Sunday: Our first day with the rental car and we make our way across the bay to the Destin Commons. There are numerous shops including AMC theaters,
So we head over to Destin, do some clothes shopping and some ice cream tasting, then we drop into the 3:00pm showing of Mary Poppins at the AMC theaters.
Monday: Today is a nice pleasant day with warm sun and very little breeze. We’ll be spending a lot of time here waiting for crossing weather to arrive, so today, Barry, Carol & I take a tour of the Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base. This facility is free to the public and there must be 40 actual jets, bombers, helicopters, etc. on display both indoors and outdoors.
To me, the most amazing ships are the B52 Bomber and the SR71A Blackbird. The SR71A set all kinds of records for air speed and time records from point A to point B. For instance, the SR71A has the record for flight from Los Angeles to Washington DC completed in 1 hour and 4 minutes and a speed of 2,144 mph! Holy cow, that’s almost as fast as Scotty on the Enterprise.
After the museum, we went for barbecue at Kinfolks Barbecue and the meals were pretty tasty. Then we drove thru Fort Walton Beach and Destin to find a West Marine for Wild Goose and a Lowe’s for both of us.
Back on board Kailani, Tracy had dinner ready and we enjoyed a quiet evening aboard.
Tuesday: Today the cold air starts returning with stronger winds out of the north, and it’s forecasted to stay this way for the rest of the week, so the comfortable temperatures were short lived.
Wednesday: When I walk out to the Frankie for his morning business, the docks are coated with ice! Hey isn’t this Florida??? Oh well, soon the ice is gone and we can do more chores today as we are getting closer to cruising out of here. Today Tracy and I get dropped off at the laundromat while Barry and Carol take the rental car out for errands.
Thursday: We are pretty sure that we will be heading out tomorrow, so we make our last full day in port a productive one completing some chores off our ‘to do’ lists including a run to Publix for re-provisioning the galley. As we are driving around town we see a restaurant called Jim and Nick’s Bar-B-Q. I forgot about going into business with my younger brother! After dinner, we visit Wild Goose for an evening of Act 1 of Hamilton, the Broadway smash musical.
We finalize our plan to be ready to get to the fuel dock at 8am tomorrow morning for fuel top off and a pump out before heading out. The fuel dock opens at 8 and we want to be there right away so we can get on the water for the long journey to Panama City
Friday: As planned, Kailani moves over to the fuel dock first and the fill up and pump out take a little longer than expected before Wild Goose can pull up, so it’s 9:30 am before we are both ready to leave Bluewater Bay and head east to Pearl Bayou in Panama City. We have made plans to meet Bill and Bobbie of First Forty at the anchorage as they are cruising there from Fort Walton Beach. The commercial traffic today is again very light and we only experience one passing and one overtaking situation before the day is over.
The first 25 miles are in the large Choctawatchee Bay, then we enter a man-made section of the GICW and the winds and waves are gone giving us an incredibly smooth ride. When we come out of the man-made section we are in West Bay of the Panama City area and once in that stretch of water, we just have to negotiate the bays of Panama City, then pull into Pearl Bayou right at the eastern end of the bays. Vic will be arriving tomorrow for a week of conferences with Team Rubicon. So we get a pic and forward to him.
Panama City is one of the hardest hit areas of Florida from Hurricane Michael and the remnants of the devastation are evident everywhere we look including some beached vessels in the bayou when we enter.
First Forty arrived about 60 minutes before us and they are comfortably set in their anchorage, Kailani and Wild Goose negotiate the Bayou around 3 anchored sailboats and set our anchors near First Forty. We’ve arrived at just before 4:00pm so there’s still more than an hour of daylight before the sun sets. Tracy gets out her fishing tackle and I clean up Kailani from the day’s cruise, then study the charts for tomorrow’s trip to Apalachicola.
The day was somewhat comfortable after early morning frost on the docks back at Bluewater Bay Marina, but as the sun gets closer to settling, the air starts to cool down and overnight might get into the thirties. Tracy prepares the pot roast, mashed potatoes and vegetables from yesterday’s trip to Publix and we have a nice hot meal at anchorage. The generator runs for the meal prep and then for a while afterwards to charge the batteries, but at 8:30pm when the generator goes off the beautiful silence of anchorage(s) is immediately apparent. The silence of being at anchorage is a very soothing lack if sound and sleep is very easy in these conditions.
Soon we will be taking our adventure to the extreme when we cruise the gulf crossing. That’s a 180 mile, 19-20 hour cruise that starts at around 5pm on a good departure day and ends around noontime the next day. So the majority of the cruise is in the dark from 6pm to 6am. So with that cruise on the near horizon, a very sound and deep sleep tonight will go a long way towards prepping us for the gulf crossing.
Saturday: Today we will lose an hour as we cruise eastward back into Eastern Standard Time. We’ve been in Central Standard Time since we left Michigan City, Indiana. It’ll be good to be back into our home timezone again, but today’s 6 hour cruise will therefore, take us 7 hours on the clock.
At 7:15am Wild Goose, Kailani and First Forty start raising the anchors and by 7:30am we’re leaving Pearl Bayou with the accompaniment of several playful dolphins. No matter how many we see, they’re still a wonderment to watch and photo. Once out of the bayou we turn east towards Apalachicola and immediately go under the Tyndall Parkway Bridge and into East Bay.
A large portion of today will be in man-made canal and after passing thru East Bay, we enter the 20 mile section that will take us to Lake Wimico. There is a slight head current most of the day and we are being slowed by about 1 knot during the cruise thru East Bay and thru Lake Wimico, but once we hit the Apalachicola River the river currents and the tide are both with us and we pick up nearly 2 knots of speed as we approach Apalachicola. Once we we can see the Route 98 Bridge over the Apalachicola River, we know we’re close to our destination. We must navigate past the bi-furcation buoy ‘A” then turn to starboard and go up the Scipio Creek to at the waterfront. We are staying at Apalachicola Marina but we will go past it and continue up the Scipio Creek to Scipio Creek Marina for fuel topping off and a pump out. After we nestle up to the fuel dock, we are told that their pump out facilities are still down from the hurricane and there are actually no pulp out facilities in the whole town! Well, at least we’ll have topped off tanks for the gulf crossing.
After pulling out of Scipio Creek Marina we head back to our marina where Wild Goose is already secured to the fixed docks and we pull in right behind him leaving room for First Forty when they are done at the fuel docks. Everyone secures their lines and connects utilities. The manager of the marina, George, told Barry and Carol that there is a barbecue cook-off challenge in town today and he’s one of the judges, so after we’re all tucked in, we head out to the cook-out for some barbecue lunch. Funny for a small town, but to walk what should have been about four blocks in a straight line, we get directions from some locals and end up seeing half the town before reaching the location for the barbecue.
We all get a nice lunch and walk back to the marina where the ‘fun’ starts.
I walk aboard Kailani to find the AC power not on and the house batteries drained to the level where the inverter does not have enough juice to create AC power. So Tracy and I go into troubleshooting mode and try to work out the issue. After a few ideas that our limited experience can come up with, we still can’t get AC power from the dock onto the vessel and in fact at one point, as I’m turning on the current from the dock, Tracy is looking at the circuit panel and the AC Main trips. We haven’t had that happen before, so we shut down the shore power and run off batteries for a while. Then I call George, the marina manager and see if he can get an electrician to stop by and check out our problem as we obviously have a short somewhere.
Then I go over to Wild Goose to visit and ask if they can print out a document I need to fill out and return to the Tampa Waterside Marriott to hold our reservation for when Nick & Dede arrive next month. While sitting on their sun deck, their shore power starts flickering and acting the same way ours did, so they shut down their shore power and First Forty walks over to their boat and disconnects shore power also, just to be sure it doesn’t occur on their vessel.
After taking with Nick about this issue, we decide to try getting AC power from our generator to see if it’s a boat problem or an outside issue. I start up the generator and the power responds correctly so I think we’re okay but there still may be a problem with our shore cables or connectors, but since the other vessels experienced a bad power issue also, I suspect the global issue is with the power delivery and not the vessels. We’ll have to see when the electrician shows up. While the generator is running, we turn on the on-board heat and roast the cabin before turning in for the night under the electric blanket. Boy it’ll be nice when Florida weather actually plays nice with us.
Waiting for the thing that looks like this. -tc