The author’s boat, Chip Ahoy, berthed inside the U-shaped inner pier of the White City Docks. The public park and boat launch offer superb shelter from stormy weather—and the price is right.
Ivy radioed back: “No problem getting around on the port side, Chip Ahoy.” “Roger that.” We were able to proceed past the vessel in distress, which was stuck in a cove off the channel, as well as the assist boat, which was well to starboard inside the markers. It would not be the last time that the McGoverns provided valuable local info. Recess had left a spot for Chip Ahoy at the deepest end of the inner White City dock. Dave had set up the Coleman camping stove in the White City picnic pavilion. While their clam chowder supper was heating, we joined them for a taste of the aged Irish cheddar they’d picked up during their recent travels. When I told them that Scott’s favorite hobby is scouting out local grocery stores, Ivy noted that the Carrabelle IGA is right up his alley and right across the street from The Moorings. “They have the best pizza,” Ivy says. “I hope we never get a chain pizza place that would spoil it.” The McGoverns also have a 22-foot Catalina, Rambler, that they often sail on their local waters. While it’s one of the most popular trailerable sailing vessels in production, Dave says that the O’Day ultimately proved more adaptable to the family’s out-of-area sailing expeditions. The trailersailors enjoyed camping in Bahia Honda State Park and would like to explore more of the Florida Keys. The Anclote Key-Tarpon Springs-Dunedin area also ranks high on their list of sailing destinations to revisit. Favorite local anchorages include the coves on either end of Dog Island. Dave cautions that the inner Tyson’s Harbor anchorage can be skinny in spots. Ivy says Shipping Cove offers good holding close to shore. The couple noted that in north winds, anchoring off Carrabelle Beach may be a better-protected option. Recess has a three-foot draft; having run aground more than once themselves over the years, Ivy and Dave are sensitive to what a pain it can be. All of their recommendations accommodate Chip Ahoy’s five-foot draft. Mico is anxiously waiting for his turn to contribute to the conversation. “We ran aground at Caledesi,” he volunteers, as mom and dad chuckle. Although that incident can 54 April 2013
be chalked up to a minor navigational error, Ivy and Dave agree that it is too shallow for Chip Ahoy. They highly recommend nearby Dunedin for its interesting village and helpful marina staff. “No marina we’ve stayed at is as good as The Moorings,” says Ivy loyally, adding that they did enjoy stays on the docks in Shalimar and Panama City. The family also stopped in Apalachicola, 20 miles from Carrabelle. As we compared notes about the reception visiting cruisers receive there, she put her finger on the crux of the matter: Transient boaters are tiny fish in a big pond. Commercial fishing operations by far provide the largest income stream. “That is why they are indifferent,” she shrugs. “Remember, their main business is fuel.” School duties called, and Recess departed White City a day before we did. They kindly called after crossing troublesome Lake Wimico, where shoaling is an ongoing concern. In spring 2011, we’d found just 5.5 feet near markers 7, 8, 9 and 10. Recess sounded seven feet of water in the danger zone, alleviating worries and reinforcing the need to travel across this shallow-but-snippy body of water at high tide with good visibility. “I don’t like that lake very much,” young Mico had confessed, after telling another true sailing tale of the time “dad grounded the boat in the fog. We stopped moving and we shut everything down and called TowboatUS,” said the polite, lively charmer. He’s been sailing from infancy; mom and dad hope that he’s developed a lifelong habit. “Sometimes I wonder what it will be like when he’s 15 or 16. Will he not want to go?” Ivy muses. As the youngster showed me his fish drawings and told me about his very own boat, a skiff named Shine (“I plan to put some suns on it”), I got the feeling that mom and dad don’t have much to worry about. Mico, named for his Native American heritage, has definitely caught the boating bug. Dave was also on the water from boyhood. “I grew up sailing in Hawaii,” he says. “I’ve been hooked ever since.” Dave credits his Native American roots for a selfresilient nature, as much honed by hunting and living off the land as being out on the water whenever possible. The menagerie at the McGovern family farmstead includes two horses and Pablo the parrot. “He’s the perfect parrot colors: green, red and yellow,” says Mico. Pablo doesn’t love everyone. “He’s mom’s,” the youngster says. Ivy draws on a strong Native American heritage as well, and I think some of her vibrant composure must also come from teaching teens. “She’s definitely got the harder of the two teaching jobs,” says Dave. Ivy handles the sails with authority and never appears ruffled about anything, from docking in strong current to walking 23 blocks to a buffet restaurant that looked much closer on the Panama City map. She’s looking forward to the day when the family can spend more time on the water, making longer passages offshore. She tells of a couple of families they’ve met who traveled around the world taking two years, home-schooling aboard. The educator can definitely envision her family embarking on a similar voyage. “We love it out here on the water,” she says, smiling. “I really have to start keeping a journal of all these precious times we’ve had.” Then the busy mom is back on her feet again, helping Mico rebait his hook as he fishes off the White City pier. www.southwindsmagazine.com