We left the marina in Demopolis along with 5 other boats about 6:00am. By 6:30 we were in the lock, and after being joined by one more boat, the gates were closed and we decended down to Coffeeville Lake and headed South.
Genesis was the slowest boat in the pack, but we never got too far behind the other trawlers and the catamaran that we'd locked through with.
About an hour south of the dam, we spotted our first bald eagle, as he circled over the river ahead of us. After a couple of loops he landed in a tree on our port (left) side, and promply turned his back toward us! Just as the boat passed him he turned around and posed for a good picture.
Shortly after that, we noticed the steering didn't feel right, and discovered a leak in the rudder steering actuator. Not good. We added fluid, but a couple of hours later we had to face the fact that we might have to return to Demopolis and call the trip off short.
We continued on to mile 146, the sight of Pickens Landing, an anchorage where two other boats in our group were already anchored. As we approached we were called on the radio by the Captain of "Lifes Tra-Vails", who invited us to raft up alongside the other boats for the night. Both the other boats were crewed by couples who were doing the "Great Loop".
The rest of the evening was bitter-sweet, as we got to visit with 4 other boaters who started out as strangers and ended the night as friends. The bitter part was the decision that in the morning, we would head back to Demopolis while the other two boats would continue south.
On Friday morning we untied from our new friend's boats and headed north after waiting an hour or so for a thick fog to lift. I had pulled the dinghy up close to the boat and tied her off, and as soon as we started moving, it flipped and filled with water. Not good again. 15 minutes of bailing with a 5 gallon bucket got us moving again.
On the way back to Demopolis, the weather was great as we saw another eagle, several groups of wild hogs, deer, and osprey.
We arrived at the Demopolis lock just before dark, and had to wait for a northbound towboat to lock up and exit the lock. The lockmaster then emptied the chamber and we entered the lower lates for our ride up. It was dark-thirty when we left the lock and the 30 minute ride to the marina was not fun in the dark. We did make safely back into our slip though.
After making some repairs, we hope to set out again for Gulf Shores - maybe in a couple of weeks.