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.
Video – Mobile is a large shipping port and we felt really small when this came by us. https://www.facebook.com/628052790915443/posts/900155383705181?vh=e&sfns=cl
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Video – Kent and Parker throwing axes, because why not?
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.