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Old 10-12-2015, 04:01 PM   #41
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If you are trying to avoid the touristy spots since you are tired of them, it is a real mistake to spend time in the Destin area. Don't get me wrong, it's nice there and the water is beautiful, but more developed and crowded than the keys at this point.

My very strong recommendation is to come in at East pass and spend some time in Carrabelle (Fisherman's Wife has a great burger and even better fish) and Apalachicola. Apalach in particular has more to offer the cruising boater than Destin.

Port St. Joe is also great and Pensacola is cool.

PC to Destin is just OK. Unless you like outlet malls. Destin area is king of those.
Thanks, we will definitely stop in the Apalachicola area for a few days. Plan on anchoring at Dog Island a couple of days. Does Apalachicola still have free city dockage? Trying to get all the way to Houston without paying for a slip. Not to be cheap (although I am) just a personal goal. We much prefer to anchor out, but a night at the dock once in a while is not a bad thing.

We will take the ICW from Apalachicola to Panama City. That is the only part of the ICW that we plan on taking till we get to New Orleans. Not saying we won't if we get tired of waiting for weather to run the outside but that is all we are planning on. We want to spend a little time anchoring in the East bay near PC.

Afraid I will have to stop at Destin at least for one night. There is a Whataburger within walking distance.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:13 PM   #42
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Dougcole wrote: "come in at East pass and spend some time in Carrabelle (Fisherman's Wife has a great burger and even better fish) and Apalachicola. Apalach in particular has more to offer the cruising boater than Destin. Port St. Joe is also great and Pensacola is cool. PC to Destin is just OK."

Strongly second all of that, especially regarding Apalachicola. You could spend a week just eating (and drinking) your way through that town, getting glimpses of a still relatively authentic old Florida fishing village. Recommendation: the Seafood Grill, a plain-looking little storefront at the corner of Market St. & Avenue E. Best fried shrimp ever.

At least this time of year (after Labor Day), the panhandle resort communities like Panama City Beach and Destin are temporarily back in the hands of the locals. So what's there that's good, like the Acme Oyster House in Sandestin, you can enjoy in comparative peace. October is a nice time to transit the Florida panhandle.
I agree. When we came down we stopped at Apalachicola for two days and stayed at Carrabelle for a week waiting on weather. We left Apalachicola and being green I went through government cut on an out going tide with the wind blowing in. We were on a 25' sailboat then. By the time I saw the breakers rolling in (it was early morning) it was too late. Our 6 horse outboard would not fight the tide, so rather the go through backwards we turned around and ran through it. The boat pitched so much that the outboard went underwater and died. I raised the main and we went through with just the main up. It was the second scariest day of my boating days. We went around the outer islands there and ducked into Carrabelle to lick our wounds. When we left we used the east pass.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:17 PM   #43
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Anchoring in Galveston Bay

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Look forward to it. Are there nice places to anchor around the area?
I like Offats Bayou. Pretty quiet at night, but close to town. There's a channel in dredged to 10' but on either side its only about 2'.

There's some marinas there abouts, one of which is Payco. They have a facebook page. There's a nice boat yard on that side of the island, I like the looks of.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:19 PM   #44
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Great upgrade
Be on the lookout for Cat Daddy too. Rumor is that he's hidden out at Gulfport Small Craft Harbor after an outside run around the "toes" of Louisiana in his capable ship and is heading east today .

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Thanks, we are watching his progress on facebook. Hopefully he will catch enough fish between now and the time we meet for a good fishfry.
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Old 10-13-2015, 08:25 PM   #45
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Don't count on me for fish, my family calls me fish poison. However I do know how to order it at a restaurant.

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Old 10-14-2015, 01:46 PM   #46
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We just got back from a weekend roundtrip from Panama City to Apalachicola and back. As you know, Apalachicola is a great place to visit, and the GICW between there and Panama City is one of the most scenic and peaceful waterways I've cruised (in my limited experience).

For the Panama City area, I'd recommend stopping at St. Andrews Marina (my home port). There is a decent anchorage just outside the marina entrance and the downtown St. Andrews area is a good place to visit with plenty of dining options, coffee houses, and crafts and antique shops if you're into that sort of thing. It's similar to Apalachicola, actually, but on a smaller scale. Of course, if you want total peace and quiet, anywhere you anchor in East Bay or West Bay will suit.

Destin is over-rated in my opinion. Over-developed, over-priced, and too hectic. (That said, Destin will probably be our next weekend cruise destination ).
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Old 10-14-2015, 05:01 PM   #47
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MrJim thanks for the advise. We do plan on anchoring in East bay for awhile.

Cat Daddy, it looks like a lot of your pics on facebook were about fishing so I figured you were an expert fisherman.

We are having a good time here in Dunedin. Bill the harbormaster is super nice. We are anchored near the Dunedin Municipal Marina and use their dingy dock. The Pinellas Trail is very close. It is a 39 mile long bike and walking path that was built in place of an old railroad track. We rode about 10 miles today. I would like to ride the whole thing before we leave. This is a very busy harbor. We have seen way more boats on the water here than what we are used to in the Keys.

There is some sort of sailing club here. On Sunday we saw at least 30 kids on sailboats sailing around. One little girl about maybe 9 years old was coming toward our anchored boat. We could hear her saying "I am not going to hit that boat, I am not going to hit that boat, I am not going to hit that boat". Fortunately she didn't. It was a lot of fun watching them. The next day it was the teenager's turn.

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Old 10-24-2015, 01:33 PM   #48
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We are comfortably anchored at Dog Island near Apalachicola Florida. We left Dunedin Thursday morning about 10 am. The winds were predicted to be out of the east and not too strong. The sea state was predicted to be not bad either near the shore. My plan was to stay as close to shore as I comfortably could to obtain lighter winds and less waves. Run the coast up to Steinhatchee and then turn and head straight for Dog Island with the wind and waves at our back. That route would be about 20 nautical miles longer than running straight across but much more comfortable. Since we are pleasure boaters we decided on the more pleasurable route. All went well until about 9 pm and then the waves picked up a bit. 3 footers on the beam, so we rocked pretty good for a few hours. Once we got up to Steinhatchee we decided instead of turning toward Dog Island to turn toward Steinhatchee and anchor there for a couple hours and get some rest and a new weather forecast. Since it was rougher than originally predicted I wanted to make sure the forecast had not changed dramatically before heading 30 miles offshore. It did not look too bad so we weighed anchor and set out. The forecast called for following seas becoming flatter as the day progressed. The forecast proved correct. The only problem we had was when the following seas were the strongest the auto pilot would not handle it so we had to hand steer for about three hours.

It was 170 nautical miles. 30.5 engine hours and we used 50 gallons of fuel. We ran at 1600 rpms for 20 hours and 1850 rpms for the last 10.5 hours. Average of 1.63 gallons per hour. We normally run at 1500 but we wanted to make some time and get to Dog Island before dark.

Taking it easy today. Transferred some fuel from port tank to the starboard tank and making water right now. Tomorrow we will go to Apalachicola and anchor there for a day or two before heading on to Panama City. I will post some more pics when we get somewhere with good internet.

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Nice quiet anchorage at Dog Island. Only one other boat here.

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Old 10-27-2015, 04:44 PM   #49
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Still in Appalach? Good choice to take the ICW from there. It's pretty rough on the outside and on top of that we're experiencing a pretty persistent red tide in these parts. We went to Crooked Island on Saturday and the beach was littered with dead fish. The stench drove us away. Seas were 2-3 feet from the east but it's been much rougher yesterday and today.
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Old 10-27-2015, 05:40 PM   #50
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Lookin' good Mike!
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Old 10-27-2015, 05:57 PM   #51
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Good report, Mike, and nice photos, as usual.

Your route decision was the right one, I think. I used to run commercial boats and a few motor yachts back and forth across the Gulf between Tampa and Panama City. After getting beaten up out there a few times, we started taking a similar dog-leg route roughly along the two-fathom line. Added a few miles to the trip, as you say, but pays off in comfort and peace of mind.
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Old 10-27-2015, 06:35 PM   #52
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Good report, Mike, and nice photos, as usual.

Your route decision was the right one, I think. I used to run commercial boats and a few motor yachts back and forth across the Gulf between Tampa and Panama City. After getting beaten up out there a few times, we started taking a similar dog-leg route roughly along the two-fathom line. Added a few miles to the trip, as you say, but pays off in comfort and peace of mind.
Yeah, it took me a little while to get used to looking at the bottom all day.
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Old 10-27-2015, 07:48 PM   #53
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That's pretty close to what I do as well. Even with pretty stiff winds (which will most likely have a NE component this time of year) it can be pretty comfortable. You get a bit of a lee from the land and gigantic flats along the big bend coast.

Also, Steinhatchee is pretty cool.
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Old 10-27-2015, 07:50 PM   #54
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Oh yeah, you can slip into the inner harbor at dog island if you need more shelter. Drop the hook amidst the moorings in the eastern part of the harbor.

Soft mud bottom.
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Old 10-27-2015, 08:22 PM   #55
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We are anchored in East Bay near Panama City. The wind has finally died down and is more southerly now.We had planned on stopping at Apalachicola for a couple of days after leaving Dog Island but then when I looked at the weather forecast we changed our mind. They were predicting the remnants of Patrica to hit Panama City starting Monday night so we opted to only stop in Apalachicola long enough to go to the Piggly Wiggly and get some grub. We then continued on with the plan to anchor in Lake Wimica in an area charted at 6' deep so we could get an early start to PC. When we got to that area we dropped down to idle and eased out of the channel it quickly dropped to 5' and we were at high tide (I am assuming Lake Wimica is tidal). Scratch that idea. Well what to do now. I usually have a backup plan, but this time I did not as the area marked 6' was a large area and I did not anticipate there being any problems. We did not want to run at night because of floating debris, we saw a wide spot just off the channel north of the lake and decided to anchor there for the night. I set the bow anchor albeit with short scope because we did not have much room and then set a stern anchor to keep us from swinging into the channel. All went well till 1:30 in the morning (why is it always o'dark thirty?). The wind picked up and the bow anchor drug. We tried to reset it but could not get it to set. I pulled up the stern anchor (a Fortress FX37) and moved it to the bow. It set right away. It was very muddy in this area and the Fortress is an excellent mud anchor (my opinion). We kept an anchor watch the rest of the night but did not move at all.

We were underway at first light to make it to PC as quickly as we could. Originally the strong winds were not supposed to be in PC until Monday night about 9 pm, thus our plan for bypassing Apalachicola and pressing on to be here and anchored by noon, unfortunately they arrived much earlier than predicted. When we left Monday morning I set the rpms at 1700 to make some time. We were able to run at about 7 3/4 knots the whole way. We got to our anchorage about 11:15. This time I had picked out 3 possible anchorages just in case. We got to the first one and decided it would do. 7.5' of water and land windward to keep the sea state reasonable. There are not many trees ashore here so we still got some wind but not waves. The other two anchorages were further away and may have been better but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Plus it was starting to rain. They were predicting up to 2" of rain so we opted for this anchorage. We set the anchor and let out 85' of chain. So far we have not moved at all.

We stayed put today and let the wind howl all it wanted. The upside is the wind genny was doing fantastic. The batteries were pretty well fully charged this morning when I got up. Sat on the flybridge this evening with a sundowner looking out over a flat bay with a big smile thinking this is more like it. Tomorrow we will go to Pier 98 and take on some fuel. $2.29 per gallon, not bad and then anchor in Pitts Bayou.
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Not the most beautiful sunset I have seen but with the calm wind and water it was a welcome sight.
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Old 10-27-2015, 08:33 PM   #56
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A few pics from Dog Island. There are beautiful beaches to walk and explore. It is a beautiful and quiet place, well worth the stop. I will take these beaches over Clearwater any day.

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We saw this boat here back in 2011 when we came through then.

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Walkabout anchored in the inner bay at Dog Island.
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Old 10-27-2015, 08:57 PM   #57
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A few pics of the ICW between Apalachicola and East Bay.

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This is why you don't travel the ICW at night.

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Not all the ICW is a narrow ditch.

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Anybody want to buy an island?

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I know it is probably crazy but it always saddens me to see a half sunk boat, and there are several along this stretch of the ICW.
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Old 10-27-2015, 09:38 PM   #58
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Watch for the makers to change sides as you go under the first bridge, and then again at the intersection of channels.
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:11 AM   #59
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Mike we are getting close to each other. We are leaving Orange Beach in the morning(Wharf Marina), not sure where we will stop. Where is Pitts Bayou? I'll PM my cell.

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Old 10-28-2015, 04:57 PM   #60
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A few pics of the ICW between Apalachicola and East Bay.



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This is why you don't travel the ICW at night.



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Not all the ICW is a narrow ditch.



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Anybody want to buy an island?



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I know it is probably crazy but it always saddens me to see a half sunk boat, and there are several along this stretch of the ICW.

Great pictures Mike.


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