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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011. The End of Our Trip, and a Few Notes

Sunrise from the Barber Marina deck. Glenda and Abby slept through this!

The night was peaceful and quiet at Barber Marina and we slept great. I got up about 6:00 and watched the sun come up and a dolpin play in front of the marina. Glenda and Abby slept in.

At the marina, we met a couple from Tuscaloosa and thier 9 year old daughter. They had chartered a 33' sailboat and had spent the last few days sailing in Alabama and Florida. They offered some TheraFlu for Glenda's cold, which was greatly appreciated.

We also met Tim and Pamela Pennington, who live on their BEAUTIFUL home-built sailboat the "Pamela Ann". They spent 10 years building thier boat and have been living aboard her for 10 years. They told me of plans to transit the Panama Canal next winter and then go up the West coast to Alaska. Tim said they are working on a book of their travels and he hopes to get it published. After talking with them for just a few minutes, I can't wait to read their book!

"Pamela Ann", built by owners Tim and Pamela Pennington.

We pulled out of Barber Marina this morning at 9:00, and made the short trip to the boat ramp under the Hwy. 59 bridge in Gulf Shores. There we pulled the boat out onto her trailer and ended this little adventure.

We love seeing the osprey's. This one didn't seem to care that we got prettly clost to him.

Here are some figures for the trip:

Time:                 Five days, four nights
Total Mileage:   154
Avg. MPG:       11.18 (This is slightly lower than the 13.2 mpg I got previously. On this trip we ran about   
                         1/2 mph faster. On the next tank of gas, I will run slower, about 5.5 mph, and see how
                         much difference there is).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15, 2011. Our trip gets extended, and Abby goes on a Dinosaur Hunt!

We were worried last night after hearing that the storms were severe in Mississippi, but everything went North of us, and all we got was a pretty stiff wind all night long. I had to get up several times to check the dock ropes on the boat, since a falling tide and the wind shifts made us start bumping into the dock pilings off and on. Nothing severe, just enough to wake me up with the "thump ......... thump ........... thump".

We took Daisy for her morning walk, filled the ice chest with (free!) ice from the marina, and left headed West for what was supposed to be our last day on the boat.

As we turned to go under the bridge at the marina, one tug/barge was Westbound under the bridge and another was waiting on the other side to come through. When he radioed that he was going under the bridge, I asked if I had time to get through before he got there. The captain assured me that I did, and after clearing the bridge we followed alongside the first tug for a mile or so before turning NW into Pensacola Bay.

These two tugs and the Knot-So-Fast met at the Pensacola Bay Bridge.

My cousin works for the Pensacola Parks Dept., and we decided to take the detour to pay her a visit. Aside from my first going to the wrong pier and ending up in 2' of water (scary), we had a good visit.

By mid-morning Abby was voicing her desire to spend another night on the boat. Glenda was thinking that her head cold might be more tolerable in a real bed that didn't sway and go thump in the night, but a grand-daughter who wants to spend time with you is hard to resist. Glenda agreed to one more night on the boat.

Abby is happy as long as she has a book and Daisy!

We stopped for lunch at the Oyster House and Restaurant, which is near the AL/FL border and right on the ICW. The food was fantastic here. Abby had fish (as always), I had fish and shrimp, and Glenda had salmon. We ate on the porch overlooking the ICW -- great food, great weather, great view ... It doesn't get much better than that!

the Oyster House and Restaurant at the AL -FL line
As we entered Alabama, we started seeing some familiar sights such as the "Cold Mill" fleet of Dolphin Cruise boats. We discussed anchoring in Ingram's Bayou, but when we stopped for gas at Barber Marina, the price of $20 for a nights dockage which included showers, was too good to pass up.

Barbor's Marina is a beautiful facility, clean and quiet, but a little out of the way if you don't have access to a car. But since we'd has such a great lunch that really wasn't an issue. Cold sandwiches were fine for supper.

Of course you can't go to Barber Marina without searching the woods for midieval knights and dinosaurs. Abby caught a dinosaur and made friends with a couple of knights and a giant seahorse.

Abby and the Giant Seahorse at Barber Marina

We met lots of interesting people!
The woods around Barber Marina are full of surprises!
The Knot-So-Fast looks a little small next to some of the other boats. It looked much bigger when it was in our basement!
As I type this, Abby and Glenda have finished showering and have headed back to the boat. We should sleep well tonight as the floating docks here are easier to manage and quieter. Tomorrow we will motor back to Gulf Shores and pull the Knot-So-Fast back onto her trailer until the next adventure.

We hope you've enjoyed reading about our little tugboat trips, and until next time, God Bless.

Tom, Glenda, Abby and Daisy

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011 - Back to Santa Rosa Yacht Club in Gulf Breeze, FL

The Landing, a Ft. Walton city park where we docked Sunday night.
We all slept late this morning, and didn't stir until 7:00 am. A tow boat and barge came through about 3:00am and woke me, but was gone by the time I got up to see why the boat was rocking. It was a quiet and peaceful night.

We walked Daisy this morning and Glenda spotted what she thought was a big fish or dolphin headed for the pier, making a wake from underwater. As we all walked to the end of the pier to see it, the little otter popped his head up and looked at us. We watched as he moved from one pier to the other, coming up to look around every minute or so. At one point he stopped to harrass a duck swimming near the pier.

We pulled out just before 9:00 this morning and took a quick look at the Hwy 98 (Miracle Strip) Bridge before turning back West toward Pensacola.

Hwy 98 Bridge over the ICW

I realized that with our late start we wouldn't be in the Pensacola area for lunch as we origianlly planned. I called the Navarre Beach Chamber and got directions to "Sailor's Grill" at the lower west side of the Navarre Beach Bridge. This was sort of a "Jimmy Buffet" style beach grill. Other than the fact that they don't serve sweet tea, the meal there was pretty good.

Knot-So-Fast at the "Sailor's Grill"

Two Shrimp Boats passed us about 2:00. You can see the sound was getting choppy.

After we were out of the Navarre Beach area, we were pretty much all alone again in the Santa Rosa Sound until we got almost to the bridge at Gulf Breeze. After lunch the wind picked up again and the last 2 1/2 hours was a little rough.

Today we only saw one dolphin, who came up beside the boat to take a look at us. We had expected to see a lot more.

ParaSailers at Gulf Breeze

Dinner tonight was leftover chicken and PB&J sandwiches!

Abby playing at the Santa Rosa marina.

This is our home for tonight, Santa Rosa Yacht Club in Gulf Breeze.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13, 2011 - Gulf Breeze to Ft. Walton

This was one of only a few other boats on the Sound this morning.
 We left Gulf Breeze at about 8:00 this morning, headed East toward Ft. Walton. The water was dead calm and the sky was clear blue, and we had Santa Rosa Sound almost to ourselves most of the day. We passed a tug pushing barges early in the morning, and then only saw two or three other boats until around noon.

Bridge to the beach. The old (lower) bridge sections are now fishing piers.

Abby got a lot of "wheel" time. She's becoming a pretty good Captain.
Glenda is still fighting a virus or head cold, and took to the V-berth several times today to nap. Abby took the wheel for 2 watches of about an hour each, and really did great. She even took us under the Navarre Beach Bridge. I was standing by her side, but I didn't have to pitch in to help at all!!!

We saw several nests of Ospreys today, and although we never saw any chicks, the mom and dad ospreys looked like they were attending to babies, by thier actions at the nests.

We also saw several dolphin, and had a couple of them follow alongside the boat for a short distance.

Abby and I took a break while Glenda was at the wheel.

Abby "posing" with Daisy.
We are staying tonight at the "Landing", a city park in Ft. Walton. I had called ahead and gotten permission to dock overnight here. The park is really great and within walking distance of several restaurants and a Publix. We got here in time to visit the children's science museum, which was a little dated but still lots of fun.

Abby and I walked to Publix and got a bucket of chicken and we had a picnic. Everyone want to know about the boat and our trip, and it's really fun to see the children get excited when they see the little tug. (Glenda says that's cause I'm still a kid at heart.)

The Landing park was great, and docking was free with prior approval!

The rain forcast has been moved to Tuesday, so we'll head back West in the morning and stay somewhere near Pensacola again.

Abby and a rare giant "Park Pelican".

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 12, 2011 --- Knot-So-Fast gets a taste of saltwater!

Glenda and I, accompanied by grand-daughter Abby (now 9 years old!) and Daisy the dog, put the Knot-So-Fast in the water about 8:30 this morning under the Hwy. 59 bridge in Gulf Shores. We then headed East on the ICW toward Florida. The air was cool, but the sun was bright and skies were clear.

Abby and Daisy relaxing on the back of the tug.

A "real" tug boat pushing 2 barges, the "Stephanie Kennelly" had passed while we were launching, and we caught up to her just before we got to the Wharf at Orange Beach. She was travelling about 5 mph and we were doing 6, but I knew that it would take me forever to pass him, since our top speed is only about 6.5 mph. I worried that if I had to stay behind him, we would be behind shedule by about an hour at the end of the day. I finally decided to call her on the radio, and I explained to the Captain that I would like to pass if he saw a suitable place, but that I could only do 6.5 mph, and I was content to stay behind him if I needed to. To my suprise the Captain told me come on around him on the "two whistle" side and he would slow down long enough for me to get around him! I have the utmost respect for the Captains who drive these HUGE tugs, pushing barges that are sometimes 100' wide and 500' long. To slow his rig and let our little 20' boat pass was incredibly kind of him. As we cleared the front of the two barges, I radio'd him and thanked him. He responded that our vessel was a "great looking" boat and wished us a safe journey. I remembered Glenda telling me that last night when saying her prayers, Abby asked God to "let us have a good trip and meet lots of nice people". Prayers answered :).

The "Margaret Kennelly"

When we crossed into Florida, the beaches and aqua-blue water were beautiful (so I'm told - I'm colorblind). We travelled along the ICW to Pensacola and then turned North for a few miles to the Oar House restaurant where we had a late lunch. After gobbling down our lunch we left and headed for Santa Rosa Yacht and Boat Club in Gulf Breeze, FL. The wind had picked up a little and Pensacola Bay had become a little choppy. We pushed the Knot-So-Fast at 6.5-7 mph the whole way, and arrived just before the closing time of 5:00 pm. The dock worker "Art", a retired school teacher from the midwest, met us at the slip and helped us tie up as two Florida Water Patrol officers pulled on the other side of the dock. Everyone here wanted to make sure we had everything we needed for the night.

Old Lighthouse at the Pensacola Naval Air Station
After a walk along the public fishing pier and hot shower, we are settling in for the night. Tomorrow the plan is to head East again to Ft. Walton.

February 26, 2011 -Dani and Bailey's Tugboat trip on Lay Lake

Four year old grand-daughter Dani was down from Maryland for a couple of weeks, and 2 year old grand-daughter Bailey had never been on the tugboat, so when Saturday promised sunny skies we headed for Lay Lake. Glenda and I have really loved getting to introduce all our grandkids to being on the boat!
Bailey  loved "driving" the boat.

Actually Bailey HAS been on the tugboat, but she wasn't really aware that it could go in the water - it's always been in the driveway when she "drove" it.

This was Dani's second ride on the Knot-So-Fast

We put in at Okomo Marina and rode down to Lacoosa Marina where we stopped and saw an old friend and met a couple of new ones. The girls got a chance to play, and on the way back we started hearing yawns, so we cut the trip short and put the boat back on the trailer. When we stopped for lunch on the way home we had to wake both the girls up!

Snack Time below deck !!!!