Sunday, November 28, 2010

Panama City to White City, Florida

Tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 3rd is our big crossing day.  We've waited 10 days for a good weather window and we're preparing now to journey almost 200 miles across the Gulf of Mexico from Apalachicola to Clearwater, Florida.  This is a stretch of the Great Loop Route that is no longer inter-coastal waterway (protected waters) and usually done with an overnight crossing.  This time of year it is crucial to wait for a long weather opening to make the run. 
There are many many other boats that will be traveling in the same direction.  Although we will have no cell phone tower and our VHF will not be able to reach shore for help, we will have the company through the night with our friends scattered around.  We hope for a safe passage and good seas!  Once settled on the other side, we will be spending a month in Treasure Island, Florida where many family members will be meeting us for the holidays!    
Heard Michigan had snow! We actually had icy docks when we woke up!  Miss all of you (but not the snowy weather)..

The following post is from the past week:
Ryann’s big fishing lure find!

 You can always find washed up pieces of boat wreckage on the beach. 
Ryanns super powers saved the day with this falling palm tree!
Port side clear view of the friendly dolphins!
Kids had a riot catching baby sand crabs on the beach. They were disappointed to find out that it’s impossible to keep them as pets due to their plankton diet and way of ocean living.
Across St. Andrews Bay we took the dinghy to the Gulf of Mexico for a long walk of “shelling and crabbing.”
Port St. Joe inlet from the Gulf of Mexico had a beautiful secluded beach (rated #1 by Dr. Beach in 2002) nd it was a steamy 80 degrees and full of large shells, huge stingrays, tons of crab and this trail….which made it perfectly clear that we weren’t alone and these fresh alligator tracks lead right to the swamp 100 feet away.  YIKES!       
 It’s as if they’re dancing for the camera!
 20 feet from our little inflatable dinghy raft.  The kids know how gentle they are and weren't scared at all.  However, the following day (in the 10 ft. dinghy) we were in the river near White City and were 20 feet from an alligator and everyone moved to the center of the boat and Morgan said "it's not as much fun seeing alligators in the dinghy."  I laughed out loud b/c no one wanted to move a muscle (except Craig driving)! 
 White City (near Port St. Joe) has been our resting place for nine days.  Although we didn’t have phone or internet tower, there’s a free dock with power, water and plenty of action.  The tow boats come fairly close and fisherman are buzzing around all day.  Everyone has been very friendly and a local family even invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. 
 Morgan is the #1 appointed baker of the boat.  Her specialties include: pumpkin pie, apple crisp, brownies, cooking and quickie cherry pie.            
 Jaxons “lighter” collection consists of only those found on the beach that don’t work.  It’s amazing how much he likes to clean, organize colors and arrange in special ways. 
Thanksgiving Day was a great opportunity to spend some quality time playing games, doing crafts and making lots of good food all together.  Jaxon, Craig and Ryann were all recovering from minor colds so we took it easy and enjoyed the day. 
Left is an alive crab and on the right is the one we already ate.
The first boat, Arianna, is a couple from Mobile, AL that’s taking their boat to Guatemala (where my niece and nephew are from)!  The boat in the middle is “Chip Ahoy” from Houghton, Michigan and joined us for many days. Scott and Cyndi have looped many times and were fun to talk to.  Cyndi is a journalist and ended up writing an article about us for the Key West newspaper.  
 Ryann befriended this little lizard on Daddy’s shoulder and brought it aboard to potentially have as a pet, which lasted about 5 minutes until she lost him.  Two days later he showed up on the dock (it had to be the same one - haha)! 
The picture does not do it justice on how extremely large this grasshopper was. 
Anna and Mark from Arianna brought crepes over for breakfast one morning.  So sweet of her to think of us.
A cool, windy seven mile dinghy ride into Port St. Joe ended up being a fun day.  We had lunch, walked the town, met up with some looper friends, found a playground, provisioned and made it back before dark.     

We just can’t get enough of these sweet dolphins.  We’re convinced that they’re smiling at us and can hear our screams when they come.  They’ll swim next to the boat for so long and tilt their heads slightly to look up at us.  Each and every time the kids leap from whatever their doing to watch them in awe. 

I’ve had several people ask why there aren’t any pics of myself (Danielle) on the blog… here are my feet on the bow pulpit!

 This blog is really a keepsake for my children in hopes it’ll refresh their memories of all of the great times we shared together.  I don’t take enough pictures or document the many things we do each day, but what I do here will suffice. The girls love playing “store.” When there is free time to be had, the food comes out of the cabinets and the pretending begins!
Massalina Bayou in Panama City was a great anchorage completely protected through a narrow little drawbridge right next to town.  It was quiet and peaceful (until we came haha) and we were able to dinghy up to a local restaurant and enjoy the town. 
 Across St. Andrews Bay we took the dinghy to the Gulf of Mexico for a long walk of “shelling and crabbing.”

More to come for this blog update....I only have a tiny bar of service for phone and internet if I sit far from the boat and don't's taking a long time!  We will hopefully be leaving here on Friday as our weather opening looks pretty good.  More to come..


  1. The Gulf Coast looks great this time of year. Thanks for the fantastic photos of the family (and of your toes) and the beaches.


  2. We all sure hope the Gulf crossing from Apalachicola to Clear Water went well yesterday and last night. Yet another big adventure for your family to cherish. I'm sure that after crossing 200 miles of open gulf waters, some of it after dark must have been a bit tense for everyone. How many times did you hear "...Are we there yet?"