Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!
The sun is setting over Mobile Bay and the 2016 cruising season.
Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.
Summary of week: There is a small community on the east side of Mobile Bay that the crew wanted to visit so they left Dog River on a rising tide to make their way to Fairhope, Alabama. After visiting a few days, they shoved off for the ultimate destination this week, The Wharf in Orange Beach. They made one stop along the way to enjoy a late lunch at LuLu’s.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Mobile Bay is known for shallow water so the crew took it slow and easy as they travelled the 10 miles across the Bay. The channel leading out into the Bay seemed much larger since the crew was not fighting the howling winds and waves. They crossed the Big Ship Channel with no vessels in sight and then steered towards the Municipal Pier in Fairhope.
Active Captain navigation alerts warned to stay on the south side of the entrance channel to the Municipal Marina to find the deepest water. As the crew entered the channel the water depth dropped to five feet. The depth stayed five feet all the way to the dock. As the crew was docking, the Admiral noticed the crews of Arora B and Bright Angel standing on the pier.
After the boat was landed safely, the crew enjoyed lunch at Shucks, a restaurant right on the pier known for its oysters. After lunch, it was time to go explore the town.
Fairhope has ranked high on many lists as a best place to retire. After visiting the crew can see why.
The town was started as an experiment by 28 followers of economist Henry George back in November 1894. They formed an Association with a vision to “establish and conduct a model community, free from all forms of private monopoly, and to secure to its members therein equality of opportunity, the full reward of individual efforts, and the benefits of co-operation in matters of general concern.”
The corporation initially bought 4,000 acres along the east shore of Mobile Bay. Then the corporation leased the land back to the people. The corporation kept the land along the Bay for the general good of the community. Many of the town folks gather along the shore each night to watch the sunsets over the western shore. The Bay front property is now all parks, walking and biking trails.
A few locals out enjoying the bike trail along the shore.
Today, there all still 1800 lease holders of the original 4,00 acres.
The 4×4 block downtown area is beautiful. The streets are lined with trees, there are large brick paved sidewalks, colorful flower gardens and hanging baskets decorate the area. The people were friendly and took a lot of pride in their town. Definitely, a place to come back and visit again.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
One of the things the crew tries to do when the weather is looking bad is to weigh the risk and rewards of venturing out in bad weather. There was dense heavy fog when the skipper woke up. On Monday, the fog lifted around 0900. Today, the forecast was calling for the fog to lift at 0900 also. The crew waited till 0900 and the fog was beginning to burn off again. The crew cast off the lines at 0915 and headed out into Mobile Bay.
Unfortunately, as the crew got further from shore the fog got worse. The skipper plotted a new course that would keep them closer to shore, in 10 foot of water, and away from the Big Ship Channel. The crew cruised south the length of the Bay in the heavy fog for four hours.
The risk seems to be way more than any reward at this point. Just when you think it cannot get any worse though, it does. The skipper was trying to turn the radar on so he could at least “see” any ships on the radar screen before the ships got to close. Only problem was that the radar did not seem to be cooperating. After a half hour of frustration, the skipper decided it would be best to stay focused looking out the front rather than the non-functioning radar screen.
Good news, at about 1240, the crew entered the Gulf Intercostal Waterway (GIWW). Bad news, there might be more vessels in the area.
The navigational aids marking the GIWW Channel were only a half mile apart, but the fog was still so heavy the markers were not spotted until the crew was almost on top of them.
As the crew continued east towards land the fog began to slowly lift. The crew did over take this sailboat. I guess our crew are not the only fools caught by the ‘fog will clear at 0900 weather forecast.’
It was a good feeling when the skipper could finally see a string of navigational aids leading the way east. Not a good day when the view below is good.
Once the fog cleared, the crew began to see multiple pods of dolphins. They probably saw 30-40 dolphins in the five miles to LULU’s. The Admiral was excited to start seeing dolphins again. She went out on the bow so she could watch the dolphins swim in the bow wake. One dolphin jumped completely out of the water twice as he raced to the boat.
But if you think the Admiral gets excited when she sees dolphins, check out Lucas and Marcos when they see dolphins for the very first time in their lives. Lucas and Marcos are from Peterborough, Canada and are doing the loop with their parents on a 26 foot sailboat.
If you want to see Americas Great Loop thru the eyes of second and fifth grade boys, follow their adventure at: Cruising on Living Life.
The crew decided to do a Dock and Dine at LULU’s. This is a restaurant operated by Lucy Buffett, that is right, Jimmy Buffett’s sister. Some of the Admiral’s cousins had eaten here back in October and had to wait 90 minutes to get a table. Our crew motored up to the joint, docked, and walked up and got a table. The food was good and the atmosphere was fun.
The crew had another four miles before they docked at The Wharf. The skipper had called ahead to get their slip assignment at the marina. The staff told them Dock H, slip 98, stern in, starboard side tie. Excellent, just the way the crew likes to land. The Admiral got the lines all ready for the starboard tie and put three fenders down for the floating docks.
When the crew arrived at Dock H, slip 98, there was already a boat in the slip. The dock hand called back to the office and got a new assignment, Dock, H slip 88. So much for prior proper planning. This would be a port side tie so the Admiral had to move the fenders and lines all over to the port side. After the boat was made ready, the skipper backed the boat into the slip.
The first order of business was to troubleshoot the pesky radar. As one might expect, now that the radar is not needed it fired right up and started working.
This is just how some days roll on the Great Loop.
Next Week – The crew will head back to Texas to enjoy Christmas with family and friends.
Merry Christmas from The Wharf to all the virtual crew members and fellow adventurers out there, and have a Happy New Year!
We will resume the Great Loop Adventure mid-January. Current thoughts are to cruise the Florida panhandle in January. Then cross the Gulf over to the west coast of Florida early February.
Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.
Eric the Red