Photos follow observations and log
Day 104h to Kanot Bayou off Tensas River. Short hop to new anchorage. Warm day, nice paddle along the bayou and back channels. Barred owls calling (who cooks for you?) in mid afternoon. DE2854
Day 105 To Eastern Shore Marina in Fairhope, Light SE, sunny. First night free for loopers, then .90/ft decided to stay 3 days. Wine with fellow Mainers Bob and PM Amidon aboard their lovely trawler. DE 2876
Day 106 Marina Day. Shopping and laundry. Sunset beer on the beach. Docktails with loopers .
Day 107 Marina Day. More shopping, computer repair. Jam session at 17 Turtles kayak outfitter, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Stan Rogers. Beer and chilli provided
Day 108 to Wolf Bay. Sunny light SE, moderate chop. Planned anchorge built up so planed 10 miles to wilder area. DE2912
Day 109 to Perdido Bay north end at river mouth. Fair with light breezes but 20 knots forecast for next 3 days. DE2933
Day 110 At anchor. Cool and breezy.Paddled lower river. Wooded swamp with islands and bayous. Caught 2 hardhead catfish.
Day 111 At anchor. Cold and windy 30-50 degrees.
Day 112 To Grand Bayou in Pensacola NAS. Cool and sunny, calm. Nice walk at Big Lagoon State Park DE 2972
Day 113 To Escambia River. 10-15 NE cool gray. Quick stop in Pensacola Shipyard Marina fro ice cream. Anchored upriver above coal fired power plant DE 3005
Day 114 (11/24) to delta. Sunny and sheltered. Kayaked bayous. Poor fsihing. DE 3012
Day 115 Thanksgiving at anchor. Sunny and windy Paddled the channesl in the marsh. Caught 4 white bass for T-day dinner. Full moon rose while sipping whiskey and chatting with family by phone.
Day 116 To Bahia Ba Mariana in Pensacola. Boat neighbors Eric and Jeanne on 45' sportfisherman, shared lots of good local knowledge. DE3027
Day 117 To Grand Bayou. Sunny, warm light SE. Eric gave us ride to tour town and buy groceries, introduced us to royal red shrimp. 25 lb redfish from surface blitz 2 miles from harbor and lost another-broken hook. Cat fell overboard. DE 3039
Day 118 Mary Esther on GIW. Morning revilie and fighter jets at 8a.m..DE 3077
Day 119 To 4 Mile Point on Chatawachie Bay. Sunny light easterlies. Walked in town park at Fort Walton Beach. Hooked and lost redfish in surface Blitz. DE3105
Day 120 To Botheration Bayou. Some clouds. Light breeze. 2 catfhis.DE 3140
Day 121 (12/2) To Mexico Beach. Gray, 15 knots NW (10 knots SE was forecast). Inaccurae weather forecast woke us to bouncy conditions. Moved before breakfast to shelter. Passed Panama City fished with no luck. DE 3178
Day 122 To Wimico Lake. On GIW. Cool breezy. Side trip to Port St. Joe for gas and lunch and Gulp. Friendly town. DE 3215.
Day 123 To Appalachacola and back up river to anchor. Tied up at town dock and shopped for xmas presents DE3215
Day 124 To Riverside Hotel and Marina in Appalachacola. Shopping and biking, pretty town Beer and tacos at the Tap Room DE 3239
Day 125 Back upriver to anchor. Sunny mild, calm. Biked 5 miles for propane. Laundry and Groceries. DE 3247
Day 126 To St. Vincents Island NWR. Anchored on gulf side due to NW wind. Sunny and 10 NW DE 3287
Day 127 To Tahiti Beach. Sunny and mild. Biked on Refuge roads. Nice scenery but lots of biting flies. Chatted with NWR staffer about Sambar deer and red wolves. 2 whiting DE3294.
Day 128 At anchor (moved about 1 mile). Sunny, light wind. Kayaked Tahiti Beach Vultures on gator carcass. Great beach and marsh. No fish. DE 3295
Day 129 to Dog Island off Carrabelle. Sunny light breeze. Small shark and ray, one bite off. Curry for dinner. DE 3324.
Day 130 to Carrabelle and back to E end Dog Island. Groceries and gas at marina, 1 hard head catfish.DE 3338.
Day 131 To St. Marks. Sunny, SE 10 knots. Ran on plane across open water. Toured town by boat anchored downstream. DE 3380
Day 132 To Shields Marina in St. Marks. .60/ft convinced us to stay 2 nights. My 62nd birthday, nice call from daughter Meg made it special. DE3388.
Day 133 Marina Day. Gray and mild. Biked around town to old fort and first few mileso the Tahhahassee rail trail.
Day 134 To Steinhatchee. E 5-10 knots, sunny. Heavy fog in morning. 50 mile open water crossing of the Big Bend. Arrived S'hee mid day. Bought groceries and anchored in town, no fish. DE3452
Day 135 To Suwannee River. Foggy, then gray, then sunny, light wind. Fog delayed departure 'til late morning DE 3507.
Day 136 On Suwannee River to Jack's Sandbar. Mild and breezy. Ice and snacks at Fowlers Landing.
As we transited Perdido Bay headed east on the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway, strong southeasterly winds were forecast for a day or two either side of the holiday so we headed north up Pensacola Bay into Escambia Bay and up the river of the same name on Wednesday morning. We ran up the river far enough that the rather ugly coal fired electrical generation plant was out of sight and anchored fore and aft in a tiny bayou. We launched the kayak the next day and explored the narrow winding bayous that wander for miles into the low wooded swampland. Fishing was terrible, we were skunked despite a good effort.
We had hoped that the restaurant at the Swamphouse Marina and Landing could provide us with a turkey dinner to celebrate the holiday but they were closed so we dropped downriver to the marshy delta where the river meets the bay and anchored a midst the back channels. We were pretty much resigned to a Thanksgiving dinner of canned meat but the marshes were too pretty to not go for a paddle.
We caught one smallish white bass(a small serving for one) almost immediately then nothing for two hours. Deciding to buck the wind for a bit we stuck our bow out in the main channel. While the paddling was a bit of a workout we were rewarded with three larger bass in short order, plenty for a fine meal with a bit left over for a fish hash breakfast. I filleted the bass and sauteed them with Old Bay and lemon, finished with a splash of Chardonnay, not bad if I say so myself!
Afterward we sipped whiskey and chatted with family by phone while watching the full moon rise over the delta.
Half way home?
By some measures our voyage is about half done. Our days end mileage last night was 3,452 out of a projected 6,000 mile journey. We plan on being gone about 10 months and we have been on the water for 4 1/2 months. Yesterday we made our last big open water crossing, a 50 mile run across Forida's Big Bend from St. Marks to Steinhatchee in a light chop. We ran on plane at about 16 miles per hour and made the trip in about 3 hours.
The Erie and Trent Severn Canals; the Great Lakes; the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennesee and Tombigbee Rivers; and the Florida panhandle are all astern. The Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades, Florida Keys, Georgia Sea Islands, Carolina low country and the magnificent Chesapeake are ahead.
So exactly what constitutes the half way mark is a bit nebulous. I expect that in many ways it will feel like half way when we reach our southern most point which will likely be the Marquessas Keys (25 miles west of Key West). We've visited those lovely remote isles a number of times and can't wait to return. After we head north from the Marquessas I'll be thinking we're homeward bound.
Because we trailer Laughing Gull on a regular basis we've not felt the need to put on the specialized bottom paints that the owners of most moored boats use to prevent the growth of vegetation below the waterline. While modern bottom paints are far less toxic than their predecessors its not my understanding that they are completely benign. Bottom paints are also expensive and require annual application
As a result of our decision, after 130 days and 3500 miles plus in the water the hull of Laughing Gull is coated with a half inch or more of marine growth and scum. The reduction in speed and fuel economy are striking. Our top speed at the start of the trip was 25 mph. Its normally 30 mph but we're heavily loaded and the kayak and storage tubes on the roof add drag. Our top speed is now reduced to 21 mph. This is of course apparent across the operating range as well. When we run on plane I like to cruise at 4,000 to 4,500 rpm which is two thirds to three quarters of wide open (6,000 rpm). Depending on sea conditions, that gave a cruise speed of 17-18 mph at the start, now reduced to 14-15 mph.
So obviously the hull needs a good scrubbing. We're now anchored above Jack's Sandbar on the Suwannee River. The water temperature is 71 degrees but there's a chilly NW wind and its cloudy so I'm hunkered down in the cuddy writing this post, hoping for a bit of sun.