A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

On the Loop again

We stayed at Mobile only 2 nights before heading off with JADE, back on the Loop, towards Florida. On the way out of the Dog River Channel from the Marina, we encountered this Shrimp boat fishing in it. At this point, the channel is only 100 ft wide and 5 feet deep at low water (at the time the tide on the tables was at -0.2ft) so there wasn't a lot of manoeuvering room.
We cut diagonally across Mobile Bay, through the spoil areas, as it was showing between 6 and 12 ft on the charts and lopped off about 5 NM of distance from using the commercial channnels. It got a bit skinny (down to around 5 feet) just before re-entering the ICW, but it was bottom of the tide, so we felt reasonably safe. The topography was certainly changing as we moved futher east. Although the vegitation was similar to that on the rivers at first, the evidence of increasing population density was becoming more evident. You could feel for a few miles that you were out in the boonies, then come round a bend to a highway, or bridge, or Condo's with associated marina.

We spent the first nght anchored in a nice sheletered Bay called Inghams Bayou. You were surrounded on three sides by low-lying swampy banks covered in trees and ferns. However directly behind on the shore of the other side of the ICW about 3 mles away, were 7 blocks of Condo's. The next nights anchorage, Joes Bayou, was in a small Bay about the size of Owhanaki where we were completely surrounded by multi-million dollar homes and Motor Yachts. Earlier that day we had crossed into Florida from Alabama, and we had seen our first sea fish being landed by a fisho in a small fizz boat. It was a decent sized fish that looked very much like a Trevally, so I am going to get some fishing gear at the next opportunity. It also seems to be warming up a bit and the North wind doesn't have the same bite to it that it has had for the past few weeks. We are even back in shorts.
There is a stretch of the ICW nicknamed "The Grand Canyon" which was dug out between Choctawatchee and St Andrews Bays.

See we ARE having fun

This part of the ICW is still regularly used by tows and a group of Loopers all seemed to converge on one, going the same way as we were, in the middle of the canyon. When we got to him, the canyon was quite narrow and the tow was smack in the middle and doing about 6 knots. As we passed, we had about 20 feet clearance from him and only anothe 40 feet or so to shore - and only 8 feet of water. A little nerve wracking, and it seemed to take forever, but we got by OK as did all the other Loopers.
We reached Panama City that afternoon, and on the way in to the harbour, I could hear splashing coming from the side of the boat. I looked over and a large dolphin was cruising alonside of us, leaping out of the water, landing on his side and flicking water at the boat with his tail. Carolyn had been taking a nap, but was woken by water being splashed through the open portholes. The cheeky sod was doing it quite deliberately - you could tell by the twinkle in his eye and the grin on his face! He stayed with us for about 15 minutes and was the most frivolous one we have encountered amongst the hundreds that we have seen since we reached the Gulf. I tried to get pix, but this digital camera is lousy at taking "snap" photos, so this is the best I got.

Thats him flicking his tail

That night we finished up at a marina resort out at Panama City Beach, and that's where we are now. We will be staying here until Thanksgiving Day (everything is closing down so we will share it with other Loopers) and then we will move on to Apalachicola to be ready for crossing the Gulf as weather allows. We are with a group that has similar speed characteristics, so we intend to stay together and cross the 143 NM in convoy. This will be done overnight, as there is not enough daylight to do it in one day (unless you want to burn an AWEFUL lot of fuel) an you need to arrive at the other side well after dawn, as there are crab pots up to all along the coast and you dont want to pick up any of them. Speaking of that, I may take a swim today and check out what we have wrapped around our prop - I'm sure we got something coming back from New Orleans when we ran over the crab pot. The water is clear enough to see the bottom here and even though its only 65F (18C) degrees, I'm sure I can talk myself into it.
The boat is still running well and I did an oil change while we were in Mobile. Oil here is $12 a gallon and to change the 10 gallons using the oil changer took 50 minutes, and no mess. Love that auto oil changer
So that's where we are at present .......till next time
PS after we leave here we cross into the Eastern time zone, so we are an hour further forward, which means it won't get dark until 6pm instead of 5!


No comments:

Post a Comment