It’s funny how things tend to work themselves out when you’re sailing. We had a follower tell us a while back (and rightfully so) that the most dangerous thing you can have on a boat is a schedule. While time is decidedly always an issue – if only we all had an infinite supply we could go anywhere we want and stay six months – but the weather and wind and the sun also play a role in where you end up by boat. It’s often a place you didn’t expect to go; rather, it’s a place you chose when you thought the weather wasn’t “working with you,” but once you get there, you often decide it is most definitely a place at which you’re glad to have ended up. And, then you start to wonder whether the weather had it in mind all along …
So, the wind, in our minds, had not been “working with us” since we started off on this venture. It was directly out of the southeast, dead on our nose, for the entire first night and day of the trip. For that reason, we didn’t make near as much ground as we would have liked toward Clearwater, and with a known storm coming into the Gulf in the next day or two, we decided to pull out and head into Port St. Joe.
We had never been there before by boat, but we had heard great things. It wasn’t originally in the plans for us, but, that’s the thing about plans. But, as soon as we changed our heading toward St. Joseph Bay, we found ourselves on a perfect beam reach, making great headway, and doing some of our best sailing of the trip yet – right into the black abyss.
The wind has a wicked sense of humor. But it was like she was congratulating us on such a wise decision. We were sailing along so fast, we were going to reach Port St. Joe before sunrise, and – as many of you fellow cruisers I’m sure follow the same rule – on the ole’ Rest our goal is never to come into a new Pass at night, so we actually had to turn around and sail back out into the Gulf for a bit to make sure we didn’t beat the sun in.
It was a strange feeling to have worked so hard to make way forward for a day and a half, only to now turn around 180 degrees and sail for a few hours at 5.5 knots in the opposite direction. Like I said … funny how things work out.
But after an hour or two of sailing back out, we finally turned around again, and sailed back in to St. Joseph Bay right around sunrise. The fog was still so heavy we struggled to find even the flashing bouys. Markers you would typically see miles out would now only reveal themselves at about 100 yards.
I sat up at the bow and squinted through the mist to try and find them.
As the sun finally started to creep up and melt away some of the fog, we caught our first glimpse of land on the horizon and it turned out to be a beautiful morning.
Thankfully the inlet into St. Joseph Bay was an easy one and we made it into the marina and docked up without issue.
Between you, me and the fencepost (well, and all followers of this blog, I guess) I still get a little nervous every time we pull up to a dock because you just never know what’s going to happen. I have failed to lasso a stern pole, jumped off the boat without a line, and a-many other docking mishaps I have failed to mention on this blog that still cause me a little heartburn when we start pulling our big beauty out of the open blue and up next to treacherous pilings and other fiberglass beasts. A little tip – I always call ahead to the marina (despite the occasional eyeroll from the Captain) and ask them every time to send out a dock-hand (I’m assuming that’s a sufficient title) to help catch a line. I mean, it’s a big, expensive boat, our most prized possession, I’m not ashamed to ask for eight hands on deck to help save her. The marina at Port St. Joe has a reputation for being the “friendliest marina in all of Florida,” and I’ll say I have to believe it. They sent a young chap right out who proved to be an excellent line-catcher and he helped us get tied up and gave us a quick tour of the facilities. I can’t say enough good things about the folks at the Port St. Joe Marina. They all went above and beyond.
Plug that baby in!!
The Captain … always doing a double-check. (Rum drink in hand … )
Once the boat was secure, we set out to check out the marina office and get checked in.
Even the pets at Port St. Joe are friendly. We had a lovable white lab welcome us right in with a soft pant and a smile. (To my good friend Anna – he reminded me of Tugg!!)
The dockside bar there at the marina, looked the perfect place to try out the local Port St. Joe cuisine, so we settled in for some fine oysters and fish tacos.
The folks at the marina office gave us a great welcome packet with maps and flyers and coupons and told us we would have a paper delivered to the boat every morning, with free muffins on Sunday. I mean, who doesn’t like muffins? (Especially free ones!). The book swap was excellent, too. I had blazed through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I was looking for some new material. I scarfed up another Jack Reacher saga and a James Patterson,
and Phillip found a Hemingway novel he’d been meaning to read for a while – The Paris Wife.
We were definitely pleased to be in this Port. Great food, excellent facilities and our boat was nice and secure. We were plenty happy to spend a day or three here to wait out the weather.
While we hadn’t planned it, it all seemed to work out. Like I said, perhaps the weather had it in mind for us all along.