“Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead” Admiral Farragut, Aug 5th, 1864
Inside historic Fort Gaines. The anchor is from U.S.S Hartford, Admiral Farragut's flagship.
It’s said that Admiral Farragut uttered these rousing words on Aug 5th, 1864 as his fleet, blocked by torpedo fields and under gunfire from Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan plunged ahead through the mouth of Mobile Bay to a key victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. It was one of the most notable naval battles of the Civil War and broke the Confederacy’s last major port stronghold in the Gulf of Mexico. The turmoil at sea has long since been swept away with the tides, but its history remains recorded on the impressive Fort Gaines at Dauphin Island.
Biking the Western End of Dauphin Island
It’s just one of the many turmoils to have touched this place over the years. Dauphin Island is part of a chain of barrier islands in the Alabama Gulf, built up over ~20,000 years by the action of sea and wind depositing great big sandbars in the mouth of the bay. Given its precarious position at the very southern end of Mobile Bay its been the first line of defence for war (the French, Spanish and British have all claimed it’s shores), hurricanes (over 10 major storms have hit the place), and most recently the BP oil spill (we spoke to a recovery group who told us they still pick up over several hundred pounds of oil every few weeks).
The Ferry crosses Mobile Bay from Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan
Despite all this the Island endures and is able to renew its beauty and resources. It’s one of 10 most important worldwide sites for bird migration, a bountiful fishing port (hosting 10 annual fishing rodeos and a 850 foot fishing pier) and provides over 7 miles of coastline. Economically it’s driven by tourism, fishing and the expansive natural gas fields (the largest in the continental United States) in Mobile Bay. It’s a unique spot with a rich and resilient history, and well worth the drive to where the sea, the winds and the land meet.
The Southeast Bastion of Fort Gaines points towards where the Union fleet assembled for its run into Mobile Bay.
The public boat ramp and afternoon view of Little Dauphin Island on Gulf Side of Mobile Bay
Early morning fishing
Endless coastline and blue sky
Posted in AL, General Musings & Travel Tales
Tagged Admiral Farragut, AL, Alabama, Battle of Mobile Bay, Civil War, Dauphin Island, Fort Gaines, Fort Morgan, history, Mobile Bay, U.S.S Hartford
Out for a dip in the Gulf
We woke up to the most gorgeous of mornings today and I just had to share it. The view outside our window had transformed from an overnight gloom of heavy fog and rain to a brilliant sunshine rich with sea air, blue sky and the lure of the ocean. The draw was irresistable and we just had to go skinny dipping. Well, OK…maybe, technically not all of us. The dog most decidedly went in “au naturel”, flowing free and unconstrained with the wind and the surf. Hubby kept a scant modesty with surfing shorts (although I must say he’s getting rather ripped these days and the shorts are a tad looser than they used to be), and me….well, given I’m the author and thus have artistic licence to do what I want, I’ll keep the thrill of suspense and intrigue alive by leaving that one to your imagination. And anyway, as Paul so often says “taking a picture of Nina is like trying to capture the Yeti…people keep trying, but no-one ever succeeds”.
With that piece of insightful wit, I leave you all with the sound of the ocean in your ears, the sea-wind in your hair and your own dreams of skinny dippin’. Let me know how they turn out…
Oh yeah, baby I'm a real salt dog
So, we’ve left the land of sunshine and snowbirds and landed ourselves in Alabama, and thanks to a bit of paw-friendly planning we’ve discovered another fabulous beach here on Dauphin Island. We deliberately skirted the popular Gulf Shores area precisely because we wanted a paw-friendly experience, and I have to admit this place delivers. It doesn’t have quite the pristine or remote feel of St. Joseph in FL and the view is spotted with oil-rigs off the coast, but we played for an hour and a half in the sand and surf with pooch this AM and only met 2 people so it goes into the “pretty darn nice” pile for us.
Afternoon play on the beach at Dauphin Island, AL
Now, this is the Deep South and it’s bursting with interesting history, but before I run off and talk about it I thought I would share a little story of how our pooch became such a beach-lover. You see, Polly was a very skittish puppy who approached water with a well-grounded mistrust and considered stick-chasing a fruitless pastime rather beneath her dignity. It took many months of daily visits to the beach in San Diego before she overcame fear to put her paw in the water, and even more months of coaxing and play before she decided retrieving was worth her time. We were already on the road by this time, Polly was over 7 months old and she’d never been for a proper swim.
The beach in my paws and a stick for play. Life is good!
But….we persisted. Approaching the problem with style Polly decided to have her first swim at stunning Cathedral Rock in Sedona, her first retrieving dips in spectacular Lake Powell and finally did the surf and beach full and dog-happy justice when we reached the Eastern Shores of Hunting Island, SC. From a scared and reserved dry-land pup, after 4,000 miles and many good doses of positive play and training she turned into an unabashedly exuberant water-dog. She now loves her sticks, will happily spend a full hour of retrieving in the surf and considers swims with dad the best of treats. So, the story has turned into one of the salt dog and us, and although it doesn’t quite have the flair of Ernest Hemingway, it’ll be a tale we’ll enjoy for the rest of our lives.
Here’s to playtime in the sand (Click the video link)
Play on the Beach at Daupin Island, AL from Paul Novell on Vimeo.