Christmas and Entering Florida!
259 Days Looping
3,934.4 Nautical Miles Total (4,527.6 Statute Miles)
67.1 Nautical Miles This Week
6.9 Hours Underway This Week
9.7 NMph Average Speed
0 Locks This Week, 154 Total Locks
Monday – Dec 23rd – 0 NM – In: Orange Beach, AL
The weather on Monday was a bit unsettled with clouds scooting around and threatening rain. We stayed around the marina most of the day, nothing exciting. We walked around a bit and got squawked at by the resident Herons for disturbing them.
In the evening, Chris and Angela from Pura Vida III picked us up and we drove to a local Seafood restaurant for dinner. I had Seared Tuna and Shrimp, Brenda had Baked Stuffed Shrimp.
Tuesday – Dec 24th – 0 NM – In: Orange Beach, AL
Christmas Eve, it rained most of the day so we just hung around the boat. Everything at the marina was closing up early, so there was not much to do. In the evening, the clouds started to clear up so we had a bit of a sunset. All of the restaurants at the marina closed up early, so we ended up having dinner on the boat. Then early to bed to see if Santa could find us!
Wednesday – Dec 25th – 0 NM – In: Orange Beach, AL
Christmas morning was bright and clear! We had our little Christmas on the boat, Santa brought Brenda some new earrings, I had already gotten my present (a new iPhone 11 Pro) when we were home.
A group of loopers was getting together at 3:00 at one of the bars at the Marina that was opening up, so we spent the morning doing laundry and watching “Overboard” while waiting.
After laundry, we went for a walk around the marina. We had two new bird visitors on Christmas Day, a Kingfisher kept perching on the antenna of a boat in front of us, and we saw a large Osprey with a “mask” hanging out on a tree. While walking, we also got some pictures of the Frog at the marina.
When 3:00 rolled around we met Scott and K.C. from Jet Stream and K.T. and Deborah from Mountain Wave for drinks. Jet Stream was staying at the marina for an extended stay. They live in Birmingham AL, so they had their car with them and we all piled in (I sat in the very back again), and we went to Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar for dinner. It was busy, but the service was great and the food was excellent! Brenda ordered Stuffed Crab and I had the Fried Chicken and Scallops.
Thursday – Dec 26th – 67.1 NM – To: Niceville, FL
We enjoyed our time in Orange Beach, but it was time to move on. The weather forecast for our Gulf of Mexico crossing is still not looking promising, but there is a possibility for the 1st of January, so we decided to move on and get a little closer to Carrabelle, Florida where we will start the crossing from.
We pulled out at 8:10 and headed out of The Wharf. The weather was nice, we had about a 10-knot headwind which caused some small waves, but they were all under a foot. The temperature was already 68 when we left so we decided to drive from upstairs on the flybridge. We followed the ICW and around 9:30 we crossed into Florida and entered Pensacola Bay!
As we entered Pensacola Bay, we passed the Pensacola Naval Air Station. About halfway through, there is a spot where the Bay narrows down. There are large sand dunes on the ocean side and a nice beach where a bunch of people were fishing.
As we crossed Pensacola Bay, we got a text message from Kate and Dave on Lee Loo asking us not to splash them as we went past. They were a couple of miles in front of us going at their speedy 6.5 knots and we were cruising at between 9 and 15 knots. We finally were able to travel with them even if it was only for a few minutes.
At 2:30 we got to Choctawhatchee Bay which is near Destin Florida. Our next marina was Bluewater Bay Marina which is on the north side of the Bay. We cut across it watching the parasailers fly across in front of us, and arrived at Bluewater Bay in “Niceville” Florida just after 3:00. We tied up in the marina and were greeted by a number of boaters and other loopers. Bluewater Bay is a large development with Golf Courses, Tennis Courts, Houses, and Condos. The marina is popular with Loopers and Snowbirds during the winter months. Jack and Patty on “Nearly Perfect” are the harbor hosts and met us at the dock. We’d met Nearly Perfect on our first big boat trip to New Bern, NC in 2017, and it was good to see them again. By the time we were docked, the temperature was in the mid 70’s’ the first warm day we’ve had in months!
The prior weekend the marina had its boat parade, and most of the boats in the marina were still decorated and all lit up at night. In the evening we had Docktails on Nearly Perfect, then dinner at the marina restaurant.
Friday – Dec 27th – 0 NM – In: Niceville, FL
Our plan was to stay at Bluewater Bay on Friday, then move on toward Carrabelle on Saturday. When we checked the weather, it showed that we would not have a chance to cross the Gulf until at least the 1st of January, and there was going to rain on Saturday and Sunday. The marina is putting on a big New Year’s Eve bash, so rather than rush to Carrabelle, we decided to stay until the 1st of January.
On Friday we borrowed the “Courtesy Death Trap” errr…. Car and went into town to pick up a prescription for Brenda. The “Car” is an old Jeep Compass. It seems that the car was underwater for a while. Just about every warning light on the dash is permanently lit. The suspension creaks and groans when you turn the wheel or go over a bump. The power steering is broken, the windows don’t go down, and the wiper blade was falling off. But… It’s free to use and the radio works!
We spent the rest of the day around the marina, and in the evening we met for docktails with Nearly Perfect and John, the other Harborhost at the marina. Then all of us went out to dinner at “AJ’s to the Bayou” in Fort Walton Beach (the next town over), Nearly Perfect used their car, phew! It was a typical fish house and we had another excellent dinner.
Saturday – Dec 28th – 0 NM – In: Niceville, FL
Saturday morning it was cloudy and misty but warm. It was already 72 when we got up. We borrowed the death mobile again for a trip to Walmart for some groceries and a few other supplies. While there I bought a new wiper blade so that we didn’t have an accident on the way back.
When we returned to the marina, they were just kicking off the Santa Paddle Board event which had been delayed from last weekend due to weather. We dropped our groceries off and watched the race which went around the marina, out into the bay, and back.
In the afternoon, we saw some folks fishing in the basin next to the marina so I pulled out my fishing pole to try my hand at it. We could see the fish swimming past the front of the boat, and I caught about 12 sea trout! They were all small (10′-12″) so no keepers, but it was fun to bring them in and throw them back. I wouldn’t eat “marina” fish anyway.
It had been just misty most of the day with occasional drizzle, but around 4:00 the rain started so we went back into the boat. In the evening we went up to the marina restaurant. There was a good crowd in the bar section watching the college football playoffs so we ate at the bar and watched the games.
Sunday – Dec 29th – 0 NM – In: Niceville, FL
Overnight it rained hard, and it was still raining in the morning. After breakfast, we borrowed the loaner car since it had a brand new wiper blade, and drove the 10 miles to Destin which is across the bay. We needed white shirts for the New Year’s Eve party, and I wanted to go to Bass Pro Shop and see if I could find a larger fishing rod to do some fishing while we crossed the Gulf.
We went to Bass Pro and I found an inexpensive rod and reel combo. Then we walked around the plaza where Bass Pro was, but there were no clothing stores that caught our eye. There was also a Whole Foods Market in the plaza so we went there and did a bit of shopping. While we were in Whole Foods, a fog rolled in and you could hardly see a mile. The top of the Bass Pro Shop next door was in the clouds!
We drove down the street to Walmart, and I was able to find a shirt, but Brenda didn’t find anything she liked, so we went next door to Beals and found a nice jacket and blouse for her. Watch for the photos next week!
We drove back to the boat and got in just as the rain started again. I worked on some boat maintenance items (there’s always something), and in the evening the rain stopped and I tried a bit more fishing. The marina restaurant stops serving food at 4:00 on Sunday, and as it was still raining off and on we didn’t want to drive the Death Trap at night, so we cooked dinner on the boat.
NEXT WEEK: New Year’s Eve Party and heading to Carrabelle to wait for our crossing.
Tom & Brenda