A few No Travel Rain & Fog days in New Orleans (Dec 17-19)

As the ominous rain clouds moved in at 100% for the day, we started with a hearty breakfast of cheese grits, bacon and blueberry bran muffins.  Not complete without Tabasco!


It rained all day, sometimes in downpours…..


Ron’s rain gauge – a 5 gallon bucket – really???


As you can see, the fog moved in and out all day long – with dramatic effect.


Overnight, a trawler pulled in at the fuel dock.  The next morning, in the pouring rain, Ron helped them move to a dock near us.  Jim and Gunny, aboard Lochmaddy, a beautiful 50 foot trawler, were headed for Cuba.  Later they invited us for appetizers and docktails where we got an education on the “perfect” gin and tonic.  As Jim instructed, the ingredients make all the difference!


Karen traded some of her pickled peppers for some of Jim’s famous “Q” tonic water!


A perfect night was had by all……..

Day #3 in New Orleans and still fogged in…….rain predicted for tomorrow as well……….we walked to Pontchartrain Landing for dinner where we had the BEST oysters served over creamed spinach and topped with feta cheese!  We passed Santa Bear on our walk

Socked in for another day of rain and fog……. (Dec 20)

We awoke to thunderstorms and 28 MPH winds this morning – so no boating for us again today.  We met some great folks on board “Knot-A-Lot”.  They were heading out for The Abaco Islands (Northern Bahamas) for six months of calm waters, warm breezes and panoramic beauty – 120-miles of islands and a boater’s paradise.

After the rough weather start this morning, the afternoon turned into a sunny, warm and gorgeous afternoon.  It was too late for us to break lines and travel.  With a bit of cabin fever, and with the beautiful afternoon, we borrowed the marina pickup, (NO shocks, check engine light on, message of “low tire pressure” flashing), and we bounced off to Slidell, Louisiana for a bit of provisioning.  We were thankful for the wheels albeit it was a bit rough!

Karen put on a pot of lima bean soup before we headed out.  Had to finally try out that crock pot she had been carrying around since Halloween!  You see, we like to try out new places in new places, therefore, we don’t cook a lot.

We met “Sailboat Dave” (as he goes by at the Marina) on our trip west last month.  Dave is a neuro-researcher from Virginia, who has discovered a vast appreciation of the oceans, islands, rivers, stars, and the pure essence of life.  Dave is on his way Puerto Rico.  He is liquidating all but the few necessities and “have to keep” items, selling the home, and donating to charity.  Gone are the Persian Rugs, lead crystal wine glasses, large screen TV’s and “stuff”……on board is the scuba gear, his “fav” bicycle, his Krups coffee bean grinder – just the “must haves”…

      (Dave’s 52 ft sailboat, Crystal Spray)

Dave joined us on Kara Mia for our meager lima bean soup, with cheesy garlic biscuits dinner, where we visited and shared conversation and boating stories and received appreciated suggestions for our next few legs of travel.  Dave has sailed thousands of nautical miles….

Here’s to hoping for better weather tomorrow……..

We are leaving New Orleans – period! (Dec 21)

New Orleans to Biloxi, Mississippi.  After being assured that the fog would lift soon, we had to get out of New Orleans.  The Florida gulf was calling us and we just had to go…….


It was a scary start for us.  Our first experience in almost zero visibility.  Yes, we broke our cardinal rule #3 – do not travel in fog!


As the fog began to clear we ran upon a tug entering the waterway and had a few fishing boats running around us.


For several hours we enjoyed blue skies and open waterways into the Mississippi Sound.



As we approached the Biloxi Harbor the casinos loomed large!  We docked in the Point Cadet Marina and watched another beautiful sunset.


We finally got to have the Bubba Gumps experience in Biloxi (tourist stop that is was).  We thoroughly enjoyed the shrimp, until Karen’s “near death experience”………









Despite the Fog – Orange Beach Bound (Dec 22)

We awoke to another foggy morning in Biloxi.  Our weather apps assured us the fog would pass soon and be clear out in the bay.  It held true for as you can see, the fog remained floating over the casinos as we pulled out.


Into the Mississippi Sound there seemed to be an interesting phenomenon – we call “a cloud rainbow” in our wake.  Notice the red marker in the arch of the cloud bow.


As we proceeded on what we thought would be a beautiful clear day, at noon we ran into an unexpected fog bank.  It slowed us to a crawl for a number of miles but eventually we left it in our wake.


We made good time at 29.9 SOG (speed over ground) across Mobile Bay but were slowed dramatically as we entered the Intracoastal Gulf Waterway (IGW).


As opposed to Texas and Louisiana, this area is far less commercial and more residential, therefore, a low-wake speed is the only courteous way to travel.  Many restaurants such as LuLu’s (Jimmy Buffett’s sister) are found along the waterway.


Ultimately we arrived at our destination, The Wharf, in Orange Beach, Alabama.  This is a very upscale resort and entertainment development.


We are tucked in at The Wharf Marina, secure among the (once again) “big boats” which dwarf our beloved Kara Mia!  But it is good to be tucked in – safe from the currents, winds, concrete walls and fog.

R & R Days before Christmas in Orange Beach, Alabama (Dec 23-24)

FIRST OFF, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” MOM!  Mom is in Houston and celebrating her 86th. birthday today!  She is still paddling around and riding scooters and jet skis – so here’s to you Mom – and the next 86!         

Santa is leaving us today as he has some very important responsibilities to attend to…………….BUT, after he had gone we found a Christmas surprise in our cockpit, a beautiful little folding bike for the land side of our journey.


Anxious to try out our new Santa surprise, we biked from Orange Beach to Gulf Shores to have lunch at Tacky Jacks.  The name says it all……notice Karen transporting her go-box and backpack (thank you Brenda) on the rack!


We enjoyed the amenities of The Wharf – shopping, movies, Christmas decorations, music, ferris wheel and as always – looking at boats.


A Christmas Eve surprise was our friends (and fellow loopers) that we had  met in New Orleans.  Jane and Bryce, who are now docked in Mobile Bay drove over to join us for some terrific oyster dinners at Villaggio’s.  There we gave our bartender David a history of America’s Great Loop.  The temperature had dropped and Jane and Bryce were appreciative to have “Louise and Jack’s” (Karen’s Mom & Dad) Texas Space Travelers camping jackets!


As the evening drew to an end, we were visited by local dock residents – a racoon and heron.


With an early start and not knowing where we might end up, considering it is Christmas Day and everything is closed.  There was not even any traffic on the waterway.  We could end up on the hook, tied to a wall or possibly in a closed marina.

We left Alabama for the white sandy beaches of Florida…….


Along the way homes, docks and boats were decorated for Christmas…..


With no traffic (we passed one boat in 5 hours) we made good time despite small craft warnings of high winds in the bays.  As the weather improved we were fortunate to make it all the way to Destin.


Thankfully someone did respond at HarborWalk Marina in Destin and we were able to tie up at their fuel dock for the night.


It turned to be a great place to dock with lots of tourist activity for Christmas Day.  We opted to have our Christmas dinner (a mountain of nachos) at Jimmy Buffett’s famous Margaritaville with – of course – a margarita!



Our first Florida sunset, and Karen finally got our red Rudolph nose on the bow of Kara Mia.


For those interested, below is typical navigational directions that we follow, along with several electronic and paper charts, to move us safely along on our journey.  This is entering Destin Harbor off of the ICW- – – –

From Choctawhatcee Bay (Intercoastal Waterway)

  • From ICW take a course S-SE into East Pass. Follow markers green (starboard) and red (port).
  • Shallows to starboard. Typically referred to as Crab Island. CAUTION: At low tide and winter months.
  • From West do not cut short of East Pass marker. Pass the marker then turn to S-SE
  • Watch for NO WAKE ZONE.
  • Maintain heading for Marler (Destin) Bridge. Center span 50’ clearance MHW.
  • After passing under Bridge turn hard to port to run parallel with Bridge. CAUTION: Not well marked.
  • Harbor entrance channel dark water. Depth 8’ to 10’. CAUTION: Do not track to starboard towards Norriego Point. Shifting sand bottom, heavy shoaling at point.
  • East terminus of bridge make starboard turn to run parallel with docks at HarborWalk Village. Non-navigational Lighthouse structure to port.
  • Enter Destin Harbor with north shore on port and Norriego Point (sand dunes) to starboard.
  • HarborWalk Marina to port at: Lat 30.23 64 Long. 86.30 77

From Destin to Sandestin, Florida (Dec 26)

We had a short 12 mile voyage across Choctawhatchee Bay to Horseshoe Bayou and Baytowne Marina.  It was great to have our good friends, Patsy and Bobby greet us at the dock.  Patsy and Bobby retired to Sandestin several years ago from Brentwood, Tennessee.


We visited this marina several years ago and knew it would be one of our stops along our journey.  It has all of the amenities and feel of the “Florida Keys”.


The further along we get, the more crystal clear the waters are becoming.  We appreciate the beautiful reflections on the calm waters and are still enjoying Kara Mia’s Rudolph red nose and neighbor’s Christmas display.  There are several other transient boaters here from Chattanooga.


Resort Living in Sandestin (Dec 27-28)

Days number 2 and 3 in Sandestin were full of wandering and exploring.  We truly appreciate our friends Bobby and Patsy loaning us a vehicle to allow us to reprovision the boat and “get around” comfortably.  The Baytowne Marina has a neat little bar and grill, decorated with talking live parrots and cock-a-too.  We are docked right down from the grill – far enough, yet close enough to all.



Mary Ann on the left, Skipper on the right……….


We had good friends Robert and Linda from Brentwood join us on the dock and later we went to “Kenny D’s” for gumbo and shrimp and to celebrate their 49th. wedding anniversary.

All Ron wanted for Christmas was to see the new Star Wars movie so we decided Sandestin was the place for that.  Usually Bryson, (our grandson) goes with him, but in Bryson’s absence I agreed to join him for the movie.  Not totally wanting to spend my Florida days inside a theater, my mind was changed when we learned they serve wine with their popcorn (complete with complementary wine glasses)!  As you see, I reserved the whole theater for Ron’s special Christmas present.


At the far end of our dock is a huge yacht named SOLARIS.  We were privileged to enjoy three weddings that took place on Solaris over the holiday week.


We also were entertained by dolphins swimming right outside our window.  One day I will capture them out of the water for a better photo!


Karen rode her new bicycle around the Sandestin community and captured Kara Mia across the bay……and once again we had a beautiful Florida sunset.


We ended the day at The Cabana Cafe in Seascape, where Linda’s sister Ramona and her husband Bill joined us for dinner and we all sang and danced to “Rocky Top”, good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee………..


Being tourists in Destin (Dec 29-30)

First let us say “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” to our daughter-in-law, Jenny back in Tennessee.  Jenny, we got your birthday package off today, a little late…

With our tour guide, Robert, we learned a bit about Destin’s history at the History & Fishing Museum.  We toured Destin’s first post office and visited the Duey Destin Fish Market, a restaurant run by descendants of the original family.



We visited Eden Gardens, a beautiful southern mansion of early settlers that ran a lumber mill and turpentine factory, important to Destin’s early economy (before fishing became so popular).  The grounds included acres of beautiful old trees, gardens, sculptures and fountains that overlooked Choctawhatchee Bay.


We ended our evening with a gorgeous sunset overlooking the bay and docktails at the boat with good friends…..


Ringing in the New Year (Dec 31-Jan 1, 2018)

As the New Year approached, so did a cold front – with rain and howling winds.  We hunkered down on the boat and caught up on paperwork and routine chores.  Later in the afternoon (decked out in all of our Titans gear) in the warmth of the marina grille, we watched the Titans win a spot in the playoffs by beating the Jaguars 15-10.  GO TITANS!


As the end of 2017 neared, we were entertained by an early (not midnight) fireworks celebration and music near the dock.


We awoke New Years day to howling winds and rolling waves, along with icicles on my new little bike (30 degrees)!  Ron took advantage of a cold rainy slow day and had not one, but two naps!  And, we did have our traditional New Years Day good luck meal!