Cheeseburger in Paradise

We are safely ensconced at The Wharf at Orange Beach after braving the waters of Mobile Bay with a small craft advisory and predicted 25 mph winds. Listen while I tell you the tale.

We begin in the wee hours of this morning while I turned restlessly in bed worrying about the weather. We wanted to leave but all weather predictions were not good. If we did not go in the morning then we would be stuck in Fly Creek until Monday or Tuesday. 

I arose at at 0430 and walked in the dark out to Mobile Bay. The wind was stirring giving a clue of worse to come. I returned and Jan was up. Others in the marina were adopting a wait and see attitude but Wayne from My Way wanted to go. He had been at this marina for two weeks with a broken turbocharger on one engine and was as anxious as I was. We began prepping for departure. We both had boats capable of making speed and believed we could outrun the weather forecast.

Sunrise was set for 0620 and I checked all fluids and added freshwater to the tank. Wayne was a two time looper and very experienced. He offered to lead and said he would be running fast all the way to beat the weather. We figured that if we could get to the Intracoastal and off the Bay by 0900 then we win. Otherwise we could be in the soup. 

Cbay was first out of her slip with Jan at the helm. I was working deck pulling our fenders and lines for a speed run. We waited rolling in the Bay for My Way to join us. Then we held as they passed and Wayne said he would jump up on plane and go for it with us in hot pursuit. 

My Way started to get up and was running for 200 yards or so when it happened. A cloud of dark gray smoke engulfed their stern and they settled back in the water. I got on the radio to ask if they needed assistance. Wayne thought he might have snagged a crabpot rope and fouled his prop but I knew different. Up on the bridge he could not see what I could see and I had seen it before. Not on a boat but on a race car that had smoked a turbocharger. Wayne was turning back on his one good engine and fellow loopers in the marina would assist him in getting back in his slip with his limited maneuverability. Now Cbay could either quit or go it alone. We chose to go.

Up on plane and up to 24.5 mph with waves on the stern being pushed by a north wind. We were literally surfing on those waves. Well we were surfing until we rounded Point Clear which was sheltering us for 5 miles. Then the wind shifted east as predicted and we were taking 1-2 foot waves on the beam and spray was hitting the windows on the flybridge which are 17 feet above the water. Now the rising sun was in our face and we could not see the surface to tell if crab pots were there or not. At this speed we probably could not avoid one anyway. 

On to Mullet Point 5 more miles and it was our last protection. The wind shifted southeast and now the waves were coming straight on. This is actually better than stern or beam waves but you take more pounding because you hit them straight on. This is what Cbay was made to do. She is a runner. The 660 horses were howling and drinking fuel at a gallon a mile but on she went as the waves were now mostly 2 and sometimes 3 feet. Time was also running. Waves in the Gulf were already at 6 feet and soon they would be in here. 

The Intracoastal was on the screen and we were going to make it. When we arrived at our turn which was supposed to be at red marker #124 we could have hit it with a rock. Perfect! We swept that turn at 0745 and headed for safety 4 miles away. began slowing to 9 mph as the beach at Gulf Shores was providing some shelter now. By 0815 we were inside the cut in smooth water and saw our first dolphin or porpoise.

By 0900 we were at Lulu’s. Lulu is really Lucy Buffet, sister of legendary Jimmy Buffet. This place during the summer has thousands of visitors every day and we wanted to eat lunch there but it was too early. So we pushed on another 5 miles to The Wharf and checked in.

The Wharf is the fanciest marina we ever saw. It even has a ferris wheel, five restaurants and a multi plex theater! They delivered a USA Today to the boat. This is high cotton. 

20BUCK$ called on the phone to say they were planning to get to Lulu’s by 1100 and have lunch. We decided to join them but not by boat. I convinced the nice young woman at the office to drive us and we would catch a ride back by boat. 

Cheeseburgers in Paradise are the special of the house and Kismet had also pulled in. A great lunch and we hopped a ride back with Ken and Pat.

This afternoon we had to get all that salt off and tomorrow I will tell you how we literally washed the boat with Kool Aid!!! But I am tired and it is too funny to rush it.

Dinner at Guy Harvey’s and watched The Hustler on TV. Until tomorrow I leave you with the porpoises swimming off the end of the dock.