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Archive For: NORTHERN GULF – All News

  • Good Times at Orange Beach Marina (Orange Beach, Alabama)

    Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach, AL is continuing their winter special this year…$525 a month for under cover in a fully protected marina with two restaurants, two transient cars, an on-site boatyard (Saunders) and tons of amenities off-site, including great shopping, condos, bike and walking trails, public workout facilities (not for free, though) and super weather. Call Jimmy or Donna at 251 981 4207 for the particulars and to make reservations.
    Cyndi and I are going when we finalize our “new” boat purchase, so we’ll see y’all down there. We had a wonderful winter last year. No…we don’t work for Orange Beach Marina…just spreading the joy.
    Jim and Cyndi McKay

  • Important – Inner Harbor Navigation Canal CLOSED in New Orleans

    The heavily industralized “Inner Harbor Navigational Canal” (also known as just the “Industrial Canal” in New Orleans, provides access from Lake Pontchartrain to the lock which leads to the Mississippi River, and points west on the Gulf ICW. Cruisers have to contend with a steeple chase of bridges to make this passage, but it’s still far more direct than the alternative.
    And, with the canal closed (see below), cruisers heading west from New Orleans, or even those east bound, and wanting to reach the marinas on the southern shores of Lake Pontchartrain, will have to traverse the ICW to the Rigolets, cruise through this impressive inlet to Lake Pontchartrain, and then back west across a significant portion of often rough Lake Pontchartrain to reach West End, site of most of New Orlean’s marina facilities.

    Cruising News:
    This is from the USCG’s local notice to mariners:
    Berwick Duval

    Effective immediately, the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal at the Seabrook Bridge will be closed to navigation due to construction of a cofferdam for the Seabrook floodgate structure. The channel will remain closed until approximately the Fall 2011. To ensure public safety during construction, all mariner traffic should avoid the area beginning at the north end Slip No. 6 to the Ted Hickey Bridge. For up-to-date information, mariners are urged to call the construction impact hotline at (877) 427-0345. Attached is the Marine Safety Information Bulletin

    I spoke with the Coast Guard N.O. district, it is the Seabrook Bridge which is closed down for repairs and will be for a long time, according to the USCG about 6 months. This blocks the Industrial canal but the lock and the ICW remain open. So if you are heading east and don’t need to get into the lake you can continue as usual along the GICWW.
    Steve W.

    Beginning September 22, 2010 and continuing through the fall of 2011, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers will be constructing a floodgate structure across the Inner Harbor – Navigation Canal (IH-NC) approximately 540 feet south of the Ted Hickey Bridge, and there will be no marine vessel access to or from Lake Pontchartrain via the IH-NC. Vessels should exercise caution and maintain a safe distance in the vicinity of the construction site, which is identified by light towers and advance warning signs. Additional information can be obtained by calling the Corps of Engineers’ Construction Impacts Hotline at 877-427-0345, U. S. Coast Guard Waterways Management at 504-365-2282 or 504-365-2284, or the Vessel Traffic Center (24 hours) at 504-589-2780.”
    Therefore, to get into Lake Pontchartrain from the Mississippi River or from west of New Orleans, you will have to go around and come in through the Rigolets.
    Coleen Barger

    We keep our boat on the N shore of L Pontchartrain at Mandeville. Actually, going W, the distance is shorter and much faster because of no Industrial Canal bridges going W from the MS Sound and L Borne through the Rigolets and then SW across the lake to W End in NO, as opposed to going through the ICW and Industrial Canal. Going E, the distance is much longer because you have to go E through the ICW into L Borne and then W all the way through the Rigolets then SW across the lake to W End.
    John C. Blackman

    Although the closing may be in-convenient–we never stop in New Orleans. Stop on the Gulf coast the day before and then cross the Mississippi and enjoy one of the anchorages or marinas just on the other side.
    Bob Austin

    Just have a comment to make. From Mobile, Al going west to Padre Island, Texas, bridge and lock tenders were so helpful, unlike those along the east coast. We ran into alot of snotty ones who were just so unhelpful coming down from Baltimore, MD headed to FL. However along Mobile, AL and south every tender was just so nice and most would even open the bridge if you were early. The same can be said about the lock masters, as they were so helpful and seemed genuine in their desire to make your passage safe.
    aboard “Dragonfly”

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To An “Alert” Position at the intersection of Lake Pontchartrain and the northern mouth of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Intersection of the Gulf ICW and the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Intersection of Lake Pontchartrain and the Rigolets

  • Good News! Dockside Marina in Carrabelle, Florida has Re-opened

    Boaters in the Florida Panhandle will certainly be glad to hear this news from Paul! An earlier posting here on the Cruisers’ Net told us that Dockside Marina had closed, and lamented that now there was no pleasure craft haul-out facility in this section of the Florida Panhandle, east of Panama City. That problem HAS NOW BEEN REMEDIED!!!

    Good News, Dockside Marina in Carrabelle, FL has re-opened. The official name is “M.S. Dockside Marina”. I was told that “M.S.” stands for Marine Systems which has long operated a mostly engine repair facility across the river. Even better news, they are getting a boat lift and expect to have the full boat works up and running by late Fall. Yahoo!

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s North Florida All News Listing For Dockside Marina

  • Baytowne Marina at San Destin (Choctawhatchee Bay)

    Baytowne Marina is easily accessible off the Northern Gulf ICW’s run across the lengthy of Choctawhatchee Bay. I have always thought this facility to be a bit exposed, but a partial breakwater helps.

    I have to agree with Dick. We enjoyed spending time with Captain Ron in Baytowne. The Marina is a vibrant community unto itself, complete with a friendly Golden Retriever. Great facilities, Laundry, showers, BAR!, and all the Clubs, Restaurants, and Golf you could possibly want. Like Arnold said, “I’ll be back”.
    Paul Kelly
    On the Dot.Calm

  • Sabine Marina (Little Sabine Bay, Pensacola Beach)

    The marked channel leading to Sabine Marina cuts to the south, immediately west of the Pensacola Beach Bridge. Observe all markers carefully and heavily favor the eastern shores after entering the Bay.

    Was just at the Sabine Marina this past December in 09. While I was there that had a dredge working in the pass coming into the Marina so its plenty deep now. Great little bar and nice shower and laundry facilities.

  • Do It Yourself Boatyards – White City to Panama City, FL

    Thanks Captain Paul for some very useful information which all Northern Gulf cruisers can use!

    I have done some digging around and found some information. Panama City and Port St Joe (actually White City, FL) have DIY boatyards. These are: Bay County Boatyard on the Watson Bayou and Port St Joe’s Boat Works located just off of the GICW near White City, FL.

  • Uninvited Passenger

    Here’s a little story from Ted Jones, former editor and co-owner of the late, great and much lamented “Coastal Cruising” magazine. This tale signifies to me why we all cruise. Who else could have such an experience but cruisers, and Ted has written it so very well!

    As dusk settled over the ocean on April 29th a land bird suddenly flew into the companionway and landed on Malla’s head as she was working in the galley. Reflexively, she brushed it away, and it flew out over the ocean again only to return, determined to find a suitable perch before nightfall. Malla identified it as a swallow. It had most likely been blown out to sea by the strong westerly winds of the previous several days. Swallows, she said require a perch before dark where they can safely spend the night. Ted was not surprised, having been visited by land birds on several occasions. They rarely survive the experience, and there seems to be no way one can help. We have tried, but the end always seems to be the same despite good intentions. Our little swallow eventually found a roosting place on the extension cord used to connect Ted’s computer equipment when we are dockside.
    Both of us were mindful of our passenger throughout the tumultuous events of the wee hours of Friday morning and were concerned for its safety. Amazingly, it put up with the contents of the ice box counter crashing to the cabin sole at one point and the noise and vibrations of the engine sometime later. It clung to it’s tenuous perch despite the constant motion.
    An hour or so after sunrise, with a “thank you” chirp, our little bird suddenly took flight, out of the companionway, and with a quick orientation circle disappeared toward land, several miles away. We hope it made it to shore. We will never know, although we told it to say hello to Dorcas when it gets to Vermont.

    Ted’s story about the bird that took refuge reminded me of a similar incident around 1982. While wrapping up a dive trip on the wreck of the City of Richmond some 30 miles or so off the Georgetown entrance a sandpiper landed on the instrument panel…and refused to budge. We knew right away the poor critter must have lost it’s bearings and flew out to sea. About the time we approached the Pee Dee entrance it got reoriented and flew away to the beach. Sigh.
    Bill Norris
    (Nobody You Know) Hatteras 40DCMY

  • Exploring St. Marks (St. Marks River, near the easterly genesis of the Florida Panhandle, and east of Carrabelle)

    Enjoy exploring St Marks on foot and by dink as we wait for he gulf to settle down before moving on to Steinhatchee.
    A lot like s Louisiana with palmettos. Kid told me they filmed the Tarzan movies on the St marks River above where we’re tied up. No condos, no frills. Just raw beauty.
    You don’t need to know the name to find the BBQ joint and my friend, Lisle, swears it’s the best he’s eaten outside his native Texas. Make a mean crab cake sandwich as well. Passable if not exquisite key lime pie at the Riverside Cafi. Bo Lynn’s grocery and hardware is limited but a one for one book exchange replenished the ship’s library.
    Diesel and corn-free gas, maintenance, 70 cents/foot transient available at Shields Marina, a first class operation and the only evidence of the 21st century in the town that time barely remembers. You don’t accidentally get here by land or sea on the way somewhere else; you have to choose it as a destination.

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Shields Marina

  • Watch Out For The Cape San Blas Shoals Cruising Between Panama City and Port St. Joe

    The cruise discussed below is clearly an offshore passage between Panama City inlet and Port St. Joe (or the other way around). The real message here is to stay hell and gone away from the shoals in and around Cape San Blas. After reading Captain Wayne’s description below, I say “Amen” to that!

    Numerous boats have gotten into trouble on the Cape San Blas Shoals that are just a little southwest of Port St. Joe.
    When going to/from South Florida from/to Port St. Joe or Panama City, FL, be sure to go within a couple of hundred yards – or less – of the sea buoy off Cape San Blas. Currents in this area can be treacherous. I have seen confused and/or standing 4-6′ waves over the shoals when the Gulf, in deeper water is virtually calm. Because of the currents, the shoals move constantly. One should not attempt any short cuts, using any charts, as the bottom simply is not like that on the charts. The charts indicate that there are several places one can take short cuts, or greatly cut the corner near the buoy. The last time I went via Cape San Blas, I was headed north, I ran to within about 500-600 yards or so of the buoy, all was well until the bottom came up, and up and up. The last solid depth reading was about 10′ (boat had a 6.5′ draft). Shortly, my fathometer read 0′ (because of sand in the water column close to the bottom), but the keel never hit anything solid that I could tell. The shallow area was only about 100 yards wide, but it sure got my attention!
    The first time I went via Cape San Blas, I was also headed north. The Gulf’s seas were about 1.5-2.5′, with few breaking waves. The shoals looked to be no different. I foolishly cut the corner by over a mile (chart showed plenty of water) and seriously endangered the boat for what seemed forever (4-6′ confused seas, very strong currents – seemingly from all directions – so progress over the bottom was tortuously slow — all the while the fathometer indicated 0′ due to “blowing” sand. Fortunately, I was in my old sailboat, which had a rudder the size of a barn door, so I was able to keep from broaching and kept it heading in the right direction. It was really strange – looking UP at a wave front, as stern of the boat was in the bottom of a trough, and seeing king mackerel by the hundreds, swimming down the wave face. It looked like they would just swim into the boat. The next few times, I went all the way to the sea buoy, where there is lots of water. The last time, I got over-confident and was under pressure due to heavy weather closing in.
    Both times I cut the corner, it was close to high tide, so I ‘knew’ that there would be plenty of water. After I moved back to Panama City, I became acquainted with several Gulf shrimpers, who advised me to never ever go over the shoals at Cape San Blas under any circumstances – primarily because of the currents.
    Also, when approaching the shoals from the south, the water often looks calm, if the Gulf is calm. But what you can’t see are the breaking waves caused by the southeast-flowing current over the shoals, creating standing waves.
    Port St. Joe is readily accessible from the GIWW via the Gulf Canal – a straight dredged ditch from the GIWW to Port St. Joe. When the seas
    on the Gulf are reasonable, we often go via the Gulf Canal. I even did that with the sailboat because it could not go under the bridge
    at Tyndall AFB, on the GIWW. The only ‘iffy’ place was Lake Wimico, where depths sometimes approached 6.5′ in spots. The keel never
    actually hit bottom that I know of. That was about 10 years or so ago, so I do not know its depths now.
    Take care and be safe.
    Albin 43 Sundeck

    Wayne wrote ” The only ‘iffy’ place was Lake Wimico, where depths sometimes approached 6.5′ in spots. The keel never actually hit bottom that I know of. That was about 10 years or so ago, so I do not know its depths now.”
    We helped friends deliver their Krogen 42 from Port St. Joe to Clearwater just last week. We took the ICW down to Apalachicola and left from Government Cut the following morning. Our trip through Lake Wimico was uneventful. The chart shows the controlled depth to be 12′. Certainly, the SE portion of the lake is very shallow and any departure out of the marked channel would likely be a bit of an adventure.
    Randy Pickelmann

    I’m getting ready to cross for St. Pete to Panama City in a few weeks so I read this post with great interest as that route requires a turn around the shoals. Studying the charts I see two greens, numbers 1 and 3 that seem to mark the east and west sides of the shoal. My currently planned route keeps me south of these but very close to #3. The only other mark I see is one south of the saftey area. Is staying south of greens 1 & 3 sufficent or should I set my waypoint elsewhere?
    Reed Estabrook
    M/V Cahoots

    I am preparing to depart Bradenton on Saturday, April 3, 2010 heading for New Orleans. Any idea on Your departure date planned?
    Ray Blanchard

  • Free City Dock at Fort Walton Beach, FL

    I think, if memory serves, and sometimes it does not, we have had an earlier posting here on the Net concerning the free city dock in Fort Walton Beach, described below. Sounds like a wonderful municipal resource for the cruising community!

    Subject: Ft Walton FL free dock
    Cruising News: We stayed at the Ft Walton city Dock January 18, the water on the way in was 8 to 10 feet deep, the slip about 6 feet deep. The slips are fine and the park is nice there is a Publix supermarket a short walk away. About 10PM I heard a clatter outside. I pulled back the curtain to see a man standing on the finger pier of the next slip to my boat, when he saw me open the curtain and the light he ran up the dock to the parking area jumped into a car which was parked and the car took off. There was an aluminum skiff tied to the pier he was standing on, I think he was getting ready to steal it or the outboard motor. The next morning I saw the skiff tied to an anchored boat near the dock. The owner must have arrived later on and used it to go out to his boat. I went by and warned him of what I had seen.
    I would warn anyone stopping there to be very careful of their boat or if walking around the area after dark.
    Steve Willett
    Monk 36, Gumbo
    Thibodaux, Louisiana

  • Port St. Joe Marina (off ICW between Apalachicola and Panama City)

    The Port St. Joe Marina is at the heart of Florida's Forgotten Coast, on the eastern shore of pristine St. Joseph Bay on Florida's northern Gulf Coast. Located between Panama City and Apalachicola, FlThe message below is, as you undoubtedly noticed without my telling you, copied off the AGLCA mail list.
    We have always found Port St. Joe Marina to be a superb facility, and they are a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR! It’s well worth a trip down the Gulf County Canal to St. Joseph Bay, the home of Port St. Joe Marina. Tell them we sent you!

    We pulled into Port St. Joe December 31 at 1600. John, the harbor master, was there to show us where to tie the boat as well as give us a hand. All this is expected when pulling into a marina for the first time. However, also in attendance and helping were AGLCA harbor hosts Ray and Patsy Whitney. They made sure we had everything and anything we wanted or needed. They offered to let us use their car. They made us feel very “welcome” and introduced us to other “loopers” at the marina. I could go on forever praising Ray and Patsy as well as John and the rest of the marina staff for their very efficient and well run marina and for making all loopers feel like this is a “home away from home”. We have cruised the entire loop and many places loopers usually don’t get to in our ten years of cruising and this is one of the friendliest marinas we have stopped at. If you are cruising the panhandle don’t make the mistake of bypassing Port St. Joe.
    Jim & Sharon Angel
    Aboard m/v BLUE ANGEL

  • Crossing Florida’s Big Bend Experience

    The posting below is longer than what we usually put up on the Cruisers’ Net. However, it is such an excellent account of the often memorable (for good AND bad reasons) experience of crossing Western Florida’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region, I’ve posted the text below in its entirety. Note that this posting is copied from the AGLCA mail list with Captain Quince’s permission

    A fellow cruiser has inquired about our Gulf Crossing so I thought I’d chronicle it for him and share it.
    We arrived at Dog Island hoping for anchorage as the trip across St George Sound Bay had been a rough ride. We started east okay in one footers but after starting to fight the tide at the bridge, the next bit of open water continued to build until we met the confused waters between Dog Island and St George Island. Waves coming from both directions really kicked us around. Then the Shipping Cove turned out to be too rough to anchor so we turned and cranked up the engines heading to Carrabelle.
    The next day brought heavy fog and about noon, a flotilla of Loopers left in a short clearing window. We wondered if we should have gone but the rough water the day before made us wonder. We disconnected power and threw off our lines about 3 0-clock to head out to the anchorage again and abruptly stopped as the fog moved back in. Listened to Hank on Queen Anne’s Revenge come across the bay and up the channel in thick fog. The talked to Mint Julep who anchored in the cove but neither boat ever saw the other. The Fog never lifted.
    We contacted Queen Ann and agreed to leave the following day about 1pm to head out to Dog, thinking we’d pick up Mint Julep as well. (never did as they had moved on the night before) Heavy fog stayed with us the whole day so at 1 we headed out anyway, slowly down the channel from the Moorings to Pick up Queen Ann at C-Quarters. They pulled out and led the way as Hank had good
    experience the previous day but more likely his experience with using radar as a pilot! It was interesting going out the channel as we met a 90 foot research vessel coming in and a couple of other boats as well. Not really a problem going slow, watching radar and working your way out. After Dog Island, Twins took the lead on a waypoint at Clearwater Pass. Queen Ann intended to drop off about 4 am and head to Tarpon Springs.
    The advice we’d received from various sources recommended you be 2 to 3 hours offshore at daybreak so you can see and avoid the crab pots. There are also mileage from the coast guidelines and depth guidelines that help guide where you will start finding them. Like 20-30 miles and less than 30-40 foot depth but I’m not particularly sure of those numbers. So we set a course and started out at 8 knots, later cutting back so we didn’t arrive too early.
    The fog stayed thick and with us for quite a while, about half the way. Boats were about a half to a mile apart and we could see their lights most of the time. Sometimes disappearing into the fog and other times more clearly. We turned on Christmas lights on the bridge to help light the way, 5 strings of white LED lights that draw less than 20 watts total. We also turned on the inverter and settled into our salon for most of the trip. About 8 0-clock I turned on the TV and we had satellite reception all across the bend.
    How to stay awake for 22.5 hours crossing. Yes, it’s a long day..normal wake up at 7am, departure at 1pm, arrival to private dock on Treasure Island at 11:30 am and then up until about 8pm..what’s that, about 37+ hours! We had rested fairly well at Carrabelle. Vaughn bought a 12 pack of diet pepsi to help stay awake. I make some coffee. You’re wired at first with the fog. Then darkness descends. You set the autopilot and stare at the radar screen. The best part of the crossing may be the other boat nearby. Waves were rolling us for the first few hours, then it seemed to calm more about midnight and the crossing eased.
    Vaughn and I took turns at the wheel (actually the radar screen). We ran the boat from above at first and then moved below after darkness. You can pretty well see miles ahead of you with the radar so staring at the screen seems useless. One of us would take the helm, the other watched TV and/or snoozed. We each had about 3 cat naps, the longest was probably an hour and a half. We
    snacked on sandwiches. I had a coffee about 10 pm and Vaughn had a few pepsi’s. About 3:30 am Queen Ann slowed down and turned off toward Tarpon Springs, and we redirected for John’s Pass..they would not arrive at their destination until 11:30 due to very heavy fog..Hank’s now the expert!
    Stars were first seen in the wee hours and a welcome sight, then more fog. We were lucky in that the fog lifted at daybreak. We never saw any crab pots until sunrise, then we saw a new line every minute. Daybreak and the sunrise are especially welcome after such a passage. My wife, Vaughn get’s to see so few sunrises anyway! We never saw any other boats on the crossing either. It’s possible that one or two targets on the radar were other boats but they were never closer than about 5 miles.
    It was a fairly comfortable crossing but at some point I’d reset the autopilot to go to Clearwater and thought I’d arrived at John’s Pass. Took us a little time and phone call to our friends to understand our mistake, then we just motored down the ICW, an enjoyable ride. That afternoon we baked in the sun until we jumped in their pool..freezing at 70 degrees it was not..very refreshing and just what we needed!
    So, in hindsight, I could have probably just relocated to Shipping Cove in the fog but you do get a good night’s sleep at the dock. We could have started later and maintained our 8 knots but that would only make about an hour or two’s difference or so. Longer or shorter travels don’t matter that much over such a time and distance when on autopilot (The boat and the crew). Our trip was 195 miles. The waves and winds treated us fairly. Fog sucked but what can you see in the dark anyway? No moon so it would be dark.
    Next time I want clear skies, a full moon and the millpond sea!
    All that to say we did it with caffeine and cat naps.
    Bring on the Keys and Bahamas
    Forget Hell!!

  • The Living’s Easy in Panama City

    I like spending time in Panama City myself, and, you can’t do better than coil your lines at the Panama City Municipal Marina, a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!!

    The cost for living here is outrageous- the money that has to be spent on sun tan lotion and sandals takes a big bite out of the budget. Then when you have to buy socks to wear with the sandals, you know, for when the temperature plummets to below 60. Thank god for global warming, not only will we be able to eliminate the cost for socks, but there will be many more places to cruise!
    Rudy and Jill
    Briney Bug, Panama City, Fl

  • C-Quarters Marina (Carrabelle)

    C-Quarters is one of two cruiser friendly marinas in the delightful village of Carrabelle. The other is the Moorings!

    At C-Quarters marina in Carribelle Diesel is $2,40 per gal. includingtaxes. Not a fancy marina, but very friendly people and a good overnight before crossing the Gulf. Stores close by.
    Cheers from Queen Ann’s Revenge crossing tomorrow to Tarpon Springs
    CDR Hank & Queen Ann

  • Orange Beach Marina (off AICW between Big Lagoon and Mobile Bay)

    Wow, what a great review of this facility. Note that this message was copied off the AGLCA mail list.

    Hi, everyone. Hope y’all are safe.
    I’ve told y’all about Orange Beach Marina and what a wonderful marina it is…they are especially kind to Loopers and fly the Looper flag proudly. They have a VERY SPECIAL winter rate to May 1…$525/month regardless of size. Power is extra, but my bill runs just a tad under $25.
    They are in a lush, tropical setting with excellent security, new docks and in a quiet residential neighborhood. The transient vehicle is a late model Yukon Suburban. Close showers and a laundry on site next to the transient dock. Two on-site restaurants and two others (expecially Tacky Jacks) a short walk away. The beach, renowned for its sugary sand, is only 2.3 miles away.. A huge, respected boatyard (Saunders Yachtworks).
    And there’s more: Covered barbecue and picnic areas, boat washing and detail service on site, upscale dock store, taxi service, the best, friendliest service help around.
    Both Orange Beach are minutes from each other and both offer libraries, indoor pools, exercise areas, a great wildlife area well within walking distance (deer and other wildlife abound), golf courses, great shopping. In short, it is a paradise!
    And Pensacola Naval Air Station’s world famous air and space museam is really close by.
    Free first night dockage with fill up of 300 gallons or more attract lots of folks…and its just for us Loopers.
    I hate to sound like a shill for the marina, but it is a superb overnight or long-term place to be.
    Just ask for Jimmy at 251 981 4207.

  • Sea Hag Marina (Steihatchee River) and Crossing Florida’s Big Bend, North to South

    First, Michael and Jana’s advice about departing south over the Big Bend region, from Tysons Harbor on Dog Island, is a really good idea. Tysons makes for an excellent anchorage, and you are right at the jumping off point whenever you choose to turn your bow south.
    Sea Hag Marina is the only facility really fitted out for cruising size craft on the Steinhatchee River. As long as you remain the in marked entrance channel, depths should not be a problem on the Steinhatchee. This is one of the deepest of the Big Bend streams.

    Second Star and Emotion III crossed from Dog Island two days ago. As predicted the first six hours were pretty lumpy then it smoothed out. Trip took 10 hours (6 knots) so we left in dark. First we shot the pass and left a bread crumb trail the day prior so the dark passage was at least well plotted. Next time I would leave from Tyson’s Harbor on the far east side of Dog Island which would eliminate the pre dawn departure. The charts don’t show it but that exit is very well marked. We stayed at Sea Hag Marina and experienced no problems getting in. We arrived two hours before high tide.
    Michael & Jana La Porte

    We stayed for a few days at SeaHag Marina in May 2010. Three sailboats plus one trawler. No problems with depth in or out. The Marina was very accomodating, arranging a pick up to give us a ride to a local restaurant. They also provided a ride to the local IGA. Rustic but a great stopover.
    Bob Dorman

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Sea Hag Marina

  • Good Words About Port St. Joe Marina (off ICW between Apalachicola and Pan. City)

    The Port St. Joe Marina is at the heart of Florida's Forgotten Coast, on the eastern shore of pristine St. Joseph Bay on Florida's northern Gulf Coast. Located between Panama City and Apalachicola, FlI can tell you from personal experience that Port St. Joe Marina is one of the finest pleasure craft facilities you will find anywere. They are reached by cruising from the Northern Gulf ICW, down the Gulf County Canal, to the waters of St. Joseph Bay. Then, it’s just a brief cruise to the east to reach the marina’s sheltered harbor.
    Oh yes, and let’s not forget these good people are a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!

    Terrific folks and a great marina – close to everything, good restaurant, and some damn fine Marina Hosts (Ray & Patsy).
    We were sad to leave this morning, but if a weather window opens up this weekend, we wanted to be a bit closer to take advantage and are now at WaterStreet Hotel & Marina in the rain and cold. Starting to think that we should have brought a snow shovel along to keep the dock clear.
    Gerry & LInda Etzold
    Monk’s Vineyard

    Port St. Joe Marina promotes itself as the “friendliest marina on the gulf” and we have to agree. We are there now waiting to cross the gulf. At $1/foot nightly for AGLCA members (and less if you stay a week), they have all the usual amenities, including bikes and a restaurant. The downtown grocery, ice cream, restaurants, and hardware are just a few blocks away. Patsy and Ray Whitney, the harbor hosts, plus all the employees are ready to assist you with anything you need during your stay. During the 12/2 storm, Clara, the marina manager was walking the docks, checking lines and fenders. We’ve only been looping for a couple of months, but Port St. Joe is our #1 so far. It’s a little off the intercoastal, but well worth the effort. If you haven’t come this far yet, be sure to check it out.
    Mainship 34

  • Smack Bayou Anchorage (near Panama City, FL)

    Smack Bayou is located on the opposite side of the Northern Gulf ICW from the Panama City Waterfront, just slightly west of Massalina Bayou.
    The two mooring balls Captain Root refers to below have been in place, as I recall, for years, but there is still room to drop the hook. Many cruisers anchor in Smack Bayou year after year.

    We anchored in Smack Bayou Monday night. Be advised that the charted 8 foot pool that is around the point to starboard has two permanant mooring balls in the middle and partially submerged wreck on the east side. We anchored west and slightly behind the mooring balls in about 8 feet at mid tide. Protection is excellent. However, there is some shoaling coming from the shore line, so I would suggest anchoring ahead of the mooring balls in deeper water to avoid swinging over a shoal.
    An option is to anchor in the first pool after the entrance. A trawler was anchored on the west side of that pool and seemed to do fine. Be aware there is a partially submerged wreck at the far end of that pool.
    Bill Root
    MV Tucandu, currently docked Panama City

  • “Specter Island” Anchorage (Statute Mile

    I have never heard the anchorage referred to below in Captain Root’s note named as “Specter Island, but, then again, the late Skipper Bob apparently knew something I did not about this small land mass. Anyway, it lies south of the ICW, on the section referred to as “the Narrows,” west of Choctawhatchee Bay and Fort Walton Beach.

    We are anchored tonight behind Spectre Island MM 217.4. Enter west of G51 per Skipper Bob, watch your depth carefully as the shoal to the east side is very shallow. We found six feet all the way in, ten feet behind island between it and the barrier island. Barrier island is restricted, but Spectre island is sand, so walking dog should be OK. Alternative is eight foot charted pool east of Spectre Island and along barrier island at 30 24 07N, 86 41 43W
    Travel safe
    Bill Root

  • Ingram Bayou Anchorage (Statute Mile 164)

    Ingram Bayou lies off the northern flank of the ICW, west of the Waterway’s with St. Johns Bayou and Perdido Pass. This is one of my favorite anchorages of all time. It just doesn’t get better than this gang – plenty of depth, good shelter, wonderfully natural shores and ample swing room! See you there!

    Ingrams Bayou anchorage MM164.0 is wonderful. Go all the way in to the charted six foot pool at the back. We found minimum seven feet in the entire pool, except for one short six foot section at the very opening of this pool. Protection is great from all sides, and plenty of swinging room. Several places on shore to land a dog. I suggest getting there early. We arrived about 1500 to find one boat in the back pool. By 1600 we had been joined by five more sailboats.
    Bill Root

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