In which we leave our anchorage after the big storm and try to escape the cold.

Start: Hogtown Bayou anchorage, Choctawhatchee Bay, 0730
End: Panama City Marina, City, FL 1530
Total Distance: 45.1
Time: 8:00
Average Speed: 5.6 kts

Look. The whole reason the majority of boats go around the loop the way they do is to take advantage of the weather in the various parts of the county in the given season. So summer in Canada when it is gorgeous! Fall on the rivers when you get to enjoy the changing leaves as you make your way south. Spring on the east coast when it isn’t hot and humid. And Florida in the winter when it is warm and the rest of the country is freezing.

Turns out when the wind blows from the north, it brings down the cold air. Consequently, we had a problem last night and this morning. It was cold. The temperature dropped precipitously when the sun went down and when Lucky and I walked out to the dinghy this morning, the temperature started with a ‘3.’ Like 39 degrees. I had three layers, a hat and forgot gloves. Lucky normally plants himself at the front of the dinghy hanging his front two paws over the top, but this morning he made it about two minutes before he dropped down into the bottom of the boat (to stay out of the wind). Constitutional complete, back to the boat. On the way back Lucky and I see some weird birds in the water that were flapping their wings in a perfect 360 circle. Upon closer examination it turns out they are decoys. And there are five dudes in camo in a blind looking for birdies to shoot. Which now explains the gunshots we have heard over the past two days. Really hope they have bird shot and not bullets in their guns. Back to the boat quickly, up with the anchor and we are out.

Plan today is to head 40ish miles through the GIWW to Panama City. The trip is about an even mix of open water on lakes/bays and a a canal. The wind today is from the northeast, so not helping our generally easterly trip. We throw out the genoa for a little while but pull it back in when it starts flapping. We continue to see dolphins frolicking in the water around us, but I continue to be unable to take a picture of said dolphins. The dolphins seem to travel in packs, which Siri tells me are actually pods, and run along side our boat as an escort until they realize that we aren’t throwing the cat in the water, and then lose interest. And pelicans. Who seem to be eyeballing and following us. The are evenly spaced along our route as if tracking our movements. To what end, I have no idea…

We see only three boats. A shrimp boat, a shirtless old man in a pontoon pulling a canoe and a fishing boat. Rest of the time we have the water to ourselves. I call the Panama City marina to see if they have room for us for the night and talk to perhaps the nicest person we have talked to on the trip. They had room, would be happy to have us for the night, could fill up one tank, pump out the other no problem!

And at 3:30 we arrived. Tied up. And headed out into Panama City. Which we pronounced ‘very cute.’ Palm trees. Nice stores. And Christmas ornaments placed out WAY TOO EARLY!! IT ISN’T EVEN THANKSGIVING YET! We headed to a fish market that had fresh fish caught off of the boats from the Gulf of Mexico and pick up a pound and a half of HUGE shrimp. Jan sautés half of them and we put them on top of a pot of lemon pasta and they are fantastic!