to cross. We probably won't update our website again until Monday or Tuesday.
Friday, November 13, 2009
We travelled through more narrow but well marked waterways as
on previous days and a good day of travel. Carrabelle is our
departure port to begin 'the crossing'. Because there is no
intracoastal waterway in the panhandle of Florida most boats travel
directly across the Gulf of Mexico for a distance of approximately
170 miles and approximately 50 miles offshore. It is possible
to travel to ports along the panhandle if you have a boat with a
water draft of 3 feet or less and you are willing to take 3 to 4
days to get to either Tarpon Springs or Clearwater. We all
checked the various weather and wave sources and conferred with
Buddy, the weather guru at Carrabelle, and agreed that all indications
were that tomorrow would be a good day to travel and the seas should
be calm. Vickie and Chuck Smith arrived around 4 p.m. and
will stay overnight on our boat. Chuck is going to travel
on our boat and Vickie will drive to Clearwater to pick him up.
Nancie's brother will arrive tonight to travel with them on
Watauga, and Ben's brother and nephew will arrive tomorrow morning
to travel with Last Dragon. This completes the Panhandle section
of our logbook and the next entry will be the crossing.
This ends this portion of the
trip, and the next portion will be the dread "Crossing".
Copyright(c) 2008 Ken Bloomfield, All rights reserved.