The crew spent the winter hanging out along the west coast of Florida. They did manage to drop down to the Keys for a short while, but most of the time was spent at Marina Doyle. Thanks to David and Barbara for hosting the crew.
Once the COVID-19 fear mongering started, the crew decided it best to leave Florida before hurricane season arrived. The skipper’s goal was to avoid the following headline: Texan Dies from Hurricane While Sheltered in Place Due to COVID-19. The skipper also said it was a service to the medical examiner because now the ME would not be forced to claim the cause of death was COVID-19, when it would be obvious the death was caused from hurricane inflicted injuries. The skipper, always thinking about others.
The crew decided to cross the Gulf, and run up the Tenn-Tom Waterway. They waited out the COVID-19 restrictions at the Columbus Marina. With limited cruising options in 2020, the crew has decided to run the Tennessee River this summer, and pretty much take a bit of a break from full time cruising. They had already made that plan earlier, but COVID-19 just cemented the thinking. The Illinois River Locks are scheduled for maintenance, July – October. The Erie Canal Locks are not scheduled to open till mid August. And who has a clue when the US/Canadian Border will be opened back up for boaters. So it appears the Tennessee River Plan was a good decision.
The crew made four jumps to arrive in Florence, Alabama early last week. The first night, they anchored in the Canal Cutoff. The second day, they made a 50 mile jump to Bay Springs. The third night, they stopped at Aqua Yacht Harbor. On June 4th, the crew arrived in Florence Harbor Marina.
The crew took a short 4 hour, 32-mile cruise up the Tenn-Tom Waterway. The Aberdeen Lock did not present much of a challenge as the operator flung the gates wide open and Still Waters II glided into her position midway up the lock. The gates slammed shut and a few minutes later, the liquid elevator ride 29 feet up was underway. When the water level in the lock chamber matched that on the other side of the gates, the operator opened the gates and Still Waters II was back underway up the Tenn-Tom.
The anchor spot in the Canal Cutoff was found void of any other boats, so the crew spent a secluded night on the hook serenaded by nature.
Today’s menu option started with an appetizer of three locks over 25 miles. The first three nibbles turned out to be so tasty, and it was not even noon, so the crew decided to add three more locks as a main course and travel an additional 25 miles. Unfortunately, these entrees were bitter herbs. If you are a long time virtual crew member, you know of the skipper’s love of vegetables. It took a long 6.5 hours to choke down those three herbs, and the crew finally landed at the Bay Springs Marina about 1830.
Luckily, there were no more locks to chock down, so today was more like a dessert menu filled with root beer floats, ice cream, whip cream, and cherries on top. And speaking of a cherry on top, the crew managed to get a $99 credit returned from the marina upon arrival. The crew went to celebrate the end of the Tenn-Tom Waterway by having a dine-in experience of fresh fried Mississippi mud cats at the Hotel Catfish near Shiloh. Now that beats bitter herbs any day.
The happy parade did not last long as the crew woke to thunder and showers. The skipper reviewed the weather radar, and decided that they might get a little wet, but the main body of the storms would remain to the north as they skirted along the edge of the weather.
An invisible umbrella was raised over Still Waters II as she began her easterly run along the Tennessee River. To the north of her were dark black skies, while to the south were sunny blue skies. That umbrella kept the crew dry for most of the day with only a few drops of rain penetrating the shield and actually falling to barely dampen the crew’s spirit.
The crew got the last long term slip available in Florence Harbor Marina. They will stay in Florence for the next month and head towards Chattanooga after the July 4th weekend.
The crew plans to stay in Florence until after the July 4th weekend. Then they will continue east towards Chattanooga where they will spend a week social distancing with some of their Softball Family.