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Jerry B.

Panama City to Destin

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We will be towing the boat down to Panama City June 13th and 14th where we will do a couple of shallow dives and staying at the PC Marina. Taking the Intracoastal to Destin and Heading to Sandestin Baytowne Marina June 15th and 16th and possilby Shalimar on the 17th & 18th. Diving in Destin on the 15th & 16th, then meeting up with a couple of friends for fishing on the 17th and 18th and will probably check out Crab Island several times during our stay in the area. If anyone will be around, be sure to post a pic or a boat name so we know who to look for. I'll post lots of pics when we get back home.

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If you've never been you are in for quite a treat. I was just in Destin/FtWalton beach last weekend for Billy Bowlegs. It's a great place to boat. I'm not sure if I'll make it your days but if so... I'll let you know. Have fun!

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I probably wont be out on the water until the 18th and more than likely visiting Crab Island at some point. If your out there look for my boat I'll buy you a beer :beer-7687-1:

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If you head about 20 minutes west of Crab island there's a little island about 100 yards west of the Hurlburt Field final approach. It's called Spectre Island (local name) and is a great quiet spot. Cruiser back up to the south side of the island as it's a very steep drop and let the kids run around the northeast side as it is a very shallow drop. Great protected area south of the island between it and the barrier island for water sports. The island is dedicated to the memory of the cremembers of Jockey 14 and Spirit 03. Two AC-130H Spectre Gunships lost (one in Iraq, one in Africa). I liked it better than crab when I had the kiddos cause it's a bit calmer. Plus if you're there during the week you the planes flying right over you.

:beer-7687-1:

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Please post some information about your trip up the intercostal to Destin. We hope to pull our boat to PCB this siummer and make the same trip to Destin. We'll probably keep the boat on a rack at St Andrews Treasure Island Marina. Have Fun!

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We've had a great time so far. Made a couple of dives out of PC and took a dive charter with Emerald Coast Scuba out of Destin today. We are collecting some pics and will be fishing tomorrow and Saturday. I will definitely post a writeup including boat ramp reviews and marina reviews to help anyone with their trip planning. We are heading home Sunday, so check back sometime next week and the pics and review should be available.

Having a blast so far!

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Day 1 - Monday, June 13, 2011. Left Kathleen, GA at 7:00am and towed the boat to Panama City. We launched at the public ramp at Panama City Marina. The ramp is nice but it is a short ramp and drops off. The water was very clear and I had to keep watch as Brandy backed the boat/trailer in. I motioned for her to stop when we still had one axle on the ramp, the rear two axles dropped off the ramp and I had to power the boat off the trailer. The ramp at the Panama City marina is definitly a high tide ramp and I wouldn't recommend using this ramp if you are over 24' in length. After getting on the water, we boated out to St. Andrews State Park where we anchored along the shore, just inside the jetty. Boats are not allowed all the way into the area called the "Kiddie Pool", and there is a hazard marker alerting boaters so we stayed outside the hazard maker. We anchored during the outgoing tide and were in 5 feet of water. Anyone wanting a very shallow dive along the inside of the jetty can dive without a dive flag and see lots of sea life. We ate a late lunch/early dinner at the "BoatYard". Docking was easy although not plentiful and the food was good. We slipped the boat at the Panama City marina which was okay, but I probably won't stay there again because there isn't very much to see within easy walking distance. Anyone wanting to eat at a decent restaurant will need to catch a cab or take the boat out to a dockside restaurant; however, Panama City marina does have nice showers and facitilities.

Day 2 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011. Took the boat out past St. Andrews into the Gulf for an 8 mile trip along the shore to the E E Simpson Tug, GPS coordinates: N 30 03.231 W 85 37.291. We dove the E E Simpson Tug which was in 20' feet of water and around a mile from shore. The bottom was sandy and we saw a school of spade fish and a sea ray with a 6' wing span. Unfortunately, the pics of the sea ray didn't turn out. We were still trying to figure out how to use the camera and realized we needed the filter. After the dive, we boated back into St. Andrews Bay and had a couple of grouper sandwiches at Scuttlebutts Bar & Grill at Sun Harbor Marina. The sandwiches were good and this is definitely a hole in the wall joint. After lunch, we boated out to Shell Island which is across from St. Andrews State Park and was going to anchor when we hear a distress call come over the radio. An older couple were boating on a pontoon rental and the wife had fallen overboard. The husband threw the life ring but was calling "mayday" because he was unable to get his wife back aboard. The U.S.C.G. answered the man-overboard distress call and was asking for their position, but the husband was unable to give specifics. Brandy, my girlfriend began scanning the area and pointed me to the pontoon boat. Sadly, several other boaters were passing by at full speed and the wakes weren't helping the couple. We came along side, and I alerted the U.S.C.G. that we would be rendering assistance; by this time, the Coast Guard was within distance, but couldn't enter the area due to depth restrictions with their vessel. After ascertaining the situation, we dropped anchor, and I dove in to assist. Shortly afterwards, another gentleman from another boat swam over to assist. We were able to bring the lady back to our swim platform where we helped her zip into a ski vest. She was struggling the entire time with the life ring and once she had the ski vest on, she began to calm down. Eventually, we were able to help her climb aboard our swim platform; afterwhich, she told us she had recently had foot surgery and this explained why she was unable to climb back aboard the pontoon. I don't think the husband was entirley familiar with the equipment on the pontoon boat since he didn't realize he had a ladder mounted to the bow until it was time to transfer the lady back to the pontoon. After sitting with her on the swim platform for 5 minutes or so and letting her warm up, she gladly drank some fresh water and thanked us. We notified the U.S.C.G. that she did not want medical assistance and my girlfriend did a great job of reporting the gps position. Needless to say, the bottom of the pontoon boat cut my leg in several places and I was exhausted afterwards, but All's Well that Ends Well! After this event, we boated back to Panama City Marina, showered, and took a taxi to Uncle Ernie's Bayfront Grill & Brewhouse where we had dinner. This was by far, the best dinner of the entire trip. We had the Coconut Pecan Shrimp with Honey Mustard for appetizers and they were awesome. Brandy had chargrilled Mahi Mahi and she swears it tasted like steak! I'm pretty sure she had a mouth orgasm...lol. I had their Sesame Crusted Tuna with Shrimp served with Thai Slaw and Sweet Chili Sauce and it was very good as well. We didn't know it at the time, but Uncle Ernie's has plenty of docking for those wishing to boat to dinner and there are several other restaurants within easy walking distance...a city block. We also learned Uncle Ernie's is right beside St. Andrews Marina which has a public boat ramp and this ramp is better suited to larger boats.

Day 3 - Wednesday, June 15, 2011. Left PC marina around 8am and made way along the Gulf Intracoastal into the "Ditch" that connects the West Bay to Choctawhatchee. We only passed a handful of boaters this morning and the ride was very peaceful. We ran into 10 knot winds once we entered the Choctawhatchee and it made for quite a rough ride. We made way to Sandestin and Baytowne Marina. I have to admit, I had read a lot of great reviews of the marina and marina staff, and there is quite a lot to do if you want to play around the resort, but, the marina is a good 35 minute ride in a rough bay to Destin's East Pass. So if you are looking to chill at Crab Island, go diving, or fishing, Baytowne Marina may not be the most convenient of places to slip your boat. If you are looking for plenty of shopping, lots of nightlife and lots of activities for the kids, then it is an AWESOME place to stay. Once we checked into the marina, we took the boat back out and rode over to Destin Harbor. This is definitely the place to be in Destin. Lots of marinas, but most of them are monthly or annual pay marinas and we couldn't find a slip anywhere. There are several dockside restaurants with dockage available, but many of them do not have overnight power. Anyone wanting to stay in the harbor on the hook will enjoy a nice view with the beach on one side and waterfront operations (fishing charters, parasailing, diving and lots more) on the other. Harbor Walk marina would be a nice place to stay, but there is too much boat traffic and it wouldn't be a relaxing marina. Anyway, after finding our way around, we boated over to Shalimar Yacht Basin to check out their facilities since staying there would get us closer to East Pass. After poking around in the marina, we decided to make way back to Baytowne at Sandestin for the night. Once back in Baytowne, we met up with some friends and had dinner at Acme Oyster House in The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Dinner was good, the company was better. After returning to the boat for the night, I remembered a Craigslist ad where a guy was advertising a slip in Joe's Bayou which was only about a mile from East Pass. Protected, deep water boat slip in Joe's Bayou in Destin for rent. Save Fuel, only 1 mile from Destin Pass or Crab Island. Boats from20 to 60 feet. Power, water. I also have a short term docking area for people vacationing in Destin and bringing a boat. 850-654-7366 or cell 850-496-0709. I called and talked with Charlie Saleeby, the owner, and he had to be the most knowledgable "shrimper, boater, all around water guide" I've ever met. I made arrangements with Charlie and that was the end of a good day.

Day 4 - Thursday, June 16, 2011. We moved the boat to Charlie's around 6am and he let us use the slip behind his property and only charged $25.00 per night. He has shore power and water; although, he doesn't have showers or other facilities which was okay with me since we could easily shower on the boat. Charlie said he really doesn't know how to advertise and has to list/relist on Craigslist, so if you are looking for a slip close to East Pass, he is the guy to call. He is on Joe's Bayou and it is slick as glass in the Bayou almost 24 hours a day. The slip is inside a no wake zone and the only "ripples" we experienced were from skiers and jet skiers playing outside the sign. We had to rely on cab fare while staying here, but I would definitly stay here again. We went diving on the Aquanaut with Emerald Coast Scuba and dove the Phoenix Barge in '85 feet of water and the Main Bridge Pile in '65 feet of water. Both dives were awesome and I took a pic of an 8' nurse shark on the Main Bridge Pile. After diving, we had a late lunch/early dinner at The Fishbar. Brandy had Grouper Tacos and I had a Mahi Mahi Sandwich. I'd like to go back and have dinner here one evening. After dinner, my buddy from Destin brought a pinfish trap over to Charlie's docks and we set it so we could catch some live bait for Friday's fishing trip.

Day 5 - Friday, June 17, 2011. We left Charlie's docks around 7am and took the boat out to the Starfish complex around 20 miles offshore. We were heading into two storm cells, but XM weather radio on the Garmin showed the skies clearing and we made our way west of the last storm cell. Brandy spotted a water spout forming and was able to take pictures but we could barely see the water column when it finally touched down. About an hour later, the skies were clear for the remainder of the day. We caught several porgies, some beeliners and triggerfish and a couple of snapper, but the snapper were too short so we had to throw 'em back. We also fished another reef and finally Sandollar reef, also about 20 miles out but all within 2-3 miles of one another. It was a fun fishing day, but I didn't get much line time since I was skippering the boat and the wind kept drifting us 1/4 mile off the reefs each time we'd drop lines.

Day 6 - Saturday, June 18, 2011. We left Charlie's again around 7am and took the boat back out to the Starfish complex. This time, we caught three keeper Red Snapper right off the bat. We also caught another triggerfish which I thought was funny because Charlie kept saying his wife would beat him if we didn't bring one home for her to cook and eat. After another long day of fishing, we anchored at Crab Island where I was stung by a jellyfish. They were all over the place and I kept having to play dodgeball to avoid getting stung. Later that evening, my buddy and his wife picked us up and we all went to The Crab Trap for drinks and dinner. This was one of the better restaurants I've been to when visiting the beach. The atmosphere was great and we sat at the bar overlooking the ocean while having drinks at sunset.

Day 7 - Sunday, June 19, 2011. We left Charlie's around 630am and headed back to PC. I pumped out at St. Andrews Marina and called a taxi to take me back to PC marina to pick up the truck and trailer. Since the ramp at St. Andrews is better suited for larger boats, we decided to retrieve the boat here. Not much else to share except to say, this was a great vacation and we were exhausted on the return trip.

Unfortunately, I didn't take a lot of pics this trip but here are a few highlighting what we enjoyed.

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Destin_Fishing_06182011_7.jpg

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WOW... What a great write up. Thanks for taking the time to write this up. That does sound like a great vacation! Next time.. I'll tag along behind you! :beer-7687-1:

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Jerry,

Thanks for sharing your trip with us!! It sounds like you had a great time and have set the stage for others. The Admiral and I are headed to Destin for a time-share week on the beach. In years past we considered taking the boat; but have had the problem on storage/parking for a week. The Condo doesn't have parking for boats and, as you said, marinas there aren't setup for short term. I'll definitely be calling Charlie to store/park the boat there for the week!!

Thanks!!!

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Jerry,

Thanks for sharing your trip with us!! It sounds like you had a great time and have set the stage for others. The Admiral and I are headed to Destin for a time-share week on the beach. In years past we considered taking the boat; but have had the problem on storage/parking for a week. The Condo doesn't have parking for boats and, as you said, marinas there aren't setup for short term. I'll definitely be calling Charlie to store/part the boat there for the week!!

Thanks!!!

That docking on Joe's sound like a great option, however, if that does not work out I highly recommend Shalimar Yacht Basin. I have kept my boat there several times while in Destin. It is only minutes to crab island and Destin Harbor from there. They gave me a spot in a covered slip over the forth of July and that was really nice and they will give you a break if you are not staying on the boat and using shore power. They have a launch and trailer storage also.

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