Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Saturday, December 27, 2014
A new bimini and solar panels proved convenient and made our last trip more comfortable. Our old Bimini was, well, getting too old and visibly worn. Not able to really continue to protect us from sun and rain as it was coming apart.
The solar panels were notably the difference between running the (noisy) engines when anchored and experiencing the peace and quiet of nature surrounding us. What a difference!
Now Mike and his mighty industrial sewing machine have produced a minimalist, easy to use mainsail cover. It elegantly protects the furled sail without too much hassle.
Check out Aventura's new look!
Saturday, November 29, 2014
When leaving Pontchartrain Lake and the Rigolets, LA, and entering the Gulf of Mexico, the first marina available to our 37 Lagoon, Aventura, is the Bay St. Louis Harbor & Marina, MS. It's just past the railroad bridge and before the Hwy. 90 bridge. It's quickly accessible and convenient All those times when a marina makes more sense, given weather conditions. Or simply to enjoy a quaint, historic town with plenty restaurants and retail, all within walking distance from your pier.
For us, Bay St. Louis Harbor or Pass Christian Harbor make sense for the first night or last. In fact, they're just over 5 mi. apart. Possibly just a bicycle ride apart. Bay St. Louis Harbor has joined our list of alternatives to the Mississippi Barrier Islands when weather dictates safe harbor.
Always looking out for new opportunities and planning the next trip along the Gulf Coast!
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Headed Home to New Orleans!
Thu 11/6-Sat 11/8/14
Santa Rosa Yacht & Boat Club (SRYC) was a pleasant surprise. Nestled on the north side of the Pensacola Beach Bridge, it's easy to ignore in favor of Little Sabine Bay or other anchorages along the Pensacola Beach side of the Santa Rosa Sound. But SRYC is actually a good stopover: attentive staff; very nice bathroom/shower; use of their Club Room with Cable TV; free pump-out and clothes washing; WiFi; and, really close to shopping and eateries. We biked to groceries and coffee. One can also cross the street to eateries nearby, or bike to plenty more. Of course we needed to take advantage of all-of-the-above right at that point in the trip. So, we did. The only minus was the layout of the marina in terms of protection from wind and waves. Not much protection there because there's a low wall separating slips from the open waters. But no problem. We were not facing bad weather. That would come later on.
When we left on the morning of the 8th at around 11:00 a.m. it was dreary and a bit cooler. The idea of anchoring in Big Lagoon off Pensacola Bay was the original plan. However, as we passed a favorite spot, one which Mike calls "The Cut" (because it cuts through to the entrance/exit to the Gulf of Mexico), we saw a large group of boats. How so many power boats and sailboats crammed into the small body of water at the foot of Fort McCrae was a wonder. And then we remembered: the Navy Base across the way (part of Pensacola) was putting on an air show!
Change of plans: pick another spot along the Alabama Canal. We entered Robert's Bayou at 3:15 p.m. We had long known about it and even entered to explore it with our previous sailboat (a monohull). But we were hesitant to take Aventura in with its two hulls/keels (20.3 ft. wide beam) in such a narrow passageway that had shoaling on its east side to boot. Talking to other sailors and reading reviews convinced us that we could enter without grounding if we took it slowly and carefully. That's what we did with success and, wow, were we happy. The Bayou had been cleared of old, abandoned boats that used to populate the precious anchorages. Robert's Bayou is so pretty with its untouched nature throughout and tasteful homes woven in along some of the banks. Anchored in 10 ft. of water. Position: 30 deg. 19.423' N/87 deg. 32.033'W
Plus there's Pirate's Cove, a legendary, laid back, rustic eatery. Drinks, food, and views of the Alabama Canal are good. But it's the characters that frequent the place that make this a must for transient boaters. We rowed our dinghy over there twice and enjoyed. We also rowed to the Josephine Picnic Area on another bank, and explored other parts of the Bayou. Lovely, lovely, lovely!
We left at 9:00 a.m. thinking of going into Dog River, just off Mobile Bay, but weather reports indicated several cold fronts headed south over the next week or so. We were doing 7.5 kts. along the AL Canal (a strong current in our favor) and passed up Dog River to make it to the Mississippi Barrier Islands. We knew we had just that one day and night to anchor at one of the islands, and then we'd have to find a marina along the Gulf Coast for a few days, waiting for another good day to make headway toward New Orleans. We reached Horn Island, MS just in time for the 6:00 p.m. sunset, anchoring on the northeast side of the Island. Just past what seemed like a convention of pelicans. Too many to count. And settled at a spot where we'd feel the least rocking overnight. Position: 30 deg. 13.707'N/88 deg. 35.355'W
Once again in Pass Christian Yacht Harbor, the first and last port of call on this trip. We hunkered down for a very chilly few days. Saturday would bring milder temperatures, wind and waves for our trek back to Pontchartrain Lake and New Orleans.
Forget the bike riding. Bundled up to the nines, we walked to Shaggy's for dinner one night and to Cat Island Coffeehouse one morning. Otherwise, it was popcorn, our one DVD, reading, chores, and bonding. Of course bonding; that's one of the sought after prizes of our sailing adventures. And, yes, some conversation with other sailors. That can be interesting and often informative.
Brr! Cold day but we had to leave by 7:30 a.m. to make it back to Lake Pontchartrain and our New Orleans home port before dark. We watched the fishermen congregating in certain parts of the Mississippi Sound, the barges that lumbered along in single file in the ICW, took turns at the helm, and tried to stay warm. Hot tea, hot chocolate and hot soup got us through the nine hours it took to get us there.
The discomfort of cold or dashed plans didn't diminish the feelings of satisfaction and pleasure at adding another chapter to our sailing adventures. So, we're already thinking about when and how to embark on the next trip.
Arrivederci! Hasta luego! Until the next time! Oh, and remember to double click on the slideshow (any of the slideshows), if you want to see the pictures and in a larger format.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Knowing we had a long day ahead, we left Barber Marina on the AL Canal early, around 8 a.m. An unencumbered day for travel -- temperatures in the upper '70s, and mild. We motored to Dauphin Is., AL, passing Wolf Bay, The Wharf Marina complex, Lulu's Restaurant and Homeport Marina (she is Jimmy Buffet's sister)along the AL Canal. Then we crossed Mobile Bay, turning south at Dauphin Is., working our way to Pelican Passage, an anchorage at the underbelly of the Island. Our first time there, it proved to be an acceptable cove and very popular for locals. We rowed to shore, splashed around in the water for a while before retiring for sunset and dinner. This anchorage offers very little protection from weather, but the Windfinder indicated good conditions through the night. By the way, if there was any passage or cut through before, there isn't now, which makes for a longer trip when leaving to go westward. Maybe locals ought to refer to it as Pelican Cove. Location: 30 deg. 14.634 N/ 88 deg 06.902 W
Weather conditions continued mild. So headed for the next island west of Dauphin called Petit Bois, and it's across the state line in Mississippi. If you're from the area you call it "Petiboi," a little bit of a departure from its French root, but who's challenging that. It did take a while to reach the northeastern part of Petit Bois from the southern part of Dauphin, also because there's no real channel between the two islands. So, you pick your way through very carefully, watching the depth meter intently. It seems that the whole string of Mississippi islands plus Dauphin Is., AL are slowly moving westward, so scientists say, and the continuous shoaling makes any chart outdated. We arrived at Petit Bois in the early afternoon, a destination we're familiar with and like. Again, limited protection, as are the rest of the Barrier Islands off the Mississippi coastline. In this case, there was no boat nearby, which made it a peaceful anchorage. We dropped the dinghy and this time the motor worked! So we made it to shore and walked around a bit plus swam. Time to break out one of the DVD's we had bought at a garage sale or somewhere like that, pop popcorn on the propane stove and enjoy the evening. Even watching a DVD on a battery powered, 7 in. screen can be fun when in the "camping" mode. Beside that, I have my Nook and Mike his reading material, too. No cell phone connection. The VHF would cover communications with another boat or the Coast Guard, or hear weather reports. But otherwise, it was just our floating cabin in the natural setting. OK by us. Location: 30 deg. 12.261 N/ 88 deg 26.679 W
You notice how we alternate between the nature experience and the town experience? If water tanks are full, there's plenty of provisions, boat operations systems are working well, and there's no issue with weather, then there's a choice. Choosing nature takes you to a simple state of body and mind, best for introspection, and feelings that develop from a natural setting. Marinas, hence city life, feeds the addictions: technology, places, foods, entertainment. Our addictions were calling. So, we headed for Point Cadet Marina at the eastern tip of Biloxi, across the bay from Ocean Springs, and across a narrow channel to Deer Is. We left early and made the approx. 30 nm run in less than 5 hrs., motor sailing. The Golden Nugget Casino is next door to the marina. Gambling and the gambling environment is not for us, but the Starbuck's inside was. In fact, the Hard Rock Casino, about 1 mi. down the beach, also had a Starbuck's, and we visited that as well. Guess it's true that Starbuck's is everywhere. We did the usual biking, looking for the historic area, grocery shopping, and taking in any breeze we could. It was getting hotter by the day. We also looked in on the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, which is much better located if you're biking, but they discourage (or so we thought) pleasure boats in favor of commercial boats. It's full of fishing vessels, and some sell fish/seafood off the boats during certain seasons. Many Asians involved, which is a usual sight along the Gulf Coast. So, that means Asian stores and restaurants, too, which adds texture to towns. A good thing.
We left Point Cadet and made the 3-hr. run to Gulfport Harbor Marina where we stayed for a couple of nights, while waiting to rendezvous with our friends at Ship Is. on the 24th. No casino visits, but yes biking and the usual. Gulfport Harbor Marina is first class and most of the boats are pleasure boats. A totally different atmosphere from the Biloxi marinas, as we saw it. Otherwise, the town has an historic area, restaurants and coffee nearby, just like Biloxi. The big difference in the towns is that Biloxi has become synonymous with casino life, though it was a fishing town (many tournaments available for you sports fishermen) and historic town way before the casinos.
We were eager to meet up with George and family at Ship Is., which in and of itself is an attractive destination. So, we left mid-morning for the 2 1/2 hr. straight run down to the northern part of the island where Fort Massachusetts is and the better anchorages. It's also where anchorage spots are closest to shore for exploration. Though a popular island, this was Memorial Day Weekend, and the sailboats/motorboats abounded. George's cat, a Privelege 39, was in a perfect spot, and we dropped anchor nearby. Saturday and Sunday were days to visit, share meals, go ashore, swim and generally frolic. If you're ever in the area, don't hesitate to visit Fort Massachusetts and the Gulf beach area of the island. Very nice, so much so that there are several daily excursions back and forth from Gulfport, and maybe from other towns. All in all, this was a wonderful way to put the finishing touches on a trip that was meant to relax and did.
This was a 3-week plus sailing trip that started out with no plan. We stopped where we wanted and moved at the speed we chose at the time, and it worked well for us. Weather, as well as boat and body functioning cooperated to make it a memorable trip. We visited new places: Pass Christian Harbor Marina, Lake Yazoo, Redfish Point and The Cut on Big Lagoon, Paradise Inn anchorage, Pelican Pass/Dauphin Is., and Point Cadet Marina. We revisited places we already knew and liked: Ingram Bayou, Palafox Marina/Pensacola, Barber Marina/AL Canal, Petit Bois, Gulfport, and Ship Is. Sailing for us is all about exploring and relaxing, and this trip delivered. Even when the weather is inclement, as in last trip (November 2013), there's always something to remember warmly. Memories that keep us going in life.