Monday, September 30, 2013

St. Andrews Marina - Panama City - September 27, 2013

 Anchored out catching some rays by St. Andrews Marina in Panama City.

We started out here about a week ago when Carter began Sea School because it was close by and he could ride the bike to school but we were forced to leave when a strong Southerly wind whipped up and we ran for cover in Massalina Bayou. The Sea School instructor told us about it and graciously offered to give Carter a ride each day while we were there since it was considerably farther away from the school. Now that the wind has swung back around to the North  and the Sound has laid down a little we decided to come back. Massalina Bayou was an excellent anchorage but the internet didn't work very well there and the TV reception didn't come in at all. Plus it was about time to do some laundry so here we are again at the friendly St. Andrews Marina.

On our way over we spotted this Coast Guard patrol boat heading our way in the distance at breakneck speed, blue lights flashing. This is something we're starting to get use too but it's still a bit disconcerting and hard to resist the urge to "Hide the Rum".
They were a friendly and courteous bunch though and just wanted to ask us some  questions about the strange solar boat. Carter said it brought back memories of his own days on the 41312 in San Diego when he was a seaman in the Coast Guard. Only he said these new RIBs with twin outboards look like they'd be a lot more fun to drive than the old aluminum utility boat with inboard diesels that he was on.  
Another week or so of Sea School and we'll be headed back to St. Marks for several weeks to finish a few projects on the Arc before we head to Key West and beyond.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Panama City - Roberts Hall

The weather turned pretty nasty out as a cold front moved in with wind and rain making the anchorage at St. Andrews Marina rather inhospitable.  Carter's instructor at the sea school told him about a very sheltered anchorage in a place called Massalina Bayou and graciously offered to give him rides to class since it wasn't quite within bicycle riding distance like St. Andrews is. So we hoisted anchor and headed over Friday morning.

I made a new friend today in Panama City named  Peggy (pictured above with me).  I also got to meet a facebook friend from our last passage thru Panama City for the first time too, Carol (pictured below) always has a smile on her face.
Peggy invited me to one of her favorite places in Panama City called Roberts Hall to listen to a group of talented local musicians.  I was treated to a wonderful piece of history in this old town of Florida. 

Excerpts from their brochure:
"A group of citizens has taken on the challenge of restoring what was recently an eyesore through years of neglect, with the vision of returning it to its original state and usage."
" Roberts Hall is a beautifully restored historic building in the heart of Lynn Haven.  The two story structure was built by L. J. Roberts and completed in 1912.  It has housed many businesses throughout it's 100 year existence including a general store, dance hall/meeting hall, sewing room, and antique stores."

 Beautiful vintage quilts adorn the walls on the 1st floor. 
Possibly left behind from the days as a sewing room.
"The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (a fraternal organization) has met there since 1912 and bought the building in 1922.  They met upstairs once a week, held dances on many weekends, hosted fish fry's, and have donated to many different charities both local and national.  They rented the first floor to Lloyd's Country Store for 40+ years and that is how many residents remember the building."
"In 1948 the building was covered with a brick-print asphalt siding that had many younger generations thinking that it was a brick building.  Years of wear and neglect took its toll on the building and Hurricane Opal did some roof damage that caused some internal damage.  The Order members were aging and unable to do the repairs.  Many members of the community considered it an eyesore and it was very close to being condemned and torn down.  Then in 2007 a group of historic-minded people came forward to see if they could salvage and restore this beautiful old structure.  They joined the Order and began repairs in May of 2008.  The first floor is completed and restoration continues on the second floor."
Upstairs you'll find the dance hall is being restored. 
There are 6 beautiful murals on the walls. I was told the artist was paid $24 for his work.
 The stage upstairs in the process of renovation. 
I'm told Hank Williams, Sr. performed on this stage!

Some original pieces remain in the building. 
This is one of the first Pepsi coolers, as evidenced by the original color blue,
 most likely to have been used in the general store.
As a means of raising funds for the restoration, there is a slate of musical activities open to the public.  Visit their facebook page for more information. 
Some local talent at "Open Mike".

Frank Lindamood with his resonator guitar. 

He could pick a mean banjo too!
Loved his music.
I had a great day goofing off in Panama City at Roberts Hall 
while Carter was slaving away at Sea School!
Life is good!


Friday, September 20, 2013

St. Marks to Panama City for Sea School!

Tuesday, September 17
After 4 days of cleaning, provisioning and general maintenance of the boat we departed St. Marks this morning at approx. 8 AM. The open Gulf crossing the Apalachee Bay with 2-3 ft. seas was a little less than ideal but it was a good passage. 

 As always, the dolphins love us! 

Several pods swam along side us as we crossed the Apalachee Bay and into St. George Straight.
We anchored out about 15 miles short of Apalachicola in St. George Straight near the inlet to Carabelle. Radar got to run free on a deserted island and Carter and I took a whaler ride and a swim and then cooked some hamburgers on the grille. It was an idyllic sunset on a dead calm sea with a light easterly breeze and we relaxed after a long days run.

But our comfortable anchorage soon turned against us as the wind  unexpectedly shifted toward the North. A groundswell picked up in the sound, probably accentuated by our close proximity to the inlet and it was hitting us broadside. It started up about 10pm and we rolled pretty violently most of the night with a few things flying off the shelves now and again. Carter was up constantly checking the anchor line and keeping an eye on things while I slept like a baby but we held fast and it finally laid down a little in the early morning hours so he got a little sleep.
Wednesday, September 18
We left our inhospitable anchorage early and got under way toward Apalachicola and the welcome section of ditch that connects to the east bay of St. Andrews Sound. The wind picked up again but we had  following seas and it was kind of a sleigh ride until we had to make our turn into the Apalachicola River and the ditch to St. Andrew Sound.  It was about 5 miles of broadside seas at 2-3 feet with 20 mph wind and was quite unpleasant until we hit the bridge at Apalachicola. What a relief.  Dead calm ditch for the rest of the day.
As predicted, we didn't quite make it to Panama City but we are only about 3 hours away, tucked into a nice anchorage called Lathrop Bayou just inside the East Bay.   We're about 15 miles from St. Andrews Marina so we should have time to get settled in tomorrow before Carter has to start his first night class of Sea School!
The Whaler is sporting a bimini top these days too.

Heading South - September 2013

Heading South! 

I think Radars' face speaks for both Carter and myself.  We love this time of year when we head south for the boat.  Radar has his favorite blanket and pillow and he's a happy boy for the 11 hour drive to Florida.  Yes....I've spoiled him rotten.

We've only been here a couple days and have already accomplished a "boat load" of chores. 

Carter has been busy getting his projects started.  He decided to upgrade the sprocket and chain for the electric drive system from a number 40 chain to a number 50 chain, it just wasn't quite heavy enough and the sprocket in the driveline was already showing signs of wear so before it became a big problem on our upcoming passage, he wanted to fix it.  The center hole in the sprocket in the driveline needed to be turned on a lathe to be installed which a local machine shop is completing today. He also is changing the gear ratio hopefully improve the performance of the motor. 

Carter moved the whaler here during the summer from Brevard County and has put a fresh coat of bottom paint on it today after scrubbing an inch of barnacles off . This will be our tender again and we'll just take the hit in speed because it has to be towed behind the Arc.  

We have found the Avon is not quite up to the task and with so many oyster beds in these waters it just didn't work out.  Other projects that Carter will be working on during the next couple weeks are the central AC system and install rub rails/life lines. 

I have completely cleaned the living quarters and will wash the top deck today.  My next projects will be to complete the salon with new settee cushion covers and to create storage solutions with my sewing machines.

We will be leaving for Panama City tomorrow where Carter will be attending Sea School to get his Captains license!