Monday, December 28, 2015

From Mobile to Pensacola

The journey over to Pensacola from Mobile was a much easier cruise than the previous trip. We followed the ICW through some very pretty country. Alabama is very green and lush. Lots of beautiful Ponderosa Pines, one of my favorite pine trees.
Some lovely houses along the ICW. A couple waved
 at us as we floated by!

ICW and lovely pines

The ICW.

Private dock

A gray day...and it hasn't stopped!

Tug with it's barge sitting on the bank

Some cool pirate boats...I wanted to go steal one, but Paul said no.


I love that boat! I want to steal it!!! Paul and I could
 dress up like pirates and sail her. Ok, ok, just a pipe dream.

Apartments on the ICW with nice view
At one point, the ICW opened up into Pensacola Bay, and we had a lovely sail with the winds coming in at about 15 knots. Felt so good to sail after motoring most of the trip. We had thought we were going to take the ICW all the way into Destin, but unfortunately the bridge we needed to go under was only 50 ft. and we need a good 53' to clear the antenna. A bit frustrated by this, we turned around and made for the Gulf. The winds were getting harder, up to 25 knots, and thus, we decided to anchor out on the leeward side of Santa Rosa Island. We were only about a mile or so from the opening into the Gulf, so it was close and wouldn't be a problem to get into the Gulf in the a.m. It was only 4pm, but that was fine by us. Our sleep that night was lulled by the beautiful sounds of the waves

Paul did a great job anchoring us.

Ready to stop for the evening...Christmas Eve, Pensacola Bay.

Santa Rosa Island...more like a spit. The Gulf is just over the dunes.

We had decided to stay there for Christmas and wait out the wind. Turned out, next day seemed rather mild, so we made for the Gulf. Well, the winds decided to get harder once we were out, so we had waves from 5-8 feet high the entire 9 hours of travel time to Destin. We pulled into Destin Harbor in the dark, which we had vowed not to do anymore. Sometimes life just takes you and you go with the flow.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mobile, Alabama

Being without GPS and AUTO on the gulf or on the ICW at night is something neither of us wish to repeat. It was extremely stressful and more than one cussword was spoken by both of us. I was really afraid, because there was also some fog, and the markers weren't lit up in the ICW. Without GPS there is no route to follow. Paul brought out the big handheld spotlight to shine out in the water so we could try to locate markers. It was touch and go for awhile, leaving us both exhausted.

We somehow managed to work our way into Homeport Marina last night by 9:30 pm. Ken, the gentleman I talked with on the phone at the marina said another sailboat had come in and we'd be docking right next to them. Very nice guy, Ken, and we thank both you and Craig for your hospitality. When we arrived at our slip, we were helped by the sailboat next to us, and lo and behold, it was our buddy partners, Jason, Wendy, Piper, and of course little Hobie, their dog; the family we met in Seabrook Marina in New Orleans! It's easy to see their boat at night, since they have Christmas lights around the cockpit. We all were glad to see each other and shared some of our stories. We have really enjoyed running into these folks in different marinas.

Homeport Marina, for those who don't know, is Lulu Buffet's place...sister of Jimmy. It's a pleasant marina, but we felt it was laid out rather wonky. It was a long, long walk to the restaurant, and the office was nearly impossible to find. However, we were just thankful to be somewhere safe after the grueling night we'd had out in Mobile Bay.

We had lunch at Lulu's Restaurant around noon on Tuesday and our waitress, Tammy, was a kick. Laid back, friendly, and full of jokes. Thanks, Tammy, for your great service and for making us feel at home.

Tammy, our waitress.


The bridge you come under to turn left directly into
 the marina. Shot from the restaurant.

Outdoor bandstand with outdoor seating.

Outdoor seating with sand floor

Paul inside the restaurant.

Very cool bathroom

Paul with his Ecuador hat on to keep off the rain

Entrance to Lulu's gift shop.

Coming out of the restaurant.

We called a Yacht Marine Service center which was just down the ICW less than a mile, and they sent an Electrician out to our boat the next day. Unfortunately, the guy was there for 4 hours and couldn't fix our GPS. They charge $90/hr. After he left, Paul called our friend in Kemah, Philip, who is an experienced electrician, and he told Paul to put these two wires together, then those two wires together and Voila, we had our GPS back!! Many thanks to Philip for his help. You don't know how much you helped us out. We've both determined that the GPS and AUTO are probably the most important things on a boat.

It rained most of the...and we mostly stayed inside. Since we had our GPS fixed, we figured we would take off the next day. Our friends next to us decided to leave that morning for Pensacola, so we went out to see them off.

Jason, Piper, and mom, Wendy, with Hobie on the dock.

We hope to bump into our buddies again on our journey.
Next morning we got the boat ready to go and left Homeport to get back on the ICW. We had a smooth trip, which we welcomed with open arms. It's nice to have a day or so to rest from the more strenuous days. The countryside of Alabama was green and lush, with oodles of Ponderosa Pines along the banks. Next stop, Pensacola, Florida.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Gulf Port, Mississippi

A rough ride on the Gulf all day after leaving Rabbit Island in Louisiana left us feeling tired and bedraggled. Sea Casa's nose into the water again; rocking horse motion AGAIN. No illness! Whew!
Winds at 15 - 20 knots, but of course, on our nose, so no sailing again. At least we know how to motor on the Gulf, and how much diesel it takes to get from Kemah, TX to New Orleans, LA. When we filled up in New Orleans it showed we had used almost 40 gals of diesel, and that was motoring the entire way. Not bad.

We made it into Gulf Port about 4:30...just as the sun was going down, and found that the marina we had called (which truly sounded like a funky marina called: "Gulf Port Small Boat Marina") was a brand new one, very classy, and only $1.00/ft. No electric fees, either, which some do tack on the bill. (Such as the one we're in Mobile, AL.)  There were very few boats in the marina so we had a good spot close to the restrooms/showers. Boy, did we need that shower!!!

We felt especially spoiled because they just happened to have a huge Christmas presentation at the park where we docked. There was a large pavilion where a band was playing and some singers singing Christmas songs. Then there were acres and acres of lights accompanied and in synch with music piped in (loud) over the different venues. I took a ton of pics so will try to keep from boring you with all of them. But it was seriously so beautiful, I may just have to risk it. :) The first pics were from our had just gotten dark, and the display was far away, so they came out dark.
These trees were synchronized with some great tunes

Huge Ferris wheel from a distance. Changing colors constantly.

Paul and I decided, even though we were beat from the pounding day in the Gulf, we'd go check it out. It was truly an inspiration. We got in free since we were docked at the marina. We walked by the Pavilion where the large band was taking a break and made our way to the front where two horses and a carriage were waiting to take folks for a ride. They didn't have to wait long, there was a long line! You can see the tree trunks lit up in the background...they were changing colors in patterns and designs. Not just blinking lights. Bottom to top, top to bottom, spiraling, stripes, etc. You may want to make these pics bigger for a better effect. Or you may just want to skip it altogether. If you do, you're being a Scrooge!!!

White carriage with two horses


tree trunks decorated with lights



Sparkling and glittery; all colors. Much prettier in real time.
Onward to the next display.

Under the sea

carriage passing us

Santa's boat load of gifts

wind surfer

Wind surfer getting eaten by the Shark
It hopped across the grass making it look
 like it was swimming and then popped up like this

Ferris Wheel changing colors and patterns

I couldn't get the dragon's tail...too long for my camera.

Can't see very well, but it's a Neptune Santa with eight
little shrimp

The trees were amazing. People very small compared to them.
You can see them walking in the foreground.
Designs and rhythm and music all synchronized together.

Very delicate to song "Sugar Plum Fairy" from Nutcracker.

Constant motion, swirls and curls, all to upbeat music

Long line of cars waiting to get in.

Taken from the sea castle all the way back to the Ferris Wheel

Can get an idea of how big this event was. That is a huge
Ferris Wheel, looks small in this pic. Those are the huge trees
 on the left and they look small here, too

Back to the trees...couldn't get enough of them and the
incredible music

My last photo...Paul was starting to tease me about my many

We had a lovely evening walking around the park, but it was cold! We had our jackets and several layers of clothes on and were still cold. We meandered back to the boat and had a nice sleep. Woke up to a pretty day, but some winds already started. We left the dock about 9 am to go to the pump out and get fuel. Here are some pics of the place as we are floating through.
Backing out of our slip

Leaving the dock


Going out through the channel

Passing the entrance into Small Boat Marina

Good bye, Gulf Port!!

Into the Gulf

Another rocky day on the Gulf. Plus, we lost our GPS. Made it all day by using our
handheld GPS. With the waves, winds and current against us, we were only
making 1.2 to 2.5 knots, so it was a long, long day and night. Finally decided
to anchor along the shore of Horn Island about 7 pm. It was quiet there, so
rested well. Got up the next day and used our Handheld GPS to lead us to
Mobile Bay and to our marina on the ICW.