Monday, August 6, 2007

Cruising in Wolf Bay

I have a wonderful friend in Captain Dan Chichester. Captain Dan used to own a river tour business in Gulf Shores, Alabama. That is how I met him. My family has taken a few cruises with him. Captain Dan is so knowledgeable about his environment. He offers fascinating information about the surrounding area and inlets, both about the native vegetation and the wildlife. Captain Dan has become a dear friend to me, I think allot of him (we also share birthday’s!).
The last time I saw him he drove his boat over from Ocean Springs Mississippi to take Tom, Brock, Elaina, Jack and I on another cruise. We met him at Lulu’s Homeport Marina. From there we took off for the most wonderful boat ride. We drove up the Intercoastal Waterway and into Wolf Bay. The weather was just perfect. It was late into the day and the sun was not as hot. After a while we all decided we were hungry and voted to the infamous Pirates Cove. From Gulf Shores mainland, it is about an hour ride in Josephine, Alabama, but by boat it is just across the bay. Legend has it that Jimmy Buffett wrote the famous song , “Cheeseburger in Paradise” there. We approached the “restaurant”( and I use that term loosely) and anchored and waded through the tide to the place. The crowd was “riff raff”, as this is what the locals call themselves. There were dogs running all throughout the place. I have never seen dogs that looked like those. They looked like they were on steroids, the biggest I had ever seen-and so friendly and laid back.
Brock and I walked into the bar area to order for everyone, while the rest of the bunch stayed outside to claim a picnic table on the deck of the beach bar. There were just two people working that day at Pirates Cove, one taking orders and one cooking. Tom, Brock and Captain Dan decided that they wanted to try out the cheeseburger-how could they not? The kids and I got grilled cheese sandwiches. As I placed my order I heard Brock whisper into my ear, “Mom there is a guy next to you with a snake”. I heard it, but didn’t pay much attention, tying to focus my attention on our order. As I finished up, Brock, more instantly whispered into my ear again, “Mom, there is a guy right next to you with a snake around his neck”. I turned to Brock a bit confused by his statement, for we were in fact inside a "restaurant". Brock pointed to my left. I turned and my mouth literally dropped to the floor. There, sitting at the bar was a shirtless tattooed young man with a boa constrictor around his neck. The snake was pretty large. The man smiled and moved out to the deck and began weaving hemp jewelry that he sold on site. I had to go and get his story. After talking to this shirtless man, I discovered that he LOVES reptiles. He has had hundreds in his lifetime and will often find them in the wild and keep them for pets. I could’ve stayed talking to this guy for hours, as he was so fascinating, but I made my way back to our table, where our food was ready.
It was a delicious meal, that we happily shared with the dogs who had joined our table, both under neath and one, who rested his head on the table and made the most sad face that we couldn’t resist feeding him. The ambiance of the place lent so much to the entire experience.
After supper, we took up anchor and boarded the boat to set sail again. We came upon a young family in a shrimping boat. A pod of dolphins surrounded their boat, waiting for “rejects” to be thrown into the water. It was magical when the dolphins came over to our boat and rested their noses on our boat deck, hoping that we had some small fish from casting nets to feed them too. Elaina touched one of the dolphins. It was a moment in a lifetime for all of us. It was the perfect end to our vacation. The day ended with a gorgeous sunset and *fascinating stories from Captain real life adventures. All to soon, we pulled back into Homeport Marina and bid Captain Dan farewell. I have been many places, but I have to say that this trip was one I will always remember. Thank you , Captain Dan for a magical day.

*Captain Dan now resides in Ocean Springs and does offer cruises to Deer Island, Ms. If you are interested in booking a cruise, contact me and I will give you his contact information. More Captain Dan stories can be seen on this blog. Also, be sure and check out the slide show on this blog, from Pirates Cove.

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