Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 89-? Carrabelle to Tampa Harbor Marina

We made the East pass in 30 minutes after departing the slip. Rusty told me it would be choppy here but the ride would smooth out as we progressed out into the Gulf and he was spot on. This is a pic of the West end of Dog Island where the pass runs very close to the island.

Douglas Dedrick heard I was looking for crew to pass and he came over to the boat to meet us. The timing worked out perfect, he is a boater and has helped others get across. If you need crew to cross just ask at C-Quarters Marina and they will get you in contact with Doug, you can't go wrong.

Entering the Tampa Bay ship channel, the water is flat and calm winds 0-5.

WS tied up on these wonderful floating docks at Tampa Harbor Marina. This is primarily a power vessel marina & dry stack storage but it is very protected and the perfect spot if you have to leave your boat for a few weeks. Mooring at marinas where you are tied to pilings with 3+ tides is a challenge since the lines often need adjusting. with the floating docks you can just set them and forget about them since the docks raise and lower with the tides. The only other floating docks we have seen on this trip was in Seabrook, Home Port Marina & Pensacola.

Doug went over to talk with the gentleman on this vessel. Apparently it was here for a photo shoot. they are built in the Tampa area and sell for $1.2 million to governments worldwide. This one will be going to Iraq. The bow is reinforced with steel so it can be used to ram other vessels.

I was mostly interested in this marine device, thinking it could come in Handy on WS.

We wasted no time jumping in the little truck that can and visiting St. Pete. This pier is a great first stop with great views of Tampa Bay, the St. Pete Municipal Marinas, and downtown

This is the primary St. Pete Municipal Marina, you can see a few boats anchored out in the entrance area. Transients can anchor here free.

This part of the Marina mostly had very large power vessels but there is a Mooring Ball field adjacent that is only $15 a night with a secure dingy dock and marina privileges.

The Mooring field is a pilot program intended to discourage derelict boats from accumulating in the harbor.

Seems like every large harbor area in Florida has their own tall ship replica.

Of course the local wildlife refuge just minutes from downtown, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

The Mangroves just keep getting larger as you move South.

Lots of Osprey in Florida, I think they own the State, this guy is drying out his wings after getting fat in Lake Maggorie.

This funky armadillo would be welcome in Austin for sure.

This is the first Anhinga we have ever spotted, they are kin to the cormorants which are so plentiful all over the gulf Coast. The Anhinga is more pleasant to see.

Day 89-? Carrabelle to Tampa Bay
Underway 30:55 hrs, 200.2 Nm., Avg speed 6.6 Kts. 55-72 degrees, Overcast, SW 10-15 Kt. Winds with 2-4'seas subsiding to 0-5 Kt. S winds 1-0 seas.

Tom Conrad sends out an email early every morning reporting the weather and sea conditions to the members of the American Great Loop Cruisers Association. He specializes on just the 200Nm. route from Carrabelle to Tampa Bay area since so many cruisers make this jump since it is unwise to try and anchor or find a marina in the shallow waters along this portion of the coast that either require a draft of less than 3 feet or you must time it just right to go into a pass at high tide. His forecast for the weather window we were looking at said a daytime crossing on either Tue. or Thur. would be ok and advised against a nigh time crossing. If we did not make this window then the next one would not come till 1st week of March and we needed to get to Tampa so the Admiral could make a March 5th flight out to Texas. The Admiral was not interested in making a overnight crossing 60+ miles offshore so I had contacted a friend, Bill, in Tampa to see iif he could help crew. He could but only the last week of Feb. and that would be making it a bit to tight for me but maybe. I began asking the locals in Carrabelle if they knew of anyone that might could crew and so the grapvine is pretty short. By that afternoon Doug Dedrick knocked on the hull and sure enough his timing worked out great. He came over the next day to go over the systems on WS and all his questions were spot on so I knew he would be great crew for the crossing. I called him the next morning to let him know we were in a holding pattern as the Gulf may not settle down enough for a crossing on Tues-Wed. He had seen the same thing so I told him I would stay in touch, that afternoon the NOAA forecast had improved and I heard there were a couple of boats down at the Moorings marina wanting to cross so I went down and talked to them. They planned on going but if the conditions were not good for their 44' endeavour Catamaran Motor Vessels they would make it a short trip to Steinhatchee River. He explained 4' seas were not good for the catamarans as the seas would slap the underside of the bridgedeck making it uncomfortable, they tried to only be out in 1-2' seas. When I got back to C-quarters there was a 42' Beneteau S/V "Happy Go Lucky" and he planned on making the jump to Tarpon Springs. I picked up the phone to call Doug and just then he called. I told him that it was looking good and to be at the boat by 0630 in the am, he was hearing the same reports. Two more motor vessels and 1 more sailboat pulled in around sundown to make the trip as well. I consulted with the local Mariners and they all repeated the same thing, it would be a bit choppy in the early morning and as we made our way offshore things would smooth out.

Doug was on board by 0630 and stowing his stuff as I made ready to depart, I helped the Admiral get her stuff to the little truck that can, kissed her bye and we were out of the slip by 0700. We were the first boat out of Carrabelle that morning. It was good having a local on board as he made a short cut to the East Pass and we were out in the Gulf by 0730. The pass was just like they said choppy but we had an ebb tide so we just shot through at just over 8 kts. We found 2-4' seas but as soon as we got the headsail out in the 10-15 SW wind right on the beam we found our comfort zone. The winds would hold for the first 6 hours and the seas very slowly diminished for the next 8 hours. This is the first time the deck hatches have been tested after all my work to stop the leaks. The forward hatch was under a couple inches of water for extended periods and I wondered if everything was still dry in the V-berth.. A inspection a few hours later revealed all is good no leaks anywhere. By 1500 the winds had moved South and the headsail put away. We could hear the other 4 boats communicating on the VHF but we were 2-3 hours ahead and did not expect to see them as they were all headed to Tarpon Springs instead of Tampa Bay. We called them just to let them know we were out in front just in case. Doug went down to get a couple hours rest and the evening light changed to complete darkness. Since the sky's were completely overcast not even starlight was available. It was pitch black dark. Using the chartplotter to hold a course just was not working. We had experimented with the autohelm but we had to use the hand controller like a video game to keep it on course. I know there is a connection problem with the fluxgate compass, I will just have to take time to isolate it and fix it. It turned out easier to just hand steer using the compass to maintain as steady a course as possible. I surveyed the radar every 15 minutes to make sure there was nothing out there and we did not see 1 vessel until we got close to the Tampa Bay channel where there were two ships anchored out. I had heard of the numerous crab traps set as far as 30 miles out of Tarpon Springs and Clearwater & I was just hoping we would not venture into those areas as we neared the coastline as we followed the rhumb to Tampa Ship Channel. I thought it may be a test for the line cutter on the shaft though but who wants to test that? After my 2 hours sleep I came back up to absolutly flat, no ripple seas. Daylight showed entering in at the Tampa ship channel would avoid all the crab traps and you also avoid having to pass through all the bascule bridges between Clearwater and Tampa Bay. We both got a couple of cat naps and the next morning I turned on the seapower and fixed up some breakfast tacos, I can do eggs. After entering the ship channel it would be almost 3 hours motoring up this huge bay and we were doing close to 8 knots at 1900 rpm on the flood tide. As we neared Tampa Harbor Marina the winds started piping up to 15-20. I thought this is perfect, just as you come into dock in a strange marina the winds pipe up to test your skills. Why does this happen all the time? The Admiral was there and had 2 young dock hands to assist and with Doug it was easy to get in at the Fuel dock to top off the tank. Getting into our assigned slip however was a bit more problematic as due to the prevailing winds it would be best to back into the slip to avoid hearing that wave slap on the stern all night. The wind was blowing out of the South and it was a North/ South slip. After four attempts to back in and each time have the bow blown way off I had to revisit the solution. Since the slip was a double wide and there was no other boat in the adjoining slip I just nosed the bow up to the finger, a dock hand took the bow line and we just let the wind blow the stern around. I do not know why the simple solutions are so hard to see.

We got the boat put away, got showers and Doug and I enjoyed the beer till we went to dinner at a nice little restaurant right here at the marina. We all crashed at 2100 and slept easy till around 0700 when I got the coffee started so I could drive Doug back the Carrabelle. We had a great chat on the way back with Doug providing lots of local knowledge etc, etc. I made it back to the boat by 2030 looking forward to learning just where we have come to.

The next day we drove to the St. Petersberg downtown waterfront and it is easy to see why this is such a popular destination. the municipal marina looks fantastic and there are tons of events, restaurants, and fun within easy walking distance. This would be a great place to live aboard or even get a land dock. We made it to the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve just minutes from downtown and here again sighted lots of wildlife and a couple of new birds checked off. We went back to the waterfront the next day to go to a food festival with around 175 tent spaces full of different foods, organic farmers market and of course the arts and crafts that go along with it and live music.

Experience the Sail, click on the title for a link to a youtube video.

While in Carrabelle

I am sure the Texas Parks & Wildlife has nothing even close to this in their fleet. I think the State of Florida is pretty serious about enforcing fishing laws!
A day trip to St. Marks River National refuge was like going to a Staged Walt Disney Nature show. This Little gator was just hanging out with about 30 more of all sizes.
The wild pigs wern't scared of the gators, there was a whole family including 4 little baby pigs but the Admiral missed the opportunity to get the pic of the little ones rooting about since she was shooting all the other wildlife.
Gators everywhere.

Of course there is a Light house with all kinds of Civil War History. From Louisiana to Florida the Civil War happened like yesterday.

Pine forest with palm trees, magnolia, cypress, and lots more.

This Woodpecker kept us entertained for a long time.

We finally got a picture of a Kingfisher, we have seen lots of them but they are so busy fishing you can't get a shot of one.
Another reason to stay in port, if it is not a front passing through then it is the fog, this fog lasted most of the day, we went for a walk on Carrabelle Beach anyway.

For some reson several Sting rays were swimming really close to shore, we assumed they were feeding.

Finally a weather window opened to make the jump across the 200 Nm. from Carrabelle to Tampa Bay. These two Motor Vessels came in alnog with 2 other sailboats and 2 power catamarans. All 7 vessels (including us) planned to make the crossing the next morning.

1 last sunset in Carrabelle.
Taking advantage of the time we had in the Carrabelle area we started making day trips to area wildlife refuges and we hit the jackpot at St. Marks National Refuge. There was a very large pond there named Headquarters pond and I am telling you it is as if Walt Disney had hired all the wildlife to show up and put on a show. We saw no less than 50 species of birds, probably more, wild pigs and piglets, big buck deer with huge antlers, lots of alligators of all sizes. The only thing we have not seen is a black bear. There are lots of Bear crossing signs everywhere in this part of Florida and everyone else has seen them but we have yet to see one.
I started researching the weather every morning and afternoon looking for that opportunity to make the crossing to Tampa Bay since we really need to get there since the Admiral has tickets to fly out of the Tampa/St.Petersberg Airport March 5th. There was a two day window approaching but the Great Loop Cruisers Association weather Guru for this part of the Gulf advised against a overnight crossing. I kept looking a the NOAA Marine forecast and it looked like it was certainly possible. I had tentivily arranged with a friend of ours from Corpus, Bill, who now lives in St. Pete to come crew to help me make the crossing while the Admiral drives our truck to Tampa. He could only commit to the end of Feb. and I knew this would cut it way to close for comfort. Then I met a Carrabelle local who said he had heard I was looking for crew to cross and he could help me out. This was perfect if we could go before the end of Feb. since he had commitments then. I began to lose sleep leading up to the departure since everything was so tentative and I really did not want another plan B that ment delaying getting to Tampa. If this 2 day window did not work out it meant 5 more days waiting for the next front to get through. On the day before the weather window I went down to talk to a couple of cruisers who both had a 44' Endeavour Catamarans. They planned to depart and head for the Tampa area but if the seas were to rough they would just duck into Steinhatche River. I consulted with the local Boat US tow captain, Rusty, and he said it would be good to go, also the C-quarters harbor masters Kim and Millard agreed. Then late that afternoon 2 sailboats and 2 more motor vessels came in and said they were planning on taking advantage of the weather window. So I called Doug up and told him we were on, be on the boat at 0630 and we would be out by 0700. Carrabelle is definitely one of the places we want to come back to if at all possible. It is the really neat environment and especially the people that makes this a special place.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Cruising Learning Curve

This Vessel just appeared about 5' from our stern as he was coming in to the fuel dock at C-Quarters Marina. It looked like a refurbished WWII landing Craft

No matter how much you read or talk to others about "Living the Cruising Dream" one can not assume they know exactly what it is really about until you begin the journey. Cruising for extended periods has many similarities for all but is a totally different experience to each individual out there doing it. Until you toss off the lines and take off it is truly just a dream. The dream is always in front of you but the real and practical experience quickly alters all the assumptions you previously held.

Before we departed Corpus Christi on this cruise we had sailed Wand'rin Star exactly 1,166.7 Nautical Miles. A bit of this was in Puget Sound where we bought the vessel and some in Galveston Bay where we had the boat trucked to have some work done on the boat, and then the trip down the ICW to Corpus Christi where the majority of NM's were sailing around the Corpus Christi Bay area. This certainly prepared us to manage the boat and take it to the next level but the next 922.2 NM that we have traveled to date on this cruise has exposed several elements or challenges that are difficult to plan for since they are hard to see through the dream. These challenges of course include the Boat, preparation, weather, cruising budget, provisioning, boat maintenance, route planning, personal/family needs & time. The Cruising magazines are full of stories of those who literally cut all the strings, sold everything they had and took off across the oceans. So far I know of only 1 couple personally who did exactly that, they were in their early 40's no children, and planned to go out a few years and then return to their professional lives. They completed their 3+ year cruise successfully sold the boat and returned to work. Even though we have cut a lot of material strings we still have enough material things we have to attend to that it takes time away from the cruising goals. Then their are the human needs both ours personally and family that also have to be attended to. These things do not always fit seamlessly into the cruising lifestyle.

the boat

After thoroughly (I thought) researching for the perfect vessel for us to cruise on I was sure I might use the experience to write the book on helping others to buy the perfect boat. I even completed a set of chapters and consulted with my daughter who is a professional writer about possibly completing this project. I revisit these thoughts occasionally and revise my notes. These last 900 NM has clearly demonstrated that I am not yet qualified to write the book just yet. There is a lot more out here that should be considered when shopping for the perfect vessel.


Even though we put about 1200 NM under our keel preparing to to this cruise we did not do enough practice in more demanding environments. We are doing this as we go. I had several opportunities to be out in demanding Gulf of Mexico environments but we did not get the Admiral out in our own boat offshore enough where she could feel comfortable. The Admirals experience is almost entirely in protected waters of lakes, bays, and the ICW. I was so intent on providing her small steps as we went along that I neglected planning these experiences for her. This meant she had to be thrown into an environment that she did not feel she was fully prepared for and her greatest concern is that if I became incapacitated she would not be able to bring the boat in alone. This is a very valid concern and one we will have to manage until she gets up to speed.


Everything is determined by the weather. In places that you really do not want to stay to long you may have several days lay over waiting for the weather to improve. In places where you want to stay for several days you either stay just one night or cruise on by since you have just a short weather window and need to get on down the coast.


Not sure how long it will take for us to figure this one out. It seems common for first time cruisers to way over provision, we still are. Mainly it is learning how to get the things you need that are not within walking distance to wherever you moor the boat. We have no problem walking 2 miles one way now to get to a store. We both have back packs and can carry lots of stuff. There is often pubic transportation. One Marina offered us a company truck, another had bicycles, and some have offered to drive us. Enterprise has a great weekend deal on rent cars. You can get one way rentals from Hertz if needed and we have done this twice so far. So we are learning that we do not have to have so much stuff on the boat, it is may not be available where we are today but we can get it at the next port.

boat maintenance

So far this means paying close attention to the Yanmar diesel. Check your belts fuel filters and oil daily. We have made 3 trips to West Marine along the way and have had a couple of items shipped to us but this is not even a hassle. Our running gear for sailing has not even been stressed yet but that means I will need to pay close attention when we do get all the sails out.

route planning

The US Gulf Coast is very cruiser friendly so this is again dependent on weather, cruising budget, and personal interest. Skipper Bob cruising guide, Southern Waterways Guide, and recently the joining of the America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association are references we use. Active Captain provide us initially with all of our local knowledge but now I make the time to talk to locals at every stop. NOAA charts along with our chart plotters are all cross referenced.

personal/family needs

Some of the things difficult to plan for are those events that require you to find a safe place to leave the boat and return to home base to take care of Dr. Visits, elderly parent needs or other life demands. These task are a bit more problematic when you do not have a land base especially when you continue to put miles between you and the things you need to take care of in your home state.

cruising budget

All the above affect the cruising budget. The budget affects when and where you will go next. One piece of advice given by one of the cruising guides is that if you expect to stay a week or longer then find a marina that offers a monthly rate. The $300 month is a lot cheaper than the $1-$2 a foot rate if you stay more than a few days. Not every marina offers monthly rates to transient boats and as you move toward high traffic areas the rates are higher. This means spending more time in route planning to find those marinas who will acomodate you. Hopefully the weather improves and we can find some nice anchorages along the way instead.

& time

It works best to have no schedule, I can not imagine having to be at a certain destination by a certain date. This would be a recipe for unwanted problems for sure. Given that you just have to take everything in stride and appreciate where you are. Today I got to see two dolphins in the Carrabelle River feeding in really shallow water. Then soon after a Otter was working through the marina and I enjoyed his antics for 20 minutes.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 70-88 Apalachicola to Carrabelle C-Quarters Marina

Here the water is a easy 2-3 foot chop near the end of St. Georges Island. We are about to get into more open water away from the protection of the barrier islands as we parallel the East Pass.

These guys were all over St. Georges Sound harvest oysters in their small skiffs.

We are approaching Dog Island and the East Pass. Here is where we get a good look at the pass for future reference when we make the crossing to Clearwater, Fl.

It was good to see that the East Pass was well marked and looked wide and deep enough to transit with out to much concern. It is still advised to avoid it in heavy weather.

I wondered about this large house right on the West end of dog island. There are no roads to the Island.

The channel to Carrabelle is the best marked channel we have seen yet. I am sure it is due to the tricky conditions coming and going if the weather is dicey here.

We are now in the Carrabelle river that originates in Georgia. That big roof right in the middle would be our Marina.

The water appears calm, there is little wind in here but the currents can get tricky as they have 3'+ tides and since the current is beam to the boat as you enter the slips it can get interesting.

WS at her slip right up front near the Huge front porch of C-Quarters Marina.

The Admiral already likes Carrabelle, something about this little fishing village reminded her of Port A.

We took a trip over to St. Georges Island to check out the Beach and there was no problem finding beach access. No huge condos and hotels here, just lots of beach homes.

The beach even was Port A like they just did not have the huge Mustang Island dunes.

A Port A type environment with clear water.

I don't know, this one just kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.

Well we heard from the locals you had to go to Eddie Teaches for a cold one and as long as we were their I thought I better get some Oysters. They were good but not as good as the ones I had at Bozos or in Apalachicola. I could not understand that?

This vessel must have been some party barge back in the day.

This is the front porch of C-Quarters Marina. There is a group of locals who convene here every day from around 11am till dark. Happy hour usually starts kickin by 12 noon. The locals just stand at the far end of the Porch and laugh, fuss, discuss the state of Carrabelle. We met a 70 year old who has only been out of the town for 10 days in his lifetime and that's cause he had to go into the Hospital. There are no traffic lights in Carrabelle but they do have Black Bears.

I wondered what they must use this chute for that came off the back end of a concrete truck. I only imagined that when the water warmed up they got drunk and used it for a water slide. But no, the fishing boats pull in to get lots of ice and they use it to slide the ice down into their large fish boxes.

I thought it was cool to see these three sailboats anchored out in the river but we found out they have been anchored there for about five years and have not moved at all.

One of these every evening.

Day 70-88 Apalachicola to Carrabelle C-Quarters Marina

Underway 4:34 hrs, 26.2, Avg speed 5.7Knts. , 40-60 degrees, Sunny 10-15 ENE winds.

We motored the entire trip, no chance for sailing again with wind on the nose and we had 2-3' chop, a lot like Corpus Christi Bay. We were on the inside and crossed Apalachicola Bay & St. Georges Sound protected by the barrier islands of St. Georges and Dog Island. There is a short break between the Islands where we had 2-3 foot Gulf of Mexico type seas but this was
short lived as the East Pass between the two islands is not very wide. It gave us a great look at the East Pass where we will eventually go through on our way from Carrabelle to Clearwater Fl.

As we neared the West end of St. Georges Island we saw lots of small skiffs with 1-2 men racking up oysters from the shallow waters. There were probably around 30 of these boats out there and each one had a large mound of oysters stacked in the front of there skills. Some locals explained they make several hundred dollars for each load they bring in which can be more lucrative than the sport fishing in the area at this time of year. We were told Florida enacted some legislation that is now tightly regulating the sport fisherman and have virtually shut down the professional sport fishing guides for part of the year. This seems to have hurt areas like Carrabele that depended on year round fishing tourism business.

We were glad to find a hardware and IGA Grocery store right across the street. There are just a few restaurants and only open certain days of the week, 1 bar and you walk a mile in either directions and see the whole town. Very nice people and they accept you they way you came in. Every local we talk to here are Sport fisherman. They enjoy seeing the cruisers come and go but this town is all about fishing.

We paid for 1 month since the Admiral needs to get some cataract surgery completed in Feb. We planned on going back to Austin a few weeks to take care of that and be back to make the jump to Clearwater. However we hit a glitch when her appointment was re-scheduled and it could run over in to March. We made the trip back to Austin to get her pre-surgery appointment but even that was re-scheduled due to the Dr. being sick so the Admiral went to visit her parents & I returned to take care of WS so we are in a holding pattern until we get firm dates. We have a friend Bill in St.Petersburg who was our neighbor on H dock in Corpus who might help me go ahead and take the boat to Clearwater. We are planning several plan B's but really we just want to get the Admiral through this surgery so we can continue on without further delay. If I have to hang out for a while Carrabelle is a great place to be stuck in.
This whole area is surrounded by State and National Forest, we were surprised to learn that black bears frequent the dumpsters around the restaurants and the back yards of the locals. We have yet to see one but when we learned they have even been on the docks of our marina we are a bit more cautious now when walking about in the dark here.

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.