St Andrews in Panama City Florida

I am going down there to camp in the campground. I would like to cross the channel to Shell Island. Could someone let me know what to expect from the channel? It doesn’t look far but the big ships move faster than you think and it looks like the chop could get bad. Thanks for any help you can give.


Hang on for your life
I go out there usually a couple times every summer by motorboat but I haven’t gone in my yak yet. That channel can have some enormous waves kicking up in it! I’ve seen six foot wakes (sometimes higher) coming off boats out there, especially that Sea Screamer speed boat…Even small motorboats can get swamped out there.

I plan on yaking out shell island this year but I’ll try to arrange a way to ferry my yak over there. You may try the Shell Island ferry from St. Thomas Park. Or, you could always drive across the channel on that back beach road - there has to be somewhere to launch over there.

Or, you could just go for it - wait for the waters to calm and paddle like hell! If you go near the jetties in the park, it may only be a few hundred feet or so. But that’s still tough in that brutal channel…If you make it back alive, let me know how you did it!

St Andrews
I have camped at the state park and paddled to Shell Island several times, and highly recommend it. There is lots of boat traffic, including the “Screamer” already noted and lots of sports fishemen in the 30 -40 foot range. Most do not expect and are not looking for paddle craft in the inlet, so certainly be defensive. The traffic is much lighter during the winter and on weekdays.

What Memories…
I used to go there as a kid. The channel can get rough and just too much powerboat traffic. Be very careful. I bet they don’t get many kayakers down there even now.

Also keep your distance from the jetty. The waves are from big boats and are unpredictable. I do know you don’t want to end up on that jetty.

I was down there last February
From St Andrews Park It is about 800 meters straight across. We didn’t do it because it was red flag the whole time we were down there. I also had open canoes, not yaks.

Instead of heading straight across from Andrews I would go into the Bay and angle across. The waves and wakes may not be as concentrated there.

check out this
They will shuttle you across and rent you a kayak!

Good Idea
If I am correct the water is very shallow from alligator point out to the main channel. This is about 1/2 mile inland from the cut. This might also avoid the washing machine affect of waves inside tight channels. Of course so much depends on the weather. I am going down the middle of May so maybe high pressures will have moved in by then.