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....