Monday, January 30, 2006

Spirit Song Sails the Ditch, Chapter 3 Part 4

Sailing the Ditch with Spirit Song, Chapter III, Part 4,
Robin & Neal McGill's ongoing adventure, written by Neal McGill
Panama City to Apalachicola and Beyond, Days 21 – 28

April 4, 2002 (Thu.) – Day 21
We were up at 7:00 am this morning to a cloudless sky. We walked to town to have breakfast and then found a grocery store to purchase a few groceries. We walked around the marina talking with several other boat owners. About 3:00 pm we decided to go across East Bay for about one mile to a small body of water called Smack Bayou. We arrived in about 15 or 20 minutes to find seven other boats at anchor of which all but one was a sailboat. It is very secluded and sheltered. We found it interesting to watch three loons in the bayou calling to one another. Robin tried fishing for our dinner about two hours but alas, it is chili beans tonight. After it became dark, Robin and I sat in the cockpit and watched the stars.

April 5, 2002 (Fri.) – Day 22
We spent a cool, quiet night in Smack Bayou. We were up at 7:30 am and had breakfast. We pulled the anchor at 9:00 am and rejoined the I.C.W. The wind was coming from the north which allowed us to put up our sails and sail for more than 3 hours. The wind was blowing at about 12 miles per hour with gusts up to 25 miles per hour. This required our constant attention to sail trim. We left East Bay and had to motor when entering a twisty-turny land cut. While motoring the land cut we overheard on the VHF radio a somewhat anxious female voice say, “I am lost and I don’t have a compass.” A reassuring male voice replied, “Do you see land?” The female voice replied, “Yes.” The male voice said “Then you are not lost.” The female replied, “I am still lost and need help.” The male voice advised her how to get help from another nearby boat. Anyway, Robin and I though the verbal exchange was quite amusing. We stopped for the night at about 4:15 pm at a little public facility in the small town of White City. This little town is about 8 miles north and a little east of Saint Joe, which is on Saint Joseph Bay. We traveled a little over 39 miles today.

April 6, 2002 (Sat.) – Day 23
Last night was very quiet until about 4:30 am when people started arriving with their trailered fishing boats to participate in a bass fishing tournament. Twenty to thirty boats being launched form a launching ramp can create a considerable racket. We finally got up about 7:30 am and fixed breakfast. We left White City about 9:00 am and continued east on the I.C.W. It was a cool morning with a cloudless sky. There was a light breeze which was enough to add to our motoring speed. We arrived at our destination for the day at about 1:15 pm. We are now docked at the Scipio Creek Marina, which is located in Apalachicola, Florida. Robin and enjoyed and hour and a half visit with Michael and Elaine Hunt who invited us aboard their 32 foot Catalina moored near us. We will set our clocks ahead two hours tonight. One hour because we have just gone from the Central time zone into the Eastern time zone and another hour because of daylight savings time. We traveled a distance of a little more than 21 miles.

April 7, 2002 (Sun.) – Day 24
We awakened to the wind howling and the halyards slapping the mast. We decided to not go out because we would be going out into open water and did not seem like it would be fun. We walked into town for breakfast. As a result of the high wind we decided to make Apalachicola our final port of call for this year. Robin telephoned the Greyhound information about bus schedules for Apalachicola only to learn that they did not offer bus service here. He also learned that they did not offer service into Carabelle, which was to be our final destination. Only yesterday Robin was told that they did have service out of Carabelle. So much for accurate information from Greyhound. This menat that we would hire a taxi to return us the sixty miles to Panama City, which has a Greyhound Bus Station. We are spending the night in a motel across the street from the bus station.

April 8, 2002(Mon.) – Day 25
We had a motel wake-up call at 6:00 am. We walked two blocks for breakfast at McDonald’s. It was the only thing within walking distance. We boarded a Greyhound Bus bound for Mobile, Alabama at about 7:45 am and arrived in Mobile about 12:00 noon. We had a two hour layover and left on another Greyhound bus bound for Slidell, Louisiana at 2:00. We arrived at Slidell a little after 4:00 pm and Robin and I had a cup of tea. Robin then walked (in the rain) about 200 yards and picked up his truck and boat trailer from a U-haul storage yard. We then started our return trip east on US Interstate Highway 10 and have now stopped for the night at a motel between Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

April 9, 2002 (Tue.) – Day 26
Robin and I were up a little before 8:00 am and continued our travel east. We stopped at Fort Walton Beach for breakfast. After arriving at the marina in Apalachicola, we put Spirit Song on her trailer. All of this in the rain. We then parked the boat in the parking area and took a ride in Robin’s truck about 30 miles each way to Carrabelle, which was our previously intended destination for our water trip. While eating dinner in the marina restaurant with Michael and Elaine Hunt and their friends we saw an alligator that must have been at least five feet long swimming in the marina. We will sleep in the boat on the trailer tonight.

April 10, 2002 (Wed.) – Day 27
We were up before 8:00 am to a cloudy, overcast day. We drove to town for breakfast. Upon returning to the boat at the marina, Robin set about the task of readying Spirit Song for the road, which took about 2-1/2 hours. After that was finished we left the marina parking lot a few minutes past 12:00 noon. We traveled west over the same route that we had seen twice recently. As we traveled west the clouds became fewer and the sun showed, developing into an absolutely gorgeous day for sailing. Robin and I both wanted to put Spirit Song back into the water. But, alas, this year’s water adventure is history. We are now stopped and will spend the night at the Mississippi welcome rest stop on US Interstate Highway 10 very near the Louisiana state line (milepost 2, Hancock County just east of the Pearl River). We traveled about 325 miles today.

April 11, 2002 (Thu.) – Day 28
We had a restful night at the rest stop, which also is the pickup location for visiting the NASA Stennis site. This is the second largest of the 10 NASA sites and is the site where the very large rocket engines are test fired. It was about a 5 minute bus ride to the visitors’ center. There were many static displays of various rocket motors. We spent several hours there before returning to the rest stop. We are now at a motel in Slidell, Louisiana. We only traveled about 20 miles today. Robin will take me to the New Orleans Airport tomorrow for m journey home to California. This is the end of Chapter III of the ongoing journey of “Sailing the Ditch”.

New equipment for this voyage

Standard Horizon Intrepid VHF transceiver
Garmin Model 48 GPS receiver
First aid kit to replace old one
2 additional fenders for a total of 4


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