Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 19-22 FSU, Panacea, and St. Marks

The next day in Carrabelle while we were waiting out some heavy thunderstorms that were passing through, Carter was on the internet checking out the City's website and stumbled on an annoucement about the FSU Coastal  Marine Laboratory bi-annual open house the next day. It was just 10 miles away and there was a nice sheltered anchorage right there.  So we decided to weighed anchor; in the middle of violent thunderstorms, and head over there. 

Actually, Carter was watching the weather radar very closely saw an opening between the bands of incoming storms and decided we could  thread the needle and try to scurt over in between. It was a pretty choppy ride but we managed not to get rained on and stay just ahead of it for the two hour passage.   The storm caught up to us shortly after we dropped anchor in the FSU basin directly across from the Apalachee, the brand new research vessel that Carter was interested in checking out.  We were set for the open house the next morning.

We kept a watchful eye on the weather fronts very carefully.  This was in front of us.

Then to the side of us.

And to our rear.

We blew into the basin at FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory with the storm!

The 1st order of always...shore leave for Radar.  He now considers the dingy as his because he's always paying close attention whenever either of us gets near it!

We had a great spot in the basin directly across from the research vessel Apalachee.

The open house was super interesting with exhibits of all manner of marine life.  It was mostly geared toward the youngsters but visitors of all ages enjoyed the day.

The Captain of the R/V Apalachee giving us a tour of the vessel.

Future Ship Capains on the bridge!  I'm sure this event inspired many youngsters to share a love for the marine world and possibly enter into the field someday.

Carter from the deck of the Apalachee with the Arc in the background.


 We headed out under solar power about 2pm and arrived in Panacea right at sunset.

Here are some sailors we passed headed out as we were heading in.

Unfortunately, Panacea was hit very hard by a hurricane in 2010 causing heavy damage to the marina and they have not been able to do much reapair yet. The Marina is actually under new ownership now and we couldn't find anyone there to ask about staying. Although the chart plotter was saying there was only 1' of water in the bay, there was a sailboat anchored out there so we knew there had to be deeper water. With  the assistance of Google Maps (satelite view)  Carter was able to see the deep water and found us a place to anchor for the night. 

We weighed anchor the next day and moved on to St. Marks which was just a short ways up the trail.
 This will be a stopping point for us as we try and develop the support we need to continue the cruise aid.
We believeTallahasee will be a good stop over spot for this. 

 The shakedown cruise was a total success and the Arc has exceeded our expectations. There are some pressing things we need to do to improve the Arc like installing rub rails, lifelines, and more batteries to make the rest of our passage easier and safer but we were able to cross the entire pan handle on nothing but sunshine and we know the Arc is up to the task of circumnavigating Florida now. We will lay over here while we raise the funds to continue our little cruise aid for a sustainable Florida, a grassroots effort to raise public awareness about important energy issues in the Sunshine

 The sun is rising on the future of energy.
Join the Micro Grid Revolution today!

April 17-18 Rattlesnake Cove and Carrabelle

We departed our anchorage  on the lee side of St.George Island heading for Carrabelle.  The winds picked up overnight, naturally from the East where we are headed and we began slogging our into strong headwinds and seas (again) about 10:30 when the batteries were charged.  About an hour later after we had passed under the St. George Island bridge I look behind  to see this fishing boat coming up on us with his outriggers down.  It gave me concern because he looked like he was taking up the whole channel until he got close enough for me to see there was room for him to safely pass.

This is fishing territory...for sure.  There are fishing boats out everywhere.  This guy must have left his last location in a hurry as he was dragging all kinds of stuff in the water.  Tsk, tsk.

Hey look!  The Captain and Seaman Apprentice match today!  Day glow yellow! 

We have seen dolphins everyday on this leg of the trip which is a pleasant change from the aligators down in south west Florida.

We anchored in Carrabelle right at sunset sliding into home plate on the last little bit of juice in our battery. Since the weather is predicted to be lousy for the next week, the yard we plan to go for some work on the Arc later on is here, and this is officially the end of the GCICWW, the captain has declared that this is officially the temporary end to the first leg of our all solar passage around Florida. Tomorrow we will revert to hybrid mode, fire up Big Ben, (our antique diesel engine) and burn a few dinasours to get to St. Marks. We will return to Carrabelle when we resume the cruise aid and pick up our "all solar" passage around Florida from here after we do some maintenance at the Carrabelle Boat Yard. Tomorrow we steam on in the rain under diesel power to rondevous with friends and family waiting for us to arrive in Tallahassee.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 15-16 Apalachicola

We arrived in Apalachicola at 6:30 pm and located the public dock to tie up to.  What an interesting marina.  So many very large houseboats.  Seriously...HOUSEboats!  LOL  We spent the next day being tourists.  I visited all the wonderful shops and then met up with Carter to go to the Apalachicola Maritime Museum.  It was a beautiful, sunshiny day and we both felt guilty for not traveling on such a sunny day...after all the cloudy, overcast days that we have been trying to travel with. But it was worth it to take a break and soak up Historic Apalachicola.

At first I thought this was the marina office!  Opps my mistake.  This is someones home!

When they want to move, they just slide a boat into the slot here and push the house boat!  I thought it was the "carport" for the dingy!  LOL

This was a 75' house boat.  Way Cool!

A true HOUSEboat with siding!

I actually caught a beautiful sunrise.  We can thank Radar for this! 

We departed Apalachicola around 4:00 pm that afternoon to take advantage of the last remnant of this beautiful sunny day to get as far as we could.  Right at sunset a large pod of dolphins decided to tag along.  It was a real treat ... our very own personal sunset dolphin cruise!

Ever been eyeballed by a dolphin?
It can actually be a bit disconcerting sometimes when they get up real close to the boat and seem to look right at you and smile as they come out of the water. They are amazing creatures. 

Although we had actually reach our anchorage spot in the St George Island, since the dolphin were hanging with us, Carter ran on the batteries for another 45 min after sunset running parallel to the island. We dropped anchor for the night when they had enough fun with us and left.

April 13-14 A Rainy Day in White City

We arrived in White City and tied up at the public dock right at Sunset, pretty much coming in on the batteries. We hunkered down to wait out the rain that was headed our way the next day. And rain it did! ALL DAY LONG.

I felt like a groundhog, poking my head up out of the main companionway hatch to catch this picture of the torrenial downpouring of rain we had that day.

After the rain, and before leaving, I got to see some of the park we were at.  It was a nice local park.

The local resident.

He wasn't too happy with Radar!  He screamed every time Radar rushed him...but he didn't flinch.

And we're back "on the road again"!

April 10-12 Panama City

The end of my last post showed a beautiful sunset in Panama City!  Yes...well ... the next morning we awoke to a raging wind that was beating us up pretty bad.  We had planned to tie up at the transient dock today anyway, to do laundry, so we got in the dingy and went on in to check everything out. Carter went in the ships store to get all the details of where to dock, etc. while I took care of Radar, walking him around the habor to check it out.  Ie:  spot an interesting place for dinner!

The weather continued to stay nasty and fortunately, we were invited to stay overnight at the transient dock for our safety that night!  Many Thanks! to the management of St. Andrews Marina for their hospitality.  It was very much appreciated.  We stayed through the next morning until the batteries were charged and headed off again toward Tallahassee.

Radar and I taking some time off relaxing ... watching the airplanes.

Being an "Air Force Brat" it was a pleasure, in an odd way, to see and hear the planes as they were taking off and landing from Tindle AFB in Panama City.

Although it was a windy day, the seas were not that bad and it was an enjoyable ride.

We anchored at sunset in West Bay.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Slogging the Florida Panhandle

The weather finally cleared up enough for us to begin our trek toward Tallahassee.  Internet service is spotty at best so communication has been frustrating for us.  We arrived in Panama City last night where the internet is pretty good so this will be a good place to stop and wait out some expected thundershowers. 

The weather conditions for past four days have been partly cloudy skies with brisk head winds and strong currents making our progress slow, albeit steady.  The electric propulsion system has performed superbly for the conditions.  During the past few days we have traversed through very choppy waters in large bayous and bays with one small stretch in a canal where the water was calm.  Today is going to be a lazy day of laundry, cleaning chores and sit tight to wait for clear skies. We are anchored next to Saint Andrews Marina with Laundry, showers, and a ship store.

Brisk headwinds and strong currents don't faze Capt. Carter and seaman apprentice, Radar.

We anchored in a nice little bight on the outskirts of Eglin AFB.

Passing through Ft. Walton Beach we checked out the bridge that was damaged by a barge carrying  a couple of tall craines when we where there for the Powerup Expo a few weeks ago.

The Coast Guard was out giving tickets for speeding through a no wake zone.  That's not a problem for us!  Carter says you don't usually see the CG messing with pleasure boaters that much because generally they have more important things to do. Usually a vessel that size has a two man crew but there where 5 sailors on it today. Judging by the boat load of Coasties and the fact that it was weekend he figured they where probably weekend warriers, (reservist). Later that day we saw them towing a disabled boat.

Folks were out taking advantage of the windy conditions.  Good for them...not so good for us.

Carter has been pretty good at finding nice quiet spots to anchor out each night. 

This was a very nice water front neighborhood with nice boats parked in the back yards!

We found a sweet spot in front of the only patch of land in the whole bayou that didn't have a house the size of the Taj Mahal on it and no sooner than we dropped anchor, there was the law coming out of the woods.  Considering all the megabucks we passed on the way in we thought for sure we were about to get run off. But quite the contrary we recieved a warm welcome from  Deputy Sheriff Tim who was just very interested in our solar boat and tracked us down to ask questions about it.  Super nice guy. Told us there was no problem if we wanted to come ashore and that there was a Wal-Mart within walking distance.
Thanks Tim, we really appreciated that.

My new favorite toy...the velometer.  I'm learning to "see" the wind on the water and judge the speed.  That's pretty cool.  I have been learning to be so much more aware of the weather and water conditions with electric propulsion than with the diesel. We simply don't have any extra power when on electric so anytime we can find a lee or get a lift from some current, it helps a lot. Likewise, heading into adverse condtions is a slog. We can still make way, even under the most extreme conditions but it really slows us down.

Not the clearest picture but that's 20 mph winds! We just haven't caught a break on the weather for this leg of the trip with almost constant 15-20 mph direct headwinds and gusts to 30 mph. Not to mention waves and current all going the wrong direction. But as long as the sun is shining, we press ahead.

I'm also learning how to see which way the current is moving and judge how strong it is by means of the bouys and day markers.

Ever wonder what tree roots look like?  Well wonder no more.  We entered into a man made ditch where the sides have been chopped away leaving trees 1/2 in and 1/2 out of the ground with the root systems just hanging.

Taking a moment to sit, relax and enjoy NO WIND!

With calm conditions, Carter continued some of his work and Radar took a nap on the deck. 

Someone else was happy to be in this ditch too!

We pulled over in a wide spot to spend the night.

Radar jumped into the dingy as we were preparing to depart.  We debated leaving him there for a while but...we had to put the dingy back up on the fantail so he got to come back on board.

More tree roots as they created this ditch.

A beautiful sunset last night in Panama City.