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April 1, 2011                                                Day 1154

> N 30˚08'  W 87˚53'  (≈ 6 mi. off the coast of Mobile, AL)
> on watch/preparing for watch                > sailin' real fast

Well, today could have been a lot better.  I mean, everything was almost really bad when Dad got up feelin' crummy and then puked a couple of times and it was blown' hard and everything almost fell apart.  Around 11:00, Dad started to feel less dying, so he tried to rouse the morale and get us underway, but upon backing out, we ran into a piling and crushed the starboard half of the solar panels.  But for some reason, Dad was madly determined and we started bashing out into Mississippi Sound . . . April Fools!        

In reality, we got up and got ready and were out of the slip on a blue and cloudless day by 9am.  The wind has been nice behind the beam, and we have been flying.  As you know from up top, we are about 6.25 miles off Mobile Point, AL, and we are en route to Panama City, FL.  We are in the Gulf, so I made sure we got fishing lines out.  I dropped in a full-size silver drone spoon and a pink, weighted rubber squid, famous for its NE bluefish success, in hope of hookin' a big mackerel.  Lo and behold, 5 minutes later, that squid-line was buzzin' with something on the other end.  When I went to fight it, though, it spit the hook.  Hours past with no luck, but (as you guessed) we got another big hit on the same line.  This time we knew it was big, as it jammed our little replacement reel on that side (the big one needs rehab).  Dad pulled the line in hand over hand while I tried to reel as I could, and we brought it all the way up.  I thought it was a mack from pretty far out, but Josh (and then even Dad!!) called it as a ' cuda.  But when we gaffed it, I was right after all - it was a 42" king mackerel, exactly what I was going for.  We dealt with it, photographed it, and cooked it for supper.  I love fresh fish!

We did school on and off all day.  The weather was rough-ish for a bit.  Gustin' to 25kts and rollin' us around.  I only played two April Fools' tricks all day, both of which probably failed.  First is the one at the beginning of this entry.  The other was this morning as Dad  came from the bathhouse, and I asked him if the bilge pumps were supposed to be running constantly.  He picked up his pace a little and started asking questions, but wasn't as frantic as I expected, or disappointed when I said "April Fools!"  He's been trying to be calmer and get less excited, and I give him full credit.

Dad and Josh are taking the first watch 'til about 2am.  It's 8:30 and I need to sleep.  More newz later.

The Night of 4/1/11

Ummm . . . I think the world died for my watch (w/ Mom, of course).  Or at least slept - deeply.  At the beginning, there was a lighthouse, a commercial fisherman, and a pod of dolphins.  But when they went away, even the phosphorescence (cool stuff) died off until about 10:00am.  Anyway, we worked on the website, ate the last of the ice cream with a Snickers bar and M&M's (me
J), slept (Mom L), and made sure we didn't hit anything (could it be easier?).  The dolphins were cool, though.  I spotted the first, as a white glowing trail of bubbles, phosphorescence, and moonlight (to the end that there was any) shot towards the bow.  Then one jumped and we saw a tail in the next trail.  We watched them go all around, but didn't go see them at the bow, where they were.  We did flick on a flashlight to see them, and I think they were bottlenose, but I was tired and it was mostly dark.  It was fun.  Oh yeah, the important part, our watch was from 3:00am on.  Josh woke up around 7:30, and Dad a bit before 8:00.

April 2, 2011
                                                Day 1155

> Shell Island, Panama City, FL
> dead tired (@9:00)                > crowded, but calm(-ish)

Okay, so between about 5:30 and 7:30, Mom "dozed" and I continued us on our empty path ahead.  Yippee.

Around 7:15, I decided to start fishing, and got a close-eyed Ma's permission.  I can handle anything myself!  Maybe.  Hopefully . . .

Anyway, I delayed fishing because I re-rigged the drone spoon and some other leaders and got an in-line weight, etc.  By then, Josh got up and my line went out (weighted drone spoon - target:  king mackerel/small tuna?) just as Dad got up.  By the time Dad got a cup o' joe, we had a hit!  I fought it in , and it was a little tunny!  Well, not so "!!".  Little tunny aren't good for anything but tuna salad, so we released it.  All I said, though, was, "Am I good, or what!?"  I got a lot of "or what's".
L  Then life continued until maybe 10:30, when Mom was asleep, and we caught another little tunny.  We bled this one really fast and filleted it.  No pic, though. L   We switched to my crap-chugger to avoid further "mishaps."

L8r, we got to Panama City and hung a right to anchor 2/3  of the way down Shell Island.  As it is Saturday, the beach was filled with day-boats.  It was kinda late (4:00 or so), so only Josh and I went into the beach.  We found a bunch of fiddler crabs, which we caught.  The beach was pretty nice, but we'll see more "am morgen".  Little tunny actually made good fish tacos.
K  Well, somehow I managed to go all day without being genuinely tired.  Now I think we're all 'bout to die.  But it's been a good day.

April 3, 2011
                                                Day 1156

>Shell Island, Panama City, FL, USA
> still exhausted                > emptier

Today was super good.  It started with trying out our wakeboard we got for Christmas.   It's a 2011 Liquid Force PS3, the coolest new, best board for our level.  Josh didn't wanna, but I got in and ran around for half an hour.  It was sweet!  The board is comfortable and maneuvers well, as well as takes air easily.  I got more air today than I have in my entire "career," and even did an aerial 180˚!!  Yeah - an air trick!!  Nobody in Georgetown could do that!  I actually did it twice, but both were questionable.  The first time I was wobbling on the landing, but was on the wake for ≈ 2sec.  The second time I really didn't pop enough to call it anything more than a switch (w/pop).  On that note, I could switch with absolute ease - Dad didn't even have to slow down!  It is super-sweet!!  I called Parker and Haley to tell them; it was that good!

We got WiFi, but didn't use it much.  Got the day off of school.  Worked on the website and stuff.  There is a geocache on the island and an underwater one right off the island in ≈ 16ft. of green water at a sunk barge.  We'll probably grab 'em tomorrow.

Oh, and we went to the beach all afternoon.  We brought our new skimboards and went to the Gulf side.  There was a sand spit where we could zip across really easily.  I forgot to wax my board, so it was a bit slippery.  I'll do that tomorrow.  We went all up and down the dunes, and found shells and swam a bit.  I didn't wear a shirt and got fried.  Yay.
L  It hurts now.  Of course! L

Left the beach late and now we ate (before sunset J K L) and are just relaxing and having a quiet evening.  We're tired.  Hasta luego.

April 4, 2011
                                                Day 1157

> Pitts Bayou, Panama City, FL, USA> enjoyed company - gone now                > calm before the storm

I think I'll do today chronologically.  It will work out better that way.  This morning we got up and were (mostly) lazy.  Mom worked me pretty hard on the website, which led to some major disagreements.  I know she can't do the website (or at least make it look as good) without me, but I enjoy it and am too perfectionist about it, so sometimes we argue and she threatens to cut me out as a way to make me do it her way.  But today I have really put my finger on how families in general work - tyrannical dictatorship to the core, or at least as a relative analogy.  The parents rule the kids by "fear", force (punishment), and more general knowledge, and they punish when things don't go all their own way and rebellion/resentment is quickly and harshly stamped out.   Punishment is on the dictator's whim and there is no arguing, trial, or any democratic form.  Even if they try to be nice and ask your opinion, it counts for absolutely nothing, and you must follow along as they wish or face retribution.  It's just dictatorship.  Note that this description fits any of the world's totalitarian states and any American family. (of course, my mom thinks this is an unrealistic analogy).

I woke up this morning sunburnt and sore.  My entire right side ached all day from my wakeboarding yesterday.  My body was in a general state of pain all day, no matter the clothing, motion, location, task-at-hand, etc.
L  I don't like it!  Aloe and ibuprofen and sunscreen when we went out = J, or at least better.  I can live with it.

Today's explore was in the morning time, with school in the afternoon with a move more inland.  We dinked downwind to the state park (on Shell Island) where there was the buried geocache.  Josh and I found it, but it was not buried 3ft. down, 3ft. north of the most northern palm stump, as the webpage suggested.  All but the lid was buried 1ft. north of said stump.  We learned that after going 3 ½ ft. down with Josh's e-tool about 10ft. north where someone else had started/filled in a hole.  I think it's just fun to find 'em, though.  Josh & I also found a wounded gull, which I think could have a broken wing.  It was sitting in a little clearing in the tall dune-grass, and didn't try to go anywhere when we got close.  I marked a "wounded gull" waypoint on my G PS and we decided to come back for it after we found the cache.  We did, but couldn't find it, and then saw it waddling out of the dunes to the water.  Then it kinda flapped its wings (weakly - with one wing stuck out) and the strong winds glided it down the beach 50ft. or so, and the same again!  We didn't try to catch up, as Mom and Dad said there was nothing we could do and to let it go.  We couldn't get the underwater cache because it was too rough.

As it started to get rough, we moved Liberty deep into the black/green bayous of Panama City (so un-Florida-like).  Pitts Bayou is a tight little place, lined with nice houses with little docks and little boats.  There is one teensy old marina where a cruising couple is staying.  They're named Mike & Sharon, aboard the 25' sloop Morgan, and have come down the Mississippi River from Indiana and have a car here to go home occasionally and work.  Mike is a licensed master electrician and contractor (sounds pretty cool and official for hands-on work), and Sharon is a teacher.  She runs an online home-school program where high school kids (currently 5 students in Indiana and Mexico) do work online with her, the teacher, overseeing and answering questions/explaining via chat.  It's very neat.  We had them over for hors de'vours (that is, orderves) and they stayed all evening chatting and drinking wine.  They are by far the most interesting people we have met so far on Part II of this cruise.  Conversation varied a lot between cruising and individual history and many various subjects, some with and without general participation.  Once, as Mom, Ms. Sharon, and I were talking about ties to land and getting rid of stuff, I started a little thread on the word "stuff" and how people say "stuff."  I have been asked to include this, for it was quite interesting.

I've noticed that cruisers, particularly men, say "stuff" like it's a burden.  People of suburbia say "stuff" with a sense of materialistic belonging.  They need their "stuff."  Side by Side is a special case, as they - being ex-cruisers in New York - regard their "stuff" (by tone, at least) as not so important, but gaining a spot and finding a proper place.  Transient "stuff," perhaps.  I particularly like those who talk about  "stuff" as just there.  It's always there.  In Japanese, "Shikata ga nai," or translated, "It cannot be helped."  I recognized Ms. Sharon as saying "stuff" like it is a necessary burden, or, as she described, that on important tie to land and life.  That's all for now, folks!

April 5, 2011
                                                Day 1150

> Pitts Bayou, Panama City, FL, USA> ready for tomorrow; a-bed                > still as glass, but odd clicking

Today was not so interesting.  I have but 3 things to talk about, all to be explained in the future:  the eye doctor's workshop, NPFPBs, and an evening gravitating to gumbo and oysters and in-house comedy.

To progress in a righteous manner, the story starts Sunday (the 3rd) morning, with an exact incident repeated Monday (yesterday) afternoon.  After being downstairs for a period of time, I came up and my distance vision was slightly blurry, but in a number of hours, it cleared up.  This only happened twice, but it was odd and significant enough that we got an appointment at some eye clinic today.  Mr. Mike loaned us his car so Mom and I could go there for the better part of today.  The doctors made everything seem efficient, but I think I sat in 3 different lobbies and 2 real doctors' offices.  The doc I saw, Dr. Mallory, looked about 70 yrs. old, but was very thorough and experienced and honest, as I was put through a half dozen+ tests and examinations where he determined that my eyes themselves were fine, but I need to see someone else tomorrow to test for possible metabolic (blood sugar) issues, like diabetes, which can cause sudden blurry vision.  I'm quite nervous about it all.  I have developed a motto which applies to just about everything:  It will probably hurt, but it will probably be worth it; otherwise, it will take care of itself.

Note that the next topic is slightly gross, slightly embarrassing, and possibly disturbing to fellow teens.  I seem to have a fairly bad case of what I call NPFPBs, of Non-Pimple Facial Puss Bumps.  They're weird bumps which are hard, but chock full of disgusting white fluid.  They're not really zits because they are so much larger, have so much more gunk, are less pronounced, and are hard and practically un-poppable.  I seem to always have one or two, which are sometimes painful.  A combination of squeezing, pricking, and time empties them.  I had one on my nose for a month+, which just got dealt with today as I peeled back some dry skin and forced out more evil fluid than has ever emptied from a single spot, and it just flowed.  Then it spurted blood.  Uncool, but at least it's gone and it seems important, so I'm writing about it.

The second big thing about today was meeting Mr. Mike and Ms. Sharon at a tiny oyster bar on the bayou where you can get a dozen on the half shell for $6 - cheap!  We went there for drinks and appies, and especially oysters.  Dad and I (the only one who would touch the raw ones) split a baker's dozen, while everyone else concentrated on jalapeño poppers, fried mozzarella sticks, and fried oysters.  These oysters were a million times better raw, though, fresh, juicy, and salty with a smidgen of cocktail sauce and 2 drops of local hot sauce.  A delicacy!  We all sat at a 2-sided bar outside, drinking beer and soda and enjoying the food, weather, atmosphere, company.  Joey's, I think the place is called.  They also sell bait, gas, and have a convenience store.  The other patrons are strictly Pitts Bayou-local.  After everything was slurped (or chewed) down, we all went home for Dad's gumbo with a twist of mackerel.  I was delish!

Scene 4 was the latest comedy scene, set up naturally by Mom and Dad as I went to say good night.  They were loudly and hilariously debating how the other could and did and would sleep and how neither has enough space and they switched spots a couple times and shoved pillows and laughed and exaggerated being squished, etc.  I even got an encore when I thought it was over and gave a standing ovation.  Live marital comedy is better than anything staged TV offer!  At that, au revoir!

April 6, 2011
                                                Day 1159

> Pitts Bayou, Panama City, FL, USA> not too shabby                > same as always - peaceful

The baseline for today is pretty much the same as yesterday, for me at least.  I had to go get a 3hr. Glucose Tolerance Test at some lab to test for blood sugar issues which might cause problems like my blurred vision and even diabetes.  They took a blood sample at 7:00am, then made me drink a bottle of weird, sweet, orangey glucose fluid.  Then they took blood at 8, 9, and 10 o'clock.  In the interim, Mom and I worked on the website, which we uploaded this evening.

By 10:10, we were out of there, grabbed brunch at BK (I had not been allowed to eat since 9:00 last night and woke up at 5:30 - hungry!), and went home.  We kinda hung out for the rest of the day.  I had two holes on the inside of each elbow (needles
L) and so they were kinda sore.  You know, watching my blood get sucked out was kinda creepy.  They stuck the needle in and pulled a little and it just kinda spilled out into the syringe. K  Weird.  Anyway, we hung at home, and Josh & I went to a park ashore and played baseball.  Then this afternoon, we got the results.  I'm fine. J  Dr. Mallory says my blood work was normal and I don't have diabetes.  He suggests we just monitor my vision and anything else that may (or may not) happen.  If nothing happens, then we write it off as a weird quirk.

I met a guy named Matt who works at Joey's and lives at Smuggler's Cove and loves to fish.  He was fishing off the docks for speckled trout, and he showed me a bit and told all sorts of fishing stories, like from when he was a kid up in Alaska catching halibut and grayling and, even once, a giant pacific octopus!  Cool.  I fished a bit, too, but with no luck.

We saw Matt again this evening at Joey's.  Dad and I got 2 dozen raw and then got a dozen baked.  Those were really good.  Almost as good as on the half shell.  We said goodbye to Mike and Sharon.  We're leaving for St. Joe in the morning.  We really need to get moving if we are ever going to get to the Bahamas and East Coast, especially if we're going to see our friends there.  Side by Side, Eira, Kokopelli Too, Un-Sea-Sing, some cousins, and G&G will be in the general area, and we might see some of them if we start moving! Let's go, people!!

April 7, 2011
                                                Day 1160

> Port St. Joe Yacht Club, Port St Joe, FL, USA
> late - unnaturally awake - "jet lag"                > docked nice 'n neat

This morning early, we left Pitts Bayou and Panama City, bound for Port. St. Joe, another funky little town on "The Forgotten Coast," as they call it.  We had to sail outside because of some short bridges - not horrible, but it was a little choppy out in the Gulf.  Mom was nauseous, but, then again, she often is in these conditions.  We were (obviously) fishing and a combination of Chris' Crap Chugger and Josh caught us a 26" Spanish mackerel.  I like those, but I don't think anyone else does too much, but we cooked it up as Matt (from PC) taught us to do it - backed with garlic butter and parmesan cheese - and it turned out good.

Port St. Joe is a tiny town of a few thousand, centered on fishing.  Speckled trout, flounder, redfish, grouper, snapper, mackerel, and even sharks all come into St. Joseph Bay, and there are dozens of charter captains.  The yacht club is pretty fancy, but it only costs $1.35/foot, so we tied up to get out of some strong southerlies and get WiFi, so Mom and Dad could file their taxes.  Funny - get this- the government is about to shut down on Friday because some stupid Republicans can't agree with equally stupid Democrats and the (pretty cool) President.  Why can't they just all be plain ol' Congressmen, Washington-style.  Anyway, the government is shutting down, but you still have to pay your taxes on time, even though they won't issue returns until they start back up.  Krazy!

Anyway, we walked around the tiny bit of town and stopped into a Piggly Wiggly and a really big tackle shop.  At 10:00am tomorrow, they're having a tent sale - that is, clearance, not tents 4 sale! Lol!  We'll leave right after that.  Josh needs a rod.  The marina - I mean "yacht club" - gave us coupons for 2 free cones at the local ice cream parlor, so, of course, we redeemed them.  It is actually getting hot 'n humid.  Good stuff - ice cream.

This evening, I caught some menhaden with my cast net and went fishing, but it was semi-disastrous.  My rod tip broke when I flicked my line out into the basin, where a bunch of others were fishin' too.  I lost all my bait (it died - no bites
L), and Josh ripped up his net on an oyster bed where he shouldn't have been anyway.  He knows better!  Actually, I guess he didn't.

We are in the Eastern time zone as of this afternoon, so it's like 11:00, but still feels like, say 9:30pm. ;-)  I'm workin' online.  Adios.