When guests are aboard R&R, the logistics can get a little tricky since our route is never “round trip”. In this case Rhonda offered to drive Lorraine’s car to our next destination so that Lorraine could experience a day of boating and serving as first mate (and Rhonda could get her shopping fix!) We had planned to travel to Panama City Beach but arrived there so quickly that called an audible and enjoyed the beautiful weather all the way to Apalachicola.
Lorraine and I enjoyed a 100+ mile day of boating along the GICW, through a network of remote streams and rivers and large bays dredged to 10-15 feet and well marked with red and green ATONs (aids to navigation) channel markers. My Lake Michigan boating experience includes the rule “red, right, returning” (red ATONs are on the right side when returning to a harbor). The GICW rule includes a minor revision: “red, right, returning to Houston.” So we had greens on the right and reds on the left all day (except for one short stretch near Panama City Beach where I was confused by the reversal – and then re-reversal – of ATON colors). Keeps you on your toes, as some undredged areas were as shallow as 2-3 feet. I’m trying to add to my record of 28 travel days without running aground!
It was a great day for cruising – the sun shone much of the day, winds and waves were low, and there was almost no boat traffic. We were able to run on plane at 18-20 mph most of the day.
We saw many pelicans fishing. This large flock of pelicans was resting on a bridge support. We guessed that they were waiting for boats to pass by and stir up the water to attract fish.
We also saw dolphins along the way. One group headed our way to play in our wake.
And we saw and photographed this beautiful bald eagle.
The last part of our trip passed just inland of Mexico Beach, which was devastated in 2018 by Hurricane Michael. Though some trees and vegetation are beginning to recover, hurricane damage to homes, boats and flora was visible and extensive.
As the sun neared the horizon, Rhonda and a nearby Looper met us at the dock of Water Street Hotel in Apalachicola to take our lines and help us tie up for the night. Because this hotel/marina offers floating docks, we did not need to adjust our lines for tides during this stay.
Lorraine and I enjoyed a good – though long – day of travel and conversation between Sandestin and Apalach (as the locals call it).