Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Ok, maybe this title is a bit backwards, but in our case, that is just what we saw.

When we left Pensacola, it was to be our first "outside" jump.  Due to several low bridges on the intercoastal waterway, or ICW, we would need to go out the Pensacola Inlet into the Gulf of Mexico to get around these bridges.  We needed to get as far east as Panama City, but we chose to go a bit further east, to Port St Joe, which would be about a 120 mile trip.  It would be about 20 hours total from our departure at the Santa Rosa Yacht Club to Port St Joe.  To avoid arriving at night, we left late in the morning, and timed our arrival for first light.  On top of that, it's best to time the travel through through these inlets into the gulf with slack tides, so that current and wind don't combine to mess with your chi.

Around 9 am we departed to head toward the gulf.  Our trip through the pass was flat calm and lovely.  Out we go.  We had a few other boats that were heading through the pass with us, one going straight to Tampa, and the others stopping short in Destin.  Well, we had our plan, so off to Port St Joe we went.  We sailed further south than the direct line in hope of taking advantage of some SE winds that were supposed to fill in some time during the night.  Otherwise, the passage was nearly windless, so we got to see what motoring offshore was like.  Besides a bit more roll, it was a lot like motoring anywhere else.  Big suprise.

Ready for the darkness...

Sunset was awesome.

We were both filled with apprehension as the sun went down.  We had been preparing for this jump for weeks: between arranging our safety gear, making everything secure above and below deck, and planning the trip with weather and charts.  Even with all our preparation, we were both thinking that we were doing something wrong as the sun went down.  However, just as the final light of the sun diminished, a near full moon began to rise in the east.  We've never seen the moon so blindingly bright.  Wow.  On we motored.  In the middle of the night, we noticed our speed increased by about 1.5 knots, and the water warmed up about 10 degrees.  I think somehow we landed in a random gulfstream current.

At first we thought how fun, it will make the trip faster.  But this messed with our planned sunrise arrival, and that was a problem.  So, around 2 in the morning, we slowed way down, to around 4.5 knots.  Apparently, the change in our engine noise attracted the attention of some dolphins, because after just a minute or two of changing the engine speed, we had 3-4 dolphins show up to investigate.   The light of the moon lit up their silhouettes underwater, so we could watch them under water and surfacing.  It was amazing.

Sunrise was incredible.  There's nothing like staying up all night to appreciate the  light and warmth of the sun.

Welcome to Port St Joe.

We dropped the anchor near a beach, watched for a while to make sure we weren't going anywhere, and then collapsed down below for a well-deserved nap.  Another new experience had been successfully completed.  Now we were ready for the next (bigger) jump to the South, and Warm Weather!

This post is dedicated to the late Katherine Drozdek, who always encouraged me to follow my dreams and fill my life with memories.  Thank you, Grandma.

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