Bobby's Fish Camp
19 October 2011 | Blanton, MS
Chris/ Clear and Cool
Day 16 Wednesday, October 19 Up at 5:00 and talking with the Lockmaster at Columbus Lock. He's got an upbound tug in the lock, so our 5:30 gets pushed out a little. After a relaxing cup of coffee we push away from the dock at 5:45 and head for our first dark lock in.
It's a little chilly this morning, probably 45 or so and windy. Jackets and gloves are in order. By the time we exit the lock, the sky is getting light and the stars are fading. The key there is stars. It has cleared up overnight and it looks like yet another sunny day. Anybody that's praying that we get nice weather, please keep up the good work.
We've left Tennissippi, and the Tenn-Tom has very little scenery at this point. Daylight reveals very little. We pass a couple tugs in tow that we've passed before, as they run all night. The quarters are a little tighter this time around though. And again today it seems luck will be with us as we don't wait long at the next lock.
The first of the interesting things that we see is a floating, mobile, boat-up bait and tackle shop (sorry about the photo, tough to get the camera still at 33 knots). Not long after that we see a still on the bank, not very well hidden from the authorities. You have to love the south. (Sorry no pictures, the guys on board were afraid Bubba would shot at us if we took pictures).
At our second or third lock of the day, there is a huge paddle wheel boat in a swimming pool. As I have said, no two locks are exactly alike, but this one takes the prize for most unique.
A couple more tug passes and locks, and we get to the white cliffs of Alabama. They are really spectacular to see. The further along we go the whiter they become and cooler the formations become. They're really big and pictures don't quite do them justice. But they are beautiful.
At 1345 (1:45 in the afternoon for those who don't do military time) we pull into Demopolis to fuel up. They have a relatively nice restaurant (relative to where we'll be at dinner time) so we grab take out meals. We radio the next lock to see if we can get in, as it's just a mile away, and a tug we passed earlier went by while we were refueling. The lockmaster tells us it will be forty five minutes. Not too bad, so we eat our lunches in relaxed fashion.
The wait seemed unfortunate at first, but then luck (or whatever) steps in again. Mike and I take the opportunity go to Temple. I'm sure my father-in-law and my uncle would both approve of this. Temple in this case is the Temple Huckabee, a tug that is on the other side of the fuel dock, also refueling. We get a tour of the tug. It is way cool.
The galley is enormous with two huge restaurant sized side by side refrigerators and a couple freezers. We get a look at the crew quarters, which are reasonably nice, and big enough for a Lazyboy recliner. But the engine room is the coolest. The deck hand tells us the engines came off a train, and by the size of them, he may be telling us the truth. The tool room and mechanic's shop are sweet as well. What a great bonus to our day.
The tour ends just as the lockmaster radios that we can come ahead, and we're on our way again. We get through the lock and the waterway becomes even more winding. All in all we cover about 220 miles over the bottom to get about 112 as the crow flies. Apparently the crow has more important things to do than the river. Doing over 30 knots while weaving our way through Mississippi is really, really something. We'd love to see what the boat looks like from the shoreline make those turns in such a narrow body of water. We really have to stay alert for what's ahead of us at every turn.
Somewhere along the line we see our first wild hogs on the shore. The hunters in the crowd wish they had rifles with them. A little later we see a bald eagle leave the river with a fish in his talons. He flies right over us, what an awesome bird.
We arrive at 'Bobby's Fish Camp' at about 1730 and tie up for the night. Bobby (actually his daughter, Lora Jane now) has a little fishing camp with a floating dock in the river. Apparently there are often evenings when delivery crews and 'loopers' have boats rafted several deep off the dock, sticking well out into the river. But tonight it is only us. Once again, luck steps up.
It is suggested that we stay on board the boat after dark as there are lots of snakes and gators around. That's just fine with us. Tomorrow we have another 12-14 hour day as we need to get to Pensacola. We're pushing away at 0500. Soon enough we'll be off the river system.