Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Final Countdown

On Sunday, October 30th, we decided to make a trip to Demopolis to see Rick’s widow, Peggy.  We left St. Andrews Marina early Sunday afternoon and went to Watson Bayou to tie up at Greg & Carl’s dock for a few days.  Todd and I met Greg briefly in the fall of 2007 at the Panama City Marina but had never met Carl.  We have several mutual boating friends/acquaintances, including Mo on “MOTU" who was probably the first one to tell us about Greg & Carl having a dock in the Panama City area.  At any rate, Greg prepared some nice appetizers for us that evening as we chatted and got acquainted.  Very nice people!

We treated Greg & Carl to lunch at Tom’s Hot Dogs on Monday before going to pick up our rental car.  Tom’s is a small but well-known and very popular local establishment in downtown Panama City with some killer hot dogs and other offerings as well if hot dogs are not your thing.

Thanks for the hospitality, guys.  You’ve been more than gracious!


By 1:30 p.m. we were on our way to Demopolis.  We arrived at Peggy’s house about 7:00 p.m. and spent a couple of hours with her before going to the Yacht Basin where Fred generously offered the use of a small apartment on the second floor of the Boater’s Lounge.  Before retiring for the evening, we stopped in at the New Orleans Bar & Grill to say hello and have a few drinks.

We saw Peggy again Tuesday morning at the Yacht Basin and then headed back to Panama City about 11:30 a.m. with Todd driving the rental and me driving my car.  We decided it would be easier in the long run to have my car in Panama City versus Demopolis so we took  advantage of the opportunity and moved it to Panama City.  We turned in the rental and were back at Greg & Carl’s by 6:00 p.m.

Greg came down to see us off Wednesday morning at 6:30 (Central Time) and we were on our way.  We stopped at Miller Marine in Apalachicola to top off with fuel (235 gallons @ $3.95/gallon) and then it was on to the east end of St. George Island where we dropped the anchor at 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time), ten hours later.  By 6:30 p.m. we had pulled up the anchor and joined Dennis & Julie on “Sea Fox” to check out conditions in the Gulf.

We actually left Demopolis with “Sea Fox” on October 23rd but didn’t travel with them as they were moving faster than us.  However, Dennis radioed us while we were at anchor and asked about our plans to cross the Gulf.  Todd told him we were planning to go early the next morning to Cedar Key but when Dennis said he was thinking about going to Tarpon Springs that evening, if conditions were favorable, Todd decided to tag along.

The first few hours were pretty calm and we thought we were good to go.  Then the wind picked up and the seas started to build and it went downhill from there!  By about 9:30 p.m. it was all we could do to stay in our chairs.  It seemed that waves were coming from all directions.  We were nose-diving into some, slamming down on some, surfing some, some were rocking us side-to-side and sheets of spray were smashing into the front of the flybridge canvas.  And, of course, we couldn’t see anything.

Todd and I both got seasick for the first time and ended up lying down on the flybridge floor.  There really wasn’t anywhere else to go anyway.  We couldn’t move without being thrown into whatever was around us and we couldn’t sit without bracing ourselves on all sides and  hanging on to whatever we could grab.  Everything on the sundeck and downstairs that wasn’t nailed or tied down was being tossed or knocked around but there was nothing to be done about it.

Dennis on “Sea Fox” was truly our guardian angel.  He had all the electronic bells and whistles (state-of-the-art radar and chartplotter, AIS, high-powered radio antennae, etc.) and was able to alert us when other vessels were in the vicinity.  Our navigation software wasn’t even working, not that it would have made a huge difference under the circumstances.  But Dennis watched over us and kept us out of harm’s way as we spent most of the night on the flybridge floor.  Definitely our worst boating experience ever!

By daylight the seas started to calm and continued calming throughout the morning.  We finally reached Anclote Key and had dropped the anchor by 2:30 p.m.  “Sea Fox” headed on up the Anclote River to Tarpon Springs so we never did get to meet our escort.  But we radioed and told him how grateful we were that he stuck with us through the night.  We have no idea how we would have made it without him!

Within a half-hour of anchoring we were asleep.  We’d just gone through a 20-hour crossing from hell after a 10-hour day traveling from Panama City to St. George Island.  Overall, 32 hours without any meaningful sleep.  So we took a three-hour nap, had grilled cheese and soup for dinner and went back to bed!

It was very windy again by Friday morning and we experienced some pretty good swells for the first few miles as we left Anclote Key.  But we were soon in protected water and the remainder of the five-hour trip to St. Petersburg was uneventful.  Cathy and neighbor Ted met us at the dock and we were safely tied up by 3:00 p.m.  What a relief to finally be home!

Cathy with Hunter, the most recent doggy addition to her home.


Hanging on Cathy’s new leather sectional.  Very nice, Ms. Davis!


Friends Don & Patty came over that evening with homemade macaroni & cheese and fresh baked cookies.  Plus Cathy boiled some sizeable fresh Gulf shrimp.  What a treat!


Saturday we started cleaning and packing.  That evening we watched the Alabama/LSU football game which was being touted as the “Game of the Century.”  LSU was ranked #1 and Alabama was #2.  As you might imagine, it was quite the defensive battle.  Sadly, Alabama lost to LSU 9-6 in overtime after missing three field goal opportunities during the game.  Sorry, Rick, we really wanted a win for you!


Sunday was more cleaning and packing.  Todd’s sister Jennifer and a friend stopped by for a brief visit on their way to Siesta Key.  That afternoon Todd went to the dog park with Cathy and the kids – Lana, Hunter and Jack while I cleaned out and defrosted the chest freezer.  Patty made meatloaf with mashed potatoes & gravy for dinner so Todd ran over to pick up our “takeout order” from Patty’s restaurant.  Patty just got a new oven (after not having one for a very long time) so she has been cooking/baking up a storm.  Thanks, Patty, we enjoyed it!

Todd washed the salt off the boat Monday morning and then cleaned the flybridge and sundeck from top to bottom while I tackled the wood floors in the cabin and vacuumed the rugs.  Then he changed the oil in the starboard engine while I continued to pack.


Monday afternoon I made spinach lasagna to share with Don & Patty while Todd went to get new tires put on Cathy’s car.  All-in-all, a busy day.  We were tired puppies by that evening!

Today is Tuesday, November 8th, and we are just about completely moved off “Life’s2Short.”  The refrigerator has been cleaned out and defrosted and once the laundry is finished, sorted and packed, our chores will be done.

Mike, the new owner, is due to arrive tomorrow morning and the first order of business is for him to assist Todd in changing the oil in the port engine.  Mike will then head out with Todd to deliver the boat to Ft. Myers where Mike will officially take ownership.  Friday I will rent a car, drive to Ft. Myers to pick up Todd and we will begin the trek north.

So this is my final day aboard “Life’s2Short.”  It’s been a memorable 5-1/2 years but I’m ready for the next chapter.  Thanks for the memories and especially for the many unforgettable friends we’ve met along the way!  They, above all else, are what have truly made this journey special.  But we’re not quite finished yet.  There will be at least one more blog post before we conclude this chapter of our lives and begin the next one in Springfield, Missouri.