Saturday, November 21, 2015

Monday 11/18/15– in Pensacola Florida
Weather/Sea   Cloudy then Cloudy, Rain, Windy, temp 50 to 75
   Captain - John C. Kwak crew None
Dutchess and I are in Pensacola Florida; yes we made it to Florida, in the Palafox Pier Yacht Harbor. This is on the end of Palafox St. which is a reconstructed city shopping street with boutique stores and restaurants of all flavors. Chuck and I tried to sail East on Sunday Nov. 15 to Destin FL. and then try to get to the Florida West Coast. The weather was to be 10 knot winds out of the East but turned into 15 to 20 knots with 6 to 8’ waves. We were looking up to the bow and then down to the bow with waves crashing over. After 2 hrs of this we turned around and headed back to Pensacola and the same slip that we had left. We had left the Marina at 0615, thru the inlet for Pensacola Bay at 0730 and then up the coast. The inlet was very rough with outgoing tidal current but I thought it would be better close to the coast but it was not to be. There was a slight westerly current along the coast and with waves it slowed us to 4.8 to5.5 knots. Chuck saw something orange floating and at first we thought it was a life raft, but it was a mooring buoy for a dredge that was steel and 3’round and 6’ long. It would have done damage to the boat had Chuck not seen it because it was right in our path and not on the charts. At 0920 we had enough, I was sea sick, and we were both tired of the pounding so turned around rolled out the jib and surfed back  at 7 to 9 knots to the inlet and back at the slip at 1230. The weather and sea state did not look favorable for at least 2 weeks which let Chuck to decide to go home now for the Holidays. He left this morning at 0715 with a cab to the Pensacola International Airport. He is flying up to Muskegon, Michigan by way of Dallas and Chicago, a long flight. He is planning to come back to the boat after New Year. I will stay in Pensacola until I find help and a weather window to get the boat to Destin then Panama City, then Carrabelle, and the across the Gulf of Mexico to Clearwater and then down to St Petersburg. If any of you sailors reading this are interested, come down for some weeks and enjoy the tropical climate and ocean sailing! They charge $16.00 per foot for the month plus $3.50 for electric.
My last blog was from Columbus MS mile 335.0 on 10/29/15 we left for Pirate Cove Marina at mile 307.4. A very run down and small marina with broken wood docks. The owner says he is getting new docks but he has been saying that for a number of years according to other loopers who know the place. For the privilege of staying here he charged us $40 which includes the 10% discount for loopers. This was a short run of only 28 miles and we were tied up by 1208. Chuck and I took the courtesy car for shopping and went to the “Tom Beville Visitor Center” where they have a new building but in the style of a plantation house and the steamboat “Montgomery” which is a snag boat that was used to clear snags, sunken trees, from the Tenn Tom Waterway. Then back to the boat where I made bean soup with ham beans and smoked turkey legs and vegetables, it was found to be acceptable by the crew.
On 10/30/15 we left for Sumter Recreation Anchorage. We passed thru the “Tom Beville” lock at 0755 with three other loopers; “Velomer”, “Blue Heron” and “Chasing 80”.  We got to the anchorage at mile 269.9 and anchored at 1325. Blue Heron and Velomer where already anchored so we passed them and found a suitable spot dropped the hook and only 25’ of chain. I checked the depths around the boat for 50’ by dinghy and my portable depth meter and we had at least 6 feet. This was a small inlet and no wind or current so 25’ was ok. In fact we hung by only the chain all night because the chain was vertical from the bow.
On the next morning we pulled anchor at 0735 and left for Demopolis Yacht Basin at mile 216.7. At 0820 we passed thru Heflin Lock with “Velomer”, “Blue Heron” and “Alison Leigh” fellow loopers. They all go faster than us but we catch them at the lock. We stayed 2 nights in Demopolis YB at a cost of $122.10. There is a live aboard in Demopolis “Ron” who will drive you to town for gas money and a courtesy car which we both used and went to dinner and shopping. We stayed 2 days because the nice weather had ended and it was pouring rain.
On 11/2/15 we left Demopolis for Bashi Creek anchorage at mile 145.0. The night before we had a very civil captains meeting, to decide which boats where leaving in the first group for the Demopolis Lock.  If we had all left at the same time we would not fit in the lock. Dutchess was in the first group but last in the lock and had to raft up with “Something Special” other boats were “Pearl”, “Iconic”, “Valhalla”, “Allison Leigh”, “Melinda B”, “Sea Venture”, “Adagio”. I always want to be last in the lock because all the power boats have to pass us otherwise. Bashi Creek is a small inlet off the river and only holds a few boats, luckily all the fast boats passed it by. When we arrived only Something Special was anchored in the creek. We pulled up next to them and rafted up. I then took my Bow anchor and chain in the dinghy and dropped it about 40’ from my bow and the crew pulled up on the chain. I then took my stern anchor out about 40 from the stern and dropped it in and the crew pulled the nylon rode in. We now had 4 anchors out for 2 boats and we slept peacefully. Two more boats anchored behind us and also rafted together.
On 10/3/15 we left at 0735 and had a short run to Bobby’s Fish Camp at mile 118.9 and arrived at 1106. This is simply a dock along the river with room for 3 boats. They charge $1.50 per foot or $66.00 for Dutchess for poor facilities but it is the only game in town. Bobby’s will cook a cat fish dinner if more than 6 guest show up. Three more boats came with one rafted to a large catamaran which made for 9 guests. This very friendly black lady came down and started to set up for dinner. Then there was a power failure and we all waited for an hour until it came back on. She cooked a great catfish dinner for each person. I had the “all you can eat fried catfish” and she brought out 5 cat fish with hush puppies and vegies, it was all I could eat and delicious.
On 11/4/15 we left late at 0725 because of fog and proceeded slowly to the last lock Coffeeville Lock where we were joined by “New Life”, “Encore”, and “Adventure 3” . We ran for 9 hours to Alabama Cut Off anchorage at mile 52.8. Anchored at 1612 with 50’ of chain on the bow anchor, there is a slow current here which kept us nicely lined up in the stream. We were joined by “Beach House”, and “Camelot”.
On 11/5/15 we hoisted anchor at 0630 with light fog but when we entered the Tombigbee River the fog closed in and we were on RADAR  until 0830. The AIS also helps because you can see the location of the Tows and call them by name. We waited for one tow at a wide spot and called him and told us that he was not coming up the river. We went downriver and found him working barges at a depot and passed with no problem. The river is all oxbows here so passing a barge takes all your care. We followed the Mobile River to Mobile Bay which is a very busy ship harbor and ship construction area. We saw 4 Navy vessels under construction. Carefully following the channel buoys we entered Turner Marine  and tied up at 1518. We were done with the rivers, from now on it will be the Gulf Intercostal Waterway or off shore in the Gulf of Mexico. At Turners we stepped the mast which had been shipped there from Hammond Indiana. We also hauled the boat and checked the zincs which were perfect but the bow thruster plastic propeller had only one blade left out of the 6 originals. I knew that the prop maybe damaged because twice we heard it chopping thru something hard. The marina ordered the new propeller which arrived 2 days later we hauled out again and the prop was installed. On Sunday I rented a car from Enterprise and drove Greg Murphy to New Orleans train station where he took the “City of New Orleans” to Chicago and then on to Michigan.

On Nov 13 we left Turner and headed to Pensacola.  We crossed Mobile bay under Jib and power and were doing 7 to 8 knots Dutchess is a sail boat again.  As we entered the GICW we rolled up the jib and motored  all the way to Palafox Pier and tied up at 1629 an 11.3 hour run.