We set out the next morning (Thursday, Dec 27) promising Kaylee the sails would go up as soon as we hit open water. About 10 more miles in the intracoastal canal and we entered Mississippi Sound where there was . . . no wind . . . at all. You could see your reflection in the water. Needless to say the motor stayed on and the sails stayed down.
Friday (Dec 28) morning we leisurely made our way in to Big Lagoon in search of fuel and a place to stay for the night. I called around and found one that would work. As we fueled up I asked about anything within walking distance and maybe a shower? No luck. Not much close and the marina had not rebuilt their facilities since Hurricane Ivan (2004!). I didn't really want to pay $1/ft for no services at all. They were very nice and told us of a good place to anchor and that we could stay tied up while we walked around to get off the boat for a bit. So glad we did! We found an incredible playground. Kaylee played and ran around for about an hour. We headed back to the boat and found our anchorage for the evening. The weather came through about two hours later. We had a relaxing dinner and evening and went to bed.
Saturday (Dec 29) morning as we were leaving our anchorage and were finally putting the sails up, the head sail wrapped around itself and made a knot (I'll have to let Ken explain the specifics). This lead to about 45 minutes of Ken and the sail in a vigorous wrestling match in 25 knot winds (yes, I am seeing a pattern of either too little or too much wind). There were times I was not sure who would win. Ken did, and we finally sailed out the channel in to the Gulf. With only a headsail (the front one), and reefed at that (only partly out), we were cruising at 7-8 knots, this is flying in this boat. We had a great sail to Destin (never mind almost running aground entering the harbor) where we found a marina that would fit us in for the night. I was about to baulk at the $1.50/ft rate until he answered my question about a shower with, "sure, I'll get you guys a pass to the Emerald Grand Spa for showers". Sold!
Following long hot showers - I haven't mentioned yet that the whole trip was COLD, really cold, 30-40 degrees cold - we had a great dinner, caught up on a few sports scores and planned our morning with breakfast and coffee before sailing to St. Andrews Bay (Panama City). About 5am Sunday (Dec 30) Ken nudged me and said he thought we were touching bottom and the tide was still dropping. We needed to leave now or risk being stuck in Destin for the day - so much for breakfast and coffee.
It was lucky we left as early as we did because once we were underway and starting to look towards the next stop in the waterway guide, we realized there was one more bridge we had not identified as a 50' fixed bridge. We are 57 feet at the top of our mast. This meant we would not be able to re-enter the ICW in Panama City as we had planned. With the early start we had lots of time, and another good wind (15 knots +), so we decided to shoot for Port St. Joe. A long (about 100 miles), but good day of sailing put us going under the bridge in Port St. Joe at sunset. We took the canal up to White City where there is great community boat ramp and basin. The only problem was it was a little shallow for us (starting to see the pattern?). We managed to find a spot at the edge of the dock with our stern poking out just a touch in to the canal.
With it so shallow again and worried about tides, we got another early start on what was to be our final day. We headed south on the ICW, cutting off the St. Joseph peninsula, toward Apalachicola. A pretty ride through Lake Wimico and down the river system. In Apalachicola we picked up Dan T. who had planned to do the whole trip with us, but wasn't able to when work commitments popped up. After passing under the St. George Island bridge we put the sails up again for a couple hours before the wind died and it was time to motor in to Carrabelle.
Around 5pm on New Year's Eve we motored up the Carrabelle River, waiving to our friend David on the balcony of his condo. We docked at The Moorings and were all happy (especially Kaylee) to see Memommy and Dedaddy (Ken's parents) and Grandma and Grandpa (my parents). Pam brought hot chocolate, another hit with Kaylee!
Dinner at Angelo's and a good night's sleep. None of us witnessed the ringing in of the new year, but what a way to finish 2012!