Thunder, lightning, big winds and rain!

What a great combination eh?  Glad we’re tied to a dock!

We are somewhat protected from the north west winds which are currently gusting to over 20 knots.  We are securely tied to a dock, sitting in between a 44 foot Sea Ray and a 46 foot Irwin sailboat.  In fact, I think I can smell Ron’s pipe as I write!  Vanilla flavoured tobacco…..Ron and Linda are from the Kemah, Texas area, and great folks.  They own the Irwin, a good, heavy sailboat.  We haven’t met the owners of the Sea Ray, Ron says that they also are from Texas somewhere.
Between Erwin and SeaRay

Between Erwin and SeaRay

Trolls under the bridge

Trolls under the bridge

The weather has really gone for a ……no, no snow like some of you have had already, but we did experience a moderate quantity of lightning and thunder last night about 5 a.m.  So, it was time to get up and check things out on the boat, throw the companionway hatch back and have a gander outside.  No Leonid meteors to be seen…too much rain and cloud!  The small electric heater that we purchased in Gore Bay this past summer is keeping the boat nice and toasty warm, and it is much quieter than our reverse cycle air/heat.
I get the feeling our Weems and Plath barometer is not telling the whole truth, it is currently showing a reading between “change” and “fair”.  Fair?  It certainly isn’t fair, and we hope any change is for the better, although the forecast is for gale force winds tonight.
We will be leaving Alabama this week, probably on Friday, and heading back to Pensacola.  We’ll return to Palafox Pier and Marina, where we will have the opportunity to entertain some of our sailing friends from Ohio, and also some friends from Amherstburg, ON.  We’ve got company coming to visit! Yahoooooo.  Our time at Palafox will also allow us the time needed to complete the full enclosure and have the diesel fuel Racor filter system installed. Then we should be ready to head south to the Ft. Myers area, and hopefully stay at the Burnt River Marina for a bit.  A nice change of scenery, and it should be much warmer down that way.  I will have to ensure that we purchase the spare air conditioning water cooling supply pump before we depart Pensacola, the last of the spare pumps that we should have on hand for our travels.
Beth was out shopping yesterday with the gals from Texas while some of the guys viewed a movie at the local theater here.  We watched Keanu Reeves new thriller John Wick.  An amazing amount of blood, bullet casings and fisticuffs.  Good, mindless entertainment.  Beth was able to finally get us a couple of fold up chairs for the boat, which will be put to good use when we have “docktails” which of course is the boatee version of cocktails.  There just isn’t anything quite as grand as swapping stories/lies, imbibing great liquors and food, whilst sitting at the end of a dock in the sunshine, watching the sunset and dolphins swimming by.  The day before yesterday, there was a dolphin so close to the stern of the boat, that had I been sitting on the swim platform, I could have scratched it’s back.  What a great sight!  And no, I wasn’t “sent to the swim platform to be punished”, I just happened to be back at the stern when the dolphin happened by.  We also viewed a manatee swimming upstream, another great sight to see.  There are also Osprey here around the marina, so there really is no shortage of wildlife to view.
Note from Beth: Although it’s been too cool for bugs, they were eating us alive a few days ago – especially the “No-See-Ums”. So I looked up a recipe for homemade bug repellent on Pinterest and got to work.  
Made a lotion to keep the No-See-Ums and Mosquitoes off us

Made a lotion to keep the No-See-Ums and Mosquitoes off us

Ingredients

Ingredients

The Lotion

The Lotion

I used therapeutic grade citronella oil, Coconut oil and Witch Hazel. I’ll let you know how it works when the bug come back out. 
So, lazy day today, rain and high winds will keep us onboard and either “surfing” the internet, or reading a book.  Time for a day off!
Keep your stick on the ice!

Rib eye

Piggly Wiggly…yes, say it again….Piggly Wiggly.  Supermarket, grocery store, provisioning store.  Call it what you want to, but there just isn’t a Piggly Wiggly where we come from.

It's just so much fun to say

It’s just so much fun to say

Rib Eye steaks, nice ones, not 3rd class meat, $6.18 lb., an inch and half thick, beautiful marbling…..am I making you hungry yet?  Sure wish I had one of two things….either my charcoal bbq, or my new burner for the propane bbq on the boat, which is s’posed to be shipped to us from somewhere in the bowels of British Columbia, Dickinson Marine bbq’s, sometime tomorrow, five day expedited delivery.  I’m holding my breath…we’re out of here on the 21st and back to Pensacola.
Piggly Wiggly has an awesome meat department, followed closely by an awesome dairy department…but both are totally overshadowed by the store brewed and bottled beer(Walkerville breweries hold your breath) and a wine department second to none.  They actually carry Ridge Zins, and can order in Turley Zins as well….wish we were here for another two weeks, we’d be loading up on Turley!
It is cold here now, 5C all day, dropping to 1C or thereabouts tonight and tomorrow night.  WTF?  REALLY!  WTF?  November?  Geeesh!
Beth and I had a cold, rain day today, and decided to hit the Tanger Outlet Mall in Foley, Alabama.  A short drive away, with a great restaurant, Lambert’s Cafe, Home of the Throwed Roll.  Yes, that’s right, the “throwed roll”.  They throw the dinner rolls at you, fresh out of the oven, from anywhere on the restaurant floor.  And take it from me, they are HOT!  The young fella could pitch for the Tigers, he has a dead on toss!  You get 2 sides with most meals, and then there are the “passarounds” which included fried potatoes and onions, macaroni and tomato, boiled cabbage….all you could eat!  And eat…and eat!  Coffee and hot chocolate in thermal mugs the size of a watermelon.  The food was awesome, I brought home half a chicken that puts KFC totally to shame, and Beth had the chicken pot pie….way too much food.  No wonder people are so obese!  Just a general observation, not a critical statement.<grin>
Last night, we joined our friends from Texas at Ginny Lane’s for dinner, and most of us ordered the 10 oz Prime Rib for $14.95, which came with potatoes and green beans…and a FREE martini.  The banana martini’s are to die for, but I gave mine to Beth and had a nice glass of red zin wine.  They are a fun bunch to hang with….and saying “y’all” is really hard not to do when with them, eh?
Our boat has reverse cycle air conditioning and heat, thank goodness.  But knowing that we would someday head north with her, we had ensured she had heat.  It is cold outside!  Speaking of cold, the refrigeration guy says he will be back tomorrow…hmmm, tomorrow….not sure exactly what “tomorrow” means down this way where they are on “island time mon”, but he says he will be here tomorrow a.m. and install mp66 refrigerant in our system and have us on our way, with an instructional class included on how to recharge the system.  Says he will even throw in an old set of gauges to troubleshoot the system….tomorrow.  Tomorrow….ahuh.  Tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.
Yesterday Beth and I watched a Manatee swim up current on the GICW, and of course the dolphins put on their usual show about an hour before dark.  I have kept close correspondence with our good friend Jim from Onekemaw, Michigan, to ensure that beer thirty does not go unobserved, and he has assured me that he has added additional nails into his kidney coffin the past few days and is blaming that scenario on his company from Michigan the last few days.  Beer thirty, five o’clock somewhere, boats, water….are you getting the picture?<GRIN>
Alright, enough blithering/blathering on….winds tonight are to hit 25 knots or better, and the bottle of Red Zinfandel from the Marietta Vineyard in Sonoma California, 2011 vintage, has completed it’s job.
Mmm, wine

Mmm, wine

Just enough left for breakfast in the a.m……no, no , just kidding!<grin>  It is a very, very nice wine! $20 U.S. dollars, so about 990,000k in Canada.  So just take my word for it, it really is nice…unless you are one of our U.S. blog followers….you can go and get it, but hurry, it’s that good.

Keep your stick on the ice!
Note from Beth:
I’m starting to think we should call this blog “Food, friends and fixes “ 
Also somewhere in this time frame we joined Aaron & Caroline and there friends  for more lovely food – oysters, gumbo, crawfish bread. And I took pictures of the oysters and the preparation- aw shucks 
Shuckin'

Shuckin’

Shucked

Shucked

Cookin'

Cookin’

Harley and Raster

Harley and Raster

Orange Beach and The Blue Angels

I don’t know why I want to refer to this area as Orange Grove….but if I do, bare with me…..it’s an age thing I guess.

We have met a ton of boaters from Michigan, in fact, yesterday, a Viking 43 motor yacht from Harrisville Township pulled into the slip beside us.  Dave and Michelle are awesome people, he retired from Chrysler 7 years ago, she retired in June from a car dealership.  We headed out to Lulu’s, a restaurant bar just downstream, that is owned by Jimmy Buffet’s sister.  It had pretty good food,  and is very large.

At Lulu's

At Lulu’s

I can only imagine how busy it must get in the “warmer months”, and every once in awhile Jimmy himself pops in and does an impromptu serenade for the patrons there.  That didn’t happen yesterday, darn it.

I am happy to report that the Yamaha 9.9 pushes our hard bottomed dinghy right along.  It is a bit of a bear to wrestle down off of the davits with the engine on the dink, but nothing that Beth and I can’t handle.

The Wharf Marina is a great spot to sit and just watch traffic go by on the GICW, or Gulf Intra Coastal Waterway.  There are dolphins a plenty, and a lot of barges.  Some are hauling coal, others are moving dredging apparatus up and down the waterway.  It is really something to watch, these barges are huge, and how they negotiate the bends and twists is quite remarkable.

The front of the barge

The front of the barge

middle

middle

it just goes on

it just goes on

and on

and on

the end

the end

We are still without refrigeration, I’ll do some inquiring today to see if there is anyone around who is able to recharge our system…sigh….we’ve wasted a fair bit of cash on ice….ice here in Alabama is priced somewhat the same as our Canadian gourmet ice back home….$11 for a forty lb. bag.  With the cool weather that we are expecting here for the next week, the ice will last quite some time in the freezer and refrigerator.

I ordered a new burner for the barbeque yesterday from Dickinson Barbeques in British Columbia.  Should take about five days to get here, a big hole blew through in the center of the burner the last time I used it.  I’ve applied some JB weld to hold it over until the arrival of the new burner….I have my fingers, dingers and gingers all crossed hoping the old burner makes it.  It is going to hit the mid 60’s here today for a high, so I can see where we’ll be buying a roast of beef and trying out the galley oven very soon.  The horseradish that we purchased at the Pepper Palace will be put to good use…..brings a tear to my eye and my nose runs just thinking about that horseradish!  And once Beth is feeling better, we’ll try out the Bloody Mary mix we purchased there as well.  I do believe that she is coming along now….she actually suggested today that we pick up a bottle of Bailey’s for our morning coffee.

Yesterday, our good friend Tony from Coastal Canvas picked us up, and of course Roxy was with him.  They are such great friends, Roxy was very pleased to see us, and resume consumption of the chicken jerky dog treats that we had purchased at Sam’s club.  She just loves those jerky strips!  We headed off to Pensacola, and we finally met Tony’s wife Annette, a real sweetheart of a lady.  Tony took me over to his friend’s 63 foot steel hulled Sparkman Stephens designed sailboat, a ketch rig built in 1958.  Eddie and Trish have owned the boat for over 20 years, and it is 93,000 lbs of pretty boat.  Huge pilothouse, you could easily put 50 people on this boat and still have a ton of room.  She is powered by a Detroit diesel 671 naturally aspirated engine, everything on this one is big!  They spend a lot of time diving in the Bahamas, and this boat is set up to do exactly that with an onboard air compressor and everything else needed for diving expeditions.

Eddie and Trish are great people, and they graciously invited us to their new home to watch the air show being held this weekend at the Pensacola Naval Air base.  This is the Blue Angels Homecoming weekend, and what a show it is!  There were parachutists, tons of bi-planes, old world war two planes, aerobatic planes…a full day of wonderful entertainment. IMG_0702

Right over the house

Right over the house

Fat Albert

Fat Albert

And then, shortly after two p.m., it was real show time…the F-16 borne Blue Angels came up.  Their display is second to none, very fast, crisp and quick moving.  Eddie and Trish’s house is located directly north of the runways, and we had front row seats without the crowds.  In fact, so front row, that the Blue Angels fly directly over the house, no more than a hundred feet off of the ground…….I only wish that all of you could have attended to witness the bone shaking noise as six F-16’s pass right over your head close enough that it feels that you could jump up and touch them, they fly so close to the house.

Blue Angels 2

Blue Angels 2

missed 'em

missed ’em

IMG_0721

Blue Angels4

Blue Angels4

This is one day that will stick in the old memory banks for some time!

After the show, it was hamburger/hotdog time, with salads galore and fun conversations…..being teased on how we talk….heck, it’s not us that talks funny is it?<grin>

Tony Pontificating

Tony Pontificating

We had a wonderful time, and just before dark there were a lot of the planes leaving the show area and heading back to their home hangars, so I pretty much had a decent fill of airplanes for the day…..something I just can’t get enough of.

I know that we are in Florida, and most of you think of Florida as hot, sunny, humid and all that, but let me tell you.  It is very humid and damp in the Pensacola area, and when the sun goes down, and the temperature drops down to 11 Celsius, believe me, it is freakin’ cold!  I mean bone chilling, go right through you type cold.  Unreal!  It has me thinking about heading south…..soon!

Our travel plans have been modified somewhat already, as Beth and I say, our plans are written in the sand at low tide.  We had originally planned on leaving the boat in Pensacola and returning home for Christmas, and then after Christmas heading to the Ft. Myers area to visit with friends and family.  The “locals” here have told us that the sooner we can leave this area, the better.  There aren’t a lot of windows of opportunity to catch to sail south, the cold northern fronts cutting into quality sailing time.  So, best to listen to the natives, right?  We now plan on heading to Burnt River Marina in the Ft. Myers/Pine Island area sometime the first week of December when we have completed our visiting with Max and Donna, sailing friends from Cincinnati, Ohio, and HUGE Buckeye fans; and Dave and Joyce Llewelyn from Amherstburg; and last, but certainly not least, Jan and Jean from Colorado (Beth’s note: I’m pretty sure it’s Kansas), who we met earlier this year when we stayed in Brunswick, Georgia.  We are hoping to do some cruising with Jan and Jean, they have a 45 foot Jenneau and know the Bahamas intimately.

Our friends Dave and Michelle on “Just Us”, a 43 foot Viking motor yacht departed early this a.m. to continue their travels on the “Loop”.  They are from Harrison township in Michigan, and began their journey of traversing the loop in July when Michelle officially retired.  They are FUN people, and we hope to catch up with them again soon.  Safe travels to them!

Tony is dropping in today to install some additional canvas that is ready to go on.  We are very pleased with his work and our boat is really looking much better with her new “clothes”.  Beth and I are really looking forward to the completion of this project, as the full enclosure will warm up the cockpit on those days when it just really isn’t t-shirt and shorts weather.  Those days are much more common place now, unlike when we first arrived in Pensacola and were enjoying the hot, I repeat, HOT weather.  How quickly the weather changes.  That’s the update for now…

Keep your stick on the ice.

Go Crimson Tide (or Roll Tide as they say here in ‘Bama)

(a note from Beth: we’re finally someplace with decent internet and it is so much easier to add pictures and post – so we’re doing some catching up)

We departed Pensacola yesterday, and headed over to the Wharf Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama yesterday.  For various reasons, all of them good, it was time to get out of Florida and see some new to us sites.  The trip was all done with the diesel pusher, and took about 4 hours.

For those of you not familiar with college football, Bear Bryant, a legendary college football coach, coached here for many, many years, and is one of the most respected college football coaches ever, and he ruled the Crimson Tide (That’s the University of Alabama  football team for all y’all who aren’t sports fans).

There wasn’t an abundance of traffic on the Gulf side of the ICW, and we cruised along at a nice leisurely 6 to 6.5 knots, our 100 hp turbo yanmar barely breaking a sweat at 2300 rpms.  Our raymarine chartplotter chip ran out of close in information just past the Florida-Alabama border, and we navigated with our I-Pad until Keith, the former owner returned my phone call about chart chips and told me to just back out to about the 3 mile point on the screen, and I would have chart information on the screen.  Not as intensive as having a chart chip for Alabama, but sufficient to allow me to relax somewhat.

At times on this trip, there was only just over 3 feet of water under the keel, which makes me very nervous.  That makes for a little better than 9 feet of water, but with a 6 foot draft….I get just a wee bit edgy.  The center of the marked channel is the obvious choice for transit, and moving over when meeting traffic allows me to do so.  It should be interesting for us in the Bahamas, as there will be a constant 1 or 2 feet of water under the keel for extended periods of travel….oh boy!  Definitely not the north channel.

There's the first bridge

There’s the first bridge

How high is that bridge?

How high is that bridge?

How tall is our mast?

How tall is our mast?

How tall is our mast?

How tall is our mast?

Are you sure?

Are you sure?

No crunching or ping sounds

No crunching or ping sounds

Made it!

Made it!

We passed under two bridges, both with a height of 73 feet.  Our boat has a mast height of 65 feet plus instruments, so going under the bridges also had me a bit nervous.  But, no issues at all, and we carried on as if we are normal.  The houses along the ICW are incredible, as are the various yachts that we met, all BIG!  Our 47 foot sailboat felt like a dinky toy when meeting some of those yachts.  The ICW twists and turns along this stretch, and is just gorgeous, and very well marked.  We finally met some dolphins just before Orange Beach, they are always such a treat to see.  You should google Orange Beach, it is an amazing area, white sand beaches, beautiful hotels and an awesome vacation area.

Houses along the beach

Houses along the beach

The ICW around Ono Island

The ICW around Ono Island

A very cool condo at Orange Beach - zoomed in

A very cool condo at Orange Beach – zoomed in

The sand is so white

The sand is so white

A very cool condo at Orange Beach

A very cool condo at Orange Beach

IMG_0685

The Wharf marina is a very nice marina facility, and Beverly and Ryan made us feel right at home when checking in.  Ryan helped us into our slip, provided us with some great info and insights to the area.  Beth was very pleased with our docking procedure, smooth as silk and totally uneventful.  I’ll take the time today in the 75 degree sunshine to wash the boat down and remove the salt.  Each docking procedure is making it easier to dock successfully, thank goodness.  She is a big girl, and just a wee bit different to dock than Kewalo.  This marina caters to “loopers”, and when you tell the staff that you are a looper, dock fees are significantly cheaper.  I told Beverly that we were “loopy”, and that got us the reduced rate.  So, with the 11% tax that is charged here in Alabama for hotel rooms, docks etc., our total dock fees for two weeks is $525.  Not bad at all, much cheaper than a hotel room.  By the way, if you can stay here for 6 months, the 11% tax fee is removed……hmmm, 6 x 30 or 31…nope, no can do.  The customs and border folks wouldn’t like that…….Floating docks, laundry facilities, loopers all over, even from Canada….nice place to stay for awhile.

Tony from Coastal Canvas is going to bring our car over for us one day this week, good thing, as the closest grocery store is 3.4 miles away.  A bit of a hike when hauling groceries on foot.  There are quite a few nice restaurants very close by, and one of them, Ginny Lane offers a lunch special, good to 6 p.m., that comes with a free martini!  YES!  We will come to know this place very well methinks<grin>  There is a ferris wheel just across the street, and all kinds of attractions on the wharf here in Orange Beach.

Sunday afternoon we sailed with Keith and Linda, the former owners.  Their in depth knowledge of the waters around Pensacola, and their vast sailing abilities are remarkable.  Linda is an avid racer, and delivers sailboats, while Keith no longer races but truly enjoys sailing.  His ability to trim the sails was something to watch and learn from, his skills obvious to my constant observations.  It is awesome to watch a truly skilled and experienced sailor trim a boat.  We arrived back at Palafox in the dark, and I was able to dock our boat in backwards on the second attempt with some help from the crew.

Pensacola Bay sunset 1

Pensacola Bay sunset 1

Pensacola Bay sunset 2

Pensacola Bay sunset 2

Pensacola Bay sunset 3

Pensacola Bay sunset 3

In closing, a Hinckley 46 with a beautiful dark blue hull, gold trim, and woodwork that gleamed, was at Palafox.  I had noticed a different wake when he arrived, and in talking with the owner, from Traverse City, Michigan, discovered that he had jet drives.  Big, strong, Hamilton jet drives.  He claimed that the drives gave him about a 10% better fuel economy, and made the boat as easy to handle as a jet ski, and only a 2.5 foot draft.  I have no idea what it was worth…..but scary would be a good term.  Awesome motor yacht!  Should have grabbed a couple of pics in hindsight.

So, Orange Beach, here we are!

Keep you stick on the ice.

Getting Ready to Cruise

Moorahme, (which will be our boat’s name, once she is fully registered in Canada federally) is a 1982 Sparkman Stephens designed center cockpit cutter rigged 47 foot sailboat.  She has a registered net tonnage of 20.37 tonnes I believe, give or take a pound or two.  She has a 6′ draft, and her mast height is 65 feet plus instruments.  She carries laminate sails, has a factory hard dodger and is currently being re-fitted with a full enclosure to keep us warm, dry and happy in the cockpit.  She has 3 staterooms, although we mainly use the 3rd cabin as our “garage”, storing the tools, spare parts and spinnaker, two heads, currently only one has a shower set up, and there is a shower set up on the stern, as well as a fresh water wash down system near the bow.  She carries a 100 hp Yanmar turbo with a nice folding prop, a 5kw generator, two Shell solar panels and a wind generator.  She has a Spectra watermaker so that we can convert salt water to fresh water, a freezer and refrigerator, if we can ever get the system serviced, it needs a R-12 charge, so we have been using a lot of ice since we got here.

There is a 33 kilogram Rocna anchor, an oversized windlass and ample chain to anchor out most anywhere.

Anchor windless

Anchor windless

Wind, Solar, Radar and Dinghy on the Arch

Wind, Solar, Radar and Dinghy on the Arch

wind, solar and radar

wind, solar and radar

The stern arch carries not only the gps antennae, the solar panels and wind generator, but the dinghy (a 10 foot Avon hard bottom) with a 9.9 Yamaha two stroke outboard as well.  There is an awesome swim platform off the stern, which makes access so much better for both Beth and I, but especially me with my gimp leg.  She has a 20,000 btu air conditioning and heating unit, Lavac electric toilets.  So….one would think that with all of these appointments, that we should be able to just sail away so to speak.  Well, it doesn’t quite work like that.  I ordered Racor diesel filters with a vacuum gauge today which should hopefully be installed on Friday of this week.  We have also ordered the new enclosure, a Xantrex 3000 power invertor with a built in 150 amp 3 stage battery charger, the invertor converts the battery power to 110 type power.  We replaced the worn out water pump, and ordered a spare today as well, and a spare electric poop pump…..once we do get out cruising, parts are not always easily found.  I will also be ordering a spare alternator for the Yanmar engine, and a few other bits and pieces.

Tony insaling the "glass" on the dodger

Tony insaling the “glass” on the dodger

The point of all this is….when someone tells you that you will spend another 30% of your purchase priced getting your boat ready for you…they are telling you the truth.  It will run pretty close to that.  It really is not much different from purchasing a new home and installing hardware floors, updating the kitchen and bathroom, or paving the driveway.   Really, a small price to pay for sunshine and warm weather.

Being in the sunshine and warm weather does not exempt you from illness.  I have been fighting a losing battle, so far at least, with a miserable chest cold.  It is very similar to the one I had this past January….the one where Beth and her sister Cheryl had to finally perform an exorcism to rid me of it…not saying they are witches or anything like that…but my cold was gone the next day<grin>

We are fortunate to have our car with us, it makes restocking the frige and obtaining parts needed right away so much easier.  We will probably be purchasing bicycles when we become official cruisers, then we can pedal our asses all over the towns we will be visiting.

A fella asked me yesterday what I miss most while being on the boat…I had to say that family functions would be the number one issue.  Although with today’s technology we are a phone call or e-mail away, attending the family functions is number one, getting together with our friends, whether hauling out a boat, enjoying a quiet dinner or night on town would be next.  After that, I’m not sure….he said he was contemplating purchasing a sailboat and heading out.  My response was don’t wait, do it now.  Life is too short to wait, and can throw some twists and turns at you when you least expect them…so do it, and do it now.  Don’t wait, we’re having way too much fun.

Keep your stick on the ice.