After about a five month break, on February 27th we arrived back in Grand Rivers, Kentucky for the third leg of our Great Loop excursion. We had planned an early departure this year to ensure we had enough time for a comfortable cruise from Kentucky to Florida, and to join the PDQ flotilla leaving from Miami for the Bahamas at the end of April.
When researching the weather for Kentucky at this time of year, weather almanac information indicated typical temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s, with the occasional dip into the 30’s (usually overnight). Although cool, we thought we could comfortably manage this for a few days before we departed for the warmer spring weather further south. Well, not in 2014! Like much of Eastern Canada and the north-eastern U.S., the southern states have also had a much colder than normal winter this year. Temperatures were below freezing when we arrived, and overnight temperatures often reached the teens or even lower. To further liven things up, mother nature decided to give us a big blast of ice and snow just as we were launching and preparing His Idea for the trip south.
Some of the following pictures give an indication of the severity of the storm, which left about 6 inches of heavy ice and four inches of snow over a 24 hour period. The Captain spent many hours into the night repeatedly shoveling the decks to keep the weight down, but even so His Idea was sitting 4-6 inches lower in the water when all was said and done. In the end though we dug ourselves out with no major damage (some of the marina docks were not so lucky), and managed to depart only a few days behind schedule. Such a beginning was sure not what we expected!
Although cool at first, the trip south was uneventful. Other than the occasional tow and hardy fisherman, we had the rivers and lakes pretty much to ourselves for many hundreds of miles (665 statute miles in total for this section). We found delightful anchorages, and the marinas where we stopped were friendly and helpful (especially the electric space heaters). We watched spring reveal more of itself as we moved further south and time passed; by the time we reached Fairhope, native pear trees, azaleas, camellias, and magnolias were in full bloom.
We will spend a full week in Fairhope, a very lush and picturesque place with a robust and active historic downtown (something of a rarity these days). As a result of a recall, when we arrived we picked up brand new, replacement folding bikes at the local West Marine, and we’re looking forward to using them to explore the local area. We have also had a very enjoyable visit with our cruising friends John & Marsha Belford (Kadadi), of Gravenhurst, Ontario. Their beachside condo at nearby Gulf Shores was a delightful change from His idea for a few days, and their assistance in driving us around has been greatly appreciated. Thanks John & Marsha!
We hope you enjoy the pictures….
More palm trees and beaches to come over the next few weeks as we head east along the Gulf Coast Intra-Coastal Waterway (ICW).