On Wed morning we left Destin behind, but not until we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at the Harbor Docks. It was a rather dreary day, gray and overcast with occasional spritzes of rain. We went through 3 large bays and a dredged canal section on the Intercoastal Waterway, with very strange-looking soil. We saw dolphins again, and I am amazed to see how many pine trees there are in Florida!
We made our way to St. Andrew’s Marina, where we fueled up the boat, pumped out, and got fresh water. It was all self-serve, and of course the rain joined us as we went about our chores. The workers told us about a good anchorage spot across the bay from Panama City. We bought a Florida fishing license, (although we’re pretty clueless as to what fish are good to catch, how to catch them, and where to find them). ‘Smack Bayou’ is the name of the anchorage spot. There were 3 sailboats already anchored there, so we tried to get a little further up the bayou, but ran aground. After maneuvering out of the shallows, we anchored behind a little peninsula to get out of the stiff easterly winds.
During low tide the following morning a multitude of pelicans & gulls flew into the bayou with the aim of feasting on fish. It was so comical watching them dive bomb straight into the water and come up with a bill full of fish. The seagulls paired up with the pelicans in the hope that they could scavenge a missed morsel. This went on for a good hour or more, and it was great entertainment.
We also had the pleasure of seeing stingrays flying out of the water like stealth bombers, only to retreat underwater seconds later. Egrets and herons and a smaller white bird (ibis?) waded along the shoreline.
That evening we decided the anchor might not be holding properly, so we pulled up on the beach of the peninsula, and used our trusty sand stakes. We played backgammon, and pulled out the extra blanket, as the air was damp and chilly. In the morning we had quite the surprise! We were high and dry – the motor was on the bottom and the boat listed heavily to starboard. The water would not drain out of the sink, and it was a challenge to cook. Things slid off the counters and the table. We were warned – and probably won’t make that mistake again!
We had planned to leave for Port St. Joe that day, but could not get off the beach until high tide, which was not until 9:00 p.m. Not much we could do, so we had a ‘down day’. Lousy phone coverage, internet access and weather, so we read and I cross-stitched, and got more familiar with our navigation charts. Finally we were able to drive the boat off the beach, and anchored out once more.
Three days without civilization was enough, although it was good on the pocket-book. The morning dawned sunny and the wind was a little calmer, so we got underway. We went through St. Andrew’s Bay and East Bay, then into the Intercoastal. We took the Channel back to the Gulf and entered the channel to the Port St. Joe Marina. Once again, very friendly and helpful folks helped us by tying our boat up properly for the tides in Slip #3. We admired a Mainship and got a tour of the boat by the owner – Mr. Jim Simmons, a brigadier general with the army, who explained to us that he played golf recently with Joe Biden. Oh, the people you meet!
Then we had the great pleasure of going to Jill and Wayne Seiler’s winter home in Port St. Joe. We met them at Don & Judy’s house in Paynesville on Lake Koronis, which is where they spend their summers. They have fabulous views of the Gulf, and were such great hosts! Laundry was done, and we had a nummy dinner of fresh shrimp and grouper. Their home is so beautiful, artsy and beachy – with a fantastic guest suite (I really loved the access to the covered patio and the shower curtain).
In the morning we went out for breakfast to a place in Mexico Beach, and I had grits, which I really enjoyed. Jill drove us back to town and helped me with grocery shopping at the Piggly Wiggly. I stocked up big time! It’s a beautiful little haven here in Port St. Joe, and I can see why the Seiler’s picked this particular spot. I could stay here for a good long while. But we will be heading out of the marina in the morning and going to Carrabelle, our next stop before crossing the ‘Big Bend’ of Florida.
The boat is definitely home now, as we have been on it longer than we lived in the townhouse. Below are stats for our first 2 months, in case you’re of the geeky analyst mindset:
- Nights on Beach: 15 or 25%
- Nights Anchored Out: 2 or 3%
- Docks or Marinas: 36 or 59% (11 of which were free of charge)
- Off the Boat: 8 nights or 13%
- 50 Locks
- 136.4 Hours Motoring Time
Until next time, ARiverDerci!