Second time around.

This is the second time I have written this blog entry. The first time was at 1800 when I accidentally hit the cancel button and lost it all. How frustrating after a totally tense day. I’ll tell you all about it.

Right now it is just after midnight on the Tensaw River Cutoff. A nearly full moon and quiet as a cat walking on cotton until I broke the stillness by cranking an 8kw Westerbeke generator which reminds me… I have noticed that every time I type the word genset, which is short for generator, the iPad corrects it to read “he set”. It just tried to do it again. I hate these machines that are too smart for their own good. I will try to correct it in the future.

The morning began quite pleasant on the Alabama River Cutoff with a beautiful red sky. What am I saying? Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor take warning! And it turns out they were going to be right. A small craft advisory was being issued by the USCG for Mobile Bay our final destination! They called for winds up to 29mph and waves 5 to 8 feet high. Not something that Cbay wanted to face on our first entry into saltwater. So new plans had to be made. We would stop 12.5 miles short of entering the bay and anchor one more night.

So off we go on what seemed an easy day of only 35 miles. A three hour tour like old Gilligan took. It consisted of:

1. Tows coming from everywhere. We met them two at a time. We waited while two passed each other because there was no room left for us.

2. USCG announced they were closing the 14 Mile Bridge which was 2.5 miles above where we were going. So another anchorage had to be found.

3. Later they revised the announcement that there would be sporadic openings and to call an hour ahead. So on we went.

4. Upon arrival at the bridge we were told there would only be a 15 minute delay. Make that 45 minutes in a swift tidal current and mounting north winds trying to shove three boats under the bridge which was only 4 feet above the water when closed. We are 17 feet above the water without antennas! Compound this with a tow coming fast behind us that we had passed about 30 minutes before and he would not give an inch when we passed. So we figured he would just take us and the bridge out if they did not open. We decided to turn and move back upstream. But turning a boat in a strong current with wind tight up against a bridge is not an easy job because once you get sideways to the current and wind, it moves you twice as fast toward the closed bridge. Now this is where Cbay’s 660 combined horsepower goes to work. We churned up some water then.

The bridge opened when we were about 200 yards north and the tow was 200 yards beyond us and coming hard. We spun back around, this time aided by wind and current and shot through the bridge just as the green light came on. I would have risked running the red light if it had not. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Alex, Lucas and Maggie can forget the Judge ever said that. It won’t work with Mimi.

5. We arrived at the Tensaw River and turn into it. In a quarter mile turned into a side channel going back north and right into the wind. We hated the wind but it was best to have it directly in your face while dropping anchor. The channel was a bit narrow and Seabiscuit and 20BUCK$ went ahead and anchored. We were to tie off to 20BUCK$ but after two unsuccessful tries we decided to quit before we smashed one another. We actually got one line to them but the wind was then howling and they could not hold. So we pulled back and moved up between the two boats to set anchor. I will not ever do that again. I went to the bow and Captain Jan was at the wheel. We actually set the anchor on the first try. Rocna is the world’s finest anchor for that. But we were not paying attention to 20BUCK$ downstream and ended up sitting over their anchor and only about 100 feet from them. If our anchor dragged in this wind we would crash into them before we could say Jack Robinson. So we had to pull up a perfectly good anchor in more wind and move around both boats and try again. By the time we were set there was Alabama black mud all over me and the deck from the anchor chain. No time to use a wash down pump in this wind.

This was the anchor light on Seabiscuit in the pitch dark..

For the next three hours we rode a swing back and forth until the wind began to die. We were exhausted.

Oh and did I mention that I had taken the calculated risk of not taking on high priced diesel at Bobby’s? So we were running close on fuel and could not spare the fuel to run the generator all night. We ate supper and went to bed at 1900. That is why I am up at midnight writing a blog again. I had to jump an engine battery to the house battery to keep the refrigerators going and I am now running the genset for an hour to recharge. It is almost 0100 CST so goodnight.