Oct. 27 to Nov. 4

The blog for October 27 can be found in last week’s section. 

October 28-Panama City to Apalachicola, FL


The morning was a chilly 44 degrees.  We knew when we went to bed we would have to throw on an extra blanket.  I heard the wind howling all night long and into the morning.  It was blowing 10-15 mph out of the north and it was cold.  I had to break out my socks and long sleeves for awhile until the sun warmed everything up.  We had breakfast, checked email, and made our plans for today.  We would head for Apalachicola since the trip would take us through waters protected pretty much from the wind and waves on the GIWW.  Bob and I walked Murphy and took some pictures near the marina.  One was of the 9-11 Memorial—a beautiful monument to the volunteers and people who died on that fateful day. 


The other one was of a fighter jet from the Korean War.  There is a naval base here in Panama City.


It was unfortunate that we couldn’t take the time to walk downtown and check out the shops, but we’ll save that for another trip.  The Ship’s Store at the marina was a nicely equipped store with all kinds of items to catch your interest.  We shopped a little before untying the lines at 10:00.  We motored across St. Andrew’s Bay through 2-3’ waves on the stern, so the ride was pretty smooth.  We did have to turn and go north for 2 miles with the waves on our bow, which made for a choppy ride through East Bay.  Then we turned east into Wetappo Creek—a beautiful, winding river with numerous oxbows and lots of wildlife.



The water was calm and it started to warm up.  There were a few homes along the creek, but it was mostly wilderness, with pine trees and an occasional sand dune.


We passed Gulf County Canal—a five mile long canal that was man-made to connect the creek with St. Joseph Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.


We passed into the Eastern Time Zone at the White City Bridge.


We got a call from our friends, Pam and Don, who were on their way to Ft. Myers by car from Appleton, WI via Texas.  They would be passing through Apalachicola at the same time we would be getting there, so we planned to meet up with them.  A shrimp boat passed us going the other direction heading out of the canal to the Gulf.


Bob spotted an alligator sunning himself on the shore—the first one we’ve seen.  We slowed down for some fishermen who were dressed in warm hats and coats, but they were catching fish.


We reached the end of Wetappo Creek and entered Lake Wimico where the lake water was calm.


We saw a bald eagle perched on a log and passed another shrimp boat.  The channel through the lake was really narrow and shallow.


We saw the typical “South Seas Island” located there. 


Once we crossed the lake, the Jackson River was wider than the canal, but had just as much wilderness.


The Jackson River connects with the Apalachicola River.  Here the water changed from a dark brown color to light brown.  From there, we entered Scipio Creek in Apalachicola, which took us to Scipio Creek Marina.

We arrived at 2:00 and tied up to the wall in front of the restaurant. 


Apalachicola was primarily a fishing town, but now caters more to tourists.  It contains beautiful old Victorian homes, assorted gift and antique shops, and restaurants.  It has many services that visiting boaters need.  We hosed off the boat and shortly thereafter our friends, Pam and Don arrived.  We all went into Papa Joe’s Bar and Grill for some lunch. 


Bob and Donny had raw oysters (Bob’s favorite) and the rest of us had some type of seafood. Yum!


It was great!  Then we walked into town to check out the shops and the public marina.  The town was getting ready for their big Seafood Festival this coming weekend. 


We passed the Veteran’s Memorial Garden which was just dedicated this year.




The Franklin County Courthouse was a huge building named after Ben Franklin and was built in 1832. 



The guys went to the Spoonbill Bar (where Pam and Donny were staying) for happy hour and the girls walked around Main Street.



We stopped at the Gibson Inn, which was built in 1907 at the height of Apalachicola’s reign as a shipping and lumber center. 


We found out that Apalachicola is the third oldest town in Florida and at one time it rivaled New Orleans for being the largest shipper of cotton in the early part of the 1900’s.  We met the guys at the Spoonbill Bar for a drink.


Afterwards we went to dinner just down the block at the Boss Oyster Restaurant. 

We sat inside because it was getting cold by this time, but we had a great meal. 

I found a picture of a boat at the restaurant that had the name of “Miss Cindy” and had to have my picture taken with it.

Pam drove me back to the boat in her car so I could feed and walk Murphy.  The others walked back and joined me at the boat.  By then, I had the heat on to warm up the boat.  It would get down to 37 degrees tonight.  We watched a little TV and turned in.  We had an easy 60 mile trip today and enjoyed seeing Pam and Donny.  They would be on their way to Ft. Myers tomorrow, where they live on their boat 6 months of the year.  We’ll see them again soon.  Cute boat name #44.

October 29- Apalachicola to Carrabelle, FL


It was a cool 37 degrees last night.  We could see our breath this morning and we ran the heat in the boat last night.  We cleaned up and had breakfast.  Since the time change yesterday, it doesn’t get light until 8:00, so I was up to see a beautiful sunrise.


We left at 9:30 from the dock and crossed Apalachicola Bay to the GIWW.  We would travel through St. George Sound to the Carrabelle River to reach the town of Carrabelle.  The day was sunny without a cloud in the sky.  The winds were light which made for an easy, smooth ride.  We were driving into the sun which also made it nice and toasty on the bridge.  We passed a shrimp boat returning from his morning run.



We slowed down as we passed quite a few boats harvesting oysters.  They took this huge rake and scooped them off the bottom.  Some boats had piles of oysters sitting on the bow of the boat.  One guy would sort through them for the correct size and sometimes shuck them right there, depending on whether the oyster will be cooked or served raw.



 The ride went quickly and we turned to enter the Carrabelle River at 10:45.


We pulled up to the fuel dock where we found Donny waiting for us to catch our lines.  What a surprise! 


Pam and Donny were on their drive to Ft. Myers and happened to be going by at the time we were coming in.  We chatted while we were fueling up the boat and then they were on their way.   


We took a spot at 11:00 in the Moorings Marina, where we would spend the night.

We settled in after a 30 mile trip and later took a walk into town.


Carrabelle is a sleepy, fishing village that suddenly decided to wake up and develop as a harbor for visiting boaters.  It provides the necessities and is a good re-provisioning stop.  Many boaters use Carrabelle as their “jumping off” point to cross the Gulf, so you can find many boats waiting here until the weather conditions are “right”.  Many boaters use the expertise of Buddy, the weather guru, to help them decide when to cross the Gulf.  We will consult with Buddy to help us make our decision about when we should cross. 
Everything in town is within walking distance.  The town was cute with an old clock in the town square.


The town has some nice restaurants, a huge grocery store, 2 hardware stores, a Dollar General, library, post office, and a couple of cute shops.  We had to stop at the hardware store to make a spare key for the boat, because I accidentally threw the old one overboard.  Oops!  We walked from one end of town to the other, stopping at whatever looked interesting along the way.

The Fisherman’s Wife was a cute little take out restaurant along the river.


We also walked past the city hall

and the World’s Smallest Police Station.  The story is when the town was just beginning, they only had one policeman.  He would park his car next to the phone booth.and when people had an emergency or wanted to contact the police department, they would call the phone booth to get a hold of the police.  They kept the phone booth as a tourist attraction.


Barb and I stopped at the grocery store for a couple of items and met the guys back at the boat.  We saw a sign along the roadside that told how many days were left in hurricane season. 

We stopped at a marina and saw this cute little weather sign.  Check out the cloud.

Bernie and Bob programmed the GPS with our waypoints for the trip across the Gulf, Barb did some reading, and I worked on the blog.  It was warm in the sun and out of the wind. At 3:00 we went to talk to Buddy about his predictions for crossing the Gulf.    

Buddy showed Bob, Bernie, and I the websites he uses to predict the weather and help people decide whether or not to cross the Gulf.  He was very informative and has been doing this for boaters for 18 years.  He has quite a reputation for being the “go-to” guy when it comes to crossing the Gulf.   Bob and Bernie will meet with him tomorrow morning at 6:30 to make the final decision after they see what the weather is doing.  We sat around and had cocktails before dinner.  As the sun got lower in the sky, we decided to make dinner and relax for an early rising tomorrow.

October 30-Carrabelle, FL

We all got up early at 6:00 to get ready to leave at sunrise if the weather conditions permit.  Bob and Bernie went to a meeting with Buddy to discuss the weather conditions and the possibility of crossing the Gulf today.  Barb and I went to shower and waited for the guys to return with the news. 
They returned about 7:15 to say that Buddy’s recommendation was to not cross today.  I was relieved, but yet I was anxious to get home, too.  Bernie and Barb have a time constraint because they have a commitment to work at the polls on Tuesday for voting.  They would have to find a way to get to Tallahassee to rent a car from the airport and drive themselves back to Ft. Myers.  I went back to sleep for a little while and everyone else just hung out until the sun warmed things up outside.  After breakfast, we all decided to take a walk over the bridge that spans the Carrabelle River.
We walked the other direction from town to see what there was to the rest of the town.  We found a stack-and-store facility and a restaurant called the Hog Wild Bar-B-Q.  It had good recommendations from the locals. We returned to the boat and just sat around and talked until we got ready to leave for dinner.  Another boat came in late in the afternoon.  Bernie went over to talk to them and found out that they had come from Panama City in 8′ waves.  Their boat was all covered with spray and they had a very rough ride. Around 5:30, we got a ride from one of the workers to a seafood restaurant called Pirates.  Bernie and Barb treated us to a nice dinner. The food was great!
It was on the river and had a nice porch overlooking the water.  The sun was beginning to set and it was cooling off for the evening.
We got a ride back to the boat and settled in to watch a movie.  After the movie, we took Murphy for his last walk and turned in.  

October 31 (Halloween)- Carrabelle, FL

Everyone got up about the same time today.  We had breakfast and cleaned up.  Bernie and Barb made arrangements to get a ride to Tallahassee with one of the guys at the marina.
From there, they arranged for a one-way rental car at the airport and would make the the 8 hour drive from Tallahassee to Ft. Myers.  They would be home in time for trick-or-treat.  They got picked up around 9:30 and were on their way.  They had to go today because the people who could give them a ride would not be available on the weekend to do it. They needed to be home by Monday to work the polls on Tuesday, otherwise, they could have stayed a few days longer.  We were sorry to see them go. 
We would be here at least until Wednesday next week according to the weather predictions, so we have a lot of time to explore more of the town and do some needed chores on the boat.  We are planning on giving her a good washing and waxing while we are here, since we have the time.  We’ll get out the bikes and do a little more exploring around the area.  We are anxious to get home, but do not want to go out in big waves on the Gulf, so we’ll be smart about picking the time to cross.  We look at it as having a few more days of vacation to enjoy. We decided we would do some wash and Bob was going to wash the windows on the bridge. 
The water here is very hard and leaves huge spots on the windows if you don’t wipe them down.  We got tired of looking out of dirty windows. The 36′ boat that came in yesterday, after being on the Gulf in 8′ waves, was leaving again this morning.  Bob talked to them and found out that they “had to” get to Sarasota today.  They knew it would be a rough ride, but Buddy gave them some suggestions as to where to duck into, if things got too bad.  They’ve got more guts than I do.  Buddy came around and told us there was a chance that the weather systems were changing and we might be able to get out of here a little earlier than Wednesday.  We would keep checking the weather like we always do and make our decision based on all the information…. Buddy being one more source of that information.  We found out that the pontoon houseboat tied up behind us has been waiting to cross the Gulf also. 
It was at the dock when we got here and there has been no one on board since we arrived.  I can’t imagine crossing the Gulf in that!  Bob also talked to a sailor that had left the day before and was towed back in by Boat US later that same day.  He told us he had gotten out in the Gulf in 6′ waves and decided that was too much to handle, so he turned around to come back.  As he was taking down his sails, a line got caught in his motor and blew out the exhaust pipe, so now the motor wouldn’t run.  He tried to sail it back to the marina, but the winds were not favorable in that direction and it was getting dark.  So he had to call Boat US to come and tow him in.  Now he said he will be stuck here in Carrabelle for a while getting his boat fixed.  How nuts is that?  We had cocktails and appetizers before dinner and ate a little later.  There were no trick-or-treaters so Halloween was kind of a non-event for us this year.  After dinner, we walked Murphy and watched some TV.   We turned in after the news.  

November 1-Carrabelle, FL

Wow!  It’s November 1st already. We slept until it got light at 8:30.  That was a first for us.  We got up, had breakfast, and checked emails.  It was a leisurely morning.  The temp overnight was 47 degrees and it took awhile to warm things up.  Once we got going, Bob worked on refreshing the water softener and fixing the kitchen faucet.  I started waxing the front of the bridge.  It’s an acrobatic feat in itself, but we got 2/3 of it done. 
It was a sunny day of 73 degrees, but the wind was blowing which kept things from getting too warm in the sun.  Murphy enjoyed watching us work. 
We caught the last 10 minutes of the Badger game on TV.  They had been leading the whole game and lost it in the last 2 minutes.  What a horrible loss!  Later in the afternoon, a 32′ Carolina Open came in from Clearwater that had crossed the Gulf in 8-10′ waves. 
They bought the boat in North Carolina last week and are going to Dauphin Island at the mouth of Mobile Bay.  They said they expect to be home tomorrow to be back at work on Monday. They must have only taken off a week of work to move the boat.  Crazy!  In talking with them, we found out that they are staunch fishermen who go out 60 miles into the Gulf and fish the oil rigs, sometimes staying overnight out there.  On their trip home, they have been staying at marinas, but sleep in hotels and not on the boat.  I guess you “gotta wanna do it” to be out in those kind of waves.  My philosophy is “why do it if you don’t have to?”  That’s what’s great about retirement.  Bob and I just shook our heads and wondered why people feel the need to do that to themselves and their boat.  We relaxed in the cockpit with a cocktail before dinner. Tomorrow we’ll continue the waxing and Murphy will get his bath, much to his chagrin, but he’ll feel so good when it’s done.  We enjoyed the sunset as the wind from today calmed off.  
We had a later dinner and later relaxed with some TV.  Before going to bed, we turned back to clocks for Daylight Savings Time.  It’s comforting to know we don’t have to go anywhere until the conditions are right.  It looks like Tuesday might be a good day to cross.  We’ll see.
Note:  I forgot to tell you about Bob and the frog in Apalachicola.  The morning we left there, Bob went into the bathroom to do his job and as he was standing there, taking care of business, a frog jumped out from under the lip of the toilet bowl.  It scared the cr– out of him!  He also realized that when he was sitting down on the seat earlier, the frog must have been there.  Good thing he didn’t end up with a frog up his butt!  (It only happens to Bob!)

November 2-Carrabelle, FL

We both woke up before it got light.  I guess we were still on the old time…not Daylight Savings Time.  The boat that came in yesterday began warming up its engines before the sun came up. The 4 of them would have a long 180 mile run ahead of them and maybe be able to get some smoother water before the wind came up. Bob talked to them before they left and the 2 women said that the forecast was for 4-6′ waves today.  They said that was a lot better than 8-10 footers and that they should be home for dinner. They felt their little boat could handle it, even though they said they were concerned, at times, out in the big waves yesterday. The sky in the east was beginning to get lighter around 6:20 and they pulled out of the marina shortly after 6:30. 

We worked on the Internet and did some reading as we waited for daylight. It was a pretty sunrise, but then clouds set in from the east.  There is a slight chance of rain today, but the temps should be in the mid 70’s.  A good day to do some waxing.  Bob made us our usual Sunday bacon and eggs breakfast, since we haven’t had that in awhile.  We relaxed a little, waiting for the temps to warm up.  The wind came up with the sun this morning. Bob finished waxing the last side of the bridge, while I went inside the bridge to wax and clean up there.  That area is done and looks fabulous!  Now we’ll work on waxing the cockpit and the bow tomorrow.  Another 36′ boat came in today headed for Bonita Springs, FL.  They came from St. Joe’s, about 15 miles away on the GIWW.  We wonder if they’ll leave tomorrow or wait for a better day.  We gave Murphy his bath today, only to find live fleas living on his hind quarters when we brushed him.
So we gave him another soapier bath to kill the live fleas.  That didn’t do it either.  There were still some live ones crawling on him.  Now we needed a more serious bath!  We got a plastic garbage can, filled it with dishsoap and water, and then put Murphy in it. 
By this time, Murphy was thinking that his mom and dad were nuts!  3 baths in one day?  After this bath, there were no fleas left anywhere on his body. Success!
He had worn a flea collar for the last 2 weeks after a bath, but apparently he needs something a little stronger. We’ll go to the store and get him some Frontline tomorrow.  Hopefully , we’ll be done with those nasty little bugs!   We watched some football in the afternoon.  We couldn’t get the Packers on TV, but we could watch the Bucs.  I guess that would have to do.  The won the game in overtime. The clouds came and went all day with the sun poking through occasionally.  The temps were nice for working on the boat…not too hot or sunny.  We saw 2 dolphins and a jet skier in the river today.  Both were surprising to see.  The sun went down behind some dark clouds, but no rain is expected tonight.  We had a later dinner and watched some TV before going to bed. 
November 3-Carrabelle, FL

It was very comfortable sleeping last night–not too chilly.  We got up around 7:00 and lounged around until 9:00 having breakfast and checking email.  We took a walk to the post office, hardware store, and grocery store.  I mailed my card, bought some flea medicine for Murphy, and a few grocery items.  Bob found fleas again on Murphy this morning, so our plan is to eradicate them from the boat and Murphy.  Enough is enough!  Back at the boat, we gave Murphy a bath with flea shampoo and let him dry and sleep in our bathroom.  Meanwhile, we washed anything that could possibly harbor fleas (rugs, towels, clothes, pillows, bedding) and sprinkled flea powder on the rug and on the beds in the second stateroom where Murphy sometimes sleeps.  We had to let the powder sit for 2 hours and then vacuum it up.  While all that was happening inside, Bob waxed the bow and I waxed everything in the cockpit. 
Tomorrow Bob will wax the hardtop and I’ll clean the power cord.  This boat has never been so clean all at once!  We finished about 3:00 and cleaned everything up.  We were just sitting down to have cocktails when a 55′ Sunseeker pulled in.  They are ultimately headed to Ft. Lauderdale.  The captain came over to look at our weather websites and get some info about traveling tomorrow.  Shortly thereafter, a 68′ Azimut, with a female captain, pulled in for the night.  They are planning on leaving tomorrow too.
The day continued to be breezy, but sunny.  We cleaned up and had dinner.  Murphy was especially hungry after all that happened today.  Even his toys had to be washed!  It was a traumatic day for him.  Bob and I were tired, too.  We had put in a hard day’s work.  We relaxed after dinner with some TV.  As the sun set around 5:30, the sky turned a pale pink, and it got dark around 6:30. I took Murphy for his last walk of the night and spotted the orange sliver of the moon above us.  Our plan is to leave on Wednesday if all things remain the same.  We plan on taking a bike ride tomorrow to check out more of the town and see the voter turnout at City Hall.  We already cast our absentee ballots about a month ago.  Don’t forget to cast your ballot!  

November 4-Carrabelle, FL

Today’s the day we’ll see who the next president of the United States will be.  We both were awakened by the sounds of motors.  The Sunseeker and Azimut, who came in yesterday, were leaving this morning.  Since the captain of the Sunseeker was from Kentucky and had done all of his driving on rivers, he was unfamiliar with ocean waves.  He would be following the Azimut.  The female captain had asked him if he wanted to travel with her. We listened to them leave and got up ourselves.  We had breakfast and got ready to work.  Bob got up on the hardtop to wax, while I worked on cleaning the power cord in the cockpit. 
It took us about 3 hours and we finished about the same time.  While we worked, 4 loopers came in for the night and the people from the pontoon houseboat finally returned. 
I guess they all plan to leave on Wednesday, too.   The trawlers would be leaving at midnight, traveling through the night,  to arrive by sunset tomorrow.  They travel much slower than we do and need that extra time to get where they are going.  It was an overcast day and breezy.  The forecast was for temps in the high 70’s, but without any sun it never made it that high.  Buddy came by to talk about leaving tomorrow and gave Bob a few more useful suggestions, should we get out there and it’s not so nice.  We appreciate his helpfulness and concern.  We skipped lunch and put things away in the cockpit after cleaning the 4 storage hatches.  Murphy took it easy today, but kept one wary eye on us, should we get the idea to give him another bath.  So far we haven’t seen a flea anywhere, so we’re hopeful they are finally gone for good.  Bob put the extra straps on the dinghy to secure it to the lift for crossing the Gulf.  We put together our “ditch bag”, should we have to leave the boat due to fire or if we were taking on water.  We included all the necessary safety items for survival on the water.  Murphy will wear his life vest and so will we. We had a little talk about what to expect on the water, what our plans were for evacuation, and for the crossing.  I made sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, in case the water is too rough to come down to the galley during the trip.  We will go out to marker #2 at the far entrance to the cut and decide, depending on the conditions, if we will cut straight across to Clearwater in open ocean or hug the shoreline for smoother water. If it’s rough, we will go19 miles northeast to marker #26 where we can check out the conditions again.  Then we can make a decision to keep going northeast heading for the shoreline, or turn east and then south to Clearwater. We’ll have a total of 180 miles (7-9 hours) to go if we take the long route along the shore.  It is 150 miles if we go straight across the Gulf.  The weather “window” is Wednesday-Friday.  It looks good to cross on Wednesday from all the weather websites we’ve looked at, so we’ll leave tomorrow at 6AM.  The sun will be just coming up as we get to the opening of St. George’s Sound.  Later that afternoon, I took a bike ride along the river
to Wicked Willie’s Bar and Restaurant
and checked out the new condo developments that are going up there. 
I rode into the residential area of town to the Senior Center where the voting was taking place.  It looked like they were getting a good turnout. 
I rode back to the boat just in time for cocktail hour and to relax a little before dinner. 
We cooked dinner inside because it was getting a little chilly outside.  The sun popped out just before it set.
We watched some TV, but went to bed early so that we could get up to leave at 6 AM.   Even though it was longer than anticipated, we enjoyed our stay at Carrabelle.