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Old 31-03-2011, 04:58   #1
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Panama City or St. Joe

We're in Biloxi, MS today, leaving tomorrow morning to carry about 36 hours of NW/W/SW/W winds east to either Panama City/St. Andrews bay or to St. Joe sound, where we'll either wait for southerlys to pass before continuing south to Tampa or we'll take the ditch or maybe we'll sail over to the coast.

Anyway, any recommendations on whether Panama City or St. Joe is the better place to stop and anchor for possibly a few days? We like beaches and anchorages more than towns and marinas, although finding a church close to a dinghy dock/beach on Sunday morning would be great.

Thanks in advance for any leads.

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Old 31-03-2011, 05:56   #2
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Re: Panama City or St. Joe

I have yet to anchor on the inside of St. Joseph Peninsula, I have anchored on the inside of Shell Island in St. Andrew's Bay for one week this time of year for the last two years. It really is a great place. Shell Island is only accessable by boat and is fairly isolated, that is, until the weekend and the motor boaters invade. Nevertheless, the area is big enough for everyone. Shell Island is well named, for it is scoured with seashells and is a several miles of a few trees and sugar white sand. Also, the bottom there is suitable for a great hold. My 35# CQR held my 20K displacement boat all week on both occassions without a budge, even with the wind shifting 270 degrees. Tyndell AFB is on the East Side of the bay and, of course, is off limits. You will have to take a 30 min dinghy ride to the Panama City Muncipal Marina to go to town. The marina is located in the heart of old Panama City and there should be a church close. Note, however, that old Panama City leaves a lot to be desired and I would not venture far from the marina on foot. Not that crime is rampant but it does not offer much. It appears all the new development went Westard with the condos. The marina, however, is fantastic. Refueling there is a breeze and the ships store is well stocked, block ice included.

I've heard good things about Port St. Joe. A quaint small town with a lot charm. But how would you get there? The chart warns against shifting shoals at West Pass. If you're taking the ICW, don't forget about the 50ft DuPont Bridge.

I'm planning my own trip to Tampa come May 1st. This will be my first time making the jump from Carabelle. Would you mind giving me a few hints, especially the desired wind conditions for that jump. You mentioned waiting out the Southerlys. It was my opinion that a due South wind might make for a bit a bumpy ride, but this time of year waiting on a Southwest or West wind may take quite some time. Any insight you could provide would be helpful. Feel free to PM me, I don't want to highjack your thread.

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Old 31-03-2011, 06:37   #3
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Re: Panama City or St. Joe

We are in Panama City now. We have been here for about a month. There are lots and lots of good anchorages in St Andrews bay, East Bay, and West
Bay. We are at Smugglers Cove Marina. Marinas away from the downtown area are pretty reasonable "comparatively speaking". One nice thing about this area is that it is deep water almost everywhere. Much deeprer than the Mississippi Sound your are getting ready to go through. We stayed at Ocean Springs, next to Biluxi for a month. It was a beautiful little town. If it was 15 degrees warmer in the winter we could live there.

If you look on Activecaptain you can see where we are. We have a car here, so if you need to stock up or anything we can help you with that. There are plenty of churches around. The only one within walking distance is a Korean one though. We have been going to one not far away since we got here. We can probably reorganize the car enough to give you a ride if you want.

Feel free to PM if you want.

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Old 31-03-2011, 17:34   #4
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Re: Panama City or St. Joe

Note: while I'm not presently in PC I own a Business just up from the Marina in Down Town PC. The Police Station and the City Hall is located with in half a block of the Marina.... Don't think you have any more a a Safety PROBLEM than you would anywhere else..... you also have several LARGE churches Down Town.

You also have the option of the St Andrews area which had lots of probably more interesting places and I consider probably more cruiser friendly with lots of water front and just off water front places to eat and have a drink if you wish... they also have several smaller churches in the immediate area.

I love St. Joe, and it is the actual location I have my boat Documented to. It is a rather small town and while interesting enough it isn't anything compared to PC.

The ICW is not very interesting in that area..... well the Gulf passage isn't

Unless the weather prevents it... I would make the run off shore to where ever you are going... I see from the weather charts the front moving though should be clear of you by now... heck we will get in her in the West Indies in a day or so!

Good luck and fair winds
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Old 03-04-2011, 06:05   #5
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Re: Panama City or St. Joe

Isn't there a really cool little inlet just east of shell island? Can't recall the name off hand but it was totally isolated and we had the entire place to ourselves. I'm pretty sure it's air force property so you'd prolly not wander too far into the brush but man oh man what a cool little spot. The entry in is a little freaky looking as the charts dont name the depth but it was deep enough for out boat to get in and out of no worries.
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Old 03-04-2011, 06:06   #6
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Re: Panama City or St. Joe

St Andrew Sound, just east of St Andrew Bay. Worth a look
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Old 05-04-2011, 06:42   #7
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Re: Panama City or St. Joe

Both are great spots...however, if St. Joe, there's not much anchoring on the mainland, and if Northerly comes in, the bay can get rough. Better off in PC...Shell island, way up on the eastern side (see charts) would be a good spot, well protected.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:24   #8
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Better Late Than Never

This might be too late to help, but we cruised Panama City and the Florida Panhandle for about 15 years. Port St. Joe is a nice place to visit, but it is a little limited in protected anchorages. Eagle Harbor is a great spot on the west side of the bay, but totally exposed to the NE, E, and SE. Port St. Joe Marina is on the east side and very nice. You can also anchor anywhere along the edge of the bay depending on the wind.

Panama City has a lot more to offer if you are going to hang around a few days. Shell Island is a very popular beach anchorage. It's exposed to the NW but you can get protection from north by moving to the north side. Lots of marinas to choose from in the PC area. The city marina is right downtown, walking distance to churches and a few small restaraunts and its on the bus line which will take you to malls, restaraunts, shopping, etc.

You can anchor next to the city marina on either the east or west sides or get much better protection in either Smack Bayou or Massalina Bayou. You can dinghy from either of these to the dinghy dock at the city marina. In the right weather many boats anchor behind Redfish Point across the ICW from the city marina.

Other well protected anchorages in the area include Watson Bayou and Pearl Bayou. The holding everywhere is very good - mostly mud bottoms.

For your trip across the gulf to Tampa, you can exit the Panama City pass and go straight through around the San Blas shoals (minimum 48 hours) or you can avoid the San Blas shoals by going up the inside to Appalachacola or better yet, Carabelle, then crossing from there. Its an over night trip from there to Anclote Key/Tarpon Springs.

There is a 50 foot bridge across the ICW just east of Pearl Bayou a few miles east of Panama City. If you cannot get under it, you can go outside at Panama City, and go back in at Port St. Joe. All the bridges between Port St. Joe and Carabelle are at least 65 feet.

The anchorage Sailorduff is referring to is called Crooked Island. It is a fantastic secluded beach anchorage about 12 miles east of the Panama City entrance on the gulf side. The entrance to Crooked Island is completely unmarked and surrounded by shoals that extend out into the Gulf. If you go there, do it on a calm day with lots of sun overhead so you can read the water. The most popular anchorage at Crooked Island is just west of the entrance.

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