In St. Andrews Bay, near Panama City, a family of dolphins joined the boat for quite a distance. The baby was very playful, leaping completely out of the water many times.
The last body of water transited in the Florida Panhandle was Apalachicola Bay. The dolphins there made sure they put on a display to bid us farewell.
They joined the boat throughout the bay. As Jill photographs a dolphin just under the bow, another dolphin swims to meet the boat.
Just before leaving Apalachicola Bay and entering the Gulf of Mexico, two dolphins ran in front of the boat, much like the two who greeted Last Dance as she entered the state.
Loons - The intricately plumbed loons with their multiple melodic songs kept the Last Dance crew entertained throughout Canada. These normally solitary birds grouped together in the North Channel as Last Dance cruised out of Canada to return to the U.S. After spending the summer in pairs, raising their young, they join together for their flight south. Where do they winter? Some come to the Florida Panhandle.
They are easy to miss since their winter plumage is not as showy as their summer outfits. From a distance, it would be easy to mistake them for Cormorants or Anhingas. One key to recognizing them is that they tend to be alone.
Grebes, another diving bird that is a close cousin of the Loon, kept the crew entertained in Port St. Joe. These guys are amazing swimmers, but none were ever observed flying.
The cannonball jellyfish is common along the panhandle, sometimes in dense populations. These are edible and have become a new cash crop for fishermen along the coast. Cannonball jellyfish are exported to Asian countries where they are considered a delicacy, often added to salads.
The moon jellyfish - easy to see why it is so named.
This small island, in the bay between the barrier island Santa Rosa and the mainland, lies within Eglin Air Force Base. It provided a quiet and interesting anchorage.
After a walk on the island, Bonnie jumped in the dinghy and looked as if to say, "time to go back to the boat."
Eglin is obviously a training post for C-130 pilots and Osprey pilots.
In this sunset/moonrise photo, an Osprey is heading back to the landing strip.
Much work and effort had been invested in downtown Panama City to create a viable retail, office, and entertainment area. While some interesting architecture remains and a large auditorium is located near the waterfront, commerce has seemed to not return to downtown. Still, and interesting place to visit.
One new retail establishment is a wine store, aptly named "Winos." The sign was made from letters cut from copy paper and stapled to a piece of board. Not sure that sufficient capital has been invested in this new business venture.
Port St. Joe
Once a grand shipping port, with a large shrimping boat fleet, and a paper mill in town, Port St. Joe is now a small, sleepy, quaint town dependent mostly on tourism for commerce. This port was home for Last Dance for 3 weeks as projects on the boat were completed and the daughters were hosted for Christmas. Port St. Joe recognized the Last Dance crew by having a fireworks show right at the marina. These photos were taken from the deck of Last Dance. Port St. Joe proved to be a great place for an extended visit.
Changes in Scenery
Much of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway along the Florida Panhandle runs along barrier islands and through bays - beautiful beaches and sand dunes. But the some of the eastern portion has much different scenery as it follows rivers and crosses inland lakes. The Florida Panhandle has some beautiful scenery, the diversity of which adds to the overall experience of nature's display of beauty.