The Panhandle in Pictures

The Florida “Panhandle in Pictures” is a effort to catch up a little on our blog.

In Pensacola, FL we saw this ship undergoing some renovations. Turns out its going to be used for hauling around the platforms on which the Space X boosters land. The platforms are carried inside the ship until they are on location then slid out the back into the water.

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I did not have the guts to read the ingredients on the back.

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More friends, SOCIABLE crew, came to visit us in Panama City. Bob, Dorothy, Clay and I had a wonderful dinner at The Grand Marlin restaurant.

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Panama City harbor clean up after the Hurricane Michael. I overheard the Tow boat Captain say, “I’m out fishing for sailboats”

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We saw a lot of destruction between Panama City and Mexico Beach. Many peoples lives were put through the washing machine spin cycle. Roofs torn off houses, now are covered with blue tarps. Boats washed up on dry land or barely sticking out of the water. Whole forests of trees snapped off around 30 feet from the ground go on for miles.  It was hard to see the power of Mother Nature’s aftermath. On a positive note many people were working to clean up and rebuild the area, businesses were open and hopefully we helped a little by spending money in the area.

Cruising along the Inter Coastal Waterway heading to Apalachicola

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Apalachcola, FL is a great small town full of history. Once an vibrant Oyster harvesting community until the bay was over harvested. The Hole in the Wall is a nice little local bar and restaurant, after 5 minutes they made us feel like a local. The fresh Oysters from Cedar Key were so good.

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Artsy photos from around town

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If you know my past, I used to be in the Packaged Ice business. So it was kind of fun to see were it all started. The museum was closed, bummer.

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Found this cemetery on our walk about town. Its was very interesting reading the head stones. Some graves dating back to the early 1800’s

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Instead of a sunset picture to close the blog. A fellow Looper the next dock over played his pipes for sunset. Video is rough but the sound is good.

Fort McRee anchorage

Next stop, Fort McRee anchorage near Pensacola, FL. A very well protected deep water anchorage surrounded by sandy beaches. We anchored for 2 nights and just relaxed the whole time.

The brand new steadying sail was hoisted and toasted. It will keep us from swinging at anchor, plus it just looks cool.  Launching the dingy allowed us access to the gulf beach. We explored the ruins of Ft McRee, only some concrete foundations are left of this fort which started construction in 1834 following the War of 1812. After climbing around the fort  we walked a couple of miles down the beach. There are some remains of hurricane Micheal washed up on shore and we picked up trash as we went. A lot of seashells and one really good sand dollar souvenir made its way back to the boat. The Blue Angels put on an airshow just for us several times each day.  Our sun downer entertainment was performed by a pod of dolphins having an evening romp in the bay.

Just a perfect stop to recharge our soles.

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LULU’s and a Belly Rub

 

Next stop, Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, AL. Nice little marina very well protected. LULU’s restaurant was the place to have dinner. A fun place owned by Jimmy Buffett’s sister Lucy Buffett. It has the feel of a Parrot head bar with its own twist.

Appetizer of choice “Lower Alabama Caviar”. This was a tasteful combination of Black-eyed peas in a Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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On my quest for the best Shrimp and Grits, LULU’s will be in the TOP 5 for sure. It was a combination of Gulf Shrimp and Andouille Sausage in a Tasso and Tomato Cream Sauce. Served with Gouda Grits and some other stuff. The Grits were so creamy and the shrimp sausage combo was spiced just right.

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Homeport Sunset.

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We wanted to haul out SEASONS just to do a bottom check after all the rivers and before we headed out for the Gulf crossing. Saunders Yacht Works is one of the most professional places I have every worked with. They treated our trawler like they owned it. The bottom and running gear (props, shafts, and rudders) looked great. Unfortunately we sheared off our primary forward view depth transducer. $$$$

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The sacrificial anodes were deteriorating which is good. They are doing their job so we replaced them. A bottom wash (Belly Rub) and waterline scrub and we were on our way.

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Bring on the Gulf. Headed to Ft McRee.

 

Fun in Fairhope, AL

We pulled into Fairhope Yacht Club at the invitation of a wonderful couple we met at our Club in Milwaukee, South Shore Yacht Club. Mikeal and Joel were spending this past summer visiting their son Alex who is Stationed at USCG Sector Lake Michigan, Station Milwaukee. Joel also happened to be a fan of Grand Banks yachts. We told them of our plans for doing the Great Loop and they insisted we stop in Fairhope, AL. This is a  beautiful city with small town feel. Full of Southern Hospitality. main street was lit up for the holidays. It was the perfect place to spend a few days unwinding after being on the rivers for 8 weeks.

We were welcomed with open arms at Fairhope Yacht Club. Members introduced themselves and offered any help we might need including use of their cars for errands. great dinning and the sunset view’s from the porch are the best on Mobile bay.

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We were invited into the home of Mikeal and Joel and their family for a wonderful Thanksgiving feast Southern Style. Menu included BBQ turkey, Jambalaya, greens, biscuits, sweet potatoes with pecans, and so much more. Mikeal made a beautiful Pumpkin cheesecake that was to die for.

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Mikeal and Joel took us for a day trip on their boat TIMING IS EVERYTHING down the Intercoastal Waterway to see some local sights and do a little bar hopping.  First stop was the Flora-Bama a Music filled multi bar beach stop.

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Dorothy had her first Bushwacker drink. A panhandle specialty rum ice cream drink and locals order it with a “topper” (a shot of 151 rum on top).

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Another stop at Pirates Cove in the afternoon for a burger and another Bushwacker with a topper. O’BOY, I do not have a photo for you because no cameras were allowed.

“Good friends, FUN, boats and water is a great recipe for living life. ” a little rum helps also.

Yeah! Mobile Bay!

We have arrived in Mobile Bay Alabama. The best way to describe transiting from the rivers to the Port of Mobile is culture shock.

We have spent the last few weeks traveling in remote areas of Alabama, traveling miles on the Tennessee River, without a sign of civilization. From time to time we would pass a fishing boat or a commercial tow, otherwise just tree lined shores as we weaved our way south. Mother nature has done an excellent job over time of creating a snake on The lower Tennessee River. On the chart below we traveled about seven miles, as the crow flys about one mile.

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All of sudden our AIS vessel target alert is repeatedly going off.  We silence one target after another. After coming around another bend in the Tennessee River it opens up into the port of Mobile. Ocean going ships, tugs, Tows and Barges are everywhere and we find ourselves at yet another game level (see earlier post). This level is called “Stay out of the way”.

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I would have taken photos of the heavier traffic areas but Dorothy told me to put the phone down and focus on driving. It took both of us working as a team to navigate the port.

US Navy ships under construction. I felt like I was spying as I took the picture.

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Past the Port of Mobile the waterway opens up into Mobile Bay. It is a very wide expanse of water although you can see both shores. The water depth varies from 3 feet to 10 feet except for the main ship channel. It feels a little odd to think the deep draft sailboats we race/cruise on Lake Michigan would run aground here. Storms can whip the shallow waters up very fast and can be deadly to boaters.

We pulled in to Turners Marina and tied up our lines. Time to CELEBRATE as Dorothy and I opened a bottle of Champagne we carried from Milwaukee. We toasted the end of the long river system and we where finally in the south.

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Sunset

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More photos from the Tenn-Tom

 

I called but no one answered!

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We checked out this Marina. Its not there anymore. MUST BE PIRATES in the area.

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This is a steam powered SNAG BOAT used to clear trees and debris from the waterways. In service until 1982.

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SEASONS and TYCHE at anchor near the Tom Beville lock

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My Selfie picture taking needs a little work

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The Owner couldn’t pick his favorite son!

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And of course the Iconic Sunset photo.

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