Saturday-Sunday, June 8-9
The fresh fish, veggies and rice were delicious.
There was little to no sunset that evening. The rain began to move in. A highlight of the evening, however, was a pod of dolphins that danced around our boat for about ten minutes.
Later that evening we took down the main sail and motored on one engine, conserving fuel since we had chosen to extend our destination. It continued to rain throughout the night. Eventually the seas became very rough.
Come Sunday morning the weather looked bad. We changed course again, this time headed northwest to Mobile, Alabama, just in case the weather got even worse. Arrival time in Mobile that evening was expected to be around 7:30 p .m.
At 10 a.m. that morning we put up the main sail with two reefs so as to head to port as fast as we could make it. By 11 a.m. we finally heard small craft warnings on the radio. The swells were growing. We were rocking and rolling. We attempted to catch the size of the swells with our cameras but none of our photos did it justice. With the sail up the new arrival time was 6:30 or so.
When we found ourselves sailing 13.8 knots we knew we needed to take down some sail. At noon we took down the main sail. It was way too exciting at that point, especially having the captain outside on the cabin top stuffing the remainder of the sail that did not fall into the sail pack and securing the halyard. He mentioned that many of the screws holding the sail to the little cars that attach the it to the mast were loose and needed to be tightened.
At 2:45 Capt. Ralph refueled one more time. We put in the last of our gas from the jerry cans. This had been our longest run so far. We still had 30+ miles to go to reach Mobile. The waves had subsided a bit by then but the rain continued to come and go. Soon Ralph and Stephen went topside to tighten the screws on the main sail. It was still raining but they wanted to be able to put the sail back up to help us get there faster. It took an hour but they had fun doing it. Boys will be boys. They were, of course, soaking wet but they were totally successful in their mission. By 4 p.m. the mainsail was back up and sure enough we were able to go faster. We were still hoping to get into Mobile and situated before dark.
We changed time zones giving us an extra hour. That was a positive, however, the sun remained the same. Soon we could see ships in the channels outside the Mobile Bay area as well as random oil platforms. It reminded us of home. Not too long after we reached the first entrance buoy and began the long entrance into Mobile Bay. It was incredibly choppy as we and others came into the area.
For dinner Arlene cooked us chicken fajitas and corn on the cob. We had to wait until the chop subsided to eat but they were delicious when we finally got to eat.
Unfortunately, despite all efforts, the sun went down before reaching our final destination at Daulphin Island Marina. Arlene was out front with a good spotlight finding the necessary buoys to guide us in. Since we were unsure of the services at the marina and it was 9:30 pm we decided to anchor outside the channel in 7 feet of water.
All in all it was an incredibly tense day. We all sat down for a couple of adult beverages before retiring. The weather forecasts don't look good for the days ahead and we see our dream of sailing into Texas fading away.
Life is still good,
Franci and Stephen
Friday-Saturday, June 7-8
We left Twin Dolphin Marina at 9 a.m. We headed back down the Manatee River past familiar sights and back to the Gulf of Mexico.
We passed the many nice houses.
We passed Hernando DeSoto's first anchorage.
We put up the sails.
Ralph and Arlene were at the helm.
Soon we were back in the ICW.
We passed the lighthouse and the first of many entrance buoys.
Stephen began fishing. He has a Florida license now.
He has lots of nice fishing toys now.
Here's Franci documenting as usual.
By 11:30 we had turned right and turned off the engines. We were sailing.
At noon we were on a close reach going 5 knots. By 1 o'clock the screecher was up and we were making 7 knots. This pace would continue for the rest of the afternoon.
The same watch schedule began again. Ralph until 3 p.m. Arlene 3 – 6 p.m.. Stephen and Franci 6 – 9 p.m. and so forth. The plan was to go to Destin, Fl.
Folks pretty much made their own sandwich for lunch at their own pace. However, dinner was prepared by Arlene and served in a formal manner. We had noodles with four cheese sauce, mushrooms, shrimp and broccoli with parmesan cheese to taste. Yum!
Sunset was gorgeous. Stephen and Franci were on watch and documented every moment.
The wind slowed down in the evening and by 9 p.m. we began running the engines. We were motor sailing once again, but we had had a good long day of sailing. The watches went on through the night. It was a clear night with some of the best stars we've seen on the entire journey.
In the morning the fish began to bite. Around 7:30 a.m. Ralph woke Stephen up with the words “Fish on!” And so began a big morning of fishing. Stephen caught four Little Tunnys on his trolling rod. Ralph caught three on his hand line. Ralph threw his back but Stephen kept and cleaned three of his. The last big one he threw back as well. There would definitely be fresh caught fish for dinner. Most of this action was caught on video.
One flying fish flew right into the trampolines.
The winds were light on Saturday so we motor sailed a lot of the day. However, the winds look good for Sunday. We changed our course to Pensacola because we would have arrived in Destin in the middle of the night. This also put us on a more westerly course…..good for sailing whenever the winds did pick up. We could get fuel, water and ice in Pensacola and head back out for a big day of sailing. After that we could go to Venice, Louisiana in pursuit of the oyster and a good route besides the ICW. That was the plan. More later.
At 1:30 p.m. we changed the plan again. We headed even further west and put out the screecher so we could sail. We would not make landfall until Monday morning. Saturday afternoon we sailed at about 4 knots but we looked forward to better winds on Sunday. Our destination – Baptiste Collette Bayou in the Mississippi Delta. And on to Venice. That was the plan.
By 5:00 we were back to motor sailing. Weather didn't sound as favorable for the next day (5 – 10 knots, probable rain) but we shall see what happens.
Fish dinner Saturday night.
Life is good.
Franci and Stephen
Thursday, June 6
The storm finally came and to tell the truth it wasn't that bad. Here's my best attempt at the palm trees blowing sideways photo.
The day ended in total success…..the shore powered AC is working. There were three more trips to the marine store, a stop at the grocery store for water and a stop at the liquor store for adult beverages. We are ready to take off on the next leg of our journey.
The manatee jokes never ended. We discovered that they have a lot of services for manatees here….the Manatee Hospital, the Manatee Ear, Nose and Eye Clinic, Manatee Insurance, Manatee Chamber of Commerce and Manatee Judicial Center. They even have a Manatee Furniture Store and a Manatee Mattress Store. We suspect manatees enjoy water beds.
On a more serious note they will also tell you all you need to know about manatees.
Sunset following the storm was a welcomed sight.
We met Tracy Dell, another Maine Cat owner. In fact, his claim to fame is that he owns the most Maine Cat catamarans. His boats work and earn income for him (charter business). One more dinner at Pier 22. We think it's time to move on.
Our next destination is Destin, FL. It looks like the winds will be in our favor for sailing offshore. We should be there by Sunday.
Life is good.
Franci and Stephen
Wednesday, June 6
That evening we packed a picnic dinner. We packed up the dishes and silverware. We brought along steaks, mahi mahi, cut up veggies, leftover rice and beans and two bottles of wine and headed up to the pool area
They have two propane pits that we were welcome to use along with numerous tables and chairs in a covered area. The rain would eventually come. This was after all a tropical storm party.
We even had the fun of somebody else's children playing in the pool all evening. They were no problem
We set the table and Stephen started up the pit as soon as he got done with his dip in the pool. Earlier in the day Franci and Arlene had enjoyed the pool, hot tub and showers as well.
As everyone is aware Stephen makes a grand grilling chef. The food looked and tasted wonderful.
Eventually the rains came but we were dry in the covered area. We stayed until the wine was gone and then we wandered back to the boat for a night's rest.
Everyone agreed that this was perhaps their favorite picnic ever.
Life is good.
Franci and Stephen