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An oil rig in Mobile Bay

The beginning of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway as we leave Mobile Bay

The famous Lulu's Restaurt owned by Jimmy Buffet's sister

Crossing Choctawachee Bay we saw hundreds of these jelly fish just below...

We spent our first night in Florida anchored in this beautiful Destin...

The beautiful white sand beach along the Gulf

A liveaboard in Destin Bay - what gives us a BAD name!

The sun sets in Destin Bay

Entering the "Grand Canyon"

The water on St. Andrew's Bay was like glass

A US Air force plane just outside our marina in Panama City


Florida's Panhandle is so much more beautiful than I ever imagined it to be. We have cruised approx 170 miles since we left Alabama and even without any sign or indication on the chart you just KNOW you're in Florida. The scenery changes, the homes get bigger, the boats get bigger and more plentiful.

For most of the 170 miles the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) has meandered between the little keys and islands along the Gulf and the mainland. The sand on the beaches along these islands like Santa Rosa Island is as white as snow!

We anchored in the gorgeous little Destin Bay on our first night in Florida. We were surrounded by lights as the sun set and we lit our barbeque, lights from the condos and restaurants on shore, anchor lights from other boats in the bay and lights from boats coming and going. The smells from the quaint little seafood restaurants and the sounds of people enjoying the evening drifted from shore. We sat outside on our back deck and enjoyed the balmy evening air while the steaks cooked and read under our deck lights. There were NO bugs, not one! We were in Florida and it felt GREAT! I had forgotten how beautiful Florida is since we left last spring.

The next day we continued through Choctawhatchee Bay and entered a 20 mile stretch of the GIWW called the "Grand Canyon" which ran inland. There are alligators in the water along the GIWW but despite our efforts we didn't see any. Departing from the Grand Canyon we crossed St. Andrew's Bay. The wind had died down and the water was like glass. Dolphins leapt from the surface and glided along beside the boat just below the surface of the water but unfortunately I was too slow with my camera to capture this breathtaking sight.

We stopped last night at the Panama City Marina to wait out some windy weather. Apparently it isn't expected to pass until Tuesday, which I hope is not true. Florida Marinas are expensive and we'd rather be anchored but with 25 knot winds on the way we're playing it safe. We were told that the marina had wifi when we called but once we arrived we discovered that they did not so I am sitting in an internet café drinking an overpriced tea in order to do some banking and update my website. The Captain is meeting me in ½ hr for lunch so hopefully I'll be finished by then.

Once we leave Panama City we are looking forward to exploring the little towns and anchorages along the way to Carrabelle and from there we will take our time along the slower but more scenic Big Bend route rather than making the quicker Deep Water route to Tarpon Springs. We are in the minority of boaters who are able to do this because our draft allows us to travel these shallow waters that most boats are unable to cruise. We are in no hurry and will enjoy experiencing this less developed stretch of Florida.



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