Saturday, April 7, 2018

Ingram Bayou to Apalachicola

Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018 -

Quiet night at Ingram Bayou--full moon!

Left around 8 AM thinking we'd refuel at Bear Point Marina, but they were unresponsive on the phone and channel 16.  Easter Sunday.  We'll get fuel elsewhere.

BTW, a note about Eastern Shore Marine.  We've talked a couple of times now to Bob and Vicky Riggs and found out from them that the city of Fairhope has taken over management of the marina.  The docks are still open while they renovate and update...but there is no fuel available right now because there was a problem with the underground fuel tanks.  We had seriously considered going over there for a night, despite the fact that those docks are not at all "friendly" for boats of our height (low).  But...when we called the message said that number was disconnected.

Headed for Ft. Walton Beach city docks.  17 days of boat food (the great restaurant at Goosepond was closed because it was Monday)...16 days of travel: we're ready to be near a town and have easy land access! ;-)

Talked with a friendly tow operator on the Cooper Devall as we approached the Pensacola cut.  He was coming from the east, so we were going to meet.  We agreed to back down and wait for him to get through the cut.  Meanwhile, we talked.

He said he hoped the sailboat (gently moving, sails a-furl) would move.  "They may not realize that tonnage beats sails.  Steel don't give!"  We have a new phrase to kick around.

Everyone was out this Easter Sunday enjoying the weather and the day off!

We pulled into Ft. Walton Beach that afternoon in time to take a little stroll around.  Ft. Walton Beach, this area at least, has changed a lot for the better since we were last here.  The park by the docks is large and well kept.  There are 12 slips and we were the only ones there for a while.  We were joined later by a pretty old boat that had been salvaged and renovated by a man, his wife, and their 4 yr. old son.  They are living aboard and are staying at Destin, but just decided to bring the boat over for the evening.

We put all kinds of fenders and lines out for this stay.  The NO WAKE ZONE begins at the western edge of the dock...but getting waked has always been a hazard of staying here.  The place is a "pull" for boaters because it's free...and there's a Publix 2 blocks away, not to mention all kinds of restaurants (and tattoo parlors).  It being a weekend, and Easter weekend at that, there were a lot of boats passing the dock.

Monday, April 2, 2018 -

We did a grocery run at Publix, had lunch at the Boardroom Pub & Grub, and I walked a couple of miles.  When I got back to the boat, Wayne was ready to pack up and move on.  While I was gone the boat got badly waked, injuring some varnish on the rails and the stainless rub rail.  You just don't mess with our varnish or rub rail!

So...we decided to leave Ft. Walton Beach, stop by Destin for a few gallons of fuel to carry us over until we get to St. Andrews Marina and their diesel at $2.83, including tax...and then go anchor nearby at Joe's Bayou.

Destin harbor was a mess: 2 large dredges, all sorts of fenders out marking off little passageways. a buzillion jetskis, pontoon get the picture.  We hit (well, not literally, though we could have) the first marina we came to, Destin Marina.  We took on a bit of fuel then found our way over to Joe's Bayou for the night.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 -

Left Joe's Bayou at 7:10 AM and got to St. Andrews Marina by 2:30.  We had a good crossing of the Choctawhatchee Bay...and a pretty ride in the long, straight section of the ICW that leads up to West Bay.

Took on fuel at the marina, then went over to Smack Bayou for the evening.  We had wanted to anchor here on the first loop trip, but it was a weekend and it was packed!  It's a neat little hole.  We're on the back deck enjoying a show by F-18 aircraft (Wayne thinks they're practicing for the Blue Angels).  And, we have our own personal diving show from a brown pelican.  Life is good!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 

I woke up this morning to Wayne saying, "Get up, Doris!"  The wind was whipping and in a minute it started pouring rain.  We got up, had coffee, checked the weather forecast and decided we could move on in spite of the rain.

Well, it turned out to be quite a pleasant day.  It looked like rain was going to start anytime...but didn't.  We made it to Apalachicola with no problem.  A lot of this day was spent in a straight canal...bordered on each side by greenery and not much else!

We're staying at the Water Street Hotel and Marina.  Nice place, reasonably priced, gorgeous views of the surrounding marsh and Scipio Creek, AND it has floating docks.  We went over the first evening for oysters on the half shell (Wayne will have them at least once a day while we're here).  We started out at Boss Oyster, but after waiting 20 minutes with menus and no drinks, we decided to try elsewhere.

Went to Hole in the Wall, recommended to me by a friend who frequents Apalachicola.  It's a small place with family style seating and bar stools  The bar was filled so we sat down at a table with two other couples.  Turns out that one of the couples, Rod and Mary Lee Raulerson, had lived aboard on the Tennessee River and Tenn-Tom.  The boat they had (which looked like a twin to Ken and Brenda's Tellico Lady) was named NO MO YD WK.  Cute. ;-)

The evening was entertaining, talking with them about cruising and their life now at Mexico Beach, FL.  The (singular) waitress was quite a character.  "She'll cuss you out in a heartbeat," says Rob.  Hmmm.  Just what you want in a waitress.  But, all went well, the food was good.

Thursday, April 5, 2018 -

Lunched at the Owl Cafe, a place we've loved in the past and had looked forward to on this trip.  We ate up on the outside deck and had a nice, secluded spot from which we could watch the goings on in town.  Wayne ordered oysters on the half shell and we ordered a hamburger to split.  After a good bit of time had passed (but, we're on vacation here so didn't want to get wound up about time), we were served the hamburger.  No sign of the oysters, so we requested those...again.  The server went away to check on them.  Fifteen to twenty minutes passed and no oysters.  Wayne would normally want to eat those before anything else, but the hamburger was getting cold so we decided to eat.  We considered cancelling the oysters...but, hey, that's part of why we came here.  We'd almost finished the burger when our waitress appeared with the oysters and an apology: she'd forgotten about them.

All of that was disappointing...but the final insult came when our credit card was hit with a $65 charge, about twice what our meal cost.  We questioned the waitress and she apologized again, saying she had accidentally switched our meal with another table.  She said the $65 charge would only be "pending" and that within 24 hours it would disappear.  We'll probably go there again sometime since we've had one really good experience and one really bad.

Friday, April 6, 2018 -

Leisurely day.  Ate at Up the Creek...oysters and hamburger again.  Pretty good, though they only do burgers well done. ? View was's right on Scipio Creek.  We walked around and I shopped some.  Took Maggie for several walks.  She's going to get spoiled with this land walk drill instead of the poop pad aboard.

Looking at tomorrow's weather and the predicted thunderstorms and rain, we decided we could use another day here in Apalachicola.  We called to extend our stay through Saturday.

We had the nicest neighbors in our slip, the Black family from Georgia.  They fished or cruised around the area some part of every day on their flat boat.

Saturday, April 7, 2018 -

So-o-o glad we decided to stay another day here in Apalachicola.  We could have traveled in this weather...but it would not have been fun.  It started raining and storming around 10 AM and hasn't stopped yet.  Sometimes it slows to a light rain...but then picks right back up.  Maggie May will have nothing to do with it.

We walked up to Caroline's on the River for brunch.  The food was really good (and, yes, Wayne had raw oysters).  The place was struggling a bit, though.  They are under new management and intend to change the menu, but haven't yet.  There was no lettuce for salads...nor cukes for their cukes/tomatoes/feta cheese salad.  I started to order the lemony pancakes with raspberry butter.  Glad I didn't, since the table next to us got their order of the pancakes only to be told then that there were no raspberries.  The wait staff was really trying, though, and were very attentive and friendly.  After brunch (as the rain came down) I walked around a bit taking in the Art Walk going on today.  Came back to the boat...and caught up on the blog!! ;-)  Tomorrow we're off towards Panama City.

Some of our photo memories from this stay on Scipio Creek.

Maggie found something to carry home every day....

And...we had our own personal pelican to watch.

Our view from Caroline's this morning.  Before the rain.

After the rain started!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Foscue Creek to Ingram Bayou

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 -

Foscue Creek was great, as usual.  We left Demopolis lock at 7:15 this morning...headed for Bashi Creek.  We had a good push...9mph or decided mid-trip to push on to Okatuppa Creek, mm 123.2.  That way we won't need to stay on the side of the river at Sunflower Cutoff.  Coffeeville will be our last lock until we return in May!  ;-)  Yippee!!

We spent a good bit of yesterday evening planning routes and "schedules" for our travel on the Panhandle.  (Good signals on Verizon.)  We've decided to go all the way out to Apalachicola taking 3 or 4 days, then work our way back.  We want to spend a few days in Apalachicola, then go to St. Andrews Marina in Panama City for a few days before we leave the boat to come home April 13-18.  Pensacola for a few days...and enticing anchorages all along the way will round out the trip.  Hoping to be home in time to visit Dave and family before the Alaskan cruise, June 5-19.

So, we made it down to Okatuppa Creek, mm 123.2, having done 90.8 miles today.  Nice anchorage with wind protections...and only about 7 miles above Coffeeville Lock.  Did I mention that's our LAST LOCK for a while??!!

Remember the slow boat that was "with" us from Bay Springs down a ways?  Well, they left Demopolis right before we locked down this morning.  We passed them on our way down here.  We tried to call them on channel 16, but no answer.  They were driving from the uncovered bridge and either they couldn't hear us or didn't have the radio on.

We contacted a tow on down the way as we were meeting it on a tight curve.  We asked whether one or two whistle pass and he said, "Whichever one makes you feel good.  I'll probably fill up the whole channel."  As we were turning the corner on a one whistle he said, "Bring it on if you can!"  We did...and got by him.  He didn't lie about taking up the whole waterway, either!

So, after we passed him we thought we'd better tell him about the boat then a couple of miles behind us that had no radio and no AIS.  Gads!  There's a long, winding way yet to go on these rivers!

Thursday, March 29, 2018 -

We left Okatuppa Creek with the threat of storms and winds this afternoon and evening.  We were coming out of Coffeeville Lock at 8:15 AM., not sure how far we'd go today.  We have stopped at Sunflower Cutoff several times; but, being right alongside the river, it might not be as protected as we'd like.  Sunflower is around mm 79 and the next anchorage we'd come to is Three Rivers Lake, mm 63.8.  Three Rivers would be more protection, so we set our expectations on that site. 

It worked out really well (Wayne says it's "clean living.")  We had a few sprinkles of rain and facing the south wind was a bit rough...but we made it to Three Rivers just before it started raining in earnest.  And, we heard our first thunder, saw lightning. 

Right now we're calmly afloat on our anchor.  Hoping for pretty skies tomorrow so we can get down within striking distance of the Panhandle ICW. ;-)

Friday, March 30, 2018 -

Left Three Rivers Lake and traveled an easy day to Tensas River Cutoff, Big Briar Creek mm 12.2.  Beautiful setting.  Had speeds above 9mph all day.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Marine weather reports had a small craft advisory out for south Mobile Bay until 11 AM, so we waited until 9 AM to leave our anchorage figuring it would take us that long, at least, to get there.  The "trouble" came in the shipping channel coming out of Mobile when we got behind a huge vessel (900+ feet long) with a bit of a wake...and had a wind bringing on waves to our beam.  Not good. 

Wayne and I had taken Bonine the night before but when I went down to make sandwiches for lunch I realized I needed another...and that Maggie might need something.  I called our vet in Knoxville and asked about dosing of Bonine for Maggie and she said OK for half a 25 mg tablet.  When we traveled with Lucy we'd give her half a Dramamine before rough water...and she'd stay in our stateroom during the trip.  Maggie has traveled more time on the bridge with us and was there today.  I brought up another Bonine for Wayne and a half tablet wrapped in peanut butter for Maggie.  Wayne and I were OK.  Maggie got, well, sick as a dog about 20 minutes later.  By then the boat was lurching so much that I couldn't take her downstairs, so I held her and tried to be her stabilizer.  She went to sleep in my arms.  An hour later, when we had exited the shipping channel and were facing the waves to our advantage, she rallied and felt fine.  ;-)  We have a little permanent stain of a reminder on the chart book for lower Tenn-Tom, though, to remind us to give Maggie a Bonine before crossing big water.  ;-)

We are currently anchored in the lovely Ingram Bayou around Orange Beach, AL.  The windows are open and the sun is shining.  Life is good.  Tomorrow we motor to Little Sabine Bay for the night...a relatively short trip considering the past 17 days.  That's 17 days of "boat food," mind you.  We're ready for a meal out in Apalachicola!!!

The latest in fashion for those chilly days on the rivers... definitely need a radio on the Tenn-Tom!  Check out those blind curves!

Wayne and Maggie checking morning emails.

Briar Creek anchorage in the morning....;-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bay Springs to Foscue Creek

Saturday, March 24, 2018 -

Pulled up achor at 8:10 this morning.  We slept in until 7 having done 80 miles yesterday!  Went through Whitten, Montgomery, Rankin, and Fulton Locks.  Anchored near Smithville Marina.  BTW...Since Bay Springs we've been followed by a larger boat with an engine problem (vibration) that causes them to travel much slower than we do.  AND....we've waited on them for each lock.  They are staying tonight at Smithville Marina so we're all really close to Wilkins Lock.  Our plan is to get up early and get a lock between us.

Sunday, March 25, 2018 -

We pulled up anchor at 6:35 AM and were tied up in Wilkins Lock by 7:10.  We went all the way to Columbus Marina today and arrived at 1 PM.

We'd tried calling Columbus several times before we got there and gotten no answer...even though the website said they opened at 10 on Sunday.  We had some contingency plans in case they were closed for some reason.  We finally reached them at noon and talked with the new manager, Steve.  "T" Caldwell died right before Christmas of last year when he suffered a blood clot after an otherwise successful back surgery.  R.I.P "T".  He was a good guy.

Monday, March 26, 2018 -

We woke up a little early this morning...5:30.  Looking out on AIS we saw a two a couple of miles north of us and Stennis Lock.  Wayne called the lock operator and he confirmed that the tow would be going through before us....and it would probably be around 8AM before we'd lock through.  We settled back with our coffee and email.

Shortly after, Wayne checked on the tow again...and now it was sitting still 2 miles back.  When we called the lock the operator said that the tow had not called the lock yet, so he could let us through since he had the doors open already.  We quickly unplugged and eased into the lock.  We ended up getting out of the lock at 7:30.  We were heading for Sumter Landing for our anchorage, 70 miles south and one more lock, so we were glad to have the extra time.

It was cooler today...low 60's they say, but windy and no sunshine.  We ran the heater on the bridge for a while until it warmed up some.  We made the trip through Bevill Lock with no wait and now we're anchored for the night at Sumter Landing.

We did orchestrate passes today with two northbound tows.  We were in a twisty section of the river both times, so had too hang back a little with one as he made a turn and did a 2 whistle on the other...again to avoid being mowed down as the tow made a turn.  Tood to have a little excitement in an otherwise pretty quiet day!

Oh, yes, and we got a call from Steve, the new manager at Columbus, asking if we'd heard anything unusual this morning around 4:30.  We hadn't...nor did Maggie, since she's quick to bark at "intruders."  Apparently someone tried to break in the marina office and stole a work truck parked in the parking lot.  Boaters beware!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 -

Spent a nice, quiet night at Sumter.  Called Heflin Lock and were able to get down there for a lock through before 2 northbound tows arrived.  Kinda cool this morning, but warmed up in the afternoon when the sun came out.

We stopped at Demopolis Yacht Basin for fuel, water, and trash disposal...Then on over to Foscue Creek for the rest of the afternoon.  We took this time to plan out the rest of the trip down the rivers...and catch up on the blog!  Good connection with Verizon, but TV has the usual kids, create, and world channels.  Looks like more of Law and Order Season 1 tonight!  ;-)

Tomorrow we're aiming for Bashi Creek.

And now for some pictures....

Layers of rock, greenery, trees on the cut-through down from Yellow Creek to Bay Springs

Then color with spring blooms as we got nearer to Bay Springs Lake

A grainy picture...but best I could get of white pelicans migrating to the north.

...And the Magster chasing a bug under the stored deck chairs....

Friday, March 23, 2018

Decatur to Bay Springs Lake

Thursday, March 22, 2018-

We huddled down in Decatur, AL, at the Riverwalk Marina for two nights.  Winds on Wednesday were even worse than on Tuesday...30 mph gusts.  The temperature reached in the lower 50's...but it sure didn't feel like it!  Maggie and I got out for two brief walks and she loved it.  Me?  I was ready to come back in the moment we stepped out!

So this morning we woke up to a chilly 30-something...but no wind.  We pulled out of the marina, short wait for the Southern Railway Bridge as a train came through, then off down the Tennessee River.  We had about an hour wait at Joe Wheeler Lock as a tow was being moved through so we tied up to the auxiliary lock wall at the suggestion of the lockmaster. 

We tried hailing Wilson Lock when we were about 1/2 mile answer.  Kept trying when we got close, still no response on 16, 13, 14 or phone.  Two towboats ahead of us seemed to have as little info as us as one called us to say, "we're as much in the dark as you are."

There were also two tows below the lock and absolutely no action in the lock.  We had one call from the lock and they said they would put us on the list.  We anchored at the closest cove on the RDB for the wait.  Around 5 PM we decided we wouldn't be able to get through before sunset and went back up the lake a little ways to a good anchorage for the night.

Friday, March 23, 2019 -

Hailed Wilson Lock when we were ready to pull anchor around 7 AM.  No answer.  After several tries we decided we needed to be "in their face" and left the cove to go down to the arrival point where we called again.  Finally a response...and "come on down to the long wall and wait for the green light."  An hour and 15 minutes later...after the lock had been emptied and a PC brought in for the upward ride... we got a signal to enter the lock. 

This was THE WORST experience we've ever had at a lock and it was totally because of the lack of communication.  We understand priorities in tows, etc.....but when they won't tell you what's happening, that's not right.

We traveled, finally free of Wilson, from there to around mile 417 on Bay Springs Lake and are anchored in the first deep cove on the right. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Safe, still

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Just a note to let you know we are safe and sound from last night's storms. We did have a siren sound for tornado watch and had some rain, some Thunder and lightning. We may see more damage as we head down the river today.  More later...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 -

We didn't see any damage as we came down the river today.  But we DID see waves of 3-4 ft. for 2 hours yesterday afternoon  while we came thru Wheeler Lake and into Decatur, AL, Riverwalk Marina.  Gusts were up in the 20mph range and the temperature kept falling.  By the time we got to Riverwalk we were exhausted AND frozen!  With today's weather calling for wind gusts 30mph...and it's a chilly wind, even though the thermometer reads in the low 50's...we decided to spend an extra night here and see this front through.  We're enjoying a lazy day. ;-)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sewee to Goosepond

Sunday March 18th 2018

Well the adventure has begun! Cruisers know that cruising is an adventure, not a big vacation. And we had our first Adventure this weekend.   It all started on Friday morning. Wayne noticed that his leg was itching, and asked me to see what it look like. It looked like shingles. 

Now we've been told that shingles isn't contagious and I found sources that go further to say "unless you come in contact with the lesions). Dermatologist, internist, pediatrician...all said the same thing. So... We went to visit David and family during the time I had shingles about a month ago. David got shingles a couple of weeks later... And now Wayne. Just saying! 

So we left Sewee Creek Saturday morning and made it down to Chattanooga in time to go to an ER. We called Lyft and who should show up but Sam, the driver that had taken me to a walk-in clinic back in September of last year. Sam recommended Memorial Medical Center and took us there. We checked in only to realize it would be a 3 hour wait. We decided to wait until Sunday morning to visit the when the wait time should be less. Called Sam and he took us back to our boat home for the night.

This morning Sam picked us up and we met Joe, Sam's husband.  I couldn't get the Lyft app to see Sam's car... So they ended up taking us to the hospital, coming back to pick us up, and dropping me off at the pharmacy near the boat so I could get Wayne's meds for, yes, shingles. Thank you Sam!! 

Armed with steroids, antivirals, and pain meds, we left Chattanooga Waterfront front at 12:30 p.m. 

There's a storm a-brewing tomorrow afternoon in areas we will traverse. We are anchored tonight at Burns Island, mile 420. Got through Nickajack Lock before a tow was coming up stream. Tomorrow we hope to be in a covered slip at Goose Pond Colony Marina by the time the severe storms (that is winds,rain, and hail) begin.

Monday March 19th, 2018

We left Burns Island at around 8:10 and went through several big downpours of rain before the skies cleared up a bit.  We took on fuel when we got to Goosepond and are now safely tied up in a covered slip...ready as we'll ever be for the severe weather expected this evening.  We borrowed the loaner car and picked up a few groceries, then Maggie and I took a nice hour-long walk.  That pup's a good walker!  She needed it, too.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sewee Creek

We had another good day on the water today. A little cool this morning, but it warmed up nicely during the day to about  high 60s. (I ended up in short sleeve shirt! ). We had an easy tansit through Fort Loudon lock and Watts Bar lock.. to an anchorage at Sewee Creek, mile marker 525.5, around 5 p.m. It's a nice quiet place right now as we're sitting on the back deck. We're anchored in about 9 feet and let out about 30 feet of chain. It's a place about like Bashi Creek, maybe a bit wider. 
We got a nice push coming out of Watts Bar... Almost up to 11 miles per hour! 
Maggie's enjoying the trip so far... Probably because we kept her up on the bridge for a lot of the day. 

Tomorrow we hope to make it through Chickamauga lock and have reservations at the Chattanooga Waterfront. You may notice I'm blogging daily?  I finally found a good blogging app for my Android phone and can record from my written journal for the day! Don't hold me to a daily schedule... But surely I will do better than last trip. :-)