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Old 30-01-2012, 21:58   #1
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Alabama and Louisiana Gulf Coast

We plan to cruise the northern Gulf coast in Feb. and March. Are Tornadoes a problem ? Any infi is welcome

Tangaroa
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Old 30-01-2012, 23:01   #2
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

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We plan to cruise the northern Gulf coast in Feb. and March. Are Tornadoes a problem ? Any infi is welcome

Tangaroa
My friend just went through a tornado watch outside of Mobile a couple of days ago, so yes, they are possible.
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Old 30-01-2012, 23:15   #3
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

They can be a problem, but the local weather chanels have pretty good coverage, if your not to far offshore you can pick up local tv and have great tornado coverage. We love cruiseing at this time of yr on the ICW, less boats more room in ancorages, marinas ect! Except New Orleans during Marti Gras or Mobile during the same time ! if you get to the Houma area give us a shout and we will boil some shrimp or crab !! have fun Bob and Connie
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Old 31-01-2012, 05:33   #4
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

Are tornadoes a serious hazard to navigation the area ? What is the frequency, history ...etc. Where can I find date and info ?

Should I consider another cruising area because of tornado risk ?
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Old 31-01-2012, 06:23   #5
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

No, tornadoes are not that frequent. Frankly, I wouldn't worry about it. Pay attention to general weather reports and you'll be fine.
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Old 31-01-2012, 06:48   #6
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

The gulf coast of Alabama is not considered to be in "tornado alley" generally speaking, in my opinion. That would be a path across the mid-section of the state. I certainly wouldn't worry about this issue to the extent it prevented a visit to the area.

Check out this amazing photo of the paths during this past summers storms.

Be sure to click on the picture for a larger view.

Incredible Maps: Alabama and Southeast Tornado Tracks, Rotation, Damage | Bruce Sussman Portland Weather
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Old 31-01-2012, 08:28   #7
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The Gulf Coast is horrible. You should stay away at all costs.

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Old 31-01-2012, 09:12   #8
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

Howdy: Found this thread while I was searching for info on the Gulf Coast from Tampa Florida to Galveston, tx.... We're bringing a friends sailboat to Galveston starting the middle of February. Got any info or suggestions on good places to stop. We're going to be hopping off shore on and off for this trip. Day or two out then a night tied up at a dock then back out etc... no rush but would like to know this trip out in 10 days or so. Got any suggestions or "don't miss" spots?
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Old 31-01-2012, 15:15   #9
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

Brought our new to us Beneteau to Kentucky from Galveston via the ICW and Tenn-Tom last year and had a great trip. Our favorite marina was the city marina at Pass Christian MS. New since Katrina with all the amenities, including a sports bar with great food and definitely the place to be on the Saturday that Alabama played Auburn. Courteous and helpful staff, security was great, and was able to get fresh oysters and shrimp from the locals. Plan on an out of the way stop over this fall on our way to FLA. An easy days sail from Mobile Bay.
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Old 31-01-2012, 15:31   #10
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

I just posted a lengthy descriptor here
post link
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Old 31-01-2012, 17:24   #11
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

We have our boat at Fairhope, AL on Mobile Bay. No, tornados are not a significant risk here. We've been in Fairhope for five years and seen 0 tornados south of I-10 anywhere near the Bay or coast. There have been 2-3 tornados that have touched down but they have been well away from the coastal areas.

We did see one waterspout on the Bay 2 years ago - erie to watch it form, but we were able to avoid it and it dispersed relatively rapidly. I don't think this is any more than you'd see them anywhere else.

February temperatures can be cooler, but we've been having a mild winter as compared to the past couple of years - temperature was around 72 degrees today with winds 10-15 knots. You will want to watch for fronts coming in from the west that will veer the normally southeast winds to the northwest to north.

We've found the area to be a great place to cruise. You do have to watch water depth, it can shallow up to 5' or less in Mobile Bay and areas outside the ICW. The charts are pretty good showing where to avoid.

There's great cruising to the west in Mississippi Sound, around Gulfport and Biloxi. East of Mobile Bay it's about a day's motoring in the ICW to get to Pensacola, lots of good sailing there.

I previously posted the below in another thread, apologize for the length here but I haven't yet figured out how to post a link to another thread, gotta work on that.

I would highly recommend the area, it's a great place to sail.

As you come down the Tensaw River, you’ll need to come through what locally they call Government Cut west into the Mobile River – sailboats can’t clear any of the bridges at the Mobile delta (I-10 and the Causeway), except for those on the Mobile River. There’s a large bridge at Africatown (so-called because it’s where the last load of African slaves to America, established a homestead after they escaped from the slave schooner that brought them into Mobile Sound) that has plenty of clearance, and I-10 goes thru a tunnel under the river.

Through Mobile proper there are no recreational marinas or service points, so make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel before you get into the Delta. Stay to the marked channels as you leave the Mobile River and enter Mobile Bay, depths come up quickly outside the channels.

Once you clear Mobile, on the western shore of Mobile Bay you’ll first come to the Dog River. There are two yacht clubs here (Mobile Yacht Club and Buccaneer Yacht Club), both have some transient docks if you’re a yacht club member. There are several marinas inside the river, including Sundowner, Turner’s (no relation; fuel and pump-out) and Grand Mariner. Transient rates in the entire area seem to run $45-50 a night for boats over 30’. There are good restaurants at Grand Mariner and also at the River Shack [on the south side of the river just after you pass under the Dog River Bridge (clearance 73’)] – I recommend the latter; you can tie up for lunch or dinner but there’s no overnight docking. For anchorage, continue upriver about a mile past Grand Mariner and anchor just off the middle of the river – be aware that there’s a fair amount of fishing boat traffic up through here. There are more anchorages further in but if you’re just passing through you probably don’t want to get too far out of the bay.

Continuing south along the west shore of the bay you’ll come to the Fowl River. You can’t clear this bridge with your air draft [45' maximum]. There is some limited anchorage just to the east of the bridge – you’ll see some fair-sized boats moored out just south of the channel. There is also a restaurant on the north shore just east of the bridge that has some limited transient dockage.

There aren’t any other marinas or anchorages along the western shore until you get to Dauphin Island. At Dauphin Island, there are two small coves along the north shore of the island just to the west of the Dauphin Island Bridge – check the charts, it’s a long channel to get in there, with shallows all around and limited anchorage once you get inside. If you continue out the mouth of Mobile Bay, you can then turn west along the southern shore of Dauphin Island – there is an anchorage as the outer barrier island (Pelican Island, locally called Sand Island) comes up towards the main Dauphin Island shore. Watch for the golf course on Dauphin Island and anchor in the small cove before the barrier island comes up to the main shore.

Along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, the Fairhope Yacht Club (my club) is on Fly Creek along with two marinas, Eastern Shore (fuel) and Fly Creek Marina. There’s a decent burger joint at Fly Creek, and a Mexican restaurant within walking distance, but not much else – it’s about 2 miles into Fairhope, the nearest town. No anchorages up here except in the bay off the beach in front of the yacht club, and then only if it’s absolutely calm, there’s no protection. For that matter, there are no anchorages period all along the eastern shore. Further south from Fly Creek is the Fairhope Municipal Marina, a man-made harbor that’s good for normal conditions but very exposed if it gets bouncy. Several good restaurants within walking distance. Further south is the marina at the Grand Hotel Resort (pump out), limited transient but can handle larger boats, nice restaurants at the resort.

East thru the ICW from the mouth of Mobile Bay, there’s a refurbished marina, Fort Morgan Marina, about 2 miles east of Fort Morgan Point. Look for the large “boatel” storage building, and be sure to stay to the marked channel going into the marina. Transient fees are $35/night below 24’, $45/night above that, extra for electric. This marina is somewhat exposed in western winds. I noticed on the chart that immediately east of this marina’s man-made harbor, depths are about 6’, so good for anchoring. Within the marina, there’s a good restaurant for breakfast/lunch/dinner, “Tacky Jack’s 2,” and there’s also a new marina store for provisions, and restrooms/showers.

Further east is Navy Cove, another popular anchorage but exposed to north and west winds. As you reach the easternmost entrance to the ICW, exiting Mobile Bay, you can follow the marked channel that cuts to the north into the Bon Secour River. This is a very picturesque area, home to one of Mobile Bay’s last commercial fishing/crabbing fleets. Stay to the marked channel and go about one mile or so past the Bon Secour Fisheries – you can anchor in about 6-8’ of water immediately to the west of the last channel marker, I think it’s daymarker #37. When you first enter the river, there’s a cut off to the south – there’s a marina down there and a restaurant, although I haven’t been up in there. If you go up the main river, you can buy fresh seafood at Billy’s Seafood, you’ll see their buildings and can tie up at there docks.

Into the ICW there’s LuLu’s Homeport Marina and restaurant (this is Jimmy Buffet’s sister’s place, always jumping and good food). Fuel and pump-out at their docks along the ICW to the east of the restaurant. Across the ICW there's a second restaurant, Tacky Jack's, with a few docks (no overnight). There’s a new marina further on, just entering into Big Lagoon, Barber Marina – brand new, floating concrete docks, fuel dock and pump-out station, a new marina store but no restaurant. Just east of Barber is Ingram Bayou, said to be one of the prettiest anchorages on this stretch of the ICW – good anchorage in the lower part of the bayou, and an all-weather hole in the upper part of the bayou. Beyond Ingram’s is Pirate’s Cove, a very popular stop for burgers – anchorage both out front of the restaurant, and in the bayou behind. which I also assume you’re familiar with (if not, a great place to stop for a burger). On the south side of the lagoon across from Pirate’s Cove is another popular marina, Bear Point (fuel and pump-out). A bit further east you’ll also come to another good marina at Perdido Key with a good restaurant, but be sure to follow the channels in.

There are plenty of people that can give you better advice on the section between Pensacola and Apalachicola than I can,we’ve so far only been through there one time. At Fort Walton Beach we stayed at Shalimar, good site but a bit of a hike north of the ICW. At Panama City I highly recommend the Panama City Public Marina (fuel, pump-out), very nice facility and walking distance to plenty of good restaurants, places to provision and marine supply stores. Below Panama City you can either stay in the ICW, or jump offshore in the Gulf to Port St Joe – good marina there (fuel, pump out, restaurant) and places to reprovision. Then back into the ICW to Apalachicola. At Apalachicola we stayed at Scipio Creek Marina, which I also recommend.
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Old 31-01-2012, 20:59   #12
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

Thanks Mike, very valuable info. Happy to get confirmation that Feb/March are good cruising months. We will leave Port Charlotte 3rd of Feb.

Tangaroa
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Old 31-01-2012, 21:21   #13
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

I sailed Lake Erie at Cleveland for 18 years and saw tornados (water spouts) annually, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time. I can't imagine them any more prevalent in the Gulf. They tend to run on land or along the margins or water to land. They are extremely localized and even if you see one you will likely only be treated to the show. Over water they are water spouts and their energy is rapidly disapated due to the mass of water they are lifting and transporting. If you see a heavy squall line approaching you will probably already be reducing sail and wil have ample time to prepare. Tornado damage is pretty rare.
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Old 31-01-2012, 22:30   #14
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

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Thanks Mike, very valuable info. Happy to get confirmation that Feb/March are good cruising months. We will leave Port Charlotte 3rd of Feb.

Tangaroa
Happy to oblige. Just be prepared for cool temperatures and periodic cold fronts coming out of the north/west - basically the prevailing winds just keep clocking around from southeast to northwest/north and back again as the fronts march across the country. We try not to let it overly impact our cruising. Let me know if you have any specific questions about specific places to go in the Pensacola-Mobile Bay-Mississippi Sound portion of the route.

FYI we made a crossing up from Hudson, FL (north of Anclote Key) to Mobile in late April/early May 2010. Wind was against us the entire way, out of the northwest. We did the port-hopping route along the Big Bend versus offshore, with one offshore passage overnight from Suwannee, FL to Appalachicola. Can give you some hints on that passage if you haven't done it/are interested.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:53   #15
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

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Happy to oblige. Just be prepared for cool temperatures and periodic cold fronts coming out of the north/west - basically the prevailing winds just Can give you some hints on that passage if you haven't done it/are interested.
My wife, the Supply officer, and I are sailing a 39' Corbin with a 55' mast and a 5' draft. So I guess that means no ICW. With the prevailing winds, the choice will be between waiting for the right conditions or lots of diesel fumes and noise. I expect a lot of both.

I have Clairborne Young's cruising guide. Any other suggestion for guides ?

Thanks all for feedback.

Tangaroa
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