Sunday, December 2, 2012

Late November

November 16, 2012

The fog is really thick this morning and we call the Lockmaster at the lock and ask him what the schedule is for this morning.  He says that there are no commercial boats expected early this morning and to come up as soon as we can safely and he will get the lock ready.  We leave the dock about 7:30 after undoing Barbara El.

At the lock we have to wait for the lock for a few minutes.  We are drifting in the river waiting and here comes Ya-ting jumping in the middle of the pack and wakeing some of us and generally making a lot of trouble.  Kermit gives him the 5 blasts on the horn and finally he comes around.  We have all arranged our lock ties to permit Oban who is up river and needs a port tie in the lock to have room at that side of the lock and not have to tie up to the last bollard.  His boat could be too long.  We all get in and Ya-ting decides to take the opposite side even though we told him to take a starboard pin.  A real idiot.  We wait about 20 minutes for Oban and finally get him tied and down we go.  At the lower side we all slow down to let Ya-ting go ahead.

The rest of the day is a wonderful trip.  We arrive at our anchorage at Tensaw River about 4:30 and it is getting dark again.  We raft up and Kermit takes Rusty to the bank for a short walk.  It’s black mud and they sink up to their knees.  One of the problems with dogs on this trip.  They get back to the boat and get cleaned up.  We have dinner together and go to bed fairly early.

November 17, 2012

Off to Mobile.  It’s only about 55 miles to the Dog River Marina.  It seems like we have a lot of Tows working the river this morning.  Thank goodness these guys are good.  It got a little close a couple of turns.  We are splitting up today and One September is going to Fairhope.  They are going home for the holiday and leaving their boat there.

We get to Dog River about 2:30 and settle in.  About 4:00 we head across the street to the Mobile Yacht Club for dinner.  Had one of the best dinners yet on the trip.  Baked Grouper, topped with Crab.  OUTSTANDING!!

November 18, 2012

Mary Jo and George Gowan came in last night about 11:00 or so.  I was already in bed.  Got up to welcome them and jawed a while.  Then went back to bed.

Had mechanics look at my steering this morning which is leaking hydraulic fluid.  Their analysis is the same as those in the past.  The unit needs to be rebuilt or replaced.  They do not have the capability to rebuild and would have to send ours back to the factory to get it done.  They do have another unit in house that they ordered for another boat a while back.  It turns out it is not compatable with my system.  It will have to wait.

We go over to Fairhope to see One September.  The town is very nice and touristy.  Had lunch and walked about town and some folks shopped.

November 19, 2012

Wonderful weather.  Bright sunny skies and warm.  Cool mornings.  Great.  Slow day with not much happening.  Had lunch at the Pelican Reef Inn out towards the beach.  I think that was the name.  Kind of a rustic place, but the food was good.  Went to the grocery store afterwards.  Just what we need.  To eat some more.

November 20, 2012

Mechanics come to work on the engines.  Nothing major, just oil change etc.  I would do it myself, but don’t have the oil and they are going to do some other things.  This takes up most of the day.  Mary Jo and George are leaving today.  It has been great to have them on the boat.  I hope they have enjoyed themselves.  It  can get boring sometimes.

November 21, 2012

We head to Orange Beach, Al to the Orange Beach Marina.  What a great day to travel.  Weather is wonderful, the water is calm and the winds are light.  It is a great run.  We don’t get away until about 9:30.  Had to take care of the marina bill, get pumped out, etc.  Then smooth seas.  We did run into several tows on the way over which I did not expect.  There is more commercial traffic than you would think in this area.

Got to Orange Beach Marina about 4:00 and tied into a covered slip.  This is nice except the satellite receiver does not work under the roof.  Oh well.  Ate dinner at the restaurant at the marina.  They give us the loaner car which we will have until they reopen after the holidays.  This is a nice place.  Well protected, secluded.

November 22, 2012

Today is Thanksgiving.  I am very thankful.  I clean the boat and enjoy it.  Joy does a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  We ride around a little.  Go to the grocery.  A wonderful, lazy day.  Miss the family and the folks back in Savannah and many of our friends in other places, but we are having a wonderful trip and enjoying every minute of it.  We are blessed.

November 23, 2012

Since today is the day after Thanksgiving, the marina is not manned.  We still have the courtesy car so we decide to go over to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola.  It’s only about a 20 mile ride.  It is a great show!  The planes are very well presented and the quality is fabulous.  They have a wonderful collection of hardware from early days of flight to today.  And it is free.  If you ever get a chance to go there, do so.

While we were in Pensacola, we went to Best Buy and bought a new Ipad.  I’m going over to the dark side as this is my first Apple product.  The Navionics program is much better on the Ipad than the Droid.  We’ll see how it goes.

November 24, 2012

On to Ft. Walton.  The weather is beautiful and we get an early start about 6:30.  Wanted to stay at the Town Dock, but when we got there it was closed due to damage.  Tried to get a slip at another Marina in town, but none were available.  Finally called Bluewater Bay Marina which is up in Ward’s Cove on the north side  of Chocawatche Bay.  It’s out of the way, but they have room.

This marina turned out to be one of the more fun stops we have had.  We got there late and the UF/FSU football game was on in the bar.  There are many fans from both sides and it is a fun evening.  Had a couple of doz. Oysters on the half and had a great time.

November 25, 2012

Borrowed the courtesy car and went to West Marine and bought another battery charger.  Ours went TU again and I can’t depend on it.  I also install a battery isolator and rewire the port engine alternator so that it will charge the house bank some when we are running.  I am not able to complete the installation, but things are working.

November 26, 2012

Off to Panama City.  The winds are up early also and things on the Bay are a little choppy, but they are on the bow and it’s not a bad ride.  Once we are off the bay it’s much smoother in the river.  When we reach Panama City and enter the bay we get a great welcome from the dolphins.  They put on a great show in our wake and we made sure they had plenty of wake to play in.

Bay Port Marina is a nice marina.  We will be here for a week.  Don and Sam are due in on Wednesday evening.  Looking forward to their visit.

November 27, 2012

Clean the boat day.  Lots to do before Don and Sam get here.

November 28, 2012

Finish cleaning the boat day as Don and Sam are due this evening.  They get here about 6:30.  They have already had dinner so we lounge around on the boat and have docktails.  Great to have them.

November 29, 2012

Don and I go shopping for a little while.  I have been having problems with the new Ipad not working right with the Navionics program.  We go to West Marine, Best Buy and Home Depot and back to the boat.  Then Sam and Joy take off and Don and I finish the installation of the new battery charger.  Then docktails, and later the Falcons/Saints game on TV.

Early November

November 1, 2012

Made the run to Ditto Landing in Huntsville.  Left the dock at about 9:00 and met “Annie” just outside the marina entrance and were welcomed with a proper morning calopie serenade.  She is such a neat boat.  The trip started out very calm with the winds picking up as we went along.  Kind of brisk as we reached the Guntersville Lock and went through with a total of 6 boats.

Arrived at Ditto about 3:00 and tied up without incident even though we are right in front of the boat ramp.  Thankfully, they put a barrier across it and closed that side of the ramp.  Joy has come down with some kind of crud and is not feeling well.  Dick and Deanna send over a bowl of boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce which I must admit I ate most of.  Very good.

November 2, 2012

Went to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tn.  Had to take 2 cars as Michael’s rental was still too small for the 7 of us.  Lynchburg is a one horse town.  Not much is there that is not related to the Jack Daniels operation.  Ate lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s which started out life as a boarding house and today is only serving southern country cooking.  Good, but very similar to Mrs. Wilkes in Savannah.  And also more expensive.

The Distillery tour was neat and I enjoyed it a lot.  They now allow them to serve a small quantity of the plants product (1 oz. per person).  We were able to sample some Jack Black, Single Barrel, and one other.  Liked them all.  Did not get to purchase a single barrel.  You get to sample three and pick one and the price is determined on which one you choose.  Usually from $9,000 to $12,000.  They bottle your barrel, put your name on the barrel and all the bottles and on a tag on the wall in the single barrel room and ship it all to you.  Still a little pricey for me.

Dick Sheppard and his friend Gene are Jack Daniels Squires.  I am not sure what that title actually gets you, but they were definitely given special treatment.  I understand you have to be invited.

The town of Lynchburg is as I said a one horse town.  There  are not many shops in town and those that are there are definitely dependent on the distillery.  Did buy a couple of T-shirts at the company (Hardware Store opened in the 1800’s I think) store on the main (only) square in town.  Not really much going on down there.  It is after all a dry county and will likely remain so unless they change the law.  It supposedly takes 2500 people to vote for going wet and the population is only about 361.

November 3, 2012

Went to the Redstone Space Exhibit.  What a neat show.  Spent most of the day there with Dick, Deanna, Gene, Kermit and Kathryn.  It sure took a lot of hardware to put those little space capsules into orbit.  Fascinating.  Stopped at Gibson’s Bar-b-que on the way back to the boat.  Not bad.  A really fun day.

November 4, 2012

Turned the day into a work day on the boat.  Changed the Racor filtes on the engines and a few other things.

November 5, 2012

Made the run to Joe Wheeler along with Sareanna and Good Karma.  Kind of a dreary day, but not a tough ride.  Joined up with One September when we got to the Park.  Had dinner on the boat.

November 6, 2012

Made the short run to Florence, Al.  Only about 20 miles and both locks were pretty ready for us when we got there.  Had time to go downtown after we arrived.  Not much happening there.  Later had dinner at an Italian restaurant downtown.  The couple from “Annie” joined us for dinner.  Great time.

November 7, 2012

Ran to Iuka, Ms.  The day started out really nice with bright sun even though it was a little cool.  Immediately had to pass a tow which went off without a problem.  Then the weather went down the tubes.  By the time we got to Grand Harbor for fuel the winds were 25kts or better and the river was really nasty.  Tied up at Aqua Yacht Harbor and realized that we had been there the year before when we were looking at a boat there.  It’s still there.  Had dinner on board.  Tired.

November 8, 2012

Left Iuka and anchored out at 5 Fingers Cove near Bay Springs Lock and Dam.  The run down was easy and there was little traffic.  The 4 boats rafted up back in the cove and were very comfortable for the night.  It’s turning very cool here.

November 9, 2012

Today will be a short day so we get up late.  Kermit takes Rusty of his morning stroll and we watch the ride over to the island with glee.  Rusty is a great dog and is very patient with the activities and getting into and out of the dingy.  It is funny to watch especially when Kermit has to go wading ashore up to his knees in the mud in 40ish degree weather.  Rusty could care less about what the temperature is.

It’s a short run to Midway Marina and the trip is uneventful.  When we arrive, we check out the loaner van and head to town.  Not much of a town, but the locals seem to be proud of it.  They have a cute park.  There is also a  Wal-mart Super Center nearby so we pick up a few things.  Had dinner aboard Sareanna while One September and Good Karma go to the Catfish Restaurant.

November 10, 2012

Ran to Aberdeene, Ms.  Only about 41 miles.  Weather is still cool in the morning, but heats up some in the afternoon.  One September has friends from home, Jay and Sandy join us here.  The marina is really the back of a 7-11 store that has a boat ramp.  Well run.  Real skinny and winding entrance to the marina which makes it a little scarry.  We churned up a bunch of mud coming in.  Sareanna bumped something.  We all made it in.

Went to dinner in Smithville at a steak restaurant which is supposedly the rival of Ruth’s Chris at half the price.  If I remember, the price is less than half of RC’s but, the steak is not worth the cost.  Oh well, you don’t win them all.

November 11, 2012

Short run to Columbus, Ms.  We are looking forward to a town of substance.  We are not disappointed.  Columbus is a nice town.  Well kept and probably thriving.  Stayed here 2 days.  We go downtown to walk around and are here on a holiday and much of the town is closed.  We still had a great lunch at the CafĂ© on Main St.  The Welcome Center is Tennessee Williams first home.  Quaint.  Dinner at Huck’s was pretty good and reasonable.

November 13, 2012

Ran almost 70 miles today and anchored at Sumter Recreation area in Alabama.  Joy and I stay behind and leave late as we are trying to get our boat registration situation resolved.  The other boats and several others in the marina leave and go through the lock at 7:00.  We don’t get to the lock until 9:30.  Then we have to wait another 30 minutes on a boat coming up the river.  I leave the lock and head south and up the speed a little running at 11 mph instead of 10.  I am hoping I can catch the slower boats from the first lock down before they go through the next lock.

It is about a 3 hour run to the next lock and we get there about 15 minutes late.  We end up waiting again for about an hour while the lock is refilled and the other 2 boats get there.  I then up the speed again and run to the anchorage where the rest of the group is waiting.  I get there just about dark.  Long day.  Dinner onboard with the group again.  I go to bed early.

November 14, 2012

Run to Demopolis which is the Tennessee meets the Black Warrior.  This is the last day on the Tenn-Tom.  From here south we will be on the Black Warrior River.  Heflin Lock is ready and waiting for us and the green light is on when we arrive.  We lock down easily.  The weather has turned very cold and Joy and I are bundled up on the bridge.  We go past the White Cliffs of Epes which are kind of neat looking.  It is an easy run, little traffic.

Arriving at Demopolis Yacht Basin, the marina is very inviting.  The place is new and very clean and well run.  The fuel docks cater to the commercial traffic so they are a little more worn.  We did hit them pretty hard all at once.  I think about 8 boats arrived at about the same time.  It took a little sorting.

Tomorrow will be a VERY long day.  We are leaving at first light or before.  I am going to bed early. 

November 15, 2012

Got up before daybreak and the fog is real thick out on the river.  We have a long day ahead to make the next stop at Bobby’s Fish Camp which is about 100 miles.  The fog is making it difficult to get started.  We called the lock about 4 miles down river and he said he could take us if we could get there.  He also told us there was a Tow about 3 miles below the dam who was also waiting out the fog.  If we don’t get there before he does, we will have to wait until he gets through as he has priority.

We leave the dock about 6:15 and ease toward the lock.  We are traveling at idle speed trying to stay close enough to see each other, but far enough away that we don’t run into each other.  A fine line it is in this pea soup.  We have picked up another boat, Odan which is a Nordhaven, about 65’, a very fine looking vessel indeed.  With “Fandango” we had a total of 6 boats.  Somehow we made the lock without incident and lock down.

When we were let out of the lock at the lower end, the fog was worse than on the upper side.  Thankfully it was starting to burn off a little.  We pass the Tow waiting to go up and head down river.  Things finally start to get real nice about 8:00 and it’s going to be a nice sunny day.

About half way to Bobby’s we are passed by a Carver named “Ya-ting”.  It took some doing, but Good Karma finally got him to slow down enough to give us a half-assed slow pass.  Some of us were not real happy.  Otherwise the trip was pretty nice.

Got to Bobby’s and Ya-ting is there, the only boat on a 100’+ dock and tied up right in the middle.  Good Karma was first to the dock as he had to give Rusty a walk and it was getting dark.  He pulled in bow to bow to Ya-ting and could not get the dog off as the swim platform was not next to the dock.  He asks Ya-ting to move about 3’ so he could get the dog off and on.  Ya-ting refuses.  Not a way to make friends on the water.  It took about 20 minutes to get him turned around, retied and we raft up to him.  Finally Rusty gets off the boat and is REAL happy.  Not many of the rest of us are real happy.  We are rafted up on both ends of Ya-ting.  The owner of Ya-ting is hiding inside his boat and won’t come out.

We have dinner at the fish camp.  The Catfish was good.  The service was enthuastic if not the most professional.  The people here are wonderful and nice, but this is a fish camp.  About half way through dinner we had to go out and bring in another boat to the dock which we rafted up to our starboard.  The boat is the Barbara El.  They are not yet Loopers, but are headed home near Chicago I think.