The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dog River-Week 1

We’ve learned if you’re stuck in port for a while, rent a car.  That was our first order of business on Saturday. 
We had no real plans, so we drove across the bridge to the eastern side of Mobile Bay to visit Fairhope, which we had hoped to make a stop at on Once Around.  I’m not sure what the Loopers who made that decision think, but I think they got hoodwinked a bit by the guy who gave the plug for Fairhope at the Rendezvous’.  
The town of Fairhope was all that he promised.  It was a neat little downtown to fool around in, and my First Mate and I enjoyed puttering through the shops and had a great pizza at a little Italian bistro.  However, I don’t remember the guy doing the hawking for Fairhope telling the Loopers how far Eastern Shore Marina was from downtown.  It took us a bit of searching to even find the marina…by car!  We finally saw some folks on the fold up bikes that immediately identified them to us as boaters, who through panting spells directed us to the marina.  It looked nice…but was a long way from the “convenient shopping” that I had thought I had heard about.  
Sunday, we cleaned up the boat some, and then drove to a restaurant that we had seen in our travels the day before called, “Felix’s Fish Camp” for lunch.  It was packed both days, so we figured that it must have something going for it.  We were right.  We both had Cajun whitefish with a corn and bean salsa and a side of turnip greens.  I had a cup of their crab chowder as well.  We both left with happy tummies.
We did a little provisioning and returned to the boat just in time to head for cocktails aboard Confetti.  This was a special occasion, and six crews of Loopers were there to celebrate with the folks from Confetti, Bavarian Cream and Mineau, who all cross their wakes here in Mobile Bay.  (Once again, for you non-Loopers, “cross your wake” means they’ve completed their circle, and are officially “Gold” Loopers).  It was a neat occasion.  Joining the three new gold Loopers besides Once Around were, Grianan, Lady in Red, Another Dawn, and Adesso.  There was one other guy there, a friend of Mineau’s who had driven over for the occasion from Louisiana.  They introduced him simply as “Killer”.  They offered no explanation, and I figured in that case, you probably shouldn’t ask!  You could tell there was mixed emotions among the crews who were finishing the Loop; happy to have accomplished their goal, but a little sad to be ending their trip.  We’re still five and a half months away from worrying about that though…
The Admiral was pretty chipper Monday morning.  She had connected with a friend (Devra) who is a yoga instructor that had moved to Mobile from Elk Grove.  So, off she went for a 10:00 AM hot yoga class.  They call it hot yoga because they heat the room to 105 degrees or so to do the 1-1/2 hour workout.  I think they really call it that because of the hot little outfits they wear.  I was tempted to go along…almost…but, I had to remain in “the waiting place”, hoping that someone from this boat yard will show up to discuss the work I need done.  Besides, I started sweating in the entry area of the yoga studio in Elk Grove the one time I ventured in there.  I don’t know how they do it, but the Admiral loves it!  Meanwhile, the only guy to show up at the boat was “Billy”, the parts manager, who basically took the same list of things I wanted them to work on that I had given Linda the previous Friday.  Oh, well…at least he promised he’d stay in touch with me.
Tuesday morning "Marty the appliance guy" showed up to fix the refrigerator (he doesn’t do dryers, which is also on the fritz, and on the list).  Carrie had decided not to go to yoga that morning and It’s a good thing too, because I wouldn’t have wanted to suffer the embarrassment alone of having him tell me the refer was fine, it just needed to be defrosted.  It never occurred to us that a $1,700 refrigerator would not defrost itself!  Hell, for that much it ought to do the cooking, too.  Anyway, after Marty left and we removed about a 24” x 24” x 3” thick block of ice from the new Italian made refrigerator, it works perfectly.  I wonder what that cost us? 
Nobody else showed from the boatyard, so late in the day we ran some errands.  We’re learning our way around Mobile…which is not necessarily a happy thing.  We did have a great Mexican food meal at a little local bar in downtown Mobile that Carrie’s yoga buddies told her about.  It was a little hole in the wall called The OK Bicycle Shop.  It did actually have a few Schwinn Cruisers suspended above the bar, although I never did learn the significance.  Otherwise, the atmosphere was pure “local watering hole”, the staff and locals were really friendly, the food was good and the margaritas were outstanding.
Wednesday morning bright and early "Ray the mechanic" showed up to look at our generator.  It wasn’t really broken; it had just recently started to slowly fill the boat with a smell like burned motor oil when it ran for very long.  In short order Ray found and repaired a stuck PCV valve…voila’, no more smell.  Great start to the day…now where is that electronics guy that is supposed to figure out why my depth finder is acting up, which is the main reason we’re stuck here in the first place?
Carrie left for yoga around mid-morning and returned with lunch.  Her friends laughed when she asked where she could find a good Chinese take-out place.  Apparently that would be NOT in Mobile, so she brought back burgers.  We were stuck waiting on the boat as I had been told that "Brett the electronics guy" should be there by 1:15.  He showed about 2, which was cool with me.  We discussed the options, and he promised to get back to me with pricing and availability of parts…soon.
So at 6:00 Care and I left for dinner at a marina across the river called Grand Mariner.  We sat at the bar, enjoyed the local conversation and bantered with a couple of guys who were sailboaters.  Power and sail folks agree only on the beauty of the sea…and little else.  They go slow, we go fast, they are cheapskates…OK, maybe I’m a bit biased.  They were nice guys though, and not gay.  Carrie asked them.  No more martini’s for her.  The food was good, but mostly fried.  Fried fish, fried shrimp, fried oysters, hush puppies (fried potatoes)...etc.  Like our freind Carolyn said in New Orleans to her husband Buddy:  "Buddy, it was just like dinner at your grandma's!"

The Grand Mariner
Thursday morning Carrie packed for her west coast visit, then we left for the airport, stopping at Big Ed’s Tiny Diny (on a tip from Bavarian Cream) for breakfast.  When the waitress asked me what I wanted to go with my corned beef hash and eggs I made the mistake of asking for sourdough toast.  She looked at me weird and said, “None of that here.”  I really cracked her up when I then asked for an English muffin.  She chuckled and said, “Honey, this here’s the South.  We got white or wheat, or you can have biscuits and grits.  English muffin, what’s that?”  The grits were…well…grits, but the hot out of the oven biscuits were to die for.
The Admiral flew out at 10:00 AM.  She and our daughters and granddaughter are meeting in San Francisco to shop for a wedding dress for Carla.  The mere suggestion by me that maybe the Admiral didn’t really need to be there, that the girls could handle it themselves, drew me “the look”.  End of discussion.  Every other Admiral here I have looked to for support has just given me that “Are you some kind of idiot” look.  That must be something they all learn in Admiral school.  Anyway, there’s something called a “trunk show” going on in San Francisco.  From what I can tell I think that means Dad will have to send a whole trunk full of money if they find a dress…excuse me…wedding gown there.
I had a pretty quiet day after the Admiral left (imagine that!).  I did hear from the yard that the parts are on order and IF they arrive early as promised Friday, they will get everything done then.  Carrie returns Sunday night and right now the weather forecast looks good for getting out of here on Monday.  I was invited to a nice home (boat?) cooked meal aboard Kadahdi Thursday night.  BBQ pork chops, lots of wine and good conversation.  They are leaving the boat here and heading home for the holidays to Canada, so we won’t see them again until after the first of the year.  They are really great folks and lots of fun.
We’re not the only Loopers getting work done here.  Lady in Red got new bottom paint and a hull wax and Grianan had their stainless rails (ripped apart in a marina on a windy day in Chicago) replaced and also got bottom paint and a hull wax.  There were lots of other Loopers getting work done as well.
Lady in Red

Meanwhile, it looks as if our old buddies Lolligag are going to pass us he toying with me???

It’s now Friday morning and I’m still waiting (not my strong suit) for word from the yard.  Meanwhile, half a dozen or so boats have left, although the Mobile Bay weather is marginal.  I imagine a new bunch of Loopers will arrive late this afternoon.  That’s life on the Loop…

Once the "waiting place".

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