Alabama to Port St. Joe Florida

By Monday morning, Memorial Day, we were really, really tired of the craziness. I am not sure if every weekend is like this or just holidays, but this is beyond anything we have experienced before. By 9 in the morning we had a boat pulling a water boarder off our bow, a boat pulling 3 tubes with kids on them off our starboard side, a water skier off our stern and someone just running full blast off our port side. We had already made arrangements to go into Bear Point Marina and we were anchored about a half mile from them. We called and told them we needed to come in now and we hauled up the anchor and headed in.

We like Bear Point Marina and I am not sure why. It sits right on the waterway and the wakes from passing boats that ignore the no wake signs keep all of the boats in all of the slips rolling constantly. You need to be well secured and have lots of fenders out but we still like it. The personnel are very friendly and helpful and the place is kind of funky without being run down. The restaurant now named Flipper's always has good food and the portions are huge. We have yet to be able to finish a whole meal and it is always well prepared, but most importantly, for a beach town the food is not expensive. We usually always find someone heading to the grocery store and willing to give us a ride as we did this time. Groceries, a boat wash, laundry and even almost completing a new sun awning to replace the 5th or 6th one we have worn out was accomplished in the day and a half we were there. The only thing left was to get a weather window to cross to Pt. St. Joe.

 We honestly believe the folks at the National Weather Service have totally lost it. Every day the forecast changed 3 or 4 times a day and the next day it changed 3 or 4 times a day. We could not make heads or tails of what we could expect offshore. Our plan was to move down to near the Pensacola Ship Channel on Wednesday and head out into the Gulf on Thursday morning. Because of 48 and 50 foot fixed bridges over the waterway on the east side of Pensacola, we had to go out into the Gulf at this point. On Wednesday morning the forecast had changed from the 4AM forecast to the 10AM forecast and again made no sense. So we made the decision to just leave the marina and go and just see what we had. Of course our actual conditions differed totally from the NWS forecast but we figured that at some point in the last few days they must have forecast these conditions.

Instead of the SE to south expected, we had SW at about 10 knots and this was actually good. Those conditions held until about midnight and we had about 8 hours of light but steady sailing. At just about exactly midnight the winds lightened and switched to the NW so the rest of the night was spent motor sailing. 21 hours after we turned off the Pensacola ship channel, we hit our waypoint at the Pt. St. Joe ship channel. About an hour prior we had a visit by a large school of dolphin that swam and jumped all around us for at least a half hour. The seemed truly glad to see us. By 11:30 we had the anchor down off the beach at Highland View, Florida. There is a grocery store, Dixie Dandy, right on the beach here if you needed to do some restocking. We settled in, had some breakfast and took a short nap. We woke up a short time later to find that the wind had picked up and, although not much, a nasty chop had developed so it was time to move. We didn't really want to do this but it was not comfortable and we knew of a nice FREE tie up at White City, about 10 miles away. We cover this great stop in detail in our post for this area heading westbound.

Around 3PM we were secured at the dock and getting the boat out of offshore mode. We stow things a lot better and put everything away off the decks when offshore but not necessarily so secure when we are running the inside of the waterway. Our plan is to do short 15 to 20 mile runs for the next few day, then stage ourselves to run offshore again from Carrabelle to the Florida Barge Canal near the Withlacochee River. We will spend a couple of days there visiting friends and relatives.

1 comment:

  1. Stubbled on your website this evening. We live in Houston and just bought our 1st sailboat. I am originally from Pensacola (Perdido Key actually) and was curious what it would be like to sail there. Thanks for the valuable insight. Next time you go to Bear Creek Marina, there is a place called the Oyster Bar with the best food in the area. You can dock your boat there and have dinner on the intercoastal. Wonderful place to be!


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