Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
US snag boat the Montgomery
She was the last steam powered sternwheeler to ply the inland waterways of the south. She was built in 1926. As a snag boat, she removed trees, sunken logs, and other debris that obstructed river traffic. Based on what the crew has seen this time down the Tenn-Tom Waterway, maybe they should bring her out of retirement and clear the waterway again. It sure could use the help. She was retired in 1982, and now resides at the Bevill Lock Visitor Center.
The area that the crew is currently cruising is very remote without many facilities. In fact, the 335 miles from Columbus to Mobile only has one marina, which is located in Demopolis at mile 216.
Because of the remoteness of the area and Thanksgiving on the horizon, the boaters at Demopolis have stayed put and the marina is now full. Based on that, the crew stayed at Columbus for Thanksgiving and only moved two days this week. They also cruised on Sunday to make way to Demopolis.
Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:
This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she cruises from Columbus to Demopolis. Enjoy!
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
Happy Thanksgiving to all the virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
The Admiral spent Wednesday prepping food for the big meal. Thursday morning she was busy getting everything cooked and finished at just the right time. Harder than it should be when all you have is a small one rack oven and two burner cook top available. But she managed to serve up a great meal for the crew, Mary and Dan of Gammel Dansk, and Bill of Chip Ahoy.
Pre lunch gathering in Salon
Bring on the desserts
The crew left the dock and went the short distance over to the Stennis Lock at 0830. Four other boats joined Still Waters II in the lock. When they exited the lock, two of the boats were travelling at 9 mph and left the two Nordic Tugs and Still Waters II in their wake.
Later in the day, twenty-five miles later to be exact, the three boats arrived at the Bevill Lock to find the two boats waiting at the lock for a tow to exit. They had been waiting for over an hour.
The three boat flotilla did not plan to lock thru with the other boats, but made way over to the dock located at the Visitor Center for the Bevill Lock. The skipper landed first and then caught the lines of Chip Ahoy and Gammel Dansk.
Docked at the Visitor Center
The group then headed to shore to go check out the Visitor Center. They entered stealthily, not on purpose but stealthily non the less, thru the back door.
The young man assigned to work the Visitor Center had strategically kept all the lights off in the Visitor Center and probably was hoping that no visitors would drop in during the day. He also was keeping a watch out the front window for any cars that might drive up while he played his war video game with headsets on covering his ears. To say that he did not see or hear the group come in the back door would be an understatement.
Entry via the back of Visitor Center from the dock
Luckily, most of the group stopped near the back door to look at three pictures hanging on the wall. Bill had gone on in to the office area where the young man was totally engaged in his video game. He was loudly verbalizing his actions when he gave out an even louder explicative that would make a sailor blush when his aviator was killed in the game.
Hanging back at rear entrance
It was about this time that he felt someone might be in the room with him while Bill was knocking and saying: “excuse me, excuse me.” The young man wheeled around and immediately began apologizing. He also went around and started turning on all the lights in the Visitor Center. None of the displays were on and working either, but with a little persistence the group got most things up and running.
The young man kept looking out the front window and over at the parking lot, it was obvious he was trying to figure out how the group had snuck up on him. Mary approached the young man and explained that we had arrived via boat, and he said: “Oh, that is why there is no vehicle in the parking lot.”
A look at the front of the ‘well guarded’ front entrance
The Visitor Center portrays an 1830-1860 Greek revival home.
Mary then went on to ask if the group of three boats could stay overnight on the dock, even though the dock is posted ‘No Overnight Docking.’ The young man agreed to let the three boats stay if they left first thing in the morning. That was easy, because they planned to leave early anyway.
One interesting discovery at the Visitor Center was learning that the Tenn-Tom Waterway was the first construction project built under the 1970 EPA Regulations. Maybe that is one of the reasons for the 2 Billion dollar price tag.
After touring the Visitor Center, the group walked a mile to the old Pirate Cove Marina. The Corps of Engineers have closed the marina due to safety violations. The skipper had heard various reports about the shut down marina, but wanted to go check out the actual status with his own eyes.
Old docks at the closed Pirate Cove Marina
As expected, the rumors that the docks had all been removed turned out to be false. The docks were still there and some were still sinking. Looked the same as when the crew was here in 2016, except all but two of the derelict boats were gone. The Corps had also bull dozed the office and restroom facilities.
A few derelict boats left behind
Well, time to walk back to the boats and get ready for an early departure in the morning.
The crew woke up to a light fog on the water and a bunch of White Pelicans swimming around the lock gate. Mary said she counted 60 Pelicans all waiting to lock down. About 0715, a tow pushed out of the lock and by 0800 all three boats were secured in the Bevill Lock.
After pushing out of the lock, the crew had to maneuver thru the light fog for about an hour. Then it took the sun another hour and a half to finally break thru the clouds and warm things up. Turned out to be a beautiful day for a boat ride.
There was more than a fair share of float sum and debris in the water though, which kept everybody on their toes playing dodge-a-log. The flotilla arrived at the Sumter Landing anchorage before 1300, so they decided to go the extra four miles, go thru the Heflin Lock, and anchor in the Ox Bow below the lock.
There was some interesting sites along the shore while they made way to the lock.
Cell service is so bad at this remote area, someone installed an old fashion telephone booth in their yard.
A totem pole was an unexpected surprise.
Then someone used their artistic talents to spruce up this building
After dropping the hook, Gammel Dansk rafted to Still Waters II. This made it easier for the skipper to get Tori, the seeing eye dog, ashore so she could do her business. To see how this transport transpired, watch this week’s video.
Rafted in the Ox Bow
With Tori taken care off, it was time to kick back and relax in the peaceful anchorage.
Tori on the return voyage
The crew woke to light fog again but the flotilla still managed to leave the anchorage by 0800.
Chip Ahoy leaving the anchor spot
After un-rafting Gammel Dansk, the crew weighed anchor and headed back towards the Tenn-Tom where they then overtook the two Nordic Tugs.
Passing Gammel Dansk on the blind side
After the fog lifted it was an enjoyable cruise down the waterway taking in the interesting bluffs that adorned the shores.
After a 50 mile cruise with no locks, the crew approached the Demopolis Yacht Basin just in time for the storm clouds to start to sprinkle. Lucky for the crew, they managed to get secured to the dock before the deluge started.
During the day, the skipper learned that Bill was celebrating his birthday, so the three crews managed to get the courtesy car from the marina and have a celebration dinner.
Jim N I 2
If you watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you know that it was the coldest event in the history of the parade. That artic air that caused the cold is due to arrive in Demopolis Sunday night dropping temps to below freezing. These conditions are to remain until Thursday. Based on that, the crew will remain in Demopolis connected to power heating the boat and shove off Thursday with the warming trend.
It will be four travel days down to Mobile in some very remote areas, similar to this past week. The crew will try to keep the Travel Map updated as cell service is available, but not much expectation on any reliable service until Mobile. The crew will update the blog as soon as they arrive in Mobile on Sunday, but it may be Monday before the post goes live.