Sunday, October 30, 2016

10/30 Demopolis to Mobile Bay back in salt water

Demopolis is the last vestige of civilization until Mobile.  At Demopolis, everyone talks about where the best anchorages are along the way.  One of the staff at the Demopolis Marina, had gone out and sounded the Bashi Creek Anchorage and posted it in boaters lounge.  Because we were planning a stop there, I took a picture to help us at the end of the day. 

The Demopolis Lock is less than 2 miles away from the Marina.  David on Miss My Money coordinated a group to leave at first light.  He talked to the lock master and everyone was set to pull out, when.... a tow popped up on AIS.  Tows always take precedence over pleasure crafts going through the lock.  So, we made more coffee.  Everyone was up and ready to go so there was a lot of visiting on the docks for the next hour and a half.   When we heard from the lock master that we could approach the lock, David coordinated getting the faster boats in first.  The boats that had planned to go later now got going with us too.  We filled the lock with looper flags.

The BWTW, the Black Warrior Tombigbee Waterway, slowly turns more and more brackish.  It becomes tidal but the tide is not really noticeable.  John had his eyes out and spotted the first alligator swimming to the side of the river. 
Many of our companion boats had great alligator sightings.  The river is still narrow here with cliffs and rolling hills on the sides.
It was a long day as we did 61 miles and three locks to the Bashi Creek Anchorage.  While it was narrow, there was a sailboat already in it and Time Out and the Hydrophilic fit snugly in there too.  It was hot dogs and beans for supper.  Dark came quickly and the stars were out.  It was cooling off at night, which was good for sleeping.

The next morning was chilly and there was fog on the river too. 
We started the day in jeans, hats and gloves and ended the days in shorts and short sleeve shirts.  There was no cell phone service.  Neither John nor I had service.  Occasionally, we would see a bar or two but it would quickly lapse.   Our first decision was to go 26 miles to Bobby's Fish Camp or  92 miles and one lock to the Alabama River Cutoff Anchorage.  Bobby's is famous because it is the only non-anchorage stop until Mobile.  Bobby's is known for having a face dock that will accommodate 4 boats.  If more boats come, they must raft up to the other boats.  The kicker is that the boats that raft up pay the same price as those on the dock, but have no electricity.  Also the area does not offer wave protection from the tows.  The restaurant there is open Thursday to Sunday and serves catfish.
We knew we were looking at a long day and left our anchorage at first light.  As we passed Bobby's, Dan on Time Out commented that if we stopped it would be for brunch, so we kept going.   We went went through our final lock on the Tombigbee.  There will be more locks between here and home but none of the big Army Corps of Engineer Locks that accommodate tows.   It was dusk as we pulled into the Alabama River Cutoff.  This was the best anchorage we had been in on the Tombigbee.  It was wide, deep and protected from the wind.  We set a stern anchor to keep us straight in the anchorage.  We could see the tidal changes in the river now.  But 92 miles makes for a long day.  We grilled Italian sausages and had them with pasta.  Once again the sky was beautiful and we slept with the windows open.

Finally, it was Friday and we awoke to fog and the narrow BWTW.  The fog cleared though.
The narrowness of the river was about to change.  We were 67 miles from Mobile Bay and our plan to head for Dog River Marina. We headed down the river.  The river had many twists and turns still.  Here is what it looked like on our chart.
One could go around the bend and be less than 1/2 mile from where you started.  We began to see more sand on the shore.
The river was running faster and became the Mobile River.  Finally, we saw palm trees on shore. 
 We began to see industry again like this big steam and steel plant. 
As the river widened, we saw all sorts of AIS indicators ahead.  Each one of those triangles is a ship.
There were very new, sleek and powerful looking Navy vessels being built.
We saw this working platform hanging off the side of one ship. 
This purple hulled ship was appropriately named the Gigantic.  Most of those cranes are on the ship.
Ocean going vessels were here too.  In this picture of the ocean going Autoliner, you can see the tow with barges on the right for perspective. 
The city of Mobile beckoned us forward.

And finally, we entered Mobile Bay.  It was about 2 in the afternoon.  The sun glistened on water.  The bay was filled with dolphin coming to check on us.  The shrimp boats were trawling back and forth.  Most of all the aroma of the ocean was intoxicating.  I was so excited to be back in salt water.

Dog River Marina was our stop for the night.  The crew from Diva Di welcomed us as cruised into our dock space.  Not quite time to relax just yet.  Our front eisinglass zipper blew out and John called the canvas lady so she could come to the boat and get it.  We are going to get work done on our chart plotter at Turner Marina and John made sure we were on for that.  We had been traveling these long days with Dan and Jean from Time Out.  They would be leaving the next morning, so we headed out to dinner.  When you stay here, they give AGLCA reciprocal privileges at the Mobile Yacht Club.  It was founded in 1847, making it one of the oldest in the country.   It is just a short walk there too.  The food and the company was excellent!  The shrimp was very fresh.

Saturday, we started in with boat cleaning.  We helped Time Out cast off their lines.  Then we moved the boat less than a mile to Turner Marina where they will do our Raymarine work and we will get an oil change.  It was afternoon, as I was checking into Turner and heard our friends, Tom and Carolynn, on Su Sueno call to Dog River for their dock space.  When John took a nap, I walked over to Dog River to see them.  They are staying a few days to rest up from the rivers too.  For dinner last night, we went back to the yacht club and I had the best fried oysters I have ever had.

John got this picture of the sunrise here this morning.  It is just that nice. 
The courtesy car here broke down on Thursday and is in the repair shop, so we rented a car today.  That was good because we went to church, got some things at Home Depot and picked up some medications at CVS.  We had lunch at a Five Guys.  You know how they have signs about their burgers winning best burger in some city or another.  Imagine how we laughed when we saw this?
I really love the breezes off the bay here.  It is warm but the breezes make it bearable.  I told John I could live here and he could come visit.

Lat 30 degrees 34.02 North
Long 88 5.26 West

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