This is update #19 as we cover Fred and Sidonia St. Germaine's trip along The Great Loop in their Nimbus 405 Coupe. Links to the other updates are below.


When we left Sidonia and Fred on the Nimbus Coupe, they were at Saunders Marine Center in Orange Beach, Alabama. They arrived several days earlier, with plans to replace the damaged propeller from a grounding earlier in their trip. Unfortunately, with the boat out of the water and blocked for the repair, the mechanics found not only a bent propeller, but also a bent shaft strut.

nimbus boat getting service

A new strut was promptly order by Seattle Yachts from Nimbus Boats in Sweden, to be shipped by air and trucked directly to the boatyard. It seemed a three or four-day delay would no doubt be added to their travel itinerary, an estimate that might be considered reasonable in a perfect world of global commerce.

But these days are not reasonable. To expect a quick turnaround is pure folly, as it does not take into account the inevitable supply chain interruptions that have become a fact-of-life. Very few transactions go the way of Amazon’s Overnight or Next Day service. And, to be fair, holdups of any kind are part of the delays associated with normal cruising, without blaming any specific reason or portion of the shipping process. It doesn’t matter if it is a starter motor, an alternator, or a propeller shaft strut.

This is one reason why some cruisers choose to take advantage of unexpected delays and leave the boat safely tucked away for a couple of weeks to go home to visit family and friends, or perhaps take care of some business.

For upbeat, positively-motivated couples like Sidonia and Fred, however, it is a great opportunity to extend and expand their local sightseeing. They know they will likely not travel this way again, so they simply take it one day at a time, while enjoying living aboard a modern cruising boat with all the comforts of home.

They may spend their day playing tennis or golf, taking long walks and bike rides around the area, go to see the latest movie, or visit out-of-the-way historical sites that most will pass right by. And a rental car makes all the difference when looking at new and interesting side trips.


“On Sunday October 30, the rain was still with us, with a couple of downpours, but nowhere near the wind of previous days. When the weather finally let up later in the morning, we put our bikes in the car and decided to drive to the Grand Hotel at Point Clear.

grand hotel at point clear

“The front of the hotel is said to have an unobstructed view of Mobile Bay, with beautiful landscaping all around the vast grounds. The most impressive of this landscaping are the wonderful old oak trees with their sprawling limbs all covered in tiny ferns and dripping with Spanish moss.

old oak trees

“A modest hotel was first built on this site in 1820. The Grand Hotel opened in 1847 and later served as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. Three hundred soldiers are buried in the Confederate cemetery on the hotel grounds. After the war, there was a fire which damaged the hotel, but it was rebuilt in 1875. By 1941, the structure had further deteriorated and was rebuilt yet again. During WWII, the facility served as part of the training base for the Army’s amphibious landings.”


From humble beginnings as a two-story hotel with 40 rooms, today the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa is part of Marriott Corporation and takes full advantage of its 550-acre real estate to offer world-class accommodations and amenities. With over 400 rooms and suites, the sprawling hotel and resort offers 37,000 square feet of meeting rooms, two 18-hole championship golf courses, 10 tennis courts, 10 pickleball courts, and a 36-slip marina.

It is certainly worth a visit for anyone who happens to be passing through the area and decides to get some work done on their yacht at a nearby boatyard.


“We also drove into the city of Fairhope, a very popular resort community. Fairhope began as a small community in 1894 when a group of like-minded folks settled there. Their belief was that there should be no other taxes than a single land tax. According to legend, one of the group said the new colony only had a ‘fair hope’ of success.

“We rode our bikes around the picturesque town and through some of its pretty residential areas. Since it was Sunday, unfortunately, many of the shops were closed.

“As our waiting game continued, on Monday we decided to play golf again, so I called our golf buddy Vince to see if he could join us. He not only joined us, he brought along his adult son, Matt. We had another enjoyable round and Vince asked if he could take us to dinner on Friday if we were still in town. We told him we would certainly enjoy that, but rather hoped we will be out of the yard, back in the water, and on our way again by then.

“Thankfully, as we continued to wait for our parts, there is always something interesting to do in this part of the Alabama coast. Not too far away is the Pensacola Naval Air Station, home of the famed Blue Angels. The team has regularly scheduled practices two or three times a week, so we decided to watch one of the sessions.

blue angels

“We drove east to Pensacola, but were turned back at the gate as we don’t have military identification. We were very disappointed. In addition to missing out on the narrated viewing of the Angels practice, there is an interactive museum that would have been fun and interesting. Instead, we parked right near the base entrance gates along with several other cars and people who were there to watch. The practice lasted for 50 minutes and was exciting as always.

“We then drove into the town of Pensacola and walked around town until we got hungry. We found a restaurant on the water called The Fish House. When we arrived, the street leading up to the restaurant was lined with signs for Ron DeSantis, and people were flocking toward the entrance. As we climbed the steps to the restaurant, we were asked if we were there for the rally but we said we were just there to have lunch. I started to make my way through the crowd but a security person pleasantly asked to search my purse and person. After he waved a wand over us, we made it into the restaurant and enjoyed a very good lunch.

“About the time we finished lunch, Ron DeSantis arrived. There were so many people in the relatively small space outside the restaurant we only got a fleeting glimpse of him. We left the crowded scene before the speeches began.

“The next day was Wednesday November 2, and our propellers are now ready and balanced. We hope the shaft strut arrives today from Sweden as we’ve been in the boatyard for a week now and are anxious to get back in the water.

“With nothing else on our schedule, we got a tee time at Gulf Shores so hustled over for a game.”


The inevitable red tape of international shipping would take its toll on the couple and their schedule, forcing them to remain at Saunders Marine Center for longer than they anticipated. The physical shipping of the strut was not the only issue, but also the documentation, tracking information, and required customs paper trail.

As most cruisers find out, paperwork becomes almost more important than the physical part. Ask anyone who has had to not only order new parts, but also send in the old one to have it rebuilt, such as a starter or alternator.


“With no date available to us for its delivery, we decided to drive to Biloxi, Mississippi. Our two-hour drive passed through Pascagoula and then along the shore of the Gulf, which was a very pretty drive. We first went to the Jefferson Davis Memorial Library and then, nearby Beauvoir House where Davis, former President of the Confederacy, lived following the Civil War. Prior to the conflict, Jefferson Davis, a West Point graduate, was a senator from Mississippi and instrumental in the creation of the Smithsonian Institute.

(Below: The home of Jefferson Davis.)

home of jefferson davis

“Sara Dorsey, widow of the estate owner and friend of the Davis family, offered the guest house to Jefferson Davis as a place to live and write his memoirs. When Sara passed away, she bequeathed the estate to Davis. He lived there with his wife, Varina, and one of his daughters for 13 years until his death in 1889.

(Below: A headstone marking where Jefferson Davis' dog is buried.)

Headstone of Jefferson Davis dog

Varina later sold much of the estate to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, to house veterans and their widows and later as a memorial to her husband.

(Below: The funeral carriage that carried Jefferson Davis.)

funeral carriage

“Following our tour, we went to the Beau Rivage Casino for lunch. It is a very attractive MGM hotel/casino right on the Gulf of Mexico. We had a nice lunch and didn’t lose any money as we didn’t do any gambling.

“The next day we finally got word that our strut arrived in New Orleans and should be coming by truck to the boatyard by Monday.

“So, we celebrated with a big breakfast at the 1950-themed restaurant, Sunliner Diner in Gulf Shores. Everything about it is reminiscent of the 1950s, from the music to the shapes of the glasses on the tables. Episodes of ‘I Love Lucy’ played on a screen in a back room and one of the booths began life as a Ford sedan from the 1950s. The staff serves authentic, old fashioned milkshakes and ice cream sodas, not exactly what we intended for first thing in the morning, but our breakfast and service were very good and the facility was immaculate.

sunliner diner

“We also used the idle time to play golf again at Gulf Shores. When we first played here, we saw a large, multi-colored squirrel with a huge, bushy tail and very long fingers and toes. It was unlike any squirrel we’ve ever seen. Vince told us it is an eastern fox squirrel.

eastern fox squirrel

As golf course squirrels often do, one came right over to the golf cart. It sat on its hind legs and waved its paws at us begging for a snack. After tossing it some peanuts, we drove on. It followed us and while we were hitting our balls, it climbed in the golf cart again looking for more food.

“We got back before it ran off with our bag of nuts.

“I later called Vince to say that we were still in town and would be free to get together for dinner. We met him and his wife, Dee, at Big Mike’s Steakhouse in Orange Beach early evening. We had such a great time we didn’t leave until about 9:00. The steaks were wonderful and the service excellent. We fought over the bill but Vince had sneakily taken care of it.

dee and vince

“Meeting and spending time with them has certainly been a highlight of our trip and definitely put a positive spin on our many days in the yard.”


Over the next weekend, the couple stayed close to the boat. They watched the Army/Air Force football game, played more golf, and kept busy touring the area on their electric bikes.

Fred then got a call on Wednesday November 9, just as they were getting ready to play golf with Vince and Matt at Rock Creek Golf Club in Fairhope. The strut was in customs, and being held up for additional documentation. Things were getting close now, just waiting for paperwork to catch up with the physical part. Just a little more patience…

(Below: What the bent prop looked like.)

bent prop



“Rock Creek Golf Course is a lovely course in a very upscale neighborhood. It is prettier than Gulf Shores Golf Course but a bit more challenging. We then drove to Jesse’s in Magnolia Springs. Jesse’s has been serving the area for 75 years and is described as casual, fine dining. They dry and wet age their beef on the premises. They do the same with their fish and are even experimenting with aging scallops. After our delicious lunch, the manager showed us the aging coolers and told us all about the process.

“We heard from Loral that some Loopers would be getting together for dinner that evening at a restaurant at The Wharf. We arrived first and arranged for a table for a large group and sat down.

When the first bunch arrived, we didn’t recognize anyone but they all seemed to know each other and asked us to change seats so they could all sit together. They didn’t seem interested in meeting us or any others. We ended up sitting at a separate table with Brian, Loral, and two other nice couples.

“This is the only time we have experienced Loopers being so cliquish.

“On November 11, we learned the proper papers had been received and our strut will be released from customs and shipped. Fred felt we would be better off picking it up ourselves. Who knows how many days it might take to get here by truck from New Orleans? We made plans to drive to New Orleans on Sunday, spend the night, pick up the part first thing and come home on Monday.

“We made the drive to New Orleans in under 3-1/2 hours. On the way, we stopped at Felix’s for lunch only to find they were closed on Sundays. We went to another restaurant across the street which was not nearly as good.

“We were in New Orleans eight years ago to meet a friend from Canada for his 70th birthday party. We stayed at the Hotel Monteleone where we stayed before. It is in the heart of Old New Orleans, about a block from Bourbon Street. We shared a delicious five-course dinner in the hotel as that was all they were serving that evening. By the time we finished, we weren’t much inclined to go out and stroll the streets.

(Below: View from the Hotel Monteleone.)

view from the hotel

“Since we decided to come to New Orleans, we were very much looking forward to the wonderful beignets that the hotel serves for breakfast. We were also hoping to see the waitress we had back then as we asked about her last night and were told she still works here. Miss Kathy has worked here for 50 years now. She served our breakfasts every day when we were here before and, in addition to being a delightful person, brought us extra beignets every morning.

“Unfortunately, today was her day off.”


The couple drove to the airport’s cargo shipping area the next morning, hoping to locate the building where their strut was supposed to be. It was close to shift change and the incoming clerk was promised to know all about this shipment and how to release it to them.

Within five minutes of the clerk’s arrival, they had the strut, boxed up in a wooden crate. It was brought over by a forklift and loaded in their trunk.

By the end of the day, they dropped it off at P&D Marine Services. Fred and the men opened the crate to make sure everything looked right. The mechanics then spent the next day installing the strut and finishing the rest of the work, while Fred made arrangements for the boatyard to launch Last Item first thing the next morning, Wednesday, November 16.


“It was 43 degrees this morning and breezy. We sure miss the warm weather. As scheduled, they launched our boat at 7:00 and we headed down the GICW at speed. When we got to The Wharf Marina, about a 10-minute ride, Fred stopped to check the engine room to make sure all was okay. It wasn’t. We had a leak.

“We slowly went back to the yard and called the mechanics back. They happened to already be at the yard working on another boat so they came right over to where we tied up to the wall. It took about three hours working on the shaft seal before they felt they resolved whatever issue we had that caused a leak. They stayed aboard as we ran up and down the canal and no leaks appeared.

“Off we went again, finally able to sing a line from Willy Nelson’s ballad with a slight change in the lyrics: ‘On the Sea Again.’”

See you next time.



Here are links to the LAST ITEM's previous Great Loop updates:

Update #1: Let's Go On The Great Loop!

Update #2: "Last Item" Begins The Great Loop

Update #3: Up The Hudson To Waterford

Update #4: Last Item Heads To Rome

Update #5: Big Water Ahead As LAST ITEM Heads to Oswego

Update #6: A Taste Of The Thousand Islands

Update #7: Into The Trent-Severn Waterway

Update #8: Deeper Into The Trent-Severn

Update #9: Georgian Bay

Update #10: The North Channel

Update #11: Into Lake Michigan

Update #12: Gunkholing Down The Wisconsin Coast

Update #13: Visiting Kenosha

Update #14: Great Loop Trip Continues Into Illinois

Update #15: Exploring The Heartland

Update #16: Heading Into Tennessee

Update #17: Cruising Into The Tenn-Tomm

Update #18: On To The Gulf Of Mexico

Update #19: This Post.

Update #20: The End Of Our Loop