Swing Set

Sep 10, 201204:26 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Still in Orange Beach

Last Friday, we pulled up stakes in Ingram Bayou and went in search of a relatively shallow spot in order to clean the waterline stain on Swing Set and throw some wax on it. I could have picked a better spot due to the amount of passing traffic, but the bottom was sandy and had little slope, so I could walk around the whole boat without drowning myself.

Nancy over at Sportsman's Marina called and said that the end caps for our rub rail were in, but the air filters weren't in yet. I told her that either way, we'd pick up the end caps at the gas dock the next morning and would check back on the filters. At a minimum, we will be in the area for a week waiting to get these small purchases delivered. This type of effort will certainly reduce impulse buying on our part. How many people just "go shopping" to buy stuff they already have or don't need? Lots.

By late afternoon, we went over to Pirates Cove and, although they have a nice long dock out front, the wind was really kicking up and I didn't want to be sitting broadside against the pilings, getting the boat bashed in the process. We made our way through the narrow cut into a small bayou just north of the small marina that comprises Pirates Cove. There was a spot at an end dock that had just enough room for us to squeeze into right in front of a sailboat, so we slid Swing Set in and tied up.

It was 3 p.m. when we entered the covered deck and grabbed a small high-top table, and there were just a few patrons around, some outside near us on the deck and some on the small beach. We sat for a while waiting for someone to take our order, and we would be waiting still until we figured out that ordering drinks and food was done at the bar inside. I liked it better already, because then we could order drinks at our own pace rather that have a pushy bartender shoving them at us every time our beers got down to the last few ounces.

After getting our first round of beers, the next order of business was to mount another RiverBills.com sticker in a prominent location. We are getting better at remembering to bring along stickers when we leave the boat. We also are adding Swing Set and the date to each sticker so anyone passing through in the future will know that Kilroy Was Here. The sticker in this picture is right above Rosie's head, a little to the left. As you can tell, Pirates Cove is dog friendly. There had to be at least 10 dogs sauntering around, getting a handout wherever possible. Holly nearly wore out her barker, and we nearly wore out ours telling her to shut hers.

I'm including this picture that Rosie insisted upon taking of me. I want full disclosure here on my choice of clothing when the need arises; some of you may notice that I wear this particular shirt a lot. This is true. When this shirt rots off my back, I'll choose another one to wear. This will be our little secret. The folks at each restaurant or bar don't have to know. It does get an occasional rinsing out. Rosie manages this process.

The inside bartender noticed me putting up another RiverBills sticker and later came out to ask us what "Swing Set" meant, and to find out if I was River Bill as she knew a River Bill, too. I answered the question about Swing Set to her satisfaction and allowed as to how everywhere we go, there is either a Captain Bill or River Bill. We know several of each. We are still looking for a Leiutenant Dan.

Soon after, a local couple came in. Their names were Andy and Bailey, and Bailey just fell in love with Holly. Again, note to self, keep the dog. We obtained a lot of local information from these two, and they were fun to talk to. We learned a lot from them and only wish we could have retained some of the valuable tidbits they were giving us.

We were starting to feel like this dog looked, so we ordered some chicken wings to munch on. You order your food at the bar, but someone in the kitchen brings it out to your table when it's cooked. A girl who brought out the five chicken wings we ordered dropped one and said she would make another, and then a few minutes later arrived at our table with not one wing, but another five, I guess to repay us for the wait. Very nice of her, we thought.

 

It got dark on us, so we went inside to gather around the bar and meet some more folks. Holly laid right on the bar and was quite at home there. She kept getting petted from any woman that would walk by. I swear that had we not kept a close eye on her, someone would have surely snuck off with her. This may have applied to Rosie, as well.

We ordered a pizza to go, as it was close to 10 p.m. Lucia, the bartender, said that we were in someone's dock space, but they weren't due back until Sunday and that we were welcome to stay in it until then. We thought this was great, as I didn't really feel up to finding another anchorage in the dark. We were happy to be able to just go back to the boat, eat some delicious pizza (Lucia's Special; pineapple, mozzarella, feta and pepperoni) and fall asleep.

We woke up at sunrise to rain. We took our trash to the dumpster, filled up our water tank and set out. By the time we made our way over to Sportsmans Marina, they were open and I was able to pick up the end caps for our rub rail. The sky cleared up and was promising to be a delightful day.

After leaving Sportsman's, we took the boat over to anchor in the no wake zone just west of Robinson Island, a popular beach spot for the locals. We got a good hook set on the second try, as the tide was going out and there was a substantial current running. Once we got a good hook, we had a great breakfast and then I set to install our missing end cap.

I was glad I ordered a starboard cap, and a port cap, as I had forgotten which one I had used where when I installed them the first time. I had a hunch that I had installed a starboard cap upside down on the port side, and I was right. I measured the fit about 10 times before I took my coping saw to the precious end cap and cut it. I applied a generous amount of 3M 4200 quick-dry adhesive and tapped the cap into the holes from the old cap. Fit like a glove. Now, we can show ourselves in public once again.

While Rosie was doing some odds and ends, I took the dinghy out in search of another stern anchor. I went to two marinas and struck out. I did get a good tip from the dock master at Sanroc Cay, and when I got back to the boat, I called Orange Beach Auto and Marine and asked if they had any small Danforth type anchors. "What are those?" is the response I got. I said, "You know, a fluke anchor." My hopes were dashed when the answer again was "What is a fluke anchor?" I got real basic with the fella and mentioned an anchor "with them pointy things that stick in the sand" and folks...we had a winner! I even managed to get a measurement, but understandably, I am not too confident on the quality of the information that I had obtained. Orange Beach Auto and Marine is close to West Marine and will require another hike from a tied up dinghy. I think in this case I'll take a pass on what is sure to be a fruitless endeavor. Where do these businesses find employees these days?

Swing Set had not moved for hours; the tide was still going out, and the wind was steady from the north. I felt confident in leaving her for Rosie and I to take a dinghy ride and look around. We took Holly, too, and went to check out an anchorage for us to visit Flora Bama later on.

 

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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