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.