Friday, December 8, 2017

Port St Joe, FL to Steinhatchee, FL

Total Miles Traveled 1158

Port St Joe is a cool little town that we will definitely revisit in the future.  We spent two days here, November 28 and 29, but didn’t really see the entire town.  We developed a small leak on our main engine cooling system and found the culprit to be a leaking drain valve.  I walked to the local Napa Auto with both fingers crossed, hoping they would have a replacement valve I could use, they didn’t but said they could order it and it would arrive from Jacksonville by 8 a.m. the next morning.

The next morning didn’t look very promising, what I thought was thick fog moving in, turned out to be smoke.  I learned that a controlled burn was started overnight to clear land for a cow pasture north of town.   

I walked to Napa Auto and sure enough the exact part I needed had arrived…. for less than $3.  It wasn’t much of a leak, but we didn’t want any surprises crossing the Gulf next week.

Sunset at Port St Joe Marina.

We departed Port St Joe November 30 and traveled 14 miles to one of our favorite anchorages at the Searcy Creek Oxbow.  Anchoring here allows us to be less than 50 miles from Carrabelle, FL our last marina before starting our Gulf crossing. 

Although we tried several lures and a piece of shrimp, we didn’t have any luck fishing.  The last time we anchored here we watched and alligator make his rounds, but no gators this time.

We arrived at Carrabelle, Fl December 1st topping off our fuel tanks and preparing for the first section of our Gulf crossing to Steinhatchee, FL.  The marina is a little over 5 miles up the Carrabelle River, so we departed the marina December 2nd and anchored behind Dog Island, just a few hundred feet of sand between us and the Gulf of Mexico.

Before I could record the information in my daily log, my best mate already had a line in the water and was yelling “I have a big one”.  I ran down to grab the fish net but before we could see what it was, it darted under the boat breaking the line.  We had purchased a heavy pole and line for salt water fishing, but didn’t have it set up yet so the pole we used only had 6 lb test line on it.

We set up the new pole and almost immediately Moni had another hit, but lost it before getting it to the boat.  Then another hit, this time although smaller we caught our first salt water fish of the season, a Grey Trout.  After looking it up we found we could keep them and the edibility was reported to be excellent.  Now all we need is a half dozen or so for dinner.

We kept about a dozen, all around 12 inches or so.  We had several hits, and some seemed to be big fish but then we would lose them.   While reeling one in, Moni discovered the problem, a 2-3 foot shark was eating our fish while we were bringing them into the boat.  We didn’t lose this one but you can see where the shark had a bite on it. 

Okay, I learned something that is not an issue back home, rule #1; if you’re going to clean the fish while you’re fishing, wait until you are finished before throwing the scraps into the water, and rule #2; don’t kneel down on the swim platform and wash your hands in the water 😏

We had a supermoon  while anchored at Dog Island, the closest distance that the Moon reaches to Earth in its elliptic orbit, resulting in a larger than normal size as viewed from Earth.  I took several pictures but my camera just didn’t capture the real event.

At first light December 3rd, we weighed anchor and started our 77 mile journey across the northern section of the Gulf to Steinhatchee, Fl.

About half way across and approximately 20 miles offshore, I noticed a boat on our radar about a mile or so southwest of us.  As he was passing us, still a mile or so away, I called him on the radio and asked if he was headed to Steinhatchee.  He replied yes and asked the name of our boat.  After a 10 minute conversation we found that we had met briefly last year anchored at Dog Island and he is from our home port at Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers, Ky.  We have had several “small world” encounters in our travels but not 20 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico!  We were staying at different marinas in Steinhatchee and not departing on the same day, but we are both spending the winter in the same area of Florida.

Bajan Speed

We had awesome weather and seas for cruising today. 

We talked to a couple of people about trolling in Gulf waters and purchased a couple of lures that could be used trolling at 8 mph, but no luck today.

We did see some sea life though; I thought this sea turtle was a clump of weeds at first.

This picture didn’t turn our very well, but there are a couple of jelly fish in this picture.  Maybe Santa will bring us a new camera; I think I have worn this one out with the hundreds of pictures I have taken over the last three years.

After a little over 10 hours and 81.6 miles, we arrived at the River Haven Marina at Steinhatchee.  The town is known as” a drinking village with a fishing problem”……..hmmm.  This is a small town along the river with a grocery, hardware store, a few local restaurants, and a post office.   We will be here at least a week waiting on a weather window to make the two day cruise to Cedar Key,  Tarpon Springs and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GICW).

Our good friends from Palatka, Florida drove over to spend the day with us Monday December 4th.  Judy, Ralph, and Pearl hung out on the boat for a while, and then we visited a local restaurant for lunch, then spent the afternoon sightseeing around town.  We had a great visit, and appreciate them driving us around town to see the area. 

On Tuesday we took advantage of the weather before the approaching cold front arrived to visit the post office, hardware store, and grocery.  Probably a two mile walk on a sunny 75 degree day, our last nice day for a few days with high temperatures predicted to be around 50 degrees the rest of the week. 

Someone is definitely into the Christmas spirit.

Ahh yes, that Grey Trout dinner, awesome!

Only 48 degrees and rain at 12:00 today December 8, 2017, is this Florida?

Our next possible weather window is expected to be sometime after Wednesday, December 13th.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Panama City FL, to Port St Joe, FL

Total Miles Traveled 1010

We left our anchorage at Shell Island November 18th and traveled 8 miles to Treasure Island Marina at Panama City Beach.  We had originally planned to keep moving east, but friends from Terre Haute were arriving today and we have been toying with the idea of visiting family at Cocoa, Fl during the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Car rentals are far and few between east of Panama City along the waterway.

We had a great visit with Fred and Kathy here at Panama City Beach, then drove to Cocoa for Thanksgiving, we really enjoyed seeing everyone and look forward to seeing them again at Christmas. 

The weather was perfect for our departure from Panama City November 27th, crossing St Andrews Bay and East Bay to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.  We are now entering a flat, less populated area of the panhandle.

After a 44 mile cruise, we arrived at the dock at White City.  This is a free dock along the waterway that is about half way between Panama City and Apalachicola.  We plan to make a side trip to Port St Joe from here. 

We back tracked a couple of miles to the Gulf County Canal.  In 1915 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers connected St. Andrew’s Bay to Lake Wimico and the Apalachicola creating the Intracoastal Waterway.  When the St Joe Paper Mill came in 1938, the Gulf County Canal was created between St Joseph Bay to the GICW to transport fuel and logs to the mill. This is a straight man made canal about 5 miles long.

We passed this power catamaran that has seen better days.

Entering Port St Joe.

We arrived at the marina November 28th and entered the Eastern Time Zone on the way.  As I walked past the fuel dock, this steel homemade boat from Michigan was arriving.  I had to snap a couple of pictures; this is the first boat I have seen that not only has a dinghy, but a 16 foot pontoon boat on its deck.  I believe the owner said the boat weighs 160,000 lbs.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pensacola, Fl to Panama City, Fl

Total Miles Traveled 947

We left Pensacola early 11-12-17 to get across Pensacola Bay before the wind started pushing up the waves.   We stopped at the city dock at Ft. Walton Beach, Florida with our friends on Viridian, George and Meg.  It was about 2 blocks to a Publix grocery so we picked up a few things and was greeted at the dock by one of the locals when we returned.

We helped Viridian leave the dock early the following morning, they are heading for Panama City and we are stopping at Niceville to visit friends from Terre Haute.  We left the dock around 9 a.m. and cruised across part of the Choctawhatchee Bay to the Bluewater Marina near Niceville, Fl.

When we arrived at the marina, we needed to do a little laundry; I think this is the first laundromat we have used that had a tree growing through the floor.

We had a great visit with our friends Brad and Nancy and an awesome meal at McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin.  Thanks guys, we’re  looking forward to visiting you again in the spring.

Our next stop is an anchorage at Shell Island near Panama City, Fl.  This is one of our favorite anchorages along the panhandle of Florida. 

We took the dinghy to the island, if you look close on the horizon, you can see Moni Jean at anchor.

We walked the beach, ate lunch, and tried to find a few treasures with our metal detector.  We didn’t see another sole on the beach all afternoon.

On our first day I heard a loud noise, thinking it was a plane I was looking in the sky, then caught this out of the corner of my eye. 

Our anchorage is not far from Tyndall Air Force Base, home of the 325th Fighter Wing of the Air Combat Command.  Tyndall is the home of the world’s first Raptor F-22A squadron.  We had some great flyovers, some pulled straight up vertical until out of sight.