Living under way has a rhythm, and it feels odd to interrupt it. It feels odder still to restart it.
As we left Pensacola after two weeks in port, we wondered, briefly, if we would remember what to do. But of course we did. Like other habits, it comes right back. A final check on weather — and, down here, the tides. Stow away lose gear and dishes. Turn on navigation systems and radios. Plan the exit. Cast off lines and store them neatly for the next use. Pull up the bumpers. Review channel markings; in this case, green on the right. (This isn’t as obvious as you might think. The rules change from place to place, and markers are often missing. The exit channel from our marina was narrow, with visible shallows on each side. So it matters.) Finally, make sure the cat’s on board. Then, go.
Compared to many other days under way, this was an easy one; no fog or current, calm seas, and only one tow barge that was easy to pass. The Gulf Coast Intercoastal Waterway was very wide most of the day, narrowing only in the last ten miles, but the navigation channel meandered from one side to the other. Even that was nothing compared to the nutty, narrow, winding Tombigbee with all its barges. Yep, an easy day.
Almost 50 miles later, we find ourselves at the Two Georges Marina in Shalimar, Fla,. northeast of Fort Walton Beach. We planned to anchor in a quiet bayou but daylight passed quickly and our planning time expired. We came to this marina for fuel because we heard it had some of the best prices around, and decided to stay. This meant accepting the nearly $90 slip fee, knowing that it’s going to get pricier soon. (See previous posts explaining the impact of hurricanes and resulting high prices for those marinas still operating.) We are at a short “finger pier,” our first. This means the pier doesn’t reach the length of the boat, and we have to climb on and off amidship – a somewhat delicate undertaking when I took Boo out for her nightly walk, since I had her in one hand as I grabbed the upper rail of the boat with the other. I could have passed on her walk tonight, but she meows so plaintively! I’m afraid I’ve trained her to expect it.
We enjoyed a social hour with two other Looper boats here, including one we just met in Pensacola and another that we met near Chicago more than two months ago.
We’re grateful for a balmy night in the 60s. Photos and captions below.