Day 192, November 4, 2012 (Fairhope, AL): Once out of the hills of Alabama into the coastal plain south of the Coffeeville Lock, we enter mangrove bayous (see below) and ever enlarging fields of marsh grass. The bird life abounds and also is more typical of the salt marsh. We have cleared our last of 149 locks!


Bobby’s Fish Camp is a stop halfway between Demopolis  and Mobile Bay, an approximately 240 mile stretch. We stayed there to break up the trip through remote river and countryside. Despite the welcome sign on the door the folks were very helpful. They opened the restaurant especially for us and those who prefer veg to catfish were accommodated. The dock on the right descending bank of the Black Warrior is a bit tired  but fuel is available. We rafted to other boats, all loopers, because the dock is hardly a 100 feet long.

Our departure from Bobby’s Fish Camp got delayed by dense fog on the river above the lock. With 132 miles to cover we arrived in Mobile Bay at the end of the day  and made a beeline for Dog River. We eased into our berth just as the sun was setting (above). The birds were even roosting for the night.

Coming into Mobile is nightmarish. The Mobile River is narrow. The tugboats are moving every which way amid oceangoing cargo ships docking or leaving port. For one hour, mostly at idle speed we dodged and juked our way among them until we hit the open bay. Then, we put as much distance between us and them as we could in a short time. The bay is not without its  spectacles, for example, the new DEA drug boats that are said to be capable of 70 knots. The harbor is flanked by a modern office buildings and a convention center (below).

Dog River is Mobile marina central. We picked the namesake marina, which is really a shipyard and, by all accounts, a good one if one needs maintenance or repairs and almost anything mechanical except Volvo. There isn’t much around Dog River Marina except the shipyard and Mobile Yacht Club established in 1847. Dinner there of fresh fish after a long day was creditable.

Once we discovered that servicing our Volvos was not possible in Dog River we bolted to Fairhope across the bay the next day.

Fairhope is a college town, an art colony, and a retirement haven. By the looks of the neatly bussed up town center and the homes on the outskirts, Fairhope seems established. The shopping area is eight square blocks and features good restaurants, antique and art shops, clothing stores, gourmet markets, and a supermarket. The town museum is also on the main street, now exhibiting town memorabilia from World War II and continuous showing of Ken Burns’s documentaries on WWII.


Below, friends Craig and Barb are enjoying a glass of  wine and a Fairhope sunset.


New drug boat in Mobile harbor


Port of Mobile, downtown convention center and buildings