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  • Don and Dianne
    Hi Group(s), Speaking of boats satisfying our needs, I just enjoyed a night and day on my Emerald Coaster 20 foot power skiff (the day was better than the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 20, 2001
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      Hi Group(s),

      Speaking of boats satisfying our needs, I just enjoyed a night and day on my
      "Emerald Coaster" 20 foot power skiff (the day was better than the night,
      more on that later). The occasion was a "familiarization cruise" sponsored
      by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and our local volunteer environmental
      study team, which monitors the water quality of St. Andrew Bay, our local

      There is a plan afoot to relocate and expand the regional airport, moving it
      to a site between two tidal creeks in an area that has been sequestered from
      development ever since the the sawmills clear-cut the pine forest a century
      ago. This cruise was to visit the affected watershed, and show a cadre of
      environmental activists just where the airport is going and the potential

      The cruise was to set off from several local boat ramps at 6 AM Thursday,
      and I knew the only way I would make it was to spend the night afloat. My
      friend Bob Vickery was to go too, and we agreed I would pick him up from his
      dock at 6 AM.

      I launched the "Coaster" about 6 PM on Wednesday,found a nice anchorage with
      an onshore breeze, loaded the CD player and settled in. About 9 PM, the
      wind reversed to offshore, and the mosquitoes attacked!! I thought "no
      problem, just move across the bay..." This worked until about midnight,
      when the wind died completely, and the mosquitoes returned in earnest. I
      had slathered on the repellant, but these guys were in my ears, between my
      toes, everywhere! I finally remembered that I had 3 yards of "no see-um"
      screen under the bunk, left over from the Cedar Key Cruise in May, where we
      did not need it. I unrolled it and wrapped myself like a mummy, finally
      bringing them under control, but a bit warm on this muggy night. We have
      had a 3 year drought, broken with lots of rain this summer - thus 4 years of
      mosquito hatchlings!

      After picking Bob up at 6 AM, we rendezvoused with the fleet and convoyed 12
      miles at about 22 mph, to the mouth of the tidal creek. Several more boats
      joined us, some people offloaded to pontoon boats provided by the
      "authorities", and we proceeded up-creek. This is a tidal blackwater creek
      whose fauna changes from saltwater Spartina grass to brackish sawgrass to
      freshwater cat-tails as we proceed upstream. We stop at a sand bluff for a
      lecture by a retired ecologist, then the group splits up - we elect to
      continue upstream, which we do at displacement speed, about 6 mph. The
      creek narrows, but is surprisingly deep (15-20 feet) in the bends. After
      about 5 miles, it is so narrow and has so many windfall trees across that
      we turn back. We could have continued with some care, but it was really
      "canoe country" upstream. A delightful backcountry cruise.

      We decamp to a local seafood/crab shack for lunch, then agree to shuttle a
      couple (who are running late for an appointment ) back to their car at a
      boat launch near the mouth of the creek - this is a run of 6 miles or so
      across the bay, which we do at 24 mph running with a 1-foot chop. After
      dropping off the couple, we cruise back to our end of the bay at 16 mph,
      very comfortable quartering with the chop. I love this boat! It is very
      versatile, behaving like a fast sailboat or trawler when appropos, and
      having the turn of speed when needed...

      Don Hodges
      Your Emerald Coast Cyber-Vacation
      Small-Boat Building, Fishing, Cruising
      UPDATED Opinion on Local Issues
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