I’m a bit behind on my postings. We’ve been moving quickly up the west coast of Florida and across the panhandle. We’re hanging out in Destin since Sunday with visiting family and friends arriving tomorrow and this weekend. Once we leave Destin we are two days away from Mobile where we will get prepared to travel up the rivers.
We left Ft. Meyers and traveled north on the ICW with our cruising buddies on sv Silver Lining. We met them in Ft. Meyers, but figured out we’ve been traveling right around each other for quite a while and have many mutual cruising friends. We anchored in a small cove just north of Boca Grande then left early the next morning to tackle the 11 bascule/swing bridges in our 50 miles to Tampa Bay, anchoring by De Soto National Park. We stayed for two nights and were able to catch up with our friend DeWayne there, enjoying a great breakfast and the ride to the store to pick up a few items (Thanks DeWayne!!)
From Tampa Bay we traveled on the ICW originally set for Clearwater, but decided to continue on to Tarpon Springs. We got settled just as the bottom fell out. We docked right downtown, ordered pizza and settled in for some rest! We and sv Silver Lining waited for a good weather window for an overnight passage across to the panhandle. The weather didn’t pan out exactly, so we motored the entire way. The Gulf was as calm as a mill pond and the moon was full and bright. It was beautiful!!!
It was hard to believe and a bit bittersweet that this was our last overnight of our adventure. So funny how time flies and how different our perspective is after a year + of experience. While on my watch, I saw about nine ‘flairs’ off the port bow. I called Nick up, called Silver Lining to see if they saw it as well, then we called the Coast Guard. We veered off coarse for a couple miles just in case, but then let the Coast Guard know we were continuing on our original coarse. We looked on the chart and noticed a firing range located in the same direction as the ‘flairs’ we saw and decided that it would be difficult and less likely for someone to shoot that many flairs. Turns out it was a firing drill and we were relieved to know there was not someone out there in distress!
As the sun rose we made landfall and continued up the panhandle in the ICW for another 40 miles. We stopped at a free dock just off the ICW in White City. We were all exhausted, but happy to have made so many miles. Later that afternoon we met some folks that live right down the street. They always like to visit with the cruisers and were very interested to here where we and Silver Lining have traveled. They graced us with amazing southern hospitality, bringing their Low Country Boil to the dock to share with us!! It was delicious.
We took our time the next morning, traveled to Port St. Joe then out in the Gulf to Panama City Beach. We stayed for two nights, then off to Destin. We saw many of the Spotted Atlantic Dolphins and two sea turtles. Nick has still been unlucky with the MahiMahi but caught around 10 Little Tunny . . . known as a sport fish, but not really for eating. We had also hoped for some Spanish Mackerel since they were supposed to be ‘running’ but no such luck.
Here in Destin Ethan has immensely enjoyed time with his Aunt Beth and his Nanna and Grandaddy. We’ve spent time at the beach, the pool and visited the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola. I’ve enjoyed sleeping in a regular sized bed and being in air conditioning.
The weather forecast looks like it might clear up enough for us to move on Monday so until then we’ll enjoy our time here visiting and enjoying the beach for a bit longer!