Panama City Beach Coastal Sailing

  I will be spending time with my family in Panama City, Florida alot this summer.   I know St Andrews bay is a great place to sail as I know they have a FS fleet there.  My question:  For a calm day, is it safe to sail outside the bay and along the beachfront , or visit the popular Shell Island wildlife refuge along the coast?   What would you do/pack differently for day sailing near shore?