When we left Fort Walton Docks, we crossed Lake Choctawhatchee where a flock of Terns escorted us part way across the lake. It was very windy and they were drafting alongside Sanctuary coming very close to us on the fly bridge—almost as if they were peeking in the windows at us.
On the way to Panama City Florida, we experienced the best encounter with dolphins so far. They continued to swim and jump alongside Sanctuary in the wake for a long time. We got a fantastic video and some nice pictures of them.
The last few miles into Panama City Marina were a little nerve wracking due to the engine losing power and alternator quit charging the batteries. Thankfully, we made it in without needing a tow. It turned out to be two separate, simple problems. The engine problem was a partially plugged fuel filter. I changed out the filters and now all seems fine with the engine. The alternator required a trip to a local shop. If you are ever in this area and need starter or alternator issues resolved, go to Panama City Alternator and Starter and ask for Joey. I removed the alternator from Sanctuary and borrowed a car to take it to the shop. They started testing and working on it right away. The regulator was bad, so they ordered parts. The parts came in this morning, they reassembled the system, and called to let me know it was ready. I got a ride to go pick up the alternator, and once reinstalled, all is working properly again. By the time this was all completed, it was late in the day, but we wanted to leave the dock to test everything out. We left the marina and traveled just an hour to a nearby anchorage called Pearl Bayou. Everything worked properly on this short test run.
While at the Panama City Municipal Marina, we watched local fisherman catch fish and shrimp from the pier. They used a net with weights thrown out into the water to catch bait fish and then used those fish to catch bigger prey. We met several friendly fishermen, Don, Bill, and Terry. As we walked by, Bill had just caught a Spanish Mackerel. He immediately took out his ruler and measured to make sure it was 12 inches. It was long enough, but then to my surprise Bill threw it near Fred, the resident Great Blue Heron who waited for handouts. Pete, the Pelican, camped out on pilings near our boat. I’d highly recommend this marina—efficient, friendly staff, great view of the bay and close proximity to good restaurants and interesting shops including several antique and consignment places.
Last night we witnessed a spectacular Super Full Moon over the bay. Many loopers who were ahead of us traveled with the Full Moon last evening with a great crossing.
While anchored in Pearl Bayou, jets from a nearby military base frequently fly right over head, dolphins swim around the boat, and a hawk sits in a nearby tree—quite the contrast!
Tomorrow we plan to travel to Apalachicola to begin getting in position for making the big Gulf crossing. The run to Apalachicola will be a much longer test to verify if all systems are a go for the Gulf crossing.
Dolphins playing beside Sanctuary
Fishermen at Panama City Marina