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Swing Set

Sep 10, 201204:26 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Still in Orange Beach

(page 3 of 3)

Not 40 minutes later, we got back to the boat and my heart sank. Swing Set had turned into what was now a westerly wind, and the stern was up against the beach. When we pulled up the dinghy, I found the swim ladder dug into the sand and the props were also stuck nearly up to the hubs. Now, I've been asked why I wear a watch when I'm retired. Here is one reason: I knew the tide was going out until 2 p.m. I looked at my watch to see if the tide was still going out or coming in and learned that it was indeed still going out, which meant that time was of the essence. I put the dinghy on the beach along with Rosie and Holly and went to the helm to attempt to kedge the boat off the steep beach by reeling in the anchor windlass. I was having no luck with that approach, so I got behind the boat again and was about to enlist some help from some fellas nearby when another guy came over and offered some much appreciated assistance. Like I had said, the beach was steep where the boat was making contact, so even though the props were in the sand, there wasn't much sand standing in the way ahead of the props, so with little effort, and the help of the wake from a passing boat, Swing Set drifted free; however, there was no way I was going to get it off on my own. The helpful boater ran away before I could kiss him.

Rosie brought the dinghy back over to the boat after I moved away from the beach and set the hook again. My mistake had been leaving out too much scope, a mistake that I won't make again if I can help it. We, naturally celebrated by popping a few cold ones. Did you expect anything different? Later on, two women from one of the boats on the beach swam out to visit, and we learned of some more restaurants and bars to go to. This blog should perhaps be about bar-hopping as opposed to cruising and living aboard a boat. Robin and Beverly were very nice, but it was evident that they had visited a few bars already that day, and I watched carefully when they decided to swim back to the beach. Beverly made us promise to call her on Monday, so she could drive us "anywhere we wanted to go," as she was lonely and needed something to do. I told her that if she behaved herself, we just might let her help us out.

A front started rolling in from the northwest, and the wind was kicking up. Although we didn't really like our food the other day from Tacky Jack's, we decided to motor over there, as we could see the dock from where we were and I could see that it was empty out where I would park. By the time we got over there, a steady rain was falling. We took our time tying up and putting on some clothes before climbing up the steps to the restaurant, where we got two quick seats at the bar.

We met some great folks sitting next to us that lived in Mobile and had a weekend condo here in Orange Beach. They were in a group, and we all shared some funny stories. They knew of Bobby's Fish Camp and really got a kick out of the story about Harry and Linda coming to visit, the part about asking a police detainee the directions to Bobby's.

Things were going well until Rosie decided that she wanted to try a Bushwhacker, a popular drink here in the south. A Bushwhacker is mostly 151 rum with a splash of ice cream in it. As the saying goes, if baby wants her bush whacked, baby gets her bush whacked. Here is a good place to tell about the time we were at Lake of the Ozarks years ago and Rosie ordered a drink called a Mind Eraser. Someone later asked her how it was, and she just said, "It works." Well, the Bushwhacker worked, too, and I soon learned that, "Mike, I have to go to the boat." This was just after we had ordered a monstrous order of nachos called Mexican Trash. It's enough to feed five or six people, and we took most of it back to the boat with us. We know that nachos don't travel well, but if my dad taught me anything, it was to not waste food.

Rosie "took a nap" while Holly and I sat in the cockpit and watched the Mizzou/Georgia football game on the big screen at the bar. Even though I couldn't hear it, and could barely see it, I could tell that Mizzou was getting their lunch handed to them. Welcome to the SEC. We stayed at the dock for the night since no one was around to say we couldn't. I woke just before sunrise and prepared to cast off. Rosie got up and helped, and we idled over to Robinson's Island and set our hook. The sun was a big red ball just coming over the horizon, as we had a good breakfast of Spam and eggs on a welcome cool morning.

I had been contemplating the tie-down system on the dinghy since our brief trip out into the rough water of the Gulf of Mexico and decided to change it. Instead of running straps down from the dinghy, I changed it to where a strap at the outside rear corner runs down around the bottom on the dinghy forward and then up to the davit. The same strap we used to use on the bow of the dinghy runs toward the back and also up to the davit, which, when tight, pulls the dinghy up on the starboard side  to where it gets pulled snug against the davit. I placed the fenders from the dinghy between the davits and the dinghy to prevent the davit from rubbing the dinghy, and also it puts the dinghy in a more level position. We'll try this out for a while. So far, we think we'll like it, because it frees up the space under the dinghy and we can use the swim ladder and platform easier now.

I am also going to quit using the stand-off rods that attach to the dinghy by clipping onto two glued-on mounts on the side of the dinghy. The mounts keep wanting to come unglued, and the rods are in the way when accessing the area between the dinghy and the boat. Once I determine the success of this change, I'll probably go ahead and take the rods off the boat and the mounts off of the dinghy. Why is all this of interest to anyone, I'm wondering? The point I want to make is that I've been strapping down the dinghy the same way for two years, but this doesn't mean it's been the right way to do it. Sometimes, change is necessary, and I've never been comfortable with the phrase, "Yes, but we've been doing it this way for years."

After a little waxing on the boat, Rosie and I took Holly in the dinghy over to the beach for a walk, keeping a close eye on the boat. Mostly keeping a close eye on the boat, because there were a few bikini sitings that required thorough examination. Once we returned, we just people-watched for the rest of the afternoon, taking a dip once in a while. We had two guys in a boat come up to ask about our obvious travels, as they saw our AGLCA burgee. We also had another young man swim over to ask if we had jumper cables for his 26-year-old WaveRunner, a WaveRunner we had earlier watched him and his friends tow over to the beach with their boat. We gave away our device for performing such work back on Kentucky Lake, so we couldn't help the guy. He left with the others in the boat, and the last time I saw the WaveRunner it was up on the beach. At 2:30 a.m., it was gone. I hope he came back to get it and the tide didn't take it.

The beach started clearing out, and we fired up the generator to bake the leftover nachos from Tacky Jacks, first removing any sour cream or guacamole. The tortilla chips got nice and crispy, and they were as good as the night before, maybe better. We watched 60 Minutes and some Sunday Night Football. It was nice to see Peyton Manning on the field again. We both fell asleep but woke up when the inverter kicked out and the TV went off. We went to bed, and with a nice breeze blowing, the wind generators were making power and the TV came back on at about 2:30 in the morning and again woke us up, like when the TV comes on for no reason in one of the those low-budget horror movies. I checked our position again and confirmed that we had not drifted any. Then, it was back to bed.

With the hatches open and a cool breeze blowing in, we are now needing covers, as the temperatures at night have been in the 60s. Nice, very nice indeed.

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