Thursday, July 4, 2019

Cruise to Apalachicola - The Forgotten Coast

The Forgotten Coast

This is one of my favorite places on the planet - no exaggeration, in my view it is without doubt the most beautiful part of Florida, and yet it has the name the "Forgotten Coast".  Few people visit here, especially cruisers and yet the coastline is wonderful.

The area was unfortunately slammed by Hurricane Michael in October 2018 (Category 5 Hurricane) causing devastation to the sleepy seaside town of Mexico Beach.  Serious damage also occurred in the town of Port St. Joe, and farther around the coast, damage and flooding hit Apalachicola.  Inland, the devastation from winds spreads back into Georgia.  Now a year on, this is still a huge issue for the area - yet people from outside of the area barely remember Hurricane Michael - a Cat 5 storm that hit the aptly named "Forgotten Coast".  its sad, but when its no longer a media magnet, we forget.  But life has gone on in the area and it is slowly coming back.

Our Sail

Ft. McRee, Pensacola
We took an easy coastal path with  lazy schedule.  First we anchored at Ft. McRee, Pensacola - one of our favorite anchorages when it is quiet (non-weekend).  From there, we sailed over to Destin, anchoring in the harbor.  This is a relatively short hop of about 42 miles.  From Destin we originaly planned another 40 mile hop to St. Andrews/Panama City, but we discovered that docks at the marina and yacht club that we love to visit were still under repair from H Michael.  So, we elected to continue on directly to Cape San Blas/St. Joe Bay.  This is about 62 miles from Destin - so a good day sail.  
Joined by one other Cat at Cape San Blas

Cape San Blas is a barrier peninsula that forms St. Joe's Bay, enclosing the beautiful bay on almost 4 sides.  The Bay has several nice anchorages that are typically remote.  On this occasion we shared our anchorage with one other catamaran -SV Brizo from Houston, TX.

We anchored near the end of the Cape. Its a sandy bottom with good holding.  We stayed for 2 nights, and then moved on to Apalachicola.

Cape San Blas
Perhaps the best way to get to Apalachicola is to go via the ICW.  We are not typically a fan of the "inside route", but after passing through the Gulf Canal, the trip is along the Jackson River, crossing Lake Wimico, and then down the Apalachicola River.  Its a wonderful trip with lots of opportunities to see wildlife (eagles, alligators, etc.)

We did find a few shallower than usual spots in the canal - presumably from storm debris, but we saw no depth less than 6 ft.  For the most part, depths were 8-18 ft.


Band at Bowery Station
We were meeting family in Apalachicola, so took a dock at Apalachicola Marina.  Now this is not a typical marina, but a 150 ft long side-tie dock on the river with power and water.  That's about it for amenities, but owner, George was real friendly and the location is excellent for downtown, and the bars at the Bower Station and Apalachicola Ice Company - which of course we had to visit and sample their offerings.

Apalachicola Ice Company

We were in Apalachicola for the 4th July celebrations.  And with fireworks set off from a barge on the River, we had the perfect vantage point from the boat.

It was a good day - we had a day sail to Little St. George island and fireworks at night.  it was good to see the town busy, but as you can imagine, I think the crowds overwhelmed the restaurants that were open for the celebrations.

Fireworks on the River

With no particular schedule, I think we will hang out for a couple more days and see if the winds become more favorable - right now it would be a beat or motor back home as winds are out of the west.  And besides  Salty loves the beach!
Helen and Matt - Little St. George Island