Swing Set

Sep 12, 201201:45 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Orange Beach to Destin, Florida

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I called Nancy over at Sportsman Marina on Monday morning and got the bad news that the air filters were not ordered last Tuesday, but Middleton Marina fouled up and didn't order them until Thursday. Middleton Marina is a local Walker Airsep dealer, and the filters had to be ordered through them. UPS tracking had them scheduled to arrive early the next morning, so all we could do is spend another night in Orange Beach.

There is a lesson to be learned here. It was a lesson already known by me, but I didn't follow my own rules. The lesson is to order anything yourself; don't rely on anyone else to do it. In the future, we will follow our rules and order items and have them shipped somewhere we are going to be later on. The trick is to find someone to accept the items, and that is not a hard trick. The other thing is that we can track the shipment that way and also know what the item is going to cost going in. More on that later.

There was not a whole lot of wind on Monday, so we took a run offshore, past the three-mile limit. Once we got past the dirtier river water coming out with the tide, the water was a deep blue and very clear. I jumped in for a picture, but the look on my face said, "Quit fussing with the camera and take the damn picture already," so I'm not posting it. It's a look I commonly have on my face when Rosie is operating the camera.

We went back in through Perdido Pass and anchored back near Robinson Island. This big catamaran pulled up, and all the tourists got out and paddled around in kayaks and standup paddle boards. You could just tell that the tour boat operator just wanted to get the whole thing over with. But these are things that tourists do. We refuse to be labeled as tourists and will attempt to avoid the tourist traps, but we failed at that on Monday night.

If anyone recognizes Flora Bama Package and Liquor, here's Rosie posing inside under another RiverBills.com sticker, just above her and to the right. We figured that since we had to stay over another night we would go there to see what all the fuss is about. We thought they might have a good crowd for Monday Night Football.

We had avoided going to Flora Bama earlier because the route there by water was iffy for Swing Set, and after our near beaching of our boat previously, we didn't feel comfortable leaving it on the hook and taking the dinghy. I noticed on the chart that Flora Bama was accessible from the east end of Ono Island, so we went all the way around and approached it from that direction. I had called Happy Harbor, a marina of sorts, just across the street from Flora Bama, and got permission to park our boat there to visit the bar. We tied the boat to the end of a pier and walked across the street and noticed quite a few cars in one of the many parking lots and thought there may indeed be a few patrons out on a Monday night.

Well, if they had a big crowd, you wouldn't have known it, because the place is so huge any customers in there were all spread out and every nook and cranny had a smattering of folks nursing a beer or two. We had two beers and an order of chicken wings and decided that we'd have more fun on the boat. On our way back across the street, we popped into a package liquor store and bought a case of good old Busch beer and stowed it in the fridge when we got back to the boat and proceeded to put a dent in it.

The sun was heading down when we pulled out of Happy Harbor, and I decided to go directly back west on the Old River instead of going all the way around Ono Island, back the way we had come. We inched along real slowly with a keen eye on the depth gauge. I had obtained some local knowledge of how to navigate this section of the river, but still my Navionics App on the iPad came through with flying colors. The clearance of the bridge we had to go under was another questionable issue, but our chart advertised 24 feet vertical and the tide was going out. After we went through, Rosie claimed that we had "about another 15 feet" before we ran out of room. Folks, please believe me when I tell you that I had little faith in that particular tidbit of information.

We got safely back in Terry Cove and anchored near Sportsman Marina for an early visit on Tuesday morning. We were out of the tidal current and settled in for some TV and then a quiet night.

I called Nancy at Sportsman again on Tuesday morning after waiting a fair amount of time for her to get her day started. Our filters were in, and she was just waiting for an invoice to be faxed from Middleton Marina, so we headed over to the fuel dock. When I got to Nancy's office, she was still waiting for the fax, so she called Middleton. While we waited together, we talked a bit until we heard the "beep boop beep beep boop" of the fax machine. I got a look at the invoice and saw a total price that about knocked my socks off had I been wearing any. I quickly noticed the price per filter, and it was about 50-percent higher than what I knew the list price to be of those filters. Add the shipping and the 10-percent sales tax that the nice folks in Orange Beach charge everybody, and the result was a gouging I had not experienced in a long time.

I mentioned the cost per filter to Nancy, and she said she questioned it, too, but was told that it was "what they cost." I determined her to be not entirely at fault, but if you remember, I did ask her to find out a cost before ordering anything...and she didn't. Note my opening statement, your honor.

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