October 20-Dog River Marina, Mobile, AL
Our day started with a 6:15 alarm and 56 degrees. It was sunny, but cool. We cleaned up, ate breakfast, and got ready to take the boat to the haul-out slip. Two mechanics came on board to diagnose the oil leak and they will work on that today with the boat in the water. The people at Middleton Marine who will be working on our boat are very professional and we were impressed at how careful they were to keep the boat protected and clean as they worked. We were introduced to Orlando, the mechanic who will be working on the boat. Bob chatted with him for awhile about his concerns and then we left him alone to do his work. We were given a car to use while the service work is being done and we can stay on the boat while they work on it—an added plus. The yard is a full service yard, doing boat restoration, painting, and repairs on every part of the boat, so we left her (Justavacation) in good hands. We took a drive downtown
and through the George C. Wallace tunnel under the Mobile River
to Battleship Parkway where the USS Alabama stands.
The Alabama is in the water at Battleship Memorial Park which has many exhibits on display—a B-52 bomber, Tuskegee Airmen P51D Mustang, Blackbird Spyplane, Kingfisher Scout Plane, Vietnam “Huey” helicopter, 19 other aircraft, 9 tanks and armored vehicles, and the Submarine USS Drum.
On the grounds, is a flight simulator and Vietnam and Korean Veteran Memorials. It is quite an impressive place. We took a self-guided tour of the Alabama and spent about 3 hours, seeing every part of the ship from top to bottom, stem to stern.
We didn’t get to climb up in the crow’s nest high above the ship, but that was OK with Bob. He did get to see the engine room and that was even better.
They have a section of the crew’s quarters set aside for scout groups to come and spend the night on the ship for the “real experience”. That would be cool! The USS Drum was just as interesting as we climbed around through every hatch and hole in the submarine.
We walked through the aircraft on display in the hangar. By the time, we were through we had spent about 4 hours touring the facility and our legs and bodies ached. For more information on the USS Alabama, go to www.ussalabama.com. On the way back, we stopped at WalMart for some needed items. When we got back, Orlando was still hard at work in the engine room.
He worked for another hour, gave Bob a report on what he had done, and then left for the day. We collapsed out of exhaustion, accumulated over a couple of busy days, had a cocktail, and relaxed. We decided to eat leftovers-easier for both of us, and we were too tired to go out to eat. We stayed awake until about 9:00 before we cashed it in. Tomorrow would be another busy day.
October 21-Dog River Marina, Mobile, AL
Our day started at 6:15 again with the alarm. We got ready for the boat to be lifted out at 7:30. They were prompt and moved the boat from our location around to the lift-out slip, next to us, by hand without starting the motors.
(That’s the best gas mileage we’ve had this whole trip.) Then the Travel Lift operator put the straps under the hull and lifted her out of the water.
The servicemen examined the props and discovered that one blade on each prop was out of alignment and one shaft was slightly bent.
Bob discussed with them what needed to be done and then we left with Murphy to take the props to be realigned in Southport, FL near Panama City, FL. Yes, I said Florida. That wasn’t part of our original plan for the day, but it would have to be now. We took the 150 mile drive, leaving at 9:15 and arriving at 12:15. We crossed Mobile Bay towards Pensacola, the home of the Blue Angels.
We dropped off the props at Marine Wheels, part of Miller Marine and stopped for lunch, before heading back to Dog River.
The ride on Interstate 10 was very pretty through the panhandle of Florida towards Panama City.
The courtesy car we were using was very comfortable for driving long distances. (If we had known it was as far as it was, we could have spent the night.) It was a beautiful day for a ride with clear skies and temps of 75 degrees. Traffic was light and the ride went pretty fast. We got back in time for Bob to talk to the mechanics about what they had done today and what still needs to be done. Murphy and I took a walk to stretch our legs after the long ride today. We gave Murphy a bath to get rid of any dead fleas that might be hanging around. We relaxed a little after the workmen went home, before going out to dinner at The Mariner across the river.
It was our treat to ourselves after another long day. Once everyone goes home, the yard is pretty quiet, except for a few die-hard workers. We have it pretty much to ourselves. We found out yesterday that this marina and others around here, had sustained a lot of damage from wind and water in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina. They had a lot of pictures to show from it, hanging in the restaurant. We had a great seafood dinner and came back to relax with some TV, before going to bed. Since the boat is on the “hard” now (land) we would need to use a ladder to get in and out. So this is for our sister-in-law, Jenny.
Say the last one really fast and begin with the word “well”. It cracked me up!
October 22-Mobile, AL
We got up a little later today because we didn’t have to vacate the boat. We had breakfast and hung out in the boat as we waited for the mechanics to arrive. Bob worked on repainting some sections of the hull. Some of the bottom paint had worn off and he wanted to make sure it was covered. Around 10:00, Orlando arrived to finish working in the engine room. We had to leave about that time to go downtown to do a driving tour of the historic districts in Mobile. That would give us enough time, before we would have to leave for Southport to pick up the propellers at 3:00. We started out at the Fort Conde Welcome Center.
The next area was the Old Dauphin Way District. During the 19th century, these homes housed middle class merchants. The smaller cottages were the homes of the servants who worked in the grand houses on Government Street. The district is known for its excellent collection of fine Bungalows and contains approximately 2000 buildings.
October 23-Dog River, Mobile, AL
Bob got up early….(too much on his mind, I guess) and I slept in until 7:00. We cleaned up and got everything ready on the boat so it could be put back in the water. I took a walk out to the water’s edge to watch the sunrise.
October 24-Dog River Marina, Mobile, AL
Today was a laid back kind-of-day. We woke up without an alarm and had breakfast. Bob did some work on the computer. I did some deep cleaning on the boat and the wash. The mechanics came back to finish a few things, tidy up, and were gone by 11:00. We took the car and went to the grocery store for a few items. When Bob tried to return the car, the owner, Sonny, refused to take it back and said we should keep it until we leave tomorrow. They have bent over backwards to make us feel right at home. It had rained heavily since about 3:00 yesterday and all through the night. By morning, it had stopped, but everything was drenched right to the core. It took all day to dry everything out.
October 25-Dog River Marina to Pensacola, FL
The alarm went off at 6:15 and we got up to get ready for our crossing of Mobile Bay. The water was good, the wind was right, but then there was……FOG.
Note: Mobile Bay is a large, but shallow body of water so winds against the tide can result in serious waves, which build very quickly. Once we leave southern Mobile Bay, we will be entering a protected waterway called the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, or GIWW. This is an area of wide sounds and bays. Some islands of the Gulf Island National Seashore lie between us and the Gulf of Mexico. Along this seashore there are beautiful white sand beaches, coastal marshes, and thick forests. The GIWW is 11′ deep from Gainesville, TX to Carrabelle, FL. Later next week, we’ll reach an open-water gap between Carrabelle and Tarpon Springs, FL where we will jump off the GIWW and cross the Gulf when the weather is right.
We entered the GIWW from Bon Secour Bay and met a passing tow.
Note from Bob: If you look at our current position on the map you will see the marina is all torn up from Hurricane Ivan. Obviously a dated photo.
We had about an hour before Bernie and Barb would arrive, so we did a few things to get the boat ready for their arrival. I took a walk down the piers and saw a cute boat name. Cute boat name #44:
About 4:00, Bernie and Barb pulled up in their rental car and we met them at the gate to help unload their gear. Then Barb, Bob, and I relaxed a little, while Bernie took the rental car back to the airport. Bernie had surprised Bob with a gift to celebrate our cruise together. Now he’s official!
October 26-Pensacola, FL
This was our first morning together on the boat-Bob, Bernie, Barb, and I. We woke up to blue skies and chilly temps. We took our leisurely time to have breakfast and get cleaned up. Each of us took our turn on the Internet checking our emails and doing business. Bob and I made phone calls home to our moms and then we got ready to explore the downtown area. We started by walking down the piers to check out some of the boats.
We stopped for nachos and beers at Jackson’s and sat outside at a cafe table along the sidewalk.
As we walked along the sidewalk we heard a loudspeaker and saw people gathering in the park square. We stopped to check out the activity that was going on. It seemed they were having a rally for some of the local people who were running for office, so we stopped to listen for awhile. Bernie fit right in with the crowd there.
As we neared the Seville Quarter, a group of bars and restaurants all located in one building,
We enjoyed each other’s company and visited with one of the locals chatting about the City of Pensacola and its development.
He was a fellow boater who had a boat in the marina and a city councilman. Murphy got himself comfortable as we whiled away the hours of the afternoon.
October 27-Pensacola to Panama City, FL
The howling winds and slapping waves on the hull woke us up around 6:30. Bob took Murphy out for his walk and later we went to the shower at the boater’s lounge. It was sunny, warmer morning, but a windy 20 mph out of the north. We had breakfast and got ready to untie the lines at 8:30. The plan was to undo the lines and motor backwards (with the help of the wind) to the gas dock for a pumpout. It was only 100′, but the wind was pushing hard against us. We threw 2 lines to the guys on the dock. The guy at the stern tied his line off, but the guy holding the midship line didn’t cleat it off and was losing control of the line. Bernie jumped off on the dock to help with the lines, but the wind was blowing the bow away from the pier and I couldn’t get a bow line to shore. We would have to abort–and QUICKLY! They threw back the midship line and untied the stern line just in time to release us from the pier before we yanked out the pelican pole or the cleat. The wind blew us away from the pier and we cleared the dock without hitting anything. Whew! Unfortunately, we left Bernie standing on the dock. So I pulled in all the lines, Bob drove away from the pier, and we tried the approach again. This time Bob drove the bow to the pier into the wind, I threw the bow line to Bernie on the dock, and he tied us off. It was easy to bring the stern to the dock after that. We got a pumpout and were ready to be on our way in no time. We pulled away from the dock at 9:15. Once we left the protection of the harbor breakwall, we motored, with the 20 mph wind and 3-4′ waves behind us for a few miles south to the bottom of Pensacola Bay.
No, that’s not rain on the window. It’s salt. Bernie helped Bob to navigate while
It is 20 miles of narrow, CALM water. It reminded us of the river system we had traveled on. The shoreline consisted of steep, sand banks dotted with pine trees.
We chatted with him for awhile. What a small world! We walked up to the office to register and look around. Darkness came quickly. We had dinner and watched some TV before going to bed early. It was a tiring day of 108.7 miles. Justavacation received her baptism into salt water today.
Challenge: I haven’t been able to figure out what kind of insect this is. It does fly. Can anyone tell me what it is?