The Amazing...
BackHome Dec 06 Panama City Feb 07

A new year and more adventures.

sew1   sew2

I spent the new year week sewing a dacron suncover on the rollerfurling jibsail. As you can see the Sailrite machine was put to the use it was intended for. When it sews sails it works purrfectly, but it is the slowest machine I have ever used. It took me about four hours total to cut out, stick and sew on the pieces.

I was not too happy on land as a particularly aggressive asthma attack took the wind out of my own sails over Christmas. I have also been bestowed with an unusual family with many different customs and traditions from my own back in England. I missed my children and I missed my siblings. I spoke to my dear old father on one day he was at home...then it was back to our life and preparing for the next adventure.


We decided to take our own car back to Dog River as we bought a fantastic little dinghy at a place I saw off the side of the interstate through Tampa. I saw the word "Inflatables" and got off at the next exit. We drove slowly down the road and saw of a side track a sign that said "Boats" across a gate. We drove in and found a wonderful guy who took us around his "Hobby Shop". We saw this dinghy and fell in love. We went home and had to decide whether we would stay in Marinas or anchor out. The cost of the dinghy really eats into our budget and will alter our plans. Ok so I am crazy, but I am not afraid of the unknown. We may have seriously got ourselves into a dodgy financial situation but I think we are clever enough to get out of it by stopping and getting out of the boat to work. My problem is I don't want to! So I have been busy trying to think of ways to earn. constipation.


I might have been a tad irritable, but I did manage to clean and polish the hull. Deck Fluff? Tell that to the Marines.

William worked on stuff around the boat. We had a problem with the rudder after giving it a couple of layers of awlgrip then trying to paint four layers of our bottom paint. This became amusing as each layer cracked in the same spots!

The next job was to work out an anchor plan. Wm is such a genious at this kind of thing! We now have a locker attached to the bow deck and any anchor can be safely released without endangering our badly dented bow.

My next job was to tackle the inside of the boat. I tided up and made areas that will not fly around the pit. Then I turned to Williams side and said he had to work out what he wanted and what he did not.

William has a problem putting things away.

Feel sorry for me. I have to live with this.

One day, we decided we would go out to see the USS Alabama docked in Mobile AL. We had a great time.

They have roomier quarters than us.

I was running about like a crazy kid in a toy shop. I loved that ship! Wm got fed up with my antics and threw me in the brig.

I wanted to put a helmet on because it was raining outside and I did not want to spoil my hair do.

Someone obviously knew I was coming and had locked them in this thing here.

Jim and Roberta were getting very cold and needed to get away from me. So I chased them out the door.

Roberta looked so cute!

Wm decided that perhaps I was having fun and followed me up some dark stairways to find the wheel! Who do you think knows what they are doing?

The view was spectacular not. How did these guys know where they were going? Crikey! No wonder we are not safe around the big guys!


As you can see we are still devoted to our caving fraternity.

Check out the sticker!

And..check out the new Rudder mount!

The next job was to get the rudder on and finish the sail plan. One of the guys at Dog River lent us a gauge to tension our stays. Suddenly I was stuck in the head trying to open the door and Wm had gone off somewhere! We did not think that the alteration of stuff on deck would affect the positioning of anything inside. I was in crisis, I kicked the door, and shook it but it was jammed tight. I found a screwdriver and started prying around the edge like a tight paint tin top. Suddenly the door sprang open and I was this is the tale of the old lady who was stuck in the lavatory...FOR REAL!

We decided to go off to visit the USS Alabama again as I had dreamed about it and it had affected me quite a lot. On the way, we saw this car...there was a space of about 2 feet by 2 feet to sit and

I laughed my head off so much I felt good and thought about my dear friend Jacob Storbakken.

He has a website too!



USS Alabama is a fine ship. We wanted to see the engine room. I had been there but Wm had not. Next to the Ship is a submarine looked after by a retired marine who used to serve on a sub in the war. He loving has spent his days restoring her to prestine beauty. The photos tell it all.

The engine room



On the submarine, I found the guy who had been stuck in the crawl at the entrance to Whitescar cave in Ingleton, was on a job exchange scheme being run by the International Dummy Exchange Program. I yelled at him from this little doorway, "Hey, Boris! How yer doin'?" He did not stir or move his lips. He just kept on staring straight ahead...crikey! That guy is just SO focused.


Wm and I tried our hand at the wheel on this baby. I would love to go on a trip in a submarine!

  Our final stop was at the dock to see the Superferry destined for trips between the islands of Hawaii. I watched her wistfully, and dreamed dreams of working on her and flying like the Rays that adorn her sides.


On to Panama City, FL


HOORAY! Off at last! We decided to take off across the Bay. We bid our friends Sarah, Ted and Patches aboard the Manatee farewell by really enjoying Ted's gin and tonic the night before (crikey, that was good gin!) and took advantage of favorable winds across the bay. There was the occasional five footer but nothing our Dreamweaver couldn't handle. We found it steadier to use half a jib as our arse was slapped about. As soon as we entered the channel the other side of the bay, the sea stopped and we had dead calm. The going was excruciatingly slow but enjoyable because the scenary was different and the sun shone.

The big sea in Mobile Bay.

No severe leaning and bouncingwith a small jib.

A lighthouse in the Bay.

Wm dragging the dinghy

We passed lots of wealthy homes and empty condos with beautiful empty slips. In one wider area we saw what looked like a garbage heap on an old sailboat anchored outside a lovely home. I looked through my binoculars and understood why people who live in beautiful homes and have lots of money do not like 'livaboards'. This kind of sail trash gives us clean living people who enjoy the simple life a bad name and why there are all these nasty restrictions on anchoring and mooring. Not that I would want to park my lovely boat outside of somebodies nice house, that is naff in itself, but with so many places conducive to safe and private harbouring either severely restricted at best to closed off for empty condos no one can afford (if I was rich, why would I want a condo???) From now on, if Dreamweaver sees sailtrash I will photograph, name and shame this blight on our beautiful waterways. Don't close off long stay marinas and chase good folk off anchorages, sweep the sailtrash instead. It does not cost money to wash your boat or clear your decks.

The channel entrance.

The typical beaches of the Panhandle, ICW.

Do not spoil the beauty with trashy living. Keep your boat clean.

Larry and Karen about the s/v La Kay called in at a marina. Jim and Roberta on s/v Chipper waited for us in the most heavenly bay to anchor. We got there at 8pm in the dark. It was dead calm and silent. It felt like we were the only people in the world! I cooked a big curry and we tried to keep warm. Jim decided they might head out into the Gulf the next day so we drifted out to anchor by ourselves.

In the dawn we saw Chipper still anchored. We left at 6.30 after a wake up call from Jim. We will meet them at a later port when they can get in again. Probably further south. We sailed all day alone passing noone and making minimal contact with any other vessel. We passed a couple of barges and got buzzed by some really stupid powerboaters who have smaller brains and even smaller private parts.

s/v Chipper anchored off Perdido Key in the Big Lagoon

The colorful homes along the way.

At Fort Walton Beach, we decided we might take a marina for the night as it was so cold. We called one to ask for some gas (petrol) but they said they did not have any but the Shalimar marina opposite had. We looked and saw no marina but a closed gas station. We called Shalimar and they told us where to go after we gave them our position. Where they told us was definitely wrong but we did find a good crab restaurant called Rick's Crab Trap, so we stopped to fuel ourselves and asked where we might find a gas station open. We took the dinghy under the bridge and walked up the bank with our tanks and filled up at a roadside station at a dollar and a bit cheaper per gallon. Gas stations on the river front are rip-off merchants I have found. We also ended up just anchoring out nearby because we could not find a marina with people who knew the river or knew how to give directions from channel markers.

Caught in the tide. The Marina did not know this wreck was there!

Fort Walton Beach at sunset from our anchorage.

At 6.30 am we headed out to cross the huge Choctawatchee Bay. It seemed to take forever to reach the next ICW cut at Choctaw.

Dolphin at Port.

Choctaw cut.

Soon after our slow entry at 3.8 knots full throttle, it started to rain and it got colder. We knew there was going to be rough weather so we put on the VHF weather to see if it was coming fast or slow. We had planned an anchorage just outside the cut in West Bay to continue to Panama City the next morning. The radio said it would hit in the evening now instead of the afternoon and would bring strong winds. John on Triton's Trumpet knew we were on our way and had been watching the radar. He called us and suggested a run across the Bay into St Andrews and the Marina at Panama City because the weather was going to be really bad and it was relatively calm right now. It would force us to cross the two bays in the dark in the pouring rain but at least the waves were not expected to get big until later in the night. So we decided to plot a course and go for it. Luckily, we had a mostly rear blow and with our little jib up like a storm sail, we steadily bounced across at about 5.2 knots. We followed flashing lights, taking turns at the helm or navigating, bouncing below to check the paper chart against our Garmin Chart Plotter and checking the course between the Garmin and the compass. It all works, and we sailed a perfect course to John who was standing with his flashlight at the end of the pier to the Municiple Marina at 9pm.

Linda had cooked up spagetti meatballs, and the real rain and storm started 15 minutes after we tied up! We stayed for the next day and waited for the sea to calm down.

The infamous dragging-butt ship.

Freezing at the helm.

During our windy stay in Panama City, we came across the owner of Myasis Dragon (think about it) He looked a nice young man with a young girlfriend. He was complaining that he was boarded by Feds and police and the army it seemed, "They just rushed my boat," he said, "they opened all my cuboards and ripped up the floors and found guns. I have gun cuboards and I told them I don't have keys. My girlfriend..."(the one that looked like the girl who worked in Woolworths)"...has an automatic rifle license" (!!!!)"she's got licenses for all types of guns anyway you need a gun in south America..." (ahh ha!) "...yeh, I have a previous conviction but I was 15.... they chained my boat up at least it will not cost me anything I'll be here for a while I didn't know those guns were there I don't use them I can't the cuboards are locked and I don't have the key."

The Dockmaster told us he tried to outrun the coastguard at 6 knots!

The dolphins

We left the following day as the weather was incredibly calm and was getting warmer. We traveled at an average of 5 knots across St Andrews Bay and up into East Bay where dolphins took a fancy to our hull again and would eerily look up at us before diving away. We entered the next cut at 4.5 knots and slowed to a crawl against a strong current. Here was time to pause and think. I had been delivered bad news about my dear cousins Andrew and Trevor. They are at home in England, both with cancer. I have been sick with worry about running out of money, here they are with the threat of running out of life. The wilderness brings perspective. If I can just somehow transport some of the wealth of my well being collected over the course of my fact I have wished for this so hard I have almost burst. Here is paradise and I dedicate it to Andrew and Trevor Deeprose.

We sailed and motored up Wetappo Creek and made the decision to miss the turning to Port St Joe and carry on to White City to a free mooring with electric. Here we met up with Jon and Linda again and I made a huge hotpot to warm our souls and hearts. John and Linda's dog, Roscoe and I fell in love.

Docked at White City.


Typical bank in the swamp.

The next day was very calm and gorgeous. That still water was with us most of the way. Triton's Trumpet powered on ahead with us not too far behind. They were sometimes getting over 10 knots and we were sometimes at 6.2 knots. There was absolutely no wind but we did not mind one bit today.

Our favorite Canadians.

Lake Wimico ahoy!

We came out in a really peaceful bay called Lake Wimico. We had five miles of very narrow channel cut through the middle of it. It was like glass!

A swing bridge


Our boys.

It is amazing who and what you come across along the route. Here are our boys passing. We slowed, they slowed and passed without getting us wet. What an example! Cheers for our Marines!

Dead calm in St George Sound.


A truck that trusted his GPS

As it was so calm I urged William to put up the mainsail to check any operating problems. I turned about at marker 6 and up went the sail. It all looked good and everything functioned as it should but taking the sail back down was a pain in the butt. We decided that Lazy jacks is the solution to this problem. Underway, Wm plotted a route and entered it into the Garmin Chart Plotter to try it out. It works. We checked it against the paper charts and the depth gauge and really works well. We could sail without looking! After playing about we saw the sky change and decided to head for port in Carrabelle. We wistfully passed Dog Island, but it was too cold and the weather is not good for the next few days. We will sit it out in this lovely Marina called The Moorings.

Nice 'ere, in'it?