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Cruise with Capt. Greg aboard Osprey Charters

June 27, 2014 by Audrey Johnson

Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay, Shell Island reflects the push and pull of the delicate coastal ecosystem. White sand blankets the shoreline and gives way to tall pines, scrub bushes, and moss-draped oaks of St. Andrews State Park. A lone cabin sits high on stilts, clinging to life until the next hurricane. Life there is Florida as nature intended.

Captain Greg Burnett has 25 years of experience navigating the Gulf and St. Andrews Bay. As owner of Osprey Charters, he earns his living doing what he loves, and credits his wife for encouraging him to take the leap. Capt. Greg gets a kick out of showing people around his neck of the woods.

“They like seeing the stuff that I take for granted every day,” he says.

The Panama City Beach native has witnessed more than his fair share of nature’s miracles aboard his Carolina Skiff. He once saw a dolphin give birth and nuzzle her calf up to the surface of the water to take its first breath. Within seconds momma and baby were rolling on top of the waves like dolphins do. Then there was the time he followed five Hammerhead Sharks around St. Andrews Bay, just to see what they were up to.

In addition to being a nature lover, Capt. Greg is a brilliant conversationalist. He has an uncanny ability to put people at ease. When he took Gov. Rick Scott inshore fishing, he put him on a 40-inch Redfish the first cast. But the real accomplishment - he took an intense, high-profile politician out fishing, and in the process, helped him decompress.

That’s really what adventure is all about. Spending time in nature and understanding there’s a much, much bigger picture unfolding before you, and in spite of you. Observing life on that grand of a scale makes stress seem like a waste of time. Maybe this realization is why Capt. Greg is so laid back.

If you ever get the chance, ask him to crank up Osprey I or II and take you fishing or dolphin cruising or snorkeling along shallow schooner wrecks and petrified stumps for sand dollars. Or watch as Ospreys hover in the air looking for food, before torpedoing into the water then flying into the wind with their catch.

Escape to a place where time is not charted by years, but by the names of hurricanes, with a captain who is intimately familiar with this world away from condos and tourist traps.

Osprey Charters is located at Bay Point Marina, 3824 Hatteras Lane, Panama City, FL 32408. Osprey, a 22 ft. Cape Horn Bay Skiff capable of hosting up to 4 passengers, is designed for working the shallowest flats but still capable of fishing open bay waters and coastal beaches. Osprey II, a 25' Carolina skiff that can host up to 12 passengers, is ideal for dolphin watching, snorkeling, and sightseeing around Shell Island. Call (850) 233-1959 or (850) 814-8016 to make your reservation. Learn more about Osprey Charters at www.fishosprey.com.

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Audrey Johnson

Upon realizing that life is too short not to follow her dreams, Audrey moved to the beach and became a writer. SoWal’s pristine beaches inspire her to explore further, look deeper, and do better.

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