Where we at

Monday, November 22, 2021

Sea Trial

A couple of stories converge today.

First, props. After a river cruise like ours most everyone has had some kind of propellor issue. We are no exception. Between wallowing in mud, backing into logs, and hitting things we didn't see, we needed to have the props tended to when we got to Green Turtle Bay. At that time Russ thought the props looked really thin. The starboard prop had to be hammered flat. Moreover, we always had just a little vibration.

Additionally, we've never had them pitched, and we're certain the previous owner didn't either. It would make sense they were due, especially after the 2 years we've put on them.

Roseate Spoonbills. Love these birds.
We see them occasionally on LBK.
Second, engines. We have 2 315hp Yanmar diesels, 1 in the each hull. These are the kind of engines semi trucks use. Annually, once we get back to Longboat Key, Russ has a Yanmar engine expert come out and give them the works. He tighten belts, flushed the raw water coolant system, replaced the zincs -- normal marine engine service stuff. But we like a professional to give them a good eye. Btw, they got a clean bill of health.

Russ and the engine guy had conversations about props and speed. Sure we could go faster if pitched differently but unless we could get the boat to plane we might as well be dumping fuel into the water, since we'd burn through it so quickly. 

Sarasota, across the bay.
Side note: The engines are on the back of the boat. The faster you go, the harder they push, and the more the nose of the boat comes up. "Planing" is when you hit a speed where the nose comes down and the boat levels out. Theoretically, you'd burn less fuel because more of your hull is out of the water. In fact, you should be able to slow the engines a bit and keep your plane. We just don't think inQuest has it in her. She's very heavy.

Another engine topic was how many rpms could we do and for how long. The mechanic believed we could run the engines at 3400 rpm for hours. The Endeavour people thinks we could run them flat out for hours. After some chat it was clear we needed to know exactly what performance we were getting before we changed anything. We really had no clue how fast the boat would go with the throttles pegged and the engines wide open. That is something they checked on sea trial when we purchased the boat, and at that time she achieved 15 knots. But she had little or no water in the tank, little gas, and absolutely nothing on board like what we carry now (tools, spare parts, etc.) We were sure we were too heavy to get on plane but had no idea what our top speed would be.

Hey, I made Toad in the Hole.
Those are vegan sausages, btw.
Today we decided to find out. Our water tanks are mostly filled (150 gallons max). We added fuel so we were about 1/2 our carrying capacity (we can hold about 600 gallons max). Yeah, that can weigh us down!

There was a weather front coming in so we wanted to get this done before it hit. (Turns out it was nothing, but better safe, yadda yadda yadda). That meant, however, we were doing this at low tide, so clearance would be minimal -- the most we saw under the keel was 7 feet, and that was in the ICW channel. Shallow water can also impede performance; being so close to "land" you get a slight suction affect that drags. The path we decided to take was from south to north, which meant we were going against the tide and the wind. So, lots of forces acting against us.

We started slow out of our marina's channel, the sped up to our normal speed, 2300 rpms, which got us around 8 to 8.5 knots. Once we reached the ICW we turned northward (a very tight turn to get into the channel) and started stepping up our speeds. 2300 to 2600, then 3000, then 3200, then 3400. All the while I watched our course and speed while Russ watched the engine information, oil pressure and temperature. Everything was holding steady and, as we predicted, were traveling about 10.5 knots. 

Not so much about Sarasota, altho it's very
pretty in this picture. But the dots in the 
mangrove bush, just beyond the covered
bike. Those are pelicans. They perch!
Then we pegged the engines, pushing the throttle to the helm panel. Given how we have the helm panel laid out there's a tablet (that runs our navionics) on a suction device in the way of the throttles, so they couldn't be fully flat (meaning we might go faster). As I pointed that out to the captain he said the engines were already at 3800, which we understood to be "top speed" so it didn't matter.

Then I looked at our speed. Then I looked out of the window. We were absolutely flying. The nose had come down and this boat actually planed. We were just over 15 knots. Both of us were stunned.

We kept her in that state for 5 to 10 minutes, which was as long as we could before the channel turned. No overheating, no vibrations, no oil pressure issues, nothing! She ran beautifully.

Fully shocked and awed we turn back home and docked her. 

It's not a bad idea to have a spare set of props ready, just in case. We can store them here should we need them. But for now we're no longer thinking we need to do anything with the props. We'll just wait and see how things go.

But this opens up a bunch of options for us. We might be able to cross the gulf the long way in the day. Or a quick trip to the keys. Or the Bahamas...

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Anclote Key to... home, marina

When we retired for the evening we were thinking of a place nearby where we could hunker down for the next storm. Lots of rain and wind was predicted for the next 4 days to a week. (Secretly, Russ had this idea about just getting to Longboat Key, but kept it to himself).

When we woke Russ calculated the run to Gulf Port, which was about 4 1/2 hours. However, if we went outside, we could be in LBK in 5 1/2 - 6 hours.

So, guess what we did.

Winds were up, higher than predicted, but they came largely from the E of NE, and since we ran along the coast they got almost no fetch. The whole way down was very smooth and very comfortable. Gone was the sun and blue sky, but the water was kind.

Hmmmm... what do they say about red
sky in the morning again?
We knew that meant a bit of bump on the Tampa Bay, since it's a large body of water that runs NE. Once we turned the corner we definitely got some stiffer waves right on the beam. So we tacked a bit, taking them on the quarter bow, then tacked back once we got to the official ICW path across the bay. We rocked a little, but overall it was a great ride. And it lasted about 30 minutes in total.

Once back on the ICW the biggest challenge was getting under the 2 bridges that blocked us from our home port, both of which we could get under without hailing the operators once we dropped our antennae and radar mount.

There you have it! The Great American River Cruise is officially over. 

Most of the day was like this.
Gray, with buildings on the shore.
We plan on taking some shorter trips around here, maybe to Boca Grande, or Fort Meyers, or Tampa. But our next big cruise will start sometime in February. Currently we're thinking loop #2 of the Great Loop -- get that fancy platinum burgee. But it depends on how Covid shakes out, and if we'll be welcome into Canada by that time.

Right now it just feels good to have made it back. We got to New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. We call that some successful boating.

MOVIES! (from yesterday)

We've gotten comfortable with a night run. Good thing, too, with the shorter days of winter. This is a bit jiggy getting out. Then about 3 miles of straight before we can turn. And you CANNOT turn sooner.

You can tell it's "beamy" from the jiggy horizon. It's not our favorite way to travel.

Sadly it doesn't show too well in the vid, but if you watch the sun you'll see us constantly changing course. Crab pots are mentally exhausting.

From today!

We're in a narrow channel and this guy passes us at speed. No radio hail, no horn. We hailed him to ask why the fast pass, and he didn't bother to answer. So, don't be this guy.

Arriving and docking in Longboat Key. The End.

Steinhatchee to Anclote Key, anchor

The red means we did
over 10 knots.
It starts at the reef,
when things got bad,
we put the spurs to her!
Growing tired of these crazy long days. But a big chunk of the Gulf travel is now behind us.

Left in nearly darkness again. This time it was an interesting challenge since, unlike the Apalachicola channel which is straight, this one twists and turns, and any wrong move puts you on the call list for Sea Tow.

The day ahead was 10 hours long. It broke down into chunks like this:

7am to 8am: getting out of the channel. Mild winds, calm waters

8am to 10am: The further we got from land the more wind we encountered, the more wild the waters. They were supposed to be NE winds, but they tuned out more easterly, which made for some uncomfortable beam sea. We abandon the Navionics route and head more inland, which made the waters wonderful.

10am to 11am: Waters are so good we believed the winds have died down for the afternoon (which was predicted). We realize there is a reef coming up, near Cedar Key. Rather than deal with the shallows we decide to head west, around a lighted marker. THAT was a mistake.

Sunset on the key
11am to 1pm: We managed to get around the marker but winds have increased and water became rougher. Not the worst we'd ever been in, but not comfortable either. We head back inland, hoping to decrease the wind's fetch. It's supposed to become a north wind, which would be perfect for us. Then we could turn due south and take the following seas. We love that.

1pm to 2pm: Wind turns north. Seas calm, and we're off! Woo hoo!

2pm to 4pm: While we thought it would be smooth sailing from here on out, we did not get a chance to relax. For whatever reason this section of water was riddled with crab traps (we call 'em crab pots). The time was spent dodging and weaving in between and around hundreds of these things.

Dolphin off the bow
4pm to 6pm: Few traps, more wind, but all on our stern. But the day was getting long and we were looking forward to a quiet anchorage. After dropping the hook (sandy bottoms make for easy, easy anchoring) Russ took Lizzie on a tender ride to the island while I started some dinner.

Why the long day? Weather, of course. We know we're going to be stuck someplace starting tomorrow afternoon for possibly several days. We'd like that to be within striking distance of Longboat Key, rather than know we have more gulf days ahead. So, we pushed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Apalachicola to Steinhatchee, marina


10 hour day today, which is really long. But we got across the gulf. So yay!

Out before sunrise
While on the dock another vessel joined us for the night (no name on the vessel and we failed to ask). They weren't familiar with the area and didn't want to traverse the dark but were happy to follow us out. That was the plan -- go time, 7 am.

We got up at 6 am (which was 5 just the day before). Sunrise would happen closer to 8 am. Which means it's quite dark around 7, not quite nautical twilight. That gave us enough time, however, to get a couple of biscuit sandwiches from the bakery next door, who opens at 6:30. We mentioned it to the other boaters who happily got a couple for themselves. Bake Apalach! They close once they're out of biscuits which, in our experience, is around 9 am.

Sleepy sun. St. George Island is on the right.
Having done that stretch a couple of times, not only did we have a Navionics route to guide us but we hand precious routes (we call them breadcrumbs) on Aquamaps. It's a 2 1/2 hour run along St. George's Island before you get the the East Inlet and hit the gulf.

All predictors said 1 - 2 foot seas on our nose until noon, then calming to still, then coming back to 1 - 2 feet on our stern around 4. It was about an hour later to get calmed, and an hour earlier to return, but we are really comfortable with stern seas. So overall the day was good to wonderful.

Pretty much the view today.
Getting into Steinhatchee is skinny and only doable for us thin boats. That said, we saw 4.5 feet beneath our keel as the lowest, which means the water is about 8 feet deep. That should work for most looper.

A pleasant surprise was the new docks at the Sea Hag. We stayed here on our way across last spring and were not impressed. The docks were rickety and a balancing act was needed to walk on them. The new docks are solid, and very easy to dock on. Last time we were here we didn't think we'd consider staying for any length of time. Totally would, now!

Utica pizza!
We ate some dinner (homemade pizza) and will get engine checks done before we go to bed. Tomorrow we'll repeat the process, heading south along the coast.

Fun fact: Between our last crossing in April and this one Russ updated our wi-fi. Last time we didn't have internet for about 2 hours. This time, I was texting my family and playing my game while 20 miles off shore. So, yay for Russ!

inQuest docked at the Sea Hag.

From Pearl Bayou --> Apalachicola

Getting up the anchor at Pearl Bayou.

You'll see a number of wrecks on either bank occasionally. This section was creamed in Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Getting on the dock at Apalachicola, in front of "The Icehouse"

Apalachicola --> Steinhatchee

Leaving Apalach in the dark. There are clusters of ivy. They weren't there when we docked.

The crossing. Just put it on repeat for 8 hours....

...then we get to Steinhatchee. Follow the skinny, narrow channel up the river, getting waked by fishing boats. Just a small looper challenge.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Destin to Pearl Bayou, anchor

After watching the weather for the last few days it looks like there will be fabulous weather to do the crossing on Tuesday, and an equally lovely day for gulf travel on Wednesday. Since we think we can get across the gulf in 2 days (recall it took us about 3 weeks last time), we'd like to take advantage of that. We are not dilly-dallying. 

Up early and out at before dawn we put in a solid 7 hour day, which got us anchored by 3 pm. The first body of water we had to cross was the Choctawhatchee Bay, which we know from experience can be tough. I'm happy to report it was just wonderful. Then it's back on cut canals for a while which connect you to the West Bay by Panama City. This particular anchorage is a favorite -- this is our third time here. 

Sun peeks over Destin.
If, weather wise, things remain the same for the next day, we'll be Apalachicola tomorrow (which isn't too long a day) then we'll get to Steinhatchee on Tuesday and Anclote Key on Wednesday -- that will be the seriously long day. 

From there it's a hop, skip, and a jump from Longboat Key. Fingers crossed, but we should be back by next weekend.

Hey, look! A bald eagle!
Of course we gotta cross the Tampa Bay... we may have to wait for the next weather window for that one.

inQuest in Pearl Bayou.
The others are residents, as far as we can tell.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Ocean Beach to Destin, marina

Technically, Destin is on the other side of the bay from us but near enough. We came to Two Georges, our marina, when we left Destin Harbor on our way up, 5 months ago. Normally we anchor out at Fort McRee (between here and Orange Beach) but we decided to make it a longer day, hoping to get to Apalachicola in 3 days. Cheaper fuel at Two Georges, so we tanked up. 

Also, Lizzie took a fall a couple of days ago so we're letting her leg recover a bit before dinghy rides.

inQuest at the Wharf.
Russ is on the top stern, and a
blue heron is on the pier.
The winds finally died down (2 days of bluster!), which was key for getting out of the slip we were in. The small fairway made maneuvering difficult in stiff winds. We were able to back inQuest out, winding our way backwards, right into the fuel docks where we pumped out. That got us underway around 7:15.

Then east! Following the ICW, mostly bounded by Santa Rosa Island, we made our way toward Destin.

When were reached the marina we fueled up before docking. The winds had returned, over 10 mph, so getting onto and off of the fuel dock was more exciting than normal. Thankfully, getting docked was less so. The wind was on our stern, and the slip was a straight shot in, and far from any other boats.

Moving from our slip to the pumpout, all done in reverse.

Then heading out on the amazing morning.

Oh, and we have dolphins again!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Largely some snippets

 Snippets and movies only:

Last lock of the rivers, Coffeeville.

Before we could pass the sailboat we had to make our way around 2 tows. The first wanted to be passed on the 2 (we move left), the second the 1 (we move right). Then we got to pass the sailboat.

Russ titled this "Why I Love AIS". If we didn't have it, neither the tow nor us would have known where each other were. And since we turned into him and into the sun at the same time, that could have been a serious issue.

We pass a tow called Black Belt (which is an odd name for a tow), then turn onto the Tensaw river. Three boats were already anchored there. We chose to anchor in front of them all, making a little shorter run to the dock to walk a dog.

This we follow a tanker out the shipping channel for a while. Then we make that 90 turn to the left, between the spoil areas. You can tell when, since the beam seas rock us a little, causing the vid to be more jiggy.

Once we turn south again, the waters calm. Lovely day, overall.

Arriving in Mobile. We stop at the convention center to walk a dog, grab some lunch, and let the waters settle before making the bay crossing. It all went perfectly.

And after the long day we dock at The Wharf, which is a mall/condos/marina in Orange Beach. Our slip is tricky to get into, since the fairway is pretty small. We've done it before, though.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Tensaw River to Orange Beach, marina

Fun fact: There are 3 twilights each and every morning. Astronomical twilight, when there's just a hint of light blue in the sky. Nautical twilight, when you can just start to navigate with some confidence. And civil twilight, the brightest part before the dawn. Today we were underway at nautical twilight.

As a result we were drifting into Mobile, Alabama, right around 10:45 am. That gave us time to walk a dog then grab us some lunch before getting underway again. It also gave us some time to stall a bit. The winds were up and that meant the bay would be choppy. The couple of hours in delay allowed that to all settle, as predicted. As a result, our 3 hour trip across the bay was quite lovely. Seas about 1 foot, mostly on our stern, which is a comfortable way to take them. 

I spy Mobile!
You'll notice there's a 90 degree turn off the main channel to get us onto the bay. The channel, which goes directly from the gulf to Mobile, is wide enough and deep enough for two tanker ships to pass one another. To accomplish this, the channel is dredged almost constantly. What the dredgers bring up is dumped into well marked "spoil areas". Our straight line to the port was us going in between 2 of these areas. From then on the depths in the bay range around 7 to 12 feet. So, back into the skinny waters.

Tasty lunch at Squid Ink. Tuna poke bat,
street cauliflower, and fried deviled eggs.
Last long day, for a while. We hope. 

We plan on staying 2 nights, maybe longer. We're squeezed between the nor'easter and a major low, so the winds are going to be a thing for a while. Under normal circumstances we're 4 days from Appliachicola, then we'll start the trip around the Gulf. We'll see how the weather affects the near future.

First big water we've seen in a while


Getting settled in Turkey Point.
Keep in mind, this is RIGHT OFF the channel.
You can see a boat zoom by. We had a couple of tows
come by during the night, too.

Getting into and leaving Demopolis lock, after our engine issue.
We're not the fastest boat but we were that day.

Alegria was already in the lock, ahead of us by just a few minutes.
We followed her into the anchorage.
We picked our spot due to its close proximity to the 
boat ramp for dog walking.

We hit something!!!
As we slowly move on you see Russ checking hatches for 
any water intrusion. It was that hard.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Turkey Point to Tensaw River, anchor

Day 2 of the 3 day march is behind us. We successfully anchored in the Tensaw River, which is really wide and hold well. Between Turkey Point and the Tensaw I would argue these are the best anchorages on the lower Tombigbee. We'll mark them for the future.

Two boats also anchored at Turkey Point, Buena Vida and Uno Mas. We call them "the Spaniards." Buena Vida had issues starting their generator and their house batteries were running low. Russ tried to help suss out their problem, thinking it was the starter relay (since we'd had that problem ourselves a couple of times on the engine) but he couldn't find it when he looked at the unit. Once we were underway Russ found the manual online and sent them the info. We hope it helped.

Buddy boats, Uno Mas and Buena Vida
Last lock today. Making a GRAND TOTAL of 78 this season. That will be the last lock we go through until next year, if we do the loop. Specifically the Dismal Swamp, which we both love.

Lots of looper traffic as well as tow traffic, which kept us on our toes all day long. But no issues or emergencies.

inQuest from our doggy dinghy run.
Another task Russ had to do while underway today was fill out the contract with a RE company in NOLA. I fail to understand why these people don't use DocuSign, but we've dealt with e-docs and a couple of different RE agencies. They all seem to have "their own." It's like reinventing the wheel. After arguing with our agent for a few minutes, he proved it was the software and not "user error." We got it done, nothing irks Russ more than when people tell him software bugs he finds are user errors.

Sunset on the Tensaw
Movies are still coming. Network has been sketchy at best, and non-existent at worst. We plan on spending a couple of days at The Wharf in Orange Beach which will give us time to put some vids together. And sleep.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Demopolis to Turkey Point, anchor

12 boats came in on the same day we did. And since none of us could stay longer than 2 nights at the Kingfisher Marina, 12 boats had plans to leave this morning. Organizers set the "go" time at 6:30 am. At the stroke of 6:30 we were slowly moving out of the slip. By 6:30 and 5 seconds, I realized something was wrong -- we didn't have a port engine. It started fine, and ran, but I had no throttle control and therefore, could not use it to drive.

With one engine I managed to get inQuest out of the slip and immediately dock her on a t-head. Since lots of folks were already getting set to depart, they realized something was up and were on the pier waiting to catch lines. Once docked, Russ investigated

Loopers running to the Demopolis lock.
During our stay in Demopolis Russ did some engine maintenance, changing the oil on both engines and replacing the transmission fluid. Somehow the connecting pin for the throttle controls got disconnected. He found it and fixed it and we were on our way -- we weren't even the last boat out.

All 12 of us planned on locking down together. The lockmaster told us he had 9 pins (normally there are 10, but one wasn't working, or to be specific, was totally missing). 9 of us got on the pins, including us, and 3 rafted. Uno Mas rafted to us. We locked through without incident.

In the lock, out the front window...

...Uno Mas rafted to us...

...and out the back. 12 all in.

The plan was to get to the anchorage Bashi Creek, which we'd used on our way up in June. However, Russ started planning the next few days and taking a hard look at the weather. A massive low is headed our way, and with it some insane winds. And that will make the Mobile Bay a misery. Rather than dawdle we decided to put in a couple more looooooong days and get to Orange Beach, Alabama, by Tuesday night.

So Bashi is out, and Turkey Creek became the target.

This is our last "river" night. There's only 1 lock tomorrow, and we'll be back into tidal waters.

Sandy cliffs along the Tombigbee.
Side story -- We have now experienced the spectrum of "courtesy vans."

Fort Loudoun:  Keys are in the cars, so just take it.

Kingfisher: The car is available in 2 hour slots only. Sign up with the dockmaster for a time slot. You're handed the keys. Then told there's a Marathon gas station up the road. When you're on your way back stop there -- they know the car. Ask them for $1.50 of gas and be sure to get a receipt since you have to hand that in with the keys. Oh, and while there call the dockmaster so she knows you're coming back. (This is all true!)

Total lock count: 77

Friday, October 22, 2021

Heflin to Demopolis, marina

We think we've been on the move daily since Chattanooga. Even though this isn't our favorite marina, they do have a courtesy car and a reasonable town. So we're staying for 2 nights.

Btw, to future loopers, I don't recall the limitation when we did the loop in 2019 but there are so many boats that there is a 2 night maximum stay for transients. So plan ahead!

It rained hard last night. And, for some reason, they drained pool by about a foot. The result was that getting the dog to shore was a soggy and muddy endeavor. While there is a boat ramp, there is no dock, so we shove the tender into the sand and wade our way, dog in our arms, to land. It's not a far walk, just dirty.

Anchor came up clean and off we went about 7:15 am. A little fog, but nothing serious. No locks to day, so we just cruised down the Tombigbee for 4 hours until we came to the marina. We got enough fuel to get the $20 pumpout fee waived. I also got laundry done.

Tomorrow Russ will change the oil (which is overdue).

No rest for the weary.

Also, no movies. Russ has been doing some legal stuff to prepare for selling the NOLA condo. Again. Another hitch was he got an email saying that our boat insurance expires in 60 days. o.O 

So, yeah, he's been busy with more important things than the blog.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

DeWayne Hayes to Heflin, anchor

Just past the Heflin Lock was an oxbow labeled Tombigbee river. That was where we dropped the hook today.

Loopers, loopers, everywhere! We started early again (we just like traveling as soon as we can see anything). The next marina, which was jock full of loopers, was Columbus, about 5 miles downriver. We'd stayed there before so we weren't gung-ho about doing it again. Nothing wrong with the place, but not the best stop on the loop. We heard on the radio (and saw on AIS) that 2 boats (Alegria and Passages) were heading to the lock, hoping to get through early. Four boats were already in the lock and waiting. In their conversation with Stennis Lock they mentioned another group coming along from the marina in about an hour. That meant a wait for us but we kept quiet and let them go -- we weren't in a hurry. Besides, it would take less time for us to wait for the next group than those boats in the lock would wait for us to join them.

Odd things you see on the Tombigbee.
That is a phone booth.
Once we were sure they were being lowered we called Stennis Lock. The lockmaster gave us permission to hang on the long wall and wait for the other boats. They showed up promptly, and all 6 of us locked down around 8:15.

The six of us wandered our way down for a couple of hours (with us in the lead -- who knew we'd be "the fast boat") to the next lock, Bevill. He'd just turned the lock for the 6 leading boats and was filling it for us. He too gave us permission to hand on the wall, but only we did so -- the other 5 boats stood station. (I hate standing station, and you rarely get permission to get on the wall to wait so we were all too happy to do just that!)

Odd things you see on the Tombigbee #2
There is a totem pole on the bank.
Again we took the lead and made our way down the Tombigbee. About half way through that trip I went below to make lunch while Russ piloted. I felt a bump... bump... wham! With every bump I thought, "that's not good." Then the whole boat shuttered. Russ backed off the speed as I ran out the back to see what the heck we hit. We also immediately hailed those behind us that we hit something really big. It was bad enough that we thought we punctured a hole in the boat. I managed the helm while Russ checked all the hulls, then the running gear to see if a shaft was buggered. Everything looked good so we slowly increased our speed, waiting to feel any kind of vibration or shudder to indicate our props were pooched. But nope. Everything was just fine.

The last stern-wheel tow boat to 
work the Tombigbee.
As we continued to run Russ checked things over a couple of times. We felt like we dodged a bullet. There have been so many stories of people hitting things and sustaining damage to their running gear, we were sure we would be joining that demographic.

So far so good.

Slowly we were catching the boats ahead of us. inQuest passed 4 of the 5 boats in the first group. All of us were chattering about what anchorages folks were staying at. We decided to join Alegria in the anchorage just below the third lock of the day, Helflin. We were the only two boats that locked down and we joined a boat already anchored here. Two others of our group joined us as well, with a total of 5 in our anchorage. The other 6 are up at Cook anchorage.

As soon as we got the tender down we zipped around and introduced ourselves to our traveling buddies. The plan is up and out early, around 7, with a couple of other boats. No locks between us and Demopolis, so it should be an easy day. Finally.

Total lock count: 76

PS. No movies yet. It's too late to get them posted, so I'll add them tomorrow. Russ pawed through our footage today to see if THAT showed what the heck we hit. It certainly wasn't obvious so stay tuned. Btw, we haven't had any GoPro footage as our camera was on the fritz over the last week. Russ gave up on reformatting the card and just put in a new one. It's a shame too -- we would have loved to see the trip in the fog from a couple of days ago.

Underway from Owens Bay...

 So cool I gave it its own blog post. Just pretty.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Owens Cove to DeWayne Hayes, anchor

While the plan was to put in 50 miles, and normally that's about 5 hours for us, our day turned long again. We left the anchorage around 7 am and dropped the hook a little after 5 pm. But we did get 5 more locks behind us. 

The first lock was the easiest as we locked through by ourselves. The 2nd lock (we could tell by AIS) had a couple of boats already in it. But the locks talk to each other so they knew we were coming. We offered to let them go and wait for the next cycle, but they held it for us. We jammed down there, hoping not to make the other folks wait too long.

This section of the Tombigbee has locks fairly close together, about 5 to 10 miles apart. As a result, you might try to speed off to the next lock, but odds are the lock master would hold for everyone. We were a group.

Glasslike water today. No fog at all.
The day went fairly smoothly, although we traveled slower than we normally travel since one of us was a sailboat. They tend not to move very fast. We only go as fast as the slowest of us.

At the last lock, the sailboat turned off to a marina. The remaining boats reached the lock only to find out it is in repair. We were allowed to tie on the long wall but had to wait about a hour for the work boat to leave the lock. Then they could raise it, gather us, and let us down. And after that, we still had a 2 hour ride ahead of us.

Us, taken by the
crew of Alegria.
Thank you, 
Rosemary and Clarke!
Fewer locks over the next 2 or three days, but there's no way we'll make Demopolis Thursday. Friday is the target now.

Total lock count: 73

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Waterfall to Owen Cove, anchor

It wasn't supposed to be a long day, but alas, locks. And fog. In fact the fog was a bit thicker than we thought it would be, so our progress was slow.

The morning started out wonderful. Nippy, but clear, with wisps of moisture coming off the water. We were going to meet with Apres Sail for travel today. They were anchored near Aqua. Anchors up around 7:30, we met them around 8 am. So far, still clear, but we could see fog in the distance.

The next hour was thick and slow. Since we have all the toys to deal with fog we led the trek. We have radar, AIS, an automated fog horn, and nifty glasses that make seeing in the fog much easier. At 6 knots we wound our way between the islands at the top of the lake, me at the helm following the magenta line while keeping an eye on radar for possible fishing boats who've wandered into the channel. Meanwhile, Russ sat outside on the bow, watching for any logs or debris we might hit. We've done this enough times that we're pretty comfortable in fog. In fact, our "no go" is if, from the helm, you can't see the burgees.

inQuest and the waterfall
Apres Sail, however, were not amused. Over the radio they commented we were crazy and they'd never do this again. I felt bad about that -- Florida and its fog has us trained, I suppose. This wasn't the worst we'd been in. 

The fog was suppose to lift at 9. Seriously, 9:01 the blue sky came out and the fog disappeared. The rest of the day was gorgeous.

Tow in the fog.
The other hitch was a lock, Whitten, the first of the locks on the Tombigbee. First we had to wait for a tow to come up -- fine, we do that a lot. But once up the tow didn't leave the chamber, but waited for his crew change, which took about another 30 minutes. Then we were allowed into the chamber, but a number of boats were also trying to lock down, so the lockmaster held for them. Which we get -- we'd been in that position ourselves. But it took another 45 minutes.

In the lock with 5 other boats.
We went through 2 locks, then turned off an anchored right before the 3rd for the day. By the time we dropped the hook it was almost 5 pm.

Total lock count: 68

Pensive man in the morning

Calm sunset at night