We were stuck in Demopolis for 10ish days and were so glad to get out of there when the river cleared up.
Daybreak on a beautiful day to get heading south.
Our armada of 13 boats begin leaving the marina. There was a concern that we would not all fit in the lock so a few of waited for the next opening. Most of the boats were headed for an anchorage 90 miles downstream called Okapukka, a narrow creek that I was not sure we would all fit in. As it turned out Whisky Business was one of the 3 fast boats and my concern was we would get in the back of the anchorage and then have to wait for the rest of the boats to depart in the morning before we could leave. The next day was a 75 mile day. Across the river from the creek is another anchorage called the Okapukka Alternate which is alongside the river. If we anchored there, no worries getting out at first light. Sure seemed like a good idea at the time. With a 3 MPH current and a 10 mph cross wind this 40,000 beast got a way from us.
See if you can guess what’s wrong with this picture. Anyone? WTH! Yep, lost the anchor and all 200 feet of chain. Debbie and I have anchored in some pretty swift currents but the crosswind was something we had not experienced before. At this point I need to be a bit more specific. When we anchor, Debbie is at the helm driving the boat. I am at the bow pulpit letting out or retrieving the chain. Using our wireless headset communicators I give her instructions on which transmission to engage. For instance I will say “Port forward” and she will engage the left transmission lever for a count of “one thousand” and then disengage. WB’s large propellers move the boat quite a bit even in a time span of one second. She is extremely competent at this manuevering. Problem is, I was not so competent in the instructions I was giving, hence no anchor or chain.
Albeit an expensive and embarrasing error we were not helpless. On board we still have the original anchor that came with WB and 200 feet of heavy braided rope with 25 feet of chain for just such an emergency. Always be prepared. Instead of deployinig this setup we went in the creek and rafted up with One Eye Dog for that night and the following night on the Tensas River. When we got to our current marina I called Bobby’s Fish Camp which was near the mishap area. Asked if theey new any fishermen who would search for the anchor and chain for a $500 reward.
Fortunately we have the GPS coordinates for the mishap.
Also a photo of the part of the river where our anchor and chain currently lie at rest. We have one of our MFD’s (multi function display) set to lay “tracks”, the dotted line so we can seee where we have been.
As you can guess, we were pretty depressed that night. How to lift our spirits? YEAH BABY! We watched the video of the 2013 National Championship! Oh yeah, 2 bottles of Taittinger helped relieve the sting a bit too. Funny, the next day when we got up and were chatting with April and Larry on One Eye Dog they were complaining about the noise coming from shore durinng the night. Uhhh, don’t think it was coming from shore.
Our anchorage on the Tensas River, rafted up to One Eye Dog.
Our final lock for a very long time. Twelve boats.
We did get a bit of good news yesterday. While we were back in Louisville last week, I dropped off oil samples from our 3 diesel engines to Whayne Supply, a Caterpillar dealer. They have a lab that examines thse samples.
The lab looks for metals in the oil that could foretell problems down the road. We are all good.
This was pretty much the view of the rivers all the way from Louisville until we got close to Mobile. Once we got close to Mobile Bay, a major shipping center, the landscape changed a bit.
See the buildings in the center of the photo? Mobile, Alabama.
Last year when we entered New York Harbor near the Statue of Liberty, all of the tour boats and ferries made it a target rich environment. Nothing like Mobile Bay though. At the bottom of Mobile Bay we finally entered the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) and made our way to the Wharf Marina.
Those blue roofs are actually tarps until the roofers show up. The results of multiple hurricanes in the area. Wonder if I can get a deal on an anchor and chain off one of those boats…
Sunset from our slip…at 5:30.
Beautiful Sport Fisherman moored in front of us. Maybe $4,000,000 when new? After a grueling 3 days covering over 250 miles we were ready to get off the boat. Very nice area around the marina.
Went to the Villagio restaurant for dinner. The fella who took care of us was full of ….interesting information. Morgan enlightened us with these gems, a bunch of vultures flying overhead is called a “congregation” while a group of vultures feeding on the ground is called a “wake”. Why the hell does he know this???
Never seen this on a menu before. A “convenience fee”? I kinda get it. American Express takes 3.5% of a charge from the merchant where VISA and MasterCard charges the merchant 2.5% of the bill. After dinner we strolled around the area and found this place.
Nick from Eastern Kentucky showing his wares. Got back to the boat by 7 PM and fell asleep by 8:30.
We have been holed up in Demopolis, Alabama going on 2 weeks now due to Hurricane Zeta. You may be surprised to learn, Demopolis is NOT the social hub of the great state of Alabama. We made a quick run to Louisville on Wednesday, getting in at 2AM on Thursday in order to vote and take care of a few things. Up at 6AM on Friday for a 7AM departure back south.
Prior to our departure we stripped the flybridge and aft deck of anything that could fly or be damaged by Zeta when it came through Weednesday night. rolled up the carpets from the flybridge and aft deck and stowed ‘em in the forward berth. Removed the electronc multi function displays, flags and especially my beloved wind finder that mounts on top of the radar arch.
This great gizmo tells us wind speed and more importantly for docking and tying up in lock chambers, where the wind is coming from. Found mostly on sailboats for obvious reasons they are not seen very often on power boats. Very interesting, when anchoring we have found that if there are opposing river current and wind direction, the wind usually wins. A lot more of the boat is out of the water than is in the water.
We didn’t worry too much about the faux rattan chairs on the aft deck moving around much during Zeta as our brazzillion pound props which are stowed under them holds ‘em pretty securely.
Upon our return we put everything back together again. Which brings me to today. Yesterday (Friday) I reached out to the lockmasters at the Demopolis and Coffeyville locks to ask about debris in the river. After weather events when the river is high (22 feet above normal pool in this case) there can be massive flows of flotsam and jetsam (trees and such) in the water. The lockmasters reported no debris. The Coffeyville lockmaster went on to say due to earlier flooding in the year, any thing that could wash down the river, already had. Good news! Our plan was for a pre-dawn departure for a 95 mile run to Bobby’s Fish Camp. Weeellll along came Ed Offshack by the boat last night to introduce himself. I had chatted online with Ed on the AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association) forum many times as he knows the previous owners of WB, back when she was known as Dustcutter. Debbie and I have never traveled after a hurricane and simply did not think of the channel markers and how they would be in the aftermath of a hurricane. Underwater is what Ed told us. All of the floating bouys could very well be under the surface of the water. If you found one of these with one of your propellers…I don’t even want to think about it. The river should crest today so our departure is now scheduled for dark and early Sunday morning.
Our friends Milton and Julie left us on Tuesday and prior to that our other Looper buds Carey and Keri had only been able to visit a short time. Carey is a terribly interesting fellow. He worked for Trojan BOATS (not the other thing, filthy mind!) a boat manufacturing company for a time as well as Chrysler Motors. We were having a discussion about our diesel engines one evening and he came up with a great example of torque. You have all heard of this measurement of power but not all of us know what this measurement actually is. In Carey’s terms, it is the energy required to break the seal of a stuck jar of pickles. Horsepower is how you measure how fast you open it once the seal is broken.
Captain Obvious, ya gotta love him! When we got to Demopolis we were anxious to get started again to get to Mobile Bay and beyond. Our plan was/is to get to Fort Walton, Florida where we will leave Whisky Business for a week or so to get home to vote and celebrate our daughter’s birthday. Rain and thunderestorms were forecast for yesterday and today.
This is the system that passed through last night. Fortunately we had moved WB into a covered slip earlier in the day. About 3 O’clock this morning…
It sounded like this. Have you ever slept in a home with a metal roof?
There is a tropical depression forming in the Gulf that is expected to form into a hurricane so here we sit, probably till the middle of next week.
This image if from the NOAA and it shows the broad path of the approaching weather. Hurricane season lasts till November 30th so proper planning is neccessary to insure the safety of the crew and WB. When we came through this area in 2018 Hurricane Michael had devastated the Florida panhandle a month before my brother Jim and I came through in late November. If you scroll back through those posts from 2018 there were numerous photo’s of buildings covered in blue tarps and LOTS of boats cast up on shore or on docks in marinas. So here we sit. Saturday. There is not a car rental agency open on the weekend as far away as Tuscaloosa. We thought we would grab a car and come home for a few days while waiting but no chance.
At 7:30 Julie emerged from the forward stateroom and when asked how she slept, the title of this post was her response. These 2 folks are full of these gems. Last night while pouring his last bourbon for the night, Milton was asked if he was having a good time. “I haven’t had this much fun since the pigs ate my baby brother”. It’s gonna be different without these guys on board for entertainment.
Listening to favorite songs last night and Julie came up with a winner.
Today (Wednesday) was spent on maintenance and chores. The Schaeffers left at 9 so by 10 I was in the engine room changing the oil and filters on the 2 main engines and the generator, a 3 hour task. Not terribly difficult as there is a pump that is connected to all 3 diesel engines which allows me to draw the spent oil out of each engine and then also fills each engine. Not very fast. It could/would go faster if the oil was warm. Problem is, that would mean the engines would be warm too. Warm engine rooms are a bit above 100 degrees. So there I sit, in the confines of my engine room waiting for the engines to drain 12 gallons of oil and then refill 12 gallons of oil. Should not have to deal with that task again for awhile. The “Cummins Whisperer” recommends 200 operating hours between oil changes on the main engines and 100 on the generator. We took on 250 gallons of fuel upon our arrival and I just added 100 gallons of fresh water to our water tanks.
Debbie spent the day stripping the beds and remaking them.
The bed in the forward cabin is wedged into the “V” of the bow. Making the bed in the front of a boat is a royal pain in the behind as you can’t walk all the way forward to the head of the bed.
Making the bed in the aft cabin (the back of the boat) is a breeze. One of the “must have” features we looked for when we were shopping for a boat was an aft cabin. If the master were in the front of the boat, it meant when sleeping while at anchor there was constant water slapping the front of the boat. A boat, like a home is a series of compromises.
After I finished with the 3 hour task in the engine room I was in dire need of a shower so I went to the laundry room which also had showers. Started 2 loads, took a shower and while waiting for the drying cycle read up on Jack Reacher as he kicked ass across the West.
When all the chores were finished we just relaxed the remainder of the day.
We picked up Milton and Julie on Thursday at Pickwick State Park, just a stones throw from where we were docked at Aqua Yacht Marina in Iuka, MS. A short drive to Shiloh National Park for a very informative tour by Milton. An early battle in the Civil War which left 24,000 dead in 2 days of fighting. An interesting footnote to the Civil War, more soldiers died from toothaches becoming septic than gunshot wounds.
The 2 photo’s above were inscribed on 2 sides of the above statue with notes written by Privates in the Confederate Army. Moving words.
We got underway around noon on Friday after our brief driving tour of Shiloh Park. The first 30 miles were in a straight, rock lined ditch. Not terribly scenic.
Our first Lock was the Whitten Lock and Dam with a 84 foot drop.
Our view just after entering the lock and tying up to the side.
Our view as the lockmaster opens the doors from the same location in the chamber albeit 84 feet lower.
Tennessee boasts a large timber industry from furniture production to wood pulp for paper manufacture. These great piles of ground up pine will be loaded onto barges bound for paper mills. There is so much furniture and wood scraps from these operations that the Jack Daniel’s distillery uses wood scraps to generate the heat needed to run their stills in lieu of burning fossil fuels. A few years ago we took a tour of Jack Daniel’s with our friends, Bev and Glenn Glaser and at one point we thought they had taken us to a sawmill. There were huge piles of scrap wood and wood pulp, all being moved on to a conveyor by front end loaders. We were surprised to learn it was the power plant for the distillery.
As I stated earlier, the first 30 miles on the Tombigbee is pretty much a straight line along a rock lined ditch. Julie spent the time spanking Milton in Cribbage.
This is a spreadsheet I had prepared on our first/last Loop showing mile marker info on the left of the page and marina’s, anchorages and locks along with their phone numbers. On a river where there is a lot of barge traffic it is wise to phone the lock for instructions instead of using the VHF radio. Often the lockmaster will give info not intended for the ears of the tow arrays. Also noted on the apreadsheet on the far right is whether or not the listed marina has a courtesy car. A great feature for those traveling by boat, courtesy cars are available to the transient boater to make runs for groceries or going out to lunch or dinner. Some ar in better shape than others. At Clifton Marina their courtesy car is a 90’s vintage Buick. The filler tube for the gas tank is intact but the support for the tube behind the filler door is long since rusted away. Just like it was 2 years ago when we stopped here. The marina is under new ownership we were told. We were also told they have the same courtesy car. I asked if it had the same shock absorbers as 2 years ago they were long since dead. Bob Shircliff, you will be glad to know Glen Lineberry is alive and well albeit retired and only visits the marina a few times a week.
We always keep a weather eye out for fishermen as the wake from Whisky Business could/would overwelm a fishing boat. Especially when the guy doing the fishing is standing up in his boat. If you do wake one of these guys a couple of things can happen. They will shoot at ya or they will be waiting for you at the next lock with the Po Po charging you with damaging their boat. Boaters are responsible for damage caused by their wakes.
We traversed 3 locks on Friday and 4 on Saturday. A shot of the dam at the top of one othe locks.
Sunset from our anchorage Friday night. No moon and the stars were blazing. Could see the Milky Way. Fog was beginning to form on the water and with a slight breeze blowing there would be wisps of fog that would blow over the flybridge of WB. Quite eerie.
Just in front of the fuel dock is the entry channel to the marina. You can see the small green channel markers. The water is pretty skinny here. We found the bottom. Killed an engine. Thank God it’s silty, soft mud. Not looking forward to our departure.
This beautiful custom built yacht ($3M+) has been tied up to this dock for 8 years. Probably sitled in place by now. Owner pays the dock fees annually so here she stays. Pretty sad. Not sure if it’s health issues but this gal needs a new captain.
Allow me to introduce you to David Lee Sanders, a college buddy of Milton’s who practices law in Columbus, Mississippi. David spent his whole Sunday giving us a guided tour of the antebellum town of Columbus. There are some beautiful antebellum (pre-Civil War) homes in this lovely little town.
President Andrew Jackson once gave a speech from the balcony of this home.
Just can’t imagine what it would cost to maintain one of these beautiful homes.
David took us down the Three Legged Road where there was quite a stand of Cypress trees. The pointed growth are called “knees”. They grow up from the roots of the big cypress tree in the center of the photo. Ever heard of a cypress knee before? Neither have I.
Went to a pretty cool restaurant for lunch and abouot 200 yards behind the restaurant was a tree with an active eagle nest. That nest had been there for over 20 years. I was told that eagles will use a single nest their entire lives.
What David calls a “dive bar”. He and his friends meet daily at 4:30 for adult beverages.
Wonder why this sign says “at Louisville in Kentucky”?
Local vodka distiller.
Great group of fellows. Fella in the PING hat was funny as hell. This group is comprised of a former CFO, CPA’s, an attorney, all very successful guys.
Columbus, MS is the home of our current Memorial Day. In 1866 four local women decided to lay flowers on the graves of unknown Confederate AND Union soldiers buried in the local cemetary. The Atlantic Monthly magazine picked up on this story and the first Decoration Day was founded which went on to be known as Memorial Day.
Way too many of these Unknown soldier graves.
In the early 1800’s there was a beloved Baptist Preacher from Columbus by the name of Teasdale. Upon his passing the community erected the above monument “the grieving angel” in his honor. After our tour of historic Columbus, MS., we stopped at David’s house for dinner. Did I say “House”? The house was built by David’s father in 1915 and the home and yard make up the entire block. First outdoor swimming pool in Mississippi. David and his bride Mona were such gracious hosts. Check out this back yard-
Due to the name of our vessel and my past, David told us about a former Mississippi legislator, who in 1952 gave a memorable speech on the floor of the Mississippi legislature regarding the 1952 decision to keep Mississippi dry. Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat Jr. was one of David’s law proffessors at Mississippi State. I have reprinted it here without permission. “My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, this is how I feel about whiskey: If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it. But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it. This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.” I am not smart enough to make this stuff up.
Underway Monday morning and we see this old steam ship moored in front of a “new” antebellum home. This old ship was used to remove trees from the waterway.
Great shot of Julie (or Jewelry as Milton refers to her) wearing her famous “Mama’s drinkin’ liquor agin” top enjoying the beautiful weather on the bow of WB. Our anchorage Monday eventing.
While underway Tuesday Milton told us about the incredible Colonial pipeline that runs from Houston, Texas to New York. Comprised of a 36” and a 40” pipe, this pipeline carries 1.5million barrels (55 gallons) per day of gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel.
This is the innocous siet of the Colonial pipeline where it crosses the Tombigbee. Underway on Tuesday we saw these really cool chalk cliffs, kinda like the white cliffs of Dover in England. In case you were wondering, the white cliffs of Dover are comprised of Kimmeridgean clay that runs under the English Channel, surfacing in the village of Chablis in Burgundy and also the Champagne region. This clay is responsible for the unique character of Chablis and Champagne. Just in case you had an interest.
We made it to Demopolis, Alabama today. The marina there is comprised of 2 parts. This area is from the fuel dock but is completely silted in, hence unusable. We saw less than 2 feet of water under WB heading to the fuel dock. OK, it’s time for dinner, see ya!