Our re-entry into a familiar feeling salty and sandy environment was grand, to say the least! During our week of cruising east beyond Mobile Bay, we were greeted by the best of weather, water, wildlife and wonderful friends. Coastal Alabama and the panhandle of Florida have some beautiful water and sugar white beaches. And of course, as soon as we entered saltwater, we were welcomed by an abundance of brown pelicans, dolphins and good fishing. Ahhh……we feel like we are close to something that resembles our familiar home waters. But….what’s the deal with the temperatures??? We were hoping for higher temperatures, but obviously we are not quite far enough south yet! We will remain patient and thankful that we are not hung up in Kentucky or Tennessee, where they are experiencing some really nasty weather for this time of year.

A highlight of the past 10 days was our visit to the Pensacola area, where we anchored at beautiful Ft. McRee Cove with “Sundowner” and “Free Bird”. Wow, what a gorgeous spot!! We were surrounded by playful dolphins and beautiful white sand dunes, which were a great venue for watching the Blue Angels perform their homecoming air show on a clear 70 degree day. We were all impressed, to say the least! We also got to do some fishing from the beach and were fortunate enough to find a prime redfish hole, which produced a great seafood dinner for “Sundowner” and “Estrellita”. We rejoiced in this meal and anchorage as one of God’s special provisions for our enjoyment. After two nights at the anchorage, we moved to Palafox Pier in the historic downtown area of Pensacola. We spent time eating out with cruising friends, attending a locally produced musical one night and a Mannheim Steamroller concert the second night. The air had cooled down substantially, so the weather and the music got us in the Christmas spirit in a big way. (Here

Our biggest Pensacola treat was the arrival of our friends, Jo and Boogie Tudor, from Beaufort, SC. We have been hanging out since we were young marrieds, with most of our time together being spent on a boat of some kind. Jo and Boogie cruised with us for a while through the Trent-Severn Waterway and Georgian Bay earlier in the year, so it was good to have them back. We were hoping that they would accompany us on the Gulf crossing, but later found that the weather would limit us to just a few days with them on Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. During our final day in the Pensacola area, Boogie and I enjoyed the Naval Air Museum while the girls spent some good time shopping….perfect arrangement! We left Palafox Marina the next morning and cruised until after dark (not normal procedure) until we dropped an anchor behind Spectre Island in near freezing temperatures. We ran the heater that evening a little too intermittently , so I had to ask for forgiveness the next morning to prevent mutiny on the “Estrellita”. I immediately planned the next day’s cruise toward comfortable Baytowne Marina, a fun little spot in Sandestin, Florida. The captain was eventually forgiven for his thoughtlessness.

We are now hunkered down in Panama City, waiting for things to thaw out a bit. We were a little misty-eyed when Jo and Boogie hopped into a rental car this morning and headed back home. Thank you friends, for your companionship and support along the way, both on this Great Loop adventure and in life.

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”
–Psalm 40:5