Mobile, AL to Pensacola, FL

 We tied up to the wall in downtown Mobile with Scaliwag (Parker & Leslie) and sat there for 3 nights. Last year this would have been a free spot but the Mobile Convention Center that owns the wall got smart and started charging if you tie up and stay more than 12 hours. It happened that Tropical Storm Olga was brewing so we did not really have the option to move along so we gave them our money and stayed. Although it is just a wall (no services like water and electricity) we were steps from downtown Mobile which is convenient and it gave us something to do in between the rain showers and wind. 

View of Austal from the Mobile Convention Center wall where they make combat ships. 

Same view just with a nasty looking storm cloud from nearby Tropical Storm Olga.

Not the type of text alert you want to receive. There were several areas near Mobile that had damage on this day. 

Video – Mobile is a large shipping port and we felt really small when this came by us.

With all the rain we had a lot of big debris that would float past us as the tide went out and then come back up the river as the tide came in. 

Leslie took advantage of a rainy morning and made more treats for Penny. This time it was pumpkin cookies and they smelled delicious. Penny loved them. 

Downtown Mobile has potential. We experienced some great meals with Parker & Leslie but it is still very much an industry focused city. If you are in the area be sure to visit the nearby USS Alabama. We went last year and really enjoyed how much of the ship you were allowed to go through. 

Murals cover many buildings in downtown Mobile. 

Walked by this one several times – great quote. 

This sculpture was made out of old tools (shovels, gears etc) and is ~8ft high. 

Night out on the town with Parker & Leslie. 

Once the weather passed we left with Scaliwag, crossed Mobile Bay, started into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GICW) and landed at The Wharf marina in Orange Beach, AL. 

The GICW runs 1,050 mi from Brownsville, Texas to Carrabelle, Florida. The next few weeks we will be traveling the yellow portion from Mobile, AL to just before the Carabelle, FL area. 

Not completely out of the barges and tows yet. This one has a red flag indicating hazardous cargo. 


Definitely not traveling along the river system anymore. White sands and bright colors were a welcoming sight. 

When we got to The Wharf marina we looked at the weather and saw that we had one nice day of sunshine followed by a cold front with 4 days of torrential rain and very cold temps. We decided to take advantage of the weekly rate they offered Loopers and hang out at the dock with the wind and rain. 

Before the rain and cold front hit we biked over to Orange Beach, AL and walked the gorgeous beach. It had been quite a few months since we had had our toes in the sand and it felt wonderful. 

Orange Beach, AL has some of the most beautiful sand we have seen. It is pure white, very fine and squeaks as you walk on it. 

Parker & Leslie headed home to Texas for the week leaving Penny looking longingly out our rain pelted window at their boat in hopes of ‘the cookie lady’ (Leslie) appearing. 

The Wharf was an interesting spot for us as it is probably a very popular place to be in the high season for locals. In the low season it is pretty quite and feels a bit deserted. We of course made the most of it (that was when it was not pouring down rain). 

Ferris wheel at The Wharf – just outside the movie theater where we caught a showing of The Joker. 

Camel rides at Halloween … guess that’s what they do on Halloween in Alabama ?! 

This Halloween we learned the term “Trunk or Treat”. Cars lined the main street, popped their trunk and offered candy from the tailgate as kids in costumes walked up and then down the street. 

Clear, windy and cold temps (30F in the morning) but we took advantage of what there was to do nearby (in this case it was getting in a round of mediocre mini golf). 

No post is complete without sharing what boat project we worked on.  It was here that had to replace our leaking hot water heater. Always fun to try to remove a large item from the engine room and get it’s replacement back in. There may have been a lot of swearing but we now have a non leaking hot water heater. 

While at The Wharf we connected with some old friends. We had first met Nautilus (Rob & Jill) in Cape May, NJ back in June, saw them later that month in Brewerton, CAN and then kept in touch with them via text. They were moving more quickly through Canada, Michigan, Chicago and the rivers than we were. We finally caught up with them in person in while in Orange Beach and enjoyed a fun night out at the Flora-Bama Bar. 

 Flora-Bama bar opened in 1964 and sits between Orange Beach, AL and Perido Key, FL. It straddles the AL and FL state line with part of the bar in one state and part in the other state. 

Flora-Bama is famous for their Bushwackers so of course we had to try one (ok, we tried two). 

Five stages and music 365 days a year. Definitely glad we experienced this place in the low season. The high season would have been a little too much for us. 

It was a fun night with Rob & Jill (Nautilus) hanging out until way past 9pm (aka Looper midnight). 

The next 7 days we spent in Pensacola, FL which is 30 miles east of Orange Beach as Kent had arranged to have the hull of Heartbeat buffed out. Having a red colored hull is hard to keep "pretty". When we left on the Loop in September 2018 we had it buffed/waxed in Kentucky and it looked great. When we got back from the Bahamas in April 2019 it needed some attention again so we hauled out in Florida and had it buffed/waxed again. But this time it lasted about 2 weeks. Something about the product that was used just did not work out. In fact it actually looked worse than before. So we've been a bit hesitant on pulling out the money and having someone work on the hull. The alternative is having it painted and that involves shoveling out even more money so we gave it one more attempt to "pretty" it up in Pensacola. Glad we did, it looks great now. Fingers crossed it lasts for quite awhile. 

Before and after is pretty obvious. 

Craig working his magic. This guy is not cheap but he is meticulous, works hard and was able to make Heartbeat’s hull look absolutely amazing. 

We had enjoyed Pensacola when we had stopped last year. We had stayed at the Yacht Club just outside of downtown but spent our evenings in the popular downtown area. This time around we stayed at the marina downtown (with a free stay courtesy of the guy buffing out our boat). It was nice to be just steps away from things. As we had already experienced some of the standard touristy things (Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum etc.) last year this time through we kept ourselves busy with other activities. 

Taking in the Michael Jackson tribute show at the local Saenger Theater. This theater opened in 1925 and is beautifully restored. 

 Heading out to the Pensacola Little Theater where we saw a hilarious play called The Savannah Sipping Society. 

 Joe Patti’s Seafood Market where we bought fresh fish several times. This place has been in business for over 75 years and is as fresh as you can get.  

The Old Hickory. Rumor has it there are over 650 different types of whiskey to choose from here. 

“Fire and Rain” art installation downtown. This is over 9,500 sf of shimmer throughout downtown. 

Pelicans In Paradise public art project, 41 different fiberglass pelicans can be found throughout downtown.

Video – Kent and Parker throwing axes, because why not? 

On Veteran’s Day weekend we walked to Veterans Park. There are a half dozen or so very well done sculptures honoring our veterans. 

About the only no so good thing that happened this week in Pensacola was my iphone dropped into the water and plummeted 30+ feet. After living on a boat for somewhere around 450 days with both of us having a few close calls it was me (not Kent who my money was on) who lost a phone. We went to the nearby Verizon store and got a replacement the same afternoon. We had great customer service but keep asking myself – why are phones so expensive?! Fingers crossed we make it through the rest of our adventures on Heartbeat not having to replace another phone.

When we leave Pensacola (with our new shiny hull) we will keep heading east through the GICW toward Apalachicola, FL. Our goal is to visit a few smaller towns that we were not able to stop in last year due to to Hurricane Michael obliterating them. We are curious to see how the rebuilding process has gone one year later.