Log #7a Fairhope, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida

December 24, 1998 in Log Series 02 - 07, Logs by Series, Series 07 Gulf Coast, The Logs

Subject: Log #7a Mobile Bay to Pensacola
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999 05:13:08 ‑0500 (EST)

Dec. 27, 1999
Limehouse Basin, London

Hi Folks,

We hope you had a good Christmas and that you are ready for the Millennium. We wish you all the best for the New Year.

I am using this (for us anyways) quiet period to get caught up on my logs. I have yet to finish our trip through the Great Lakes, this leg across the southern coast of the U.S., the Florida Keys to Key West and the Dry Tortugas, and the first part of our winter in the Bahamas. So I am using this time to catch up. You hopefully will be getting several logs over the next week or so, addressed to our old mailing list, until we complete our new one the end of January. Remember if you would like to stay on our new list or get added to it, send me an E‑mail before then so I can be sure I have your current address.

This log starts after we were in Fairhope, Alabama, on Mobile Bay. We stayed at Fairhope Yacht Club for a very economical rate. While there we drove out to the Seven Seas Cruising Association Rendezvous way over in Melbourne Florida, on the east coast just north of Cape Canaveral. While there we bought 200 feet of chain for our bow anchor at a good price from West Marine, and a used PUR Power Survivor 35 Watermaker from a Canadian boat that was moving up to a larger model for their onboard washing machine. We have no such luxury and this model did quite well for us all through the Bahamas and across the Atlantic. Another boater gave me the rather complicated directions to the marina for the Pensacola Air Station, and a few other good anchorages on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Here is our log upon departure from Fairhope.  I won’t be able to send it until Dec. 29 as the CA office will not be open until then. Enjoy.


Written at Limehouse Basin, London
Dec. 24/99

Log #7a Fairhope, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida

Covers the period Oct. 9 to Nov. 23, 1998

At last, I am starting to get caught up on my older, till now unwritten, logs. My last Log #6i before this series ended the trip down the Illinois, and Mississippi Rivers and up the Ohio River to go down the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway to Fairhope in Mobile Bay  This will start the Log #7 series covering our travels last November (1998)  from Mobile Bay, along the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway which stretches from Texas across the south coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle to Carabelle on Apalachee Bay. We went the intracoastal route as opposed to sailing diagonally across the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Keys, as we were informed the Gulf could be quite rough this time of year and we wanted to see this part of the U.S.A.

One can go over 900 miles, from the U.S. border with Mexico right across to Carabelle, in this protected waterway with the mast up. It is well dredged and marked, as it supports a considerable amount of barge traffic, in addition to all the ocean going ships entering the major port areas around Corpus Christi, Galveston, New Orleans and the Mississippi River and its delta area, Mobile Bay and the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway which we came down, Pensacola, and Panama City, as well as several fishing and resort communities such as Destin, and Apalachicola.

We stayed at Fairhope Yacht Club in Mobile Bay for two weeks after exiting the enjoyable Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway at Mobile, Alabama. In addition to travelling all the way out to Melbourne, Florida, on the east coast to a Seven Seas Cruising Association Rendezvous, and to New Orleans, we drove around the Gulf Coast east of Mobile Bay along what they call the Sunshine Coast resort and condominium area. One area was still digging out from a major hurricane which washed sand well up into the coast condos and streets. I also had to stop and have my picture taken in an Alabama cotton field.

The opening to Mobile Bay from the Gulf of Mexico is relatively narrow, less than a mile across, and during the Civil War the Confederate forces had Fort Morgan on the east bank and Fort Gaines on the west controlling the entrance. We toured Fort Morgan and saw the terrible punishment it took as the Union Navy pounded it before making the dash through into Mobile Bay in 1864. It was during this naval engagement that Admiral Farragut of the Union forces is reported to have said, while lashed in the rigging of his flagship, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” Incidentally, the torpedoes were not torpedoes as we understand them; this was the term used at the time for mines, which were laid at the entrance. He wanted his line of battle to plough right through, and not stop for fear of these mines and risk being destroyed by the remaining shore batteries and the Confederate ships waiting inside the bay. The Northern forces won this Battle of Mobile Bay, thus allowing them to dominate the bay and cut off the cotton trade from the South, a major financial support for the South’s war effort. Interesting!

We left Fairhope Yacht Club at 1030 on November 23, and for the first time since coming down Lake Michigan on September 21, we were under sail only, proceeding down to the mouth of Mobile Bay. Remember, we took the mast down in Chicago on September 27, put it back up in St. Louis on October 8, but still had to motor all the way down to Mobile Bay, with the exception of a bit of motor sailing on the Ohio River and the Kentucky Lakes. However, we were not under sail alone again until we exited the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at Apalachicola and got into the West Coast Intracoastal Waterway in December. All in all, we did a fantastic amount of motoring and motorsailing through the waterways, from Chicago at the end of September until we got down to the Florida Keys in January.

Also as we were sailing down the bay, we saw a couple of dolphins, but they kept their distance. At 1445 we turned left and entered the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway, heading east from marker #17. We anchored half an hour after sunset in pleasant, open Iguana Bay, which we had to ourselves, at Latitude 30 18.85 N, Longitude 087 33.26 W. Along this Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway we had no problem finding good and free anchorages. The next day we were to leave for Pensacola Naval Air Station marina, at which I as a former Canadian Navy officer would be able to stay, if I could find it up Pensacola Bay. More about this in my next log.