Monday, August 6, 2012

OMG - I'm Gonna Die

Destin Harbor Sunset

Ok so one of the reasons I did not want to go offshore from Houston to Pensacola was that I did not want to pound my boat unnecessarily.  I looked over the weather and decided that this would be a great day to head to Panama City.  (You will notice that the heading of this article does not say from Pensacola to Panama City.)  I knew that it was going to be a little rough when I got offshore but was ok with that as it was supposed to flatten out and become an enjoyable ride.
As I entered the Pensacola channel to make my exit the seas built to 4 foot rollers with the occasional 6 to 8 thrown in there for good measure.  I was thinking to myself that this is normal and that they would pass.  Four hours later I had cover a measly 10 miles and was making virtually no headway.  The wind was on the nose and the seas were 4 to 6 and basically my life was being made to be miserable.  I immediately began looking at the charts trying to see what I could do.  This is when I spotted Destin as a port of call and with my course change it would let me offset my motoring with a little sailing.  
I liked this idea, instead of pounding I would be able to sit in a nice anchorage and wait till I had a better window.  (Little did I know what was to come of this)  I immediately make the course corrections and because of the fact that I was able to get my jib out the  boat settled down a little and began taking the waves much better.  The computer was showing that I would make the entrance to the channel sometime a little after 9PM.
Now, everyone always says never make port at night.  Well, I am one of those sailors that has never made a port during the day.  No matter how much I have planned for it, it just has never worked out that way.  Now here I am looking at arriving at Destin after dark.  No Problem. Right???
I reviewed the charts.  I reviewed the satalite immagery of the area.  I called friends and had them look everything up.  I was prepared.  I can do this.
As I get a little closer to the entrance, I start looking at the lights.  They look a tlittle weird.  Instead of lining up and leading me into the channel the red and greens are side by side and kinda lead off into a weird angle.  Well, maybe my eyes are just playing tracks on me.  I line the boat up so that I will make a direct run at the narrow entrance.  I ignore the markers (Never wise and you are about to see why).  I head right for the opening.  I have a following sea and am surfing the 6 foot rollers into the harbor.  All of sudden my depth sounder begings screaming at me.  I have gone from 30 feet under the boat to less than a foot (That wasn’t on the charts).  All of a sudden the boat is picked up and turned sideways.  I am ok with this except for the fact I am quickly losing water from underneath boat again.  This is when I realize with sudden amazement.  I am going over a sand bar.  Just about the time all of this calculates in my little computer of a brain I look off to my port side and those little swells I was riding in that were 4 to 6 collide with the sand bar I just passed over.  Well if you are an experienced seaman you know what happens next.  When the swells hit the sand bar they stand up and become easy 10 footers.
I am fortunate, JusCrewZen has been designed to handle waves like this.  She is a sound and heavy boat.  However, if you remember, I am turned beam on to these waves now and I catch one full broadside before I am able to turn around.  I look at my inclinometer and cringe as the degrees of heal climb higher and higher. 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees, oh SH@T.  I am working the helm and get her turned around finally, thank god.
I just kept chanting to myself follow the channel, you are almost there.  I quickly look at my pilot information so that I can navigate by the bridge and into the harbor and one little sentence sticks out to me now.  “Use the water depth to guide yourself through the narrows and into the deeper water of the harbor.”  What kind of BS is this.  Its nighttime and all of the water is the same color.  There has got to be channels markers, right.  Wrong.  There is nothing and I am still very worked up from the sand bar incident.
Well you can calm your nerves.  I made it into the harbor fine.  Dropped anchor and collapsed on deck from the exhaustion.  
You know what they say, if you goto sea and return and don’t have a story to tell then you really were not at sea.
The Princess Learning the Hard way how to go from dingy to boat

Wished I could fish like this guy

Fireworks over Destin Harbor

Party Gras that happens every Tuesday

Another sunset


  1. We are glad to hear that you made it out the other side. We had a similar experience going in to St Augustine once. We were coming down from the north at night and thought it would save a couple of minutes to cut in front of the sea buoy. WRONG. Major pucker effect! Skinny water outside of the channel. I got her turned around just in the nick of time. After going back out and going around the buoy we had a more pleasurable experience.

    1. He has a habit of ignoring buoys too lol Just a few days ago there was another close call

  2. Ouch. That doesn't sound like a good time, but the pictures look nice, especially the one of Bunny pinned against the side of the boat. Did she fall out of the dinghy? C'mon, we need a post about that!