Finally left Clearwater and headed south on the intracoastal to Sarasota. Decided it would make the trip easier, because of all the bridges, to take the mast down. Trip was good but just as we were approaching Tampa Bay we hit bottom, not enough to stop us, but enough to make a big thud. The Bay was a little windy, but not bad. Made it to Sarasota around 4:00pm . Marina Jack's is in a picturesque setting, surrounded by a breakwater and and a beautiful park. Cold and a little windy as we neared the bay - all these birds where hunkered down on a little spit of land trying to stay warm.
These two where hunkered down this morning when we left Clearwater.
This friendly dolphin and several buddies played in our bow wake as we approached Tampa Bay.
The bridge at Tampa Bay
Ah, no thank you! A Floating Chapel on The Bay? - I don't think so!
Breakwater at Marina Jack's - Casino in the background.
Marina Jack's marina and Restuarant - nice place to stop.
We walked in the park and Izzy couldn't figure out why she couldn't play with the kids they seemed really friendly.
The captain decided to give up one of his old lines for Izzy's entertainment. In hindsight this was not a good idea - she can't seem to differentiate between her line and the good dock lines. It certainly is a constant learning process.
Ok, we broke away from the dock at Carrabelle and decided to make a break for the Tampa Bay area. We had about a 28 hour weather window and we needed at least 26 of that to cross the gulf. Started out at 8:00 a.m. and the 1st hour was good because we were still in somewhat protected waters. The forecast was for 2-3 foot seas to start out the day and then dropping down to 2 feet or less later in the day. Well 2-3 foot confused seas are what we got for the next 5 hours (kind of bumpy) and finally flattening out around 2:00 in the afternoon. The overnight trip went well and it is always an unbelievable sight when the stars light up the night and the moon comes up over the ocean. However, it was good to see Clearwater the next morning. Plans were to spend a night, but, our good friends Randy & Cindy Pickelmann (owners of Morning Star, a Krogen Manatee) live in Clearwater and offered to take us for provisions and then graciously invited us to dinner at their home. Tuesday a front blew in (30-40 MPH winds) and it looks like we will be here until Wednesday. Coming into Clearwater Municipal Marina
Broulee At Clearwater docks
All kinds of fun things to do here
We decided to hit the beach with Izzy - curious how she would react to sand & waves.
Hurry Up, Hurry Up - I can see water!!!
I'm trying to catch this wave - or, maybe the next one.
Ok, maybe not - that wave just knocked my feet out from under me!
Not sure how all this sand got on me, but, I bet Mom's not going to let me back on the boat.
I've made another friend - her name is Skipper - this boating thing might not be so bad after all.
The Moorings at Carrabelle is a nice place to get stuck for a few days, but we are now going on 4 days and hopefully we are heading out tomorrow. Our original plan was Wednesday for a crossing to Clearwater, but, the dockmaster pooh poohed that suggestion and said our weather window is Saturday. Turns out Wednesday would have been good and now he has moved our weather window to maybe Sunday. Rick has checked NOHOA weather and looks like Mid-Saturday to Mid-Sunday is our window. So although we had not planned on an overnighter looks like we have no choice. Izzy has enjoyed lots of walks and has found a patch of clover that she loves to smell, chew and lay in. Again, the office has lots of dog treats so she makes sure we go there everyday. Fishing Boats at Carrabelle
Izzy in her clover patch (chewing on an Oyster shell - her latest chew toy)
She cannot get up on the couch by herself so she waits like this until someone sees her or finds her and helps her up.
Stopped at mile 330 at White City. It's a city park with a couple of docks that you can tie up to at no charge. In the past it's been kind of a rickety stopping off point, but they are now in the process of putting in a fishing pier and new docks (now it's probably going to cost us to stay and everyone is going to want to stop here). Anyway we got Izzy off Broulee and she made a new friend named Maybelline. Izzy inviting Maybelline onboard.
We left Grand Mariner at around 8:00 it was sunny and 53 degrees. When we got out into the bay it was a bit choppy and we were heading into the waves which resulted in a bumpy ride. Not very comfortable for Deb so she went to her comfort zone in the saloon (the couch). We tried to convince Izzy it would be better for her in the Saloon, but she wanted to stay with the Captain. About an hour into the trip she up chucked her breakfast and then decided maybe being in the saloon with Deb wasn't such a bad idea after all. We got to the intracostal around noon and it was smooth sailing from then on. We crossed into Florida around 4:00pm and found a beautiful anchorage in the east part of Big Lagoon about 500 feet from the shore (a little strip of white sand beach) and 600 feet from the ocean.
Well we finally made it to Dog River at around 2:00 pm and tied up to the dock at Grand Mariner Marina. The usual welcoming committee was there to great us, the same group of local hanger outers with a beer in their hand living vicariously thru every boater that stops here and they were eager to hear about our travels. Coming down thru Mobile was a little stressfull - everything from ocean freighters to towboats coming at us from all directions - you really had to keep the eyeballs moving. Each year more than 40 million tons move thru this port. It ranks 8th in the U.S. in exports, 16th in imports and 12th overall. We stayed at Grand Mariner Marina for a couple of days - shopped, got laundry done and Izzy finally got a life jacket!
This is the I-65 highway bridge just as you are approaching Mobile. The locals call it the Dolly Parton Bridge - you will see why in a moment.
Coming into Mobile Harbour
When we came up in the spring we spotted this ship being built - now it is finished and turns out to be some sort of Navy vessel - very odd looking.
Downtown Mobile waterfront
We tried to pass him, but on second thought decided to hang back behind him - it looked like he might hurt us if we got into a tight spot in the bay.
Boat For Sale - Price Reduced!
Now that's a sailing vessel - turns out to be a replica of the Nina
Grand Mariner Marina, Dog River, Alabama
End of the day - time for a glass of wine!
The Blue sign on top is the high watermark for Hurricane Katrina and the white sign below is from Hurricane George.
Izzy's new life jacket - she looks like a hot dog!
We got thru Coffeeville Lock at mile 116.7 right away in the morning - they held the lock for us because the Nordhaven that was at Bobby's the night before was already in the lock. This will be the last lock for quite awhile. Severe weather predicted today, again, but when we listened to the TV later in the night it sounds like they had several tornadoes north of us. We anchored at mile 42.3 (David Lake) and hunkered down for lots of wind and rain. We heard tonight that Demopolis is flooded and the Tenn-Tom has not even crested yet.
We love this telephone booth in the middle of no-where.
We traveled in pea-soup fog all day and had planned to make it to Bobby's Fish Camp at mile 118.9 (a small dock on the river bank just above Coffeeville Lock & Dam) but unfortunately there was a 47 foot Nordhaven with a Sea-Ray rafted off to it, tied up to the dock already. Severe weather was predicted so we thought it not wise to add tubby Broulee to the rafting party. We backtracked to mile 123.2 at Okatuppa Creek and anchored. We orginally planned to stop at Bobby's so we could get Izzy off the boat to release some "puppy energy". Okatuppa Creek borders the Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge and it is possible to land a dinghy on the northern side of the creek. So Rick and Deb got the dinghy down and Izzy had her first dinghy ride (about 30 feet to the shore). Rick and Izzy headed out in the rain for the shore (while Deb was on board Broulee having a heart attack watching Izzy hanging over the side of the dinghy trying to touch the water). The embankment turned out to be a sticky-glue like mud, but, they managed to get onto land and run their little buts off. Made for a nice restfull evening for Izzy(which means us) and the severe weather that was predicted stayed north of us.
Another foggy morning, but this time of year it seems to be the norm. We made it to Demopolis Lock and Dam around noon and have now joined the lower Black Warrior/Tombigbee River. This lock was completed in 1962, and it replaced Old Lock #4 on the Tombigbee and #5, #6 and #7 on the Black Warrior. The Lock has a lift of 40 feet, and the 48 mile long lake created by the dam has a capacity of 120,000 acre-feet at its normal 73-foot pool elevation. Picture of water coming over dam and floating bollard with yukky debris on it.
Now for a little bit of history on Demopolis. After Napoleon's defeat at the battle of Waterloo, a group of officers and their families came to America in 1817 with the intention of beginning a new life. They were given a land grant from the U.S. Government consisting of four townships on 144 square miles of land. The grant required the colony must cultivate olive trees and vineyards. They romantically called themselves the "Association of French Imigrants for Culivation of the Vine and Olive. They named their first settlement Demopolis "The City of the People". By 1818 they numbered 400, they had been counts, generals, scholars and ladies-in-waiting of a powerful emperor and accustomed to the lavishness of the highest class of European culture. Destitute before they reached Alabama many were forced to combine finances to raise the $80.00 needed o buy 40 acres. This area was Alabama's "Prairie Belt" where soil is as sticky as glue when wet and as hard as cement when dry and many of the plants shipped from France where the wrong variety, arrived at the wrong time of year, or were improperly packed and dead on arrival. Frost killed the olive trees, the grapes ripened too early and the wine tasted like vinegar. Eventually the Choctaw Indians were able to teach them how to grow corn and beans. After catastropic floods and outbreaks of malaria put an end to the vine and olive planters most of them returned to France or went to New Orleans.
We anchored at mile 176 on the river bank and enjoyed another quiet, peaceful evening.