Big Target

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The skipper saw the picture of this big target when he first entered the Navy Aviation Museum.  For those who know that the skipper served aboard a submarine, he would remind you that the Navy only has two kinds of ships, targets and submarines.  That is one big target. 

Summary of the Week:

This past week the crew started their eastward journey along the Gulf Coast. As often happens on The Loop, they were thwarted by the weather. They did manage three travel days and a 0.3 mile jump to find safe haven from the storm scheduled to arrive Saturday afternoon.  The Crew Left Dog River (1) and arrived on the Gulf Coast to dock at The Wharf (2) Monday. Stopped at Pensacola (3) to visit the Navy Aviation Museum on Thursday. Ended up at Ft Walton Beach (4) on Friday.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Who was the Navy’s first Ace?
  2. What war did he achieve Ace status?
  3. Who commissioned the Blue Angels?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she visits the Navy Aviation Museum.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, December 3rd

The crew left with their flotila of Nordic Tugs and headed out into Mobile Bay. With the wind out of the north, it would be a rolly ride with beam seas as the crew traveled east on the Dog River Channel.

On the Dog River Channel headed to Mobile Bay
Bald Eagle marking the entrance to Mobile Bay

After getting back to the Big Ship Channel, the crew made a left and headed toward the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway (GC ICW) with following seas. A much more comfortable ride with those waves on the stern.

Pelicans in flight above Mobile Bay

When the crew left the Bay, they set their sites on LuLu’s Restaurant where they planned to Dock & Dine. However, upon arrival the skipper noticed that there were no lights on. The Admiral noticed a guy on the fuel dock so she yelled across the water to inquire if LuLu’s was open. He responded, “No they are closed on Monday’s.” Now that was disappointing.

Not eating here this year

With that sad news, it was a short two miles down the ICW to The Wharf Marina where the crew would spend the next few days.

Tuesday and Wednesday

The Wharf is a shoppers haven.  With so many stores to shop the Admiral had her work cut out.  She rose to the challenge and shopped till she dropped.  Unfortunately, she dropped a few George Washington’s along the way.  After three years of searching, she finally found her perfect recliner that can fit thru the 23 inch door and is the right color.

After an exhausting day of shopping it was nice that KC and Scott set up a dinner for the Loopers at the Wharf. 

The Wharf decorated for Christmas:

Thursday, December 6th

The crew made an early departure so that they could arrive in time at Pensacola to go visit the Navy Aviation Museum. The first interesting development in the morning though was watching an Osprey swoop down and catch a fish for morning breakfast just off the bow of the boat.

Fish Breakfast

The crew then entered Florida waters, so they know the quest for the Platinmum Flag is drawing near.  A quick rough calc and it appears the crew has around 450 miles to go to complete their second Loop.

When the crew spotted the Pensacola Lighthouse they knew the day’s run was about over. They got docked, and then Bill arranged for an Uber ride to the Museum. Strangely enough, taxi’s are allowed on the Naval Base but Uber and Lyft are not. The Uber driver performed a bit of slight of hand and managed to deliver the group to the front door of the museum. The skipper does not think the driver fooled the gate guard at all, but what the heck, mission accomplished.

Pensacola Lighthouse

The museum was extremely interesting. The group arrived just in time to catch the 45 minute, 1300 tour. At 1530, the tour guide wrapped up his presentation. The tour guide did an excellent job of show and tell, and explaining the evolution of Naval Aircraft from the Navy’s first plane to the planes of WWII.

The Navy’s first ever airplane

The group only spent the afternoon at the museum, and the skipper could easily have spent two days taking in all the exhibits. He diffentily has this place on his ‘return and visit some more’ list.

With a 2.5 hour tour, the skipper has many interesting stories to share but will only share a few here.

For starters, the skipper is always looking for connections to home and family when he visits museums. He found both at the Aviation Museum.

The Texas connection

The tour took them to an interesting little plane named USS Texas. The plane was a Sopwith Camel and was used in WWI. In fact, a Lieutenant (junior grade) flew one of these planes to become the Navy’s first ever Ace. You may recognize that this is also the plane that Snoopy flies in the Peanuts cartoons.

The family connection was discovered by Mary. It was tucked a way in a corner of the museum where the curator had built a Hinoi Hilton display comemorating all the naval pilots shot down in Vietnam. One of these pilots was Captain Robert B. Fuller who was shot down July 14, 1967.

Clothing of the Hanoi Hilton

The last story to share was about a display of the Blue Angels flying in formation. The guide told a story about when the display was first finished, the curator brought in some past Blue Angel pilots to get their feedback. When they unveiled the display, it was obvious by the looks on the pilot’s faces that something was wrong. When questioned, the pilots asked why the planes were so far apart. They commented that while flying in formation the planes are never more than 18 inches apart.

The guide also pointed out another interesting little plane that was used by the Navy between the World Wars. This plane was used to do flight demonstrations while tied together with two other planes. After WWII, Admiral Nimitz commissioned the now famous Blue Angels to carry on the mission and keep the general public interested in Naval Aviation. The Blue Angels formed in 1946 and are the secondest oldest aviation aerobatic team.

Predecessor of the Blue Angels

Ok, you probably guessed there would be one more last story. In honor of Presiden Bush who passed away this past week, here is a picture of the plane he used to log 30 flight training hours in before earning his wings.

The group returned to the marina just in time to witness the sunset.

Friday, December 7th

The run to Ft Walton Beach was anti-climatic for the crew. However, they did begin to see the first signs of Hurricane Michael which tore thru the area earlier in the year. The first signs of damage were the number of new docks that had already been rebuilt along the waterway. The second sign was an abandoned sailboat still lying on the shore waiting for disposal.

The worst of the damage is still east of the crew. As they pass by Destin, reports are pretty bleak. The two marinas in Panama City have still not re-opened. The marina at Port St Joe was completly destroyed.

But those are challenges to deal with next week. Today, the Admiral spotted a Whataburger that was only a mile from the Ft Walton Beach free dock and she mentioned she wanted to partake of a Whataburger for the evening meal. After all the boats were safely docked, several of the group headed to the local supermarket on foot to reprovision. 

View from the Ft Walton Beach  free dock

Later, after returning to the boat and stowing the groceries, the group set off for the Whataburger.  While crossing the streets with Dan and Tori, the skipper learned the finer points of those bumpy mats found at the end of a sidewalk near the road.

 When Tori approaches a corner, she pulls Dan over to those bumps and positions Dan on the mat. He can feel the bumps thru his shoes and knows he is ready to cross when the traffic stops. But if a sighted person is standing on the bumpy mat, the seeing eye dog and blind person, who the bumpy mat was designed for, cannot get properly positioned to cross the road.

If you are like the skipper, yes you have stood on the bumpy mat waiting to cross the road. The skipper prides himself on trying to learn something new every day. Today he learned to stay off the bumpy mat. Maybe you learned something new today also.

And yes the Whataburger was most excellent!

Saturday, December 8th

The weather dictated that the flotilla stay put today. The winds were already blowing about about 10 miles per hour at 0700, and are predicted to climb to 20 by late afternoon. The gusts are forecast for the 30’s. With no good options for a marina in the next 150 miles due to the hurricane damage, the flotilla moved across the waterway to get in a small cove that is better protected from the wind and wave action to ride out the blow.

Moved along red line to protected cove
In a protective cove
Riding out the blow

Boat Name of the Week

Notice the back of their boat has the following scripture reference:           I Peter 5:7 (ESV)

……casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

The crew of No Worries.  Had a wonderful evening with ya’ll.  

Next Week

The crew will continue their east bound journey along the Gulf Coast and stage in Carrabelle for the Gulf Crossing to Tarpon Springs. At this point, the forecast shows a poential crossing for Wednesday/Thursday night. If that window does not materialize, the next opportunity to get across the Gulf and to the west coast of Florida may not appear until December 18th. The crew will watch and wait to see what happens.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: