Thursday, November 7, 2019

Penultimate lock

We are underway southbound on the Tombigbee River. We locked through Demopolis Lock this morning and are now just some 40' above sea level; we have just one lock still ahead of us. We have also left behind the Tennesee-Tombigbee Waterway, which ends at the confluence of the Black Warrior River in Demopolis.

Vector at anchor in the fall color at Demopolis, Alabama.

When last I posted here, I mused that we might make Demopolis Tuesday night. We would have arrived just before sunset had we pressed on, but I learned from boat-tracking app Nebo that there was already a boat in the very tight anchorage. Rather than risk anchoring in less than ideal conditions at the very end of a day, we opted to stop short.

We passed many white cliffs yesterday; this one sported some fall color.

Instead we turned up an oxbow called Rattlesnake Bend, which we had used on our last trip. The oxbow is wide and deep, and it gets used by the tow companies to store barges, so we had to steam a half mile up the oxbow before dropping the hook, in 35' of water (map). We made sure to be well past the last set of barges to leave maneuvering room for the towboats.

Sunset from our lovely spot in Rattlesnake Bend. You have to look hard to see the barges lined up on the left bank.

It was otherwise an idyllic setting and we had a nice dinner aboard. Current in the oxbow was less than a knot, not nearly as high as out in the main channel, and we were amused to watch herons perched upon floating logs gently flowing past. We saw some in the main channel, too, but with the boat underway they eyed us suspiciously and flew away before we got too close.

Shortly after midnight I heard an announcement on the radio from the towboat Gilbert Taylor that he was turning into Rattlesnake Bend to work tows, and I went on deck to watch him steam up the channel. I called on the radio to make sure we were in a good spot, and I'm glad we left plenty of distance. We saw him again at the fuel dock in Demopolis.

Gilbert Taylor working barges under a setting moon.

The stop at Rattlesnake left us just 8 miles, or about an hour, to Demopolis. We got a leisurely start, to let the inevitable gaggle of departing loopers clear out of the marina and head toward the lock, and also so that the boat that was in the anchorage would also have departed. Upon arriving in Demopolis we made our way to the fuel dock in the old yacht basin.

We did not really need fuel, or even a pumpout, but we wanted to take on water. The cold weather has had us blowing through our limited number of long-sleeve shirts, and we needed to do a load of laundry, which Louise started before we even arrived. The washing machine goes through our fresh water supply at a prodigious rate.

We both liked this view of Vector through the trees from Foscue Creek Park.

We put in 30 gallons of diesel just to make ourselves customers, and got a pumpout. Between those two activities we had enough time to fill the water tank. They only charged me for the diesel, and their price was close enough to the lower gulf coast prices as to be a very reasonable stop. Certainly a better deal than paying $73 for a slip.

This picture does not really capture just how much water is coming over Demopolis dam. Down two feet, though, since our arrival the day before.

The yacht basin is a wreck. Since building the newer marina basin next door, this basin is all but abandoned. The on-premise restaurant where we ate our first time here (in the bus) is long-since closed and nearly falling down. Only two dilapidated boats remain on the old docks. The fuel dock is the only going concern -- they did not put a fuel dock in the newer basin, as they still need to fuel towboats here in the deeper water. The basin is full of debris, and the dockhands are jaded.

After a half hour at the fuel dock we continued downriver to Foscue Creek, a small tributary that is navigable for half a mile or so. A marked channel leads to a Coast Guard station, home port to the buoy tender USCGC Wedge. We went just past the station and dropped anchor in 15' (map). The lowest we saw at the entrance was 10', with the river up 3' from normal pool at the dam.

Our view from the anchorage, CGC Wedge and her barge full of buoys.

Across the creek from the CG station is the day use area of the Corps of Engineers Foscue Creek Recreation Area and Campground. This is where we stayed in Odyssey on our first visit. On this occasion, it's where I was able to get ashore with the e-Bike to make a provisioning run to Walmart, about two miles away. The boat ramp and dock are in the next creek over.

It's not often you get to peer into a dense evergreen forest with the edge trees peeled away.

Before pulling into that creek I ran the 2+ miles back upriver to the public boat ramp near the marina. We had spotted an old concrete dock in the park there and I wanted to make sure we could use it to get ashore for dinner. While there were no cleats and the river had left some mud on it, it was usable. We returned here at dusk, so I could still see the debris on plane, and had a nice half-mile walk to dinner at SVH Bistro, right downtown.

We used this old landing as a dinghy dock. Those are my footprints in the river mud.

We enjoyed strolling the main drag, Washington Street, and the row of historic old homes along Main Street. We stopped at the Marathon station on the way back to the tender for a gallon of gas. Everything is much closer to this dock than to the marina.

This sailboat anchored at high water -- his anchor is still set, straight out ahead of him.

Update: We are anchored in the river, outside the buoy line at Edna Bend (map). It's an early stop, but anchorages are few and far between here. We have several nights at anchor now before our next chance to get off the boat, in Mobile.

1 comment:

  1. Edna Bend seems like a good spot! Guess we'll be fueling up with the jaded dock hands. Cheapest diesel we've seen.


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