Friday, January 20, 2012

Biloxi to Gulf Shores Alabama, Home Port Marina

Here a ship far away ask us to wait to cross the Mobile Ship channel.

Mobile Bay ends and the entrance to the Real Cruising begins. You can see the entrance to the ICW Land Cut to Gulf Shores Alabama ahead.

There were a lot of very healthy looking Kingfishers along the ICW from Mobile bay to Homeport Marina.

As you approach Homeport Marina the 1st thing you see is LuLu's restaurant, a hang out for Jimmy Buffet. The entrance to the marina is just as you come up on LuLu's, it is best to drive by and take a look in before entering.

this was taken from the back of the Marina looking across towards the twin bridges you go under at the ICW.

WS found a 1 night stand here.

LuLu's has some big shrimp hanging around.

I am sure this structure is full of interesting creatures in warmer weather.

A great Blue Heron owns the dock.

This is looking straight out the fairway to the ICW. Gotta blow your horn when exiting to make sure any traffic on the ICW knows someone is coming out to join the party!

Day, 52
Underway 9:51 hrs, 66 Nm., Avg speed 6.7Kts. , 28-50 degrees,Sunny 0-10 NE winds. Seas Flat.

I was up at 0515 to make sure we departed no later than 0630. This was going to be our longest trip to date and across Mobile Bay that is reported to be more than boisterous at times and with lots of ship traffic. The Admiral was not quite ready to do without electricity when I wanted to start the engine so I disconnected the shore power, started the engine and threw the switches for the Seapower unit. It was 28 degrees but the heaters were still running below. The winds were light and out of the west so I simply tossed off the lines, floated back out of the slip and we were gone at 0630, the Admiral still below getting things sorted out. I immediately ran her up to 2000 rpm...we needed to do 6.5 kts. average to get to Homeport Marina before dark. I was sure we could put some sail out for part of this trip & I had the lines prepared. Again we were able to get out of the ICW for large portions of this trip to take a more direct route. Where were the forecasted 5-10 mph winds? There was just a ripple on the water, but at least we were keeping our speed up. We got to the Mobile ship channel and a Tow ahead of us just stopped. I called on the VHF for permission to pass on the 2 and he said come ahead. As we passed him I saw why he had stopped, a large ship was inbound on the ship channel. No problem, we should have plenty of time to cross with no problem but as I neared the channel the ship hailed us and asked us if we planned to turn at the channel, I replied that we intended to cross but if he wanted us to hold up we would be glad to. He said he would like us to hold up as he was traveling faster than it might appear to us. Even though I felt we had plenty of time to cross safely I immediately agreed and told the ship we hold up and wait for him to pass. This is always the best course of action. It is extremely bad karma to go against the directions of a bigger ship. Even if we could have passed safely it would have caused the ship to take possible evasive action and created lots of ill well among everyone in the vicinity of Mobile Bay. You would not wish that on any mariner. Besides you get to watch the dolphins ride the bow wave on the ship as they go by. Now we resume our Mobile Bay crossing, even though the water is flat, there are the swells coming in from the Gulf. I would feel the effects of those swells all night. It is very strange to go hundreds of miles and not be bothered a bit to crossing 1 bay and have the effects of the water hit you like a newbie.

It is very clear where Mobile Bay ends and The ICW begins again through the land cut as you near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Our friend Kevin told us to not throw in the towel till you get past Mobile Bay. He was absolutely correct. This is where the real cruising begins. The scenery took a giant leap forward. No more industrial areas, just beautiful water ways. Besides the usual shore birds you would expect there were lots of very healthy looking Kingfishers all over the place. I slowed the RPM down a bit since we had made good time and I wanted us to enjoy this part of the trip. Lots of private homes on both sides + Several condos with their own marinas.

We soon approached the twin fixed bridges that marks the entrance to the Marina at Homeport and LuLu's restaurant. I decided to drive past the entrance since it is a narrow channel but after a quick look in I decided we could go ahead and enter, I turned in the middle of the channel but I noticed we continue to move toward the rock embankment on the Starboard side of the channel, Wow, the current in the ICW was stronger than I thought, I upped the RPM to counter and moved back to the center of the channel. It was not to hard to find our assigned slip since all the docks and slips are marked well. We arrived after the marina office closed so we were on our on to get in. Fortunately the marina is extremely well built and there is complete protection from any influence of wind so getting into your slip is a cakewalk.

We of course were going to take full advantage of LuLu's where she serves Cheeseburgers in Paradise. Jimmy buffets song. The meat is all grass fed beef so even the Admiral was game. We had a great dinner with some good ole Alabama live music and a great nights sleep. Tomorrow would be a relatively short hop down the ICW to Pensacola. Click on the title of this blog for a link to Homeport Marina.

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