At 5:15 am I started the generator, figuring that would get Paula up. Nope, no movement from below. At 5:30 am I started the engines, certain that would do it. Nope, still the sound of gentle snoring from the stateroom. I finally had to go downstairs to rouse her. She did say that starting the engines had awakened her, but the soft droning of the idling engines had put her back to sleep. Sorry, honey; time to get up.
By the time Paula, and the engines, were ready to go it was just getting light enough to see. I thought of taking Duke in for one last beach quickie, but decided we needed to get underway. He knows where his mat is on the bow. I also decided not to hoist the dinghy yet, figuring we could do it once we were in bay near the marina.
It took a little while to get the anchor up, as it was dug in pretty deeply. But we got it up and were heading west by 6:30 am. The wind was out of the south, so we were still in the lee of Horn Island for a little while. Paula took the opportunity to start breakfast. Homemade sourdough biscuits and Conecuh smoked sausage. She was just putting them in the oven as we started crossing the pass between Horn and Ship Islands.
As we got into the open water of the pass, we started feeling the swells coming in from the gulf. They weren't too big, perhaps 2-3', with an occasional 4'. But, since they were directly on our beam, it made for a rolling ride. Good thing breakfast was in the oven, so we did not have to worry about it ending up on the floor. We could hear the metal baking pan sliding from side to side. A little shake and bake going on!
By the time we started getting in the lee of Ship Island breakfast was ready. Perfect timing! Sausage biscuit sandwiches... yum. With a full belly and smoother seas things were looking up. :)
Now was a good time to check on the dink, and I was surprised to see that I had forgotten to raise the outboard. So now it was cocked to one side, causing the dink to pull at an angle to our course. Drat! So now I have to stop the boat, climb into the dinghy, and raise the outboard. This is what happens when you do things early in the morning before having enough coffee!
The Dukester missed his bathroom break this morning, and it was showing. He was pacing the bow obviously needing to relieve himself. There was a bit more motion of the bow than he liked, so he would pace around and then come back to the pilothouse. But, finally, he could hold it no longer and went up and used his bathroom mat on the bow. Good dog!! He gets special treats for this, and we are all happy.
As we progressed westward, and further away from Ship Island, the seas were building a little. Then we crossed the pass between Ship and Cat Island and again caught the swells coming in from the gulf. But soon we were behind Cat Island and headed for Bay St Louis. As we crossed the channel, I took the opportunity to tweak the radar heading. There were multiple channel markers, and we were heading directly at one. I opened the radar utility in the software on the PC, and adjusted the heading line to point at the channel marker. It was about 4 degrees off. I have been wanting to do this for a while, and was glad to finally remember to get it done.
As we were approaching the CSX railroad bridge at Bay St Louis, we heard a sailboat call and request the bridge tender to open up. He proceeded to do so. We were about 20 minutes out, and called in to ask if he could leave the bridge open for our approach. He replied that he had a couple of "high rails" approaching (service trucks) and would have to close for that. He asked that we give him a call once we were closer.
We could see three of these service vehicles closing on the swing bridge. Once we were 5 minutes out we called the bridge tender again. He replied that as soon as the service people were dropped off and the trucks exited the bridge, he would open for us. I was surprised to see that one truck remained on the bridge, while the other two went east and west of the bridge and stopped at the signal lights about halfway to shore. Oh no, it looks like they will be working on this for a while!
After about 10 minutes or so, the bridge tender hailed us, and said that if we were willing to squeeze by on the east side he could do a partial opening of the bridge to get us through. It was a little windy, but I was willing to give it a try rather what wait out there for who knows how long. The bridge opened about halfway and we slipped through with about 6' to spare on either side. As is turns out, this was a good thing for us. For a couple of hours after we came through, we heard repeated calls to the tender to open up, and he replied they were working on things and it may be a while before they could open again.
Once in the bay we stopped long enough to hoist the dinghy. It was relatively calm and the task went quickly enough. Then we continued on to the marina.
As we entered the marina the wind was blowing pretty hard from the south. This meant it would be blowing directly across our slip, pushing the boat to the side as we docked. This is always the most challenging wind direction to dock in. But we were up to the task and backed the boat in on the first try and had her tied up 5 minutes later. Paula and I have done this so many times together we generally don't even have to speak to each other during the process. While we cannot see each other during this process, as I am on the bridge and she is in the cockpit, we can "sense" what the other is doing. We do have walkie talkies for when it is necessary to communicate, though.
So now we are home in our slip. Fifteen minutes after arriving all dock lines are secure, power cord is connected, and the air conditioners are running. It has gotten quite warm today, so we decide to just rest up inside until later this afternoon. At that point, I go outside to remove the outboard from the dink and hang it on rail mounted bracket. Flush and wash it, then wash the dink. Flip it over and tie it down. Now I have to rinse the salt from the entire boat. A couple of hours later I was finally finished and it was time for a shower, then an evening libation!
Other than the rough start, this has been one of our best spring cruises ever. A bit windy, and occasionally too cool, but pretty weather nonetheless. Certainly better than the heat that is now building in.
Can't wait for the next one!
|Microship anchored at Petit Bois Island|