Monday, November 10, 2014

We're Hee-rrre

Thursday, November 6 – We set the alarm for 5 AM this morning. On rising, we noticed it hadn't rained in the night...and that seemed like a good omen. At 5:05, the skies opened up and it poured! We were both thinking we'd have to delay our 6 AM departure...and jeopardize our chances of getting to our destination, Bashi Creek.

Fortunately for us, the rain only gushed down for about 15 minutes...then slowed to a drizzle. We left Kingfisher Bay as planned at 6 AM with Kim Jo and Overtone. We were immediately into Demopolis Lock and on our way down the river.

The day turned into a beautiful day for travel. Every morning these days it is really chilly...but give us a little solar energy and an enclosed bridge and we're shedding layers like a dog sheds in the summer.

We're still experimenting with features of the chart plotter, so we have our eyes on it a lot of the time we're cruising.  Some funny things crop up on there.

Apparently there are so many of us cruisers on the Tenn-Tom that they are opening water holes even in the most remote of areas...

Oh, yeah, and we all know there was some crying going on at this landing last election day...

Here's what it looks like when we're passing a barge... The red boat shape is the barge and we are the black one.

Overtone travels faster than we, and they said they would “save us a space” at Bashi Creek if things were crowded (meaning we could raft up together). When we got into Bashi later that day, Overtone was the only boat in the place and we both had plenty of room. Lucy enjoyed a romp in the adjoining recreation area, then we all spent a quiet, uneventful night.

Friday, November 7 - Our plans were to travel a light, 45 mile day down to Old Lock Number One at mile 100.    This is an old river course with ruins of old lock number 1 and has a small park and boat ramp.  It has a narrow entrance and is very secluded and rustic. We've stayed there a couple of times over the years.  

Our friends on Kindred Spirit sent us a text early this morning to say that the lock entrance was so shallow they couldn't get inside...having tried several approaches. They are live-aboards and are very used to anchoring out, so we took their experience seriously. I got online and looked at recent reviews of the anchorage and found other boaters commenting on the lack of water. One review even mentioned a boat that had gotten into the area and then couldn't get out.  Gulp.

OK, plan B. Um...and what was that, exactly?!?  Our original "schedule," and I use that term lightly, was to do the trip from Demopolis to Mobile Bay in four days going to Bashi, Lock One, Tensas at mile 39, then  Mobile Bay.

So back to Active Captain and Garmin Blue Charts (which can be used when you can't get a connection to the internet). There were several possibilities beyond mile 100. Thank goodness we left early on a light day (we slept in and left at 7) and had already gone through the last lock, Coffeeville (yippee!!)

First we looked at a sand bar around mile 105. was SO early in the day we felt like we needed to try for something further down. We eyed an anchorage at 97...but passed it up deciding to make a run for an anchorage with several good reviews, Upper Sunflower at 78.6.

This would be a long run. Our estimated time of arrival (ETA) was 4:30 PM, just 30 minutes before dark. It was a bit of a tense day because we were concerned we might get held up some way or get there and find out it was taken. We made it to Sunflower...and, wonder of wonders, this one (maybe 2) boat anchorage was empty! We tucked into a spot out of the channel, but still on the river, in 8 feet of water downstream from a small sand bar. We even had time to launch the dinghy and take Lucy for a...well, walk on this tiny sand bar. She complied, sweet dog!

This was a first for us. We've always anchored off the river. This night we were still right there on the river, just out of the channel and in an area that would be very visible by tows who might pass in the night. And, boy did they! We had two tows pass us before we went to bed and the third tow passed the next morning at around 3 AM. Oh, yes, we definitely slept lightly that night! But, we both agreed the next morning that it IS a good anchorage and we'd do it again.

Saturday, November 8 - We are still having problems charging one of the batteries and are feeling the need to be in a marina with capable boat yard. We considered our options last night and decided we needed to set sights on Dog River Marina in Mobile, AL. With some planning and a hope for lots of luck, we decided we had a shot at it.

Lucy didn't get a walk that morning. At the earliest light we loaded up the dinghy and were out in the river by 6 AM. 

The sunrise was gorgeous!! 

Taking our showers on the way today, I realized we finally have a shower with a view!

Our ETA was 4:35. was a tense day! We passed two tows on the way and made a run at 10+ mph to pass through the Mile 14 Railroad Bridge because an oncoming tow told us to “pick it up!”

The river widens out down towards Mobile Bay and looking at the shoreline it was obvious from the vegetation that "we're not in Kansas anymore!"

Our first sign of getting close came at mile 22 when we spotted the 
I-65 bridge, better known down here as the "Dolly Parton Bridge..." 'cause both the bridge and Dolly are structural marvels.  ;-)

Finally we came into Mobile Bay!

Mile 0.0 is right at the Mobile Convention Center. From the water, Mobile looks busy and beautiful.

According to Wikipedia, this is likely "the USS Independence (LCS-2) at the Austal USA shipyards along the Mobile River in Mobile, AL."

A glimpse at the kind of traffic surrounding us.  Run, little Island Gypsy, run!!

The tide was moving out as we made our way into the Dog River area, and we fought to stay in the narrow approach channel. Two hours after we passed Mile 0.0 we tied up to the fuel dock for the night at Dog River Marina, the clock reading 4:35 PM.

We'd made it! 93.6 miles in one day, a feat we hope not to have to repeat! At an average of 9 miles/hr we had traveled from 6 AM to 4:35PM.  We decided it was a night for delivery pizza. Whoops. All three pizza companies passed on delivery to Dog River. OK, we scrounged around and munched on leftovers so's not to go to any trouble with the evening meal. We were exhausted and were in bed by 7:45.  Our view of the bridge that evening at the entrance to Dog River....

Sunday, November 9 - We started the day on the fuel dock. At 7 AM we filled up with fuel and went to our position on the transient dock. (A bit harrowing with the tide moving out, but we managed it.) Wayne spent the morning in the engine room checking for loose wiring that might be causing our battery problems. We broke for a lunch at the Grand Mariner Marina restaurant a dinghy ride across the way.  Here's a shot of the Dog River Marina transient dock from Grand Mariner.  Our boat is on the inside of that dock so you can't see us.

Monday, November 10 - We contacted the marina office this morning and had Glenn, the manager, come out to evaluate our problems.  More on this later....