Apalachicola to Panama City
27 May 2017 | Cooks Only Restaurant- Panama City Marina
Wednesday, May 10th
Before departure from the Water Street Hotel in Apalachicola, I had requested that we thoroughly check the functioning of the transmission before initiating the next leg to Panama City. Why? During the latter portion of our Gulf leg from Clearwater Beach to Apalachicola, I detected what I thought might be "grinding" noise emanating from the transmission. In addition, the engine RPMs were seeming to oscillate, albeit over a very narrow range. Frankly, I was very concerned that we might have a serious problem thus I somewhat "demanded" that we go directly to our reserved slip at the Water Street Hotel Marina rather than proceeding beyond the Water Street Hotel Marina to the Scipio Creek Marina for fuel. As earlier noted, I further requested that we perform some specific checks on the functioning of the transmission before our departure the following morning. We don't always agree on specific courses of action on the boat but we generally honor and try to accommodate everyone's concerns. So whereas my crew mates didn't necessarily share my concerns, they agreed to address my suggestions. Thankfully, my concerns proved to be unwarranted as all the checks proved to be satisfactory.
Learning that the Scipio Creek Marina was out of diesel fuel at the moment, we proceeded to the Apalachicola Marina just east of the Water Street Hotel Marina. Having not stopped at this Marina previously, we were pleased that it was very accessible and included a reasonably well-equipped ship's store. The other thing we learned during the refueling was that we were basically running on fumes when we moored at the Water Street Hotel Marina! Whereas we have two fuel tanks, each with a capacity of 18 gallons, the effective amount of available fuel from these tanks is generally less for the following reasons: (1) difficulty in ensuring that each tank is completed filled; (2) the fuel pickup is above the bottom of the tank thus some fuel is not usable; and (3) the motion of the boat causes sloshing of the fuel. It is likely that the RPM oscillations I noted as we proceeded into Apalachicola were produced by the low fuel sloshing in the tank allowing a small amount of air to enter the line. Whereas we had taken logical steps to ensure we had an adequate amount of fuel to comfortably make the Gulf crossing, the incident indicated a need to be more diligent in the fueling process to ensure the tanks are "topped off."
Once underway from Apalachicola, the leg of the cruise to Panama City via the ICW proceeded satisfactorily albeit somewhat boring. However, there are some picturesque sections of the Waterway and interesting wildlife along the way although we did have to fight off some aggressive horse flies on several occasions. Thankfully, and as anticipated, the engine (and transmission!) functioned flawlessly during the 7 hour or so leg.
Upon arrival at the Panama City Marina, one of our favorite marinas, we stopped at the dock for refueling and holding tank pump out before proceeding to a starboard side mooring at a floating pier near the Marina office. Everyone loved that because of the nearby access to the bathrooms and showers. That evening, Alice (Gerry and Jean's son Brian's mother-in-law) took us to a floating restaurant located at the other Panama City Marina. Actually, the floating restaurant only accommodates the cook and his staff whereas seating for patrons is provided along the bank adjacent to the marina. The restaurant specialized in burgers and provided free beer (only two per customer) to patrons! It was a lovely setting and a lovely evening-everyone enjoyed the food and the conversation.
After a brief stop at a grocery store on the return trip to the Marina, we returned to the boat at which time Gerry retired to his berth to read and me and the two gulls engaged in our usual game of Skip-Bo before turning in for the night. I don't recall who one but it wasn't me. (RKS)