Monday, November 21, 2016


       Saturday morning it is still cool when we awake at our anchorage across from Pensacola Naval Air Station. We have a warm breakfast, and go over to meet and discuss with "Somewhere In Time" our plans to get to the Naval Aviation Museum. A call to car rental agencies, and marinas tells us we need to get moving fast. The rental agencies are not open on Pensacola beach on Saturday, or they close at noon. Barbara and I rush back to SummerTime to try to get to the Santa Rosa Yacht and Boat Club in time for Enterprise to pick us up (11:30am). We get our dinghy aboard in record time. The two boaters that backed in during the night before help us get our stern anchor in. We are on our way by 10:15. We motor out into the GICWW, setting our cruising speed at about 90% power. Barbara makes a call to the Yacht Club to reserve a slip for us. She tries to confirm with Enterprise, and they tell her to call when we get to the marina/yacht club. If we are there before 11:30, they will pick us up. We arrived at Santa Rosa, the only marina answering their phone at 11:20. We get tied up, and call Enterprise. They send a young driver over to pick me up. While I am at Enterprise, "Somewhere In Time" and "John B" show up at Santa Rosa. When I get back, we finish tying up "SummerTime", and connect up the power cord.
       We have errands to run, which is why the rental car is so important to get. "Somewhere In Time" goes to Best Buy to get their laptop looked at. It has quit communicating. Best Buy gets it going in 12 minutes. From there we got to West Marine. I am looking for more charts, and some replacement bulbs for our 12V lights. One of the anchor light bulbs burnt out, along with two interior light bulbs. From there the three crews go to the grocery store. And after returning to our boats with groceries, and putting them away, we head out to eat. We eat at Flounder's Chowder House. The food is great as well as the service. They have Orange flavored Cheesecake as a desert offering. It is fabulous.
       On Sunday, Barbara and I, after our normal Sunday breakfast, head off to church. We attend the Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church. They have a good attendance in their second of three Sunday services. I notice an unusual person at the church. Just inside the door to the sanctuary is a uniformed policeman, fully armed. It is a bad statement for our country's values that a church needs an armed policeman for their Sunday morning services. After church, and lunch, we all get in the rental car again. We are headed to the National Museum of Naval Aviation. We get there a little later than planned, and do not have all the time we want to see all the museum has to offer. It is a very nice museum, with a lot of well restored aircraft, some one-of-a-kind. We leave there and go back to West Marine on the way back to our boats. I have to swap some LED bulbs that I picked up wrong. We eat at "Whataburger" near the marina on the way back. It is the first Whataburger meal I have had since probably 2008. They do make good burgers.
       On Monday morning we have an impromptu captains meeting to discuss what we will do on this Monday. Or more pointed, where we will go. We decide on Fort Walton Beach, a run of about 35 miles. Don and I run some errands in the rental car on the way to return it. That goes smooth. We leave the marina a little after the others, or about 12:30.

We land at the city pier at Fort Walton Beach about 4:15. It is a nice pier, and there are places for all three of us at the pier. Another looper, "Rascals Retreat" is already occupying one of the spaces.  We get tied up with the help of Rascal's crew, and then we help "Somewhere In Time" and "John B" tie up when they arrive. We cook on the boat in the evening.
        On Tuesday, we decide to stay at Ft. Walton Beach City Dock. One of the boats has a problem that needs to be corrected. We hike to West Marine, about 1.2 miles, in the morning. I look for a chart, but they do not have the one I need. Walking back, I get an ice cream cone at the Baskins Robbins for morning break. I work in the afternoon mounting the spotlight I bought in Pensacola. It is a simple mount, as it only needs power. All its movement is controlled by a wireless remote. I check it out in the evening, and it is much better than the hand held spotlight we have been carrying. And three other looper boats arrive in the afternoon. We move SummerTime as one of the boats is too wide for the slip available at the free municipal pier. We are in a slip over 18' wide, and the slip available is not quite 14'. We fit in the narrower slip easily. On Tuesday evening we go a couple of blocks into Ft. Walton from the boat and eat dinner at a local grill/bar. Barb and I get a pizza,and agree it is not one one of the best pizzas we have had.
       On Wednesday morning, we leave early for Panama City. We have around 65 miles to travel, and want to get there before dark. It is a good test to see how we will do as a group traveling before we make the open Gulf crossing from Carrabelle to Steinhatchee. We pass more air bases along the waterway, and on the beaches. And we get into the dug canal section of the GICWW. It connects little bays together. In one of these bays, I get a real bit of excitement. A dolphin jumps at the starboard bow. He comes totally vertical out of the water, and high enough that we could drive SummerTime's bow under him if we had the acceleration. In one of the canal sections, we are caught by the two looper boats we left at the Fort Walton dock.

And two other boats catch us and pass us in this section just before we get to the bay at Panama City. We get to Panama City Marina a little after 4. We fuel up and it takes 55.7 gallons of diesel, which includes some generator running time for two nights and one morning, at the Fort Walton municipal dock. PC is a very nice marina, and the staff gives us a  welcome package. I find one of the charts (Big Bend corner of Florida's Gulf Coast) I have been wanting. In the evening we go to Bayou Joe's for dinner. It is a less than stellar looking building out in the bayou. The food is way greater than the place looks. I get a dessert called "Drunk and Ugly". It is excellent. It tastes like a peach cobbler on taste steroids (if there is such a thing). Panama City has a nice downtown. There is live music we can hear playing at several places on the walk back to the boat.
        We get off sort of early on Thursday morning. We make good time with the wind behind us across the sound at Pensacola. There is a shipyard building and modifying ships about 5 miles up the bay from the town.

It is surprising, as it is not on a deep part of the bay, though the channels to it are deep enough for a ship. It is good to see some industry going in our country. We travel a little way through a ditch today. Mostly it is bays and rivers. We are headed to a free dock on the GICWW just north of the Port of St. Joe. It was an Army Corp of Engineers Facility which has been taken over by Gulf County, and is a public boat ramp, dock, and recreation area. We get there a little before dark, slithtly after sunset. The three of us are on separate docks, but not crowded. There are lots of fisherman taking boats out as we arrive. We use the generator to cook on the boat. And there is no cell phone service. I assume it is because we are nearly under the high bridge that goes over the GICWW to Port St. Joe. The signal is blocked by the bridge I think.
        It is cool when we awake. The heat has come on automatically. And I hear noise on the dock we are tied to. I look out and see a guy walking off the dock with a nice size fish on his pole. I talk to him later to ask the type, and he tells me it is a striped bass hybrid that is stocked in this part of the waterway. Barbara, because of the cold, cooks oatmeal for breakfast. While I am programming the GPS for the day's run to Carrabelle, Chuck comes over. I find out that they have no cell phone service either. We go over to "John B" to see how Don is doing. He is changing out his outboard engine. The outboard on the motor mount is not wanting to run. Chuck and I help him complete the swap of outboards. It is 10:28 before we pull away from the dock. We have a long run today. The GPS says we will arrive about 5:30pm. It is a good thing we moved into EST time on Thursday, as that is only 9 minutes before sundown. We travel along a river that appears to run through swamps. There are a lot of fish camps along the route. And we see some eagles again. The river empties into the bay right at Appalachicola.

This little fishing village is known for its oysters. I think I can smell them being cooked as we pass through the village. I want to stop and get a plate of fried oysters for lunch. But we are still barely on track to get to Carrabelle before sunset. It is a long journey across Appalachicola Bay. We see an eagle up close as he is perched on one of the markers for the channel. He does not react to our presence other than turning his head to follow us traveling by.

And we see several pods of dolphins. Some move along with us. They appear to like to surf in our wake. More so if we pick up our speed from the 7mph we have been cruising at to the 10+mph we are capable of cruising at. We pass by an island, St Georges, and on it is a lighthouse. It is the first lighthouse we have seen since the Great Lakes.

 At 12 miles away from Carrabelle, I radio the other two boats to tell them I am going to speed up and try to get to the marina before 5pm to make sure that they do not close early. We cross the bay, and pass the inlet out to the gulf. There is a sailboat beached (washed up?) on the sand spit at one point of the inlet. We make the turn inland, and well before 5 we are at the river mouth. We get to the C-Quarters Marina just a few minutes before 5. They have a good staff who helps us dock. It is good as the tidal current is swift and makes pulling into a slip a challenge. Somewhere In Time arrives a few minutes after we tie-up. We help them get in position. Right at sunset, the sail boat "John B" arrives. We help him tie-up. And we all go to Fathoms for dinner, seafood of course. There is live music at this place.



Monday, November 14, 2016


     Saturday morning we get up late. We were thinking everyone said it was a no travel day as there was a "small craft warning" for Mobile Bay this Saturday. Which is where we need to travel. We check, and have an early morning text from "Somewhere In Time", asking about leaving this morning. Barbara and I motor our now reliable  dinghy since new gas over to discuss plans with them. We call "The Wharf" at Orange Beach, AL to arrange docking with them for the night. We tell them we will be there about 5. After all it is only about 38mi. Barbara and I go back to fuel up, and secure everything for traveling. On the way back I notice that two other looper boats have already left Grand Mariner. We are all supposed to be underway by 11:30. The sailboat "John B", a sloop by definition, will be traveling also. We have a hard time getting SummerTime away from the dock. We are sitting where there is an angled direction change in the dock. The wind is pushing us against the dock, and there is a wide sailing catamaran immediately in front of us. It takes three attempts, and smacking the dinghy on the pier to get away with the help of 3 other persons on the dock. We get around to the fuel dock, and tell the others to go on as they motor by. We put in 150 gallons, including 3 gallons in the yellow storage can. Less the generator fuel used, it means we used 135 gallons to come the 350 miles from Columbus, MS. This is the lowest we have ever run the tank. We had 40 gallons left in the tank, or about 1 days worth. We get away from the fuel dock, and go under the Dog River highway bridge at 12:29pm. We head out the narrow, direction switching channel to the ship channel. Once in the ship channel, we program the GPS to get us to "The Wharf". It says we will make it by 4:30. Surprises me, as SummerTime is not as fast for a given rpm with the new bottom paint. I was expecting to get 2-3kt more speed out of the clean bottom. We cut across the bay using directions Chuck had received at "The Rendezvous". As we come to the point to intersect the Gulf Intercoastal WaterWay, GICW from now on, we see a sailboat to the west headed to the east. It turns out to be the "John B". We do not catch "Somewhere In Time", and they do not answer the radio until we are nearly there.
We get to "The Wharf" just after 4:30. It is an impressive place, with lots of modern floating docks, and two high rise condominiums on the harbor. And when we get off of the boat, there is a large shopping complex inside just as described in the Guide Books.

Barbara and I walk around the shopping complex in the evening after dinner aboard. I am looking for, what else, an ice cream parlor. They have a light and sound show going on in their "Main Street Boulevard". "The Sugar Shack" is closed (early), but "Southern Grind" is open late, and I get a coffee chocolate chip gelato. It is good, but having no cone takes away from it.
      We find out the nearest church is nearly 3mi away, so we will not make church this Sunday morning either. I decide to make good on the Doctor's request, and go out for an early morning jog and walk. Exercise is something I have not done since we left Port Clinton on 3August. I surprise myself by being able to jog a full mile without running out of wind. A decision is made in a morning meeting for a group of us loopers to dinghy back to "LuLu's" for a "Cheeseburger inParadise". Her brother is a famous singer with a song of that name. There are 9 of us in 3 dinghies that do the 3 mile one way trip.

It is worth the ride, and getting wet by the go-fast boats that wake us. I wonder if there is a "points system" for wetting people in small boats. The cheeseburger is great.
         On Monday, the 5 of us walked to West Marine, 1.5 miles by Google maps. We score a couple of charts for the waterway, and a replacement set of oars for our dinghy. Hitting the dock at Grand Mariner we apparently broke a blade on one of our oars. Barbara and I walked around the stores at "The Wharf" shopping complex on Monday afternoon.

It started raining on Monday night, the first rain we have seen since Columbus, MS near the end of October. And it rained all day Tuesday. I replaced the hose on the small bilge pump. The old hose was way oversized, had several adaptors and splices, and had developed a leak in its seam. Barbara did laundry in anticipation of leaving on Wednesday.
        Wednesday we left about noon, right after the rain stopped. We are only going 25 miles to Pensacola, FL. There is supposed to be a performance by the "Blue Angels" at the Pensacola Naval Air Station on Veterans Day, or Friday, 11Nov. We want to get there and get a good anchorage spot for that. It takes all of 3 hours to get there. It is cool. I wear jeans all the way there, and a wind breaker. The water gets clearer as we pass by the Perdido Bay inlet. We get to the little cove at Fort McRee across from Pensacola about 2:30. We motor in between the spoils island, and McRee Point.

The water is much deeper than the chart shows. By over 10'. I put a stern anchor for SummerTime out about 20' from the tide line. It is 5' deep there, but quickly drops to 12'. We arrive just in time to catch the end of the Blue Angels practice.
       Thursday is cool. It is 52F outside when I wake per the weather service over the phone. The boat is 62 inside, the coolest I have seen the inside on this trip. I crank the genset to charge the batteries, and to heat the boat. It is very windy, about 15-20mph from the ENE, and the wind is cold. I go for a dinghy ride with Chuck. We are scouting for places to watch the air show. Barbara and I go over to the Fort McRee historic site. Fort McRee was washed away years ago, but there are ruins there from military installations in the early 1900s, and World War II.

We get back to SummerTime as air show practice resumes. We are at a nice anchorage, and the number of boats has  tripled from six to over 18 at the end of the day. We have a heron land on our boat, and later on our dinghy to fish. And right at dusk, the channel is filled with a pod of dolphins that are feeding.

       Friday is a chilly morning when we awake and get up. More generator time  to charge batteries and to run the heat on the boat. It is 49F at 8a.m. I thought I was south and should be warm. We meet with our friends, and decide we are not leaving our anchorage after the 1pm performance of the Blue Angels. There is a fireworks, afterburner show that is going to happen from 4-6pm. We are going to hang on the hook for that show. Barbara and I go back to SummerTime for lunch after meeting with our friends. While we are there, a sailboat comes in next to us to anchor. He goes almost to shore, and drops his anchor straight down expecting it to hold him. And he is trying to get out a stern anchor, while his bow anchor has never been set. He is towing a plastic one man kayak, which he manages to pinch against SummerTime as his anchor is not keeping him in position. He has a friend show up behind him, and he also appears to be a rank amateur at anchoring. I launch the dinghy and help the first guy reposition his boat off of SummerTime and raft up to his friend. And then a third boat joins them. The two women crewing it are doing a much better job of getting their boat on anchor.

The 1pm show does not disappoint. First there are the conventional aerobatic prop planes. There are the singles, a dual team, and a team made up of four former warbirds, A-6 Texans. They are all deploying smoke and doing precise flying maneuvers. Barbara and I have gone up on the hills of the spoil island to watch. The Blue Angels do some of their runs right over our heads. It is hard trying to video them with the little Olympus point and shoot. It struggles with the auto focus function. Barbara uses the digital SLR and get some good shots in.


For the 4pm show, Chuck and I go back to the GICWW side of the island, and climb up on a dune to watch. Again the single prop planes start the show with smoke runs. There are two privately owned, former warbird jets performing. They do the afterburner displays, and provide bright lights in the dusk as they accelerate with the afterburner on. The Blue Angels disappoint, as their afterburner shows are on the ground. But they are bright there. The the dual aerobatic team flies. They have flares or some other pyrotechnic device on their wing tips. They are impressive with the wide trail of sparks that the two of them leave in the air. A little after 6 it all ends, and Chuck and I take the dinghy back to the mother ships. It is a cool ride as the temperature dropped quickly when the sun went down. Barbara and I are sitting on SummerTime, winding down, and I think I hear a diesel. And then I think I see lights out the starboard cabin window. I pop my head out the aft glass door, and there is a catamaran backed in and anchoring beside us. Remembering the events of earlier today, I bring attention to the guy I see that we are anchored stern to the hill, and will not swing on tide or wind change. He notes that he observed that, and that he has two stern anchors out. There is also a boat in next to him. I am inpressed that they both backed in to the space they are in after dark, and did a good job of anchoring. I go to bed later and sleep good. Barbara is worried about all the boats that have gone to anchoring close, and she will not sleep good this night. Where there were 18 boats on Thursday night, there are now over 50 boats. Way more than we saw in Crystal Lake when we anchored in the little bay off of the Detroit River in our first week of this adventure.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


      We spend Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday in the Cleveland, OH metro area. I go to MetroHealth on Saturday morning, and they get their blood samples for doing lab work. I am lucky and get in to Creative Images to get my hair cut by Kim. Sunday we make church at Brunsnaz. We see all our old friends that we have been missing. And Sunday night we get together with 4 old friends that we have worked and shared moments with over nearly 30 years. We watch the World Series Baseball game between Cleveland and the Cubs. And we had pizza and deserts. Monday is a day to do some errands. Barb and I get to early vote in downtown Cleveland. And in the afternoon we have dental appointments. The dentist fixes the tooth she had chip back in September. We feel blessed that he is talented and she gets a filling, and no farther major work is done. We both get our teeth cleaned. We do more errands on Tuesday morning, and pack to leave for Columbus after my doctor appointments scheduled in the afternoon. Both appointments are good news. I have lost weight for the family physician, but can not decrease my BP medicine as of yet as it is still high. Barb and I think it is from salt in the fast food we have been eating the last three weeks of travel. The urologist is happy also, and I get put on yearly checks now instead of 6 months.
        Wednesday morning we fly back to Mobile. The crew of "Somewhere In Time" picks us up at the airport, and we go to dinner together back at the Grand Mariner. On Thursday, the Grand Mariner staff finishes the fuel leak repairs to the Perkins main engine in SummerTime with the parts they had to order. In the afternoon they put SummerTime back in the water. The prop has been straightened, and the new bottom paint looks good.

We take SummerTime to the transient dock. On Friday, we clean the oily water out of the bilge as good as we can. The first 15 gallons we pump out is water. There is some oil in the next 10 gallons and we turn those over to Grand Mariner staff to dispose of properly. We put a new pig in the bilge. We think we are ready to go when the weather cooperates. We took the dinghy to lunch, and it was hard to start. The little Mercury was in a do not idle mode again. We made it to "The River Shack" for lunch. We had to be towed back after lunch. I  put new gas in the tank, and then the little Mercury runs great, and it idles like it should. I ride it over to West Marine across the river to get bilge cleaning supplies.


Saturday, November 5, 2016


        On Saturday morning, we wake up in the small bay by Sumter Recreation Area. A small island of water plants has broken loose somewhere during the night and drifted up next to us. It is cool outside, in low 40s, and we run the generator to cook oatmeal and run the heat to warm the boat up.  And I want hot coffee in the morning, perked, not by a spoon out of the jar. As Barbara and I are getting ready to leave, we get contacted by Onzereis anchored between us and the entry. They were the boat that appeared the evening before. We have traveled in a group with them before. They ask about traveling together, and I think that this is a grand idea. They travel at near the same speed, but more importantly we are about to travel some remote areas. Having a buddy boat will be a good thing.

We are under way at about 7:30. Onzereis is leading the way. We only go a few miles to the Heflin Lock. This will be our last lock on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. We are in and out before we know it. I think that all the tows must be off this Saturday, or sleeping late. I do not really care, as we can get in and out the lock as soon as we are lowered. As we travel along, I realize that I did not get the fuel tank totally filled. Usually the boat travels two days before the needle is moving, but today it starts moving after lunch. It is not much short of having been totally full, maybe 7-10 gallons, or 1/2 day. This  is a remote area. We do not see many fisherman. But the main site on this route is not fisherman, but the rock bluffs known as the Epes Cliffs. They are very white in the morning sun, and tall, probably well over 50' up in the air from the river. It is strange, as one side will be the cliff, and the other side will be low sand with vegetation growing on it.

We do occasionally see other boats and some fisherman. We pass three other boats on our way to Demopolis. Two SV, or sailing vessels, and a trawler, "SEASONS".  Onzereis makes quick work of passing these other vessels. One sailing vessel, "ANNA LEE" we saw when we were at the "Rockpile" anchored for the night. It is an easy boat to remember, as it has the high steering cabin of a motorsailer. And it is trimmed in Crimson colors on the white hull. And the "A" in "Anna" starts out like the script "A" in "Alabama". Barbara and the captain of this boat exchange communications about the cool temperatures, and heading to Florida for warm weather.


We continue on by more white cliffs. They are impressive, considering most of the land has been relatively flat that the river has flowed through. Right before we get to Demopolis, the Black Warrior River comes into the Tom Bigbee River. The waterway does not get appreciably wider of deeper. You only know because the guide book tells you what is happening. We see the occasional fisherman as we near Demopolis. And we catch up to another sailboat trying to get into the harbor. There is only one more marina after the Demopolis Yacht Basin. Onzereis is going to duck into Demopolis Yacht Basin while we continue on. The tugs also use this yacht basin for fueling.


     We continue past Demopolis for the dam. It is ready for entry when we get there, and we get a quick lowering. We are now on the "Black Warrior Tom Bigbee" waterway until the Alabama River comes in, and they all become the "Mobile River". This is our next to last lock. We continue down the river until we get to the "Chicksaw Bogue". It is supposed to be a good anchorage, after you get by the shallow entry. We squeeze over the bar in the entrance to the Bogue. I turn SummerTime 180deg so she is facing out. But this place is narrow. It seems we are under trees no matter how we maneuver. I do not like our anchorage, and move us back into the river. It is relatively deep near the shore, and we move to the shore to about the 8' line, which seems to be halfway between the water line and the edge of the channel marked by some red buoys. We anchor with the bow pointed upstream, and put out a stern anchor to keep SummerTime from swinging into the channel. I leave the AIS on so we are visible to the tows. And as the "Heloise" comes down stream, I announce to her where we are. We had passed "Heloise" earlier in the day coming down the river, and she is just passing by our anchorage about 9pm, or 8hr later. The difference between 8kt and 3.5kt.
      We stayed on position all through the night. And no tugs hit us. Most likely because it is foggy, and at some point they quit running. It is too crooked here to run in fog or other low visibility conditions. We run the generator again when we get up. To perk coffee, heat the boat, and to cook breakfast, our normal Sunday biscuits, as  it is about 42F outside. And we have time as we have to wait for the fog to burn off, so we bake while on anchor. And there is not a church nearby, so we do a short study of a previously missed Sunday School lesson. It is about 9:30 before the fog is burning off enough to make it safe to travel on the river. The tugs near us are just starting to move on the AIS screen. We get going before the tug just north of us gets moving again. There is very little activity on this part of the river, even for a Sunday. It is very crooked, with some really sharp curves to negotiate. We probably only see about a half dozen fisherman in the 6 hour run towards Coffeeville. But about mile 153, we see a new form of wildlife. There is a 5-6' gator laying on one shore, getting some sun.

I have been expecting to see one, as we were told they were in the waters by persons in Columbus, MS. This is the first one we have actually seen, about 180 river miles south of Columbus, MS. We also pass the tug, "Heloise" again on our way down. And we meet two other tows going north. Just before Coffeeville, we come by Bobby's Fish Camp. It has 100' of barges for docks, gas and fuel pumps, and a restaurant noted for its catfish. It is also the last place to get fuel before Mobile, about 130miles away. We pass Bobby's by and go to the Coffeeville dam. A radio call to the lockmaster, and he tells us it will be 20min before the lock is ready. I slow down, and we only have to idle around upstream for about 5minutes. We go through the Coffeeville lock, and there are two more alligators sunning just below it. I think they may be waiting to lock up. We are definitely in a new bio area. We go about another 15 miles to the "Ole Lock 1" stream. We are supposed to be able to enter it. SummerTime runs aground. We turn out, and anchor in the river again, just south of the entrance, parallel to the shore, well out of the channel, and with a stern anchor to prevent swinging into the path of a tow. It is dark by the time we anchor. A first time for us to anchor SummerTime after dark. Not something we want to make a habit out of.
     We get up and get going by 8:30. We run the genset again to heat the boat and cook. It is a little warmer at 48F. I also stick the tank to verify the fuel remaining, as we still have over 100miles to go. The gauge is showing just at 1/4 tank, which would be 47gal. It is more like 55. We could back track to Bobby's if the fuel is too low. This part of the river is like the last. Not much activity on it. There are only a few houses on the river, and a few fish camps. And almost no anchorages. We get passed by one pleasure boat, in  a crooked part of the river. They were crossing our wake before they notified us they were going by. They ask us to slow, and once by, quickly vanish off into the distance. We see almost no fisherman until we get near Mobile. We pass the tug "Heloise" again. And as we get near to Mobile we start to see some Industrial plants. The River is again crooked, with some really sharp turns. At one point you can see across the tree tops to the next leg of the river. And I meet a tug in one turn. I am hugging the buoys on the inside as he asked, and there is a shoal in the channel between two of them. I pull the throttle back immediately as the depth is showing 5' and decreasing. I think we are going to be grounded, but the little finger of a shoal passes under us and we are back in 10' of water. We are south of where the Alabama River has come in, and there are more tows, going south to pass and north to meet. We catch up to another PC, "BnB", and pass them. The first loopers we have seen in several days. We pull into Big Bayou Canot about 5:30pm to anchor. This one is deep even next to shore, and we have no trouble finding a place to anchor. We just have to stay to the edge of the creek to stay out of the fisherman's way. We are at mile 16.6. And for the first time since leaving Columbus we have good phone reception.
       Getting going on Tuesday morning is easy. We do not have to run the genset except long enough to heat coffee. And there is no fog. We have only a little ways to go this morning to hit the outskirts of the Mobile port. As we get near, just to the north of a major bridge, we catch up to "BnB", a looper we passed just about the 30mi marker on Monday afternoon. They apparently stopped somewhere overnight also. But this is no place to pass again. Tugs are moving barges around just north of the bridge to make up tows. And there is a tow coming under the bridge.


And just to the far side of the highway bridge, there are ships parked, and the tugs used for docking these ships, moving around. The "AIS" for the first time has become almost useless. The tugs are moving around faster than the screen can update, even in the close scale. We get through the bridge, by the northbound tows, and to a wider part of the channel. We now pass "BnB" as she is going about 2kt slower than we want to travel. We are headed to Grand Mariner Marina and Restaurant to get SummerTime serviced. We are supposed to be there before noon, and the GPS is giving an ETA of 12:35. We still have about 10mi of port to negotiate. It is mixed, with a shipbuilding company for the USN on one shore, freight and a passenger terminal on the other shore, and dry docks servicing vessels of all kinds including an offshore rig. It is congested on both sides. Eventually we get through and into the channel out to the gulf. We see a shrimp boat pulling his trawls up ahead. And behind him is a school of dolphins in the water feeding. A good sign we are in tidal waters again.

We continue south in the ship channel. It is plenty wide, but you do not wan to stray out of the channel. It is very shallow to either side. We have to continue south of the Dog River mouth on the bay. The channel to Dog River starts at the ship channel, and runs across shallow areas of the bay. This channel to Dog River is really narrow when we turn in to it. And it is shallow. Only 9' deep on average. And narrow, as the wind gets me just out of line, and the depth alarm goes off for shallow water. We get to the major bridge crossing the mouth of the River, and make a turn from the bay into the river right before we pass under the bridge. Just after we turn under the bridge, we can see our destination on the South Bank. A quick radio call, and there are persons waiting to help us dock.


We get tied up, and spend the afternoon relaxing. William, the marina manager, comes over early in the afternoon to look at SummerTime's fuel leak. The good news is that it is not the injector pump. And he says they will take SummerTime out on Wednesday. Wednesday rolls around, and William gets called home early. There is no pulling the boat out of the water today. On Thursday SummerTime is lifted out of the water. The bottom is not too bad with algae any longer, but there are way more zebra mussels there than I was expecting to see. They are dead from exposure to salt water. The pressure wash removes the algae and the mussels. The prop had developed a vibration about 2200rpm, so they look at it also. A prop repair shop is not available for over 7 days. We tell William to straighten out the one bent blade the best they can, as we will be back to board SummerTime on the second of November. We take a hotel near the airport on Thursday night so we do not miss our Friday morning flights. Friday morning we fly to Columbus to pick up our car at our daughter's, and drive to Cleveland for business, doctor, and dental appointments.