Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 69 Port St. Joe to Apalachicola Scipio Creek Marina

When you leave Port Saint Joe you just go about 2 miles to enter a 5 mile long Gulf County Canal that connects to the ICW to Apalachicola. Just about 15 minutes into the channel I spotted these two Bald Eagles just sitting up on the Bank. I hollered out to the Admiral and stopped the boat. She got a lot of good pics of these two. From then on she was on high alert all the way to Apalachicola, she did see one more juvenile eagle. She also kept a sharp look out for Gators as we knew they were all around us but would be hard to spot.

Once into the ICW it was a pine tree lined channel with lots of Kingfishers flying about but they would not sit still long enough to get a shot.

This is the entrance to Lake Wimico, a very shallow lake so you have to stay vigilant and stay in the channel.

This must be sometimes Island at Lake Wimico.

As we neared Apalachicola she spotted this Osprey nest. I had to slow down and circle several times here.

I called the Scipio Creek Marina, which is of course located on Scipio Creek just off the Apalachicola River for instructions on where to tie up. She said just find the white PVC pilings and tie up there. So we were glad to find our cruising acquaintances we met in Panama City there and tied up just behind them. But this was to close to the fuel dock so we had to move to another spot.

This is looking down Scipio creek beyond the marina.

I managed to back into this spot (not an easy feat on WS). We heard one of the best places to eat Apalachicola Oysters was at Papa Joe's but they were closed on Sundays.

These Night Herrings and other birds kept the Admiral entertained all afternoon. We had never seen them roost like this on a old crane barge. Uually the night herrings are tucked into the reeds.

Day 69 Port Saint Joe to Apalachicola Scipio Creek Marina
Underway 4:0 hrs, 27.6, Avg speed 5.7s. , 37-65 degrees, Sunny 10-15 NE winds.

We reluctantly left Port St. Joe and in a just few minutes we got under our 1st 65' bridge. When I read on the charts we had several 65' bridges on our route I got a measuring tape and ran it up the mast to double check the specified 61' Mast height for Endeavour 42's. When you are just a few feet under the bridge it can make you a bit nervous. Yep it checked out we were very near the 61' mast height from the water line. The 1st 65' bridge we slowed to less than 3 knots. We made it so the next one I did not even slow down.

We heard we might see Bald Eagles in this area and the Admiral was already in position with her binoculars and cameras. She was looking at all the Kingfishers flying around when I spotted 2 eagles sitting on the bank just above us. I put the transmission in neutral and in my excitement to point out the eagles to her I must have been to loud, they flew....but down just about 100 yards they landed again on the bank. She got plenty of shots and later saw 1 more, a Juvenile. The only other vessels we saw were about 3 small fishing skiffs. We crossed Lake Wimico and were soon in the Apalachicola River. Here the Admiral spotted a Osprey at it's nest high up on a tower. She requested for me to circle a few times so she could get a few shots of this huge nest.

After this photo session I told her to take the helm so I could prepare our lines and fenders since we were about to enter the narrow Scipio Creek and I had no clue what kind of current there would be there so I wanted everything ready to dock the boat. As we neared the marina I called and they instructed me to tie up where I saw the white PVC pilings. Well I saw them right along a bulkhead and there was enough space for us behind two motor vessels that we had met the owners of in Panama City. I swung in behind and they helped us tie up. Then the dock master showed up and explained I was to close to the fuel dock and I needed to move to another dock. There was about a 8-10 mile an wind holding us to the dock and I knew I would need assistance to get off the dock and clear the two vessels in front of me. The dock master said no problem, I had plenty of room and he would shove off the bow so we could clear the boats in front. I throttled foreword, he pushed, it looked close but I thought we were ok, then the wind gusted...Our stern started for the boat just in front, the dock master jumped aboard that vessel and fended us off. I was doing everything I could at the helm but it was not looking good. The second vessel was much larger and the Kayak we carry near at stern on the Starboard side brushed the bow pulpit of the motor vessel. I was about to freak. The Owner jumped up on his bow and indicated everything was ok. I was bent, so after some decompression with the Admiral we both agreed that we will slow way down and carefully evaluate our plan to depart a dock and not allow others to rush us. I always start thinking how I am going to depart a dock when I am bringing the boat in. After we get here tied up I size up the situation around us and have a plan in mind for departing. It may change if the winds change but I constantly evaluate and make sure I have a plan that is well thought out so there is no chance I will bump into anything.

We cruised by the second dock and I knew that trying to turn our boat in the narrow area would be difficult the next morning so I decided to back into the dock. This boat backs like a blindfolded drunk elephant. I never understand why the wind gets gusty just when you are doing these type of maneuvers. Anyway I have done my homework and when backing if the bow does not do hat you want it to you just put the transmission in forward to straighten out the bow with a short burst and then continue backing. This was required about 4 times to get the boat neatly to the dock. Our friends came over once again to help us tie up and let us know everything was ok with their boats and I did not do any damage. I am just now getting over this.

We got here early enough to walk a few short blocks to explore Apalachicola. The draw here at Apalachicola is it is known as the Oyster Capital of the World so of course this is Sunday and all but 1 (thank god) of the Oyster restaurants were closed. These Oysters were every bit as good as the ones I had with Russ and David in New Orleans at Bozo's. The Admiral had a very tasty salad and we were satisfied to take the short walk back.

There was a small old crane barge just across the small creek that several Black Crowned Night Herrings were roosting on with some Cormorants, and Pelicans. This kept the Admiral busy, then I spotted a couple of turtles but I think these were just river turtles, not sea turtles. Then I saw a OTTER, I yelled at the Admiral to get her camera, she said no, that is just a Nutria...Heck no look at that Tail.It was an Otter. Well she did not get a pic but she did see it swim a bit. The next day I asked the Harbor Master and he confirmed they have a family with 2 babies. He said the Otters often fall to the numerous alligators in the area. I thought Otters would be to quick but I guess those gators are pretty sly.

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