Sep 5, 201204:25 PM
Swing Set: Cruising Full Time
Orange Beach, Alabama
It has rained pretty steadily since we arrived in Orange Beach two days ago. A "remnant" of Hurricane Isaac is hanging around just off the Gulf Coast and is not only giving us lots of rain, it's threatening to develop into a tropical storm.
This is the view from our anchorage in Ingram Bayou looking to the south, to Gulf Shores and the coast, which is over the key. On our first night in here, a nice breeze blew the whole time and we didn't turn on the air conditioning. The wind generators were validating themselves, and we were making power. The land is flat here, and the wind isn't blocked by trees, but if we wanted a little more wind protection for some reason, this bayou winds back some to the north.
I spent the first part of the day on Tuesday arranging the shipment of new end caps for our swim platform rub rail. I'm getting two, so I have a spare as there are four of them on the boat. I called Morgan at MarineMax at Lake of the Ozarks. and he found the caps for me in Miami. He offered to have them shipped to us, but I still didn't have an address to have them sent to. This could be made into a long story, but not too interesting, so let me just give you a synopsis: After spending a couple of hours on the phone to several different marinas, etc., Sportsman's Marina in Orange Beach ordered the end caps for us from the MarineMax in Miami and also ordered two new air filters for our Walker Airseps. Nancy is the parts manager at Sportsman's, and she has been very helpful in facilitating everything.
Once all of that was settled, I got an email from a blog reader in Panama City offering any assistance we may need when we pass through that area. Had it been just a few hours earlier, we could have had our parts shipped there and we wouldn't have to wait here until the parts come, either on Friday or even Monday. That's how things go sometimes.
The fella in Panama City is an AGLCA harbor host and offered the use of his dock and transportation to get "beer and bread." I know he's been reading the blog because he knows what we run out of most. The offer is much appreciated, and we'll take him up on it.
The breeze died on us on Tuesday evening, so we had to fire up the generator and turn on the air conditioning. We get several TV stations here, and after watching the news, we turned on America's Got Talent. After watching the show nearly to the end, I am not so sure what America has, but the talent isn't on that show.
It rained hard all night, but hardly no wind came with it. I got up early and started looking around at what was in the area as far as marine supplies, as I still need to find another anchor. A West Marine is just south of our anchorage and is close enough to walk to once we get to a place to dock. I called them when they opened and found out they carried a 13-pound "traditional anchor," one I believed would fit our chocks on the deck.
After breakfast, we pulled up the bow anchor with some difficulty, as the muck here on the bottom gives a good hold. (We'll appreciate that if Isaac does something rash in a couple of days.) We took Swing Set over to dock near the West Marine, but as I had suspected, the water is too shallow for the big boat, so we anchored and dropped the dinghy. Rosie stayed behind to keep an eye in things, and I motored over to some condo docks just a few hundred yards away and tied up. The West Marine was very close by, and I bought an anchor and a couple of other things. I told the sales person I was pretty sure the anchor would fit our chocks, but I would return the anchor if it didn't. He said it would be OK as long as we didn't put the anchor in the water. I admitted there was little need to do that, as I was pretty sure the anchor would sink. I just wanted to fit it to the chocks on our deck.
I met a condo resident on my way back to the boat, and we had a nice chat. He gave me some local knowledge and told me if we needed to tie up again, to just tell anyone who questioned us that "Bill said it was OK." I don't need much more referral than that.
When I got back to the boat, Rosie grabbed the painter for the dinghy and tied it up as I stepped out and headed directly for the bow. The anchor did not fit, in spite of me having measured both the chocks and the anchor. I gave myself too much wiggle room in the measurement, and I ran out of wiggle. Back to West Marine, I went and returned the anchor. I won't do that again. I'll find an anchor somewhere I can walk out to the boat and fit it right there before I buy it. Count on it.
We wanted to explore a little and do some reconnaissance, so we headed toward Perdido Bay and made a right, just skirting the Florida border.
Here we're headed for Perdido Pass to go out into the Gulf of Mexico, but as you near the bridge, we made another right and headed up a channel to Sportsman's Marina and Orange Beach Marina. Sportsman's is a gigantic place, not just a little hole in the wall, but we didn't stop in. We made our way through another small channel to Orange Beach Marina and considered eating at one of the two restaurants they advertise. I must say the boats at Orange Beach were impressive. There are mostly covered slips, and most of the boats were in pristine condition. I spied a couple of Hinckleys and several Viking sportfishermen that were just plain beautiful. The restaurant there that we could see from the harbor was Calico Joes, and even though it was after 12:30, we could only see one pair of diners, plus someone was running a circular saw and the only view is of the harbor, so we kept on.
I checked "Waterfront Dining" on my Navionics app and found a Tacky Jack's right around the corner. The chart advertised very shallow water, but there is a marina next to it, so I figured the water there had to be deep at their docks, and it was. Tacky Jacks had a full lunch crowd, but we got a high top at the railing and had a view of Bayou St. John and Swing Set. Rosie ordered shrimp tacos, and I got fish tacos. They were OK, but nothing to rave about, especially at $11 for three tacos and a pile of underdone tortilla chips. At least the Bud Light was cold.
Rosie took this when she went back to the boat to get a RiverBills.com sticker. That's me in the blue T-shirt. By the way, we don't buy T-shirts at tourist traps; T-shirts are something you get for free, and we have enough of them to last a lifetime.
By the time we got ready to leave, the place was thinning out. We learned later that happy hour runs from 2 to 6 p.m. Had we known, we may have went later. Above our heads is the RiverBills.com sticker. We hope lots of our friends stopping at Tacky Jacks will remember us when they see it.
We decided to head out into the Gulf of Mexico and see how it was. Well, there were some large swells rolling in from the southwest, and I still have too much fuel and water weight to get Swing Set riding higher on the waves. After "ringing the bell" a couple of times, we headed back in. One thing we'll have to do before making a gulf crossing is secure the dinghy better. I didn't like how it was bobbing around on the davits.
After passing back under the bridge, we made another right turn and checked out the route to Flora Bama to see if we could get Swing Set under the bridge on the "Old River" that runs on the back side of Perdido Key and past the Flora Bama. I don't think we can fit under it, plus the water there gets pretty skinny. We may anchor in the Bayou and take the dinghy in when we go there, probably over the weekend.
We also checked out the Pirates Cove restaurant on our way back to our anchorage in Ingram Bayou. It looked very interesting, and we are planning on going there on Friday. We'll go later in the day, perhaps at happy hour, and we can take Holly too. It looks like a real laid back place with sand all around it right close to the water.
Rosie and I agree that the best meals we've had on this trip are the ones we have made on the boat, and we are generally disappointed when we visit restaurants. But going out to eat is part of the fun, and we can meet people, which is also part of the fun. So we do it, but we hope our friends don't get disappointed when we don't visit every restaurant or bar they recommend.
I just have one question: Who is the old fart standing next to Rosie in the above picture?