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Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013

A special thanks to all our Veterans!

Glenda always complains that I take the pictures but I'm never in any, so here is one of me.

Glenda Says:
We had another pleasant night at Kingfisher Marina.  It was a little chilly but not uncomfortable.  I took Daisy for a quick walk this morning and had coffee while Tom showered. It was nice to exchange "good mornings" with other early risers before we got on the water.  We were fortunate and did not have to wait very long before we were able to lock down.  The sun warmed the day up nicely.  The bluffs of this part of the river are remarkable.  I am amazed at God's glory in his creation.  Streaks of red iron ore can be seen in the white bluffs.  Streams of water pour out of the rocks.  We saw a young eagle trying to make lunch of a turtle but we disturbed him and his lunch swam away.  While we were looking for the best place to go fossil hunting we caught sight of an almost red coyote just making himself to home on the shore.  I must admit it made me a little nervous about getting out of the boat there and I didn't let Daisy get out.  Tom found a place where he could just pull up to an outcropping of rock and let me step off.  It did cross my mind that he might just putter off and leave me there with the coyote.  But I guess he still wants my company, he stayed nearby and picked me up.   I found multiple fossilized sea shells.  We headed back up the river and ate ham sandwiches.  The bad news is I had been munching on snacks all morning.  With the arctic front coming in Tuesday morning we decided not to stay another night.  So I guess our last tug boat trip of 2013 is done.  Let me hear from you if you enjoy "going with us" on the trips.

From Tom:

About 9:15 this morning we were given the green light to enter Demopolis Lock, along with "Dream Catcher", a catamaran power boat, for the 40' drop. Glenda wanted to visit Moscow Landing again to search for fossils. Moscow landing is about 14 miles downstream from the Marina, so it makes a good day trip.

On the way down, I noticed a large bird in the water about 10 feet from shore. He appeared to be struggling as he flapped his wings wildly trying to get to shore. Once out of the water, I recognized the bird was a juvenile bald eagle, not old enough to have grown the distinctive white head and tail, and black body feathers. After a few minutes at the edge of the water, he flew off upriver. That's when we noticed the small turtle that he left at the waters edge. The turtle scurried back to the relative safety of the water. I'm sure the eagle could have carried off the little guy, but he probably was frightened by us and decided to leave without his catch.

Our next wildlife sighting was the coyote. He was walking along the bank, very near where a Blue Heron was wading. I don't know if the heron was on his menu or not, but when he turned and saw us, his attention turned to our boat. He walked slowly, keeping an eye on us the whole time. We were really surprised when he decided to lay down on a rock ledge for minute, still watching us closely. After several minutes, he got up and casually walked up the bank to the treeline, where he stopped, turned to look at us again, took a step or two and stopped again to look at us! He finally ducked out of sight.

The coyote didn't seem to be afraid of us at all. He did watch us closely though, turning to look several times as he leisurely walked into the treeline.

Just after leaving Moscow Landing, Glenda spotted a very large "leatherback snapping turtle" sunning himself on the rocks.

On the way back upstream we spotted 2 adult bald eagles, and one more juvenile! We got a picture of the juvenile, but the adults didn't stick around long enough for us to get a shot.

As we passed Hall Creek, which is 3 miles from the Demopolis Lock, I radioed the Lock to request lockage upstream. The lock tender said he'd have the gates open and waiting for me. You never know what kind of delays you might encounter at a lock, and this was as good as it gets! As we approached the lock 30 minutes later, the lock tender told us to proceed into the lock and tie up. We did, and about 30 minutes later we were 40' higher and exiting onto Lake Demopolis again!

We checked out of the marina, hooked up the trailer and pulled the boat out at the city boat ramp, ending our trip. The highlight of this trip, aside from the scenery and wildlife, was the opportunity to talk with the full-time residents at the marina. They were so friendly, and had such interesting boats and life experience stories to share. Glenda and I found this both entertaining and educational as we entertain the thought of spending more time (full-time?) on the boat.

All in all, it was a another great trip. God has blessed us in more ways than we can count!

Glenda was able to get off the boat at Moscow Landing, where she found lots of fossils.

We called these "Leatherback Snapping" turtles when I was a kid, but I don't know if that's their official name. This one looks like he may have lost part of his front leg (?)

The white bluffs were stained red in places, I assume from iron ore deposits.

We passed LOTS of towboats with barges during our trip. The Captains are always very cautious,  courteous, and friendly.

Sometimes I think all I need is little shack on the river, but this one would get small very quick if you had company.

This was the 2nd juvenile eagle we saw today.

These fishermen give some perspective to the 40' drop at the Demopolis Dam. The Lock is just to the right, out of the picture.

The scenery was "post card" perfect!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Demopolis Trip - Sunday 11-10, 2013

Enjoying the sunshine!
Glenda Says:

Boy!  I slept good last night.  It was a little chilly but the little electric heater came on and off just enough to knock the cold off.  We slept late for us and it was 7:30 before we headed off.   The instant coffee was not the best, but it will do in a pinch.  We decided against going through the lock this morning.  There was A LOT of barge traffic.  We went instead up the Black Warrior.  The sunshine warmed up the day nicely.  We explored a couple of inlets.  Its always fun to go through a narrow shalllow opening and end up in a wide beautiful lake.  We stopped to see the little red steel tug we saw last year.  The family remembered us and waved us in.  We got a tour of the little tug, met the children and had a nice visit.  We left with an invitation to come back and eat with them sometime.  It is fun to meet nice people. 

Once we squeezed through the small opening, it opened up into a HUGE lake!

We explored an inlet on the way back and found a Corp of Engineers boat ramp/campground.  Tom nudged the boat ashore and we jumped off  to strech our legs.  We got back into the marina before 3:00, went for a quick walk and drove into town for supper.  We had a few minutes to talk to marina resident Buell.  Buell is 90 years old and still lives aboard his boat.  He is former Navy and a nice gentleman.  It is opportunities like that, that make boating so much fun.  I try to remember, everone I meet is an immortal being. 

Seeing these white herons made us miss Abby - she loves them!

From Tom:
We radioed the Demopolis lock this morning while we were following a really large towboat, the Claude B, pushing several barges, that was also headed downstream. I didn't think that the lockmaster would allow us to lock through together, but I asked him. He stated that due to the low level of water, the tow would likely have to really push to get out of the lock, and this would make it rough inside the lock for our little boat. He called the tow Captain and asked his opinion, and the Captain said he would try to make it as easy as he could on us if we wanted to try it. We waited behind the Claude B until an upstream towboat was about to clear the lock, but the more I thought about it, the more uneasy I was, so I radioed the lock again and told him that we'd just make alternate plans rather than lock through alongside the tow and barges. I didn't really want to be trying to hold our little boat tight to the bollard in the middle of the blast from the tow's 2,000 hp engines.

The Claude B, about to enter the Demopolis Lock.  I wasn't comfortable sharing a lock with him when he might be dragging the bottom and pushing hard to get out on the lower end.

We had a great day exploring the backwaters of the lower Black Warrior, though. As much as I'd like a bigger boat, there are advantages to having one as small as ours. Since it only draws about 18" of water, we can go almost anywhere without worrying about grounding her, and even if we did, we could just jump off and push her back into deeper water!

The advantages of a small boat - you can go in skinny water and nose up the bank almost anywhere.
I wanted to include a photo from 10 seconds before this one, when Glenda was trying to climb back on the boat from the bank. But she threatened mutiny if I did.

Glenda has already told about meeting Buell, and we also got a chance to talk with Fred, the owner/manager of the marina. Fred is legendary for his knowledge of the river and his ability to provide great customer service. It was great to finally meet him.

We probably traveled around 25 miles today, and pulled back into the marina along with 5 boats that were traveling together on the "Great Loop". Maybe one day we'll be writing this blog while on the Loop ourselves!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Demopolis Veteran's Day Weekend Trip, 2013

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Glenda Says:
Yea!! We are finally back on the boat.  I have not been on a trip since last Veterans Day weekend.  Even the road trip down to Demopolis was nice.  The fall folliage is as beautiful as I have ever seen.  We easily got here and set up at the new part of the marina.  We went ahead and ate an early lunch before we headed down the river.  The scenery is lovely.  The river was really quiet even though there appeared to be a fishing tournament around somewhere.  Daisy has settled in nicely.  We rode down to the dam and then back up the river a little way.  We saw a herd of beautiful does, a very regal looking osprey and lots of turtles.  We came back to the marina around 3:00, took about a 30 minute walk around the sidewalk past beautiful old historic homes.  Then we went to Halls catfish place and ate too much.  The facilities are very nice.  I am now sitting in the cozy laundry/bathhouse area, watching the Alabama-LSU game on a big screen tv.  Not bad for roughing it. 

Doe deer near the Demopolis Lock and Dam

There are numerous creeks, sloughs, and such along this section of the Tenn-Tom waterway, some opening up to large lakes.

The "Crimson White" tugboat, pushing 6 barges, came down the Black Warrior River and turned upstream on the Tenn-Tom. I assume the owner is an Alabama fan !

This Osprey appeared to enjoy posing for the camera. To say he was beautiful is a real understatement.

From Tom:

When we got checked in at the Marina and found our slip, we checked out the facilities and found them to be just as nice as the internet reviews stated they were. We are staying at the "Kingfisher Bay Marina" which is a fairly new facility just North of the older Demopolis Yacht Basin. The two are owned and managed by the same people, and they have the customer service down pat.
After taking a quick look at all the really big, really nice, really expensive boats at the marina, we untied and motored out and headed downstream toward the lock and dam. It was hard for me to stop grinning, it felt so good to be back on the water!
My last trip on the tugboat was in early April, and I spent most of my time since then recovering first from open heart surgery (four bypasses), then from the implant of a pacemaker. I'm feeling great now, and this boat trip feels like the official end of my recovery and the beginning of a new time in my life when I'm feeling better than I have in years!
Our little tug is starting to show some age, and I didn't even have time to giver her a much needed bath before we left home, but she still putters along quietly at about 6 miles per hour. She doesn't leak or complain. We only travelled a little over 16 miles today, but tomorrow we'll have all day to explore this little corner of creation. I'll let you know tomorrow night what we saw!