Monday, November 28, 2016

Mobile, AL to Panama City, FL

Total Miles Traveled 846

We left Dog River Thanksgiving morning and entered Mobile Bay at daybreak, taking advantage of the flat water for our crossing. 

As we headed south to the Intracoastal Waterway the water was unbelievably calm and the cloud cover provided an awesome reflection on the water.

We have seen more dolphins this year; we had six or eight around the boat at one point. 

I found why the dolphins swim to the front of the boat.  I leaned over the bow and watched this dolphin for several minutes.  Its tail was inches from the bow and motionless, we were pushing it through the water at 8 mph with our bow wave.

We entered the ICW and turned east toward Gulf Shores, AL. 

Pirate watch.

We passed LuLu’s , Jimmy Buffet’s sisters restaurant along the ICW, we stopped here last year but it was closed today.

This is the approach to the Roberts Bayou anchorage, it is very narrow going in and you have to favor the sandy beach on the port side but there is about 9 feet of water all the way in.  This is a protected anchorage with good holding and room for 3 or 4 boats; we had the place to ourselves this year.  The Pirates Cove bar and grill is a unique dog friendly place located next to the narrow entrance of the bayou.  It was hard to find a seat last year when the songwriter’s festival was in full swing.  We listened to several songwriters perform their music that they had written for famous artist. 

Sometimes you see a boat name that just makes you grin.

Our next stop was the Bluewater Bay Marina, close to Niceville, FL.  We have a friend and his wife that relocated here last year after retirement.  We both retired in 2015 after working together for several years, we had a great visit and plan to stop again on our return next spring.

We have been very lucky with the weather, except for a few chilly nights we have had perfect cruising weather.  A cold front was moving through as we worked our way toward Niceville, we didn’t have one drop of rain, but did see this rainbow north of us.

We had one good weather window to make it to Panama City before another weather pattern moved through.  As we left the Bluewater Marina, be had 2 foot waves on the 25 mile long Choctawhatchee Bay.  The wind was blowing from the northeast so we had the waves hitting on the port bow making the ride comfortable.  As we came to the end of the Bay, we entered a man made canal connecting to West Bay.  The canal is known as the Grand Canyon of the ICW as huge sand dunes line the shore.  

We will be staying at Panama City for a few days as high winds and thunderstorms are predicted through Wednesday November 30th.   This will give us an opportunity to perform a few maintenance tasks and to plan our route to the west coast of Florida.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Coffeeville, AL to Mobile, AL

Total Miles Traveled 667

We had a great catfish dinner at Bobby’s Fish Camp with our new friends from “Further” and “Portofino” Sunday evening.  We passed through the Coffeeville Lock at daybreak Monday morning, our last lock on the waterway to Mobile Bay.  We are now in tidal waters so we’ll have to keep that in mind when anchoring and tying the boat to a fixed dock.

Since we had an early start and a little boost from the current, we traveled 83 miles to an anchorage on the Tensaw River; we were now only 39 miles from Mobile Bay.  We had planned to get an early start this morning, but the low temperatures overnight produced a lot of fog over the water, we waited about two hours for it to clear off.

As we leave the waterway we enter the commercial shipping lane, there is a lot of boat activity in this area.

Mobile Convention Center

Entering Mobile Bay……..when we came through here last year we had 1-3 foot waves to deal with….today was perfect!

We even had an escort to lead the way. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Columbus, MS to Coffeeville, AL

Total Miles Traveled 529

A light breeze was in our favor as we departed the Columbus Mississippi Marina keeping the fog at a minimum as we approached the Stennis Lock at mile 334.7.  At river mile 306.8 the Tom Bevill Lock chamber doors were open allowing a quick passage on our 60 mile cruise to the Warsaw Cut Off anchorage.   We continue to travel with “Portofino” and “Further”.  “Portofino” is being delivered to Florida by a delivery boat captain and “Further” has a crew of four from northern Michigan planning to sail around the world.  “Portofino’s” only crew member had to return home as they were coming down the Mississippi River.  The captain worked out an agreement with the “Further” crew to rotate one member of their crew members each day until Mobile Alabama. They are all great people and we have enjoyed traveling with them.

From the Warsaw Cut Off anchorage we passed the White Cliffs of Epps.

We traveled 58 miles to the Demopolis Yacht Basin in Alabama.  There is a large commercial fuel dock here which serves the towboats transporting goods up and down the waterway.  By selling a high volume of fuel, the diesel prices are one of the lowest in the country, we topped off our fuel tanks at a very reasonable price of $2.38 / gal.  Located just up river from the fuel dock is the Kingfisher Bay Marina, this is a very nice facility and one of the best onsite Laundromats we have used during our great loop adventure. 

We departed Demopolis with our cruising buddies and entered the Demopolis Lock then continued on to the Bashi Creek anchorage.  This is a very narrow anchorage, but deep enough for several large boats.  (“Further” has a 7 foot draft) 

It was 32 degrees this morning at daylight, the coldest morning we have had since starting our journey south.  We had hoped we could stay ahead of the freezing weather but we are in for another cold night tonight.  The daytime temperature warms up pretty fast and although we have had cool nights, the cruising and scenery has been awesome.  We had a short 27 mile cruise today to Bobby’s Fish Camp, located about a mile from the Coffeeville Lock and Dam.  Bobby’s Fish Camp is known for their locally caught catfish dinners.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Clifton, TN to Columbus, MS

Total Miles Traveled 312

We have been making good progress, but the cold weather is still on our heels.  When we left the Clifton marina, the fog wasn’t too bad, but as soon as we entered the river we had almost zero visibility.  We traveled at idle sounding our fog horn until we could duck behind an island where we anchored until it lifted. 

We continued south through the Pickwick Lock & Dam and reached Aqua Yacht Marina on the Tenn-Tom waterway.  This waterway connects the Tennessee River at Pickwick Lake with the Tombigbee River at Demopolis, Alabama.  The waters from Demopolis to Mobile are called the Black Warrior—Tombigbee Waterway.  More earth was moved during the construction of this project than the construction of the Panama Canal.

The first lock we encountered was the Jamie Whitten Lock; it has the largest drop of the nine locks we will pass of 84 feet

We met two other boats heading south, and are traveling with them so we can have a smooth transition through the locks. 



Making our way south……..

This area is experiencing drought conditions which are affecting lock operations.  Each time the lock is drained for southbound vessels, the pool level between dams drops.  We were informed by the Fulton Lock this morning that a tow was northbound and the only opportunity we would have to lock through today was now, before the tow arrived.  Although it was still a little foggy we all cast off our lines and slowly moved toward the lock.

After four locks and 60 miles we arrived at the Columbus Mississippi marina about 45 minutes before sunset.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Grand Rivers, KY to Clifton, TN

Total Miles Traveled 139

Wow it feels good to be back on the water, the autumn colors along the Tennessee River are making it a very scenic cruise on our way to Florida.  

We will continue to add to our blog during our new adventure, but not as often as we did while doing the loop.  Our plan is to spend the winter in Florida, and return to our home port in June.

Moni……don’t make eye contact.

It was 33 degrees at our anchorage this morning…………I hope this was the coldest night we will have all winter.

Northbound barge at Clifton, Tennessee this evening.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

We have the Gold!

Miles Traveled 0
Total Miles Traveled 7206

Its official….we have the Gold Burgee.  For  those that are not familiar with the Great Loop, when you are planning or currently doing the Great Loop, you fly the white burgee, when you have completed the Great Loop, you fly the gold burgee, and if you have completed the Great Loop more than one time, you fly the platinum burgee.