|To: ALL Interested Parties
SMELLIN da ROSES, Part 2-v.
Thursday , 11 September. Judy called the lock master at the Whitten Lock, just a mile away, a little before 8:00 AM and he said that he would have the lock ready for us by the time we got there. We pushed away from the dock at 8:00 and 15 minutes later we were in the lock and on our way down. The Whitten Lock is the highest lift/drop on the Tenn-Tom and we descended down bound 84 feet. This is also the highest lock on the Americas Great Loop Cruise (our highest last year was the Carillon Lock on the Ottawa River at 63 feet). We traversed three locks today and cruised 20 miles. We made very good time, because the first lock master called ahead to the next two locks down stream, so they knew we were coming. We went right into the second lock with no wait and only had a 15 minute wait, for the third lock, to finish locking up a tow boat with 6 barges, before we could go into the lock.
With the floating bollards, locking is not as much work as locks which drop ropes from the top for you to hang onto. The Two J's like the system with cables from the top to the bottom of the lock which you hold onto with looped lines bow and stern, while the Marge's Barge prefers the single floating bollard. Perhaps it is because the Marge's Barge has a single mid ship cleat whereas the Two J's have two mid ship cleats for spring lines fore and aft which means they have more bow and stern play between their two cleats and a line around a single floating bollard.
We arrived at Midway Marina - mile marker 394 (which means that we have that many miles to go before we arrive at Mobile Bay on Alabama's Gulf coast). We took the courtesy van into the town of Fulton, MS to the Super Wall Mart for a few odds and ends. After dropping off our purchases at the boats, Howard, John and Judy went to visit the Tom Bevil Tenn-Tom Visitor's and Historical Center. A bit disappointing since many of the exhibit's videos were out of order, but hey at least we gave it a try - not to mention that there is precious little else to see or do!
We are often reminded about 911, not just today with the flags flying at half staff at the locks today, but also with several facilities no longer open for public visitation - fences built around the locks, adjacent parks closed, and workmen installing video cameras to monitor and record all comings and goings for homeland security purposes. Also this day last year was when the Two J's V went into winter storage - the Marge's Barge went into storage Sept. 10th. This year, we still have over 1000 miles to go - which will take another 45 days plus or minus.
Friday, 12 September. Our original plan for today was to go from Midway to Smithville marina which would have been 18 miles and two locks. We were ready to leave shortly before 8:00 AM and called the Fulton lock master to check on the status of the lock two miles away - he said, bring ëem on down and I'll be ready for y'all when ya get here. When we arrived at the lock 15 minutes later, the green light was on and we went right into the lock chamber and were out of the lock 15 minutes later. The lock master called ahead to tell the next lock master that we were on our way and when we arrived at the Wilkins lock the green light was on telling us to go right into the lock - 15 minutes later we were on our way again. When we were about 4-5 miles from the Amory lock, we heard a radio call from the lock master to the Marge's Barge asking our location and expected time of arrival at his lock. We told him about a 1/2 hour and he decided that since his lock was full, to wait for us and lock us down before bringing up another pleasure craft who was a little closer and traveling upstream. Once again - three locks in a row - we had no wait at all which is very unusual. When it was all said and done, we cruised 37 miles and are now at the Aberdeen Marina.
This is a nice new marina on the outskirts of Aberdeen, MS with two long docks for transient boaters; gas, diesel, a good store/deli with some food and a Lincoln Continental courtesy car (a little old and not everything works, but luxury compared to most). The narrow twisting channel into the marina is well marked with more than 50 red and green pipes sticking out of the water to guide skippers off the main channel and between the stumps to the marina docks.
In the Tenn-Tom, the lock masters respond well when boaters follow the prescribed procedures and protocol: (a) Notify the lock master that you wish to lock down stream (Southbound), (b) ask the lock master which side he wants you on, (c) enter the locks slowly and radio the lock master when your vessel is SECURE and wear your life jackets when locking through (mandatory), (d) notify the lock master when you are Clear of his lock, thank him for the locking through and wish him/her a good day. A little courtesy goes a long way and is appreciated!
Today was a nice cruise down the Tenn-Tom with mostly river scenery and a few wide spots with Cypress tree knee stumps on either side of the red nuns and green can markers which you must stay inside to avoid shallow water and/or stumps. The Two J's tried the single mid ship cleat wrap around the floating bollard (from their aft mid ship cleat) and it was much easier to lock through and control the fore and aft movement of the boat in this manner.
Saturday, 13 September. Left Aberdeen Marina at 8:30 AM and less than a mile later we were at the lock and got the green light to go right into the lock chamber (that is 4 in a row). By 11:30 AM we arrived at Columbus Marina in Columbus, MS. This is a 4 anchor marina with 30/50 electric, water, cable TV, shower & rest rooms, laundry, picnic and grilling area, email station, gas/diesel fuel and pump out station, etc. at 75 cents a foot.
Today was a beautiful day with little or no fog or haze and great river boating - a bit monotonous but still beautiful scenery. We saw lots of fishermen and a couple of water skiers and tubers having fun on the weekend. There was quite a down pour in the late afternoon, but then a beautiful sunset and a quite, peaceful night.
Sunday, 14 September. We are staying here in Columbus tonight and Monday night. We had planned on staying two nights, but since we still have things to do and are a couple of days ahead of our tentative plans we'll stay Monday and get caught up. Need to do some computer work (dig out the printer), write and send snail mail, go to the post office, do a couple loads of wash, and assorted other chores. And, most of all take a break to rest and relax after 7 straight days of cruising.
Monday, 15 September. It is a bright, sunny, cool and clear day. We will spend it doing some odd jobs, last minute grocery shopping, etc. The Two J's also plan to visit Waverly Mansion an antebellum mansion which played a big roll in the Civil War. We'll also send and receive Email from the marina office.
Unfortunately there is little or no digital-data cell phone service from here to Florida and it may in fact be sporadic until we reach the East coast of Florida. So, please be patient about receiving our logs. They may be spaced apart by several more days - even a week or more depending on availability of digital-data cell phone service and/or a land line hookup. At this marina, they have an Email station and only charge 20 cents a minute for long distance calls to ISP's that do not have Local or 800 numbers.
Tenn-Tom Trivia - The Tenn-Tom Waterway is actually a connector waterway between the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee River. It is 234 miles long from Yellow Creek to Demopolis and is divided into three sections (a) the Divide section which is 39 miles long, the Canal section which is 46 miles long and the River section which is 149 miles long. The waterway channel is between 280 to 300 feet wide and from 9 to 12 feet deep. The lakes are of course wider than 300 feet, but when the waterway land was cleared, the trees were cut above ground leaving the stumps to promote fish habitat versus safe coves for pleasure craft anchoring / boating.
TWO J's V -- John and Judy Gill
MARGE'S BARGE -- Howard and Maggie Daniels