Position Report May, 2014
With Bolixi, the Golden Nugget casino, and a good time behind us, we again found our self in shallow water, about 5.5 ft. But we were under way and feeling good.
We made our way down the Pascagoula shipping channel. The early afternoon found us in the vicinity of an anchorage on the north side of Petit Bois Island. It looked a bit sketchy to us but Active Captain said it was OK. So we dropped the hook about 1/8 mile out, but still in only about 3 or 4 ft of water. It turned out to be more like an open road stead. Late in the day, a bit of waves started running. We got bounced around all night and we were concerned about the depth. Not a good night. First thing in the AM we upped the anchor and headed back to the channel.
At about 8 AM as we were departing, we did get to see a few dolphins on our bow. Once in the channel as we were heading east, we saw a large FAST vessel coming our way in the channel. I alerted Jill to stand by for a big wake roll. As it turned out, it was the Coast Guard vessel Bonito. AND, before they go close to us they drastically reduced speed to insure no wake for us!! What a pleasure! I called them on VHF 16 and said thank you. Got a nice “have a good day Cap.” in reply.
The Active Captain app listed a nice secure small well protected harbor on Dolphin Island called Aloe bay. It looked so good that even though it was before noon we decided to give it a try. We followed the channel in and did a circle of it. Talk about SMALL! And there was private docks on all of the shore line. We thought there was one spot we might be able to drop the hook just to the right of the last buoy and we eased our way toward the spot. Before we got there we went aground! We managed to back off, but decided that there was NO place in the area that we could put out our 5 to 1 anchor rode and not hit the shore line. So, it was good that it was early in the day. We aborted this place and headed back out into the channel.
We found the next anchorage was a bit over 1/8 mile north of Fort Morgan in Bon Secour Bay. This also looked like an open road stead, but turned out to be MUCH better than the last one. We got our anchor set in a bit over 6 ft. of water and had a quiet restful night.
In the morning we headed back to the channel to continue our travel east. As we approached the channel there was a tug pushing six (6) barges. He was also heading east, so we slowed up a bit and fell in behind him. We were now entering a part of the ICW that is a man made channel. It looked and felt a lot like we were back in the San Francisco Delta area again.
A few miles along we came to the “Wharf Marina”. We had talked to a number of people who said this was a nice place. One big draw was it had floating docks!! Not pilings or fixed docks. Once we were in and secure we knew this was a different type of place. It's more like a resort than a marina. When I checked in, I was given a “welcome” bag with maps and discount coupons and information about the area. Where else can you get off your boat, walk to the top of the dock to a restaurant and get a yummy smoked cheeseburger! Then a short walk to a “Main Street” with many shops and fine restaurants. And even a Ferris wheel and movie theater. AND, each evening they had a light show on main street. One of the restaurants was by chef Thomas Wolfe, and Jill was eager to try it. It was grand.
At first we planned to only spend a couple of days, but due to some predicted bad weather and a crawdad fest we stayed a few extra days enjoying the fine food. One restaurant even had “Devils on horseback”!
As we walked the dock each time we went to shore we passed a tourist boat that had “Glass Bottom” advertised on the side. That was a bit to much of a temptation for me and as I passed I just had to ask the captain, “what can you see in this water?” He laughed and said “about nothing” with a big smile. We had a few talks about the area and he gave us some pointers about nice places to see along our trip.
Our next stop was an anchorage called Ingram Bayou. We pulled in and made our way past a few larger sail boats to the back area where it was just us and a cat. About the time our anchor hit the bottom we found a Coast Guard boat off our Starboard quarter. Yep, we were boarded. It was actually a fun visit. We passed with an “A” and they were very nice young men. They seemed very interested in the stamps in our passport. The full process took about 30 min.
Once the CG guys departed and we set the hook, we were glad we heard about this place! Early the next morning, I took my coffee into the cockpit to drink. There was just a bit of low fog on the glass still water. It was so quiet that when a pelican took flight from a post in the water, I could hear the sound of his wings in the air. It didn't take much effort for our one day stay to extend to a week. We could live here. It's completely surrounded by wood lands.
It took effort, but we did manage to convince our self to pry our anchor out and start moving once more. We stopped at another marina for one night. It was also a motor home park and we both got to use the pool for a quick swim. When we were there an area of dry brush in a back storage yard caught fire and took out a car, a truck and a couple boats. A bit of excitement to be sure.
The next leg was a short one, only about 6 nautical miles to a nice white sand beach area called Fort McRee. It is between a barrier island and a small sand island just south of the ICW just before the Pensacola bay. This anchorage has GREAT holding so we knew our anchor was securely set in sand. It's also off the end of the Naval Air base runway so we got to do some good aircraft “bird watching”.
From Fort McRee we were invited to take a temporary spot at the guest dock at Grand Bayou Marina on NAS Pensacola. We are only able to access this very nice marina because we are being sponsored by Wilson Frye who is retired Navy. He keeps a Nor'Sea (one of his two!) at this maria also. What a great time seeing another Nor'Sea and exchanging ideas. And I want to live at the Naval Air museum! Some of my old aircraft are hanging there. What memories are flooding back in my mind. I even got to fly the 3 axis F-18 trainer. YES, you can go inverted!
So, as this month comes to a close, that is where we are, waiting out a bit more bad weather till we make our next move.
Greg & Jill
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