Chattanooga to Mobile, Alabama (Tennessee River, Tenn-Tom Waterway, Tombigbee Black Warrior River, Mobile River and Mobile Bay)

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Bellefonte Island anchorage near Georgetown, Alabama
    October 24, 2007

We had a pleasant run to our anchorage with sunny skies overhead. We saw two bald eagles on the Tennessee River. By the time we arrived at our anchorage it had started raining and by dinnertime it was pouring down. We had a very cool night.

Alred Marina in Guntersville, Alabama
    October 25 - 26, 2007
We had a nice but cool run back to Alred Marina in Guntersville. After lunch George drove the three ladies to Walmart for our weekly grocery run. George and Joyce also treated us to a nice catfish dinner at the Top of the River restaurant. All of us enjoyed our dinners. It was 60+ degrees today but Mike and Boolie refused to put on long pants. They both say it’s too early for winter. Linda and Judy both think we should just head south. Although it was in the 60’s today it was warmer here in Alabama than it was in Richmond.

It was downright cold on the 26th. We had a high of 59 degrees today. George and Joyce left early this morning and headed back to Richmond. It’s too bad that it rained two days while they were with us but this area does need the rain. Today was spent doing chores. We took the loaner car into Gunterville a couple of times today for supplies. The guys did maintenance on the boats and the ladies washed clothes.

Joe Wheeler Marina at Joe Wheeler State Park, Alabama
    October 27, 2007
It was cold again this morning. Mike broke down and wore long pants steering the boat from the flybridge. We had a good day on the water and got into Joe Wheeler Marina about 5PM. The marina is very nice and has a large lodge on the premises. There were a lot of loopers still at the marina who had attended the Great Loop rendezvous.

Grand Harbor Marina (top of the Ten Ton Waterway) in Mississippi
    October 28, 2007
It was cool this morning but got warmer during the day. We had another long but good day on the water. We arrived at Grand Harbor about 4:30. The facility is large and a lot of people have golf carts parked behind their boats that they use to get around the marina. We are only about 9 days from Mobile. Hope it’s warmer there!

Midway Marina in Fulton, Mississippi 
    October 29, 2007
We had a long day today. We ended up waiting over two hours for a lock down in the Jamie Whitten lock. We had read that it is not uncommon for this particular lock to hold up boats since they have to dump over 46 million gallons of water for a lock down. There were several boats in the lock with us and another boat called. We waited for the first boat. Then someone else called and we had to wait for him. We could see another boat coming around the bend and figured we would have to wait the 20-30 minutes for him to get there. If it hadn’t been for a towboat waiting for a lock up we figure we would still be sitting there waiting for another boat to show up!

Spillway on Tenn Tom

Waverly Marina  in West Point, MS

    October 30, 2007
We called the lock before leaving the marina this morning and were told that it would be about an hour before we could lock down. There was a tow already in the lock. Seven boats headed out together and ended up locking through four locks together. As we reached each lock after the first one the lock masters had the doors open and waiting for us. It was nice not having to wait. We pulled into Waverly Marina about 4PM. We will stay here one night and move on. By the way, we knew we were getting close to alligator country here in Mississippi. We saw something swimming in the water today and thought it was either a beaver or an alligator. It was an alligator! No swims in this water for me!

I’ve commented on the cool weather. Well, we have had unseasonably warm weather the last two days. We have been back in shorts and short sleeves and it’s the end of October! Each day this week is supposed to be in the seventies. Can’t complain about that.

17 ft. boat cruising from Minneapolis to Bobby's Fish Camp

Howell Heflin Lock on Tenn-Tom Waterway in Mississippi

    October 31, 2007
We headed out early as usual for the near 70-mile run today. We also had three locks to go through. We had a warm pleasant day and arrived at our anchorage around 4:30. Just after leaving the Heflin lock there is a creek off the main waterway where boats can safely anchor. We came through the lock with two sailboats. After locking all four of us headed for the anchorage. There were already four or five boats anchored. After dark another three boats arrived. This is one busy anchorage. We are hoping all these boats are not headed for Demopolis but realize they probably are. We will get an early start again tomorrow and, hopefully, will be ahead of the pack. Marinas are very few and far between the rest of the way to Mobile, Alabama . After leaving Demopolis there are only two marinas between Demopolis and Mobile.

Demopolis, Alabama

    November 1, 2007
We were the first two boats to leave the anchorage this morning. All was well until about 10AM. A 36 foot Grand Banks, Southern Night, passed us with very little wake and passed out of our sight. A little later we turned a curve and Southern Night was hard aground and was 45 degrees over on her starboard (right) side. The three passengers (two men and one woman) were sitting on the gunnels. There was a green buoy missing and the boat hit a shelf of rocks. Both our boats offered assistance and were told they were not taking on water and fuel was not leaking. Kittiwake convinced the lady to come aboard their boat. A tow boat called the Coast Guard and Demopolis Yacht Basin. Kittiwake transmitted for Southern Night as their radio was not working. It ended up that Southern Night did have a water leak and used a dowel to slow the leak. Steele’n Time had an epoxy stick they used to stop the leak around the dowel.  The Demopolis Yacht Basin sent a bass boat to see if there was anything the Basin could do. Fred, from the Basin, took pictures and headed back to Demopolis to see if someone could pull the boat off the rocks. The lady packed up some belongings and rode on Kittiwake to the Demopolis marina. As Steele’n Time headed down the waterway around 1PM the Coast Guard came up the waterway with a green buoy in their small boat…unfortunately for Southern Night, a day late and a dollar short.  Once deployed the green bouy gave the impression that this boater wasn't paying attention, missed the bouy and ran aground.

Southern Night Hard Aground on the Tenn Tom

Southern Night Hard Aground on the Tenn Tom

More white cliffs on the  Tenn Tom Waterway

Bobby’s Fish Camp in Silas, AL
    November 4, 2007
Reverting back from daylight savings time last night had no effect on these hardcore boaters. Twelve boats headed out from Demopolis Yacht Basin at 6AM instead of our usual 7AM to take advantage of the light. It was pretty foggy to the lock just a short distance from the marina. The lockmaster did a superb jog getting all twelve boats into the lock. Some boats rafted off others for the lock down. Everyone jockeyed for position and sorted out how fast they wanted to run. Steele’n Time ran at the head of the pack at 12.5 mph.

We arrived at Bobby’s Fish Camp and five boats were already there. Before nightfall we had a total of thirteen boats, including the itty-bitty sailboat, rafted up. We were rafted four boats wide out into the river. Everyone turned in fairly early for an early start tomorrow.

Boats in Demopolis Lock

Boats rafted up at Bobby's Fish Camp

Old Lock 1 Cut-off anchorage at Mile 100 on the Tom Bigbee Black Warrior River

    November 5, 2007
When Linda woke up this morning Mike told her to go back to sleep. It was very foggy and there were three tows in the queue to go through the lock below Bobby’s. One of the captains here was a professional captain delivering a boat. He talked to the lockmaster who agreed to let the pleasure boats lock down first since the tows can’t run in fog. The faster boats went in front and ten boats headed out of Bobby’s when the fog lifted a little. Steele’n Time and Kittiwake decided to hang back out of the circus of boats and leave later in the day. We don’t have to be anywhere any particular time.

Throughout the day additional boats showed up at Bobby’s waiting for a lock down. We were finally able to leave around 1:30 PM and five boats locked down with a small tow and barge. We got out of the lock at 2:15 PM. We won’t make much time today. It will be dark by 5:30 and you don’t want to run in this water in the dark. We’ll have to find a place to anchor…not an easy thing to do on the Tenn Tom. We’ll be glad to get to Mobile.

Old Lock 1 is a good spot. It’s off the main channel out of the way of tows and barges but we won’t have to go far to be back in the main channel. Boolie explored when he took Sammy to shore in the dinghy and found the remains of an old house with large Pecan trees leading up the lane to the house. There were five boats that went through the lock together and four of us anchored at Old Lock 1.

Lizards Creeks anchorage off Mobile River

    November 6, 2007
When we headed out this morning the other two boats had already left. We made good time today and locking went fast so we arrived where we had expected to anchor (David Lake) very early. We decided to continue on to Lizard Creek. This is another good spot to anchor. It’s secluded and off the main channel. It was windy today so we put out both bow and stern anchors to keep us from swinging. We talked to the other two boats that had anchored in David Lake. They pulled up anchor and joined us in Lizard Creek.

Marooned on sandy beach near Lizard Creek

Dog River Marina in Mobile Alabama

    November 7, 2007
It was very cold today. Linda commented that she was freezing while trying to take pictures of Mobile. The wind was kicking up and we had beam seas (waves hitting the side of the boat) coming across Mobile Bay into Dog River.

November 8, 2007 until …..  Mobile, AL

We plan to stay in Dog River Marina until January. We will leave our boats here and rent a car to go home for Thanksgiving and an early Christmas. Plans are for us to come back to the boats around December 16th.  This marina has a very busy boat yard and lots of employees are working on boats constantly. It’s interesting to watch the work going on. One boat had the whole bow torn off when a captain fell asleep and hit another boat. The bow is being rebuilt and fiberglassed. A sailboat is having the keel replaced.

The personnel at the marina couldn’t be any friendlier or more helpful. The marina has a loaner car that we’ve used numerous times to run errands, get haircuts, etc. One day we went to Dauphine Island to see the white beaches. Our plans are to drive back to Mobile in Linda’s minivan. That way we’ll have a car for exploring during our winter around the Gulf and Florida.

Mobile, AL Skyline

Mobile, AL Skyline

Boat being built in Mobile, AL

Ship in Drydock in Mobile, AL

Oil Drilling Platform 

Offshore drilling in Gulf of Mexico

Mike in water in Gulf of Mexico

Mike, Boolie and Judy on beach in Gulf of Mexico 

Condos in Mobile Bay

Condos in Mobile Bay