Saturday, November 29, 2014

New Marina at Bay St. Louis, MS



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

Aventura Eastbound III


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.

Sat 11/8-11/14

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!

Tue 11/11/14

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

Wed 11/12-15/14

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.

Sat 11/15/14

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

Aventura Eastbound II



Thu 10/30 - Mon 11/3/14

Knowing that we would face strong winds on the nose and much wave action, we determined to set out at 7:00 a.m.  for Destin.  Usually an 8-9 hr. run on the outside, in the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, I couldn't sleep since I wanted to get up before boat preparations to do my yoga.  Weather predictions had underestimated conditions.  After 4 hrs. of 25 knt. winds on our forward quarter and 3 ft. waves, making only 4 - 4.2 knt. speed at best, we decided to turn back.  At that rate and discomfort we would have probably made it to Destin after dark, and would have had to start all over again slugging forward to St. Andrew's Bay (Panama City area) the next day.  Fall was up to its old tricks of warm and little wind, then cold and heightened wind.

Back to Palafox and enjoyable downtown Pensacola for long bike rides, Saturday Farmer's Market, meals and chores.  Good provisioning at Ever'man Grocery and Joe Patti's Seafood, both within 1 mi. of the Marina, easily done on bikes. Our outings took us to East Pensacola, which is quaint and different, and to the Bayou Chico area with its marinas.  Last sailing trip we had met a group of avid Catalina 22 sailors that rendezvous and caravan along the Gulf Coast and elsewhere every year.  This time around we met the Fort Walton Yacht Club boaters that were loosely travelling together along the ICW's Sta. Rosa Sound, Pensacola Bay and the Alabama Canal.  Just having a great time together, and probably old friends by now, as they do this often.  Always good to meet others and swap stories over drinks/food.

Mon 11/3/14

Our plans have changed since I only have a month to vacation.  No problem.  We  turned our attention to the Sta. Rosa Sound, with notions but no plans.  We started out around 10:00 a.m.  Sailing and/or motoring along the Sound is very pleasant because there are communities on both sides and plenty of places to duck into.  At the Pensacola Beach Bridge, we turned South to explore Sabine Bay and check out anchoring possibilities.  Very cute, indeed.  We determined to come back for a night.  Then we proceeded East toward the Navarre Bridge area that another sailor had raved about, namely the south side Navarre Beach anchorage.  The winds were a little strong that day for an unprotected spot; so, we decided to stop halfway (kinda) at Big Sabine, on the south side of the Sound, where a jetty of land with some trees would somewhat protect us from Easterly winds expected to pick up during the night.  Another sailboat must have come to the same conclusion; so, two of us anchored nearby overnight.  Position:  30 deg. 21.238' N/87 deg. 03.511' W

Tue 11/4/14

We left around 9:00 a.m. and arrived at the Southwest side of Navarre Beach Bridge at noon.  Juana's Pagoda loomed on the horizon, a place we were told we must experience.  Getting there was tricky: head south off the ICW just before the Bridge (when coming from the West); stay between the markers for pipelines, but also watch out for a shoal area like a finger that intercepts the "passageway."  The light wasn't right to even notice the difference in color of the water that might indicate shallower areas.  We were grounded but briefly in a sandy bottom.  Mike backed us out of it swiftly.  Most of the area has 16 ft. depths.  We got in as close as possible to Juana's.  Position:  30 deg. 23.065' N/86 deg. 51.911' W

The day turned lovely and warm.  We rowed our dinghy to shore, sat under one of Juana's palapas, had a beer and watched Aventura resting on smooth waters.  Ah, nothing like a nice afternoon in a pleasant, new place to erase the memories of nasty weather and broken plans.

Wed 11/5/14

Off to Little Sabine Bay at the other end of the Sound, by Pensacola Beach.  We left at 9ish and arrived at noon, the wind and possible current moving us along nicely.  Little Sabine Bay is quite attractive: not too large nor small so that one appreciates the surrounding community of pretty homes, boats and commerce without hearing much of the noise.  There was another Lagoon 37 anchored there!  We rarely run into any others as there was a short production line before Lagoon moved up to its 38 model, etc.  Position: 30 deg. 20.018' N/87 deg. 08.710'W

The water was flat, mirroring everything.  Fine weather for dinghying over to Shaggy's Restaurant and a walk on Pensacola Beach.  Shaggy's is a small chain with restaurants in Pass Christian, Biloxi and Pensacola Beach.  Good atmosphere along with fetching views.

Thu 11/6/14

We left Little Sabine Bay towards noontime to make the 45 min.run to the Northeastern side of Pensacola Beach Bridge where the Sta. Rosa Yacht Club (SRYC) is at Gulf Breeze.  Weather conditions would be deteriorating over night with high winds and cold setting in towards the late evening.  Plus we needed provisions and, why not, some landlubber pleasures such a biking and lattes. 

Stay tuned for the rest of our stay at SRYC in Gulf Breeze and the rest of the journey headed back home, with stops at new and favorite anchorages and marinas.  Hasta luego!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Aventura Eastbound I



GONE SAILING!!


Tue 10/21/14

The new Bimini and two solar panels have been installed.  Everything looks really good! Mike made the Bimini from scratch, his first try.  And he installed the solar panels with the requisite wiring.  Wow!  We've loaded up the boat with provisions, clothing, spare parts and completed all the maintenance/cleaning. 
Ready to go, right?  Well, not quite.  Weather in the Gulf of Mexico is rough and expected to stay so for a couple of days.  So, we spend two nights on the boat and play tourists in New Orleans for a day.

Thu 10/23/14

Left at 8:30 a.m. in rocky seas; waves kick up easily in shallow Lake Pontchartrain.  By the time we slid down the Rigolets and into the Gulf, things had quieted down.  But the wind would increase by evening through the next morning.  So, anchoring at one of the Mississippi islands was not a great idea, just for comfort because heavy swaying all night long would have kept us awake.  Pass Christian Harbor/Marina is a good choice.  The price is perfect: $21.40 per night total, including water and electricity, and all taxes/fees.  The cheapest anywhere.  Shaggy's Restaurant onsite is terrific and the tiny historic downtown is close.  Two nights in Pass Christian satisfied our desire for biking, good coffee shop, fresh seafood sold dockside and pleasant views.  We met Smitty with his catamaran, and other folks along the piers who were headed/returning from somewhere interesting.  Meeting people and socializing is easy and part of the allure of boating.  Sharing stories and info over a sunset beer on one's boat beats many landlubber activities for sure. 

Sat 10/25/14

Left Pass Christian 7:45 a.m., planning to make our way to Petit Bois Is., MS, the final one before Dauphin Is., AL.  The wind gods were good to us; we motorsailed at 6.5-7 knts. all the way to northern Dauphin Is. where we anchored in Pas Aux Herons, near the Mobile Bay bridge.  In time for a nice sunset, meal and early bedtime.  Just watch out for the flies; they're like cannibals at certain times of the year.  A swarm of them seemed to attach us out of nowhere as we were navigating the ICW on the way there.  How those creatures are able to fly long distances has me completely baffled.  Anchorage: 30 deg. 15.731’ N/88 deg. 09.482’ W; around 3/4 mi. from shore.  No protection if wind kicks up but very nice anchorage in mild weather and to be repeated again

Sun 10/26/14

We weighed anchor around 8:00 a.m. It was all motoring across Mobile Bay and inside the Alabama Canal (ICW).  Once in the Canal, it was lovely to see the pretty sights of homes and vegetation along the shores, past Lulu’s Restaurant (a favorite stop for food and marina services), The Wharf (a dressy marina and vendors-center, clashing with our attraction to more natural/funky settings in keeping with sailing), past Wolf Bay (an anchorage option), and into Ingram Bayou.  It was early, 4:00 p.m.-ish and, as we followed another sailboat in, we wondered if one of our all-time favorite anchorages might be full. Unfortunately, it’s not a secret.  Yet we were lucky enough to share this peaceful cove with the Southern Cross sailboat that preceded us.  Not to mention the Ospreys and dolphins, and maybe raccoons hidden to us by the vegetation, plus who knows how many other living creatures.  Bill came over from his sailboat on is kayak to pay us a visit.  After some wine and peanuts and plenty of conversation, Mike was invited to try the kayak.  See pic.  
Anchorage: 30 deg. 12.583’ N/89 deg. 24.128’ W

Mon 10/27

We dinghied over to Bill’s sailboat for coffee and admire his well-kept 1980 craft, which he singlehands.  We left for Pensacola, FL around 10:00 a.m., expecting a 4-hr. trip for the rest of the Alabama Canal, passing through Perdido Bay and Big Lagoon before entering Pensacola Bay.  Pretty all the way.  Never get tired of it.  Even when the weather is hot – say the 80’s! Finally in Pensacola Bay we were able to sail without the motors, just the sounds of nature.  Palafox Marina is great, not only because it is clean and modern, but also because it’s nestled in the historic downtown Pensacola so easy to enjoy by foot and bike.  Every time we come back, there are new establishments in keeping with the architecture of the area.  Between that and the waterfront, there’s nothing to complain about.  Except for the chores awaiting. 


Next: Destin Harbor – St. Andrew’s Bay and Panama City. Stay tuned and don’t forget to double click on the slideshow for better picture viewing.  Hasta luego, amigos! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Overnight Mandeville, LA

Even during the hottest days, such as any day in the New Orleans summer, there's an urge to get away on Aventura, our 37' Lagoon Catamaran. George, our fellow cat owner and marina neighbor, went along for the ride. We left early morning for the 3 1/2 hr. crossing of Lake Pontchartrain, from the "south shore" to the "north shore." That is, from New Orleans to Mandeville, La. There are several communities around the Lake that make it a nice short trip, and they are all pleasant to visit. For example: Slidell, Bayou Lacombe, Mandeville, Madisonville, and a couple of points along the New Orleans lake shore. These are communities that have a history and share the love for fishing and boating. That makes for good eating, good stories and good landscapes. If you visit the area, they are interesting enough to spend time at each one. Mandeville offers a free dock by the Yacht Club. Three nights maximum and you sign up at the Yacht Club. Water and electricity included. Walking or biking along the shore reveals a lovely neighborhood of southern homes, restaurants and other small businesses. There's even a biking trail called the Abita Trail that brings you to the closeby town of Abita with a well-loved brewery. Try it some time. Until next time, keep on sailing!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Orleans Eastbound III



5/18-19/2014
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

5/19-20/2014
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

5/20-22/2014
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.

5/22-24/2014
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.

5/24-26/2014
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.

IN SUMMARY:
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.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

New Orleans Eastbound II


5/8-12/2014
Pensacola, easy to get around the historic downtown and bayfront. Not only did we follow the coastline on bikes, and roam around interesting neighborhoods, but we also satiated ourselves with dining out, coffeehouses, frozen yogurt treat, and a visit to the Saturday arts & farmer's market. The market was a surprise, but it takes place every Saturday on the neutral ground of Palafox St., a leisurely walk from Palafox Marina. Can't beat the package of a first-class marina in the historic district and at the right price.
5/12/2014
Visiting fun towns has its pluses, but we were itching for other experiences, too. What happened with anchoring out and communing with nature? Well, on that urge we left for parts unknown mid Monday morning, crossing Pensacola Bay, entering the Sta. Rosa Sound and heading East. Finally we were able to sail without motoring at speeds between 6 and 7 kts. Not a rush feeling but lovely not to have to hear the engines churning. Just after passing under the Pensacola Bridge, we made our way towards the beach areas, picking a spot definitely not near a high-rise. Instead we dropped the hook less than 1/4 mi. from a funky little bar/grill on the sand facing the Sound. We rowed to the dock of Paradise Inn, took a walk to the boardwalk down the beach, and returned for a laid-back dinner looking out on Aventura, the golden rays of the setting sun, and people watching. It was delightful. Location: 30 deg.20.23 N/87 deg.8.05 W
5/13/2014
As wonderful as it was to sail, bob on the boat when at rest and enjoy the view, this wasn't exactly the "communing with nature" full fledged experience. After all, we had once again ventured into a human-made environment. It was time for the total OM. We weighed anchor mid morning and crossed back over Pensacola Bay, doing 7 kts motorsailing in 13 kt. winds. We headed straight for "The Cut" over in Big Lagoon. It lies between Sand Island and Perdido Key and is known as the McRae Cove anchorage (as in Fort McRae). "The Cut" is appropriately nicknamed so because it leads to the channel that connects the Gulf of Mexico with Pensacola Bay. Too bad the winds were picking up for it was too choppy to row to shore and see what's left of Fort McRae. We hadn't tried the outboard engine since it failed days ago. No use trying to fight wind and waves. Great anchorage. Location: 30 deg. 19.65 N/87 deg. 19.24 W
5/14-16/2014
The expected forcast for the next couple of days was not good for poorly protected waters. We weighed anchor at 8:30 a.m. and took off for Ingram Bayou, one of the best storm holes we have experienced along the northern Gulf. I was apprehensive that the place would be full, given it's popularity. But, arriving around noon, we were pleasantly surprised to find only one small sailboat, leaving us plenty of room to hunker down and ride the bad weather. Others appeared later, but we got a good spot early. Protected from all sides, Mike nonetheless put out two anchors, our 45 lb. Manson at the bow and a 25 lb. Fortress at the stern so as to reduce swing. The howling of the wind through the trees and the sound of rain accompanied us for a couple of days. Reading, popcorn and a movie kept us in a good mood.
5/16-18/2014
The sun came out, but the wind was still smacking us at 20 kts. We decided to go into a marina for a couple of nights: laundry, groceries....But before heading for Barber Marina on the AL Canal, we decided to take a tour of upper Wolf Bay. We had anchored there before but closer to its mouth. Now we moved toward its northeastern corner called Hammock Creek. Depths OK, around 7-9 ft. Nice homes on the shore. An acceptable cove to duck into when enroute. Then off to Barber Marina, which has its uniqueness, right off the ICW, but far away from towns. In fact, it is a part of several thousand acres of land, mostly just manicured and park-like, all belonging to the Barber family, a very prominent family in Alabama. The Marina is clean, large, first-class, and can fit any size boat. Plus there's a significant dry dock storage area, and other ancillary services. On the land just behind the businesses, there's a kind of mini Jurasic Park recreation: life size fiberglass dinosaurs. There's also a copy of Stonehenge. Not to mention stone sculptures of other animals placed here and there throughout. Interesting, yes, but curious. Until we saw a family with kids visiting the dinosaurs. Leaving tomorrow for the Mississippi Barrier Islands. Stay tuned! And don't forget to double click on the slideshow to get a better view.

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Orleans Eastbound I




Sat. 5/3 – Mon. 5/5/2014

We say our last goodbyes to our friend and pier pal, George, as we head out into choppy waters and nippy winds (15-18 kts.) on Lake Pontchartrain.  It’s 8:00 a.m. and the weather is exhilarating (sunny skies, highs to reach mid ‘70s), foretelling adventures and good times as we move foreward.  Unlike all our past trips, there is no plan.  The plan is no plan, just to head east. 

We decide to try Pass Christian Harbor & Marina, MS.  I’m itching to play tourist with our Dahon Speed Uno bikes and just ramble for a couple of days.  The town is easy to navigate, and it’s great to see how well it’s been recovering from Hurricane Katrina (2005) when it was hit really hard.  Plus you can’t beat $21.40/night including all taxes and fees.  And, what can I say, we love the ritual of the coffeehouse.  Cat Island Coffeehouse & Pass Christian Bookstore was perfect.  If you venture there, be sure to ride your bikes along Scenic Drive with a long row of beautiful antebellum homes on one side, and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.  Nice!

Mon. 5/5 – Tue. 5/6/2014

We left Pass Christian early and hoped to either anchor at one of the Barrier Islands off the Mississippi Coast or Lake Yazoo in the Pascagoula area.  The winds would have to be just right for either Horn or Petit Bois islands; so, we put our sights on Lake Yazoo, which we hadn’t been to before.  It was a slow crossing with hardly any wind from behind and hot.  Not a memorable day, but we were pleasantly surprised with Lake Yazoo, a tiny oasis in the midst of industrial activity.  Ingall’s Shipyard, with its massive building contracts for the navy, and oil refineries engulf the area.  But Yazoo is surrounded by high end residences and smart boats.  There were others anchoring there as well.  A good storm hole between Biloxi and the Alabama Canal.  Location: 30°20.85N/88°33.52W

Tues. 5/6 – Wed. 5/7/2014

Given that high winds are expected by Thursday, we bypass another new anchorage spot, which is on the south side of Dauphin Is. in favor of reaching the Alabama Canal.  From Yazoo we motor-sailed past Dauphin Is., across Mobile Bay and into a part of the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), which is both protected and beautiful.  That’s where the trip acquires texture.  Surrounded by lush vegetation, interesting homes and a few marine businesses, not to mention people bustling about, there’s more to see and appreciate. 

One of our favorite anchorages is Ingram Bayou, nestled between Wolf River and Perdido Bay.  No signage.  You just have to know where to turn in.  A little secret but, alas, not only ours.  There were already three boats anchored; so, we nudged our way in and settled for the night.  We had hoped to stay a couple of nights at least.  And we’ll probably do that on the return because the attraction to Ingram is that you are surrounded only by the sounds of nature.  Nothing artificial.  And you could almost reach out and touch the foliage on shore; your boat is that close. Plus, doing my yoga first thing in the morning to the sounds of birds and occasional dolphins that enter the bayou is most gratifying.  Location: 30°19.27N/87°33.41

Wed. 5/7 – Thu. 5/8/2014

In between Perdido Bay and Pensacola Bay there’s a long body of water called Big Lagoon.  We headed for it and decided on an anchorage in a wide open space with the Gulf Shores Nature Conservancy providing protection from the open Gulf. The best spots are near Redfish Point. 

We got in the dinghy to go explore the sand dunes and look out into the Gulf.  The motor didn’t cooperate but we took turns rowing.  And we swam.  A beautiful sunset and meal.  What’s not to like about that?  Location: 30°19.19N/87°20.21W

Thu. 5/8/2014

Well, it’s time to duck into a marina again.  Palafox Marina in Pensacola is great.  Not only is it a first-class marina at reasonable rates (for Boat U.S. members), but it’s smack in the middle of the historic section of town.  On the agenda:  groceries, eat out at least one meal, laundry, biking, more biking, odd jobs, coffeehouse….We’ll probably be here through Sunday, given rains and high winds forecasting.  Not sure where we’re going next.  Stay tuned!

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