I'm over on Mobile Bay.
Two years ago we had a planned cruise
to Madisonville on the north shore of Pontchartrain, which unfortunately for us didn't pan out due to our rudder
stock parting on the first night out. Our route
(in reverse to illustrate potential cruising from Pontchartrain) was:
Day One: Madisonville/Lake Pontchartrain to a harbor inside the Rigolets (for the life of me I can't remember the name of the marina we were going to use; if I find it, I'll post it here).
Day Two: Rigolets to Gulfport, MS. Nice city marina and yacht club, no anchorages
Day Three: Gulfport to Pettit Bois Island in Mississippi
overnight. Alternates would be Gulfport to Biloxi, either go into a marina or anchor
out at Deer Island or up in the back bay; or Gulfport to Cat Island or Horn Island in the Sound.
Biloxi would be good for a couple of days sailing in the back bay. The Barrier Islands are also good for a couple of days, with Cat, Horn and Pettit Bois all good stops.
Day Four: Pettit Bois into Mobile Bay. At Mobile Bay there are several options. Up the western shore, one can go into the Fowl River (bridge clearance here is only 45') and anchor out. Further up the west side is the Dog River, with anchorages
, marinas and yacht clubs. Mobile itself is a busy commercial
port and has virtually nothing in the way of facilities for recreational boaters. One can go up the Mobile River and the Tensaw Delta
for hundreds of miles.
On the eastern shore of Mobile Bay there is Fairhope, a quaint village famous for its annual arts and crafts festival (usually in March). There are several marinas on the eastern shore but no anchorages.
Further east of Mobile, one enters the man-made "ditch" of the Intracoastal Waterway for a long day's motoring to Pensacola
Bay, which offers outstanding sailing.
Points further east along the ICW
, out outside in the Gulf of Mexico
, are Destin, Panama
City, Apalachicola and Carrabelle, each about a day's motoring or sailing apart and each worth a visit. Below Apalachicola/Carrabelle, the ICW
ends and one is in the shallow-water cruising grounds of Florida's "Forgotten Coast." The ICW picks up again down around Clearwater/Tampa.
We made a trip from Hudson
, FL (north of Clearwater) up through the "Forgotten Coast" across the Gulf in 2010, and then up the ICW from Aplachicola to Mobile Bay. Nice trip but limited anchorages/harbors between Hudson
This is just an overview, if you'd like specifics on any of it let me know.
From Lake Pontchartrain, 1-2 days out through the Rigolets will put you in Mississippi Sound, with sailing to Gulfport, Biloxi and the Barrier Islands. There are good anchorages at Cat and Pettit Bois Islands.