We had so much fun today!
The skies were mostly cloudy when we woke up and it was a bit windy and chilly, but by 9 or so it was beginning to look promising with the sun and blue sky peeking through.
As I mentioned yesterday, there was a lighted boat parade planned for tonight, so I sent an email to the local Looper "Harbor Hosts" to ask their advice on the best place to watch the parade. Harbor Hosts are folks who volunteer to offer some or all of the following: "...navigational aid, transportation, advice on restaurants, sights, marinas, repair facilities, etc, local history and interesting side trips, perhaps even a hot meal or glass of wine while swapping Looper yarns."
Rather than just giving us the information we requested, Greg and Carl's response was to invite us to their home since we missed the Thanksgiving gathering. They gave us the option of either going by dinghy directly to their home on the waterfront, or, if we preferred to take our dinghy to the Panama City marina, they would pick us up there. The wind started blowing harder almost immediately after we got off the phone with the Vernons, and we debated about what we should do, but we thought it would be more fun to take the dinghy to a part of the town that we hadn't seen before. By the time we were ready to leave the water looked like it was getting pretty rough, but Joe put on a water-resistant jacket and pants and I put on a mostly-water-proof jacket and off we went. Well, about 30 yards from Paradise I started getting sprayed with water over the starboard bow, and it turned out to be a lot longer to Greg & Carl's than we thought. As we entered the middle of the channel I was getting full-body sprays every few seconds, I was spitting out salt-water over the port side and my eyes were burning from the salt water. By the time we entered their bayou I was completely soaked from head to toe and Joe was mostly wet, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I love riding in the dinghy!!!
Fortunately, our camera and the long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt that I brought all stayed dry in our tote bag that was stowed on the floor on the port side behind me and next to the steering console. When we got to their house, Carl and Greg immediately made us feel welcome by giving us hugs, offering to dry our clothes, and bringing refreshments. We had a great afternoon and also met Loopers Roy and Elvie Short (m/v RoyEl) who were staying with Greg and Carl for a few days. During my conversations with Greg and Elvie, we discovered that both the Vernons and the Shorts are friends with Ken and Brenda Bloomfield (m/v Tellico Lady--a sister ship to Paradise) and Jim and Sharon Angel (m/v Blue Angel). Joe and I have followed the blog of and/or exchanged emails with both the Bloomfields and the Angels since last year. It's such fun to make these connections! Blue Angel is currently at Caladesi State Park, near Dunedin, so we're hoping to finally get to meet Jim and Sharon in the next week or so.
While we waited for the parade, we caught the moon and a planet and the last of the light.
Next was a police boat...
...then a cruiser with a Santa in back
As we left the marina in our dinghy, we were relieved to see that the water had calmed down considerably.
As soon as we were aboard, I headed into the shower to wash off all of the salt that I had accumulated earlier, and Joe followed soon after.
I'm so glad we stayed in Panama city for the boat parade.
Tomorrow we'll leave for Apalachicola with a stop on the way for fuel, a pumpout, and water.