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Friday, November 30, 2012

11/29/2012 – Thursday – New Orleans to Houma

We all headed out around 8:15 AM with S/V Faith as our lead boat for the day, to arrive at our first bridge opening after the blackout period was over at 8:30 AM.  As we were waiting, a Coast Guard boat came up, heading out also, and (yes) we were all boarded.  They started with S/V Morning Star, then moved on to us and then over to S/V Faith.  They were very friendly and nice, even Teak behaved herself (only barked a little!).  We went through two locks with no problems except as we were leaving the second one, Harvey Lock, our bow thruster stopped working.  This is not a good thing!  Someone will have to dive (not me!) in Lafitte with all the gators or Houma with the murky water.  One thing that I have learned is when going through the locks, it’s best to put a bumper all the way to the stern and at the bow (big bumpers are always better!).  As the locks close and open you tend to rock back and forth.  Our bow and stern thrusters are great and I will hopefully always have them working but as you can see, anything can happen!
Barry called the owner of the boathouse barge that we tied to before in Lafitte and he said we could do it again.  Since we were going to get into Lafitte so early in the day and we would have nothing to do, we decided to have a conversation regrouping on channel 68.  The consensus was to keep going onto Houma even though we would have to travel a couple of hours in the dark.   Josh decided to make some phone calls to see if we could get a diver in Houma and one place priced him $200.00 or more and another place priced him $495.00 plus travel time.  We are not going to have our bow thruster checked in Houma!   The trip to Houma was not bad, actually it was a very nice night.  S/V Faith did a great job navigating and “tow talking” for us. All of the tow captains were very friendly, helpful and worked with us the whole way.  We arrived and all tied up at the Houma City Marina around 7:15 PM. 
our next boat (currently under construction)

11/28/2012 – Wednesday – New Orleans

Margie (on M/V Jim N’ I) picked us up around 10:00 AM for a grocery store run.  I was craving spaghetti and needed an onion, some spaghetti noodles and wine.  At the store the fried chicken smelled and looked so good that we decided to purchase some for lunch along with some potato salad.  After lunch we headed to the marina office to see if our windlass arrived and it did.  The fun began!!!  Around 4:00 PM our new windlass was installed and working, just in time as S/V Morning Star and Faith arrived back from downtown New Orleans.  At 5:15 PM we all had a planning meeting to discuss tomorrow’s agenda and decided that we would probably not make the blackout times for the bridges so we would head out around 8:15 AM for Lafitte. 

11/27/2012 – Tuesday – New Orleans

I am so glad we made the crossing yesterday!  When I woke up it was raining and around 8:30 AM the wind shifted and started to really blow.  This would have been a very bad day on the Mississippi Sound.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!  Josh slept in, but when the wind shifted and the wave action started coming down the channel from Lake Ponchartrain he had to get up to see what was going on.  We were rocking and rolling at the dock, Teak was freaking out and all we could do was sit and drink our coffee and watch the storm blow through!  I decided to make breakfast - eggs, bacon and biscuits and just have a relaxing day.  Around noon the sun started to peek out, but it did not last long before the clouds returned.  We did some laundry and then Josh started taking the old windlass apart, getting ready for the new one that should arrive tomorrow.  Jim (on M/V Jim N’ I, who we met at Portofino Marina this summer - they traveled with Ernie and Camille on S/V More Good Timin’ back to Texas) who left their boat at the Ponchartain Landing Marina before heading on to Florida were back at their boat and stopped by to say hi.  It’s a small world for us boater’s, you keep running into people you know all the time!


11/26/2012 – Monday – Biloxi to New Orleans

I dreaded heading out today because the weather stations predicted winds out of the southeast at 12 knots (hitting us on our stern) with a 40% chance of rain, but we knew we should. Tomorrow’s forecast was for west winds (hitting us on the bow) and 50% rain.  Six hours of rocking and rolling is not my kind of thing but everyone wanted to head out!  Well, don’t count on the weather people to be correct!!!!  The sunrise was beautiful and we had a nice trip with a light chop crossing the Mississippi Sound.  A light drizzle started around 10:30 AM and continued throughout the day.   By 3:00 PM we were docked and settled in and helped S/V Faith and Morning Star tie up at around 5:15 PM (they just made the bridge rush hour blackout time).  It would be nice if these blackout times were CORRECTLY posted somewhere.  As we were going through the bridge we asked if they had a restricted no open time and they said yes.  They said 4:45 PM to 6:30 PM but when Mike and Renee called they said 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM so the sailboats “put the pedal down” and made it just in time. All were happy but really tired. Several days of getting up before dawn is catching up with me.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

11/25/2012 – Sunday – Orange Beach to Biloxi

M/V Last Trade headed out of The Wharf Marina at 5:45 AM with S/V Faith and Morning Star about 3 miles ahead of us.  The temperature outside was 37 degrees and we had some low lying fog over the water.  The wind prediction was South East at 6 knots so we thought this would be a good day to do our Mobile Bay and some of Mississippi Sound crossing.  The first part of Mobile Bay was calm but as we went further west we started to have rolling waves and they were hitting us on our stern.  Teak and I looked at each other and said this is not going to be a good day!  Even our autopilot was not happy, it sounded like we had a sick chicken on board! (our autopilot squawks like a chicken anyway!)  Josh ended up steering until we went through the Dauphin Island Bridge where the water was calmer.  All of us were happy, even the chicken who once again took over the helm.  We arrived at the Point Cadet marina around 2:00 PM.  For us, Biloxi has better slips than the old Bert Jones marina (now named the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor).  Gulfport’s slips are way too high off the water and the finger piers are too short, especially for boats that have mid ship exits and are traveling with dogs. Biloxi’s slips are lower and have a little longer finger piers.  Josh and I helped S/V Faith and Morning Star tie up when they arrived around 3:30 PM and Ross and EJ, friends from Clear Lake who were in the area visiting EJ’s mother came by to visit.  EJ and her mother decided to gamble a little then we all went to the casino buffet.  The crab legs were good!!!!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

11/24/2012 – Saturday – Pensacola to Orange Beach, The Wharf Marina

As I was walking Teak for her morning outing, I saw a golden retriever roaming around loose and it looked like it had a harness or something on.  If you know Teak, she likes to bark so I kept my eyes on the dog and kept Teak away from the dog’s view.  The winds were predicted to be 14 mph from the north so I was not sure how our 45 minute trip across Pensacola Bay would be.  Better safe than sorry, so I tied everything down.  We headed out of the Palafox marina about 8:00 AM with S/V Morning Star and Faith following behind after they finished fueling up.  As we rounded the marina breakwater, I saw the same dog sitting at the end of the breakwater walkway.  This time I noticed that the dog was wearing a lifejacket.  I called Barry on the phone and he was still at the fuel dock.  I asked him to give the harbormaster the information about the dog and he did.  Seeing this dog did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling and I hope everything was ok.  The trip across the bay was not bad with dolphins escorting us the whole way.  As we entered the ICW, there were several boats anchored at the recommended beachside anchorage and also along the beach shoreline of the ICW.  I could just imagine what it’s like here during the summer!  The trip to The Wharf Marina was short, we arrived around 11:45 AM.  I would recommend this marina to all cruisers.  This marina is cheaper than most, and they do not charge you an electricity fee every day like LuLu’s did, the harbor master is very nice and you can walk the shops and eat at several restaurants.  We all had lunch on our boats then walked around all the shops.  Boy, did I luck out!  A store named H2O was having a sale on bathing suits, no matter what the original price, all suits were $40.00 each.  They had the same bathing suits that I saw at Macy’s and Dillards and I purchased three!!!!!!  At 4:00 PM we all had docktails together on the dock before turning in for an early morning departure to Biloxi.     

Friday, November 23, 2012

11/23/2012 – Friday – Pensacola

Today was a “get the boat ready” to head out tomorrow and “just relax” day.  Josh started off with making slip reservations at The Wharf Marina for tomorrow night for all three boats and making sure our new windlass was being shipped to New Orleans and when it would arrive.  We then took our boat over to fuel up and pump out.  Then we road our bikes around town for some exercise and had lunch at a restaurant named the Tin Cow (a gourmet hamburger place – you’ve never seen so many toppings and possibilities for a burger! Watch out Whataburger!).  It was soooo good! We needed new AC filters for both air conditioners, so we went to the local hardware store to see if they had our size.  The great thing about small local hardware stores is they help solve problems.  They told Josh to purchase a standard sized one that measured the total of the two that we needed, then put a piece of duct tape on each side at the midpoint, cut the filter in half and tape the ends to reconstruct the missing frame, to make two of the size that we needed.  Buy one, make two – what a great idea - and it worked.  We then made our last trip to Joe Patti’s for some dessert, they have GREAT ice cream.  Mike and Renee on S/V Faith arrived back from Texas around 2:00 PM and we were able to make a grocery store run with their rental car before they turned it in.  Cruisers need to buy when they can!  The day ended with another great sunset!!!!!
We were settled in and Josh was watching TV in his man-cave and I was reading a book when we heard a loud boom, boom, boom.  We both got up and when we looked out of the bow windows there was a fireworks display coming from the ballfield adjacent to the marina.  This fireworks display was just like Fourth of July!  Thanks Pensacola, what a great send off!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

11/22/2012 – Thursday – Thanksgiving - Pensacola (Palafox Marina)

Josh, Barry and I headed out on our bikes around 9:30 AM for a four mile ride to the nearest grocery store to purchase things for our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.  About a fourth of the way into our ride I spotted a Landry’s restaurant and someone was getting the tables ready.  They’re open, let’s go check it out!  Our bike ride to the grocery store ended here and we won’t have to cook or clean up.  Thank you Landry’s!  We made reservations for 2:00 PM.  Around 1:30 PM Barb, Barry, Josh and I headed out on our bikes to Landry’s for our Thanksgiving feast.  After our fabulous meal we headed back to the marina, went to our boats and each made ourselves a cocktail then went up to the (closed for Thanksgiving ) restaurant at the marina named Jaco’s and sat on their patio and watched a truly fantastic sunset.  We have been blessed with good weather and spectacular sunrises and sunsets.


11/21/2012 – Wednesday – Destin to Pensacola

Destin to Pensacola is a short day for us so we headed out around 6:30 AM and S/V Morning Star was heading out at 6:00 AM offshore.  Josh had his list of people he needed to talk to about our windlass ready and waiting.  As soon as places were open phone calls were being made.  We arrived at Palafox Marina around noon and as soon as we were settled in Josh purchased a new windlass (to be shipped to New Orleans where we will be in several days).   We discussed the situation all morning long and because this is a very important part of our boat and there is no way Josh or I could hand pull the anchor in, we decided it was best to replace it.  Around 2:00 PM we helped S/V Morning Star into their slip and once they were settled and our bikes out, we headed out to check out restaurants for a Thanksgiving dinner and then over to Joe Patti’s for today’s dinner.   We purchased fresh smoked salmon for our freezer, steamed shrimp and fresh bread for dinner.  We are not sure what we will do for Thanksgiving because we only found two restaurants that will be open and they want “an arm and a leg” for the meal.  We may ride our bikes to a grocery store tomorrow morning and cook own dinner onboard!

11/20/2012 – Tuesday – Panama City to Destin

S/V Morning Star headed out of Bay Point Marina around 6:00 AM for their offshore trip to Destin and we headed out about fifteen minutes after for our ICW trip.  The winds were calm and the water was flat, a great day for us on the water!  Off and on we would see pods of dolphins playing and jumping in the water and when going through the “canyon” area we saw some wildlife this time.  One thing we learned on this trip is that ospreys and eagles look alike so we are not sure what we are really seeing (maybe both!).  At some of the marinas you can hear the Osprey(s) and if you look around you can see them resting on the top of the sailboat masts. 
We arrived at our Destin anchorage around 2:00 PM and as we were getting ready to set our anchor at the same spot as before our windlass (this part puts out and brings up the anchor) stopped working (click, click, click was all we got).  This is not good!  Josh checked different things but it just would not work.  This part if essential to boaters to raise and lower the anchor and we will need this to complete our trip back to Texas because we have several anchorages on our way back.  We are thankful that this happened before the anchor was put out otherwise it would have to be pulled in by hand (no Daniel power!).  Pulling in 100 feet of chain and a large CQR anchor would be backbreaking work! We need to find a dock!  When we did the driving trip here several days ago we found a nice man that runs Aloha Pontoon Boat Rentals who said we could tie to his dock.  All of these boat rental docks do not have power but that was our least concern!  We headed to the Aloha dock and temporarily tied to the other side of it until all his rentals returned.  The dock that we were temporarily tied to was empty but he said the owner of that place is not a nice person and would not let us stay there.  No problem, by 5:00 PM when all his rental boats were back and packed in to make room for us, we moved in and settled for the night.  Josh was already busy checking out our anchor situation and options. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

11/19/2012 – Monday – Panama City play day

At 9:15 AM we said goodbye again to M/V Stardust and helped them untie their lines.  The weather prediction for a Gulf crossing is good so they are headed offshore to Clearwater.  We will not see them again until February when they return to Clear Lake, Texas.   Josh and I got on our bikes, rode over and picked up Barb and Barry and headed out for a nice breakfast.  After breakfast we took our dinghies through a canal subdivision, looking at all the houses and boats and then we dinghied over to St Andrew’s State Park (the part that you can only get to by boat).  We walked the beach, picked up some shells and sand dollars and also got an unbelievable show from a pod of dolphins playing offshore before heading back to pack up everything for our departure, bouncing back to Texas starting tomorrow.  One thing that we’ve noticed from the time we entered Florida is that the food in grocery stores is more expensive than Texas and a lot of businesses are closed and many homes are empty.  It looks like Florida is not doing too well!