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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.

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