Monday, April 30, 2018

Just roll with it...!!!

Monday's dock

Well, so much for the best laid plans…that’s why we L O V E a plan B and then a plan C!!  We are…still in Mobile!! Tied to the wall on the back side of the Convention Center!  YAY!!

We headed out Monday morning to the municipal marina in Fairhope as planned.  Moni Jean left a little later and headed to the “pier in Fairhope”.  Both places a NO-GO for different reasons but the main issue is lack of water in the slips.  Once we tied up another boater told us we would “be in the mud by morning”.  “Nuf said…we politely unhooked the power and pulled our lines – we don’t have 4-wheel drive on The Lower Place!  Moni Jean had good water at the pier but there was no availability.  We all headed for the Convention Center!
This bridge says it all...
Walter the security guard met us at the wall.  We filled out the necessary paperwork and headed to downtown Mobile.  It’s been many, many years since I’ve been in the downtown area…a lot has changed.  There is evidence of improvements but mostly I was surprised by the very large commercial buildings standing empty with for sale or lease signs in the windows.

We found the post office (a standard trip for me) and a few side streets that had the smell of New Orleans. Mobile is the birthplace of Marti Gras after all. 

Since docking this far north on Mobile Bay we are rethinking our strategy of heading north.  Remember I mention there was a few boats heading north on Monday?  Well, their plans changed too…they are still at Dog River!  I have a strong suspicion that we will blaze a trail north in the morning…but I also thought I’d be in Fairhope this week!!  Proving once again…plans will change!!

Today’s thought:  you really don’t need yoga to be flexible; you need to travel on a boat!! LOL!!!  Laughter makes it all better so keep laughing!!

God Bless

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Port St. Joe FL to Mobile AL

Parker FL - can you smell it?

After our very enjoyable surprise stop in Port St. Joe we continued our westward journey on Monday the 23rd. And SURPRISE!!  We found ourselves back in the central time zone and dropped the anchor in Smack Bayou a little after lunch.  We find ourselves using the afternoons to plan and calculate our “up river” voyage.  Based on the never-ending spring rains north of us; the river-crest and flood stage information is becoming more and more critical to our plan.

After a 9+ hour cruising day on the 24th we found our way back to Fort Walton city dock.  I know…never say never…I mentioned this place as a “no go” after our sleepless night in February.  But the dock was empty and it was a weekday so we tied up.  Apparently the 3rd visit was the charm…we actually got off the boat and walked the “strip”, had an early dinner at The Boardroom – I highly recommend the Rice Bowl and Charlie hit the jackpot on “Prime Rib Tuesday” – and walked a little more.

Wednesday the 25th it was time to re-calibrate the Auto Pilot.  After 2 hours of driving in circles, pressing buttons and talking to the very helpful Garmin support center we were headed west again!! Heavy seas and the possibility of a small power surge from thunderstorms could have created the issues since we also had to reboot the satellite TV – things happen!
Pensacola Beach - sorry we missed it!  We'll be back!
It was late in the day when we finally stopped at Ingram’s Anchorage (plan C).  Our first choice to anchor in Pensacola was nixed due to a dredging operation, high winds and a confused sea.  We motored on to Robert’s Bayou (plan B) and found it somewhat full – room for one more boat.  Our friends on Moni Jean were several hours behind us and planned to stop there. We pressed on to Ingram’s since we still had daylight in our favor…dropping the hook at 5:36 pm.  Moni Jean took the spot at Robert’s Bayou around dusk (7:30); they had a LONG day and we were happy to hear from them!
Charlie, Robin, Marilyn & Ed at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club!

We intended to stay at anchor Thursday based on the predicted weather (rain & gusting wind).  Well when it wasn’t raining by 10:00am Captain Bathrobe ordered the anchor pulled and we headed to Orange Beach!!  Homeport Marina, Lulu’s and the FloraBama compound were waiting for us!!  Oh and Ed and Marilyn – friends we met at Midway Marina a couple years ago!!  YAY!! Don’t you love to see a familiar face!!
Cool chairs!

Friday the 27th we were moving again (notice a theme here?)!  This time to Dog River Marina in Mobile – top off the fuel tanks and one night is free!!  So we stayed for the weekend.  There are several boats here with the same float plan…head NORTH on the rivers.

As I mentioned earlier flooding on rivers presents a little challenge – current, debris, lock operations – but we have been in touch with the first lock upstream.  Using the information provided on the Corp of Engineers website, the lock master’s knowledge and the local knowledge of marina staff we are heading to Fairhope tomorrow!!

A few boats are going to start up river on Monday and will share their experience with us.  We will continue to monitor the water levels/currents and if nothing changes (gets worse) Moni Jean and The Lower Place will begin our northerly approach on Wednesday (May 2).  Naturally it takes longer running upstream and most likely we will have shorter travel days to insure safer anchoring opportunities…so who knows how long it will take us!!  A best estimate is 5-7 actual travel days to reach our home marina of course we may spend an extra day somewhere due to circumstances beyond our control…OR there might be a cool farmers market screaming my name!!  So stay tuned!!
It won't be long until this is our typical "boat traffic"

God Bless!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Apalachicola, White City and (surprise) Port St. Joe

The Lower Place docked at Apalachicola Marina, FL

The short trek from Carrabelle to Apalachicola (4 hours) allowed us to have a full day of exploration!  And since we usually bypass this quaint Oyster town – it was nice to stop early and spend the night.  The Apalachicola Marina was quite rustic but very sufficient for our stay.  
What kind of flower is this? Dual bloom of white and lavendar.
Restaurants, shopping…that’s about it – but the friendliest folks around!!  Proving once again…our favorite stops are the small out-of-the-ordinary communities.

Saturday morning brought the predicted “higher than comfortable” winds and the weekend forecast of rain showers beginning late Saturday or Sunday (weather apps vary).  I wasn’t in favor of leaving but was reassured that once we got off the dock everything would be fine.  I shut my mouth and asked God to keep His hand planted firmly in place.

We planned to travel 20 miles to White City FL.  We docked on the free wall while doing the Loop and that was the intention for today.  Free = you get what you pay for (in my opinion) so without any drama we departed Apalachicola and headed west.

Here we are tied safely to the White City dock – note the FIVE lines securing The Lower Place.  The clouds were moving in and I have to admit the cruising was uneventful given the weather prediction.  Note the sign in the foreground…great!

Charlie spoke with a lady fishing from the pier and she was quite clear that the ordinance was enforced and if violated there was mention of a $500 fine.  We ate a quick lunch, I walked a fast mile for recess and we were off…headed to Port St. Joe.  Five miles off the beaten path toward open water with the wind increasing, the dock master cautioned us that the bay was “quite choppy”.
Our approach to the St. Joseph Bay
Once again, the good Lord took care of us!  His hand was still over my mouth, the canal to the bay was quite and the bay was surprisingly calm even though the wind was howling!!  Once we turned into the marina inlet there was no problem getting to the wall and securing the boat.  While our stay isn’t “free” we are well protected, secured and have some land based opportunities if we get a reprieve in the weather.  Based on the current forecast – we will be here until Monday!
Here''s the view after we docked...yuck!

I plan to do more exploring during the weekend so stay tuned for an early week update!  Have a fabulous day and be thankful for the things you don’t say when you don’t get your way!!  It certainly makes life happier!

God Bless

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Adventures in Carrabelle FL

What more does a girl need??

This is our third visit to Carrabelle by boat and the FIRST time we’ve stayed long enough to explore by foot.  While the rest of the gang went to eat breakfast, I headed out on foot to see what this town on Florida’s Forgotten Coast had to offer.  Turns out…lots of fishing and a few hidden gems of art!!
I plodded along the water front and the town has really invested in this area…
Warm welcome to the waterfront

Patriotic tribute 
A bike rack doubles as ART!!
Next I meandered through some neighborhoods with sand roads – actually noted as “Avenues” and discovered the Carrabelle Bottlehouse!! I told Rick and Monica (Moni Jean) about my discovery and it turns out they have been looking for this place the last couple years – so I was fortunate enough to have TWO visits!! YAY ME!!!
 A must see!!
Seriously, a real BOTTLE house
And a real BOTTLE lighthouse
Here’s a first for us…this marina has handicap slips!! And when we arrived late Wednesday afternoon the wind was picking up (imagine that?) so the manager/owner directed us to the first slip next to the fuel dock!!  How convenient - we were able to get the boat docked bow in and THEN get fuel!!  Of course, I’m not sure what this says about their opinion of us.  Maybe they think we actually qualify!! LOL!!!
The Lower Place docked at C Quarters - too funny!
This evening we will review the weather and route to determine if/when we depart on Friday.  I’ve enjoyed our stay in Carrabelle and even more happy to know all of our open water crossings are over for this trip!

Until our next adventure…stay positive – be the Light!!

God Bless
Sunrise 4/18/2018 headed to Carrabelle FL

Steinhatchee FL

Fort of Steinhatchee Pier

After the April “showers” of Sunday the 15th Monday and Tuesday proved to be exactly what we needed…land-based adventure.  Well, adventure in the sense of “hey look, there’s another view of the water!”
Ya' gotta love a pizza place that monitors a marine channel!!
AND has a dinghy dock!!  Fabulous!!

Steinhatchee is a great waterfront community – if you like fishing then it’s a GREAT community!  Sea Hag Marina is more like a resort for fishermen (or women); well-equipped, great ship’s store, bait shop, lodging, laundry and no see’um spray!!!  All essentials for a comfortable stay…did I mention a mega dose of hospitality?  The kindness of everyone we encountered – marina staff, restaurant staff, fellow pedestrians, local fishermen, grocery store employees – were beyond measure with hospitality!! Such a refreshing experience!!
We went looking for the waterfall by dinghy (note the swift current)
 ...only to discover due to local flooding - we were boating OVER the falls!!
As much as we enjoyed our stay I have to admit the planning for arrival and departure was a constant conversation with Charlie and me.  Weather obviously plays an important in our travels and we strive to make the best decisions for safe and comfortable passages.  It must be the time of year because found ourselves in the “lesser of two evils” choice for travel days.  And while the lesser was better – it was by no measure comfortable.
A natural way to lower the blood pressure
We departed Sea Hag Marina at 6:50am Wednesday (4/18/2018) and at 5:10pm we docked at C-Quarters Marina in Carrabelle.  Surviving over 10 hours of waves (1’-2’) on the bow and beam I was more than done with open water crossing.  Don’t forget the “perfect storm” arrival experience we had for two days getting to Steinhatchee…it must be the spring weather pattern.

More on our Carrrabelle FL adventures in the next post!  Until then, keep smiling and moving forward!!

God Bless

Sunday, April 15, 2018

More weather ...and adventure!

Moni Jean leading the way from Dunedin

Since the last update we have been on the move, making new friends and enjoying Steinhatchee FL!  In true cruising fashion we had a dawn departure from Dunedin on Thursday the 12th.  While our friends Ivy & Jackie (Imagine) are staying a little longer in Dunedin we were thrilled to have our Bahamas Buddies Rick & Monica (Moni Jean) catch up with us & travel together.

In the past we have chosen to cross the Gulf of Mexico all at once – creating the 20+ hour overnight crossing that causes so much anxiety – and it turns out to be no big deal.  But since we are trying to do things a little different we have opted to take a longer route requiring daylight only travel.  Dunedin to Cedar Key to Steinhatchee to Carabelle – otherwise known as the “Big Bend” route.
Weather, weather, weather…Dunedin to Cedar Key was a long travel day (70ish miles) with wind and waves a little beyond ideal for me.  But once you commit…  Upon our arrival to the Cedar Key anchorage the winds were too strong for a dinghy trip to shore & we were tired. Good thing we went to bed early because it was a rolly, windy, swinging on the anchor kind of night!  The anchor was secure but when the tide turned it was loud!

Friday (4/13/2018) was another early departure to Steinhatchee & WOW what a ride!  We knew the weather was going to shift later in the day and the seas would be “a little rocky” starting out.  Short version…we saw waves from .5’ to 5’ ALL DAY LONG!!  The earlier part of the day everything was hitting on the bow and then we turned north & the wind shifted south so the remainder of the day we were pushed from behind & wallowed as if we were in a washing machine!  UGH!!  Not to mention we were apparently cruising the crab pot capital of the Gulf!  There wasn’t much to say that would change anything…I tried to load a video, apparently there was an "error".sorry!

Once we arrived in Steinhatchee almost 7 hours later Monica & I compared notes – yeah, it was quiet on her boat too! LOL!! Based on the weather forecast we will be in Steinhatchee until at least Wednesday the 18th.
Yes, the fish are REAL - No, these are not the Fishermen! LOL!
What a GREAT stop!! Sea Hag Marina and the Steinhatchee community has been so welcoming – southern hospitality at its finest!!  There was a fishing tournament on Saturday – a local fund raiser for local animal rescue. And we met some of the nicest people – the family sponsoring the tournament – sharing their story of life and loss. Their faith and dedication to family was evident and I felt so blessed to spend a little time with them – it’s amazing how often similar life stories can bond complete strangers.  Thank you Justin, Stacey, you precious (& respectful) kiddos, mom Lois and dad for sharing your story, faith and time with us!  God bless you!

Sunday brought tremendous storms!!  We stayed on the boat safe and sound and monitored the water level in the marina. Late in the day (after the front passed through) we got off the boat and walked with Rick and Monica to Roy’s – a delicious meal and welcomed change of scenery. 

Back at the marina a couple smaller boats had broken loose from their slips.  Charlie climbed aboard looking for additional lines – no luck. I went to our boat, grabbed an extra dock line and tossed it to Charlie. Rick was able to pull the boat back into the slip securing the bow. Charlie readjusted the stern and all was well.  Then another boat was loose!!  The lines just came untied so the same process was used and the lines were re-tied (properly).  Good times!!

The wind is predicted to remain strong for a day or so longer but that’s just fine.  I have some exploring to do on land!

Until the next post – embrace life, smile at strangers and hug someone…every face has a story.

God Bless

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Rock 'n Roll Tuesday

Tuesday morning 4/10/2018 Dunedin FL

I normally don’t post “weather only” info…but today was so stormy, windy and incredible I just had to share!

The weather forecast was spot on!  When we woke on Tuesday it was windy, muggy, humid, soupy, whatever you want to call it…a perfect day for BAD HAIR!!  We had a few boat chores to complete then it was time to hunker down!
These pictures were taken in "color mode"

For several hours we were pounded with rain, wind, thunder and lightning.  We stayed on the boat keeping an eye on the lines and fenders.  We weathered it all very well and by 4:00 the only trace of the day’s storms was heavy cloud cover.  YAY!

Before long, we were off the boat visiting Ivy & Jackie on Imagine (Little Rock AR).  Such a great couple and a special treat of lamb stew for dinner!  Again…some of our best meals are shared on a boat!

We experienced such powerful and strong weather today – it was a bold reminder of just how incredibly powerful and strong our Creator is and at the same time to offer us peace (not fear) and safety in the eye of the storm.  Thank you Lord.

God Bless!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Hello from Dunedin, FL...again!

Blue skies, blue water at anchor
It’s been awhile since our last update – my how time flies!!    We haven’t covered a lot of miles but we sure have enjoyed our time; mostly sunshine, 80°+ temps with a cooler breeze, low humidity, lots of walking and best of all visits with family!!

When we left Punta Gorda, we anchored 8 hours later at White Beach/Siesta Key and stayed there until Sunday April 1.  The weather was gray, overcast and threatened rain (never happened) just not a pleasant day to travel – so we didn’t.  Easter Sunday we traveled 5 hours and anchored in Gulfport FL.  That town might sound familiar since we stopped there for a couple days when we were south bound.  There was nothing pressing us to go into the marina – so we didn’t. But I really needed to get off the boat and we dingy’d to shore.  It was Easter Sunday and I was pleased to see several businesses closed. We ate a light mid afternoon snack, walked the streets a little bit then back to the boat.  Not as much land time as I’d hoped but the wind changed & the waves picked up.  When the dinghy is your car, the weather matters! LOL!!
Windy in Gulfport FL on Easter Sunday
Monday, April 2 we departed the Gulfport FL anchorage and ventured a little further north hoping to dock in Tarpon Springs FL. No such luck…no room at either marina.  Luckily we had that information before we arrived near Dunedin.  So history has repeated itself and here we are at Marker 1 Marina for the second time on this trip!  It’s a great stop, LOTS of pedestrian friendly sidewalks and crosswalks, the Jolley Trolley and a pool at the marina.  Life could be worse!
Monday afternoon view in Dunedin FL
Since Tarpon Springs is only a 1 mile walk & 7 mile Trolley ride away we aren’t  completely isolated from the local family.  AND what a fabulous family time we have had this week!  Not only have I been blessed to visit with my Aunt, cousins, great cousin & (gulp) great, great cousins…another Uncle & Aunt traveled from Pennsylvania for the week!!  What a double blessing to see them after 20+ years!! I admit – I’m the worst family member in the group about keeping up with kin!!  We picked up right where we left off oh so long ago…I’m thrilled to know my branch hasn’t been pruned from the family tree!! I really need to try harder to stay in touch!!  But hey…it’s a BIG BRANCHING TREE!!  Trust me!!!  My first friends in life were my cousins….and that’s 24 folks not including spouses or my sisters!!
Good times with Family!
We shared a couple meals, LOTS of laughter, conversation and a few tears – life is a circle!  I’m so blessed to still be in the circle – thank you Chris & Debbie for your gift of hospitality and love of family.

And just like that…my phone decided to stop taking/making calls on Friday the 6th.  So we are staying in Dunedin until the replacement phone is delivered (scheduled for Monday the 9th).  Hopefully by Tuesday we will be underway again – slowly moving north.  Word on the street is there is freeze warnings, sleet, etc. still happening at home…we are in no hurry!
A brief afternoon thunderstorm - looked worse than it was
Until the next post, continue smiling, breathe deep & enjoy the gift of just being with those you love. The good Lord blesses us each and every day with opportunities to share His love.  What have we shared today?

God Bless