Nice start to this piece of the sprint—if a boat with a top-end of sloth-speed can sprint—down to Mobile. At 6:50 yesterday, 5 boats left Columbus just in time to catch the sunrise from inside the Stennis Lock. Once again, no delays. The magic continues.
By now most river photos are starting to look the same so we probably don’t take as many, but this part of the river is just easy and fun and cool. We took turns driving and napping on the bow, which Robin (on Crossroads) cleverly calls the “fiberglass beach.”
We did pass, however, an unexpected and exceptional piece of modern art, in which the artist creatively used a mid-century convenience as a commentary on how ongoing technological progress has interrupted nature and set mankind on the path of destructive laziness. Or maybe some dude just needed to dump an old phone booth and left it on the bank to be funny. Either way, there it sits.
The only excitement was when we realized that a tow ahead of us was going to reach the second lock of the day just 6 minutes ahead of us. The lock-master said he was ready to take down whoever got there first. Let’s ramp up to sloth +1 and try to catch him. Fortunately it was our old pal Graestone Express. Dana chatted him up and for the third time, he let us around him.
Along the way we started to notice what on the surface appeared to be a delicious tossed salad, topped with fresh watercress. Yum! Water hyacinth? Yuck. Hyacinth should be a nice old lady who smells of mothballs. “Do come in, Hyacinth. We’ll have tea and play whist in the parlor.” Nope. Water hyacinth actually is an invasive, evil, strainer clogging, thruster fouling, log concealing, mess introduced by Louisiana slave traders who found it pretty. Morons. We found a picture online that shows it up close. Here’s what it looks like in a lock:
Anyway, smooth cruising through all four locks put us at the anchorage below the Heflin Lock at 4-ish. Not too bad. The closest town to the Heflin Lock is Gainesville, Alabama. Just across the state line from Gainesville, Alabama, is Scooba, Mississippi. Nobody ever heard of Scooba, Mississippi, until potty-mouth Buddy Stephens put the EMCC Lions—and Scooba—on the proverbial map.
Anchoring would be fun, it it weren’t for dogs who strongly prefer to lay their treasures on solid ground. And if we had no fear of slippage. The spot was big enough for Cavara, Hayley Rose, and us, plus we found Tranquillo—who we met in the mud at Alton (Rob was the dinghy pilot who helped us after Alton’s fuel dock guy assured us there was 5 1/2 feet of water but it turned out he was off by 2 feet)—already settled in. Quick kayak rides for the boys for a walk, then some quiet time on Misty Pearl. Thank goodness for generators and DirecTV.
Doug would have shot some drone footage, except, you know, that drone-killing tree at Joe Wheeler prevented it.
This morning we woke up to rain. More accurately we woke up for the last time to rain. We were up several times earlier because of dogs needing to pee or snack and because of funny noises suggesting that the anchor was slipping and we were being swept over the dam, which in the light of day seems a bit foolish since we anchored below the dam. We were right where we dropped the anchor. After another quick kayak trip through the hyacinth—and through the rain—it was anchors aweigh this morning at 8.
“Don’t miss the spectacular white cliffs at mile 248.8” says Skipper Bob’s book Cruising from Chicago to Mobile. Meh. Mostly nothing is “spectacular” in gloomy rain. We dutifully got out the camera anyway. This time the battery was charged AND the SD card was installed. Dover they ain’t, but the cliffs were different than the rest of the shoreline so far.
At mile 217 we ditched the Tenn-Tom and entered the Black Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway. The Black Warrior River goes to Tuscaloosa and beyond. No reason to go up there. There’s nothing at all good about Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa’s sister city is Gomorrah.
Some twists and turns on the river, some tows, some hyacinth, and the White Cliffs of Epes later, we landed at Demopolis. Demopolis is much smaller than it sounds. The marina doesn’t take reservations, and the Looper boats who were there last night had no interest in traveling through the all-day rain. We got the next-to-last spot for the day. Caught up with Jim and Susan on Gypsy and they joined Mike and Ann (Hayley Rose) and us for dinner.
A bunch of us plan to head out in the morning for an anchorage that holds something less than a bunch, so we’ll see how that works out. No service from here to Dog River for sure. Fingers crossed we’ll be there on Sunday.