Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday on the Gulf ICW

Days on cruise:  240

Distance traveled:  51.9 miles

Travel time:  6 hrs

Total trip odometer: 5,281 statute miles

The “green track” showing today’s course got turned off by mistake so doesn’t show the whole route. We began the day by the bridge in the lower left-hand corner on Santa Rosa Sound, a mile or so wide, but mostly very shallow, with the usual ICW dredged, 10-12 foot deep channel that means you have to stay alert or you’ll quickly find yourself outside the marks in 1-2 feet of water.

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A great feature of the day was brilliant sunshine and temps  5-10 degrees warmer than the past few days. We wore sunglasses all day, but forgot to wear sunscreen. Compared to the past few days there were very few dolphins. And all day long we only saw 2-3 other boats, and those were small, local fishing boats. Florida panhandle boaters DON’T cruise this time of year!  We’ve got the ICW to ourselves.


This sailboat is “floating high”, or rather grounded, in water that’s just outside the channel and only a couple feet deep. It’s anchored, so he must have drug his anchor into shallower water. Bummer!


We had lots of trouble finding red and green markers in the distance today, especially the smaller floating kind, and we wondered aloud why “they” used white markers with red or green rings at the bottom, which are so much less visible. Turns out the white part is bird poop!


This is the most interesting water tower we’ve seen.


Finally late in the journey we saw our first dolphins of the day, and Bob was right: as soon as we started singing to them, they left!  We’d been instructed by others, no joke, that this is a method to keep them trailing along. Guess that tells you how badly we both carry a tune!  We also finally saw our first palm trees since last summer; they are few and far between here on the Florida panhandle.


Mid-afternoon we pulled into Baytowne Marina at Sandestin, a residential resort community adjacent to the city of Destin. The usual marina fee is $3.25/foot/night which is awfully high, but they only charge Loopers $2.00/foot/night so we decided to stop and take advantage of the amenities. They have single family homes as well as condos, four 18-hole golf courses, 25 tennis courts, bicycles and golf carts both made available for marina guests, loads of restaurants and shops, and a spectacular adjacent beach on the Gulf of Mexico.


As soon as the boat was secured, we got a couple bikes and took off. The bike trails wound their way through pretty spaces and were flat and safe.


At the end of the trail we locked up the bikes and went for a long walk on the sugar-white beach.  First time we’ve worn flip-flops since our return to the boat; it felt great!


We returned to the boat just in time to catch another lovely sunset. It’s not clear from the photo below, but the boat parked in front of ours on the right side of the photo below is solid BLACK, a most unusual color for a boat!


We had cocktails on the sundeck for the first time, as it’s been too cold until tonight.


Now we’re starting to make plans for our big Gulf crossing, hopefully later this week. More on that topic later, but it’s beginning to dominate our thinking and conversation.

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