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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day 18 Bringing Dusty Weather home June 14, 2015

Today we planned to be in Demopolis by dark, and we made it by about 15 minutes!
We got a late start this morning due to thick fog, and a strong current kept our speed down to about 6 mph, but we were able to get through the Demopolis lock without delay, and 3 miles later we pulled into Kingfisher Bay Marina and ended our 1040 mile trip.

The ride up the river today, about 69 miles, was sunny, but hotter than the last few days. There are very few distractions on this stretch of river, and it seemed fitting that our last day of the trip was here. We saw lots of alligators, a coyote, deer, and a wild hog, not to mention more swallow tailed kites!

Being a sunny Sunday, there were lots of families out enjoying the water and sandbar beaches, too.

These folks found a picnic spot just below the Demopolis dam.

We will spend one more night on Dusty Weather and in the morning I'll put her in a slip where we will begin some minor repairs and upgrades. Nathan will drive down to pick us up, so we can go to see our newest grand-daughter!

The trip has been an incredible one for both of us. And yes, we did step on each other's nerves a few times, but overall it has confirmed that we will enjoy longer trips on this larger, more capable and comfortable boat.

Daisy update:  Daisy has to work on knowing the appropriate place to potty.

Glenda says:
So much for getting an early start.  We got up about 5:30 and very quickly realized you couldn't see 100 feet in front of you.  The fog sat heavy on the water.  We went ahead and ate breakfast and waited.  The fog did not start moving off until around 8.  We got going about 8:20.  Sitting out on the front deck is very nice in the mornings. Today apparently was alligator day.  They were every where.  They were not laying quietly near the banks either.  They were swimming and rather quickly.  We saw at least 6 and 3 of those were swimming across the river.

Some people don't really like this part of the river.  They feel like there is not much to see but on the river the is always something to see, you just have to look for it!

I caught sight of this doe enjoying snack. 

And just when you think there is nothing interesting to see a wild hog steps out of the bushes and down to the water!  This is the first one of those we have seen. 

We finally motored into Demopolis about about 7:30.  I took photos of my favorite Demopolis sights from the river.  The old maseleum and the glover house on the bluff.  

I have loved my journey but I am glad to be going home.  I hope I can say that when its time for me to leave this earth!

Day 17 Bringing Dusty Weather home June 13

We woke this morning and got the news that our beautiful new grand-daughter had made her appearance while we slept. When she grows up, I'll make up a wild tale about how her grandma and I were "out to sea" when she was born, and had to sail through the eye of a hurricane to get back to see her.

We had planned for a relatively short day, knowing that a stop for lunch and having to go through a lock were both potential delay points. We arrived at the Coffeeville lock just after a Southbound tow and 8 barges had left, and the lock tender had started filling the chamber for a second Southbound tow, which was waiting on the upper lake. So we hung around, watching the local fishermen, until our turn. This was the first lock of this type that we'd been in with Dusty Weather, although we've done about 30 similar lock-throughs in KnotSoFast. On the Okeechobee Waterway, the locks had ropes hanging down every 10 feet or so, and you looped one around a cleat on your boat, bow and stern, taking up or letting out rope as you went up or down. The locks on the Tenn-Tom have bollards built into the wall that rise and fall with the water. With anything shorter than a barge and tow, you can only reach one bollard, so you loop a line around it and secure it to a center cleat on your boat. You have to be ready to adjust the line instantly as the bollards can sometimes stick in their slots in the wall. 

Glenda was a little nervous, but the lock through went off like clockwork. Well, like a very slow clock. I've learned it's easier to maneuver the boat if you stop it and then start again, rather than just slowing down and trying to make it go where you want it. It's always moving faster that you think, and it takes longer to stop it than you think. Anyway, we nuzzled up to the wall and stopped, I stepped out the pilothouse door and looped the rope over the bollard. Piece of cake. Then we just held in place while we rose 28', then idled out onto Coffeeville Pool.

We haven't seen many eagles on this trip, but the swallow-tailed kites have made up for it. 

For about 25 minutes this afternoon the rain came down so hard that visibility was cut to a hundred yards or so. The danger is that you could meet a tow pushing a hundred yards of barges coming around the next curve. So I slowed to just fast enough to maintain steerage, and stayed to the inside bank until the rained eased up.

We anchored about 5:45 tonight along the river again, in a wide, straight section outside the navigation channel, at river mile 147. So far, we've travelled 975 miles, and we have just 69 more to go!

We have no internet service as I write this, so we'll probably be gone before its posted but our coordinates are: N 31 58.744   W 088 04.349

Glenda says:
Well we had our 10th grandchild last night. 

 I'm really proud of all my children.  They have helped each other out a lot while we have been gone.  Not to mention all the things they have done for us so we could do this with fewer worries.  God has truly blessed us!  We left our anchorage around 7:30 today.  We had a nice quiet morning.  I sat out on deck ( trying to get Daisy to pee) and watched the antics of some small swallow type birds as they dived toward the boat and then veered off.  I couldn't tell if they were messing with me or just doing what they do they do naturally.  The scenery changed from sandy beaches to rising bluffs on and off today.  

I saw this beautiful wild magnolia growing up on one of the bluffs.
We watched more swallow tail kites as they sailed through the sky looking for lunch. 
The Coffeeville lock was our next event.  We had to wait about 45 minutes as the lock master locked down a tow before we could enter.  Not long after we successfully went through the lock we caught sight of another relatively large alligator.  You have to understand any alligator that is not fenced in is big to me.

We made a stop a the famous Bobby's Fish Camp.  It was great to get off the boat ( though Daisy had already used the galley floor again).  We were the first at the restuarant which does not seem to have regular hours but the lady behind the counter said that even though she was not the cook she would heat up the oil and start of some catfish.  She said with a smile " I'm not the cook but I know how to cook."  Another couple came on behind us and we enjoyed boat conversation with them.  They were from the Jackson area.  

Within 30 minutes of leaving Bobby's the sun disappeared and the afternoon storms rolled in.
Once again it cooled the air.  It rained hard enough that we had to slow down.  We are anchored in a very rural area right on the river and have no internet service, so this will be late getting posted.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 16 bringing Dusty Weather home--June 12th

Other than the traffic noise from I65, we had a peaceful night in Little Lizard Creek. The only other boat we saw was a bass boat that came by just after dark. We pulled up both anchors and motored back down the creek to the main river about 6:30 this morning.

Most of today was cloudy, which held down the temperatures. In the afternoon,  a light rain made the ride somewhat gloomy, but we managed to keep moving for 13 hours, covering 79 miles at about 6 mph.

Dredging operation.

There were lots of tows pushing barges loaded with coal going to the Barry Steam Plant, and others with gravel, sand and such. The ones pushing coal barges typically pushed 8 barges - a line of two directly ahead of the tow, then three on either side. We also passed a large dredge operation, working to keep adequate depths in the river for all the barges. This massive movement of goods and materials is never seen if you don't see it from the water.
Barges being loaded with gravel.

Tomorrow we will transit the Coffeeville Lock, the first lock since we left the Okeechobee Waterway. Just above the lock is Bobby's Fishcamp, where we hope to sample their fried catfish at lunchtime. 

We've travelled a total of 925 miles since we left Ft. Pierce 15 days ago, and we have about 119 miles to go. Depending on whether we get delayed at either of the two locks between here and Demopolis, (or if we get delayed eating catfish), we should be at Kingfisher Bay Marina on Sunday evening or Monday.

For tonight, we are anchored in a wide, straight section of the river, 10 miles downstream of the Coffeeville Lock. Our coordinates are: N 31 32.775   W 088 00.206    
Here's the view downstream:

Leaving Little Lizard Creek.

Glenda says:
As we left Big Lizard creek we caught sight of the big fella that met us going in last night.  This time I can prove how big he was.  Look at that head!!!

We had a long day today but it wasn't too bad.  It started raining about 12 and rained the rest of the day.  This was the way it looked from the pilot house most of today.
But at least it was cool.  With the rain there were not very many boaters out. The river is peaceful and quiet.  I find the houses pique my curiosity.  You know there has got to be a story here.
While I was napping Tom got an excellent shot of this swallow tail hawk.  They really are amazing to watch.
Tom napped in the pilot house for a while and I took the wheel.  I know we are going to enjoy all our adventures on our new boat but for now I am ready to get home.  My daughter is right now at the hospital having a baby girl.  She was suppose to wait until we got home but you know how children are :)  We are anchored out in a wide spot on the river.  There are no sounds but the frogs, crickets and birds.  I'm trying to take a deep breath and learn how to " be still and know that I am God".  

Daisy update:  just suffice it to say I am annoyed with Daisy.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day 15 bringing Dusty Weather Home - Thursday June 11, 2015

We left Barber Marina early this morning, about 6:30, to try and beat the thunderstorms that were entering Mobile Bay. By the time we got to Gulf Shores, we realized that there were too many to dodge, so we decided to make a stop at Homeport Marina for fuel. We got there just as they opened, and fueled up quickly, but then had to wait about 20 minutes for the store's computer to decide to boot up. As we entered Mobile Bay, the sorms were building fast, and covered a large portion of the bay. In the last 2 weeks, though, I've learned to appreciate the bulk of Dusty Weather. At 34,000 lbs, she has the weight of about 10 cars, and winds and waves that would have tossed the KnotSoFast around like a dishrag are pretty much unnoticed on Dusty Weather. So we battened down the hatches (literally) and headed across the bay. For about 6 hours we waited for one thunderstorm after another to engulf us, but they would either skirt by us, barely missing us, or they would break apart before reaching us. The worst we got was a little rain!

Entering Mobile via the ship channel is intimidating. The flood of activity, cranes, booms, industrial machinery and docks full of cargo and shipping containers stacked six high can make it a confusing place for someone in a relatively tiny boat. And then there's the ships - massive doesn't really describe the ships that line the port, hailing from all over the world. Then there was Austel Corporation and the military ships they are building. They are unlike anything I've ever seen. They make Star Wars spaceships look like horse and buggies.

After getting through the port and the downtown area, the ride became much more relaxed, and we followed the tow boat Sabine Pass for several miles before overtaking him as he waited on one side of  a bend for a southbound tow to clear the curve.

As we turned into Big Lizard Creek to find anchorage for the night, a mid-sized alligator slid off the bank and stared at us for a moment before sinking underwater. We anchored in Little Lizard Creek, with a bow and stern anchor, so we wouldn't swing across the creek or into the overhanging trees.

Our mileage for the day was 72. 

Glenda says:

We said goodbye to the "lady of the lake" and headed off this morning.  We saw a few lazy dolphin bobbing along but they paid little attention to us.  One of our former neighbors, Teresa, passed by on canal road as we wound through Orange Beach and blew her horn at us.  Once again the weather kept us on our toes, but once again all the worst seem to by pass us.  We saw lots of shrimp boats out, even one of our old favorites the "Nanny Granny".
We passed our old neighborhood and while I miss some of the people I'm ready to start this new adventure.

 It was interesting to see the city of Mobile from the water.

As we got out of the industrial area we began to see more cypress trees.
I did see a large alligator just as we were pulling into our anchorage. The photo is not good but trust me he was big.

We are now anchored out in Little Lizard creek a little to close to the interstate for my liking but hey I'm not driving the boat.  The tree frogs and the traffic noise are competing.  Maybe the tree frogs will win.