Saturday, November 5, 2011
Basin Creek on Tombigbee River, mile marker #145 to mile marker #87, Tombigbee River
We sat at anchor with the three other boats from the night before. We heard one half of a conversation with a tow, which meant that it was lurking somewhere nearby. The plan was to wait for it to go by. Thus far tows haven’t been problematic, except needing to wait for them to lock through. This morning we waited because we didn’t want to be hit by it. It was another morning of thick dense fog. Occasionally the fog thinned enough for us to distinguish some trees on the far bank, but most of the time we couldn’t see 100 feet away. So we waited and waited and waited.
Sunrise was a little after 7 AM but that wasn’t enough yet to burn through the fog. Finally we pull up the anchor at 9 AM. We had lost two hours of daylight for motoring. The places available for anchoring were limited from here down and the captain was concerned that it might be difficult to find an adequate place – one deep enough and far enough away from the river channel to not get hit by tows. We hoped to get to mile marker #63 where there should be a safe place. It would be a “we’ll see when we get there” situation.
“Where’s the warm weather that Roger promised?” Mike asked. “I’m going to ask for my money back.” It’s become a standing joke each morning. The temperatures have been anywhere from mid-30s to mid-50 degrees. Motoring along at 9 miles per hour the wind exacerbates the cold. We try to stay warm by bundling up with four to six layers of t-shirts, thermal shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, jackets with coats over everything. I’m still wearing flannel lined jeans and quite often will combat the wind and stay warm by wearing my foul weather pants.
“It’s supposed to be warm, but the cold weather keeps moving south with us as we go south,” Mike continued.
“Can I get you anything?” I asked Mike and Hugh who were at the wheel.
“I was thinking about some tea,” Hugh replied.
“Nothing for me,” Mike said.
“Here you go.” I gave Hugh a hot mug. “Do you like Cinnamon Apple tea?”
“I’m not too picky.”
“We’re practically out and I tried to get some more herb tea in Demopolis but all they had was Cinnamon Apple and I wasn’t sure if you like that.” I said. “I’ll get some more in Mobile.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it. I’ll drink Ovaltine. Plus we’re coming into warm weather soon, we’ll be in Florida in a few days.” Hugh said. “It’s supposed to be warm down there.”
I’ll believe warm weather when I see it.
Terns are tearing around here and there. Quite often we see three of them together. Their coloration is unfamiliar to both Andy and me. Hugh suggests that it is winter plumage we’re observing. They display the typical grey wings and have black beaks. Their heads are white or small patch of black around the eye. After a bunch of internet searches I finally found the tern we’re seeing matches the winter coloration of Forster’s tern. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/forsters_tern/id
The topography is finally changing. For the last two and a half weeks it has looked so similar that it was hard to tell, just by looking, whether we were in Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee or Alabama. Here in southern Alabama the land is sandier and has a flatter appearance to it. The river banks are inhabited by black willow and sycamore trees and a variety of pine with long needles.
“Make sure you stop at Bobby’s Fish Shack,” said a client of mine in Michigan when she heard about this trip.
We’d all heard about Bobby’s from one source or another. Our morning delay meant that it might be a place for an early lunch. It was much to our chagrin when we found out that Bobby’s didn’t open until 2 PM. Oh well, maybe the next time. We couldn’t afford to wait around for two and a half hours for lunch. We’d been delayed long enough as it was.
Our last lock is at mile marker #117 – Coffeeville Lock. We arrived at noon being told that we had to wait 30 minutes. So we had lunch and waited. Again we were waiting, waiting, and still waiting. Initially we were told that the lock was being prepared for us. But were were still waiting two hours later and were joined in the lock by Freedom and Mary Elizabeth, two other sailboats that also anchored by Basin Creek last night.
I can tell that Hugh is wearing his concerned captain hat. Between the two hour delay this morning due to the fog and the two hour delay at the lock, there is no way that we would be able to make mile marker #63 before it gets dark. We were doing over 9 miles per hour, but we didn’t have enough day light to go almost 60 miles.
“We’ll go until we find a wide spot deep enough to get out of the channel,” Hugh said. “I’ll ask a tow when we pass one.”
Yesterday at breakfast Bill asked if you could deep fry grits.
“Sure, you can make small cakes of them and fry them up.” Hugh said.
“It’s called polenta.” I said. I knew what I’d do the next day with the left over grits.
I was below making polenta cakes to go with our pork chops and cauliflower. The motor idled down. I poked my head out the forward hatch and saw that we were passing a tow.
“Did you ask the tow for anchoring ideas?” I asked Hugh.
We were in a “we’ll see when we get there” mode. Finally we throttled down and I heard the anchor being unhung. Hugh found a place in the river that was deep and wide enough to get away from the channel.
Chug, chug, chug. After we turned in we heard a tow go by. The VHF was quiet. We must not have been any concern for the tow. That was a good sign. Hopefully Hugh would sleep easily.