We departed from Ft. Walton Beach at around 8:30. It was a little later than we planned, but we have kids. We set off on an easterly course heading through the bay and along the line that is the Intercostal Waterway (ICW). The Florida ICW is much more beautiful than the Louisiana ICW, let me tell you!
We made good time and the waters were calm through Panama City. I was surprised at how many pontoon boats and small lake boats we saw. I would never dream of taking out such an unstable craft into anything that touches the ocean. We ran into another pod of dolphins in the bay and they jumped and played in our wake as I slowed down for their entertainment. Aubrey got lots of pictures. One of the dolphins had a really pink belly. I wonder what causes one dolphin to another to have a pink belly? Maybe it is like the birds that we saw in Louisiana that were pink because of the amount of a certain species of shrimp? It causes them to be pink. Anyway, awesome experience but we had to motor on our way!
I just took a pause to dinghy over to the next marina to switch out a load of laundry. Man, laundry is an issue on a liveaboard boat! I read that it was but I had no idea. Our marina here has no laundry room. There is none in this town, believe it or not. We haven’t done our clothes and sheets since New Orleans, so it was past time. I had to make a deal with the next marina over to fuel up on Tuesday to get the privilege to use their machines, which consisted of a set of 15-year-old tired things. They were locked behind a screen door and apparently you need to dry twice. Ugh. We have three loads to do and that equals one big pain in the ass. All the while, Aubrey and the kids are swimming in the pool (true story). I am happy to get the opportunity to get clean clothes, just the same. I resorted to my redneck roots and decided to line dry some of the clothes on our yacht. If I weren’t typing this, I’d probably watching NASCAR while I was fishing.
The bay got rough outside Panama City and I had to don the raincoat for the first time. Aubrey and the kids went below and I ran through several miles of rain before it lifted and the ICW narrowed into something different. The water was black and the wake was like coffee. The trees were huge pines and the vegetation was lush. I wish I could properly describe the smell, it was so wonderful. It was sweet with a bit of pine and it was ours for a few more hours. It was if we were the only visitors in twenty years.
I saw anther porpious up ahead and I slowed this time to run up along side of it. It was surfacing and swimming with the boat only 3 feet off the bow. Aubrey was on the bow with the camera, of course. We cruised along and saw another bald eagle and too many other raptors to count. We found an osprey that nested in the crow’s nest of a wrecked and submerged shrimp boat. The momma osprey was making a lot of squaks for her babies who were off hunting in the shallows. I blew my boat horn and she flew off. Aubrey was ready with her camera and we ended up with some once in a lifetime photos.
We passed a dive boat close to an old railroad bridge. The diver said the visibility was two feet but they were looking for old cypress trees that sunk in the river. I guess that is a very profitable business. We pulled into Apalachicola Florida at around 3PM and found the Water Street Marina easy enough. We parked the boat and met with some people on the dock. Another great cruise! 650 miles down.