Sunday, January 16, 2022

Gale Warning, Gulf Crossing and Snow

Who knew that the entire nation would go weather wild while we are trying to find a weather window to cross the Gulf of Mexico…but that’s exactly what happened!!!

1/13/2022 The Lower Place docked in Carrabelle FL

While cruising along the Florida panhandle we typically research upcoming weather to determine how fast or slow we should plan our Carrabelle FL arrival.  So with that in mind, a Friday, January 14 4:00pm departure looked promising…arriving in Clearwater around noon on Saturday, January 15.  What we didn’t expect was that was the ONLY opportunity…unless we wanted to hang out in Carrabelle for another week to 10 days.  Predictions for Small Craft Advisories and Gale Warnings were being mentioned!!

So on Friday morning, January 14 we secured anything that might move, topped off the water tanks and I made a quick trip to IGA Carrabelle for the standard snacks – ginger snaps, graham crackers, pretzels, ginger ale.  Do you see a pattern?

1/14/2022 Heading out into a lumpy Gulf Of Mexico

Starting out we had a little confused seas, starboard beam and no wind to speak of…it wasn’t comfortable but I was determined to survive.  About 7-8 hours later the beam seas subsided, changing to a following sea – again, not perfect but ginger is my friend and I was surviving!!  Just before daybreak another water change…we were now facing 3’ waves on the bow.  Sigh…I will survive, I will survive, I will survive…and I did!!!

1/14/2022 Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

Around 10:00am we reached the magical R4 marker at the Anclote River!!!  Instead of proceeding to our favorite Greek town of Tarpon Springs we turned south on the ICW and by 12:30pm (with the wind speeds increasing) we were safely tied to a dock in Clearwater Beach Marina!!!  Whew!!!  Not the best crossing we’ve had but by far not the worst!!!

1/15/2022 Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

Once docked, we worked on our lines anticipating strong winds for a long period of time.  It was so comforting to know we were not going to be at anchor for this weather event.  We grabbed a nice mid afternoon meal with our buddy boat Copacetic and said good night!  It was 3:00pm!!!

Once back to our boat, the Lower Place was given a quick fresh water rinse to rid her of the overnight salt bath, we double checked our lines and called it good.  A nice long shower and in the bed for the night…it was 4:30pm the winds were really picking up.  Just before 9:00pm the boat was really rocking, the wind was howling & I felt AWFUL!!!  Yep, a few minutes later I was hanging over the port side of the boat…seasickness while tied to the dock is a first for me!!  Who knew?!?!  Once “the event” was over, I washed down that section, felt so much better and slept until 5:00am. Woke to check the lines and all was well, so back to sleep until 8:00am.  What I didn’t know was that Charlie was also checking the lines…we’re such a great team!

Today is Saturday, January 16 and the wind is still howling!! We haven’t left the boat so far but we have enjoyed relaxing, cooking turkey chili and making lots of phone calls!!

The wind is here to stay...

Wherever you are I’m sure the weather is equally bizarre and certainly much colder.  We will be in Clearwater until at least Tuesday January 18 but I’m not sure where we are headed.  So far, we are not finding availability for an extended period of time and that’s ok too.  We can anchor off and on until something opens in the Punta Gorda area.  But if you happen to “know a guy” let me know if he has a slip available for a month or so, thanks!

Stay healthy and God bless


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Hello from Carrabelle FLORIDA!

We finally made our way across Mobile Bay, the Alabama Gulf Coast and the majority of Florida's Panhandle.  YAY!!!  And we are still chasing warmer temps, looking for sunshine but enjoying the company of good friends, good food and LOTS of laughter!!  But the 4 layers of clothing every day is getting a little tiresome...I know, stop complaining...I could be scraping ice off my windshield & sliding my way to work...but I'm not!!

This will NOT be an itemized daily (aka BORING) synopsis of our travels…it was tedious and boring for me to write.  And now that we’re in the land of WIFI on the FL panhandle you will be thrill to know this post is a narration of photos!!  YAY!!!  Full Disclosure…it was soooo cold coming down the river & across the bays that some days I didn’t take any photos!!  BRRRRR!!!!

 

The Lower Place & Crew docked in Carrabelle FL 1/11/2022

12/30/2021 departure day from Columbus MS...delayed by fog



12/31/2021 Lucy Enuff Cruising behind us.  The White Cliffs of Epps AL

1/3/2022...yep, wind chill of 22 & yes, we left at 9:05AM
...no words... 



1/4/2022 Anchored in 3 Rivers with Lucky Enuff & Copacetic
Sunshine!

1/5/2022  Mobile Bay AL Convention Center

1/6/2022 Crossing Mobile Bay...blue skies ahead

1/7/2022 Passing through Pensacola...I miss my friend!!!

1/7/2022 Sunset in Destin FL Harbor while at anchor

1/9/2022 Dinner with my witness protection family in Apalachicola FL 
...no one is looking at me...

1/9/2022 Shrimp Boats headed out to work

1/11/2022  Arrive Carrabelle FL!!!!
BLUE SKIES & SUNSHINE

I reduced the narrative for this post primarily because I was taking advantage of the fast WIFI while doing laundry.  And I didn't feel like thinking very hard.  What can I say...it's a tough life.

Stay warm, stay healthy & God bless!!!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Hello 2022!!

Looks great...but the temps hovered in the low 40's

We have been on the move in search of warmer weather and maybe a peek at some sunshine! So let’s get the word out…the sun is still shining…somewhere.

Saturday 1/1/2022

Heavy clouds, strong winds and MUCH cooler (below freezing) temps so we begin the new year with a dirt day.  Laundry, cooking & getting the Lower Place ready for several days of anchoring is second nature.  Yes, it’s a glamourous life but someone’s gotta do it.

Sunday 1/2/2022

Brrrrr….I see a pattern…..another dirt day at Kingfisher Bay Marina in Demopolis AL!!!  Super COLD, sleet and snow but the heat on board works and we have plenty of groceries.  It’s just another day in paradise.  We are still planning to travel with Lucky Enuff and Copacetic if our lines aren’t frozen to the docks in the morning.

Monday 1/3/2022

So much for an early departure!  Fog and commercial traffic at the Demopolis Lock 3 miles from the marina allowed us to stay warm and tied safely at the dock until 9:05am.  It was 32°, cloudy and dreary with a wind chill of 22°!  COLDEST cruising day EVER or should I say “yet”…it wasn’t long and we were tied up in the Demopolis Lock headed down river with Lucky Enuff and Copacetic.  The flood current gave us a nice push, a real blessing since we had 70 miles to our first anchorage and a 2 hour delayed start.

By 3:30 pm we were anchored in Bashi Creek with Lucky Enuff rafted to us and Copacetic anchored across the channel.  And what an anchoring event that was!!!!  Wind was opposing the current, we (correctly) dropped our anchor against the current and before we could get it set the wind turned us 90° putting our stern in the trees!  WHAT A MESS!! But we HAD to make things work…darkness was coming & 2 other boats needed to get secured.  Charlie dropped the dinghy while I gathered lines and we tied our stern to 2 trees – one port and one starboard AND our bow anchor stayed set in the channel. 

Then Lucky Enuff reluctantly inched their way toward us to raft since their confidence of not swinging into the trees was dampened.  And Copacetic opted for the “outside the channel anchorage” across the river (smart move)!!

After an hour or more of cutting tree limbs, branches and vines off The Lower Place darkness fell with the temp and while not ideal - we “made it work” for the night.

Tuesday 1/4/2022

A very frosty (29°) 7:15am departure brought fog, clouds, some wind and lots of tow traffic!!  Eventually the fog lifted and temps inched above freezing and the sun popped out for several glorious moments of much needed Vitamin D!!  Lucky Enuff and Copacetic needed fuel at Bobby’s Fish Camp and a sail boat was docked there waiting for the Coffeeville Lock and everything fell into place!!  Charlie spoke with the lock master and he said he would work with us.  There was no commercial traffic at the lock, the sail boat headed that way and we followed at idle speed.   Lucky Enuff finished at the gas dock and Copacetic tied off for fuel.  From our first approach to Bobby’s Fish Camp until Copacetic was secured in the lock one hour had passed and the Coffeeville Lock master was closing the doors!!  YAY!!!!  FINAL LOCK on the river system!!  We are now cruising in brackish (soon to be salt) water, looking at tide tables and factoring in changing current!!

By 3:56pm we were all anchored in a semi straight line at 3 Rivers Anchorage.  It has the feel of Bashi Creek but a lot more room.  It was nice to be settled before dark!!

Wednesday 1/5/2022

A surprisingly EARLY departure of 6:55am can only mean ONE thing…no FOG!!!  The temps were above freezing and we had a light wind all night.  Today is the day we will see Mobile Bay – Industrial end North.  Lucky Enuff and Copacetic will be seeing all this from the water for the first time…I remember how amazed I was at all the sights!!  It was super cloudy but a very easy transition to the mouth of Dog River.

We turn up the River one hour after low tide (of course) and made our way to The Grand Mariner Restaurant and Marina.  While Charlie & I have eaten here before this would be our first opportunity to dock.  What a GREAT experience!!  Easy lay along dock with plenty of pilings to secure the boat.  It was a joy to step off the boat and walk, walk, walk!!  And the laundry facilities were clean and available AND we shared a GREAT meal in the restaurant with the crews from our buddy boats!!  YAY!!!!

Thursday 1/6/2022

In the land of tides and currents we were anxious about leaving The Grand Mariner…add in a slight gusting wind and YIKES!!  But getting off the dock with the help of Bill the Dock Guy made the entire event a non-event…YIPPEE!!!

So on a falling tide The Lower Place, Lucky Enuff and Copacetic headed down Dog River to the Mobile Ship Channel then left on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)…all without incident, drama or damage.  Did I mention there was a small craft advisory on Mobile Bay??  Of course there was…cause that’s how we travel!!!  With 1’-2’ seas & a rogue 3’ every now and then, we were actually taking them on the bow and the sun was in FULL SHINE MODE!!  It was a wonderful bay crossing and a full Vitamin D kinda cruise…finally!

Lucky Enuff peeled off at Home Port Marina and The Lower Place and Copacetic floated on to Wolfe Bay to anchor for the evening.  The day was so nice and it just felt right to keep moving and let The Lower Place have a little sun time in a beautiful anchorage.  So at 2:07pm the anchor was set with 120’

of rode and the crew was having leftover spaghetti for lunch.

A few hours later we heard the familiar sound of a dinghy motor…so happy to host Copacetic on board for Anchor Time!!  So much fun!!! And we missed the sunset photo!

Friday 1/7/2022

OK, I am determined to get this posted TODAY!!  We have been in the boon docks, enjoying banjo music and spotty cell service but today we made it to FLORIDA!!!!  As much as we enjoyed the river travel, crossing Mobile Bay and the beautiful Alabama Coast there is just something about the Emerald Coast of Florida and tonight we are anchored in Destin Harbor!!  First time for us to be here and while a little tricky coming in – it sure helped that the place is in full “off season” mode and it was a Thursday afternoon! 

We departed Wolfe Bay anchorage at 7:07am with Copacetic and met Lucky Enuff in the ICW.  With no commercial traffic or lock delays to consider we dropped the anchor at 3:10pm (still central time).

AND OF COURSE....the cell signal in the middle of this anchorage isn't strong enough to load this lengthy post WITH pictures!!  I'm sorry...perhaps my next post will be a story of pictures when I have a stronger signal.  

Until then stay healthy and God Bless!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Just a little sunshine and a whole lotta clouds!


A brief synopsis of our travels so far…nothing glamorous but traveling just the same.

 

Buddy Boat Lucky Enuff heading south 12/27/21

Monday 12/27/20211

We departed Safe Harbor Aqua Yacht, Iuka MS at 7:10am under very heavy cloud cover, on & off sprinkles of rain. Another boat,  Lucky Enuff was with us and even with the gloomy weather we were all excited to begin the migration to salt water.  What we didn’t expect was the busy tow traffic but the experience was good for us.  So, seven active tows, three Corp of Engineer Locks and almost eight hours later we were docked at Midway Marina in Fulton MS.  After the long day, we briefly visited with a crew on a house boat (Sugaree) to let them know our departure time and direction.  They agreed to join us in the morning.

 

We ate dinner on board and even though Midway was once our “home marina” I didn’t venture off the dock.  It was almost dark by the time we were settled and morning was on the way.


Following houseboat Sugaree...south bound

Tuesday 12/28/2021

We departed Midway Marina at 7:00am with Lucky Enuff, houseboat Sugaree and a single tow boat (not pushing anything) Anita House was in the channel heading toward the lock as well.  At least the tow was single and we were able to lock down with him, of course I felt his eye roll and internal groan at the very idea he was stuck with us “pleasure boats”.  Kindness rules!

Again the tow traffic was heavy and we were delayed a little bit along the way…and the cloud cover remained very heavy but temps were warm…scary weather for Mississippi in late December.  But we were determined to make it to Columbus MS to wait out the forecast “severe weather”.   Nine hours and four locks later we pulled into the very familiar, super friendly Columbus Marina!!  Of course, the single tow Anita House continued on toward Mobile AL (or wherever he was going).

Spending most of the day monitoring the weather forecast, we decided staying in Columbus for two nights was smart.

 

Docked in Columbus MS Wednesday afternoon

Wednesday 12/29/2021

Non-travel day – land chores and fun!

I’m calling Wednesday a “dirt day” and that’s a good thing!!  This day provided time to work out a few kinks on the boat, do a little laundry and most importantly see dear friends!  Oh and the severe weather? It pushed through around 7:00pm so we had partly sunny skies, lots of wind and a day on land.


A great meal with Fabulous Friends

Docked in Columbus Thursday morning

Thursday 12/30/2021

With heavy rain overnight and no wind we were met at daylight with thick fog!  So while our intentions were to leave at 7:00am common sense held us at the dock until 8:07am.  Right “around the corner” from the marina is the Stennis Lock and Corey the Lockmaster was super kind (as always).  He cautioned us that the fog was much thicker south of the lock.  But agreed to lock us down and because there was no approaching traffic we waited a few minutes after the doors opened to depart.  We picked up two more boats in Columbus…Somewhere and Copacetic. and the houseboat Sugaree opted for long term dockage and they headed home to Florida by car.  So, four pleasure craft were cruising south.  Minimum barge traffic and two locks later we dropped the anchor at Windham Landing at 1:05pm.  Once everyone was set and secure…the sun popped out in full bloom!!  First time since we left home we saw the sunshine!  Yippee!!!

 

Charlie's Uber Dinghy Service Windham Landing

It was just so nice to have a little Vitamin D and feel dry!

Lucky Enuff (left) & The Lower Place rafted at sunset Windham Landing

 

Lucky Enuff making their way past The Cliffs of Epps AL

Friday 12/31/2021

Wow…bye, bye 2021!!  We woke to fog as expected so our planned 7:00am departure was pushed to 8:53am.  That was a good thing because the anchor lines worked great at collecting debris!!  We spent some time clearing the collected debris and notifying Somewhere that it was coming toward them.  All four boats held secure all night…our favorite anchorage!!

We only had one lock today Howell Heflin.  While we were still several miles away Charlie called the lockmaster to ask about commercial traffic.  There was a north bound tow locking throughat that time, we slowed our speed.  We saw the tow clearing the lock just as we rounded the bend.  The green light was on and all four boats just glided in and tied up.  Other than playing “dodge the log” all day the river was quiet and we had a great travel day.  Arrived at Kingfisher Marina in Demopolis AL at 3:15pm, topped off with fuel then made our way to slip C12.  In true Lower Place fashion, we brought in the New Year perfectly sound asleep!!!

We are here for the weekend waiting out predicted strong winds and thunderstorms.

Happy New Year!!!

Stay Healthy and God Bless

 

 

 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

SURPRISE!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


What’s that about “never say never” (although I don’t remember saying “never”)??

After selling our Jefferson in March 2021, it didn’t take long to realize we are not small boat folks!  So by May 2021 we purchased a 1991 Carver 4207…same length as the Jefferson, wider by one foot and newer by 5 years.  We spent the remainder of the year making some improvements, running around Pickwick Lake and a shake-down cruise to Nashville in August!!  Fun, fun, fun!!!!

 Charlie promised we would be home for the holidays this year (Thanksgiving and Christmas) and given all the world has tossed in our direction we were both thankful to be home.  But Christmas is over, our marina lease is about to expire and it’s time to get moving again. YAY!!!!

 Yes, we will miss our great big family (genetic, marina, yoga, etc.) but home will be here when we return…yet to be determined.

 Tomorrow (Monday, December 27, 2021) we are shoving off at precisely “fog:30”!!!! We will head south on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (TN-Tom) and in 7-10 days should be in Mobile AL.  Weather, 11 locks and fun stuff to do will determine how long that takes.

 I will try to update the blog weekly, at least.  Since we have travelled this route at least a half a dozen times, sometimes I feel like a broken record and you (readers) may yawn & roll your eyes.  I’ll try not to bore you - much.

 Also, I’m not sure how to update the banner on the page, so if anyone has a suggestion please let me know.  I think BlogSpot might have morphed into Blogger and this old dog has been too busy for new tricks lately.  I will try to sit still long enough to make an effort.

Stay healthy and God Bless!!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

It’s OFFICIAL…!!!

Sunset March 4, 2021 Final scene from The Lower Place

As of Thursday, March 4, 2021 The Lower Place has new owners!  I know it’s a shock to some (including me) but we are at peace with the sale.  It helps to know she’s in the hands of great owners with a lifetime of boat knowledge.

In late December we briefly discussed selling The Lower Place based on the idea that we’d really like to continue boating – but in a more trailerable fashion.  So many places (western Erie Canal, downtown Chicago) we’d like to cruise but required a shorter air draft OR the upper Mississippi River (beautiful area) that we just didn’t want to fight the swift current to get there.

We’ve completed 2 Great Loops, multiple side trips and 6 years & 17,000+/- miles later she becomes another couples dream.  The boat is ready for another Great Loop, she will take great care of them.  We will go home for a while, research our next boat, enjoy Pickwick Lake, our pontoon boat, our dirt home and most importantly our family and friends.  Until the next boat purchase…we will join the “sold-the-boat-and-looking-for-another” support group that seems to be growing. HA HA!!

Thank you for riding along with us on The Lower Place we have enjoyed the journey and your company.

Stay healthy and God bless

Who wants to help unload the van? How did the boat float?!


Monday, March 1, 2021

Sunset Valentine's Day Marathon Marina

Still Afloat!!

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post…sun, fun, wash, rinse, and repeat!!  What more can I say!?  However, we have travelled – so there’s that.  Our reservations in Marathon expired on Feb 27th but in true McVey fashion and being the weather hounds that we are…the weather was EXCELLENT Feb 24-26 to make a run from Marathon the Fort Myers!!! So we did!!  Our original plans secured a slip in Fort Myers Yacht Basin upon arrival…and the slip was available…but the pier was too short and we were not able to get off the boat!!  Crazy!!

It took about an hour of phone calls on a Friday (2/26/2021) afternoon before The Marina at Edison Ford confirmed we could come in “but we might have to move you around”.  We completely understood (weekend, spring break and no reservation) but at least we could get off the boat!  So we untied and left the Yacht Basin.  YAY!!  And bonus…several Loopers were there – Doug Out, Gypsies Palace, One Eye Dog, Wicked Cool, Jo Ca – it was like a family reunion!!

I’ll let the pictures tell the story…

Sara, Irving, Charlie, Shelly & Scott-Sunset Grille 2/16/2021

7 Mile Bridge at sunset - Road trip with Irving & Sara 

Final sunset from our dock in Marathon 2/23/2021


Dropped the anchor 2/24/2021 in Little Shark River - fabulous!

but the water looks GREEN while underway!
A spectacular commute from Little Shark River to Marco Island on 2/25/2021

The MOON setting over Marco Island 2/26/2021 at 5:47am

A sailboat enjoying the day as we approach Naples FL

Sunset 2/26/2021 Caloosahatchee River, Ft. Myers FL 

A surprise visit on 2/27/2021 from Stay Strong (2 couples from our second loop) - they were kind enough to get our picture from way across the marina!  The Lower Place on the right and Gypsies Palace on the left - it was windy!
The Marina at Edison Ford, Ft. Myers FL


The final sunset of February 2021 Edison Ford Marina, Caloosahatchee River

And that my friends is a broad recap of the past 2 weeks.  The trip from Marathon to Ft. Myers was certainly memorable and the good Lord blessed us with perfect weather.  We are so happy to be in Ft. Myers.  Stay tuned for more adventures and pictures!!!

Stay healthy and God bless