Sunday, October 30, 2011

First North, Then South

On Friday, October 14th, we left Demopolis about noon with the U-Haul trailer in tow.  Oddly enough, the trailer seemed to have less in it than it did when we moved onboard “Life’s2Short” in May of 2006!


We joined the gang at The Wall Thursday evening for happy hour.


And then went to the New Orleans Bar & Grill.


Along the way we stopped at Aqua Yacht on Pickwick to have a few drinks with Norm & Vicki on “Tide Hiker.”  Notice the “For Sale” sign in the background.  Anyone looking to buy an extremely nice, very well-maintained 49-foot Defever should check out their web site at:


Then it was on to Bud’s house for a few nights.  Jay Stone who sang with the band “Say It Aint So” at Bud’s party in July asked Bud if he could film a music video on Bud’s property.  Bud agreed and was asked to get a number of people together to stage a party as part of the video.  So we invited Norm & Vicki and Wayne & Lynn (former full-time cruisers on “Skinwalker” now living on the dirt in Michie, TN, near Pickwick) to participate.  It took a while to get things up and going, but overall a good time was had by all!

Having a bite to eat with Norm & Vicki and Wayne & Lynn.


Fiddle player Brian Arrowood, on break from touring with Travis Tritt,  agreed to participate in the music video.


Everyone certainly seems to be having a good time!










Vicki liked Brian’s music so much she bought one of his CD’s!


Loading up the bus to head back to Memphis.


Sunday we were on our way north before 9:00 a.m.  We arrived in Springfield late afternoon and began unloading the U-Haul, setting up the bedroom furniture, unpacking, etc.

Wiping out my “new” 26 (versus 7  on the boat) cubic foot refrigerator!


We had a late breakfast Monday morning at Village Inn and then went to empty out our little 5’ x 5’ storage unit while we still had the U-Haul.  We unloaded back at the house, did some shopping for a few essentials, dropped off the U-Haul and got back to the business of unpacking.

Arranging things in the bathroom Monday morning.


Todd ran some errands Tuesday while I worked on getting the kitchen organized and did a couple of  loads of laundry (yes, I actually have my very own washer & dryer again!).  Then we got cleaned up and went to dinner at Zio’s where we were met by Nila & Everett and Dale & Glena (Dale is our realtor and Glena and I used to work together) as a birthday surprise for me, courtesy of the Captain.  Thanks to all for a great birthday dinner!


Wednesday we were off to Houston to see my family for a few days.  We stopped at mom’s to have chili for lunch and then went on to Bucyrus to stay with my niece Jennifer.  It turned very cold Thursday evening and we left early Friday morning for the 500-mile trip back to Demopolis in 27-degree weather!

Saturday morning we toured the new Kingfisher Bay Marina with Fred.  We had seen it earlier this year (in May) but Fred wanted to show us how the new boater’s lounge, laundry and bathrooms were coming along.  What a nice facility!




That afternoon I made a final Wal-Mart run and did laundry while Todd gave the boat a bath.  We then pulled over to the fuel dock to pump out the holding tanks and fill up with fuel (312 gallons @ 3.69 per gallon).  “Tide Hiker” arrived about 4:30 p.m. and met us at The Wall a short time later.  The four of us then went to dinner at Las Fuentes for some yummy Mexican and margaritas.

We had planned to head south early Sunday morning but woke up to thick fog and had to stay put for a few extra hours.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m. we locked down the Demopolis Lock with four other boats, including “Tide Hiker.”


Within the first two hours we passed four northbound tows and saw a total of nine over the course of nine hours.  That’s a lot of tows in one day!  We also saw one bald eagle, two wild turkeys and a deer along the way.  Eighty-one miles later we were anchored at Mile 135 and it was dark within a half-hour.  “Tide Hiker” anchored across from Bashi Creek ten miles above us.

Almost to our anchorage.


Monday we didn’t have any fog and were off at 7:40 a.m.  We arrived at the Coffeeville Lock two hours later behind a southbound tow with two northbound tows waiting to lock up.  So we dropped the anchor and waited for our turn.  Two hours later we were through the lock and on our way.

A beautiful morning on the river.


Exiting Coffeeville Lock, the final lock on the Tenn-Tom - yay!  While we were locking down, we added up all the locks we’ve gone through over the past 5-1/2 years.  This was our 148thlock!


We ended up seeing a total of five northbound and two southbound tows Monday.  Ten hours and 71 miles later we were anchored in Three Rivers Lake.  And I have to mention that the Captain was very disappointed at not being able to spot an alligator either of the past two days and he has been watching diligently!

We passed “Heron” just above Mile 100.  Bob & Susie are friends with Mo & Gale on “Blue Heron.”  We were introduced to them at Waterfall Cove in early September.


One of several northbound tows.


Entering Three Rivers Lake.


Tuesday we tried to leave at 8:00 a.m. but we got into the river and found thick fog.  So we nosed up on the sand at the mouth of Three Rivers Lake and waited about 45 minutes for the fog to clear.


Then it was a short 52-mile day (with five more northbound and two southbound tows) to the Tensaw Cut-off at Mile 12.2 where we met up with Mo & Joe (and Honey) on “MOTU.”

Preparing to move the new railroad lift bridge eight miles downriver.


The new lift bridge will be installed here and the old 14-mile railroad swing bridge will be demolished.


Mo & Joe taxied us over to her friend’s hunting cabin where we had happy hour and then treated us to dinner on “MOTU.”  They were off to Grand Mariner in Mobile on Wednesday to deal with some boat issues.



Anchored in Big Briar Creek off the Tensaw Cut-off.



There was more morning fog on Wednesday but we were underway by 7:45 a.m.  The trip across Mobile Bay was perfect and we saw our first pelicans and porpoises.  We continued on to Pensacola and anchored east of the Pensacola Bay bridge ten hours and about 85 miles later.  The Captain put the dinghy down and took me to Bamboo Willie’s for a frozen drink and then we ordered dinner from Hooter’s, which is located next door, and ate at Bamboo Willie’s bar.  A nice ending to a long day on the water.

Anchored at what Skipper Bob calls Quiet Water Beach on Pensacola Bay.


Thursday was a quiet day on the water.  We traveled 7-1/2 hours, covering another 60 miles, and anchored on the southeast side of the Chocktawhatchee Bay Bridge.  The porpoises were out in force and the Captain managed to capture a few shots of them swimming and playing alongside the boat.



By 9:00 a.m. Friday we had entered the 20-mile ditch between Chocktawhatchee Bay and Panama City.  The total distance to Panama City was about 37 miles, and with good current we were tied up at the St. Andrews Marina four hours later.  Strong north winds were forecast to hit beginning late Friday evening and the Captain didn’t want to be anchored out so we decided to go to a marina.

Coming in to the Panama City area.


Friday evening we walked over to the TimeOut Sports Bar for happy hour and raw oysters for Todd.  We then meandered over to The Shrimp Boat where we had a nice dinner and watched the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series.  Way to go, Cards!!!

As predicted, the north wind hit overnight and we were thankful to be tied to a dock!  Unfortunately, we received some shocking news early Saturday morning.  Our good friend Rick in Demopolis suddenly and unexpectedly passed away late Friday evening at the age of 58.  Rick and his wife Peggy had walked down to the fuel dock last Sunday morning to see us off when we left Demopolis.  It just doesn’t seem possible that this could have happened!

Even though we’ve only known Rick & Peggy for about four years, Rick and Todd were very close.  They talked on the phone almost daily, sometimes several times a day.  Todd jokingly referred to Rick as “his brother from a different mother.”  And they were like brothers.  They fished together whenever they could and talked fishing, sports, weather, whatever, all the time.  Rick was a diehard Alabama fan and we’ve watched a number of football games with he & Peggy over the years.  Rest in peace, Rick, you will be missed!

This photo was taken less than a month ago at Rick & Peggy’s home.


The wind continued to howl all day Saturday but we braved it to browse through the St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers’ Market.  Our friends Tena & Keith and daughter Sidney who live a few blocks away walked down to meet us and visit for a while.




Around mid-afternoon we walked to Tena & Keith’s house and took a load of dirty laundry with us.  Tena brought out her tasty homemade ceviche for a happy hour snack and Keith grilled some wonderful chicken for dinner.  Thanks for a fun evening, guys, we enjoyed it!

Keith got the outdoor heater working so we could sit comfortably outside.



Sidney got dressed up in her “Wicked” Alice in Wonderland outfit and was off to a birthday party that evening.




Today is Sunday, October 30th, and the north wind is still blowing strong.  The weather doesn’t look good for the Gulf crossing until late next week, at the earliest, so we are in wait mode for now.  We will probably leave the marina early this afternoon, find a protected anchorage nearby and gradually make our way east to the Apalachicola area over the course of the next week.  Or we may rent a car and go to Demopolis for a few days to see Rick’s widow, Peggy.  At this point we’re not sure, but we’ll figure it out!