Monday, December 29, 2014

Crossing is done!

Monday, December 29 - Well, we are happy to say we have crossed the Gulf and are in Clearwater, FL this evening.

We left Carrabelle, FL, C-Quarters Marina at 1 PM on Saturday, December 27 and were docking our boat at the Clearwater Harbor Marina by 10:35 AM on Sunday, December 28.

It wasn't without issues...wallering around in sloshy waves for about 6 or 7 hours...but the majority of the trip was smooth.  It wasn't a scary ride, just a very uncomfortable ride.  And it seemed the water was being pushed from a couple of directions.  Trouble was...I obviously hadn't taken enough motion sickness medication and turned green.  Wayne ended up doing the majority of the piloting by necessity.  He ended up staying awake the whole 21+ hours.  I napped a couple of times on the bench near the upstairs helm, finally "recovering" about half way through the trip.

We had to negotiate several boat passings during the trip, which was interesting.  And we enjoyed the company of our "buddies" on Vivens Aqua.

We are glad to have it behind us since the longer in the winter we waited, the fewer windows for crossing we would have.  Now we know we will be moored at Marina Jack's in Sarasota by January 1.

Tomorrow we start the two day trip down to Sarasota, stopping in the evening at an anchorage off the Tampa Bay.  I'll be back to the blog when we return in mid-January.  Meanwhile, have a safe and happy New Years celebration and see you in 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Greetings from St. Andrews Marina, Panama City, FL

Tuesday, December 23-



This webcam snapshot shows us alongside the transient dock.  We're about midway in the picture and in the lower half...with lights on in the salon.

We traveled yesterday from Joe's Bayou across the Chocktawhatchee Bay.  It was a little "rolly" for about an hour, but turned into a descent travel day, in spite of the occasional shower.  The weather looks stormy today...and lousy through Christmas Day.  We're hoping Friday might bring an opportunity to move on.

Meanwhile, a photo journey over the past couple of days traveling.


Flurries in the Gulf???  No, just the white Gulf sands...




A look at the weather yesterday morning as we left the Destin area.




Later in the day yesterday when we saw clearing in the distance.




Entering the straight section between Chocktawhatchee Bay and West Bay.




Cutest!! Dolphin playing alongside the boat as we entered the West Bay just outside Panama City...


video




Historic St. Andrews street scene.




The sailboat, Irish Mist, just down the dock from us.  They won 1st prize in the Parade of Lights here in Panama City a couple of weekends ago.  Last night they took a spin around the bay with lights ablaze and Christmas carols singing out.  They're going to do the same on Christmas Eve.  It's a beautifully done light job!




And...a few "mood shots" from last night in the marina.  We're right across from some commercial fishing vessels.






















Sunday, December 21, 2014

Video of the generator being removed

I've posted the video to YouTube.  Mark is on the back deck and Gary is operating the forklift.

Bye, bye Pensacola

Sunday, December 21 -

At 10:30 Friday morning we got off the boat so Mark and the guys who help him at the marina could get the boat in position for removing the generator.  It hasn't rained in Pensacola for a long, long time.  That morning it poured..but only for a little while.  It ended up staying cloudy but dry until late in the day, allowing the forklift portion of the installation to be handled without everyone getting soaked.

We made a video of the forklift procedure removing the generator and I hope to have it posted on YouTube soon.  What was amazing to me about the whole thing is that the boat was floating out in the haul-out bay.  It was held in position by people standing on each side dock holding lines attached to the bow and the stern.  Thankfully the winds were mild, because anything more could have made for some dicey times.  The team that worked with Mark has had a lot of experience working together doing just this very operation.  It was like watching a conductor at work to see Mark guiding the process.  Bottom line:  not a mark was made on the boat.  Not a drop of oil or fuel.  Nada.

Here's the forklift set up and ready to go.  Gary would take the driver's seat soon.




Wayne, checking out the new generator as it sat in the dry storage area.



Wayne peeking in the boat window when Mark and the crew were getting the old generator ready to be lifted out.




And, finally, two happy boat owners when the old generator had successfully been removed.



At 3:30 Friday afternoon they announced the new generator had been bolted down and the crew left leaving Mark to complete the install.  Mark said it would go quickly from this point on.

Six hours later... he turned the boat back over to us, still not quite finished.  He said there were just a lot of things he had to do to customize the fit.  At one point Wayne went down to tell him not to worry about trying to get the install done in time for us to leave.  We wanted him to take all the time he needed.  We'd go to a hotel that evening and wait until tomorrow.  But...Mark kept going until he just needed to quit.  Mark, Wayne, Lucy, and I were exhausted.

Wayne and I had set up camp in the marina office area where the laundry room and restrooms are located.  We pulled a couple of chairs from the bathroom/shower area, got our dog from her crate on the boat, a.k.a., "doggie prison," ordered takeout from the Oar House, and passed away the time from about 5:30 until Mark came in to tell us he was quitting for the night.



There was a bulletin board in front of us and we pretty much memorized the notices on there by the time we left.  There were a lot of warnings and guidelines for dealing with the red lionfish, a predator fish that is threatening other species in the area.  Apparently they are very tasty...so one memo encouraged consumers to request red lionfish when at local restaurants.  *Note to self*

This is a photo of the red lionfish one diver caught in one afternoon off a local wreck.  He said there were about 500 more down there.



The next morning Mark was back at work by 9:30 and spent three hours finishing the installation and then giving Wayne detailed information about the use and care of the unit.  Given the delays in shipment, Phasor obviously was very concerned about customer satisfaction (for us, yes, and especially for Mark).   Not only did they wave the shipping charges, but we received a unit with a higher output, 8 kw instead of 6.5 kw, and an industrial rating, meaning it is has the capability to run non-stop.

We can't say enough about Mark Hyma.  We count ourselves lucky to have found him...and doubly lucky to have had him take on our project.  He has an innate sense of what to do technically and the aptitude to absorb and recall volumes of information.  Mark has a working relationship with Bahia Mar Marina. He takes care of their equipment and in exchange he can use the marina's staff and resources at no cost.  For us that meant that the marina's part in Friday's experience (including the forklift and staff) was covered by Mark.  When you see the video, you will know that this whole team, Mark and the marina staff, is first rate!

We spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up the boat and a bit more laundry.  We ordered pizza from Papa Johns...and watched the local boat parade!




 Our last night in Pensacola....



This morning we left Pensacola and traveled to an anchorage called Joe's Bayou near Destin, FL.  We've finished supper and are watching the couple of TV channels we can acquire with our antenna ;-).  Tomorrow we plan to go on to Panama City, weather permitting.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Update from Pensacola

December 17, 2014 - Yesterday Wayne texted Mark, our generator guy, asking if he'd heard anything about a shipping confirmation from the manufacturer, Phasor.  Mark hadn't.  Later in the day, Mark forwarded to us a message Phasor had just sent to Mark.  Phasor was very apologetic for having missed not one, but two shipping dates.  They were going to try to ship it out yesterday evening...but "certainly" by today, which should mean a Friday delivery.  (Thank goodness we've at least escaped that mishap with the Fedex truck this week where hundreds of packages spilt on the roadway.  Anyway, the generator will be delivered by truck since it weighs 300 lbs.) Speaking of shipping, Phasor isn't going to charge for shipping forty minute  because of the delays...so there's that to be thankful for.

Mark says he can install the generator when it gets here Friday.  We'll probably run it all night just to burn off the "new," and leave for Ft. Walton Beach on Saturday.  It will likely take us 3 or 4 days to get within striking distance of the crossing.  In looking at the weather forecasts, the Gulf goes into a tizzy next Tuesday evening through Wednesday.  It's a pretty good bet we'll be munching on seafood this Christmas in Apalachicola...one of our favorite towns down here.

So, that's the state of affairs on Journey.  With a couple of extra days to hang around we decided to take a bus up to the mall and have lunch today.  Of course, we topped it off with a trip to the TCBY...


I had an interesting experience on the bus yesterday when I went up to the mall to pick up glasses I'd ordered.  On the trip home, I pulled the "stop requested" cord as we approached the marina bus stop and started gathering my stuff.  When I next looked up, the bus was rounding the corner onto a bridge!  I called out to the bus driver and she stopped the bus...but said she couldn't let me out on the bridge.  The bridge didn't look very pedestrian-friendly...so I ended up riding the bus until it turned around and came back my way.  Ah!  A tour of parts of Pensacola I hadn't seen yet!  ;-)

And...on Monday, before we returned our rental car, we ate at CJ's at the corner of Garden and Pace.  We count on TripAdvisor reviews a lot in new areas and CJ's got good reviews for breakfast.  It was good!  At the Enterprise office, while we were waiting for a ride back to the marina, I heard a man at the counter identify himself as owner of CJ's.  I went up and spoke to him, telling him we'd eaten there that morning.  He said he was actually the former owner and was now the owner of 5 Sisters Blues Cafe.  Well, we'd eaten there, too, a couple of weekends ago.  He asked if we were pleased with our meal and encouraged us to come back one night when they have live music.  Maybe next trip!!

That's all I have to share this evening, except this sunset photo with it's wavy layers of colorful clouds.




Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yep, we're still in Pensacola

Thursday, December 11 -  We moved the boat from Palafox Pier to Bahia Bar Marina Monday, December 1.  Nice  little marina with very few transients.  So far, we've had the washer and dryer to ourselves!  ;-)  This marina is further from downtown, but it's also a lot quieter.  Our only disturbances here come from the brown pelicans crashing into the water for their food.  This one just finished a snack and is off and running!



We've taken advantage of this layover to arrange delivery of some mail...and order some things from Amazon, etc. We're close to a bus stop and last week took off for the day to run errands via bus.  It was a day-long excursion since the buses only run once an hour.  Still, we got a lot done.  Wayne has been working on his to-do list.  Let's hope he doesn't get to the end!  Though, with every project removed another one or two seem to materialize...

There's a little park and beach nearby, Sanders Beach.  I've walked over there a couple of times.  We also walked to Joe Patti's restaurant (actually Joey Patti's) next to the seafood shop and lunched out a couple of days.  I've been to the Greek market again looking for produce.  Last weekend we rented another $10/day Enterprise special and caught up on groceries.  

Sunday we took the car to Pensacola Beach and had seafood nachos at Flounders.  We were entertained (well, Wayne would say "harassed") by a group of bagpipers in the restaurant.  I'll admit, it was a bit LOUD in the enclosed area.  When we finished lunch we realized the Christmas parade had just started...and we were a captive audience for the next 20-25 minutes.  Cute, actually.  Wish I'd had my phone with me for pics...but that's another story (We both got new phones last week.  I was "conditioning" the battery of my new Droid Turbo by running it down completely then recharging.  I left it on the boat that day in "recharging" phase.)

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous: 60's or 70's in the day, sunny.   This week brought in some cooler temps in the morning.  Still, it's very hospitable.  This is the weather we look forward to when cruising.  There's something about a sunny day on the water (no matter if the temperature is a bit cool) that lifts our spirits and brings up smiles from everyone we meet.

I've figured out a walking route from the marina through a local neighborhood.  This particular neighborhood is big on outside dogs and chain link fences...some of which don't look high enough to contain said dogs.  One block in particular is loaded with lunging barkers.  In looking for a work-around, I found a gem of a resource here, the Sanders Beach-Corine Jones Resource Center.  The Center is located right next to the bay and is beautifully designed with lots of windows and a boardwalk along the bay.



I went inside to see the facility and, on talking with the receptionist, found out that memberships are available for use of exercise facilities at a rate of $1/day.  Oh, and if you happen to be over 50...(ding, ding, ding...I think we have a winner!) the membership is free!  You don't even have to be a resident of the city.  They said, "just use it next time you pass through!"

So yesterday morning while Wayne was changing the oil I went up to the Center to register for a membership.  A Zumba class had started just before I got there, so I jumped in (literally) and experienced my first Zumba class.  I loved it, in spite of the sore muscles this morning.  ;-)

Yesterday afternoon, Mark, the generator expert, came by to begin disassembly of the old generator.  He finished up and will return when the new generator has arrived, hopefully late this week or early next.  We will then move to a different slip where they will lift the old generator out with a forklift and put in the new one.  There's a chance we could be in Sarasota for Christmas after all!

We have rented another weekend special from Enterprise to be picked up tomorrow morning.  Wayne and I both agree that if you need to "be somewhere" for a while, this marina is a nice place to be.  It's such a beautiful, peaceful view....  We woke to this view today.
(These sailors have been "warned"!)






Thursday, November 27, 2014

Home, sweet home...Pensacola

Wednesday, November 27 – Happy Thanksgiving!


Pensacola will be our home for a few more weeks. Last Friday we got our repaired alternator back and a new combiner installed for the electrical system. The repairman then decided it would be best for us to get a diesel expert in to work on the generator, since the output from generator was still a problem. Wayne called several services recommended by the local Westerbeke distributor...and wasn't having any luck getting anyone out to look at the problem in the near future. One of the calls was to a fellow with his own diesel repair service, Mark. Several people had referred to him, but would quickly add that he usually stayed booked up. Well, Friday afternoon, late, he called and said he would come by after the job he was on and look at the problem.

We had rented an Enterprise rental for the Friday – Monday weekend rate of $10/day, so we were up in the northern part of Pensacola when he called. We met him at the boat at 4:30 and he worked until 7 on the generator. I won't go into the technical details (cough, cough) but will summarize the situation by saying he fixed what was the “obvious” problem...and in the process he uncovered a more sinister issue. There was a “slapping” or “knocking” noise in the generator that couldn't be attributed to the normal operating sounds. Mark thought it might be caused by faulty fuel injectors, and that would be a pretty easy fix. The other things that could cause the slapping...not so easily fixed. There had obviously been some work done on the generator sometime in the past...and that work may have caused some of our problems now.

Friday night Mark removed the three injectors and placed them in a quart size baggy. On Monday morning, Wayne and I drove up to Atmore, AL, about an hour away, to have the injectors tested. They came out clean, no problem. [Oh, if I'd only been able to take pictures in the Atmore Diesel “office!” It looked like they'd given up cleaning years ago. A filthy padded Swifter mop sat in a corner draped with cobwebs. From my perspective, across the room from Travis' desk, I could see all the dirt and debris under the desk, about 2” deep, I'd say.) A mounted moose head was on the wall with two costume hats perched on its “rack.” And Travis was a gem! Answered the phone with “Pam here!” and charged a whopping $9 to test the injectors.]

So now we were looking at something that would require a rebuild...and that would cost almost as much as a new generator. Bottom line: after much consideration (for our peace of mind, etc.) we decided to take care of this issue with a new generator. Mark ordered it on Monday and it will likely be here around December 8-10.

On Monday, we will move the boat to Bahia Mar Marina, about 1 nautical mile from Palafox. Mark spends a lot of time at that marina and with us close at hand he will be able to dismantle the old generator and have it out before the new one comes in.

In the meantime, we've adjusted our plans (and expectations) and are feeling optimistic. We started looking forward and called a small marina in Ft. Myers Beach to see if transient space might be available for the month of February...and it is! Fish Tale Marina is located behind Santini Plaza on the south end of the island...a location we prefer. Gone is my problem with getting up to my art workshop on the island from downtown Ft. Myers where we'd originally planned to stay!

We've explored more in Pensacola, some by car, by bus, and some by foot. Last Thursday we caught a bus and went to the National Naval Aviation Museum. We'd visited back in 2010, but at that time they were working on a new exhibit to include aircraft from Vietnam and Gulf Wars. They had also added a section on lunar travel.







Loved the tires on that lunar rover! I could use those on my Golf!

The bus trip was worth the price of the fare (.85 for seniors). Great people-watching experience. ;-) Trouble is, the bus system is pretty limited in coverage and most routes seem to involve an hour's wait between buses.

We've lunched at several places, all good:

Al Fresco Pensacola, a collection of food trucks (Airstream trailers, actually) with a variety of food choices.  Perfect spot for lunch on a sunny Pensacola day!




McGuire's Irish Pub - They brew their own beer and their fish and fries were delicious.  Just seeing the inside of the place is a treat.





Hub Stacey's – Great little bar in a century-old building. Good, huge sandwiches.

Joe Patti's – Great seafood market about a mile from the marina. We bought already steamed shrimp for supper one night. They've got a great selection of seafood. If you're not hungry when you go in, you will be before you leave!








We walked over to our “new” home as of this coming Monday, Bahia Mar Marina, to check out the place. Looks very nice and protected (Palafox is a little rocky-rolly on the transient dock). We had lunch at Sam's Seafood and Steaks on the way (gumbo and shrimp salad)....then split a pecan cobbler with ice cream at the Oar House, Bahia Mar's onsite restaurant. Comfort foods. ;-)

While we had a car last weekend we found a frozen yogurt shop, Wild Honey Yogurt.  We hit two frozen yogurt locations before we found one that was still in business.  I hate to see this trend die just when we've gotten on the wagon!!  Thanks to Carol for that!!  ;-)

Yesterday I walked to the Ever'man Grocery downtown, a whole foods type place, and picked up some special vittles for Thanksgiving.  We're having homemade Autumn Soup with cheese and crackers today.

I toured the Pensacola Art Museum which has an exhibit titled: Guild Hall: An Adventure in the Arts. The exhibit features works by a variety of “significant” artists (oh, to be so labeled!) that lived and worked in East Hampton area of Long Island, NY, over the past 140 years. The names I recognized were Chuck Close, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol. I enjoyed the whole exhibit. Then I checked out the museum's gift shop and picked up (well, bought...I don't want to get caught again) a few items.

Coming home from the museum I saw a commotion at the county court house.  Turns out it was a group of carolers in costume...with an Elvis impersonator signing Elvis Christmas tunes.  This one was...you guessed it...Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree!



While walking around here we spotted a LittleFreeLibrary.  Take a book, leave a book...







And...we're seeing fall colors!








Again, Happy Thanksgiving! This and every day we are grateful for each other, for our families and friends, our health, and for the opportunities afforded to us in life. 'Til next time...




































Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sunny Pensacola, Florida

Thursday, November 20 -

Monday and Tuesday at Orange Beach Marina were spent 1) staying warm...



...and 2) doing indoor projects.  Wayne did a remodeling of the shower stall by putting in a new shower head (turbo, so it makes the dribble feel more like a shower) and a new light.  The difference is amazing!! We'd started showering in daylight only because it was so dark in there, otherwise.

Funny thing happened when picking out the shower head while we were in Mobile.  We found it at an RV supply store.  The person who helped us explained the workings of several different models of shower heads and we finally focused on this turbo model.  The off-on button for the head was a separate connector, not on the head itself, as in our old model.  I asked the salesman, in reference to the separate on/off connector, where in the process (of installation) this would fall...(up by the head or down by the faucet).  He said, "Well, usually people get wet all over, then lather up and...."

We were both twitching with laughter...but held it 'til we got outside.  The guy is probably going home saying, "You won't believe what someone asked me today!"

Temperatures yesterday morning were mid-20's, but as the sun came up the solar heat warmed up the bridge and we left the marina at 10 AM, headed for Palafox Pier at Pensacola, FL.

Wayne is still concerned about the electrical issues and we've decided it would be best to get this problem (or problems) solved before we tackle crossing the Gulf.  Pensacola is a good place to work on this, so we're here for a couple of days....or more...until it's resolved.

Woke this morning to a beautiful, sunny day.  Chilly to begin with, but it's already getting warmer and expected to be in the low 60's today.  Journey at our slip on A Dock... Notice the new, smaller (and therefore better proportioned) sign on the back.  ;-)



And our view of the marina and edge of town....



Spent the evening with Laura and Bill of Kindred Spirit.  Enjoyed a meal at Hopjack's Pizza Kitchen within walking distance of the Pier.  Palafox Pier is well located right downtown Pensacola.  Since we were here last in 2010, the downtown area has really blossomed.  Lots of shops and restaurants open last night and people milling around.  It felt good.

Wayne's out on a West Marine errand with neighbor Andy from Fruitcakes.  Plans are to work on the diagnosis of electrical problem today and do some walking around Pensacola.  There's a seafood shop about a mile away that sounds like a good choice for supper vittles!

More later from Pensacola.  Stay warm, wherever you are!!





Sunday, November 16, 2014

Here We Are

Sunday, November 16 -

Hey, what's a mind for if you can't change it, right?

We were mulling over the weather Thursday evening...plotting our car trip to New Orleans, planning how to wrap up several tasks we initiated at Dog River (more boat cards, new boat name sign, etc.)...when we saw an opening in the wave/wind conditions on Mobile Bay for Saturday afternoon.  Late morning, early afternoon, NOAA was predicting moderate to light chop waves and wind of less than 10 knots.  More to the point, the next week's forecast had a lot of "rough" conditions predicted.

Our pulses quickened.

Friday, then, we set out early and got everything done...including a clip/shampoo for Lucy.  On Saturday morning we borrowed the courtesy car and returned the rental.  We were back and getting ready to pull out at 10:30.

We were ready to be somewhere else.  We'd been in the marina for a week.  Everyone there was very nice and we were pleased with the services and repairs, including the charges ($1/day slip rental for the week since we had work done, for instance).  But, Dog River Marina seems more like a boat yard to us than a marina.  A little rough.

We did get to a couple of local restaurants we liked, though.  We had BBQ at Dick Russell's on Thursday...then back for a sausage biscuit Saturday morning before we left.  Friday we enjoyed lunch at Butch Cassidy's Cafe.  TripAdvisor continues to be a good resource for eating choices.

As we were getting ready to leave we had a would-be hitchhiker....



We called Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, AL, (home of Lulu's, owned by Jimmy Buffet's sister) and got a slip for the evening.  The trip across Mobile Bay was easy, and we were in our slip by 2:30.

We're in the ICW!!  Here's what it looked like coming in....



And our first glimpse of the white regions white sands...



Homeport was very nice with floating docks and good protection from winds.  Lulu's is really like a small amusement park: restaurants, shops, carney atmosphere.



We left Homeport this morning and had a quick trip down to Orange Beach Marina, Orange Beach, AL. Got here in time to do a nice lunch at Fisher's, the onsite restaurant, and take a walk around the beautiful grounds..



Weather's coming in tonight...I saw some lows in the 20's for a couple of nights early in the week.  Yow!  We're here until our mail catches up...probably be Wednesday when we get going again.

Unless we change our minds...










Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stay Awhile

Thursday, November 13 - Woke up to...well. Woke up last night as the winds picked up and we heard a light “bump” on one pole we're tied to. We moved yesterday to an open slip.



We adjusted the lines a little to get the stern in close enough to be able to climb out off the cockpit...and apparently got one line a bit looser than we meant. We both climbed out of our warm bed and adjusted said line. A passage of time, us back under cover, was then spent listening for other incidents until we fell back asleep.

Woke up this morning to 10-20 mph winds, rain, and 41 degrees. High today 49, low 31.

After looking at the weather report for the next 5 days we decided to sit still for a while before tackling Mobile Bay. We've rented a car today through Monday and will take care of some items still on our “to do” list.  We're also thinking we just might take the 2 hour drive over to New Orleans for the day (probably Saturday when it looks like it might be decent weather for walking about). 

Interesting fact: We were looking at the NOAA marine weather prediction for the next few days and there is a small craft warning out from now through Friday. And the definition of a small craft? Well, here's what NOAA says about that:

There is no precise definition of a small craft. Any vessel that may be adversely affected by Small Craft Advisory criteria should be considered a small craft. Other considerations include the experience of the vessel operator, and the type, overall size, and seaworthiness of the vessel.”


In other words, use your own judgment 'cause we're not responsible. ;-)

Monday, November 10, 2014

We're Hee-rrre

Thursday, November 6 – We set the alarm for 5 AM this morning. On rising, we noticed it hadn't rained in the night...and that seemed like a good omen. At 5:05, the skies opened up and it poured! We were both thinking we'd have to delay our 6 AM departure...and jeopardize our chances of getting to our destination, Bashi Creek.

Fortunately for us, the rain only gushed down for about 15 minutes...then slowed to a drizzle. We left Kingfisher Bay as planned at 6 AM with Kim Jo and Overtone. We were immediately into Demopolis Lock and on our way down the river.

The day turned into a beautiful day for travel. Every morning these days it is really chilly...but give us a little solar energy and an enclosed bridge and we're shedding layers like a dog sheds in the summer.

We're still experimenting with features of the chart plotter, so we have our eyes on it a lot of the time we're cruising.  Some funny things crop up on there.

Apparently there are so many of us cruisers on the Tenn-Tom that they are opening water holes even in the most remote of areas...



Oh, yeah, and we all know there was some crying going on at this landing last election day...



Here's what it looks like when we're passing a barge... The red boat shape is the barge and we are the black one.



Overtone travels faster than we, and they said they would “save us a space” at Bashi Creek if things were crowded (meaning we could raft up together). When we got into Bashi later that day, Overtone was the only boat in the place and we both had plenty of room. Lucy enjoyed a romp in the adjoining recreation area, then we all spent a quiet, uneventful night.

Friday, November 7 - Our plans were to travel a light, 45 mile day down to Old Lock Number One at mile 100.    This is an old river course with ruins of old lock number 1 and has a small park and boat ramp.  It has a narrow entrance and is very secluded and rustic. We've stayed there a couple of times over the years.  

Our friends on Kindred Spirit sent us a text early this morning to say that the lock entrance was so shallow they couldn't get inside...having tried several approaches. They are live-aboards and are very used to anchoring out, so we took their experience seriously. I got online and looked at recent reviews of the anchorage and found other boaters commenting on the lack of water. One review even mentioned a boat that had gotten into the area and then couldn't get out.  Gulp.

OK, plan B. Um...and what was that, exactly?!?  Our original "schedule," and I use that term lightly, was to do the trip from Demopolis to Mobile Bay in four days going to Bashi, Lock One, Tensas at mile 39, then  Mobile Bay.

So back to Active Captain and Garmin Blue Charts (which can be used when you can't get a connection to the internet). There were several possibilities beyond mile 100. Thank goodness we left early on a light day (we slept in and left at 7) and had already gone through the last lock, Coffeeville (yippee!!)

First we looked at a sand bar around mile 105. But...it was SO early in the day we felt like we needed to try for something further down. We eyed an anchorage at 97...but passed it up deciding to make a run for an anchorage with several good reviews, Upper Sunflower at 78.6.

This would be a long run. Our estimated time of arrival (ETA) was 4:30 PM, just 30 minutes before dark. It was a bit of a tense day because we were concerned we might get held up some way or get there and find out it was taken. We made it to Sunflower...and, wonder of wonders, this one (maybe 2) boat anchorage was empty! We tucked into a spot out of the channel, but still on the river, in 8 feet of water downstream from a small sand bar. We even had time to launch the dinghy and take Lucy for a...well, walk on this tiny sand bar. She complied, sweet dog!

This was a first for us. We've always anchored off the river. This night we were still right there on the river, just out of the channel and in an area that would be very visible by tows who might pass in the night. And, boy did they! We had two tows pass us before we went to bed and the third tow passed the next morning at around 3 AM. Oh, yes, we definitely slept lightly that night! But, we both agreed the next morning that it IS a good anchorage and we'd do it again.

Saturday, November 8 - We are still having problems charging one of the batteries and are feeling the need to be in a marina with capable boat yard. We considered our options last night and decided we needed to set sights on Dog River Marina in Mobile, AL. With some planning and a hope for lots of luck, we decided we had a shot at it.

Lucy didn't get a walk that morning. At the earliest light we loaded up the dinghy and were out in the river by 6 AM. 

The sunrise was gorgeous!! 


Taking our showers on the way today, I realized we finally have a shower with a view!


Our ETA was 4:35. Again...it was a tense day! We passed two tows on the way and made a run at 10+ mph to pass through the Mile 14 Railroad Bridge because an oncoming tow told us to “pick it up!”

The river widens out down towards Mobile Bay and looking at the shoreline it was obvious from the vegetation that "we're not in Kansas anymore!"


Our first sign of getting close came at mile 22 when we spotted the 
I-65 bridge, better known down here as the "Dolly Parton Bridge..." 'cause both the bridge and Dolly are structural marvels.  ;-)


Finally we came into Mobile Bay!



Mile 0.0 is right at the Mobile Convention Center. From the water, Mobile looks busy and beautiful.





According to Wikipedia, this is likely "the USS Independence (LCS-2) at the Austal USA shipyards along the Mobile River in Mobile, AL."



A glimpse at the kind of traffic surrounding us.  Run, little Island Gypsy, run!!





The tide was moving out as we made our way into the Dog River area, and we fought to stay in the narrow approach channel. Two hours after we passed Mile 0.0 we tied up to the fuel dock for the night at Dog River Marina, the clock reading 4:35 PM.

We'd made it! 93.6 miles in one day, a feat we hope not to have to repeat! At an average of 9 miles/hr we had traveled from 6 AM to 4:35PM.  We decided it was a night for delivery pizza. Whoops. All three pizza companies passed on delivery to Dog River. OK, we scrounged around and munched on leftovers so's not to go to any trouble with the evening meal. We were exhausted and were in bed by 7:45.  Our view of the bridge that evening at the entrance to Dog River....



Sunday, November 9 - We started the day on the fuel dock. At 7 AM we filled up with fuel and went to our position on the transient dock. (A bit harrowing with the tide moving out, but we managed it.) Wayne spent the morning in the engine room checking for loose wiring that might be causing our battery problems. We broke for a lunch at the Grand Mariner Marina restaurant a dinghy ride across the way.  Here's a shot of the Dog River Marina transient dock from Grand Mariner.  Our boat is on the inside of that dock so you can't see us.


Monday, November 10 - We contacted the marina office this morning and had Glenn, the manager, come out to evaluate our problems.  More on this later....