Day 60 – Western Rivers Complete

We’ve  been gone for sixty days.  In those sixty days we’ve completed the portion of the loop that takes you from the Great Lakes down the western rivers to the Gulf of Mexico.  We are currently in a marina on Mobile Bay.  For the first time in our boat’s 13 year life it is in salt water.  Here are some statistics from our first 60 days:

  • We’ve covered 2,147 miles
  • We’ve burned roughly 2747 gallons of diesel
  • We’ve touched bottom 3 times
  • We’ve damaged four propellers
  • We’ve been stuck on a sand bar 1 time
  • We’ve spent 33 days travelling and 27 staying still
  • We’ve stayed in a marina 49 nights, at anchor 6 nights and on a wall 4 nights
  • We’ve been underway for 222.5 hours
  • We’ve visited 7 states

When we decided to do the Great Loop we knew our boat was on the larger side of the boats that complete the loop.  We also knew that we drafted more water than most boats that complete the loop.  One thing I didn’t stop to think about much was the configuration of the props and running gear on our boat.  We have a planing boat.  That means our boat can go fast and that when it goes fast it climbs up on top of the water so there is less hull in the water and hence less drag.  In order for the boat to go quickly and as efficiently as a 60,000 pound 59′ 10″ long hunk of fiberglass can there needs to be as little resistance as possible.  One of the ways this is achieved is our boat has no keel protruding down from the hull.  This means that by about two feet our propellers are the lowest thing in the water.  If we are going to touch the bottom it’s going to be the props that hit.  We’ve done that.  Three times.

Laura posted about our most recent incident.   Last Saturday night we found ourselves stuck on a sand bar at the entrance to an anchorage that was supposed to have plenty of depth.

I included a couple of pictures of us being pulled free.  During the process of trying to free our boat both of the other boats ended up stuck at some point in the process and also had to be pulled free.  This just serves to illustrate the potential for difficulty in these waters.  We’ve boated for a decade on the Great Lakes.  We pull out of the harbor and are in 30 feet of water and never see anything shallower.

After our sand bar adventure we continued down the Tenn Tom to head towards Mobile.  We traveled a very windy section of river down to Bobby’s Fish Camp.  Bobby’s is a loop institution a little like Hoppie’s.  Because of the timing and Hoppie’s location on the Mississippi with no protection from passing barges we decided to skip Hoppie’s.  I was excited to experience Bobby’s.  We did.  It was okay.  The restaurant was okay with lots of fried food.  The experience was fun.  Having to raft boats two deep and still paying the most we paid for months for dockage was less fun.  Bobby’s is the only stop for hundreds of miles so it’s their rules and their rates or anchor for four or five straight nights.

Thursday we entered Mobile Bay.  Within the first five minutes of being on the bay we saw our first dolphins.  Maddy told us that she didn’t care about seeing dolphins as we got on the bay.  Moments later we saw dolphins and Maddy squealed the loudest of anyone.  The look of sheer joy for her was a really great moment.  Less great for Maddy was realizing that we are done with the rivers and now will have periods of open water again.  As many know, Maddy really doesn’t like when the boat rocks.   For the last two months we haven’t had to deal with open water and any waves beyond wake.

Today we arrived at Saunder’s Yacht Works in Gulf Shores.  Tomorrow we will drive to Santa Rosa Beach and see Tom Stein’s family.  The girls are very excited about seeing their cousins.  They will be able to trick-or-treat at Seaside and have a fairly normal Halloween.  Laura will get to sleep in a bed that doesn’t rock.  I’m very excited about having the boat hauled and any damage done from our adventures repaired.

One comment

  1. Randy Earle · October 30, 2016

    Florida has a couple of open water crossings. Panama City to Clearwater and Marco Island to Key West. You can shorten trip to Clearwater by proceeding to Apalachacoa or Carabelle. Let me know if you decide to go to Bay Point in Panama City. I have some friends there who can share some local knowledge.
    I will be envious if you do the crossing to Cuba.


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