I could not wait to lift our anchor this morning and get the very last section of rivers done. Today was a long run but a welcome long run and would be the end of this section of the loop. I was totally up early ready to get going. I was eager to lift the anchor and float away. I was already seeing seagulls and couldn’t wait to emerge to salt water and hopefully spot a dolphin. The day was cold and the river mist was thick. Leaving when its misty/foggy means it’s hard to see the water and man the debris has not let up. So we waited a little while but ultimately left the same time as everyone else. We would be going further then the group today so we passed them one by one and Andy took the boat up to 16 knots. That’s really fast for us. We usually travel around 10 knots. I think he was over it as much as I was, I just bitched a lot louder. Typical.
With every mile that passes I was feeling lighter and lighter. My mood was lighter today because this day was the very last of a very long section of The Great Loop. Close to 1300 miles of rivers from Chicago that ends in the Mobil bay. The Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, Tenn Tom, and finally Mobile River. This river system section is either loved or hated. I was on the list of haters. That being said, we had some good days but most days we traveled in current, in chocolate milky brown yucky water, with tons of debris that could do serious damage to your boat or even take you out of the game. It did happen to some. Not us. Andy had to be alert the entire time. This section of the loop has so many obstacles that the days are not chill and relaxing. It’s not all margaritas and Jimmy Buffet. It was HARD!!!
We would typically crash at night after making dinner to wake and do it all again. The locks were a whole other issue, as in the previous post, they can really delay our days travel. The barges were a constant daily issue. Passing them required a radio call to get permission to pass. The captain would say what side to pass by saying “pass on the 1 Whistle” or “pass on the 2 Whistle.” It’s just stupid code for port or starboard and there are no whistles. It is too hard for me to explain what all that means but it indicated the “safer and preferred side” the barge captain wanted you to pass on. This whistle thing was for me, an ass backward, dyslectic left handed girl” meant I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Thankfully Andy totally understood and for all 1300 miles explained it to me every time patiently and by the end I got it. Still I think a stupid way to communicate. Besides the fact that these captains speak some kind of southern dialect that only a southerner could understand. Most of the time we just listened for the word 1 or 2 and forget the rest. I should have taken a “southern dialect” class before this river system.
Ok by now, after you read all 3 “River episodes” you got the fact that this last few months has been tough on me. I knew what I signed up for but I just hated them. I hated the stress my incredible captain was under everyday. I tried really hard not to be grumpy and suck it up. Friends along the way MADE it all possible to endure. I would like to say that Jody, Laurie, Debra, Rhonda, Robin and a few others will always have a place in my friendship heart. We bitched and whined behind the guys backs, complained and commiserated with each other. Thank you girls for being there for me.
As we approached the Mobil Bay the seagulls flew in formation behind us for miles and miles. They dove into the prop wash catching fish. I didn’t even care about the poop because seagulls meant ocean. I kept my eyes pealed for dolphins and we did get a visit from a few. I was too busy watching them to grab my camera. We crossed Mobile Bay to the inlet to the ICW in only 6 foot of water. Andy wasn’t done being on careful watch. Once inside the channel the depth improved and we made our way to Saunders Boat Yard.
Here we planned to pull AQUAMAN out of the water for some work. The boat has been just perfect but we felt it was time for a visual inspection of those props that has taken a few hits and get some maintenance done while out of the water.
We checked into a beachfront Gulf Shores hotel. It was incredible. Nice big bed, long showers, gourmet restaurant, the sound of crashing waves from the patio. Andy found us an amazing hotel and I was once again my happy beach girl self. I took a long walk on the beach, toes in the white sugar sand and looked for sea glass and shells. I was in heaven. My soul is at home at the beach. Maybe that is why I was so grumpy in the rivers. Here, on the beach, I felt my spirit lift and my eyes brighten and my spirit restored. It is my happy place. Time to recharge my batteries.
At this point we have traveled a long way of the loop. We are close to completing this. We are headed to Key West for a few months to play in the ocean, dive, snorkel and relax. We have a lot of friends and company coming, so its going to be really fun.