Dolphins! (Day 111)

Dolphin plays at our bow.

This under-way adventure called The Great Loop is not all fun and frolic. I remind those who envy it that it’s also a lot of work, and sometimes stressful. But, oh my, we are lucky lately! Today, as we passed 2,300 miles under way, we received a close-up visit by a dolphin who played in our bow wave, along with some very flat water and another easy cruise. All of this after that “no-words” sunset last night!

These are the days that wipe the harder days from memory.

We got under way at 0730, because sunrise is just after 0600, and why not? (Bedtime also comes earlier and earlier when under way so late in the year.) Within 30 minutes, we left the wide bay where we spent the night and re-entered the channel that makes up much of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway. It was another intriguing segment of this waterway … sandy banks which were clearly dug out, topped by pine trees. The amount of engineering that went into creating these water highways staggers the mind. I wonder how many Americans are aware of it.

We also got a refresher today on channel markers, as we switched from green-on-the right, to red-on-the-right. Mariners know the phrase “Red-Right-Returning” – which means, when returning to port, keep the red on your right side. Sounds obvious, right? Not always. Here in “the intercoastal,” the designated “port” changes with the inlets into the Gulf of Mexico. It keeps us our toes!

Seven hours and 60 miles later, after passing out of that narrow channel and back into open waters, we are anchored again — this time, in the East Bay of the Grand Lagoon. It’s not as musical a name as Chocktawhatchee, where we anchored last night, but it does grab you! Grand indeed. It took hours to pass through this so-called lagoon, past sprawling Panama City and into the bay where we rest tonight.

We passed by other possible anchorages in order to get close to the next narrow canal. We expect strong winds to develop tonight and last awhile, and we might need its protection. I don’t sleep well at anchor when the winds pick up. We have a strong two-anchor system which has served us well, but my ears still stay partly open. Then there’s always the question of weather forecast accuracy. Stay tuned to find out how it turns out!

Photos and captions below.

PS: As we sit at anchor at sunset, we hear cows mooing. We didn’t know there were farms nearby, since all we see is swamps. For some reason, this makes us laugh.

PSS: I’m using my Verizon mobile hotspot to blog while at anchor. In case you wondered.

Clouds reflecting in the still waters of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway. (The burgee, or small flag, identifies us as members of the American Great Loop Cruisers Association. It also helps “Loopers” to find each other.)
The Looper boat Hallelujah! passed us in the canal.
More evidence of hurricanes?
Yet another one. This one looks lived-in.
Industry near Panama City
A small boat towing a large one. We saw this same phenomenon yesterday! Is it that common??
We couldn’t figure out this boat. Jeff said it looks like a big tank, refashioned into a boat.
Panama City bridge
It didn’t stay with us long, but it sure was a treat! How fortunate that I was on the bow at the time, thanks to a cue from Jeff that a dolphin was nearby.
The Grand Lagoon was mirror-calm today.
Another awesome sunset! (From the fly bridge.)
Marker #1! We passed it about 8 a.m. It felt “special,” even though I wasn’t sure why. Then i realized this is Day 111 of our journey. Oh!!

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