In my last entry, we had stopped for the night at mile 9.9 of the Mobile River. Yes, it was no longer the Tombigbee, it had changed names at mile 45. We were now about 5 miles to civilization. The change is immediate and drastic. You go from a beautiful estuary to an industrial port very quickly.
We had 47 miles to get through Mobile, across the bay and join with the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) and head up Portage creek to the Wharf Marina. Yes, we had reservations at a marina. After only setting foot on dry land once in the previous 7 days, I was looking forward to it. I was also looking forward to the possibility of raising our sails out in Mobile Bay.
We were ready to go at dawn and headed out of the anchorage. It was a beautiful sunrise.
|Sunrise as we pulled out on the river. It looked like a beautiful day ahead.|
In just 5 miles, we started passing barges moored along the river. Then we were in the middle of downtown Mobile. We had a large cargo ship with a tug on both sides that was coming into port. We slowed a bit and moved around them. It is amazing how quickly things change. Then we passed the high rise buildings and many other large ships and buildings. We had timed the tide correctly and had a 2 knot current behind us. We were moving along at over 7 knots over ground.
|All of a sudden we have ocean going vessels on both sides and industrial docks along the river.|
|Kim took this shot from the bow after we had passed this large transport ship with two tugs pushing it into place.|
|Approaching downtown Mobile and the large buildings.|
|The cruise ship docks still unused due to COVID.|
I had checked the weather when we arrived at Big Bayou and all looked good to cross the bay. Mobile bay is very shallow and can get nasty if the wind and current oppose each other. We were expecting a nice 8 knot breeze out of the east.
When we hit the bay we were surprised to see 15 to 20 knots. We raised the sails and SHIFT went to work. She handles that kind of breeze with ease. We were ripping along at 7 knots and the engine off. I loved it, but it didn't last.
|SHIFT doing what she does best.|
|It felt so good to get the sails up and test everything out. We would need them more in the future.|
After an hour and a half the wind diminished and clocked around to right on the nose. Oh well, we had to put the sails away and fire up the engine. We motored across the now calm bay and up Portage creek.
We first stopped at the fuel dock and filled up with 26 gallons of diesel. That means we did the 260 miles on 34 gallons. Not bad. Many of the power boats that we were traveling with were burning about a gallon a mile. We then went to our assigned slip.
It was the most difficult docking maneuver I have ever done. The marina is very tight and a huge Hatteras Yacht was tied up right behind us. I had to pull into the empty slip next to mine and back out and approach from another angle. We got it done, but I am not sure what I would have done if that other slip wasn't empty.
|This was our slip at The Wharf Marina.|
We were kind of in a hurry to arrive because some great friends were going to be there. Bob and Rox were in one of the restaurants watching their beloved Green Bay Packers play. We were able to invite them on board for a catch-up conversations and go have dinner. It was great to see them and be back on land.
The next day we made plans with our RV friends Dick and Cathy. They have been staying in Gulf Shores in the winter time the past few years. They had a big family Thanksgiving planned. Over 20 people in Cathy's family had rented a beach house and were enjoying the gulf coast for the week. They invited us over for dinner.
|They rented the light blue house just to the right of the walkway.|
|This is more like it. Beautiful nature and quiet.|
|As evening approached the wind died off and the water calmed to glass.|
|It doesn't get any better than this...or does it?|
|It is so hard to get good pictures of dolphins.|
|There were a number of dolphins in this pod including a young one.|
|This one came right along the side of the boat.|
|The water was clear enough to see them swim under the boat.|