We are anchored in the Jackson River (map), just a few hundred yards from its confluence with the Apalachicola, and north of the community of that name. We're out of the channel here courtesy of a large towhead just upriver. This morning found us docked at the C-Quarters Marina in Carabelle, Florida (map), where we arrived mid-afternoon yesterday.
Sunset this evening over the towhead; main channel is to the right.
Traveling in the heat is something of a learning process for us; it took us a while to get good at it on the bus, and we're on the front end of the curve with the boat. After leaving the dock at St. Marks we no longer had power for air conditioning, at least not without running the generator, and it was fairly warm in the boat when we arrived at Carabelle, even though we had been travling in mostly open water with at least a bit of seabreeze. We had hoped to drop anchor in the river, but we could not find a spot with enough room and depth for us.
We ended up docking instead, looking forward to having power to run the air conditioning for the rest of the day. But a half hour on deck in full sunlight at another tricky cross-current slip did Louise in, and she ended up crashing in bed with a migraine before dinner time. I went out for a sandwich and saw a small bit of the town in the evening, and crashed early myself.
Carabelle's most famous tourist attraction, the World's Smallest Police Station (Google it).
This morning we had something of a post-mortem on two hot afternoon dockings in a row. Clearly this is not going to work as a daily routine, and we need to find a better system. Today's answer was to run the generator as needed under way to run the air conditioning. That made for a more pleasant cruise and, we hoped, a more refreshed crew when it came time to dock, along with an immediately cool place to retreat. We ended up passing right through Apalachicola without docking, as it happens, because we have a long day to Panama City tomorrow and we wanted to get a bit further along -- it was barely 2:30pm when we arrived in Apalachicola.
We already had one docking today, anyway, but that was in the relative cool of the morning, and it was an easy face dock parallel to the current -- the fuel dock at C-Quarters. We took on 450 gallons, all we could fit, at $2.05 per gallon, the best we'll see until at least Tennessee. With the generator running for air conditioning a lot more of the time, we'll be using an extra ten gallons or so per day.
We had a nice cruise from the Carabelle to the Apalachicola through Saint George Sound and Apalachicola Bay, protected from the Gulf by Saint George Island. The channel was wide and straight enough that I could set the autopilot and get a few other things done, but that's behind us now and I will have constant attention to the helm tomorrow.
Our only neighbor here, a fishboat that sunk circa 2012.
The Apalachicola is a fast river with heavy flow, and I fought about a knot of current from the mouth until we passed the confluence of the Jackson, whereupon it dropped considerably. A couple of decades ago, we would have been able to take Vector all the way to Columbus, Georgia by traveling some 100 miles up the Apalachicola to Seminole Lake, locking through and continuing up the Chattahoochee. That was back when the Corps of Engineers maintained a nine foot navigation channel to Columbus. Declining commercial traffic, the cost of dredging, and environmental concerns have conspired against maintaining the channel, and the route is passable now only to shoal draft vessels -- I can't even get a chart.
The community of Apalachicola is on Eastern Time. Where we are now, the time zone boundary runs down the middle of the Jackson River; we are anchored in Eastern Time and the ship's clocks are still set that way. It is Central Time across the river, though, and we will be firmly in Central Daylight Time sometime tomorrow morning, after crossing back and forth a number of times as we make our way upriver. In the bus we crossed time zone boundaries so often, and without thinking, that we were occasionally an hour late or early for an appointment or a dinner reservation. This is the first such change for us in the boat in the three years we've been aboard -- I'm actually looking forward to it.
Tomorrow we will continue up the Jackson to Lake Wimico, whereupon we will be in essentially man-made channels all the way to East Bay. Tomorrow afternoon we will dock in Panama City, and we'll see how the strategy of having the A/C running all the way to and through the docking process pans out. We're on schedule to be in Pensacola in time for my flight, and when I get back we'll pick up a portable air conditioner, to see if we can at least keep the pilothouse cool under way without running the generator. If that works out, I may very well install a mini-split system for that purpose.