From Mobile, AL – Catching Up
28 October 2017 | Turner Marine on the Dog Rover, Mobile, AL
Cold Front passing, 39F tonight
So much has happened and it's all good. No runs no drips no errors. LB and the Smithies have finished phase one, the inland rivers from Chicago to Mobile. Lots of miles, lots of engine hours, so many anchorages, a few marinas, historical side trips, courtesy cars, new friends, Loopers, and our mast and boom made the trip without a scratch. Hurray for us!!!
So let me back up a bit,...... okay?
Before Demopolis, AL while staying at the Aqua Marina in Pickwick Landing, we took a side trip to Shiloh and Corinth, two sites of intense fighting between the north and the south. Shiloh, TN was the location General Grant chose to set up camps in preparation for attacking the Confederate armies. Corinth, MS was important to the south because two major rail systems cross in the center of that small town.
The southern army generals figured they could surprise Grant and stop him at Shiloh. They had a good plan but were never able to execute completely. Over 23,000 people were killed, wounded or lost in this two day battle. Standing in the fields where the two armies faced each other and attempting to visualize row after row of men being gunned down and dying was difficult. It is incredibly moving and emotional to imagine the sounds, the khaos, the death, and the smell that happened all around where we were standing.
From Shiloh we traveled some 20 - 25 miles to Corinth. It took us a little more than a half hour, and again we couldn't imagine the difficulty the men of these two armies suffered marching between Shiloh and Corinth. The north needed to cut off the trains that crossed in Corinth stopping the flow of supplies to the south. It was a brutal battle coupled with disease, putrid water and more death. The Interpretive Center in Corinth was well worth the stop helping us better visualize the hardship, fear, pain and suffering this war created.
We made another historical stop along the way. We rented a car in Demopolis and traveled to Montgomery, the capital of AL and on the return we stopped in Selma, crossed the Edmond Pettus bridge and stopped in another Interpretive Center. It was the march from Selma to Montgomery that brought better voting rights to the blacks of the south. They could vote, but pole taxes, educational restrictions, and harassment kept the number of actual black voters to a very few.
There were two attempts at the march. The first ended in Bloody Sunday as the marchers were forced off the bridge and many were harassed and wounded. Two weeks later, the national guard arrived and the marchers including Martin Luther King headed off on their 50 mile, 3 ½ day walk to the capital.
We visited the Dexter church where MLK was the pastor. We sat in the chair he used to write his messages. We stood before the small pulpit he was given to use on the capital steps. This was where he delivered his famous "how long, not long" speech seeking to improve the voting situation for all blacks in America.
The woman serving as our church guide was incredible, such passion, such belief, so much faith and respect for the movement. Through her stories Alice and I were given the opportunity to experience some of MLK's life and better understand how he influenced and contributed so positively to our history. A day trip so worthwhile.
Ok, so that's a little of our side trips now back to the boat, the water and the trip.
Anchorages after Demopolis and few and far between. Similar to our Mississippi anchoring, we often found a wide spot in the river to pull off for the night. We have Active Captain, Skipper Bob and the Army Corps of Engineers charts to guide us along. By far the group-sourced Active Captain reviews were the most useful, and most of the time pretty accurate, not always though. You find a spot, turn off the channel very slowly watching the depth. Alice doesn't like less than 12 feet, she gets anxious as we head toward the river bank trying to get far enough away from the tows. Truth be known, so do I. The last few stops I had to put out a second stern anchor to keep us from swinging into the bank or toward the tows.
At night you can hear the tows coming from quite a distance; there's just nothing around to make noise except an occasional owl. The AIS is on so the tows can see us, but when the search lights hit us it's as bright as daylight and up I go to watch with the VHF radio on and in hand. It is quite an experience to hear and then see these tows, three barges wide and as many as five long being pushed by this huge motor vessel all lit up as it approaches us. On the river curves they slow to just a few miles per hour so it seems to take forever for them to pass. But they do and it's back to bed.
On the last section of the trip we made a stop at the iconic Bobby's Fish Camp. It's not much, a floating dock maybe 150 feet long, kind of falling apart, a fuel pump, a restaurant, a couple of cabins and some RVers. It's on the way and has a reputation making it a worthwhile stop, so we did. We ate Catfish, drank some beers, took on diesel and that was about it. The next lock was only a few miles south so at 0600 we called and learned if we got down there quickly we could lock down otherwise there were several tows in line.
It's just starting to get light, there is fog on the river, Alice casts of the lines and off we go, the last lock of some 30 or 32 since Chicago. You can imagine that after so many locks we are pretty good at tying up to the bollards and securing LB. Yup, I get us close, Alice loops a line, we snug it up, turn of the engine, call the lock tender and sit back and wait as LB makes her final trip down the 30 or so feet.
I need to also mention that I've seen two alligators and I suspect we surprised another as we passed. We didn't see any along the banks but they are in these waters, no swimming here.
Mobile is a large commercial port and we passed through on a falling tide traveling close to 9.5 mph. We lucked out with our timing going with the current, it made the passage go quickly, however, we still had another 10 or so miles to go before turning into the Dog River channel and it would be very close to low tide when we arrived at the turning point. Arg!!.
The chart reads 6.5 feet at low water; by own our blog readers know how Alice and I feel about shallow water. To top it off the wind was 12 - 15 on our nose when we turned and there were 1 - 2 foot waves. In deep water 1 - 2 waves are no big deal, but in just over 6 feet, my hands are a little sweaty, my eyes are glued to the depth instrument and my first mate is peering through the binoculars looking for the next channel marker. Here is where chart plotters earn their keep. I set a point at the next marker, click 'go to', zoom all the way in and stay on the dotted line. I slow the boat and hang on. Again we lucked out, no touching; on the way out though, we'll go on a rising tide close to full.
So here we are at Turner Marine, reassembling our mast, having LB pulled on Monday at 1400 to do her bottom. She's been a great gal she needs a nice bottom.