Start: Turner Marine, Dog Fish River, Mobile Bay, 0830
Intermediate Stop: Lulus Cafe for lunch, 1400-1515
End: Ingram Bayou, Gulf Intercostal Waterway, 1636
Total Distance: 39.2 nm
Average Speed: 5.7 kts
And new chapter in our journey begins. We have closed out the rivers and now move on to the Gulf Intercostal Waterway, which looks a LOT like a river BUT it isn’t. We can, if we desire, head out into the gulf and sail. And we will. But not today.
Today is our day to pull away from the docks at Turner Marine for the first time in 17 days. Our longest stay on our trip to date, though not all in Mobile; it includes side trips to New Orleans and Minneapolis. Turner and the people of Mobile were awesome; it was a good stay. And we didn’t realize how good it was until we left and got fuel at a near by marina. The reception there was not good. So kudos to Turners!
The other catamaran that has a family (Longer Days) left on Tuesday and headed straight to Clearwater. 300+ miles over three days. We don’t have that big of a weather window, nor that large of intestinal fortitude. We are going on the GICW as long as we can and on day one, our plan was to make 40ish miles, so we didn’t have to get out too early. But we can’t seem to relax when it comes time to leave, and consequently we were at the fuel dock by 0800 and heading out into Mobile Bay by 0830. There were two things we noticed.
First was that our engines sound fantastic. The last service we performed really made a big difference, and it wasn’t just the missing bolt in the drink…
And second was how gorgeous is the day. It is sunny, slight northerly breeze and temperatures in the 60s. I’d call it chilly, but we just came from Minnesota and we now know that this is warm! We hang in the channel until the depths open up and then make a 120 degree heading to the entrance of the waterway. We dodge a couple of shrimp boats, get a dolphin escort and watch pelicans throw themselves into the water to catch fish.1
Because we did have a light breeze, we were able to throw out our screecher sail for the first time to give us a little speed boost. It was good for us to do so–the sail went out just fine and looked great, but when we were underway we noticed a couple of issues. The furler line, was rubbing really hard again the lower lifeline and needed to be re-run over the top of the life line. And the same line tended to get wrapped around the roller furler if we didn’t keep pressure. We found that out the hard way when we brought in the sail and didn’t keep tension which led to some trips to the bow sprit to unwind the line. But by the end of the day, we had become fairly confident in our abilities with the sail.
The GICW itself is interesting. It changes from looking like a river in the middle of nowhere, to a canal lined with big homes, to big lakes, bayous and bays. We saw two tows all day and a handful of pleasure craft. At 2pm we stopped on the side of the GIcW at Lulu’s. Lucille Buffet is sister of Jimmy, who you may have heard of, and opened a waterside restaurant on the GICW in Alabama. It was easy enough to pull up to the docks, totter into the restaurant and get a (expensive) seafood lunch. Well worth the stop.
Bellies full, we then headed another 90 minutes east on the waterway to Ingram Bayou. We got there at 1630, or as it was getting dark, so had to quickly mother through the bayou, find a spot, drop the anchor and get Lucky to shore before darkness fell. In our mind, the alligators are waiting for darkness to fall to pray on dogs and people foolish enough to walk their dogs on their pristine, white beach. Lucky and I did find a pristine, white beach; this is definitely and improvement over the rivers and their mud to our knees!
We had a lovely, spirited debate on which game to play at night; Jan won and we played Uno which none of us like, but it is the ‘go to’ game when no one can make a decision. Jan got waxed in the game so AJ and I had to sleep on deck with the mosquitoes. We have to rethink our whole ‘winning at all costs’ strategy.
1If you have never seen a pelican get fish out of the water, it is quite a sight. Apparently they are birds with some self-abuse issues. They hang about 20 feet over the water looking down and when they see a fish, they cock their head, rotate their body into the “free fall” position and plunge face first, mouth open, into the water. The first time it happened we missed the bird, just saw the splash and it looked like it came from a large dude doing a cannon ball off of a high dive. Then we actually saw the birds. It looks like it hurts. A lot. But the birds pop up, pouch full of water/fish and down goes the whole thing.