When guests are aboard, the logistics can get a little tricky since our route is never “round trip”. In this instance, 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 shortly after noon, so we decided take advantage of the beautiful weather and continue on to Apalachicola.
Lorraine and I enjoyed a 100+ mile day of boating through remote streams and rivers and through large open bays, all connected, dredged to 10-15 feet, and marked with red and green ATONs (aids to navigation). My Lake Michigan boating experience includes the rule “red right returning”, that is, red ATONs are on the right side when returning to a harbor. The GICW rule is sort of similar: “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 rereversal – 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 crowd group 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 follow us and play in our wake.
And we saw and photographed this beautiful large bird that I think is a bald eagle.
The last part of our trip passed just inland of Mexico Beach, which in 2018 was devastated by Hurricane Michael. Though some trees and vegetation are beginning to recover, hurricane damage was extensive and remains very visible.
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. Floating docks, so no concern about 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).