Before The Gulf Crossing

We planned on stopping in Pensacola, Florida with the boat, but due to the rain and wind we are staying here at the Wharf until Thursday.  We wanted to see the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola so we rented a car.  Julie and Curt from “CJ” came with us on Wednesday we had a great day.  The Naval Museum is non-profit and was founded in 1966.  This is also the home to Training Air Wing Six and the Navy’s Blue Angels Flight Demonstration squadron.  If you were in the service you can leave your boat in the naval marina or just stop to visit.

A visit to this Naval museum represents a passage through more than a century of heroism, technological innovation, and thrilling achievement. There are more than 150 historic aircrafts, including record-setters that bridged oceans and explored the South Pole, battle tested veterans that survived the crucible of combat from Midway to Iraq and aircraft that flew the President of the US. There is a collection of artwork and memorabilia documenting the people and signature events of Navel Aviation history.

We stopped at the Pensacola Lighthouse after we left the museum on the navel base.  Here is some history about the lighthouse.  The first Pensacola Lighthouse was the light ship “Aurora Borealis.  It was moved to Pensacola in 1823 from the mouth of the Mississippi River and anchored inside of the bay entrance behind Santa Rosa Island.  It was hard to see so they built a new one that has towered over Pensacola Bay since 1858.  This lighthouse is still in use today.  It’s 160 feet tall and has 177 steps inside, its light range is 27 nautical miles (30 miles) and flashes white every 20 seconds.  It’s 190 feet above sea level.  The first lens was argand lamp with parabolic reflectors. In 1860 the Confederate soldiers removed the lens to prevent the Union ships from navigating off shore waters.  December 20th 1862 the Union Forces repaired the Lighthouse and a new lens was installed.  Over the yrs since the Civil War the lighthouse has been struck by lightning, rayealed against by hurricanes, and shaken by earthquake.  But it still remains in use today.  Although the light house is now automated since 1965 some locals say it’s  not silent at night.  Pensacola legend says it is haunted by a number of ghost among them is a runaway salve and restless spirit of a murdered victim.

Thursday morning we left The Wharf Marina at 6:00 A.M. And watched the sunrise. We are now official loopers with going to bed at 9 and up by 5:30.  The best part is watching the beautiful sunrise and navigating on calm seas.

img_3152We had good calm seas until be got to Pensacola Bay and then it got a little rough for a while but then it calmed down.  We are now officially in Florida and navigating the ICW.

img_3162How exciting it is to finally see the dolphins swimming in front of our boat.  They were playing in CJ wake.  Dolphins are very hard to photograph but I finally got a picture of one of them.

img_3169We had a long day navigating 81 miles and we have reservations at Baytown Marina.  This place was very big and expensive, their docks are very wide for all the golf carts.  They offer a lot of amenities, but you would have to stay more than one night to take advantage of them.  We washed the boat and watched the sun set.

img_3216There are a lot of big boats in this Marina we are definitely in Florida.  After all the work was done we walked over to Curt and Julie’s boat for dock tails and discussed what are plans were for the following day.

We left Baytown Marina Friday morning at 8:30 it was a beautiful sunny day.  We are now traveling in what they call the divine cut, it’s very narrow and 20 miles long.  This is really something to see with high white sand hills that line the shores.  It’s hard to believe that you are traveling in salt water when it reminds you of the narrow rivers.

Some people call this area the Grand Canyon of the ICW.  I just loved navigating through this area it’s something you would see on the TV.  I was waiting for all the alligator to come crawling out into the water.

img_3233We are now navigating in what is called West Bay Florida.  Today is a short day of only 42 miles with an overnight at Panama City Marina.  The marina is very nice and helpful and had a great ships store.  I found some very nice Xmas gifts.  Most of the stores in this quaint little town are closed due to veterans day.  We hosted dock tails on our boat this evening.

Saturday was another early 6:00 morning and a long 91 mile day and another beautiful sunrise.  We’re on a long dock with CJ in front of us.  Wish all our dock-age were outside long docks it would make life less stressful docking.  We helped CJ shove off and then we left.  I am sure glad we have a rear thruster it helps us get off the dock.

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This is called Cyprus Swamp it had a lot of swamp looking areas with twist and turns.  I guess that is how it got its name Cyprus Swamp.  We saw a lot of boats that are particle swamped.  We think that they try to get out-of-the-way from the hurricanes.

We decided to bypass St Joes and continue to Carrabell, which made for a long day.  This would give us some down time and make sure we were ready for the Gulf crossing on Monday if permitted.  Even though the trip was long there were areas that were beautiful.  You navigate through narrow areas and then into big open bays.  You never know what you will see as you make the turns.  This is so amazing and beyond words. We are now entering into Apalachicola Bay.

img_3295We are now at Carrabell, Florida and we are hoping to do the gulf crossing on Monday. We have to wait until the weather is right.  Thursday twenty boats did the crossing and 18 went Friday.  We don’t know how many will be going Monday.

 

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