I took the pic. above – the sun setting through the Pensacola Pier. The pier is 1,471 feet long. Compare that to a football field that has a length of 300 feet from goal line to goal line and 360 feet if you count the end zones. The pier is 26 feet above the water and 22 feet wide. It has cracks where the rainwater can seep down through the wood. At the end of the pier, the water is approximately 20 feet deep.

The current pier was completed in 2001 at a cost of 5.6 million dollars. The cost to go out on the pier is $2.25 and you get a wristband that is good for the whole day. Children under 6 are free.

Northwest Florida gets an occasional strong hurricane and that’s a major consideration in the construction of the structure. The current pier has concrete piles, caps and beams and thick wood decking. The decking was designed to break away during a major hurricane, in an attempt to ensure that the piles and caps will survive.

Hurricane Opal – October 4, 1995

The 60-year old wooden pier that was here at Pensacola Beach was pretty much destroyed by Hurricane Opal on Oct. 4, 1995. Opal produced a storm surge of 6-8 feet in the Pensacola area (and higher than that to the east of Pensacola). The peak gust of wind at the Pensacola Airport was 79 mph and the airport got 7.27″ of rain from the storm The storm caused over two BILLION dollars in damage in the U.S. The cloud shield from Opal was massive. Here you can see that while the eye of the storm was coming onshore at Pensacola, the clouds from the storm extended north to Chicago, Grand Rapids and Saginaw. Officially, the storm was classified a Category Three at landfall. There’s video of Opal, including a few seconds of the waves and wind at the pier in this piece from WJHG.

Fishing on the Pensacola Pier

This is a pic. I took of someone fishing on the pier. While I was there, I counted four fishermen that caught large fish. This gentleman said it was a Bonito and you can see it was maybe 18″ long. Two of the other fish I saw were also Bonitos – one was about 2-feet.

One guy caught a large fish…very large. In fact, it was so big that he didn’t think he could lift it out of the water on the line that he was using. So…he walked the fish along the side of the pier from the middle of the pier all the way to shore, where another fisherman was waiting with a heavy net. During his walk down the pier, he disrupted dozens of other fishermen (and women) and other tourists. This was not a problem, as everyone congratulated the guy for catching a big fish. I didn’t see what it was, but it was not a bonito.

Great Blue Heron on the pier

There were lots of birds on the pier and many were quite tame – used to people. This Great Blue Heron sat down on the railing to pose for my camera.

Pelicans on the pier

Here’s a couple of friendly pelicans on the pier. You might remember that about five years ago, I had the really bad idea that I could pet a pelican. That did not end well for me. My wife kept calling these birds penguins for some reason…so this has become another standing joke – when we see a pelican, we now call it a penguin.

It was fun to watch the pelicans fish. They can skim inches above the water and then can dive down to get a fish.

Gull that posed for my camera on the Pensacola Pier

This was a gull that came down next to me while I was sitting on a bench on the pier. Watch your step and watch where you put your hands on the railings…lots of gull droppings on the pier.

The Florida Panhandle roughly straddles two of North America’s major bird-migration corridors, the Atlantic and Mississippi flyway, which means a tremendous number of songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl fly through twice a year. More than 300 bird species have been recorded in the Pensacola area. I saw an osprey land on the pier.

On the pier, I’ve seen giant turtles, a shark and several dolphins. I scanned the horizon much of the day and spotted only two boats that were far out on the horizon and hard to see. One was a sailboat and the other a larger ship.

With the 3-5 foot waves, pleasure craft and fishermen stayed in the sound or the bay. It was interesting that the size of the waves remained pretty constant all the time we were here. We had brisk 15-20 mph winds the first day, but the average wind the past two days was just 4.7 mph. Despite the relatively calm winds, the waves continued to be 3-5 feet (more like 2-4 feet on Sunday, perhaps). The flag color on the beach has been yellow (caution) for 2-5 foot waves each day we’ve been here in Pensacola.

Pensacola set a daily record high temperature of 79 on Sunday. The average high temperature is 66. The low temperature was 64. The high on Saturday was 78. So, Gayle and hit a very summery few days.

A final note – the Blue Angels are headquartered in Pensacola and when they are not out touring the country, they practice here in the area. We have not seen them during the time we were here, but practice schedules are often posted, so people on the beaches and piers can get a good view.