Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Orange Beach, AL to Pensacola, FL

Date             November 30, 2011
Day              155
Departure     The Wharf Marina, Orange Beach, AL 9:00 am                               
Arrival          Palafox Pier and Yacht Harbor, Pensacola, FL 1:10 pm  
Miles                30.1  
Cumulative   3451.8

Finally the winds have subsided, although it is still on the chilly side, we will move on.  Although it was cool, we were warm on the flybridge since we had all the windows zipped closed.  This made for a very pleasant and comfortable day.  Today marks five months and one day we have been traveling on the boat and also the day we entered Florida.  Yippee, that means warmth and sunshine, right?  Why then is the mercury not cooperating?  The high today was only 56-58 degrees!  Oh well, I guess it could be worse.
We were welcomed to Florida by a number of dolphins.  As we traveled along, they would come and join us.  They would swim directly under the bow, just under the water.  In order to see them, Lynda had to lean over the bow rail and look straight down.  They were so close, I was afraid that we would bump them with the boat!
One of them jumped out of the water and I was able to get a shot before he dove back in (notice how much bluer the water is here than it has been up to now!).
We traveled through Perdido Bay and could see the pass that led out to the Gulf of Mexico.  We don't have to go in the Gulf as yet, we can continue on in the protected intercoastal waterway.

We arrived at our destination, Palafox Pier and Yacht Harbor, early afternoon.  Now that we are back in saltwater, the boat needs to be rinsed down at the end of each day's travel in order to remove the salt.  So a quick wash down, time to relax, shower, and then dinner.  We ate at the restaurant Jaco's, which is located right here at the marina, and enjoyed tonight's sunset as we enjoyed our dinner.
Our plans are to stay here one night and move on tomorrow.  Let's hope the weather co-operates with our plans!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Still in Orange Beach, AL - DOLPHINS!

Date             November 28-29, 2011
Day              153-154
Departure     Undecided at 9:30 am 11-29-11                              
Arrival          The Wharf Marina, Orange Beach, AL  
Miles                 0.0  
Cumulative   3421.7

Monday (11-28-11) morning arrived somewhat rainy and cold.  We decided to stay another day in Orange Beach.  As we were cleaning up from breakfast, we saw a Mainship 34 traveling on the intercoastal, it was Last Chance from Canada!  We hadn't seen Martin and Allison since Joe Wheeler State Park, at the AGLCA Rendezvous.  Lynda called them on the VHF radio and chatted briefly, they were headed to Pensacola, FL.
The folks next to us on the dock are from Mississippi, and have a DeFever, Kristin Nicole.  They hope to start the Loop in the next year or two, so we spent some time with them talking about our adventures. 
Later in the afternoon we headed out to West Marine, Bob needed a few boat supplies.  The temperature is supposed to drop into the 30's tonight, glad we are at the dock and can run the heater!

Tuesday (11-29-11) morning, we haven't decided if we will travel today.  It is cold and windy outside and the cabin is comfy and warm.  Check back later for an update on whether we move today.
UPDATE - We decided to stay in Orange Beach until tomorrow, Wednesday.  Enjoyed the Christmas tree lighting at the Wharf, see below!!
One thing we did see this morning, however, were dolphins!  We are no more than 100 feet from the intercoastal, with a clear view of the waterway.  Lynda saw a few dolphins and ran out to take some pictures.  Dolphins are extremely hard to photograph; by the time you see them and get the camera on them, they are gone!  Here are my best shots.

Christmas tree before the lights came on
Christmas tree all lit up for the holidays

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fairhope, AL to Orange Beach, AL

Date             November 26-27, 2011
Day              151-152
Departure     Eastern Shore Marine, Fairhope, AL    9:00 am                              
Arrival          The Wharf Marina, Orange Beach, AL 1:30 pm  
Miles                35.0   
Cumulative   3421.7

The forecast called for winds with gusts to 15-20 mph and a slight chop on Mobile Bay.  We hoped by leaving mid-morning the winds and waves wouldn't have built on Mobile Bay to much before we could get to the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway (GIWW).  It is hard to believe that a body of water as large as Mobile Bay it only about 12 feet deep.  You really have to pay attention to the charts as it can get shallow very quickly!  It was somewhat breezy and the chop was about three feet, but the ride was not uncomfortable; it really was quite pleasant!
Mile Marker 120.  This is the 1st marker we come to on the Intercoastal Waterway.
Ahead is the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway as it goes between land (like a canal)
Below is Lulu's Restaurant.  It is owned by Lulu Buffet.  I'm sure everyone is familiar with her famous brother, Jimmy, who is known to stop in now and then.  We didn't stop for lunch as I am told the marina we are stopping at is only 1 mile away.  As we traveled along the intercoastal waterway we saw our first dolphin, even if it was only a fleeting glance!  We saw it come to the surface ahead of us and swim by.  I saw it porpoise to the surface a couple of times and I was hoping it would turn around and follow along with us, but it kept going.  Oh well, I'm sure there will be more and you can bet I will do my best to get a picture or two of them!
Lulu Buffet's restaurant
 Here is our stop for the day, The Wharf Marina.  Unfortunately, I was given misinformation, it is 3 1/2 miles from Lulu's and is on the other side of the waterway, besides.  The marina does not have a courtesy car, the manager will let you use hers but we chose not to.  So we skipped eating at Lulu's and ate at the restaurant at the marina, Shucker's Oyster Bar, which was very good.
The shopping area right behind the marina has started to decorate for Christmas
I'm not sure which looks more out of place, the Christmas decorations or the palm trees!
The next day, Sunday, was rainy mostly all day so we stayed tied to the dock.  However, just as the sun was going down, it started to clear!

Still in Fairhope, AL

Date             November 25, 2011
Day              150
Departure     No travel today                                    
Arrival          Eastern Shore Marine, Fairhope, AL   
Miles                 0.00   
Cumulative   3386.7

Ken, from Loop Dreams, and Bob wanted to visit the USS Alabama Memorial Park so together we rented a  car and we all took a drive.   The USS Alabama is a battleship and the ship and all displays are supported by donations.  The ship is open for self-guided tours and you can go from the engine room all the way up to just below the conning tower.  The ship has been restored and there are many items on display inside.

Welcome Aboard!!
Bob sitting at one of the guns
This gives you an idea how HUGE the guns are
On site there is also a restored submarine.  It is amazing just how narrow and small this ship was and how confined the crew of 36 men!

To get through the hatches, you had to step over and duck your head!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Date             November 24, 2011
Day              149
Departure     No travel  - Thanksgiving Day                                       
Arrival          Eastern Shore Marine, Fairhope, AL     
Miles                 0.0    
Cumulative   3386.7

Bob and I would like to thank Bob and Vicki Riggs for opening their lovely home to us and approximately twenty-six other loopers.  We had a terrific Thanksgiving Day dinner that otherwise would have been spent by just the two of us on our boat.  Thank you for your warm southern hospitality!
The Dinner

The Desserts
And of course, the people!!
(Bob and Vickie, our wonderful hosts, down in front!)
This pelican wishes you good-night (and happy he's not a turkey)!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Fairhope, AL Until 11-25-11

Date             November 21-25, 2011
Day              146-149
Departure     No travel                                         
Arrival          Eastern Shore Marine, Fairhope, AL     
Miles                 0.0    
Cumulative   3386.7

We are still in Eastern Shore Marine and will be here through Friday, November  25th.
On Monday, we, along with Ken and Barbara on Loop Dreams, took the marina courtesy car and did some local sightseeing and grocery shopping.  It's also time for haircuts.  Bob last had his haircut in September back in Michigan and Lynda hasn't had a cut since before leaving on the Loop on June 29th!  So we went looking for hair salons, but since it was Monday most were closed!  On Tuesday Lynda was able to make an appointment for the following day; they also accept walk-ins, hopefully Bob will be able to get in there too!  Tuesday night, Barbara and Ken (Loop Dreams), and Jim and Dale (Sweet Pea) joined us for dinner in downtown Fairhope.  We all enjoyed our meals and the great conversation.
A local fisherman showing us his catch, a mullet.  He had a bucketful of  about 20!
Bob and Lynda, and
Ken and Barbara on the pier in Fairhope
This is a Civil War era live oak tree on the grounds of the Grand Hotel in Fairhope
Looks like Santa is expected to arrive soon!
But it still looks like summer here!!
The sunsets here are absolutely amazing
Monday, November 21st
Wednesday, November 23rd
On Thursday, we will be enjoying Thanksgiving at the home of Vickie and Bob Riggs, AGLCA Loopers that completed their Loop in 2008, along with 35 other Loopers that are currently doing the loop and are in this area.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We're in Mobile Bay and SALT WATER!

Date             November 20, 2011
Day              145
Departure     Big Briar Creek Anchorage 9:15 am                                        
Arrival          Eastern Shore Marine, Fairhope, AL 1:20 pm     
Miles                27.9    
Cumulative   3386.7

Leaving the anchorage, we went by this house and a family enjoying their Sunday at their fish camp; then two girls using a fish net along the shore to catch some fish.  Then the red bottom boat caught up with us and escorted us to the Mobile River.  As we left them, the young boys gave us the "thumbs up"!
The landscape along the river banks has changed dramatically.  It is now very flat and feels more tropical (note the fan palms on the river bank).
Following are sights along the Mobile River, in the Port of Mobile, AL.  There were tows and barges coming from every direction.  We had to be constantly watchful and alert.

Loading a large container ship
A different type of tug than we have previously come across

Downtown Mobile skyscrapers
More ships

A ship in drydock, having its bottom painted.  More bottom than we would ever want to paint!

Look, Mobile Bay ahead.  We have made it back to salt water!!!

Wishing us well in our continued travels!!
Securely docked in Fairhope, AL and as the sun sets over Mobile Bay, we say good night!