Dec 092021

We will be here at The Wharf over the holidays. The marina has all we need for a long term stayover. The downfall of this location is that no grocery is available anywhere close. You must Uber or rent a car to head to the store. Floating docks make for an easy tide change of about 1 foot too. Lots of Loopers and seaonal boaters here as well. The temps are nice right now with a day high of around 65-70 and a night in the 50s. With those temps comes some humidity though which is not a problem for us as we enjoy the warmth.

The light show has been fun seeing it a few times now and having a glass of wine watching sunsets. We did have some artisan pizza on the patio at Villagio enjoying a couple local craft beers. Unexpected date nights come far and few as we cook onboard most of the time. The sunsets are nice but nothing compares to those mornings on the Tombigbee River.

The pod issue has not disappeared. Scott is going to dive today to clean off the only zincs he didn’t replace on the trim tabs. We is hoping that a coating of fresh water slime since being in the water for 7 months has built up. Then he will check the mercathode system again. Turns out that a button on our joystick has stopped working. So he is looking at a new joystick which will require programming as well. Unfortunately you cannot buy just the button. As we have said boating is just doing boat work in exotic places. It is just the way it is. Still better than shoveling snow. Our girl is getting a bath today as well. I’ll be heading out to give her a really good scrubbing. We have a couple quotes coming in for a wash and polish over the holidays so that she is protected against the UV of Florida and The Bahamas and the salt water.

We won’t be posting as much over the holidays as we all celebrate family and friends. However we may pop in to give any updates.

Dec 032021

Fog advisory, ugh….however, Mobile Bay is glass. So we wait out the 2 hour advisory and head due south through the remaining portion of the Port of Mobile. We pass the manufacturers and repair/service areas for the military along with the huge ocean cargo ships moving their wares. Dry docks service the cargo ships here where they willl get the deserved TLC before their next task. The USS Alabama is here for a tourist attraction but we did not partake.

Leaving the comfort of the river and into the Bay we have glass for our trek south, then east to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The Bay is quite shallow with 10 foot depths usually but the moving sand can create unapparent shoaling. We will stay in the shipping channel until we have to swing to the east for the entrance to the GICW.

Dolphins, lots of dolphins. They follow us occasionally but are photo shy. Everytime I go out back to take the pic they leave. I do manage to get a few photos of some of them following the fishing boats. The dolphins and seagulls are hungry this morning. There are pelicans too. The southern ones that like the warmer temps unlike their cousins the white ones we have been seeing on the rivers. Oil rigs everywhere too. Standing majestically on the water looking like mini cities on this flat water. We are running the engines at 22 knts for about an hour to give them a chance to blow out the carbon. It’s been over a month since the last big high speed run. Then we will do our usual 8 knts to the GICW as we go off the shipping channel. Depth gauge is back too. The fault in the pods is still unknown however Scott did some research in the manual and it says that it can act up if there is too much change in the environment. So I guess never being in salt could be a reason. He will monitor it for the next few days and see if it corrects itself as the manual says it should.

Now settled in our temporary slip at The Wharf, with a fabulous Looper discount, the slip is a bit small. There is a 60 ft slip available so we will be moving there. We meet some loopers beside us. The Journey is staying here for 3 months and has given us the short verbal tour of the area. There is a looper info session at 3 which we visit and find that there are at least 5 other loopers here staying a week or more. It’s a great stop after running the rivers. Everything you need is available right by the boat. Shopping is a dream if you like that sort of thing. Designer shops everywhere along several blocks. Now all decked out in Christmas charm we wander through the streets to a musical light show, palm tree display, an ice rink, and the finale the laser show on the buildings.

Dec 022021

Up early this morning to a heavy fog surrounding us that was so thick you couldn’t see the shoreline.  We had company last night as Highlander III joined us in this spectacular anchorage.  We couldn’t see her even though she was at our stern about 500 ft away.  So we kicked back, had an extra tea and waited until the sun would show her face to evaporate the cloud around us.  It would turn out to be another hour.  Not too bad because we are on the last of the journey on the rivers for only 40 miles.  No more locks to the Gulf of Mexico.  We will be staying at a city dock at Mobile Convention Center in downtown Mobile.  There are no facilities here for the boater.  However, you can explore the city and watch the 24/7 marine and shipping industry do its thing. 

The final run down the Mobile River was much easier than yesterday.  Still passing at least 6 tows and barges, yet again, but the water isn’t as narrow and as twisty as yesterday.  Buoys are still not available but with room to spare it is an easy pass of tugs.  The shoreline has no more bluffs, no more hills.  It gives way to sandy, bog here in the Delta.  The Delta refers to the runoff areas of wetlands, bog, marsh or whatever you wish to call it that alligators like.  No we did not see any today.  We did see the short palm trees though which brought a big smile to our faces along with the 72F temps that we will have to cruise with.  Our pods are throwing a fault code and we lost our depth finder.  Boat work in exotic places yet again. 

Entering the Mobile River near Mobile we see a lot more barges off to the side waiting for their tow to pick them up and bring them north.  It becomes more industrial as you leave the sounds of nature behind you and hear the hum of cranes, gantrys, ships, barges, tows, welding and men working.  It changes rather quickly.  We pass some ocean cargo ships waiting to be filled or emptied here in the Port of Mobile.  There are war ships being manufactured here as well.  We will see more of those tomorrow as we approach the mouth of Mobile Bay where there is more being built and serviced. 

The Convention Center dock is a wharf with permanent rubber fenders available.  We place ours between them and the boat for added protection.  No power or water.  Lots of construction and manufacturing noise but it is good to stay for one night before heading out into the Bay.  It is the only way to see the city from downtown unless you head down the Bay to Dog River and rent a car. 

We head into the city for a walk on Dauphin St.  The old style, early 1900’s buildings rest along the Main Street of Old.  It is mainly bars and restaurants now with a few legal offices.  We found a park where some folks were feeding the squirrels.  The squirrels by the hundreds.  Where are they supposed to go but in a park full of oak trees dropping their acorns.  Folks feed them peanuts with the shells directly from their hands.  We continue wandering around find a few more parks, but no squirrels.  Eventually we happen upon a replica of the old Fort Conde.  Again wandering through the old fort and reading about how the French, Spanish, British and the Indigenous people worked and created war to determine the current status of the United States.  It is very different reading about US history from an American perspective. 

The fort guarded Mobile and its citizens for almost 100 years, from 1723-1820. The fort had been built by the French to defend against British or Spanish attack on the strategic location of Mobile and its Bay as a port to the Gulf of Mexico, on the easternmost part of the French Louisiana colony. The strategic importance of Mobile and its fort was significant: the fort protected access into the strategic region between the Mississippi River and the Atlantic colonies along the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers. A crew of 20 black slaves and 5 white workmen performed original work on the fort. During 1763 to 1780, Britain was in possession of the region, and the fort was renamed in honor of Queen Charlotte. From 1780 to 1813, Spain ruled the region, and the fort was renamed Fuerte Carlota. In 1813, Mobile was occupied by United States troops, and the fort was renamed again as Fort Charlotte. It stands now as a small replica of its origins along the waterfront of the Mobile River. I was today’s year old when I found out that Mardi Gras began in Mobile, AL and not New Orleans. Every year there is a Mardi Gras here on the streets of Mobile to celebrate.

Dec 012021

Bobby’s hasn’t changed much. No restaurant now but the scene is still the same. A trailer camp with friendly folks in their pick up trucks and confed flags. Such an interesting place. The dock has 50 and 30 amp power, no water. The kittens running around camp are really friendly too. I get my pet fix as several come up and visit. Apparently “Garfield” may choose to jump aboard your boat but we were not priviledged to have that happen. One night at Bobby’s is really all you need. Not much around but it is on the Choctaw Wildlife Refuge that sits adjacent to the camp.

Scott saw his first alligator today too. Swimming across the river between us and a tow/barge. We had to slow to allow him to dive. We passed a lot of tows and barges today too. I think there were 5 at least. The most we have seen in a day has been from Demopolis going south. It has been a challenging day for the Captain today. Markers/buoys are missing, water is at least 10 feet lower than on the charts and this part of the river is a constant turn in every which way. Along with passing tows that communicate when they see us on AIS because of the narrow channel we both must pass through and pass each other. We had to stop many times prior to passing because of the lack of buoys and tight channels on turns. Scott was exhausted by the end of this trip with a headache. It was a long day of 8 hours starring into and out of the sun, maneouvering through tight channels with no buoys and constanting relying on looking at charts and landscape. The anchorage was a welcome retreat at the end of the journey.

The Tensaw River flows into and parallel with the Black Water/Mobile Rivers running south to Mobile, AL. The natural path for boaters is to stay on the Black Water river system to Mobile. The Mobile–Tensaw River Delta is the largest river delta and river in Alabama. It encompasses approximately 260,000 acres in a 40-by-10-mile (64 km × 16 km) area and is the second largest delta in the United States. The delta’s northernmost point is the confluence of the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers and follows a southerly direction that ultimately opens into the head of Mobile Bay .The delta lies in a river valley which began forming several million years ago. Many separate inland streams joined as they flowed southward across land which was once covered by the Gulf of Mexico. By the end of the last major ice age (approximately 18,000 years ago), when the sea level was much lower and Alabama’s coastline was about 60 miles (97 km) south of its present location, the waterways of the delta valley extended much farther than their current-day southern termination at the head of Mobile Bay. As the ice age ended and global temperatures increased, sea levels began to rise again to their present-day level.

The anchorage has enough room for several boats with lots of swing room and a good depth. It is an area rich with owls, crickets, the sounds of night and a million stars. Completely recommend this anchorage for small and large vessels.