Friday, October 30, 2015

Spoiled Brats

Karen's Condo

The past few days we have been living large. A nasty storm came up from the southwest that brought high winds, huge waves and some flooding to our area. The Gulf of Mexico can look real mean and nasty some times. We spent the first night aboard Wrinkles in her slip which is pretty well protected from southern winds. Wrinkles rocked a bit and the dock lines stretched enough to push her up tight to the slip pilings. Mike adjusted the lines enough to keep Wrinkles away from the pilings for the rest of the storm. The outer slips at Bear Point didn't fare as well. Several areas of the boardwalk were destroyed by the waves and the bucking boats. We sure are glad we chose an inner slip where the land acts as a barrier to storms.

The Gulf looking much calmer

Brenda's sister Karen came down to Gulf Shores for a a few days and invited us to use one of the spare rooms in her beautiful condo. Gee, stay on a rocking boat in driving rain or go to a luxury condo with a king sized bed? Yup, we chose the easy life.

We packed a couple of things up and enjoyed being spoiled until the storm ran out of energy. Each time we went over to check on Wrinkles she was doing just fine. By Wednesday the sun came out and the weather was perfect. Walks on the beach, a couple of meals out with Karen, lounging in the condo, swimming in the pool, hot tubs, hot showers, ............ Spoiled brats.

Today we will move back aboard Wrinkles as Karen and her husband fly out for a long sailboat charter. Hey, we're not the only spoiled brats around here.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Good Friends Visit

Brenda, Mike, Lance, Jo Ellen @ LuLu's

Lance and JoEllen from Wisconsin came down to visit us last week. It was really good to see our friends again and we had a lot of fun showing them Orange Beach. We enjoyed live music, great food, a dolphin excursion, Joe Patti's Seafood store and a great tour of the USS Alabama battleship museum in Mobile.

USS Alabama

Lance loves live music, so he was having a ball listening to all the local talent playing every night of the week. Our marina even has a small bar called the Bent Oar which has music 7 nights a week. Our favorite place for music in this area is the famous Flora-Bama. The music we heard at the "Bama" was the highlight of our week. The musicians in this area are amazingly talented.

The Flora-Bama

It was hard to say goodbye to Lance and JoEllen. They made last week a really special one for us.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Taking "Carol and Dave" For A Ride

A gorgeous day for a bike ride aboard our Dahon Boardwalk folding bikes which we named "Carol" and "Dave" after some wonderful people. We pedaled along Canal Street until we found the local library, where we signed up for a card. Nice library with a beautiful view of the water.

Next we made our way to our condo building on the Gulf shore. Our truck has been sitting there for the past 2 months waiting for our return. We plan to use the Toyota until we untie the dock lines here to sail south. Then the truck will likely be sold before we leave. The truck started right up, but the old serpentine belt must have dried out too much from all the sitting and it shredded itself right away. Oh well, another project for Mike.

We headed back toward Bear Point Marina having a lovely bike ride. We scooted along until we saw a sign for the Pleasure Island Tiki Bar. Hmmmm, it is lunch time and a cold beer sounds pretty good. As we pulled up we knew we had made a good diversion. A dockside tiki bar with a perfect view of the water and our condo in the distance. Mike loved the odd mermaid and pirate figures adorning the bar. The food was reasonably priced, the beer was cold and we were happy campers.

We're trying to go slow.

After paying for our meal we walked around to the front side of the bar to find a sandy beach with a very cozy mini tiki hut for two just waiting for us. We settled into the shade of the tiki hut on it's soft padding and just reveled in the spot we were in.

Our little bike ride only covered 17 miles, but it painted a lovely picture of our future and retirement.



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Close To Alabama

Sunset at Ft. Walton
See...we know how to sail

Our journey today took us across Pensacola Bay. We have driven here several times, but the view from the water is very different. There were barges pushing their loads and this big Navy vessel. It was a gorgeous day and for the first time we saw several sailboats out playing. We even got our sails up today! One thing about moving a boat north at this time of year is that there is a lack of wind, or when there is wind, it is right on our nose.


Tonight we are anchored at Redfish Point just west of Pensacola. This means we are only 15 miles from our winter destination of Bear Point Marina, Orange Beach. Once we pull into the slip at the marina we will have completed our first goal of moving Wrinkles from Charlotte Harbor to her winter home in Alabama. Our plan is to live aboard Wrinkles through the winter while taking short sailing excursions to Pensacola and the surrounding areas.

Redfish Point

Our anchorage tonight is busy which hasn't been the case in the last three or four weeks of travel. We have anchored or moored pretty much on our own everywhere we have stopped. Tonight we had actually planned on anchoring in Ft. McRee Cove, but being a beautiful Sunday afternoon it was overflowing with boats. We went half a mile west to our alternate anchorage, Redfish Point, which is also quite busy. There are several cruising boats here, but there is plenty of room for privacy. We took the Ernie T to the beach and walked across to the gulf side for some water and sand time. What a relaxing and beautiful area it is.

Gulf side

We look forward to seeing family and friends in Orange Beach and taking a break from the constant travel. Boat projects, beach walks, fishing, sailing excursions, bike rides....... Sounds wonderful.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mike Can Smell Tacky Jack's Fish Tacos

Bald eagle?

We put in a long day today and moved 44 miles west. Starting at Piney Point (east of Panama City) we made it all the way to the Choctawatchee Bay Bridge. It was wonderful to splash the anchor and relax for a while. Sailboats really don't get anywhere fast do they?

Boat yard near Panama City

Making our way through East Bay, St. Andrews Bay and then West Bay we enjoyed the dolphins and the large ship yards.

At the end of West Bay you enter the West Bay Creek (called the Grand Canyon locally) which is a 16 mile long wander through nothing. It is just trees, sand and brush. It seems pretty neat for about 10 miles and then you just want to be done with it. There are no stops or anchorages along the way, so you just hope nothing breaks on your boat.

Once our anchor was down we celebrated with grilled turkey burgers, coleslaw and mandarin oranges in the cockpit. A wonderful shower on the cabin top using our solar shower went a long way in making us feel human again. The pretty sunset put a close to this interesting and rewarding day.

We are just 3-4 days away from Orange Beach, AL where we will be staying put for the winter months. Mike has been dreaming about Tacky Jack's fish tacos for a while now. He can smell them just upwind.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Beautiful Motoring


The winds have disappeared which makes motoring the only way we can move along. The little Yanmar has been wonderful as we slowly work our way northwest in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Leaving Apalachicola under a dismal looking sky we wander along the path enjoying the peaceful environment. The landscape, nature and bridges keep us entertained as the miles tick off.

Wrinkles in White City

Arriving at White City we hope there will be a spot for us to tie off our boat. The last municipal dock was completely full which makes us wonder how packed White City Marina will be. We round the corner to a completely empty marina. Not a single boat in sight. This is a free dock for transient boats like us, so this sure is a pleasant surprise. There isn't much here, but we do walk 3/4 of a mile to the local convenience store for an ice cream cone.

We sleep in a little late and then motor off into the channel under a cheerful sunny morning. It is so quiet and picturesque as we putt along. The water is glass smooth reflecting everything in view.

One of several half sunken boats along the way.

As we drop our Rocna anchor in 7' of water off Piney Point near Panama City we reflect back on two wonderful days of sailing even though our sails were never unfurled. Brenda watches a pod of dolphins putting on a show near our boat as I relax and enjoy the peaceful anchorage. This is what we picture cruising to be like.



Sunday, October 4, 2015

Finally, We Move Westward

Apalachicola Marina

After delaying several days due to lousy weather and a little "It is kind of nice here.", we untied our lines and headed west. We planned on sailing from Carrabelle to Apalchicola in 7-8 knots of wind and partially cloudy conditions. Of course the winds turned out to be 12-19 mph under mostly cloudy skies. The rain stayed away, as predicted, as we sailed or motor sailed along the well marked route. We both wore sweatshirts and jackets today as it felt like a fall day in Wisconsin.

65' bridges feel like 45'

We hoped to pull into the free municipal dock located just as you enter Apalchicola, but the dock was completely full. Brenda called one of our back up marinas and they had an opening for us. The Apalcahicola Marina is actually a gas station for boats with 4-5 dilapidated slips available for transients. Jeff assisted us in catching our lines and securing Wrinkles into an interesting slip. We looked like we knew what we were doing as the restaurant patrons watched us manuever Wrinkles into the downstream slip. We giggled when we saw the "Resturant" sign on the old building.

We cook good food, but spelling? Not so much.
Who wants oyster?

After paying for the night we wandered the cool old river town and had a very tasty supper at Boss Oysters.

Working boats.

Mike tried a couple of raw oysters as an appetizer just to say he had tried them. He won't be trying them again. We will look at the weather forecast tonight and decide if we want to explore the area tomorrow or move westward again.

For now we are cuddled in our cabin filling out our logbook with our Weems and Plath lantern making it cozy. You know what? We are cruising!



Friday, October 2, 2015

Laid Back Days


As we sit in Carrabelle (waiting for a couple of decent sailing days) the time just seems to disappear. We've checked out the Visitor's Center, an old fashioned ice cream parlor, a couple of restaurants, a local history museum, a house made out of glass bottles by a local artist and the usual stores.

Brenda has done some sewing projects and Mike actually broke out his wood carving tools to create another character. Mike started carving a basic caricature face without a clue as to what he was making. As the face and hat developed Mike decided the man looked like a tough old dock worker, so that is what it became.

Tonight our new friends, John and Nancy aboard Dixsea, invited us to Fathoms, a local restaurant/bar for a couple of drinks. We love to listen to these accomplished cruisers talk about their 10 year sailing adventure. They have such incredible memories of their trips. Meeting them has been one of the highlights of our adventure so far. Truly nice people that we are happy to call friends.


We are enjoying our long visit here in Carrabelle, but it is time for a weather window to appear. Next stop - Apalachicola.