When people in the US think of beaches and the ocean, it’s most often Florida or California. Some are surprised to find that here in Alabama, we have our very own, (perhaps lesser known)beaches, and our own access to expansive ocean fronts. As it’s only about a 4.5-5 hour drive from us, we’d been tossing around the idea of a weekend sail in Mobile Bay, right here in our home state. Shannon found a public boat launch in the town of Fairhope, AL which is located right on Mobile Bay.
Also, our BRAND NEW sails arrived the day before from Precision Sails. We were itching to try them out.
- Side note – We have known for quite a while that we needed to get a new Marine Radio. We’d been looking around at the seemingly endless possibilities. We were thrilled to find this one at Bass Pro Shop in Leeds, Alabama
Also, in the week prior, Shannon had been doing a ton of work on the Shinin’ Brite. Fitting new rigging, new wood rails on the top, new cletes and blocks and wiring. I’d gotten some canvas organizers to keep our personal items out of the way and dry, and he found a perfect way to hang them on either side of the cabin. I am thrilled!
We drove into the town of Fairhope to get some ice and some chicken. The town is absolutely adorable. They were just setting up for a steak cook off, (link to the event!) and although that sounded pretty great, we were ready to get onto the water. We launched on Friday afternoon at around 5pm!
We had a nearly perfect sail, up and down the bay in front of the town of Fairhope. From the time we started, we knew we had about 2.5 hours of daylight left and we used every minute of it. We had music playing, the wind at our backs, and a beautiful 360 degree panoramic view. Around 7pm, we decided to find a place to anchor for the night, as we’d planned to sleep on the boat. We found a good spot, Shannon set the anchor, and we both set anchor alarms on different apps on our phones.
- Side note – If you don’t know what an anchor alarm is – it’s nifty. You can mark your initial location at anchor, and draw a perimeter around the location in the app. If your boat drifts outside of the perimeter you’ve set, the alarm will let you know you’ve drifted.
We settled in, watched a squall on the other side of the bay, watched the heat lightening display all around us, and then watched the moon rise over the water. The waves were gently rocking us and we were having a great time. Shannon had asked me several times, ” are you going to be able to sleep out here?”, and I said that it was like being rocked in a cradle! I figured I’d sleep like a baby!
From 7-9pm the anchor alarm didn’t sound at all. We were holding steady and having a great time. Sometime between 9 and 930pm, the alarm went off. We reset it and waited. Shannon started to doubt we’d be able to hold in place. This was when the wind and waves really started to shift into something more like a ride at Six Flags. For the next 2 hours the anchor alarms sounded about every 15 minutes. At 11pm we made the call to pack it up and head back in to the boat launch, in the dark.
We called around for a hotel, but came up short. There was nothing reasonable within an hour drive of where we sat, in the parking lot of the public boat launch. So, as we were planning to turn right back around and sail the following day, we decided to use our resources! We climbed into the boat cabin and slept, as planned, on the Shinin’ Brite until morning.
Morning, was when we woke to a beautiful day!
We wanted to sail to the Middle Bay Lighthouse, and set out to do so, around 10am. We had a beautiful morning sail!
After a couple of hours, Shannon checked the weather. There was a storm front that was expected to roll in around 4pm. We realized we didn’t have enough time to sail to the lighthouse and back before the storm, so we abandoned the effort. Not quite enough wind to get us there in the timeframe we needed. We sailed for a few more hours until the wind completely died at around 230pm. The sun was high in the sky, and without a breeze, it suddenly got very hot.
We motored back to the take out, and I walked immediately across the street from the public boat launch to get us some shaved ice from Ice Ice baby Snow balls
Once we were sufficiently rehydrated and cooled off, we started taking down the mast and rigging and packing up for home.
Soon after, a man drove up beside us in a pick up truck and started talking to us out the window. He had an adorable pup with him, and as Jango had stayed behind this trip, I was excited to get some puppy love. The man wanted to tell us how happy he was to see us sailing! He said that some of his friends had contacted him yesterday to let him know that someone was sailing in a sailboat on the bay. “I’m always bitchin’ about the fact that nobody ever sails in the bay, so my friends called me up to tell me someone was actually sailing! We’ve been watching’ ya’ll sailing this whole time and I think it’s great!” This was obviously completely delightful to us. He said, “There’s a yacht club right over there, full of boats and they never move. It’s sad, really”. He then began to tell us that he’d personally had over 70 boats, many of them sailboats, and that he’d just written an article for Garden and Gun magazine about it. He told us he writes for a living, and I said “well tell me your name and I’ll look you up!” His name is Sonny Brewer, and his pup is named Bobby. Turns out Bobby is a Feist Terrier – the same kind of dog as Jango. It’s not very often that we meet other people who have a Feist. I felt an immediate kinship with them both.
About this time, he reached in the back seat and pulled one of his novels out of a box, and signed it to us. ‘A Sound Like Thunder‘ is the book, and as he handed it to me, he said, “This one is boring. The one people seem to like is called ‘The Poet of Tolstoy Park’ . ” And then “what are ya’ll doin’ on Thursday? I have a book launch and I’d love for ya’ll to come!” His new book, launching on Thursday, 5/19/22 in Fairhope, AL, is a book of poetry, is called ‘Syllables go by’ . I have just ordered it on Amazon, and I can’t wait to read it
Turns out there are 2 articles that Sonny Brewer wrote, and sent to us, published in Garden and Gun magazine. One ,about the boats, called ‘A boat to see me home’ linked there. A second one about Bobby called ‘Old Man New Tricks’, also linked. I am loving reading the words that Sonny has written. He is a talented and accomplished author, and besides that, he is a very nice man who shares our love of sailing.
Shannon and Sonny exchanged phone numbers and are planning to reunite soon to work on Sonny’s new project boat. I can’t wait for Jango to meet Bobby. Perhaps we will all go sailing in Mobile Bay very soon!