As we sat that morning on the boat sipping our coffee and cranking away on our laptops (yes, despite all evidence to the contrary, we do have to work – at times), we heard a boat pulling up next to us at the dock at Port St. Joe. A raucous voice rang out, “Pat, get that little furry thing of yours and grab a coat — I mean, it’s freezing out here!” Freezing? In Florida? That was enough to rouse us. We peeked out the portholes to find a friendly blonde carrying a little disheveled dog and a big, skipper-looking type handing her a jacket. We met them later – Bob and Pat (and Lucy the dog) on Maverick. They had been in the Bahamas since November and were just now making their way back to the Niceville. Great couple.
We caught up with them later and swapped tall sea tales over dinner, where Bob earned himself the fitting title of “Skipper Bob” – and for good damn reason – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We were keeping a keen eye on the weather that morning. We had thought about leaving Port St. Joe that morning to motor the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (better known as “the ditch”) through Lake Wimico over to Apalachicola to anchor out for the night, then jump back out in the Gulf the next day to make our way to Clearwater. But, with the wind that was building when we woke that morning and the reports on the sea state out in the Gulf the next day, that plan quickly became very unlikely. But, we liked Port St. Joe. We had great facilities here and all resources within walking distance of the boat, so we were happy to stay another day to hold out for a better weather window, particularly if it increased the odds for two of our favorite things – kiting and pizza. Wind meant good conditions for kiting, and staying another day at port meant we were going to get to try that amazing wood fired pizza everyone and their little disheveled dogs had been talking about since we landed in PSJ. That sealed the deal. We decided to stay. And, as the wind started to pick up that morning, we decided to get out for some more kiting!
Throw on the wetsuits again!
Let’s do this!
It was blowing probably 16-18 mph when we got to our little cove. We pumped up the 12 meter and Phillip made a run out to test it out.
And, when I say he made a run out, I mean, ripping it upwind, flying across the cove, jumping, making it all look so damn easy.
He tends to do that (and sometimes I hate him for it). Kiteboarding is an incredibly challenging sport – at any level – which is one of the reasons Phillip and I love it so much, but the learning curve is very steep. It takes months, years even, to get to the point where you can get up and go safely in any conditions. It’s frustrating to stand on the shore and watch others do it, and make it look easy, when you want to join them so badly, but it’s also exciting in the same vein because it gives you so much to look forward to. It really is a sport you never tire of. There is always some new skill or goal (big or small) that you can strive for and, because it’s so hard, when you accomplish it, the reward is uniquely satisfying. While all of this is easy to say, it’s hard to remind yourself of it when you’re standing by, watching others go out and make it look effortless. But, after a few more aerial acrobats and stunts, Phillip finally came back, hooked me up to the kite and told me to give it a run. I didn’t hesitate!
But, the wind was really picking up and I was struggling to hold down all 12 of those meters. I ate it pretty good several times:
The first time I busted, we suffered our second equipment failure of the trip. The first was our starboard side lazy jack that failed during our first night sail. Now, we could add a busted kiteboard to that list. I crashed so hard it busted the pad right off of the kiteboard.
Smooth move, Annie.
But, that didn’t stop me. Since it was blowing so hard, we pumped up the 9 meter and headed back out. Phillip tore it up again, jumping, transitioning, and zipping all around the old derelict sailboat that sat in the cove.
He handed it over to me again, and I tore it up, for a bit, until I really tore it up.
During this wicked fun run, I landed hard on an oyster bed and tore a hole in the arse of my wetsuit.
Can’t see it?
There it is!
That thing is no longer airtight. But, that didn’t stop us either. I swapped to our bigger board – not ideal for these heavy winds (blowing approximately 18 at that time) – but it was the only one we had left. I was determined to make my way back to Phillip between the derelict sailboat and the shore. It was a tight squeeze and I tried 1,000 times (thank goodness Phillip is patient), but I finally did it!
Here she comes …
She’s making it …
She did it!
And, what do you think Annie does when she accomplishes something great? She jumps around like a giddy school girl, that’s what!
In all, aside from the crashes, bumps and bruises, it was one of the best kite sessions either of us had had in a while, so we were stoked.
We love kiting!
We headed back to the boat to clean up the kite gear – easy to do when you’ve got a spigot right next to the boat –
and get cleaned up for dinner. We were planning to meet our new dock-mates, David and Mary Lucas on Liza, for some of that famous wood fired pizza, and we were thrilled to hear they had met Bob and Pat earlier that day as well (it’s easy to make friends at such a friendly marina!) and had invited them to join us. Great! The more the merrier!
We hung up the wet stuff to dry and got cleaned up and shaved up. I snagged some ridiculous selfies while the Captain cut his hair.
But it was certainly time – he was becoming a long-haired hippie boy …
the sexy beast!
After clean-up, we rounded up the crew and headed for town. We quickly discovered Joe Mama’s Pizza is so popular, you really need a reservation, but it was only a 45 minute wait, so at Pat’s wise recommendation, we decided to head a few blocks over to The Thirsty Goat (don’t tell the Haughty boys!) for a pre-pizza drink! It was a lively atmosphere as they were just setting up for their weekly trivia night.
And as we were settling in, watching them set up for trivia, David, God love him, said “Well, I don’t know much about goats.” I thought I was going to die. The man is unexpectedly hilarious!
In all, it was a great group – David, Mary, Pat, Bob, Phillip and I:
We had a great time sharing a round at The Goat before hustling over to Joe Mama’s for some of that famous pizza, which was every bit as good as the folks at PSJ had been telling us for days.
But, while the pizza was phenomenal, we were really surprised by the sauceless, but perfectly savory, wings that came out first.
All very good eats! Oh, and “Skipper Bob.” Yes, let’s talk about how he got that name. We learned while chatting that Bob and Pat had been to the Keys many times so Phillip and I took the opportunity to ask them over dinner about some passages, inlets and anchorages around the Keys that we had heard were shallow and potentially hard to navigate. Bob’s response? “Nah, you just bump on through. If you hit bottom, just rev up the engine. It’ll bring the nose up and you can just skip on over to the next one. I’ve skipped my way in many times.” Phillip and I sat there wide-eyed and dumbfounded. We certainly had no intention of skipping our way into anything, but we liked Skipper Bob’s style all the same. Just skip on in there! We’ll never forget him. It was a great night and our last at Port St. Joe. We headed back to the boat in a fuzzy splendor congratulating ourselves on what a fine day we’d had and tucked in for a good night’s rest. Tomorrow – the ditch!