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Old 13-09-2015, 13:30   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Currently cruiseing the Caribbean
Boat: Morgan 461
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Destination Alabama, for a few days

We bought our replacement boat, Persistent Lady II, in May and it has not left the slip in St Pete once since the purchase. In that time we have done extensive work and still have a long way to go. A partial list of work done so far:



Solar panels (4) on hand, waiting for return of Bimini next week



Hydraulic steering pump and ram were sent for repair, but both got the death sentence. New pump and ram installed (both upgraded), waiting on machine shop to finish rudder tiller arm modifications.



Complete 110 and 12 volt rewiring 85% done



Electric windlass retrofitted for key fob operation



New 85 lb Mantus anchor sitting on dock, waiting on the half barrel of chain and shackle



Sherrin will start sewing new stack Pak next week



Leak in aft A/C unit is repaired



New lights installed (entire boat is LED )



AIS Transceiver ordered



New day tank is tacked together and sitting on its shelf for the dry fit



Two electric heads installed, still need to plumb holding tank on forward head



Dinghy leaks repaired and motor serviced



Generator 90% reinstalled then will test for current output



Seventeen fans installed



Water maker (Cruise R O 20) not yet revived, but should be fine with a little TLC



Fifteen twelve volt outlets wired in for charging iPads, etc



Microwave installed



Lines led to cockpit, not started but have winch and hardware on hand



Soft spot repairs not yet started



All the ‘pretty’ stuff, painting hull and deck, new cushions, etc not yet started, probably a next year project



Fuel polishing system, parts either ordered or on hand







Our Florida cruising permit (extended) expires mid-November and we are still working feverishly to complete all projects before sailing South. Next week the hydraulics should be reinstalled completely so we will be able to sea trial that system (finally leave the slip!!). Our issue is that we probably won't have time to complete the work, sea trial, tweak, re-sea trial and then sail from St Pete to Bahamas before our permit expires and sales tax will accrue. We must provide proof to the state that we have left the state, such as fuel receipt, marina receipt from another state, etc. we are considering sailing over to Alabama for a week at the end of October, after which we could return (as I understand things), complete the work and sail to Caribbean via Bahamas in December.



We are a 46ft monohull and draw 7 ft. We would prefer to ‘hop’ over to Alabama, putting in to anchor each night, then probably a night or two at a marina in AL to help with the documentation. Haven't sailed in the Gulf for over twenty years and never east of Texas, but remember that it can get rough quick.



Any suggestions as to route, stops, good anchorages, etc would really be appreciated.




Jim and Sherrin now aboard Persistent Lady II Sent from my iPad using Cruisers Sailing Forum
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Old 13-09-2015, 19:05   #2
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Re: Destination Alabama, for a few days

I did a similar trip this summer. You can get to Dunedin FL in one day from St Petersburg through the ICW. The city marina there is nice and within walking distance to downtown restaurants. '

Then a 24+ hour cross to Carrabelle (and ICW to Appalachicola) or cross to Appalachicola direct. Scipio Marina is the place to stop there. (I don't think there's much opportunity to continue towards marinas along the coast of Florida past there, but I"m sure there is more information out there.)

Then 18 hours to Destin where we anchored in Destin Harbor, and another 12 or so to Alabama. Oil and gas rigs abound the Alabama coast and Mobile Bay can get edgy fast. We didn't stop in Alabama so I don't know marina specifics, though there are several to choose from in the Bay.

Destin entrance is INSANE with inexperienced boaters but a fall trip shouldn't be so bad.
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Old 13-09-2015, 19:34   #3
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Re: Destination Alabama, for a few days

We have sailed direct St Pete to Panama City on several occasions, about 40 hrs in a 30 Sloop. Panama City and Pensacola good deep passes but I would pass on Destin with 7' draft (it is a zoo with green horn boat traffic). 50 ft ICW bridges east of PC and west of Ft Walton/ Destin. Plenty of water in the ditch west of Pensacola. Anchorages few on Mobile Bay but several good spots along the Alabama ICW. Can do Apalachicola (come in at Carabelle) , ICW to St Joe (Gulf Industrial Canal) outside to PC or direct to Pensacola. Stay well ofshore of Cape San Blas (that shallow water can be hell in the wrong conditions).

Good luck, weather should be settled this time of year.
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Old 13-09-2015, 20:08   #4
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Re: Destination Alabama, for a few days

300 miles +- from St Pete to Mobile with likely a beam reach for the whole trip. I would sail a bee line and bail to the nearest port if you develop issues.

Your Morgan would likely be a great ride.

Mine handles that trip well.


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Old 13-09-2015, 20:34   #5
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Re: Destination Alabama, for a few days

I would skip Mobile. You will have to go pretty much to the north end of the bay to find somewhere to dock. Gulfport or Biloxi are easier and actually closer.
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Old 13-09-2015, 21:16   #6
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Re: Destination Alabama, for a few days

Sail to Pensacola pass, follow ICW west to orange beach, stay at bear point marina, Barber's marina, wharf marina, or homeport marina. Only two bridges. Both 65'. One is at west end of big lagoon. The other is on way to wharf and homeport. PNS pass plenty deep, wide.
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Old 13-09-2015, 22:52   #7
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Destination Alabama, for a few days

Check the weather forecast for the West Tampa Buoy. If forecast less than 10 knots and waves less than 2 feet, passage will be good. You will see higher winds and waves, but several people with numerous passages in that area gave me that benchmark and it worked twice for me. I use Sailflow and found it really good.

I sailed Panama City Direct Clearwater pass in fall of 2013 in 35 hours in a Hunter 356. Going back north in the spring of 14, I went Clearwater Pass to waypoint 15NM SW Cape San Blas (30 hours), then headed for Destin Pass and when 15 NM off Destin, then direct Pensacola Pass, then ICW west to Homeport at Orange Beach. Total time to Homeport was 50 hours, 20 hours past Cape San Blas. Before Homeport is Bear Point Marina, then Wharf Marina. This route is 8NM longer than Clearwater Pass direct to Pensacola Pass and gives you a bailout option at Port St Joe, Panama City and Destin. Look for a norther to come down and go just after it arrives in Clearwater.


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Old 14-09-2015, 06:58   #8
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Re: Destination Alabama, for a few days

Thanks to all for the helpful advice. Pretty much confirmed my rough thoughts, will now plot a course, and bailout ports. The notes about Destin are very much appreciated, don't want a circus, hope for a little R&R. Did not realize that Biloxi might actually be closer, may skip AL and head there. Thanks again!
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Old 14-09-2015, 07:21   #9
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Re: Destination Alabama, for a few days

I went into Destin going south and it was fine. I stayed at Boshamps Restaurant and had power and water. Got a rental car and refueled by Jerry cans. The problem in Destin is availability of slips in the outer harbor. You can't get under the bridge with a high mast so you have to stay outside. It isn't nearly as tricky getting in there as I thought it might be, but you have to plan the pass in advance. Going in and back out 3 days later, weather was fine and I went and out with no difficulty. You would not want to go in there if the wind is opposed to the tide as it can get very rough as it is relatively shallow. I had friends that had a really rough time there several years ago and one boat got damaged. Both returned to the harbor after a try at exiting in the conditions where high wind and the tides opposed. Going in, right before the bridge, you take a 90 degree turn to starboard and watch the buoys.
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Old 15-09-2015, 06:08   #10
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Re: Destination Alabama, for a few days

From Twill in Alabama...your first stop should be Orange Beach or Gulf Shores. There are plenty of good marinas inside the ICW just off the open water through Perdido pass ( Alabama, Florida point.) Don't to forget to visit the Florabama bar. It can be tricky for a 7 ft deep boat but the channels are well marked and plenty of local traffic to follow around. Get a marina listing off the web and call a few for rates. There are not any places to anchor up that I am aware of but most of my sailing time in LA ( lower Alabama) has been out of Orange Beach Marina. Good Luck, St Pete to OBA is quite a "hop"....
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