The scenery has changed dramatically since we left the inland river system behind and have reached saltwater. We left our anchorage on the Tensau on the morning of Monday, Nov 5th. Light south winds were an important factor in our choice to leave, as we were headed to Mobile Bay, a big body of water to traverse. We wound our way through the last 39 miles of river to the city of Mobile. It was quite a culture shock. The harbor is full of ships from all over the world, much barge traffic, US naval ships, and a ship repair facility.
The trip through Mobile Bay was like nothing else we’ve encountered. The Bay is huge, but very shallow, about 30 miles in length, and leads to the Gulf of Mexico. There is a narrow shipping lane which you must follow so as not to run aground. Ships passed us by on their way to Mobile, and we saw dolphins surfacing behind our wake and that of other boats. Oil rig platforms dotted the surface.
We made it to the south end of the lake, left the shipping channel and headed east toward a marina called ‘Gulf Shores’ in Ft. Morgan, AL. We made our way in, following ‘The Road’, gassed up and tied up for the night. We had celebratory cocktails and dinner with Dawn and Melby at Tacky Jack’s, and saw our first palm trees. All went well until we got back to the boat.
The clouds thickened after dark, and the wind increased and switched, coming out of the north at 20-25 mph. The shorepower quit working. The tide rose, and the dilapitaded breakwater did little to protect our boat from the waves crashing in. We were being tossed around, slamming into the posts and dock. Jim spent most of the night re-tying the boat, using every line we had on board. I was down below praying. Needless to say, we got little sleep that night. In the light of day things looked a little better. It was low tide, and we sustained almost no damage to the boat. Bird poop everywhere, one little black mark, and we lost the weather stripping to the windshield door.
We decided to head out, despite the wind and waves. We said our goodbyes to Dawn & Melby, who are now heading to New Orleans. Our path led east through Bon Secour Bay, a wider stretch along the south end of Mobile Bay. But first we had to get to the channel. Miraculously we found it, after nearly running aground in a shallow area called ‘The Spit’. We ended up following a huge cruiser, and once we found the channel markers we were OK. Waves crashed over the sides and bow, making for a rocky ride, but the sun was out and our spirits lifted. After a few hours of this we made it to the Intercoastal Waterway and left the high waves behind! We stopped at Homeport Marina and purchased a Cruising Guide for Florida, as our navigational resources had run out. A very nice deckhand told us about a sand cove about 20 miles ahead in Pensacola, so we set our sites on that.
Pulling into the cove just before sundown, we beached ARiverDerci on the sugar white sand. The last time we stayed on a beach was at Mile 0.5 on the Mississippi. Little schools of fish swim around the boat, and dolphins surface periodically in the cove. We plan to recoup here for a while, and stay in the Pensacola area for a few days. Jim vacuumed and cleaned salt off the windows while I updated the blog. Now I think it’s time for a walk on the beach!