Chris Dabney has been cruising on Alabama’s Mobile Bay with his family since he was 18 months old. Now the commodore of the Fairhope Yacht Club on the eastern shore, he still loves boating on the bay all year long. Occasionally, he says, there are 3- or 4-foot rollers, but generally, the cruising is a breeze.
“All throughout the year, you’re going to have good weather,” he says. “We do have commercial traffic: container ships and tugboats going to the port of Mobile. You’ll see ’em coming. Just give ’em some room. A 40-foot boat, you don’t even have to stay in the channel. You’re not going to be drawing that much. You have plenty of room across the bay to just go.”
Mobile Bay is really several cruising destinations in one. Down at the southeast tip is the city of Gulf Shores and historic Fort Morgan (shown in the photograph at right), which was built after the War of 1812 and is open for tours. At the northern end of the bay is the city of Mobile, where the USS Alabama is open for tours and the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum has exhibits on everything from hurricanes to marine archaeology.
Then there’s Fairhope, on the eastern shore, where Dabney says a day of touring the shops and restaurants absolutely must include a stop at the Dragonfly Foodbar — for an unusual type of cuisine that highlights the region’s seafood producers.
“They’re gonna do tacos that include tuna, shrimp, crawfish, chicken, steak or lamb,” he says. “They also do nachos with cheese and then seafood on top. It sounds weird, and so do the tacos, but with the sauce and the flavors, it is fine. These are the best things ever.”