Friday, November 27, 2015

A Perfect Thanksgiving!

Our written invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner arrived at our boat on Wednesday morning!  We were so amazed and excited that our new friends, Linda and Huen took on the daunting task of making a Thanksgiving dinner for so many boat people. We learned that Huen has been a chef and has done large catering so we knew we were in excellent hands in the culinary world.  They are a couple who have big hearts and a special spot for boat lovers so this dinner was a labor of love for them.
Our special chef, Huen stands behind one part of the extensive table that snaked around the inside of his house.  He worked for 2 full days creating a masterpiece meal.

We dined with soo many folks. Some we met a day ot two ago, some we met at the Rendezvous and keep running into, and some that we have been running with for weeks. It was an amazing event! 
This is our special group of boaters minus California Lady, travelers who moved on days ago. Left to right, Rob & Sandy (Sandrobber), jump to Al and I and then Tim & Carol (Liquid Assests) and back to Carol's visiting brother and cute blonde wife, Jess. The added friend is on a boat we just connected with yesterday.
And the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is leftovers and here is the table of what we could not consume with baggies to pack it up and take it to our boats!!  Our hosts were beyond caring friends!!
We sure hope you all enjoyed a special day and we are thankful that we have the opportunity to make this journey in good health and are being followed by good friends via this blog. 
Thank you Linda and Huen in Port St. Joe, Florida for the perfect Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Thanksgiving poem:

Thanksgiving 2015

Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all around the basin,
Folks basked in the sun and went about pacin.

Tomorrow was T-Day and so it had been heard,
Loopers and others were invited to a locals house to feast on some bird.

They just happened to be here in Port St. Joe,
and countless others gathered everywhere in places we all know.

So they left the marina and boats they knew well
to venture on land, visit new friends, and feel swell.

They were asked to bring nothing, just come over and visit,
a welcome respite from their ongoing transit.

Their hosts were so generous all they wanted to hear,
were “Tall Tales” full of good cheer.

It reminded the Loopers of something they knew well,
that wonderful hearts are everywhere, so on that we will dwell!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Al Speyer

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Plans with a Little Looper Magic!

After we realized last weekend that it would be a while until the weather window would open for our crossing, we began to make Thanksgiving plans.  On Sunday, several boaters got together and decided we could have a picnic at the marina with cooked food we could buy from the Piggly Wiggly grocery store.  But we were disappointed to find out that they were no longer taking new orders.  So Plan B was to make a reservation at the only restaurant in town that will be serving a buffet for the holiday.  But once again, we were disappointed to learn that they had a long waiting list for their buffett.  So I talked to marina people to get a list of churches in the area, hoping one would be cooking turkeys as a fund raiser as our church does in Hendersonville.  Well looper magic prevailed once more and a couple in town heard that there were at least 20 people at the marina with no opportunity for a Thanksgiving feast.  (We cook little meals in our boats.) So my asking around got the word out and Voila!  we now have an invitation to dine with Linda and Huen (don't know a last name) who graciously have offered to cook for all of us.  The number is up to 40 now for dinner!
But in honor of the day, I got inspired to bake pumpkin muffins in my little galley to give to friends and our new best friends, Linda and Huen.
My little oven did well and now we have a wonderful aroma in the boat.
But part of my tradition is to do at least one jigsaw puzzle and I found a great one in a store in town.
So here are my new good friends working on a 1000 piece puzzle!
This is our very colorful picture we are trying to create with puzzle pieces. 
And this is how much we accomplished for our first day of puzzling! It was a fun day in the sun with great conversations about our travels.  So even though we are not at home, we have some traditions continuing and new tradtions emerging! This is a great adventure! 

Enjoying some "sit time" in Port St. Joe

We cruised into Port St. Joe Marina on Thursday evening as the sun was setting and now today is Tuesday and it seems we will be here for at least 5 more days.  Although it would be nice to get going again, this couldn't be a nicer place to wait for the seas to calm.  We will not be cruising around the part of Florida where it takes a curve toward the south.  Instead we will make a 19 hour cruise along a diagonal to avoid the marshy wetland in the "arm pit".  We have the choice to cross from 3 main areas which include here and also Apalachicola or Carrabelle. Our destination will be Tarpon Springs.  The crossing is done during the night because the winds die down generally and there are very few boats to negotiate around. Typically boats leave Dog Island, just south of Carrabelle at around 3pm and aim to be at the destination at 10am when the sun is not so glaring to impair our vision.  There can be crab pots in the shallower water toward shore and the lines attatched to those pots can foul a propeller so spotting them is critical.  We sit now and wait for the weather guy (a wonderful member of the AGLCA who wakes early every morning to analyze wave action and wind for a 6:30am report) to tell us it is a good time to cross the Gulf.

In the mean time we have walked this town and I know every inch of it.
We have walked by this poor little abandoned sailboat at least once every day.  Great walking paths are all around the town and stores including the grocery are a few minutes away.

Just a beautiful creek we crossed on a morning walk.  No gators in sight!
This is the view from a public fishing area just outside of the marina on our stern.  Across the bay is Cape San Blas which is a gorgeous peninsula that looks out on the Gulf.  We went over there on Friday for a day trip as a last gathering of our little group.  California Lady crossed the Gulf on Saturday in conditions that were not guaranteed calm.  So we said goodby and chose to stay put. 

We used Victory Lap to go to the beach on Cape San Blas on a spectacular day!   
It was so warm that Al jumped in for a swim, not telling me just how cold the water was, so I donned my suit and also jumped in, finding 70 degree water!  It was in and out for me!!
After our beach walk we had lunch on InSpeyered which attracted biting flies.  So Nancy used the elctrified bug zapper to protect us! 

Every night we have the treat of another interesting sunset. Looking into the marina the sky reflects pink shades as the sun sets over Cape San Blas.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The rest of the Story!!

Well we did get the wind and rain as predicted!! We made the right decision! Al made the best of it by going to a West Marine store to spend more money and I finished my friend's book, "The Golden Age of Charli" and did a PT treatment for a friend who has some hip pain.  What a perfect day!!  Al even worked in a nap!  I scooted around the deck with a wash cloth on my feet to loosen dirt so the rain could wash it away.  Such a fun life we have now!
Today was still a bit rainy but the mild wind allowed us to walk the town and then untie and head further East.  Our destination is Port St. Joe where we will sit and wait for the weather to allow us to take a diagonal across the "arm pit" of Florida which is marshy and not easily navigable.

Looking back off our stern, this is the last view we had of traveling home in 2012 as we approached the Panama City Marina where Al and I left InSpeyered in the hands of Erik and our friend Dean.  So we kinda crossed our own wake as boaters say.

A large part of our travels today occurred in another "cut", or human altered creek, to make it wide enough to complete the ICW.  We saw a sad accumulation of sunken boats along the way.  It's like seeing those comercials for pets that are neglected!  We love boats and hate to see them so alone! 
Twins left without loved ones!
More orphans left to die!  Don't boat owners have any respect?  
This is truly a house boat!  It is floating on styrafoam supports with a runabout boat tied behind.
Another bald eagle sighting!  Following Sandrobber helps because they are really good at sighting birds!  Thanks Sandy and Rob!!
A "street sign" telling us to turn right to another man made cut to head to our destination!

AHH! Finally the end of our travels for today.  We are entering St. Joseph Bay at the beginning of sunset and are now in the Eastern Time Zone. We will take a left (opps go to Port) and find our marina destination to meet up with lots of loopers waiting for our crossing.  I will explain that further in another post.
Always a beautiful sunset to observe.  This will never get old. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It seems that Mother Nature is our cruise director!!

One important benefit of sitting in a marina is there is always some place to take our daily walk.  While walking Tuesday (11/17) through the quaint streets of the City of Panama City (all the signs say this!) Al and I reviewed the weather as predicted on my phone and decided to investigate further all the weather possibilites and the distances we planned to go in the next few days.  We have such great electronic helpers that we don't travel without fairly sure knowlege of what lies ahead!  And we have agreed that if one of us says "no" to travel or a choice of places to stop, we heed that request.  So my take on the weather was that we would be fine leaving Tuesday for the anchorage but Wednesday would be a problem because we wanted a city dock space and it could be full of boats sitting out the thunder storms predicted for Wednesday afternoon.  So we paid for 2 more nights and sat back to relax. Al's only requirement for agreeing to sit still was a pizza dinner Tuesday night-easily accomplished!
Today is Wednesday and this is the sky that greeted us as we began our morning walk.  The wind is kicking up with fairly strong gusts.

This is my attempt at taking pictures of wind.  Typically this bay would be flat as a pond with no white caps.  Those white caps make my stomach flop thinking about motion sickness that I have avoided for today!!  We, so far, have only had the wind with no rain, but both Al and I are hoping the storm develops as predicted to make it worth our while for staying put in this marina!  It would be no fun if the storm passes by without a drop of rain.  An added plus of fresh water rain is a good washing  of salt off the decks and windows. 

Even all the working boats are taking a day off from fishing.  The laundromat will be busy today.  For us it is a day to do nothing because chores and shopping were all done to prepare for leaving yesterday!!  Reading and Sudoku for me! I'll let you know the rest of the story tomorrow or Friday!

City of Panama City, why the repetition?

Don't understand why this area needs to substantiate that it is a City!? The sun prevails!  We left our comfy Hogstown Bayou (forgot to tell you that great name for our wind haven) on Sunday, Nov. 15, with no issues and headed to St. Andrews marina in the City of Panama City.  We are getting ever so much closer to the eastern part of the Panhandle of Florida. Interesting to note that when we brought the boat home from Florida in May 2012, Al and I departed for shore to return to Hendersonville for our day jobs, leaving this fine town of Panama City.  So nice to know that this time, we will just pass through and not have to leave for work!!

Sunday morning the sun is hiding behind the clouds and it is cool.  We are entering another cut (man made dug out ditch) that makes the ICW complete so we will travel 20 miles in a protected area, no wind, yeah!!

This is a unique area to cruise and is referred to as "The Grand Canyon".  It is flanked by high sand dunes that present a much different scenic view. But I get bored when not needed for navigating so I end up down below and do a thorough cleaning of the inside of the boat.  What better way to spend the time?  It is kinda fun to be bored with this!!
Monday dawns as another beautiful, sunny, breezy day as we rest in this marina. It is a very special day because Erik was born 27 years ago, so here I sit on the bow chatting on a 3-way family call.  We plan to head out tomorrow so a quick trip to another grocery is on the to do list.  But Florida marinas are more expensive and offer much less service so we will have minimal access to courtesy cars from now on.  But the looper magic prevails and people who love to cruise offer to be harbor hosts if they live close to marinas.  So my new friend Greg Vernon (that is Mrs. Vernon with an unusual first name) happily agrees to take a run to the store.  My focus is to stock up on Ginger Ale in case we find ourselves in choppy water again. 
A pretty little Night Heron is perched on the bimini of this sail boat.  Beautiful blue sky but there are predictions of weather changes.  We'll see about leaving here tomorrow for a new anchorage.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Just When We Were Warmed by the Sun, the North Winds Chilled Us!

Our anchorage at Big Sabine just off the coast of Santa Rosa Island was lovely.  The Thurday morning walk along the Gulf beach was terrific!

Those tiny spots out on the deep blue water are our boat and Sandrobber.  We simply used the Whaler to go to shore, then we walked over the sand to the road and over some more sand and Voila! we were on the real beach of the Gulf.  It was so warm, I was back into summer walking clothes.  Had plans to return to the beach for a swim in the afternoon.  

These young men were enjoying powered para gliding.

It was fun to watch them take off and soar over the land and water.  We had reached Nirvana! So I settled into a ralaxing time on the flybridge and started to feel some wind and felt chilly and within an hour or so I donned a long sleeve shirt and then a sweatshirt.  No swimming but it still was an enjoyable place to be. So we settled in to a second night in this anchorage.  Gathering on California Lady in the wind was tricky but we are stout boaters so did our thing to meet up for sunset watch and snacks.  Then we headed back to the boats in our dingys in heavy wind and water chop, such fun!!
Friday morning we all struggled with heavy wind as we worked to up anchor and Cap Al gave me a high compliment on how smoothly ours was raised!!  One more step toward my 1st mate license!
On Friday we went to Fort Walton Beach City dock which was free for us to tie up and I headed out to get my toes into Florida flip flop shape and get some more supplies at, yes, PUBLIX!! 
We were out of the wind some so the night was restful with a good tie up to land. The sun still was high in the sky.  All is well in this new world of ours.  But Saturday we left our land support and headed into Choctawhatchee Bay knowing we would be hit with North winds which are cold and strong.  Back into winter garb!

For those that like the Gulf as a summer or fall vacation, we are headed toward Destin but the swell was 1-3' and I felt the motion too strongly and became motion sick.  Took some Dramamine and toughed it out  while looking on my handy iPad  using Active Captain to find a protected  anchorage. We turned into a much more quiet and protected area and enjoyed a quiet night, gently rocking out of the strong wind.  Finally got warm while eating thick pea soup and moist, warm corn bread, lashed up with Sandrobber.  We do have everything we need for comfort so know that even in high winds, we are safe and comfortable!

Rob on Sandrobber took these shots of the spectacular sunset as he grilled chicken thighs and corn on the cob to share with our soup dinner. This group work is what makes this trip so special!