Thursday, September 20, 2012

Apalachicola To Dog Island

  Our route was only about 5 miles from Saul Creek to Apalachicola Marina. We had called and the marina we were going to didn't have a restaurant, but we were told that there was a restaurant right next door, so we had coffee on the flybridge and planned to treat ourselves to a restaurant breakfast after getting fuel.
  Jeff, the harbormaster, was waiting for us when we pulled up to pilings along the waterway; the dockage for fuel is not protected and the tidal current was substantial, but nothing a Mississippi River boater couldn't handle. We topped off the fuel tank in the dinghy and Swing Set only took on 17.5 gallons, as we had filled up in Port St. Joe. I had asked the price of diesel and when I was told it was $3.99 per gallon, I wished we had waited to fill up at Apalachicola Marina instead of Port St. Joe until I found out that the under $4 per gallon price did not include a 7% tax. Some places include the tax, some do not. You must always ask, which puts an undue burden on the customer.
  Jeff brought out the Hooker anchor and the size was about as close as I was going to get, and the price was not the lowest I've seen that anchor online for, but it was a fair price and getting it online would be a bigger hassle than I wanted to go through. I went into the ships store to pay and found a very neat and orderly store, full of most things a boater would need. It was a pleasant change from most "marine supply" stores we have seen, only full of candy bars and Gatorade.
  Rosie joined me and we walked over to Caroline's next door to grab some breakfast. I could see tables dressed with white tablecloths through the window that spelled "high priced breakfast" and when we sat down and viewed the menu and saw $9 biscuits and gravy, I closed the menu and told Rosie that we weren't eating breakfast at Carolines. Rosie agreed that breakfast on Swing Set at the helm heading into the sunrise would be a much better idea.
  We thanked Jeff for his help and we cast off and headed out to St. George's Bay, following a shrimper going out to sea for the day. I followed the shrimper for a while as Rosie was mopping some dirt off the deck and we didn't need to lose her over the side, but once she got done with that I called the shrimp boat to inform him of my intention to pass him in the marked channel and I received no response. I called Lady Thelma II once again and still received no response, so I gave two short blasts on our horn which meant I was going to pass on his port side, and when I gave Swing Set some throttle (we were only going 5 M.P.H. or so), I saw exhaust puff out the smoke stack of the shrimper as he sped up and he moved to his port to block my pass. So apparently I was dealing with a jerk, one of the very few we've encountered in nearly five months. I took solace in the fact that he was going to work, and we were going to play, plus I achieved our goal of speeding up to our normal 8 miles per hour, so we sat back and watched him go out straight to the pass as we soon took a left and headed up the Intracoastal to Dog Island.

  The East Pass into St. George's Bay separates St. George Island and Dog Island. Just inside the pass on the southwest end of Dog Island is a published anchorage with just a narrow strip of sand between the gulf and the calm waters of the bay, just across from the entrance to Carrabelle, FL. Calm, if the wind is coming from anywhere but the north, or northwest. The house in the picture looked abandoned, and another one down the beach was listing toward the gulf, but others looked in good repair but still seemed a bit desolate to us.
  I went to work on modifying our anchor chocks to fit our new anchor and Rosie got out the stainless steel polish and attacked the bow rails. I was going to modify the anchor, but it proved to be too much of a job without a vise and a large hammer, so I capitulated and moved one of the fluke supports over about an inch on the anchor chocks, allowing us to fit a readily available anchor to the chocks should we ever lose the anchor again. I was left with two screw holes that I dressed up with some stainless screws and finish washers, having not the interest at the time to fill them in with putty and gel-coat. I also fitted a neat little bungie cord onto the anchor shank support to allow us to secure the anchor without hunting for something to tie it down with. Overall, I'm pleased with the look and now we have our stern anchor back.
  By the time our work was done it was time for lunch, and since we got up early to head for Apalachicola, after lunch it was time to relax with a book and maybe sneak in a nap. Holly had other ideas about the nap, so I got up and went to work on yesterday's blog and Rosie entertained herself playing with Holly. After that it was time to pop a beer and retire to the cockpit to enjoy our view and think about grilling our dinner.
  Something I will never understand is how you can travel for miles in open water, anchor hundreds of feet off of land, and still be inundated with mosquitoes or flies after a time. I know we didn't bring them with us, and how do they get together to decide to fly all the way out to where the boat is to make an annoyance of themselves? Rosie and I broke two cheap flyswatters attempting to kill the pesky flies until we relented and just sprayed ourselves with fly repellent, with little success.

  We grilled some chicken wings and added a tossed salad, and finished dinner just before sunset. Then we played some dominoes and read our books before falling off to sleep. It wasn't too much later when the wind kicked up, coming from the only quadrant that would affect us the most, and kept us awake off and on for most of the night. I wasn't worried about the anchor as it was stuck very well in the sand and we had over 100 feet of rode deployed, but the thunkity thunk of the water smacking the bow is something that's hard for us to sleep by. The only saving part of it is the fact that we can usually nap the next day if we don't get sufficient sleep on any given night.
  We could have probably set out on our course for Steinhatchie, FL, this morning, but since the gulf was a little unsettled for the last few days, we're giving it a day to "lay down" before we attempt to cross on Friday morning. I think this was some good advice we got from Carl back in Panama City and we plan on heeding it.
  A blog reader from back up in the St. Louis area invited us to go fishing with him and his brother over the weekend, as they both now live near here, but we're taking a pass on the invite because we have a calm forecast until Monday night or Tuesday and we want to get over to the west coast of Florida while we have a chance.
  Today we're going to do some waxing and enjoy our anchorage here. I've plotted a course straight over to Steinhatchie, but we keep considering a straight shot over to Crystal River from here, but in the end, I think it would be too much to tackle in daylight hours, plus I told Rosie that if getting from one place to another as quick as we could was the object, we would get plane tickets and not be traveling on a boat. My buddy Don told me that years ago and it makes sense to me.
  Expect another report some time over the weekend on the first leg of our gulf crossing, or do us a favor and call the Coast Guard. This is as close as I'll get to filing a float plan, and I'm comfortable with it. We have a Spot that we can use to call for help if something happens. One thing for certain, praying is not part of our reaction plan; it's hard to swim while you are praying anyway.

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