Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 64-67 Destin to Panama City

The weather forecast was a mixed bag, the Admiral was concerned so I decided to single hand to Panama City and the Admiral rented a car to meet me there. The trip out of Destins East Passage was easy since I just followed the cookie crumbs on the chart plotter. And a Sport fisherman was heading out ahead so I took cues from him. Right away I got the head sail out and all looked good with 8-10 knot winds and calm seas.

The sail lasted 4 hours till I ran into a bit of rain and the wind died.

A bit of fog around so I fired up the Radar. But this is no big deal compared to fog in a restricted area like the ICW! I had 1/2 mile or more visibility the whole time from this point to the Panama Jetties.

As I was nearing the Panama Pass from the Gulf I paid close attention to the radar.

Well the fog lifted and the Pass was wide and easy with calm sea and almost no wind.

Not sure why they build the jetties so short?

Since we have a rent car we go straight to the beach the 2nd day. The beaches are lined with private hotel, condo or single homes just like Destin leaving very little access to the general public. We found this small public boardwalk sandwiched between buildings to get to the beach.

As you can see the beach is lined for miles with condos and hotels. Again NO trash anywhere. The beach sand is white but nothing like Destin's!
Notice, There are no public type people on the beach, just the people staying in the tall buildings.

This is a view from the opposite direction. Look it is all very private. No public access down there!

The Emerald Coast!

This is St. Andrews Bay looking out from the Panama City Municipal Marina towards the pass to the Gulf. We talked to some cruisers who are here to see family from the New Jersey. This was their destination and they will soon be heading back. They report this to be a great Sailing Bay.

We were assigned slip 12 near the end of this dock and little did we know how exposed we were to SouthEast winds and the fetch that could brew up from across the bay.

A front was forecasted to pass through Wed around 1700 and we had 2 foot chop hitting WS broadside + 30 knot winds. The square pilings are concrete and they eat dock lines.

The Break water that announces no wake is fake.

While the front was passing the Admiral hid out in the ships store. They do have a nice area to sit and pass time on the computer.

Walking around downtown Panama City we found this awesome soul food restaurant, we ate lunch there twice!

Here is the menu, it changes each day

We had a car so we could provision and we found the very nice Publix Grocery, but the Admiral wanted to go to a grocery in walking distance the next day to get a couple more things. Not sure why the grocery stores within walking distance to a marina are always the funky ones? Anyway she found what she wanted here.

We finally found some more cruisers in Panama city. We had a great time meeting the cruisers on 4 of these boats. From left to right, Kurt & Ann on Vidazzeled a Hunter 44, boat in the middle is Mike & Darlene on Etoile a 39' Mainship, then Folie a Deux a Ranger 46, then a C&C 38 centercockpit Final Destination headed to Alabama where they will live on the boat while their new home is being built.

Day 64-67 Destin to Panama City
Underway 8:32 hrs, 54.6 Nm., Avg speed 6.0 Kts. , 68-75 degrees, overcast 30% chance of rain 10-15 NE winds. Seas 0-1'

The Weather forecast was a bit dodgy so I consulted with a few local boat captains and they assured me it was good to go to Panama City in the Gulf, they said I might encounter a bit of rain but it would be just rain, no wind or storm conditions. The Admiral was not impressed so we decided that she would rent a car and meet me in Panama City, I would single hand. I did not want to spend 4 more days waiting for the next front to pass when we had this 1 day window to make the next port. The Admiral helped me off and she picked up a 1 way rent car to meet me at the docks to help tie up when I got there. She had a relaxing day driving down Hwy 98 and did not have to stress about being in the Gulf on a day like this, And I got to continue the dream.

The tide was an ebb tide, perfect for getting out the East Pass at Destin and luckily a big Sport fisherman was going out ahead of me so I pretty much followed him out. As soon as I made my turn South East I was thrilled to have a 10 knot NE wind and figured I would be able to sail all the way there. I turned up the Ipod and finally had what I felt this trip should be....I decided right then and there I would keep our mast. It turned into a Voodoo Child Sail. Click the link on the title of this blog for a youtube clip. The Excellent sailing lasted 4 hours then I noticed that I would soon be moving through some rain ahead. The Wind just died so I rolled up the sail and when I looked rain?. Motor on so about 30 minutes later it did rain lightly, but the visibility was pretty good but I did crank up the radar. Hum, What is all that to the East? The radar was just full of it, it was a rain event going on over there near the coast. No problem all was good where I was. The sprinkling ended and then a bit of fog set in, but the visibility was not horrible and I was thankful it was NOT the ICW. I did keep an eye on the radar but I had plenty of time to react to whatever and I had not seen 1 vessel of any type the whole time. As I neared the jetties at the Panama City ship channel pass the fog lifted completely so no anxious moments at all. I am sure however had the Admiral made this trip it would be hard to convince her to go back out in the Gulf of Mexico again. It worked out perfect. She had a nice relaxing day and I had a great experience in the Gulf uping the learning curve. She met me on the docks and we got all squared away and took off for a Publix grocery store for some Admiral type of provisioning.

We were going to be here waiting out yet another front so we used the time with the car the next morning to see Panama Beach and go to the GYM! The Beach was like Destins, lined with private hotels, condos with hard to find public access. Destin definitely is the new standard for white sand, this beach sand did not measure up. After a long beach walk we headed to a nearby Golds Gym for a much needed body help. After we turned in the car we returned to the boat and got to meet several cruisers for the 1st time. Mike & Darlene on M/V Etoile a 39' Mainship trawler, Mark & Maridee on M/V Folix a Deux a Ranger 46, and Kurt and Ann on S/V Vidazzaled II a Hunter 44. We learned from Kurt that we were in the worst slip to be in when a front passes through and the concrete pilings would shred the dock lines. The very nice harbor master provided us with enough fire hose chafing gear to keep the lines protected and WS safe. Fortunately the front rolled in early about 1700 and we did not have to spend a rocky sleepless night aboard. The Admiral took her computer in to the ships store where there were a couple of nice tables for the cruisers to hang out and I hung out on the boat and the docks making sure everything was secure. I have never seen WS rock and roll so much in a slip, the SE fetch came right in the marina entrance and hit WS broadside, all the port side lines were stretched tight and she was a rocking. So if you come to the Panama City Municipal Marina take a slip as far back as possible. The wind backed around by 1900 and it was all over until midnight when the winds continued clocking till they were out of the North and all of a sudden we were pressed up against the dock. All the skippers had a brief dock party helping each other adjust the dock lines so we could all get back to bed. After all the lines were taken care of no one wanted to stay around and continue the party...those days are gone!

The next day we found Cassandra's and man I am talking Soul Food, Good ole southern cooking at it's best and $6.95 for all you can eat buffet. We ate there two days in a row for lunch. My grandmother lived there.

We checked out the local art museum and got a few more items at a little funky grocery store. I wondered why the grocery stores near marinas are the funky ones?

One of the things cruisers always do is compare notes on the weather and this helps calm all the Admirals moods so there is some general agreement on the best travel day. Our new friends would be traveling the ICW to Apalachicola but we would be going on the outside to Port St. Joe since again our 61' mast was to tall for the 50' bridges.


  1. Please say "hello" to Mark and Maridee for us. We joined them for a cruise to Allen's Landing a few months ago. We are enjoying your blog and also tracking mutual friends Al and Sue on s/v Wind Dancer now in the Keys.
    Dave & Kathy
    s/v Indigo Moon

  2. Yes we will forward your "hello". They left the East Pass today to make the jump to Clearwater. 2/1