Thursday, December 20, 2012

Shalamir to Panama City- The Grand Lagoon, Panama City

As some of you know Bill and I anchored out the night of Dec. 13 when we left Palafox Marina at Pensacola then discovered that our generator would not work AND a fuel  leak in the starboard engine caused by a split injector. We stopped in Shalimar Yacht Basin.  Thankfully, Bill was able to get the part overnighted and the injector is fixed, we met really nice folks there- One couple we met were dreaming about living aboard a boat or a RV, so Bill invited them to take a tour of Proud Lady.  
They were so happy about the tour they brought a chili dinner and movies back to the boat for us for supper. Only thing that could have been better is if they would have stayed for dinner with us. The other folks there at Shalamir Yacht Basin were great we attended their Christmas Party, chatted with other live a board folks. Shalimar is known as one of Florida's best kept secrets. The stay at Shalamar was nice but we made the decision on Monday December 17 to move on to Panama City.
Engine all fixed but still no generator!
This is Proud Lady in her slip at Shalimar.
Orange tree near the marina.
Evidence that Christmas is near.

Monday December 17 

We left Shalimar about 8:30 am our destination Panama City. The weather promised to clear by noon.
Did your mother ever tell you if you can't say anything good don't say anything? Well this should have been one of those times-
Monday December 17th was one challenging day it was cloudy, cool, gray clouds hung low in the sky above Choctawhatchee Bay, waves escalated to about 4 feet high our Proud Lady proved to us that she can handle anything. I was a little frightened as the waves peaked and toughed slamming us in the side tossing us to and fro. By noon the weather did not clear. For aprox. 22 miles we sloshed about in the Bay with rain wind and waves. Finally, we entered into the Gulf intercoastal called the " Grand Canyon", we were out of the wind and waves but the rain continued.
This picture is the canal that connects Choctawhatchee Bay to West Bay. This canal is called "Grand Canyon" the banks are high with dark green scrub pines, ferns, moss with occasional white sand banks. I don't remember how long the canal is but it took about 2 hours we travel at 8-10 miles an hour so my nearest guess is about 20 miles long. It feels isolated but I know just over the banks are towns and not far from the Gulf of Mexico.
THEN, we entered into West Bay about 2:00pm the rain lightened the shy was promising to clear as we traveled closer to Panama City, we seen fishing boats, lots of industry and huge ships loading cargo.
About 3:45 we entered into the opening to the Gulf of Mexico, St Andrews Bay. Nearing the Grand Lagoon where we have planned to stay at a marina. Bill and I discussed the bouy system that marks the channel it was a little strange so based on what we know we took the center of the channel at the opening into Grand Lagoon UT! OH! It was about 4:15 pm just before dark less than a mile from the Bay Point Marina we touch bottom and Proud Lady could not move, not forward or backward. There are beautiful soft white sand on bottom and surrounding beaches and sparkling blue waters with a wind about 10 to 15 in gusts from the south, the air was warm and humid, the sky is clearing but we are sitting among the sand and shallow waters in the mouth of Grand Lagoon. Laughable yet we were to see the opening into the Gulf. My Captain promptly called Tow Boat U.S. who arrived after dark and pulled Proud Lady to the safety of  deeper waters.
Mind you its after dark by this time we still need to get to the Marina, Bill and I make a plan to use the spotlight he will drive and we used our app on the I pad from active captain to navigate through the water, we did make one wrong turn but we were able to recover by turning around and going back. Thank God the water stayed at a level that Proud  Lady could travel in some depths were 2 to 3 feet. That was enough to make our toes curl!
We arrived in the dark at Bay Point Marina, with the guidance of the Harbor master Steve by phone we were able to tie up on the pier and settle in for the night. Challenge complete lesson learned.

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