Friday, September 30, 2011

Bay Springs Lake and Our Final Run to Demopolis

We pulled away from the dock at Aqua Yacht Harbor about noon on Thursday, September 15th, and were anchored in Five Fingers Cove on Bay Springs Lake by 4:30 p.m.  John on “Thats Me” was also anchored in the Five Fingers area so he came over for a while and then joined us for dinner.  The weather had turned quite cool so a big pot of chili was in order!

Our anchorages on Bay Springs.



Todd and John went fishing mid-morning Friday and again Friday afternoon but didn’t have much luck.  Todd found a nice place nearby for a campfire and got it set up to light after dinner.  After stuffing ourselves on chicken pot pie, John retired to his boat and we dinghied over to the beach to spend a couple of hours fireside.

The fishermen did manage to catch one nice bass while they were out.


John took “Thats Me” to the marina Saturday morning to use the courtesy car to drive to Tupelo to pick up his friend Sandy who is joining him on the boat for the long trek down the Tenn-Tom to the Gulf Coast.  Todd did a little late morning fishing in John’s center console, then relaxed for a few hours.  John returned mid-afternoon and Todd took John’s boat over to help him tie a stern line to a tree on shore.  A short time later Todd and John went fishing and didn’t return until it was almost dark.

The fishermen were off again about 9:00 a.m. Sunday.  Even though they haven’t been doing much catching, it isn’t for lack of trying!  Todd went out again that afternoon to gather wood for a fire and fish some more.  John & Sandy came over for dinner Sunday evening and then we went to the beach and built a very nice fire.  It was so nice, in fact, that we didn’t manage to tear ourselves away until 1:30 a.m.!

Monday was a rainy, gloomy day and we were all feeling the effects of our late night on the beach.  John & Sandy came over for breakfast enchiladas about 11:00 a.m. and the rest of the day was spent reading, relaxing and watching movies.  In general, not doing much of anything.

Our friends Nila & Everett from Springfield called Monday evening to let us know they were on their way back from Florida where they had been visiting family.  Since they were passing fairly close to Bay Springs on the return trip, they decided to spend a few days with us on the boat.

John and Todd went fishing Tuesday morning for a few hours and then Todd took John’s center console over to Bay Springs Marina Tuesday afternoon to pick up Nila & Everett.  They made it back to the boat by 4:00 p.m., just in time for happy hour!  After chatting and snacking a bit, we had green chili chicken enchiladas with Margaritas for dinner.  Then we got into a game of Rummikub that Nila & Everett brought with them and Nila emerged as the winner.

The Hayes’ have arrived!


Todd and Everett enjoying a nice evening on the bow.


John & Sandy came over Wednesday morning to share in the two (yes, two!) boxes of pastries Nila & Everett brought with them from Panera Bread.  After that, Nila & Everett spent a good part of the day relaxing and napping, Todd went fishing and I messed around in the kitchen.  About mid-afternoon we borrowed John’s boat again and took a tour around Five Fingers Cove.

Hanging on “Life’s2Short.”


Everett tries his hand at fishing and ends up with a big rat’s nest on one of Todd’s bait casters!


Todd returned from fishing and forgot to tie his dinghy up, so he had to swim for it!  First time that’s ever happened!


Cruising the lake on John’s center console.



When we returned to “Life’s2Short,” I started on dinner for the six of us.  Since we really don’t have any place to seat six people on “Life’s2Short,” I asked John if we could eat on his back deck and he was more than happy to oblige.  So once dinner was under control, we went over to “Thats Me” for appetizers and then Todd came back to “Life’s2Short” to get dinner out of the oven and shuttle it to “Thats Me.”

That’s our campfire beach in the background.


Appetizers on the deck of “Thats Me.”


By this time Sandy wasn’t feeling well so she skipped dinner and went inside.  After dinner the rest of us made our way to the beach for a campfire.  John & Sandy and Todd had gathered a bunch of firewood when they were out and about earlier in the day so we had a nice pile.  As always, it was a fun and eventful evening fireside and Sandy even came out to join us for a little while before we called it an evening.




The Captain giving John a lap dance!



Nila and Todd cutting a rug on the sandy beach.


Approaching midnight and the fire is still going strong!


Sandy got to feeling a little better and decided to join the fun.


Needless to say, we all slept in Thursday morning.  John called on the VHF about 10:00 a.m. and said he was going to have to take Sandy to a doctor.  Whatever she had was getting worse and she had red streaks starting to creep up her arm!  They originally thought she had been bitten by a spider, and maybe she was, but with the growing red streaks it was time to have it looked at.  John made arrangements to borrow the courtesy car at Bay Springs Marina so Nila & Everett got their things together and caught a ride with John & Sandy as they were heading that way.  Thanks for joining us on “Lifes2Short,” Nila & Everett; we’ll see you again soon in Springfield!

The rest of Thursday was pretty mellow aboard “Life’s2Short.”  John & Sandy returned around 4:00 p.m. with a couple of antibiotic prescriptions and some kind of cream to put on her arm – and our ice, of course!  The doctor seemed to think it was some type of staph infection so it’s good that they had it checked out.  John mentioned going fishing in a little while but after an hour or so he hadn’t reappeared so Todd gave up and went fishing in his dinghy.  Come to find out, John went back to his boat and fell asleep!

Thursday overnight turned fairly cool with a few light showers so  John and Todd weren’t too excited about going out fishing early Friday.  In fact, John’s comment when he called Todd on the VHF about 8:30 was:  “Someone’s done gone and left the refrigerator door open!” But they did finally head out about 9:30, just as the sun was making a feeble attempt to break through the clouds.  I say feeble because the sun still hadn’t broken through three hours later!

Todd finally returned about 2:30 and rested for a while.  David on “Moonstruck” left Aqua Yacht around 3:00 and made good time getting to Bay Springs, arriving by 7:00 p.m.  Frank & Joyce on “Daphne” had also boated down from Aqua earlier in the day so we all headed to the beach for another campfire.  This time we surpassed our previous late night and didn’t make it back to the boat until 2:30 a.m.!

Saturday was a quiet day for most of us.  Todd and David went over to “Daphne” late afternoon to catch part of the Alabama football game and Todd also helped Frank retrieve his catfish jugs.  John & Sandy and Frank & Joyce put together a wonderful fish fry for all of us that evening on “Thats Me” and we were joined by our friend Terri Pruitt who we love spending time with on Pickwick.  Then it was back to the beach for another fire, although no one was interested in staying up quite as late that night – go figure!

Frank and John were in charge of frying the fish, potatoes and hush puppies.  Nice job, guys!



Looks like someone is having a party!


Sandy and Joyce.


The lovely Terri Pruitt.  So glad you could join us!



David on “Moonstruck.”



Sunday we invited “Moonstruck” over for brunch with mimosas.  That afternoon “Moonstruck” and “Thats Me” went in to Bay Springs Marina.  We also moved to anchor near the marina so we could see Chuck & Pip on “Miss Pip” before we head down the Tenn-Tom.  Friends Roger & Dixie on “Bubbles,” who are moving their boat from the marina in Columbus to Prizer Point on the Cumberland River, also joined us late afternoon and we had a fun gathering on the dock.


Roger & Dixie on “Bubbles.



Later that evening Todd got nervous about storms and tornado warnings in the area so we moved “Life’s2Short” over to the marina for the night.  We had put out a stern anchor because the cut we were anchored in was fairly narrow and it was very windy.  However, when Todd went to pull the stern anchor up, it was stuck fast and he wasn’t able to get it with his dinghy.  So he left it with the rope sitting on a floating cushion, and he and John took John’s skiff over there early Monday morning to retrieve it.

We headed for Whitten Lock before 8:00 a.m. on a cloudy, dreary, drizzly Monday morning.    “Thats Me” joined us and we spent the next ten hours covering 48 miles and going through six locks – our first time doing six locks in one day.  Most of them went very well but we had to wait 1-1/2 hours at Wilkins Lock while the Corps of Engineers barge and crane went in to do some work.  But at least the weather finally cleared up by early afternoon.  We anchored at the Canal Section Cut-off at Mile 366.3 at 6:00 p.m. and had John & Sandy over for dinner.

Isn’t that a lovely photo?!!!  Nothing like locking through in the rain.


Heading down the Tenn-Tom late Monday afternoon.


Our anchorage at the Canal Section Cut-off with a tow and barges going by in the background.


Tuesday we were off again by 8:00 a.m.  And again it was cool and cloudy through mid-day but we experienced very little rain.  There was a tow with several fuel barges a short distance in front of us as we left the anchorage, and we were only eight miles from the Aberdeen Lock.  The tow captain was very nice and let us go around him so we could get to the lock first and lock down.  We continued on through Stennis Lock at Columbus and ended up anchoring at Mile 309.3 a few miles above Bevil Lock.  With only two locks to get through and no real delays, we put 57 more miles behind us and were anchored before 4:00 p.m.

A beautiful morning shot.


Captain John, master of his domain!


Once anchored, John and Todd promptly took off to go fishing for a few hours, only to return empty-handed.  That evening John picked us up on his skiff and took us to “Thats Me” for a tasty meal of grilled chicken, vegetables and baked sweet potatoes.  We were all tired after two relatively long days of cruising so we made it an early night.

Thick fog had set in by morning so we had to wait until 9:00 to haul anchor Wednesday.  By the time we got to Bevil Lock, the fog had cleared nicely and we could tell it was going to be a very warm day.  It was only about 40 miles to our next anchorage at Sumter Landing, and by the time we dropped the hook the temperature had reached 86 degrees.  Haven’t seen that in a while!

Following “Thats Me” to the lock.


One of several tows we saw along the way.


Todd and John went fishing about 4:00 p.m.  The plan was for Todd to radio me to let me know whether they were catching fish for our supper, or whether I needed to make alternate  arrangements.  And while they did catch some fish, they were all small so I made Cajun shrimp linguine for the four of us.

We awoke to thick fog again Friday morning but the Captain wanted to get underway, so we eased out into the river about 8:30 and slowly made our way to Heflin Lock.  Visibility was good by the time we locked down, and with a nice push from the current we averaged nine miles per hour covering the final 54 miles to the Demopolis Yacht Basin.

“Thats Me” at the last of the ten locks between Bay Springs and Demopolis.


We had to skirt around this dredge operation at Mile 249.


“Thats Me” with the White Cliffs of Epes in the background.


We reached the Yacht Basin shortly after 3:00 p.m. and the first order of business was to pump out the holding tanks.  Then we headed to our slip on B dock, got situated and joined the crew at “The Wall” to say our good-byes to Mike & Harriet on “Dual Dreams.”  Mike & Harriet have spent the better part of two years at the Yacht Basin and this was their final night.  Friday morning they will begin the journey south with plans to spend the holidays in Marathon and then make their way to the Abacos.  Safe travels, Mike & Harriet, you will be missed at the Yacht Basin!

Harriet and Brenda enjoying a final night together.


Mike in the center with Buell (left) and Dale (right).


Mo & Joe aboard “MOTU” were anchored a few miles down the river at Foscue Creek, which is where John & Sandy on “Thats Me” went to anchor.  So the four of them got in John’s center console and came to the marina Thursday evening.  Mo & Joe stopped by the Boater’s Lounge to say hello and we all ended up joining them at the New Orleans Bar & Grill for a few drinks.  What a fun group!

Left to right:  Dale, Mo, Harriet, Joe and Joy.


The Admiral with Sandy & John.


Just one big happy family!


Today is Friday, September 30th, and we have much to accomplish in the next few weeks as we begin packing up and moving off “Life’s2Short.”  We believe we have a buyer in Fort Myers and if that is the case, we will move most of our “stuff” to Springfield mid- to late October.  Todd will then come back to Demopolis and deliver the boat to Fort Myers.  Since I need to be available for job postings and/or interviews in Springfield during that time, Todd will probably ask someone else to crew with him from Demopolis to Fort Myers.  So this will likely be my last few weeks aboard “Life’s2Short.”  It’s hard to believe this chapter in our lives is almost over.  No longer will we be full-time cruisers; we will be CLODs (cruisers living on dirt)!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two Weeks at the Waterfall

On Monday, August 29th, we left Ditto Landing and covered about 60 miles over a seven-hour period to anchor in Second Creek.  Tuesday we made it through Wheeler Lock without much delay and then had to wait an hour at Wilson Lock.  But we made it to the Waterfall by 5:00 p.m. and got situated in our spot.

On our way downriver we had been in touch with Mo & Gale on “Blue Heron” who were at Aqua Yacht Harbor.  They pulled up about an hour after us, followed by Bud (a.k.a. the Iceman), and we all sat on his pontoon chatting and catching up.



Wednesday was a quiet, hot day spent fishing, reading and struggling to put a resume together.  It’s been a while since I’ve had to worry about that!  Bud came out around 5:00 and Mo & Gale introduced us to Bob & Susie, new full-time cruisers on a sailboat from Wisconsin.

I’m not sure which day Gale caught these bass but he was very proud of them!

Gale's Bass

Thursday was another hot one!  Kelly showed up about 2:00 and David on “Moonstruck” pulled in a few hours later after having made it downriver from Island Cove above Chattanooga in a few very long days.  We all floated in the water to cool off, grabbed a bite of dinner and then built a nice campfire on the gravel bar.  Gale had made a run to the marina in his dinghy earlier in the day and brought back some firewood.


David took his dinghy to J.P. Coleman State Park Friday morning and learned that three big houseboats were on their way to the Waterfall for the Labor Day weekend.  Bud showed up on the pontoon in time to secure a spot next to “Life’s2Short” and enjoy a few Bloody Mary’s with Todd.  Kelly & Michelle also came out with Frank, Tank and crew and we all floated in the water to stay cool.

After hot dogs and baked beans for dinner, we (Mo & Gale, David, me and Todd) decided to take Bud home in the pontoon so we could continue to use it as our patio.  As we pulled in to Bud’s boat house, his neighbor’s wife came over saying that she couldn’t find her husband, J.C.  Apparently he had left the house hours earlier to go check on their pontoon and hadn’t returned.  In the meantime, she had fallen asleep and didn’t realize he’d been gone so long.

By this time it was dark, so Todd, David and I backed the pontoon out, turned the headlights on and headed up a small canal where we could see the pontoon floating.  Mo & Gale and Bud got in his golf cart and headed the same direction by land.  When we reached the pontoon Todd stepped on board and began looking for J.C.  David got in the water and was searching alongside the boat and saw him floating face-down in the canal a short distance away!

We don’t know what happened or how long he had actually been in the water but the thinking is that he probably had a stroke and fell overboard.  In the meantime, I was trying to hold the two pontoons together with one leg on each and managed to fall in the water right between the two boats!  Anyway, after dealing with the Sheriff’s Office and other authorities, we finally left Bud’s house and cruised back to the Waterfall where we ended the evening with another campfire.  What a day!

Ben & Terri came out late Saturday morning in her Tahoe and Bud rode out on the Sea Doo a few hours later.  Jim & Liz arrived about 3:30 with the requested bags of ice; unfortunately, they had a sick passenger and had to leave after about 30 minutes.  Later that afternoon, Ben, David and Todd all swam over to the Waterfall and jumped off.  We finally convinced Ben & Terri to spend the night and enjoyed another campfire on the gravel bar that evening.




It was a crazy, fun day and we had some great photos (not just of Saturday but since our arrival at the Waterfall) and all of them got “lost” when Todd was loading them on the computer.  Big-time bummer!  So we had to beg and scrounge for what few we have up to this point.

Sunday we awoke to threatening rain so Ben & Terri took off about 9:30.  “Blue Heron” took off around noon to go back to  Aqua Yacht for another day or two before heading south on the Tenn-Tom.  Several boats were in and out early in the day but then the rain moved in and didn’t stop until Monday evening sometime so we all stayed hunkered down in our boats for the most part.  Todd cleaned all the wet leaves off our boat and the patio on Tuesday and then we sat on the patio and enjoyed a rain-free evening chatting with David.



The sun finally reappeared on Wednesday.  Todd discovered that the bilge on the patio wasn’t working so he spent the morning dealing with that.  David made a dinghy run to J.P. Coleman to dispose of trash and get some ice and got soaked coming back in the choppy water.  That afternoon David took a hike on some of the trails around the Waterfall while we visited with Don who showed up on his pontoon.  Bud also made an appearance on the Sea Doo just as Don was leaving.

How many boats do you see with motorcycles sitting on top of them?!!!


Thursday morning we took the patio to pick up Wayne & Lynn at Aqua Yacht.  We met and got to know Wayne & Lynn in Baltimore last year.  At the time they were living on their boat “Skinwalker” but they have since swallowed the anchor and purchased a small farm in Michie, not far from Pickwick.  At any rate, we thought they might enjoy a day on the water again and we wanted to see them while we were in the area.

Wayne & Lynn chatting with the Captain.


Bo arrives on his boat called “The Office.”


Ronnie and Kelly.


Bud came out on the Sea Doo and then John on “Thats Me” showed up.  We hadn’t seen John since Chattanooga in 2009 so we were happy to finally reconnect!  Todd ran Wayne & Lynn back to Aqua Yacht late afternoon while we got John secured next to “Moonstruck” and then the party continued!  To simplify things, Bud decided to spend the night on “Life’s2Short.”

Friday was a fairly quiet day.  Bud went home for a while and returned about 5:00 p.m.  Kelly came out with Ronnie that afternoon to visit for a while.  John and Todd did a little fishing but John wasn’t feeling well at all so we didn’t see much more of him that evening.  Bud ended up staying over again.

David returns from a chilly early-morning run in John’s center console.


John on Thats Me” on the left and David on “Moonstruck” on the right.


The Captain reviewing East Coast charts with the Iceman in preparation for his upcoming trip to Cocoa Beach.


Todd took this picture from the top of Bo’s sundeck.


Bud went home Saturday morning to get a few things he’d forgotten on his previous trip and Terri came out in her Tahoe.  Jim arrived solo about 3:30 and then several of us went for a ride in Terri’s boat.  When we returned we had dinner (thanks, Jim!) and then proceeded to build another fire on shore with John playing taxi between the patio and the shore in his center console.  Late that evening more rowdy boaters pulled in to the gravel bar.  Some spent the night, others didn’t.  Jim elected to spend the night with us.

Our little cluster of boats all alone at the Waterfall.


By mid-afternoon we had a pretty good crowd going!



Todd and the Iceman having some fun.



Captain Terri in her Tahoe.


Jim took off mid-morning Sunday in a few light sprinkles that didn’t last long.  Todd did some fishing and gathered more wood so we could have another fire that evening while the rest of us spent a mellow day on the patio.  Bud was out for a little while but it looked like more rain was threatening so he boogied home on the Sea Doo.  There were a number of boats on shore all day but they all pulled out by the time we had dinner and got the fire going.  It was a beautiful full-moon evening on shore!


Monday morning David took “Moonstruck” to Aqua Yacht to have some work done so “Thats Me” pulled up to the gravel bar and Todd took the patio back to Bud.  The rest of the day was fairly quiet for us although several boats showed up to enjoy another wonderfully warm, sunny day.  Todd and John went fishing about 4:30 so I busied myself catching up on a long overdue blog update and preparing dinner for them.

Our untying process wasn’t very well planned.  “Moonstruck” started floating away while David was on our boat!


But Todd shuttled him over in the dinghy and everything turned out fine.



We left the Waterfall Tuesday morning and moved to Aqua Yacht to pump out the holding tanks, take on water, take care of some home-buying paperwork, do laundry, re-provision, upload the blog, etc., before heading to Bay Springs Lake.  “Thats Me” also pulled out and went on down to Bay Springs.  David helped us get tied up to the dock after we pumped out and then let us use his truck to run some of our errands.

Thats Me” heading to Bay Springs Lake.


That evening we again used David’s truck and drove to Michie to have dinner with Wayne & Lynn and see their new home in the country.  We had a very nice time and really enjoyed touring their 20-acre farm, looking in on the baby chickens, playing with their 11-week-old rat terrier puppy (Sheena) and feeding the catfish in one of their four ponds.  They appear to have adjusted well to life on the dirt and are happy in their new home.

Wayne & Lynn at their new home, Paradise Flatts.


Wayne at his writing desk on the front porch.


What an inspirational view!


Feeding the catfish.


On Wednesday David chauffeured us to Savannah to re-provision after stopping at Cactus Jack’s for lunch and at Bud’s house to repair a few carpet snaps and install a new bilge pump in his pontoon (a.k.a. our patio at the Waterfall).  After a busy couple of days at the dock, I think we have accomplished what we needed to and are ready to head down the ditch to Bay Springs Lake.

Today is Thursday, September 15th, and the Captain is in the process of changing the generator oil before we head out.  Two of the locks on the Tenn-Tom are scheduled to be closed for maintenance until September 24th, so we still have several days to spend on Bay Springs before we can begin the journey to Demopolis.  Hopefully we will be able to find some exposed beaches to build campfires on.  The weather is perfect for it!