Friday, February 23, 2018

Not Quite Gulfport MS...

Welcome to another adventure-filled entry from The Lower Place!!  As mentioned in the previous post we planned to arrive in Gulfport MS today (2/23/2018).  And as we should know by now…plans rarely happen according to plan.  Ha ha!
We see the fog coming...
We departed Dog River Marina in Mobile AL at the mid morning hour of 7:00 am.  That means I was afforded the opportunity to sleep in until 5:30!! YAY!!  Anyway, after leaving the marina and going under the bridge all was clear.  About an hour later BAM!! FOG BANK!!!  We saw it coming and knew it was thick but didn’t have any idea how long it would last.  Of course we were in the shipping channel with well, ships!
...and here it is!!
The chart plotter & auto pilot was keeping us on course, the RADAR was giving indications of “objects” – buoys, markers, fishing boats, cruise ships, cargo ships, oil platforms but not birds or dolphins - we could clearly read.  I was perched at the front of the fly bridge narrating to Captain Bathrobe (aka Charlie) the various sounds I heard and from which direction - horns, bells, rigging motors.  The captain was monitoring the VHF radio chatter and AIS alerts.  We were not nervous or scared but attentive to our blind surroundings and confident in our equipment and abilities.  But I sure was glad we didn’t have guests on board…LOL!!

After an hour or so the fog began to lift, the radio chatter slowed and it was time for that second cup of coffee.  WHEW!!  One would think that would be enough excitement for the day…but why not have a BONUS of excitement??
We saw him via RADAR 2 miles away
We were REALLY happy we saw him with the naked eye!!

Crossing Mobile Bay into the ICW requires passing between the barrier islands…twice!  When you get to that point the waves just bounce back & forth from land mass to land mass…and our boat is in the center of said channel.  Rock, roll, swirl, hang on tight, do not puke, drive the boat, stay on course!!  It’s a really groovy dance – all the cool kids are doing!

Whew, finally protected waters – sort of.  Barrier islands to the south, MS Gulf coast to the north and we were headed northwest.  But wait…there’s more!!  The clouds rolled in and the water/waves shifted a little…ding!!  An alert on my phone…Marine Hazard Warning!  Why not – it’s been nothing but FUN so far!!
This was our location when we started looking for a safe harbor
Long story short…a severe storm cell was moving southeast from Louisiana (toward Gulfport & us), the wind shifted and was blowing from east to west (behind us). Hmmm…”sloppy seas” was the best description I can offer.  With auto pilot engaged we both started doing our own research.  It was evident by the radar path that we could not make it to Gulfport safely.  Charlie called Biloxi marina, they told us to come on in…we were still 2-3 hours out.  The closer we got to Biloxi the more severe the RADAR appeared.  More research…Ocean Springs had a marina listed on Active Captain (a web based program most cruisers use).  Charlie called them since the weather didn’t appear to improve.

Once again, the Lord puts people in our paths to take care of our needs!!  We were less than a mile from the Ocean Springs Small Craft Harbor and they were 30 minutes from closing for the weekend…”not a problem, come on in, AJ will be there to help you tie up.”  Once we turned into the harbor, the wind stopped, the water was like glass and Captain Bathrobe docked the boat – stern in!!  That’s a REALLY BIG DEAL!!!  Just let me tell you how big my God is!!! AMEN!!!

We were tied up, off the boat, paid for 2 nights with a check – they “don’t do” plastic and welcomed with southern hospitality only found in the Hospitality State!!  Even though the RADAR showed Gulfport looked like Christmas (red, yellow, green clusters everywhere) and it was headed for Biloxi we were safely docked  & DRY in Ocean Springs.  AND they were able to close the office on time and start their weekend on schedule…apparently OCEAN SPRINGS was our plan for the day – I love it when a plan comes together! 
True Maroon - flying safe & sound

The Lower Place making friends with shrimpers!

So here we are – tucked in between shrimp boats and just steps away from downtown Ocean Springs.  It is well, with my soul…

God Bless!

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