I’ve lived in Mobile, Alabama almost 7 years now; and in that time I’ve experienced a lot of water. The kind of water that falls from the sky, the salty kind that you swim in at the beach; and I’ve driven over many a bridge that spans a muddy, lazy river, bayou, or the Mobile Bay. But in all that time, I have yet had the chance to experience being on a boat cruising one of those bodies of water. Last weekend gave me that experience.
A buddy of mine invited my wife and I to test ride a boat he had bought recently and we gladly accepted. The offer carried with it a warning that we might be part of a rowing crew if the engine did not perform as expected. I considered that just part of the expected adventure. I wasn’t going to pass up the offer. Although Mobile, Alabama is considered a great “boating destination”; you can’t really enjoy boating unless you:
A)Have money to afford a boat or
2)Know someone with a boat.
I was glad I knew someone with a boat.
Our little cruise was on Mobile’s Fowl River. The river winds through Mobile County and splits to travel out into the Mississippi Sound on the West and into Mobile Bay on the east. We launched up from the mouth of the bay at Pelican Reef Marina. I had been pass the marina many times on Highway 193 in my previous job, that included driving all over the area, but until now I did not belong to the “club” of “boaters”.
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Right away, let me say as soon as we launched the boat, I was having a good time. “Cap’n” Paul Glass, our host, opened the little boat up and we were speeding down the river at about 40 miles an hour! That seems really fast on the water. As we passed other boats we encountered their wake and waves and our boat bounced and jumped over the waves with some fun, “butt-bruising”, bumps. I felt sorry for my wife who had opted to sit forward in the boat on the floor in order to take photographs. Her small cushion she sat on seemed of little use on the jolts.
Cap’n Paul decided to take us by his family’s old fishing camphouse to see how the old property was holding up and we pulled the boat up on the sandy shoreline to get out and take a look. Unfortunately, the boat encountered a small problem and would not restart. The battery was not holding a charge. Thankfully, cell phones are the norm these days and Paul called a cousin who lived down from the camphouse and he drove up to help us out. Renee and I volunteered to stay with the boat, while Paul and Cousin pulled out the battery and took it to charge and fetch back the portable charger/booster in case it was needed again. So, Renee and I were shipwrecked on the river for little over an hour.
We passed the time by wading in the cool water and silty sand and admiring the scenery. Renee found a shady spot to read a book and I encountered 10,000 snakes as I wandered the property. (Okay, I passed by a pile of leaves and tree limbs and heard something and saw something long and brown slither underneath. Whether it was one snake or 10,000 didn’t matter to me…I headed back to the water’s edge at the speed of “scared”)
Paul returned with a fully charged battery and it appeared we would not have to row the boat after all. After the battery was re-installed, we cranked the boat and headed back out onto the water. We cruised the river and took in the sights.
We passed other boaters pulling water skiers, we passed people on jet skis, and we saw people sitting on their docks relaxing, enjoying a cold libation, or watching their kids swim. As we floated by other boats, the folks seemed friendly and smiled and waved. Obviously they assumed I was a member of the “boating club”.
The scenery along the river was beautiful. Trees lined the shore broken up by magnificent manicured lawns, boat docks and high-dollar homes. I wondered about the jobs the residents had and how they afforded these estates on the water. There were older modest homes as well that looked well lived-in and obviously were some of the first homes along the water.
After speeding along the river for a while, Cap’n Paul piloted the boat into a “No-Wake” area of the river and we idled along the calm waters. The area was serene and the water was glass-like. We passed by Memories Fish Camp/Bait Shop/Convenience Store and, I’m not certain, but it may have been a Bar, too; and made our turnaround to head back down the river.
As we came back to the boat launch, Cap’n Paul decided to run past the the marina and take us just barely to the mouth of Mobile Bay. The change in the water and the boat’s maneuverability was quite sudden. It was apparent our little boat did not want to venture much further into the bay and we made a slow turn back to the marina.
We were about 50 feet from the boat launch when our boat’s engine died again. Our day’s activities had used all the gas in the motor except some “old fuel” in the bottom of the tank. Our motor decided it did not like that fuel and quit drinking it. Luckily, Paul maneuvered us in to the boat launch by repeatedly turning the motor over and letting the momentum float us in to the launch area. Fellow boaters who were loading their boat back on its trailer gave us a hand by grabbing our hands from the dock and pulling us and the boat into position to lift it out of the water.
Our adventure over, we secured the boat to the trailer and headed back home. I forgot to reapply sunscreen during the day, so I sported a nasty sunburn/windburn on my face for the next days after the trip, but I had a great time and would gladly do it again.
It was nice to be a member of the “boater’s club” for a day, and I’d welcome temporary membership on someone else’s boat whenever asked.
For a complete detailed account of the Robison’s Fowl River Trip, check out my wife, Renee’s blog, “Boating On Fowl River” at See Mobile Alabama. And More photos for your viewing pleasure are at David Robison’s Flickr.