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Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Here is the link for our track today, minus the first 3 miles, as I forgot to turn the app on:

There was lots of activity at Ingalls Landing well into the night last night!

This was day 7 of our trip, and when we left the dock this morning there were only two unknowns that could affect our schedule. One was the Norfork Southern Railroad lift bridge just a mile away and the other was the Guntersville lock. If we didn't have big delays at those two spots, we should make the 55 miles to Guntersville by early afternoon.

After a short wait for the train to pass, the bridge was raised for us to pass under.

The wait at the RR bridge was only about 15 minutes as a southbound train crossed over. Then the bridge lifted about 40 feet and we followed a towboat under. After we cleared Decatur, the scenery turned rural and beautiful again. The super industrial sites were gone, and we began to see colorful rock ledges and walls on the riverbanks, and hills ahead upriver. By the time we got around Huntsville the hills had grown into mountains, and the rock ledges had become sheer rock cliffs.

First we saw hills ......

Then mountains .....

And finally we cruised at the foot of the mountains !

At the Guntersville lock our timing was perfect. I called them when we were about 15 minutes away and the operator said he was just about to lock up another boat, and he would wait on me. As I got to the lock wall, the gates opened and we followed a pontoon boat in. About 20 minutes later we were out of the lock and had only 10 miles between us and our destination at the Guntersville City dock.

A threatening storm cloud diverted my attention and I completly forgot to look for the famous bat cave just above the lock. It's home to thousands of bats that can be seen leaving every evening. We saw it several years ago from our little tugboat, and I had been looking forward to seeing it again.

Thankfully, this one passed north of us.

The storm passed us to the north, and we made it to our dockage about 4:00. As we were eating supper, a full rainbow appeared. I joined the other couple dozen people here at the dock in taking pictres until it slowly faded away.

It was quite an ending for our last 7 days on the water!

Glenda says:
We had a nice relatively quiet night at Decatur in Ingalls harbor.  Sometime in the middle of the night a boat came by playing loud music.  Apparently a lot of people do night fishing!  Today was our last day of travel.  The weather cooperated and the views were amazing.  God's greatness is so apparent in the massive cliffs and tree covered mountains we went through today.

God made all this yet He still cares about me!  Today was a good day.  We are settled in at the Guntersville city dock for the night.  I fixed chicken and rice for dinner.  As we were eating I heard a childs excited voice.  I looked out and there in the sky just in case I had some how missed it was the oldest symbol of of Gods grace and mercy, a rainbow!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Two important notes:

1. The "comments" problem has hopefully been fixed so you can leave a comment without having to register or log in. If you have a problem, let us know, and PLEASE leave comments -we love to read them!

2. I think I finally figured a way to include our daily track on the blog. Click on this link or cut and paste it into your browser and it will take you to our Navionics track record for today. Let me know how it works.

Now for today's post .....

I didn't get much sleep last night, due to the storms that rolled over us, but we managed to get away a little after 8:00, after the radar showed that the last few storms were falling apart.

On the way to Wheeler lock, the scenery is fantastic.

Kayaker enjoying Memorial Day Weekend.

It was a two hour drive to Wheeler Lock and Dam, and then an almost two hour wait before the lock could take us up. After a stop at Wheeler State Park, Glenda drove until we were close to Decatur. The area coming in to Decatur was packed with towboats, barge loading facilities, and other heavy industry  sites. 

Tow boat pushing FIFTEEN BARGES near Decatur!

Lots of heavy industry here.

Only 43 miles today, but with a lack of sleep, a delay at the lock and a stop for lunch and water at the State Park, it feels like a full day. The City dock at Decatur is a great place to spend to night - modern, clean floating docks, plenty of room, and an ice machine!

Genesis at Decatur. Her little diesel hasn't missed a beat in six days.

Tomorrow we should have an easy run of 65 miles or so to Guntersville, assuming we can get under the Southern RR lift bridge and through one lock without too much delay.

Glenda says:
I left off last night with us being safely tucked into a beautiful little cove.  It is a good thing we were! About midnight the captain awakened me with a gruff  "its about to get bad."  I got up and joined him in the pilot house.  He readjusted the anchor and we waited for the 50 mile an hour winds.  The captain had done everthing just right.  There was alot of thunder and lightening and rain but the wind really wasn't too bad.  In the boat on the water you just feel a little close to all the elements.  But God is good and Tom is careful so it was just another storm.

  We cleaned up some water and of course had to bail out the dinghy again. 

Tom said he could have taken a bath in there but it was a little cold.  I have about figured out the art of making coffee in my stove top perculator and it is finally tasting like coffee instead of hot water.  With coffee in hand and the weather looking clear we left achorage about 8:15.  From the time we arrived at the lock to tying up in the lock was almost exactly 2 hours.  I am learning patience.

  Joe wheeler state park was just a few more miles down the river and it was lunchtime so we decided to stop.  They had their Sunday brunch, while it was not as good as the shrimp and grits I had at harvey's it was better than package tuna or another turkey wrap.  I had prime rib and veggies with sweet tea yum yum! We filled up the water tanks ( I forgot to tell you we ran out of water in the middle of my shower last night.😮) It was almost 2 by the time we left joe wheeler.  After 4 more hours of travel through fishermen, boaters and industrial areas we are now tied up at the free dock in Decatur.  Its very busy with local boaters putting boats in and out but hopefully our evening will be pleasnt.

I piloted a lot today and let the captain rest.  He didnt sleep much last night.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

We left our anchorage on Bay Springs lake just after 6:00 this morning and went North. After an hour or so, we entered the "divide cut" section of the Tenn-Tom waterway. This is the completely man made canal that connected the Tennessee river basin with the Tombigbee system. 

Passing a tow on the divide cut section.

35 miles from our starting point this morning, we turned East onto the Tennessee River (after a brief loop in the middle of the river where the AL, TN, and MS State lines touch)

The blue dot is us at the three-state intersection.

We saw more osprey today - many of them on nest atop channel markers. 

This osprey glared

at us then flew off the nest when we got too close.

We made good time most of the day, and by lunch time I realized that we could be at Wilson lock by about 5:00 pm, and possibly lock through and find an anchorage before dark. The Wilson lock is getting some maintenance done during the day, and is only open from about 4:00 pm until 7:00 am. If we couldn't get through today, we would have to anchor out and try it after sunrise tomorrow, as my eyes are too old to drive on the river at night. I was afraid that I would have to compete with commercial traffic, and might not get through during the small window of daylight that I had.

This part of the Tennessee is gourgous, and so are the houses!

By 4:30 we were in Florence and entering the 3 mile channel leading to th lock, so I radioed them. I was told that I could probably lock through today, but there was one tow/barge combo ahead on me. We arrived at the gate at 5:00 and found the towboat Ms. Audrey Dean, with barges, as well as a houseboat waiting at the gate. My AIS receiver showed that another towboat was in the lock, about to exit upstream. I tried to calculate how long it would take to empty the chamber, lock up Audrey Dean, empty it again, then lock me and the houseboat up together. It was going to be hard to make it by dark. As I was about to turn around and seek an anchorage for the night, I heard the lock operator call Audrey Dean. He told the captain that he wanted to lock us all up TOGETHER, to which the tow captain replied "TOGETHER??!!". This was another very tall lock, and I was more than mildly apprehensive about sharing it with a towboat, 4 barges and a houseboat loaded with what seemed be teenagers. Another small boat had now joined the wait, too. 

Waiting to if we could lock through at Wilson Lock in Florence, AL.

When the gates finally opened, the towboat captain positioned two barges side by side at the front of the lock, then the remaining two against the left wall of the lock. Finally he uncoupled from the barges and pulled alongside them. This left just enough room for the 3 pleasure boats to squeeze in and tie to the bollards. It seemed to take forever, but we finally made it to the top and to Wilson Lake level. With the gates open, we crept by the front barge and made our way out of the lock with about 30 minutes of daylight left.

I found out later that Wilson is the tallest single lift lock East of the Rocky Mountains, at 94 feet!

Inside Wilson lock with Ms. Audrey Dean.

Looking backwards as the gates shut us in.

Towboat and barges on the left, the houseboat directly ahead.

We found an anchorage about a mile away and dropped the anchor in about 50' of water.

It was a long day for both of us - 81 miles and almost 14 hours! The good news is that we have only two more locks to go to Guntersville!

Glenda says:
I felt much better today.  Still sneezing but at least it does not feel like my head is about to exlode.  We had a long day.  It was fun to see where we dipped the bicycle tires into the water before our family bike trip down the natchez trace years ago.  Life with Tom has always been a great adventure.  There was a good bit of boat traffic on this holiday weekend.  It was fun to see the fishermen at just the moment they caught a fish.  We got into Florence around 5:00.  It looked like we were not going to get to lock through the wilson lock until in the morning.  But the lock master put us and two other pleasure craft in the lock with the tow and barges.  Needless to say Tom was very stressed.  But it was quite an adventure. We were just behind a party boat full of teenagers making bad decisions.  I think that is all I'll say about that because as a retired teacher it just makes me sad.  Just out of the lock we entered a beautiful little cove.  I bailed out the dinghy and we are finally settling down for the night.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

This morning we took the opportunuty to do some housekeeping chores while we were docked at Midway Marina.  The trawler "Bar-B" and the sailboat "Norne Gaest", who left Demopolis with us on Tuesday, both were gone from the dock when we got up. "Satisfaction", the sailboat that we shared 3 locks with yesterday, left the marina a little before 10:00, so he could lock through at the Montgomery lock ahead of us and not be constrained by our slower pace again. 

Turtles sunning on Bay Springs Lake.

We left the marina at 10:45 and made the 4 mile run to Rankin lock. I called them when we were about 15 minutes away, and the lockmaster said he would empty the chamber and have it ready for us. Fantastic timing, which repeated itself two more times today at the Montgomery and the Whitten lock.

In the foreground is the Natchez Trace bridge over the Tenn-Tom. Just ahead is the 84' lift Whitten lock.

In all of the eight locks we went through in the last two days, we had a strong southerly wind coming into the chamber, which made positioning the boat and catching the bollard with a line very stressful. Just as I got her stopped along the wall, the wind would catch the rear of the boat and push it out and away from the wall. There were a couple of times when the rubrail on the bow "kissed" the wall, and a couple of times I had to really stretch to loop the line over the bollard just in time as we were being blown away from it.

The HUGE gates of the Whitten Lock. Thankfully, this was the last Tenn-Tom lock for us.

Of the 10 locks we've gone through since Tuesday, 9 of them lifted us 30 feet or less. The last one, the Jamie Whitten Lock, is different. This is the lock that takes you up 84 feet to the "canal section" of the Tenn-Tom Waterway. It was extreemly intimidating to be bobbing around in what seemed like a very tiny boat, at the bottom of a concrete chamber 600 feet long and 110 feet wide, looking at 2 steel doors that are holding back an 84' tall wall of water! The mechanics of how the locks operate has always fascinated me, but after the last 3 days I'm really a little tired of going through them. I'm really glad that we are finished with locks for at least the next 80 miles. The next one will be th Wilson lock near Florence, AL.

Genesis enters the Whitten Lock.

The view if the chamber wall from Genesis' deck. 

After rising 84', the gates finally opened onto Bay Springs Lake!

The "Ronald Sensenback" arrived to lock downstream just as we were coming out of the Whitten Lock.

Just before we arrived at the Whitten Lock, we passed under the Natchez Trace Bridge, which brought back some fantasic memories from 20 years ago. At least 4 times in the past, Glenda and I had bicycled over that bridge as we rode down the Natchez Trace. Once was a trip we took with all three of our children when we spent a week bicycling and camping our way down the Trace. Another trip was with about 20 adults and teenagers from our church, who bicycled from somewhere in Tennessee down to French Camp, Mississippi over 5 days. It seems impossible that those teenagers are now in thier 30's. I hope they have good memories about the time they rode a bicycle for over 200 miles!

Our total mileage for today was only 25 miles, and we are now anchored in a quiet cove on Bay Springs Lake. Tomorrow we will finish the Tenn-Tom Waterway as we pass through the corner where Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi meet, and we'll turn East onto the Tennessee River. 

Glenda says:
I have come down with a summer cold.  With puffy eyes and sneezing constantly, I appreciated our night at midway marina.  Everyone was very nice.  I took cold medicine and went to bed early last night.  This morning we were able to  wash clothes and make a walmart run.  We wanted to give "Satisfaction" a chance to get through the lock so we wouldn't slow them down all day like we did yesterday.  I'm still not feeling great but I took some daytime cold medicine and we headed up the river.  We hit each lock with perfect timing.  So even though we got a late start, by 4 pm we are settled into our achorage.  It is sunny but very windy.  Even though it is close to 90 degrees it is not hot.  We are in a cove not far off the main river and I am watching for critters and blowing my nose.  (If anybody is wondering about Daisy:  she is usually with us but she had to babysit this week. Hopefully she will be with us next time )

We sat on the deck enjoying our "private" anchorage this afternoon, and watching osprey hunt for supper.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

 We pulled up the anchor and started down the oxbow at about 6:30 this morning. We had to backtrack about 3 miles to the south entrance of the oxbow, because the upper entrance is prone to shoaling, and we didn't want to take a chance of grounding. 

Today was a long day for us - almost 12 hours of running, going through 5 locks, and a total of 68.9 miles.

We locked through at Stennis, Aberdeen, Amory, Wilkins, and Fulton locks. In the first 4 locks, 1 or 2 other boats arrived ahead of us and had to wait on our slower boat to get there so we could go up together. The other captains were nice about it, but I felt bad for making them wait. The faster of the two, a small C-Dory named "Grumpy" was able to stretch his lead and lock through ahead of me at the Amory lock. "Satisfaction", a planing style trawler, got far enough ahead of me that he locked through at Fulton while I was still an hour away. We went solo through the Fulton lock, and caught up with "Satisfaction" at Midway Marina when we got here about 6:15 tonight. 

Here is the screenshot of our track today:

This was a shot as we left the River Front Park anchorage, travelling back down the oxbow toward the Tenn-Tom:

Barges loaded with scrap metal just south of the Stennis Lock in Columbus:

When we passed the "Captain Anthony" pushing all these barges loaded with rock, I radioed him and ask what his load weighed. He took a minute to check his paperwork and reported a NET tonnage of 11,200 TONS!!! (That is 22,400,000 pounds, not counting the tow boat or barge weight! )

We're pretty sure this was a juvenile bald eagle that we saw north of Columbus:

And an osprey taking care of her baby or babies. We could only see one little one. They were just above the Fulton lock.

And finally this cormorant (??) was drying his wings when we passed.

Midway Marina in Fulton, MS. Our little Genesis is at the dock in the center of the picture.

And this is for our grandaughter Abby, who loves willow flies (aka Mayflies). Everything here is covered in them!

Glenda was tired from handling the dinghy at all the locks, so she went to bed early.

We have 56 miles and 3 more locks to go until we turn East on the Tennessee River! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We pulled anchor this morning and were headed upstream again by about 6:30, after a peaceful night in our at anchor.

We played leapfrog all day with a couple of towboats and 2 sailboats, all of which were traveling about the same speed as we were. The 2 faster boats that we travelled with yesterday were able to break from the pack and get to the Beville lock ahead of the two towboats. We arrived about the same time as the tows, so we had to wait for them to lock upstream. So we sat, idled up and down and turned a few circles while we waited 2 1/2 hours for our turn. (Commercial vessels have priority).

The high point of the day was seeing the two adult bald eagles, who patiently posed for me to get good pictures before flying away.

As we got close to Columbus, there was a lot of river traffic and congestion. At one point, We were travelling between 2 sailboats, with a tow bringing up the rear. As we approached 3 stationary tows and several smaller boats on our right, another southbound tow radioed that he was about to meet us. The stationary vessels were laying a huge pipline, and were taking up half the channel. The southbound tow radioed that his barges were 110' wide. We ducked in between two of the pipeline tows, and let him pass. You can't win a right-of-way arguement with a boat that's pushing twelve thousand tons of cargo!

Here's a screenshot of our 58 mile route today:
We had originally planned on making it through the Columbus lock today, but after our delay at Beville lock, we decided to anchor South of the Columbus lock. My chart showed an anchorage at the North end of an oxbow that was close enough to town to walk from shore. After weaving through a tight passage at a barge loading dock, and passing under 3 bridges, we were rewarded with a great, calm anchorage at the edge of Columbus's Riverfront Park. There was even a modern, floating dinghy dock for us to use! 

Glenda says:
There are always interesting things to see along the river.  
Maybe i should get one of these for my grandkids.

After we finally got through the lock we past the last working snag boat on the tenn-tom.  I think it retired sometime in the 80s.

We pulled into our anchorage about 5:30.  We had both already cleaned up so we got into the dinghy and rowed to a very nice river walk area in Columbus.  After a short walk we found Harveys and had a delicious dinner.  

We walked along the park after dinner.

This little critter was enjoying his dinner on the bank near our dinghy.  He did not appear to be disturbed by us.

The real fun came as we attempted to get gracefully from the dinghy back into the boat.  We were successful getting in, the graceful part we missed.  If anyone was videoing it will become a YouTube favorite.