Saturday, December 24, 2016


Saturday, December 24, 2016 -

We got home Wednesday, December 14.  Our friend Ben picked us up at the marina around 3 PM. Somehow, I haven't thought much about the blog since then.  For one thing it took us a few days to rest up.  We'd spent six nights in a row on the boat...and as I walked through Kroger that afternoon to pick up the few groceries needed, my legs felt a little like jelly.  ;-)

We're in the swing of things now.  Well, as much as we've ever been, I'd say.  Looking forward to the next few days as we travel over to see Dave and family.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Hope to see you all soon....

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

First Class Harbor above Watts Bar Lock to Caney Creek

Just a little update on our last night at Chattanooga dock: You know we had our hearts set on pizza, but the PapaJohns people didn't know what the "docks in front of the aquarium" meant...and required a physical address for delivery.  Last time we were in Chattanooga...a couple of months ago...we ordered from them but we were at the docks right below the marina's office.  Ah, well, we won't hold it against them.... ;-)

Monday, December 12, 2016 -

It was raining as we pulled out of Chattanooga and headed for Chicamauga Lock.

Fortunately for us, the rain that morning dried up around 10 and afternoon we had a beautiful ride up the Chicamauga Lake.  We stopped at Shady Grove Harbor for fuel and were ready to see if we could make it all the way up to Watts Bar Lock.  We did!!!  Went through the lock and had just enough time to get to the nearby first class harbor and anchor.  We felt like we'd had a pretty productive day: over 60 miles, 2 locks, and a fuel stop.  Here was our home for the night...

And these are some of the pictures from today...

As we got nearer to the lock we also were getting closer to the Watts Bar Steam Plant and it's STEAM....

Our view from inside the Watts Bar Lock...

And finally, our view of the steam from the upper side of the lock as the sun began to move down...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 -

The day began as usual.  We had coffee, breakfast, caught up on news and mail, while waiting for the 7:30 AM sunrise.  We had a weather alert for this area about heavy fog, but saw none where we were. We took our stations for bringing up the anchor: me on the bridge and Wayne working with the anchor.  Wayne went inside to start the engine........and it started but stopped after a few seconds.

Knowing there is usually a problem with fuel getting to the engine when this happens, Wayne went down and changed the main filter and a smaller filter.  It still wouldn't start.  We ended up calling our friend, Ben Birdwell, who kindly drove down to the nearby (deserted) Watts Bar Resort.  It was raining by then, just to make thinks even more exciting.  Wayne picked Ben up in the dingy and they were able to fix the fuel supply issue with a process called "bleeding" off air in the fuel line.  Thank you Ben!!!

We ended up having a short cruising day because in the late afternoon it started raining again and causing fog.  We are anchored in Caney Creek for the night and are prepared tomorrow for getting home!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Chattanooga dock by the aquarium

Sunday, December 11, 2016 -

Left our anchorage at 6:30 AM central this fog!  Nickajack Lock was waiting for us when we got there and the majority of the trip today was spent on tranquil waters.

Let us talk now about the last part of our trip...the last hour before we docked.  Suddenly the winds picked up big gusts of 17mph and sustained of 12.  They must have been behind us because we were flying upstream at a lower rpm than we've been running on this trip.  Our intent was to go through Chicamauga Lock today, arriving there at around 3:30 PM eastern.  So much for plans! We called to check on conditions and see whether we could get through and were told that it would be 6 hours before we could lock through because Bear Cat (a tow known well by boaters in the Knoxville area) was taking 6 barges through, one at a time.

That being a no-go we had only one choice and that was to stay on the docks at Chattanooga.  We called ahead and got an answering machine.  Left a number and name...and haven't heard anything from them yet.  We are tied up near the pedestrian bridge downtown Chattanooga.  The gates leading from the dock to land are locked on our side...and I presume on the other side.  Pizza delivery is, of course, on our mind...but I think we can still do that by slipping the pizza under the locked door.  ;-) Hopefully the marina rep will call us sometime this afternoon and make it even easier.  I could actually take a walk if they come before dark!!

Took a picture today of a steam plant between our anchorage and Nickajack Lock.  Then I played with the Paper Camera app and came up with this...  See the sea monster in the water?  ;-)

This is the original photo...

Things got even weirder as we went further up the river.  It looked like we were headed into a big, open mouth!

Hey!  What's a gal to do on a boat going 8 mph for days, and days, and days?  We'd better get home soon.  Not sure where this will lead....

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Crow Creek Island

When we left you last we were in Grand Harbor Marina at the top of the Tenn Tom and poised to get on the Tennessee River.  We were talking about staying several nights there so's to be tied up to the dock during the cold weather coming over the next couple of days...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 -

So, Tuesday night we started plotting and planning and decided we really didn't need to stay tied up to a dock to see the cold weather out.  See, even if we were tied up to a marina slip/dock we'd need to run the generator during the night for warmth because the plug for our AC/Heat connection to shore power failed us several nights back.  We hadn't needed heat during the night until now.  If we plot our course so that we're "near" a marina in case the generator (THE generator that is practically brand new) were to fail us.  With that in mind, we decided to stay only until Thursday morning when we'd take off up the Tennessee.

We had no problem getting the courtesy van from the marina since we were the only fools  people there as transients.  We took off for some more groceries...don't need the laundry.  Groceries under control we struck out for Corinth, MS, and Abe's Grill which was highly recommended by Barry, the Harbormaster (super nice guy, as was Dale, his cohort). [When we walked into the marina office this morning to meet them for the first time it was, as Barry put it, "colder than my x-wife's heart!" ]

Abe's did not disappoint.  Little old building with advertising signs (authentic old ones) all over the outside.  Inside we found a long lunch counter with red covered stools that showed wear indicating they'd been here for a while.  The restroom (they are ahead of times here at Abe's) was unisex.  When Wayne took his turn to the restroom, Abe told me it might be a while 'cause he'd have to look a while at Angelina Jolie.  Funny, I didn't notice her.

Abe declared that everything on the menu was delicious and bought local.  (Wayne pointed out later to me that it could have been MADE in Egypt, just bought local. ;-)  We both had hamburgers and shared a pile of french fries.  Topped the meal off with two large freshly made chocolate chip cookies.  Good as lunch was...breakfast is the star meal at this place... White Lily biscuits, gravy, etc. Why, they even have chocolate gravy, something I thought our Mother had made up.  When we returned to the marina and told Barry about our lunch he said we really needed to do breakfast.  Even if we were leaving out tomorrow morning Barry would give us the car keys and Abe's opened at 5 AM.  Tempting though it was...we declined.

But, if you're ever in Corinth on a Mon-Friday, 5 AM - 3 PM...and IF it isn't a holiday week, cause they close a week for most holidays...and IF the family crew, Abe, wife, and son, haven't decided to go travel they seem to do pretty just might get to experience Abe's Grill for yourself.  It would be worth it!

Thursday, December 8, 2016 -

So on Thursday morning we took off up the Tennessee River as first light came.  The wind was blowing pretty good that morning and with Pickwick Lake being so wide in spots, it blew us around a bit.  We made it up to Wilson Lock above Florence, AL, knowing that the lock was busy handling "a big tow," as the lock master said.  We tied up on the auxiliary lock wall for the wait.  An hour and a half later, the biggest tow and load that we've seen since the Mississippi River finally lumbered down the river...The load was three barges across and at least four sets long.

Wilson Lock done, finally, we set our sights on getting above Joe Wheeler Lock before night fall.  It would be close.  We called Wheeler when we were about 10 miles out and they said they could take us through...and that it only took 15-20 minutes to transit.  We got to the lock at 4:30 PM and were in our anchorage, Second Creek right by the lock on the RDB (right descending bank), by the time it turned dark.  Whew!!

Friday, December 9, 2016 -

The Sunrise on this chilly morning (low 20's) was pretty as we left Second Creek.

The good thing about having the bridge enclosed with plastic is that it acts like a solarium and heats up nicely when the sun is out and shining, like it was that day.  We started out with all our winter clothes on (remember...we were supposed to be in Florida!) and peeled them off as the day progressed.  We spent the entire day on the Joe Wheeler Reservoir and finally anchored at the Flint River, m 339.1, knowing we couldn't make it up to and through the Guntersville Lock, next on our way.

Saturday, December 10, 2016 -

It wasn't foggy in the anchorage, but it sure was when we came out on the Tennessee...

Beautiful as it was, it took a while for the rising sun to suck up all that fog that had been settled in on the water.  We left about an hour later than we'd planned...but we don't mess around with fog.

Much as we wanted to get way up close to Nickajack Lock for the night, the anchorages just didn't fall right for us.  We ended up stopping at 3 PM and anchored at (a familiar one for us) Crow Creek Island, m 401.  Nickajack is at around 425 so we'll have a few hours to go before getting through there tomorrow...then up as far as we can go in one day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

We can see the Tennessee River from here!

Monday, December 5, 2016 -

Yukky day on the water today!  Rainy, cold, visibility was lousy.  We slogged through Aberdeen, Amory and Wilkins locks before we called it quits and anchored above Wilkins Lock near Smithville Marina.  Tomorrow we'll go through the last four lock and anchor somewhere on Bay Springs Lake.

Our cozy view of the fall foliage behind our boat in the anchorage...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 -

It rained and stormed during the night...but cleared up pretty early.  The day still remained overcast and seemed to get colder and colder the further up the river we went.  Made it through all four locks (Fulton, Rankin, Montgomery, and Whitten) by 12:10 PM.  We had 38 miles to go after this to get to Grand Harbor today instead of tomorrow.  We decided to go for it...knowing we'd need to maintain about 9 mph to get there before dark.  Tonight we are alongside the fuel dock at Grand Harbor (they were all gone by the time we got here, 4:20 PM.  They'd told us earlier in the day to just got anywhere we wanted to and make ourselves at home.  We did...and will be here for the next few days, maybe until Saturday when things are supposed to get a bit warmer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fairhope, AL, to Apalachicola, FL, .....and back

Saturday, November 12, 2016 -

We're docked at Eastern Shore Marine in Fairhope, AL, until Monday.  We're getting familiar, again, with the non-floating wooden docks and short finger piers common in coastal marinas.  That and a tide going up and down don't make for the most comfortable setup for this boat...or maybe any boat. We rigged up a rope to hang onto when getting on or off the boat and assisted each other.

We attempted to rent a car for the weekend yesterday after we arrived.  Enterprise has a great $9.99/day rental Friday-Monday in a lot of places we travel through down here.  Unfortunately, there were no cars available Friday.  We ended up getting a one-day rental on Saturday morning...and since the office closed at 3 PM on Saturday and was closed on Sunday, we had use of the car until Sunday afternoon when we left it on the Enterprise lot with aid of the marina courtesy van.

I did laundry right next to a Publix supermarket so I could gather a few groceries at a time in between wash and dry.  Wayne, meanwhile, was doing maintenance on the engine room back at the boat.
When I was through with laundry and groceries, he called to say he still had the salon floor up working and ask if I could stay out a bit longer.  You betcha!  Off to Hobby Lobby I went for a few supplies.  ;-)

Sunday, November 13, 2016 -

We'd originally planned to stop in Pensacola on this trip and had our forwarded mail sent there.  Now we're thinking we'd rather move on across the Panhandle when we leave tomorrow.

So...we took our rental car this morning and drove over to Pensacola for the mail...and brunch at (Another) Broken Egg.

Back at the boat later that afternoon I worked on folding all the charts we'd ordered in for the trip. They're HUGE and it takes a while to fold them so you can see the chart name and number.

We filled up with water (had taken on fuel as we came into the marina) and readied ourselves for the trip down Mobile Bay tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2016 -

Left Eastern Shore Marine at 7 AM.  Easy trip down the Bay and made it all the way to Little Sabine Bay anchorage, Pensacola Beach, FL.  Only one other boat was in there...a sailboat...which just proves how good an anchorage that is.  :-)

Saw dolphins as we were working our way along the Panhandle.  That's the earliest sighting in the trip for us as we're going south.  We usually don't see them until we get to Panama City area.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 -

Out on the water at 7:15 AM and headed for an anchorage on the eastern most side of Choctawhatchee Bay (noted as East Choctawhatchee Bay on AC).  We'd planned a short day to Panama City to visit friends we'd met on the first loop trip.  We'd called them in the morning and left a message, but didn't get a response until that afternoon...and that's when we realized they had been at Fort Walton free dock and we had already passed them!!  We will try to catch up with them on the way home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 -

Pulled up anchor and left at 7AM.  We plan to be in Apalachicola tomorrow, so will go as close as we can get to the Wetapoo Creek segment so our trip will be short tomorrow and we'll get there early afternoon.  We'll stay there 2 days at least...and may stay longer until we see a good day to start over to Steinhatchie by way of Carrabelle's Dog Island anchorage.  Saw lots of dolphins today, as usual, as we approached Panama City.  We ended up anchoring in California Bayou.  It was a pleasant anchorage and just fine for a windless night.  The only bad thing about it was the flies that descended on us in the sunny afternoon.  YUK!

Thursday, November 17 2016 -

Easy trip over today to Apalachicola Marina.  We've never stayed there before...usually go to the Hotel docks, but this marina got great reviews on Active Captain so we decided to try it.  Probably won't do that again!  We ended up on the "remote" dock (as opposed to the slips by the marina office/fuel dock).  Ours was basically a concrete wall to tie up to.  The problem came in with the tidal changes there in Apalachicola...4 per day...and the low profile of our boat.  Bottom line:  it took us a while to figure our how either of us could even get off the boat after we'd tied up with the dock hand's help.  Being a bit mindful of how I get on and off the boat now since the episode several years ago at Panama City Marina...we waited a bit for the tide to rise some before we both went out for a walk around town and trip to the grocery store.

Our view from the dock....

Friday, November 18, 2016-

This morning we started planning our route to Steinhatchee when the weather allowed.  Mamaw Prichard had fallen at home this week and had to call Linda to come and help her up.  Fortunately for Linda, she had her walking pal with her when she went to Mamaw's aid because she wouldn't have been able to get Mamaw up by herself.  Thinking about this and the timing of our trip we came around to the decision that we needed to head back home to Knoxville.  We were faced with the realization that we really couldn't count on getting back home in a day because of the remoteness of some places we'd travel and the lack of access to rental cars or airplanes.  We'll be needed at home this winter to help out with Mamaw.  Having this decided we both felt relieved of a worry.

Having made our decision, we celebrated by having lunch at the Owl Cafe...oysters for Wayne and shrimp for me.  It was really good!  Then to a shop that had both ice cream and chocolates.  ;-)

Saturday, November 19, 2016 -

We left Apalachicola Marina at 7AM and headed back towards Knoxville.  A front was moving through that day and the winds were really howling.  Waves, while not a problem, were the highest we've seen on the trip so far.  The boat was covered in salt spray by the time we went into St. Andrews Marina in Panama City that evening.

The local rotary club was having a BBQ cook-off that afternoon and the tickets were only $10/person for all you could eat.  We had other plans, though, and set off to Hunt's Oyster Bar, one of our favorite places, when supper time rolled around.  Oysters for Wayne and grilled shrimp platter for me.  We topped off the meal by splitting a piece of sea salt caramel pie.  It was so rich we could barely eat it all...but did!

Sunday, November 20, 2016 -

The next day was another blustery one on the water as we finished the transit of St. Andrews Bay and crossed the Choctawhatchee Bay.  We saw a bunch of kite surfers out as we approached Ft. Walton. We discussed staying at Ft. Walton's free dock but decided to get a few more miles in today so tomorrow we could arrive at the Wharf Marina as early as possible.  We ended up anchoring behind Spectre Island just past Ft. Walton.  Beautiful place and calm.

Monday, November 21, 2016 -

Left this morning at 6AM and got to the Wharf Marina, Orange Beach, FL, around noon.  We took on fuel before going to our slip, which was nicely situated near the parking lot on the eastern most end of the marina.  The Wharf, for those who haven't been here, is an entertainment

First thing on our list:  wash the boat!!! We had so much salt spray on the boat that when we pulled into the fuel dock I had a problem getting the lines out they were so stiff!!  This done, I called Enterprise and they picked me up around 4 PM so we could get a car and drive back to Athens, TN, for Thanksgiving with family.

The Wharf is more than just a the website reads,

With a plate for every taste and a shop for every style, there’s so much to see and do every day at The Wharf. Whether you’re in the mood for a four-course meal or a delectable snack, you’ll find plenty of fresh Gulf seafood, authentic Italian, upscale pub grub, even gourmet beef jerky and hot sauces. Plus you’ll find everything from familiar favorites to new and exciting items at each of our shops—and you may need to bring a friend to help carry all of your fantastic finds. 
Ah, but that's not all!  They have a Carmike Theater, an ice skating rink, mini golf, amphitheater, pool...It's a resort.  We checked it out while there at our reduced AGLCA rate of 0.90/ft. slip rental.  ;-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016-

Today we did all the usual chores...laundry, groceries...and still found time for lunch at the Shrimp Basket, a regional chain, and Rita's Ices featuring ices and ice cream.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 -

Left at 8 AM Eastern and drove and drove and drove to Cleveland, TN, for our hotel overnight.  Traffic was awful on this day before Thanksgiving.  When we reached Chattanooga the main highways were RED with stopped traffic on our navigation program.  We just got off and took Highway 11 north to our destination.  It was 5:45 PM by the time we stopped...and we didn't even want to take time to get supper.  Instead, we hit the snack machines at the hotel.  Cheetos!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2016 - Thanksgiving Day

Got up to Mamaw Prichard's in Athens by 10 AM and after a brief visit took her over to Linda's house (Wayne's sister) for lunch with the family.  Linda's grandson, Kaleb, was there with his new bride, Shelby.  They got married on November 5 after we'd left on this trip.  Linda's two daughters were there with their families...and Dave, Heather, and the boys stopped there for lunch before going a little further east that night on their way to home in Wake Forest for Friday.  This is the first time in years we've all been together like this and everyone commented on what a nice day it was!

Wayne, Linda and I with Mamaw....

Mamaw and the great-grandkids...

After lunch and visiting we left to head south and stopped near Birmingham for the night.

Friday, November 25, 2016 -

We had an easy trip home today.  Stopped for a few perishables and turned the car in early. Unfortunately, this branch has had a hard time filling car requests.  They were low on inventory when I picked up the Dodge Challenger (rated "sports car" but they "let me have it for the full size rate) and I had to wait about 1/2 hour to leave with the car.  Today, they were having the same problem and didn't have a car to drive me back to the Wharf.  Fortunately for me, the nice fellow who picked me up on Monday was there and offered to drive his car to take me back.  It was approved by his boss and off we went.  He left Poland in the 70's and started all over in the U.S. with his wife.  Now they are both semi-retired and enjoying life.  He loves to talk...says it helps him learn the language.  ;-)

Saturday, November 26, 2016 -

We'd hoped to leave today but Mobile Bay is rough today so we'll stay until tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I started noting Active Captain anchorages (as well as those in Skipper Bob and Fred Myers) on our charts.  We are expecting to have our speed cut down as we travel upstream and may need additional anchorage options.

Sunday, November 27, 2016 -

Having read the marine weather reports concerning Mobile Bay today...and having talked with the marine forecasters from the National Weather Service...we opted to leave a bit later this morning hoping for the choppy waters to die down a bit in the southern part of the Bay.  We have almost 56 miles to go today to get from here to the Bay, up the Bay to mouth of the river and an anchorage somewhere at or near the 9.8mm Bayou Canot.

Left marina at 8AM and were pleased to find that the Bay wasn't as bad as we had expected.  We were able to get up to 16.6 mm, Big Bayou Canot,  for an overnight anchorage.

Monday, November 28, 2016 -

Made it up to Three Rivers Lake mm 63.8 for the night.  Bad weather, mostly wind and rain, are being forecast so we opted for the most sheltered spot we could find.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 -

The day started out in pleasant weather today...but as the afternoon wore on it became more cloudy and blustery.  We decided to, again, go for a more sheltered overnight spot and ended up anchoring at Okatuppa Creek, mm 123.2.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 -

We were very secure in our anchorage last night.  We obviously had some wind and rain during the night...but the boat held fast and the little creek protected us.

Weather was calling for a line of threatening storms across Alabama, again, but when looking at a national weather map it looked like the line was beyond us.  We pulled up anchor at 7:15AM and headed out for a short trip to Bashi Creek, 145mm.  There are still some questionable weather reports for this evening and tonight, so we decided to opt for another creek anchorage rather than alongside the channel.  Tomorrow we should be able to get up to Demopolis.

We'd only been out about 1/2 hour this morning when the skies started greying and wind picking up.  Checking our weather map we could see a line of violent storms headed for us.  We turned around...picked up the speed...and were just re-anchoring in Okatuppa Creek to wait out the storms.

Before the rain started....

And during...

I'm posting this at 10 AM and we're still waiting out storms.  Things are supposed to clear up by 12:30 which will still give us plenty of time to get up to Bashi Creek.

Continued: We had no problem getting up the short distance to Bashi Creek, everybody's favorite because it's about the only between it and Demopolis.  There was a larger boat anchored behind the boat ramp and we anchored in front of it, nearer the ramp.  We got way over on the fact, we got in the trees.  Ah, well, we were out of the way if anyone else tried to get in further back and we definitely wanted to be out at the crack of dawn the next day.  What's a few leaves and tiny branches on the boat, right?  ;-)

Thursday, December 1, 2016-

Woke up this morning to fog...two hours' worth of fog.  Instead of leaving at 6 we left at 8.  The pictures below show how dense the fog was.  We kept trying to see the sailboat that had anchored the night before in the area immediately across from the Creek.

Finally we got a glimpse....

Having had a sobering experience in the fog when we first started this trip, we waited until there was no more fog, 8 AM.  Off we went at better than 8 mph headed for Demopolis Lock and anchorage just above.  Our ETA (estimated time of arrival)  showed we should get there in plenty of time before dark...but that ETA changed as our speed dropped in the afternoon to 7...even 6 mph at times.

This is where the sweating began.  The ETA changed to around 4:30 and sunset is 4:45.  ETA was for the lock, which meant we'd have to enter the lock immediately...and would that be possible???  Would we have to wait for south-bound traffic??  We were slightly above our normal RPM's to have a fighting chance of getting there in time to get to the anchorage with light.  Would we have enough fuel to make it??  We have sight gauges on the fuel tanks but can't get to open one of the gauges while the engine is running.  Oh, and did I mention there are no good anchorages between Bashi and Demopolis!!!

Well.  Wayne called the Demopolis Lock about possible commercial traffic around 4-5 and the lock master told him he couldn't really say...didn't know of any right then.  He asked Wayne to call on the radio when we got within 10 miles of the Lock.  During the time they talked he asked Wayne where he was from..."I can tell by your accent you're not from New Jersey!"  When Wayne told him Tennessee, the lock master went on about how he hated to hear about all the fires in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area because he and his family had gone there many times over the years for vacation.

So, we called him at 10 miles out and he said he would have the lock ready for us when we got there.  We did, indeed, get to the lock doors at about 4:30...just as a south bound tow hailed the lock for passage through.  Whew!  When we got on the upper side we sort of felt our way back into Foscue Creek and anchored.  And collapsed.  We had traveled 71 miles!!

The Coast Guard dock was just in front of us with their Christmas lights aglow...

Friday, December 2, 2016 -

We took our time waking up...and were still wide awake at 5:30 AM.  We only had 2 miles to go today to get to Demopolis Yacht Basin for fuel and a night in a slip.  We waited for a bit more fog that morning, which was worse in the main channel than it was back here in Foscue Creek.

We were about the only transient there that day, especially that early.  We borrowed the courtesy car and ate lunch, stopped at the pharmacy, Walmart for groceries...and did laundry in the afternoon in the ever so close HUGE laundry room at the boaters' lounge.  Delivery pizza for supper because it's Friday night...and we're livin' good.

Saturday, December 3, 2016 -

We left Demopolis this morning at 6:30 fog!...and traveled up to and through Heflin Lock to Windham Landing Cut-off at 286.2.  Nice, easy anchorage right off the channel.  It rained on us pretty steadily right before Heflin and all the way to the anchorage.  We're positioned to get very near or past Columbus, MS, tomorrow depending on how long it takes us to get through one, possibly two, locks.

Pictures of the river as we made our way from Bashi to Demopolis...

And these are pictures from earlier in the trip when we were on the Florida panhandle...

Days with calm water....

The Wharf Marina surrounds at Orange Beach...

The vegetation along the way...

And beautiful skies and water....

Sunday, December 4, 2016 -

We were out of the anchorage by 6:45 AM.  Actually, we had the anchor up before then but were waiting for the cloudy skies to lend a little more light!  It was drizzling rain, but all in all it was not as rainy today as it was yesterday.  Got up to Bevill Lock, mm 306.8, and were through it by 9:20 AM.  Lock door was open for us when we got there.  While there wasn't as much was a chilly damp most of today.  We had the small heater on the bridge and kept the front center window open only when we needed to.  We still had a good bit of debris today to dodge.

Stennis Lock was expecting a tow about the time we were to arrive, but we kept on going because we knew we would get there around noon and have time to wait, if need be.  Turns out we passed that tow tucked away on a side channel about 5 miles before the lock.  When we hailed the lock he said he just had to let the water down and we'd be in...and we were.

Aberdeen Lock is next and we considered making a play for that today...but decided to stop at Buttahatchee River Cutoff, mm 343.7, instead.  Nice place and right off the channel.  Tomorrow we'll see how far up the river we can get.  Hopefully at least to Fulton anchorage....

Saturday, November 19, 2016

We're headed back home!

Just a note to let you all know our new plans.  We had a great adventure down the rivers and across the Florida Panhandle to Apalachicola...and now we're retracing our tracks and going back to Knoxville.  We need to be in Tennessee for the next few months to help out with family members.   We may still go to Florida for a car...but are feeling content with our (soon to become) two month trip on the boat.

We're in St. Andrew Marina, Panama City, FL, tonight...headed for a spot close to Pensacola tomorrow.  Monday we'll get to The Wharf Marina, Orange Beach, AL, and leave the boat for a few days to spend Thanksgiving with family.  Then back to the boat and off to points north.  I'll eventually catch up with the blogging and photos...surely.  ;-)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and we'll hope to see you all sometime in mid-December!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Down at the bottom of the rivers

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Left around 7:30 AM, as usual, and went through Aberdeen Lock without trouble. Actually, we'd seen a south bound tow pass our anchorage about ½ hour previous to our leaving. Came on him as we were heading for Aberdeen...and he had stopped on the side to allow passing of a north bound tow. We waited for the pass to be complete, then passed the still standing south bound tow and made it to the lock in time to go through ahead of him. Love seeing that open lock waiting on us.....

Came into Columbus Marina for the half day, and had time to take the courtesy vehicle to town for needed items.

On the way down we had realized that our refrigerator was not working on DC power...that is wasn't working unless we had the generator running or were hooked up to shore power. We considered options for repairing...this would make the 3rd time the circuit board that controls this needed conversion would have been replaced, and the last time was only a little over a year ago. ($350 part that Wayne can install.) We also considered replacing the fridge or installing an inverter for it. In the end, we decided to wait until we get settled in at Florida to consider the inverter. Meanwhile, we run the generator all day and turn it off at night. We talked to a couple of boaters at Columbus who had purchased a Home Depot fridge (which isn't AC/DC like most marine units) and just run the generator. They had found that overnight the unit doesn't lose a lot of cooling because the door remains closed. We're trying that now with a thermometer in the fridge...and so far, it will only drop 1 or 2 degrees over night. Heaven knows we'd love to get our money's worth from this generator!! ;-)

With that issue put to bed for now, we decided we'd done all we could in Columbus and would definitely leave Sunday morning. We had planned to swap/purchase some DVD series in Columbus on Sunday and that's the only thing we didn't get to do. So now on those evenings when we've spent 8-9 hours on the water and are ready to drop in front of a show, and the TV antenna gets no reception, we are re-watching Game of Thrones season 1. I have a couple more series being sent into Fairhope, AL, where we hope to be by Friday.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Woke up in Columbus Marina and (with new time change) left the dock and were waiting outside the Stennis Lock by 6:20 AM. After the lock we sauntered down to Beville Lock seeing very little traffic on the water. No problem getting through Beville. Anchored at Sumter Landing by 3:30PM. One other boat there.

Monday, November 7, 2016 -

Again, we were out early going for Heflin Lock and stopping at Demopolis for fuel before anchoring at Foscue Creek, mm 214. Good day of travel.  Love those white cliffs as you enter Demopolis area...

Tuesday, November 8, 2016....ELECTION DAY

Up at the crack o dawn! We talked to the lock master at Demopolis Lock and he thought he could get us through “at first light.” He said he would call us when he was ready. We knew it would take us longer to get out there having to pull up the we pulled up the anchor early and were out in front of the lock (behind two other boats) by 6 AM. OOPS! Turns out a barge had been moored up the river a little ways and was going to get through the lock before we were. Oh, well. We muddled around for...a couple of hours...and finally were exiting the lock at 8:30, along with six other boats.

It was a beautiful day of travel. Passed two tows, always exhilarating! We did sweat a little all the way about whether we would be able to find space to anchor at Bashi Creek. We had several alternatives picked out, all along the waterway. Turns out there was no reason to worry. We got to Bashi at 4:30 and were the only boat there. At 5:55 PM, total dark outside, we had one other boat, a sailboat, that had gone past us and was anchored behind. We did see a perfect spot for the trip back home, though, at Pickens Landing, mm 147, behind the green buoy.

Boy, what a time to be without any connection to a news source! Election Night 2016!! We watched a stuttering signal from PBS for about as long as we could take it...and finally decided to go to bed without knowing the outcome.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Left Bashi at around 6 AM and traveled down towards the last lock on this trip, Coffeeville. We called the lock when we were about 1 hour out and ask about how the day looked for getting through. He said they were putting through some big loads right then and probably would be through by the time we got there. He said there were several pleasure boats waiting then. By the time we got there, the lock was open and seven other pleasure boats went it with us. We got the last pin on the starboard side of the lock. Just as well we were towards the back because everyone else in the lock could travel faster than we can.

Of course, then, we began fretting over whether our desired anchorage along the side of the river at Sunflower Cut-Off mm 78.6 would get snapped up before we got there. We had alternatives...but knew we could fit in well there and be safe from barge traffic. We needn't have was waiting for us when we got there. It was relatively early in the day for us to stop at 3 PM, but the next anchorage would have been almost 2 hours away, and that's cutting it too close for us. Sun sets at 5 here.

The first time we stayed here was the last trip in October of 2014, and then we saw maybe one or two tows. This time we saw 6 barges come by between 4 and 8 PM. It was like barge central! We only got rocked once, by a downstream tow. In fact, we've seen far more tows from Bashi on down than the entire first part of our travel this year.

We were right next to the bank of the river, and the current would likely hold us in place, but we did put out a stern anchor again. I was inside doing something at “my station” when I glimpsed a group of about 6 wild hogs fumbling up the ten foot bank to our side! I wish I'd seen where they came from....across the river??? That would have been great to see!

I stumbled to find the term for a group of wild pigs, so resorted to good ole Google.

From “The name for a group of pigs depends on the animals' ages. A group of young pigs is called a drift, drove or litter. Groups of older pigs are called a sounder of swine, a team or passel of hogs or a singular of boars.”

You can take your pick because I don't know the difference in a boar and a hog (don't boars have long teeth hanging out of their mouth?)...but wait! Google!!

“However, “pig” usually refers to the barnyard variety, a wild boar is the kind that lives out in nature and is the ancestor of domestic pigs, and “hog” is used to describe larger pigs and boars. Technically speaking, they're all of the species Sus scrofa and are biologically very similar.”

OK, I like “a singular of boars.” That's what I saw and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Woke to a little fog this morning so waited until 7 to leave. We ran into a patch just a little way down the river at about the same time we had an alert from our AIS system that a tow was coming out way. We made arrangements with the tow to pass on a one whistle, then slowed to a crawl so we could identify him as soon as possible. We kept searching and searching the “horizon”...and suddenly saw him! He was on the other side of the river from us...but WAY closer than we were looking. The image sort of materialized, slowly, from the fog. Yikes! Thank you AIS!!!

Saw a few more tows as we made our way down the river today, but soon we were out by ourselves on the wide river as it flows towards Mobile. Our speed increased a touch as we came out of Coffeeville Lock and has remained running between 8.5 and 9 miles per hour.

We're anchored tonight at mm 12.2, Briar Creek off of the Tensas Cut-Off. It's a beautiful spot, but we haven't been here since Christmas Eve of 2008 when we started the first loop trip. Maybe that's because it was horrible weather that night. Rain, sleet, wind, you name it. Today it's gorgeous. It was in the 40's this morning but warmed up quickly when the sun came out in full. We're settled in and ready to exit the river tomorrow morning and travel over to Fairhope, AL, a short trip. We'll be there until Sunday when we'll take off for the intracoastal waterway and points south-er.

Friday, November 11, 2016 - Veteran's Day

Got up our usual on this Central Time Zone time...5:30.  Left our anchorage and went on down to the Mobile Bay.  This was the view that greeted us that morning: nothing moving!  If you want to have an easy time going through this part of the water, do it on a national holiday.  On our first Loop trip we went through here on Christmas Day.  Same scene then as today.

Easy trip across the Bay to Eastern Shore Marine in Fairhope, AL.  We had a 3/4 sea...waves hitting our back on the side.  The waves weren't big enough to be "mean, " though, so every 3rd or 4th wave we'd be moved a little off course.  Good ole autopilot was right there, grinding away.

So...we're through the rivers!  Here are some of our favorite photos from the last days on the river.  Stay turned for an update on our trip from here to Apalachicola, FL, where we will be tomorrow!

We're finally seeing color!!

And...can't get enough of the clouds with water...

One of Wayne's lunch favorites....

Seeing a lot of Monarch butterflies this year...This one is hitching a ride to Mobile!

The "Fourteen Mile Bridge" at 13.4 mm.  Yep, we had to have this one come up for us.  It has a 4' vertical clearance in down position....