Sumter Twp Recreation Anchorage, Alabama to Kingfisher Bay Marina, Demopolis, Alabama — November 2, 2013

We got up early today and Candy and I took the dingy to shore.  It was still dark and the number of stars you can see without any other light around is just incredible.  When we were ready to come back to the boat a tow went by northbound on the river and that was good to see.

I had looked out during the night and the Champ III was swinging on the anchor while the other boats appeared to be just sitting in place.  We came close to Blue Moon and Humbug but no problem.  I think their anchor rodes were all chain and the chain went straight down while we have 20’ of chain and the rest is rope.  This allows the champ to move even in the slightest breeze where their chains provide a lot more resistance to movement.

We tried to raise the 2 Looper boats that anchored 7 miles north of us at Cooks Cutoff.  We were only 3 miles from the Heflin Lock and wanted to find out their intentions and maybe everybody could lock thru together. No luck on getting them on the VHF and nobody had a mobile number for them.  We called the lock and he had no commercial traffic and could take us as soon as we got there.  All 5 boats made a mad dash out of the Sumter Township Recreation Anchorage.

The lock went smoothly and it was the only lock of the day.  We did pass several tows on the river and we were able to catch them in straight sections of the river so there was no delay getting around them.  We really made good time to the Kingfisher Bay Marina in Demopolis Alabama.

One of the really scenic parts of the day was passing the Epes Bluff not too far north of Demopolis. The Cliffs are white rock that has been carved by the water over the decades and centuries.  It was interesting that the fall color was fairly abundant right at the Epes Bluff but the other parts of the river did not have any fall color.  The cliffs are what are known as the Selma Chalk Formations and are the only part that is exposed for maybe a mile along the river bank.

We went with Pete and Carolyn to dinner last night at the restaurant that is on site at the Demopolis Yacht Basin. The Yacht Basin and Kingfisher Bay are owned by the same family. The distance from the boats to the restaurant and marina office are quite far so they provide courtesy golf carts to use.  Our cart ran out of gas about ¼ of the way there. Fortunately we were able to get a ride there from the restaurant and the marina had somebody gas up the cart and bring it to the restaurant for us to use to get back.

Anyway we were treated to some real southern hospitality at the New Orleans Bar & Grill.  We asked for a non-existent wine list but the waitress did offer that the bartender could write out a list.  Pete asked for a bottle of house Cabernet and we asked for a bottle of house Pinot Grigio.  The waitress brought 4 glasses of wine and Pete said we ordered a bottle. The waitress brought two 1.5 liter bottles.  The Cabernet looked like it was freshly opened and the Pinot Grigio was ¼ full. I don’t think that the normal patrons order wine by the bottle.  It was really hard not to laugh at the whole situation because the waitress was really trying to do the best she could.

Columbus Marina, Columbus, MS to Sumter Twp Recreation Anchorage, Alabama — November 1, 2013

Thursday was a rainy day with some reasonably heavy rain in the afternoon.  Lenore was not feeling well so I went with Pete and Carolyn (Humbug) to see the Waverly Mansion.  This Greek Revival home was built during the Civil War, from 1852 to 1857.  It was occupied by a George Hampton Young and his 10 children from 1857 to about 1913 when it was left abandon.  It was purchased in 1963 by Mr. Robert Snow and his wife, an antique dealer and he has occupied the house ever since. When they bought it they renovated a kitchen and a bedroom and moved in. They painstakingly renovated each room themselves over the next 25 years.  The house is on the National Historic Register and is still occupied on a daily basis by the family. The magnolia tree in the front yard is over 150 years old.

We did get an early start this morning because about 5 boats pulled out at 7:00 and I called the lock and asked him when he would have the lock ready for the 2nd lock thru.  He asked how long it would take us to get to the lock and I told him about 1/2 hour.  He said it would be more efficient to lock everyone thru at once and they would wait for us. I am sure that did not make the 5 boats happy but it was not my call.

We did get to the lock in about 1/2 hour or less and he locked the 8 boats thru.  The weather was clear and about 55 with hardly a breeze.  It took a little while for the sun to burn off a little bit of river fog.

2 of the boats took off when the lock doors were opened because they wanted to make Demopolis for the evening.  I sure they had no problem because it is only about 120 miles.

The day warmed nicely to the low 70’s and the sun was out all day.  We saw a few birds along the way.  Lenore thought she saw an eagle and there was an osprey and a couple of cranes.

The 2nd lock did not go as quick as the first lock.  We had to wait for over an hour while they locked down one tow and brought another tow up.  After we were locked down we caught up with the tow that had locked down.  He was at a narrow part of the river with 2 sharp bends in the river.  We crawled behind him waiting to get to the next straight portion of the river.  In the 2nd turn he slowed down and determined that the loaded barges were dragging on the river bottom so as he inched forward he let us pass.  Nice tow captain to let us go around like that.

Not much color down in this part of Mississippi.  Later in the day we did pass back into Alabama where tonight’s anchorage is.  We stayed here last year and it is a nice protected anchorage off the Tenn-Tom that has a boat ramp, picnic tables, restroom and a pretty good sized parking lot.  Last year Candy stirred up a hornets nest during her morning walk and we are not going to let that happen again.

There are 5 boats in the anchorage tonight and it could hold probably another 3 or so. We thought that there would be a lot of boats here but some went all the way and others stopped at anchorages closer to Columbus.  That was fine with us.

Tomorrow will be another early day, 7:30 or 8:00 so we can get into Demopolis at a reasonable time.  Good weather is forecast.