Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is This a Boat, or a Roller Coaster?

So the weather outside is frightful.  Not really, but it's been a rough few days.  We ended up staying in Mobile a day longer than we'd hoped.  But the water was rockin' and rollin', and we didn't want to get out in that mess!  So we stuck around another day.  Good choice. 

We left the marina Sunday.  Conditions weren't ideal, but they were as good  as we were going to get until probably Thursday.  It was our only chance to get out of there, and we had to take it!  So we headed on out into the bay.  Not bad.  Wind on our nose (headwind, big surprise there!), but the waves weren't bad.  We got out to the main channel and turned south.  At this point, the wind was coming at us from the side.  Waves on the beam make for a very rolly ride.  And they weren't all straight on the side; they came from all over the place.  So we were rocking and rolling left and right, up and down, what the heck is going to hit us next.  It wasn't dangerous.  Just really uncomfortable.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to use the bathroom when you can hardly stay on the seat?  Too much info, maybe, but you get the point.  Besides, everyone pees, get over it.
Yep, crazy wavy out there.  But our boat is awesome!  Handles it no problem!  We were even making good time, going 5.5 to 6 mph with the wind on the beam.  Nice.  Mom and Dad found a shortcut, so we took that and headed east.  This brought the wind back in our faces, and the waves, too.  The wind has been in our face the entire trip, so why stop now?  These waves were sometimes pretty big, so we saw lots of sky-water-sky-water-splash!  We have discovered that when we go straight into big enough waves, the boat slows way down when we crash down.  Only when we get the big SPLOOSH sound, though.  Otherwise, we maintain speed okay.  So we had lots of this on-the-nose wind and waves and rough ride and splash-in-our-faces and... You get the point.  It was tiresome.  But eventually, we came close enough to the eastern shore that we were more sheltered from the wind.  And that was pretty nice.  So we headed down the eastern shore toward the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway, you can google it). 
And then we were on the ICW!  Clearly marked, nicely sheltered, not beating us to death grumpiness.  I could dig this ICW thing.  Dad had talked about how protected it is, how even in crappy weather the water conditions are pretty good.  I could get used to this.  Finally, after 8 very long hours, the day was done, and we anchored in Wolf Bay.  And we had a gorgeous sunset to end a miserable day.

The forecast for Monday wasn't great, but Tuesday was worse.  We couldn't stay where we were because it wasn't sheltered enough.  So the folks found an anchorage 32 miles away that looked promising.  Could we make 32 miles?  Hadn't planned on it, but sure.  So we headed out.  (We would have left earlier if we'd known it was going to be such a long day, but we were planning for a short one and slept in a little.)  Wind in our faces (yep, that old headwind again), but it wasn't cold.  We could handle this.  Just as we were about to turn a corner, we saw a dolphin!  I was so excited, I squealed!  I freaking love those things!  So awesome!  It was a nice treat.  As the day went on, the wind stayed in our faces.  But we were in good spirits, because it wasn't cold.  Then we got to Pensacola Bay.  When first coming into Pensacola Bay, there is a section where you're exposed to the Gulf of Mexico. 
View Larger Map 
See that gap there between Fort McRee and Fort Pickens?  Big waves come in from the Gulf right there.  Big ones!  On the beam.  Remember when I told you about waves on the beam before?  Yep, these were big rolly ones.  Which, oddly enough, are a little easier to take than choppy waves.  You just go up and down instead of getting jerked one way and then another.  Recap: big rolling waves are more awesome than big choppy waves.  It was actually pretty fun.  Kinda like a roller coaster ride!  But on a boat.  And therefore a little wetter.  And then there were waves coming straight on that sort of piled on top of the rollers.  So it was really like a roller coaster!  Except you're not strapped in.  Trevor's parents: don't read too much into that part.  We were totally safe.  Heck, Trevor was actually inside for this part.  See?  I'm taking good care of him.  And we've been wearing our life jackets.  Just in case.  Wait, not just in case.  They're just there to keep us warm.  And we look fashionably salty in them.  Not helping my case, so moving on.
Once we were past the big rollers, we had just waves on the nose.  Not terrible, but starting to get uncomfortable.  Copious amounts of splashing.  I'd wipe my glasses, then get splashed again 10 seconds later.  A battle of futility, but I refused to give up.  A smudgy view is better than a spotty one.  Oh, and we saw dolphins again.  Yay!  "Trevor, DOLPHINS! Eeeee!"  Did I mention that I like them?  Because I do.  Cheered us up for a little while.  But then we still had wind and waves and waves and wind, and we were tired of it. 
Hey, here's another map.

View Larger Map
See that bridge that says 399?  We finally made it under that bridge.  This was the home stretch.  And the waves just got bigger.  Which means we were going slower.  And were getting crankier.  "How are you doing?"  "Oh, I'm just ready to be out of this.  You?"  "Yep, I'm over these waves.  Ready to be done for the day."  Eventually, we made it to the anchorage.  See where it says "Sea Shore Village"?  That's where we anchored.  It was not so sheltered as we hoped.  We were sheltered from the waves.  But that wind came roaring across the sand dunes and blew us around all night.  See how close we were to the Gulf of Mexico?  Serious windage.  That tiny spit of land did nothing to break the wind.  We would swing over to the right, and there are the hotels in the starboard window.  Then we'd swing over to the left, and there are those hotels in the port window!  Swinging 180 degrees, but so fast.  It was unreal.  The anchor was solidly set, so we weren't in any danger.  But we did not sleep well last night.  The anchor line creaking and groaning, the halyards flapping against the mast, and an assortment of other unpleasant-sounding noises.  Just unrestful. 
This morning we woke up to some calmer breeze.  We knew it was just a matter of time before it kicked up again.  Today's forecast called for strong southern winds shifting to north winds and thunderstorms.  This was not a day for cruising.  Mom and Dad found a marina 3 miles back, and we made a run for that.  We got here around 9:00 this morning, and the marina is closed.  What does this mean to us?  Free dockage!  We like not paying for things.  And we even have electricity.  Bonus!  Oh, here's another map to show where we are.  (I learned a new cool thing on google maps, and I don't have any pictures from the last few days because we didn't want to get our cameras wet in the messy weather, so you get maps.)

View Larger Map
See where it says 399?  That little marina is where we are tied up.  Pretty cool, huh?  I like this map thing.  Don't worry, once it's safe to take cameras in the cockpit, you'll get pictures again. 
Oh yeah, the rest of the day.  At one point (maybe around 1:00 or 1:30), we were standing on the dock.  The wind was blowing from the south, like it had been.  Suddenly I noticed it was blowing from the east.  "Hey Dad, did you notice the wind shift?"  And then temperature droppped.  10-15 degrees in a matter of seconds.  It was amazing!  Then the rain moved it.  It's been raining off and on since.  So glad to be in a marina!
It's supposed to move out tonight, so tomorrow's travels depend entirely on the wind.  We're hoping to get out of here in the morning and head to Ft Walton Beach.  We'll see! 

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Few Boring Days Would Be Nice

Excitement today!

First, the weather made a dramatic change for the worse. We slept with the windows open and a fan on last night because it was so warm. Got up this morning, and it was still nice and warm. The forecast called for a cold front to move through during the night, but it was a little slow approaching. I poked my head outside and told Trevor it was warm enough for shorts. Then the wind shifted. Within a matter of minutes, the front moved in, and the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees. It was windy, choppy, and rainy all day. We'll be sleeping with the down comforter tonight, and our space heater is running. Weather in the south is just crazy.

With this fun weather change, you can imagine how psyched I was to dive in the water and check out the damage from yesterday's sea monster encounter. Trevor talked to a couple of marina guys about where the nearest dive shop is. 15 miles away. And it still involved me going in the water. But, they said, we can haul it out for $6 a foot and you can work on it while it's hanging there. Yes, a $10 scuba tank is considerably cheaper than $162 haulout, but it wouldn't involve me diving in strong current, wind, and waves. Not to mention we were making a huge assumption about what was wrong. We were pretty sure it was a bent prop, and we were hoping the shop here would have a replacement. But there were no guarantees about either of those things. If it turned out to be something worse, we'd have to get the boat hauled anyway. Plus, we could have a look at things while the boat was out of the water and feel a little more confident about our repair. So, we decided to spend the extra money for a dry Captain and a little peace of mind.

However, I had to drive the boat over to the lift first. Normally, this would be cake. But there were a couple of things working against me. First, there's a bloody lot of wind, waves, and current dragging me around. I'm pretty good at driving the boat, so this wouldn't be a big problem. Except when you have a bum propeller, the boat doesn't have the power and maneuverability it normally does. Didn't think about that one.

So we untied the boat and shoved off the dock. The wind took us. And pushed us around like we were nothing. I tried and tried to steer, tried forward and reverse. But I had hardly any control over the thing. We were hurtling sideways toward another dock. Oh crap. We were gonna hit. Hard. But then the Dread Pirate Trevor saved the day! He got on the front of the boat where we were going to take the brunt of the force, and just as we were about to hit, he used his mighty might to keep us off! Amazing! Then the boat swung around, and we were lucky to have a fender right where the boat hit the dock. Hoorah! Catastrophe averted! Trevor is a hero! Bring on the fanfare. Oh wait, we were only now able to go forward. Yay, forward.

I drove the boat over toward the lift. Well, the lift is at the end of a really narrow ditch. Okay, it's bigger than a ditch, but only a little. And again, the wind pulled me around. And the boat had so little power with the busted up prop that I could barely maneuver into the cove. I don't know how I did it, but I managed to get us in. Fortunately, the wind died once we got in there, so it was a little easier. Yay, we were at the lift!

The lift is a funny thing. It's just a couple of heavy duty (really heavy duty) straps that go under the boat. The the lift operator cranks them up, keeping them even, and lifts the boat right out of the water. Seeing the boat in a sling is a really weird thing.

Doesn't that look weird?

Anyway, Dad was there to help. While Trevor and I were staring at how sad our boat looked just hanging there, Dad wandered over to look at the prop. You know, the whole reason for the ordeal. Well, he started laughing. Laughter is a wonderful sound when you've had a full day to think about how horribly broken the boat might be. So we wandered down. And this is what we saw.

"But what the heck is that?" you ask. What the heck indeed. Some kind of plastic bag. But not your run-of-the-mill cheap plastic grocery bag. No, this was a shrimp boat salt bag. Designed to hold 50 pounds of salt and not tear or break in rough seas or when kicked by a deck hand or nibbled by birds. Heavy duty plastic. And our boat did not like chewing on it. You can see how twisted and tangled that thing is. It's a miracle we made it into the marina at all yesterday. And a super-awesome-crazy miracle I didn't wreck the boat trying to drive it today. Came uncomfortably close, but didn't wreck it. (Did I mention Trevor is a hero? Because he is.)

And the propeller is okay. Not bent or dinged or even scratched. So no repairs necessary! Here I am being relieved there's no serious damage.

And here's a picture of what the bag looked like once we got it off.

And here's the boat looking a little exhausted from the whole ordeal. Notice the tilt. But Dad was giving it dad-like reassurance that everything was okay.

So with the boat in good working order again, we put it back in the water. In a tight maneuvering space, I handled it like a pro (if I do say so myself). Amazing what a working propeller will do. Such a difference! And I needed that extra oomph. We brought the boat back to our transient spot, circled around to point into the wind. And the wind was ripping through there. I'm normally a very slow docker. I like to ease in so if I run into the dock, nothing gets hurt. Well, there was no slow to it this time. The wind was pushing me backwards toward Mom & Dad's boat. So I put the hammer down and slid the boat right in. Pretty nice driving. Go me! And my handy docking crew of Dad and Trevor were awesome, too!

It was a good day! No, a great day! I didn't have to go swimming. The boat is okay. We have groceries. I installed a new bilge pump. Trevor did laundry. Delicious spaghetti for dinner. Oh, and pizza for lunch. Couldn't ask for more. Except maybe some good weather so we can get out of Mobile! We may be stuck here tomorrow, too. We'll see what happens.

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dragons, Giants, and Sea Monsters: A Thanksgiving Tale

So the day started out like any other. I was awake, sun was coming up, but I wasn't ready to crawl out of bed yet. So Trevor got up to make coffee. But then he was distracted by the sunrise.

You can see why. It's amazing!
So I was still in bed, and I heard Trevor clunking around on the boat. Right up over my head. Clunk clunk, squeak. What the? Then he came and told me he had to get in the dingy. Why? The plan was to drop it by the parents' boat when we left. Then he got across my sleep-befuddled mind that there was a log stuck on our anchor line, and he was going to use the dinghy to get it off. Ah okay, that makes some sense. So I get dressed and wander outside to watch. Well, this log was no mere log. It was huge! A dragon-log! (Seriously, lots of those semi-submerged logs look like alligators. So a big one is a dragon, right? My logic makes sense.) When I say this thing was huge, it wasn't just a log (or dragon-log), but an entire freakin' tree! We estimate that it was about 25 feet long, and perfectly balanced on the anchor line. Very awkward. And the current was pretty strong coming out of the bayou (ebb tide in full force). So it was solidly pushed back against the anchor line and thus against the boat. Trevor mounted his mighty steed (the dinghy) and lassoed the tail of the dragon (skinny end of the tree). Tried to pull the log off with the dinghy, but it was too heavy, the current too strong, the angle too awkward, and the dinghy too dinky. So I was on the front of the boat giving moral and logistical support (no damsel in distress, more of a danger damsel). He tossed me the other end of the rope so I could try to pull at it from a sturdier place. Couldn't budge the thing. The anchor line seemed to be caught on a knot on the underside of the log. So Trevor got back on the boat and used his mighty might to yank the log off the anchor line and off to the side. Then the log just came alongside the boat, because, of course, we had it tied to a rope. Tried to untie the rope, but it's really hard (impossible) to untie a knot when there's pressure on it. So we cut it. Might have lost 2 feet of rope at most. A fair price to pay for freedom!
The rest of pulling up anchor was uneventful. The dinghy pass-off went well, too.
So off we went down the river toward Mobile. On our way we passed a log drifting downstream that looked an awful lot like our dragon.

Rather frightful, isn't it?
We passed some very lovely scenery.

And Mobile itself started to unfold before our eyes.

Pretty neat, huh? It got even more impressive when we started down the industrial section. Look at all the cranes in the distance!

Fortunately, we passed through on Thanksgiving Day. Normally, this place would be hopping! Wall-to-wall boats, barges, tugs, and who knows what else. Very busy. It was intimidating enough for a little boat like ours to go through the land of giants on a sleepy day; I can't imagine a normal busy one. Today, we only saw a few boats moving around. Hooray holidays!
And the boats! Boy, they were big! Those big oil tankers and stuff you see pictures of? So much bigger than you think they are. Made us feel very very small. Because we are very small.

See that tiny tugboat in the last picture. That thing dwarfs our boat. We're so little!
And there were giant cranes, too! Huge, hulking monsters waiting on a train car to pick up and toss on a pile of other train cars. Machinery not to be messed with.

You get the idea. It was big and impressive going through the industrial area.
Oh yeah, we even saw a Navy ship. It was parked, but still really cool.

Then we got to Mobile Bay!

The biggest, most wide-open body of water I've had my boat on. The waves weren't too bad. It was a little bumpy for a while, but nothing serious. Then a barge passed by going the other way. Then a barge passed us. Things got a little rougher after the second barge. The wind picked up a little, and the barge waves added to the wind waves to make a really bumpy ride. But it was nothing we hadn't seen on the Tennessee River. Frankly, we saw bigger waves in Decatur, and definitely got the crap beat out of us more at Browns Ferry. So the waves were no problem. The wind even slacked off after a little while. Smooth sailing (so to speak, we were motoring). It was funny to see seagulls and other assorted fowl hitching rides on the barges. Lazy things. There were also a couple of fishing boats out there. Man, the birds flocked around them, hoping to get an easy meal. We even saw a dolphin!!! It was awesome!
We got to the point where the channel heads into Dog River (where we aimed to stay a couple of nights). The channel markers are pretty far apart at first, but we stayed in the channel just fine. Good captaining, I say. After a couple of turns, they get easier to see. So we're chugging along, ready to get off the water, when there's a huge THUNK! that shudders the boat and the motor slows and almost dies. We look behind us and see black in the water, coming out of our boat! There's also a pretty noticeable shake in the tiller. We hit something. And hard. Sea monster! I'm sure of it! (Possibly could have been a submerged log or something, but a sea monster is way cooler.) We managed to limp into the harbor and get tied up. The motor seems to be running okay; the black stuff isn't spurting out anymore. But there's definitely a wobble. With any luck, it's nothing but a bent propeller. Not cheap, but it could be way worse. I'll be getting in the water tomorrow (oh joy) to check it out.


But the day turned awesome after that. We had showers! Always a good thing.
And my friend London came over with her hubby Christian and son Sammy. Christian cooked us awesome arepas for dinner! Never had them before, and they were delish! Who needs turkey on Thanksgiving? Not me. Mashed potatoes and gravy? Well, those would have been nice, I'll admit, and maybe some pumpkin pie. A little green bean casserole wouldn't hurt either. Oh right, arepas... Super yum! And it was so great to see my BFF London! Mom and Dad are having serious grandkid withdrawal, so they had a great time playing with Sammy. And Christian saved the day with a scrumptious dinner. What a great night!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So Close to Mobile!

Captain here. Sorry it's been so long since an update, but we've been out in the middle of nowhere, and internet has been scarce.
We have been hauling ass down the river this week! Our shortest day was the first one out of Demopolis, and that was 30 miles. The rest have been 40+ mile days. We've anchored twice on the side of the river. The first one was shallow (depthfinder showed 3-4 feet, which made me nervous), but turned out okay. The next night, we rafted together on the side of the river. Five tugs came by us and a couple of them rocked us pretty hard. Adventure! So there were 2 restless nights in a row. Yesterday, we passed by 7 barges! And it was a really curvy section of river, so things were a little tense a couple of time. "Whoa, there's a barge!" Then we'd call them and duck out of their way. Sometimes we'd go right where the told us to, and it would look like they were aiming for us! But then they'd make their turn, and we'd be safe. But it's enough to make one uncomfortable. I'm just sayin'.
The problem with going so long between blogs is that I don't remember what happened. Or at least when they happened. Chronological order is a challenge.
We've got fishing boats circling around us, yelling things. These bayou rednecks are extra crazy. Cue the banjo!
That wasn't very nice. I get cranky when I'm hungry, and it's almost dinner time. Yay dinner!
Speaking of dinner, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This is going to be the strangest Thanksgiving I've ever had. Mom isn't in the middle of making her 8-10 pumpkin pies. There's not a giant turkey in the fridge. The normal huge family dinner isn't happening. Well, my brothers and their families are doing Thanksgiving, but
we're not going to be there! And Mike is cooking the turkey in Mom's place. So weird. However, my BFF London is down here in Mobile, so I'll get to see her tomorrow. She threatened to cook dinner for us tomorrow night, since her family is doing big Thanksgiving Friday. She's so awesome! Can't wait to see my BFF!
We'll be in a marina the next 2 nights, possibly 3 (depends on the weather Saturday). That means showers! And internet! I love marinas, love them. But they cost money. So we don't stay in them any more than we need to.
And we're almost to salt water! Salt water! We're in brackish water right now, a mixture of salt and fresh water. It's a little less muddy than the water we've been in the last 3 weeks. You can almost see a whole foot down! Can't wait to get to clear water, where you can see the bottom, even if it's 10, 20, 30 feet down! So excited!
I feel like I've babbled. That's okay. Maybe I'll have more order to my thoughts in my next blog. I was hoping to post pictures, but our internet is too slow tonight. Tomorrow, there will be pictures!

Friday, November 19, 2010

We're in Demopolis!

Captain here. I meant to blog last night, but my computer was being cranky. So now I'm blogging at 8 in the morning. How crazy is that? Also, it's my birthday! 28 years old. I give myself the best birthday presents sometimes. 18th birthday: bought a car. 24th birthday: bought a boat. 28th birthday: sailed away on the boat! I'm so good to myself sometimes.

So where did I leave off last? We were rained in. The next morning, we woke up to fog. So we waited a while to take off. Had some trouble starting the engine. Squirted some WD-40 in it a few times, and that worked. Once the engine is started, it runs fine. We're still troubleshooting. Then down the river we went! Also passed the dinghy back to Mom & Dad, so we were scooting down the river again. Amazing how much that thing slowed us down. Dad didn't think it would have any effect, but he's been proven wrong. Mom & Dad caught up with us just in time to go through Heflin Lock. We intended to anchor in an offshoot right after the lock, but neither of us could get the anchor to set. Rocky or something. So we went downriver, looking for a decent place to anchor on the side of the river. And then it rained. Cold rain blown right in our faces! No fun. But it cleared, and there was a gorgeous sunset! None of us were quite up for taking pictures of the sunset, though, because we were desperately trying to find a place to stop for the night before dark. And after the sun goes down, it gets dark fast! Finally, we settled on a spot to try. I crept in toward shore, with the depth finder telling me everything was okay. So we anchored there. It was a little uncomfortable for a while; none of us had much confidence in our anchor set, but it turned out okay. A few barges passed in the night, but they didn't rock us around much. So all was well. Trevor and I ate mac & cheese with chili. Yum!

Wednesday morning, we woke up to water dripping on us. Not from rain, but condensation. So much condensation! Looked outside, and there was thick fog. Very thick fog!

The fog lifted around 9:00. We had to use WD-40 to start the engine again. Then we took off ahead of Mom & Dad. A couple of miles down, we passed the White Cliffs of Epes! Sounds pretty dramatic, right? They are unexpectedly awesome! I took tons of pictures.

I thought they were pretty cool. So we chugged on down the river, like we do. Came to our anchorage around 2:15. Turned on the depth finder. The cruise guide said it was 10-15 feet inside, but shallower at the entrance. Didn't say what that the actual depth might be. So we eased in, the depth creeping up slowly. Finally got to 6 feet, and I was a little uneasy. But then it dropped back to 7, 8, 10. Alright! So we anchored there, and it was pretty. We took the dinghy and rowed to shore. Our first beach!

Not exactly the Corona commercial Trevor was looking for. But it was solid ground for the first time in a week, so we were happy! Look how happy he is in that picture! (The beer might be helping that, too.) Also, we found a cool trail through bamboo. Check it out!

And did I mention the anchorage was pretty?

Woke up yesterday morning to some rain, but not much. Engine started first try. No idea why. Then we headed the last 10 miles to Demopolis. So happy to get here! Got some fuel, took some showers (yay!!!), did some grocery shopping, and ate dinner. Twice. Life is good.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rained In Today, but Less than 300 miles to Mobile!

Captain here again. Can't remember where we left off, so I'll work backwards.

We haven't done much of anything today. It was a rainy, miserable day. Because our boat is open cockpit, we would have been out in it all day if we'd gone down the river. So we decided to stay here, since the anchorage is nice and secure and quiet. We read quite a bit (I finished Robinson Crusoe), I had a nap, and we played Phase 10 with the folks. Pretty lazy day. Except for the epic battles with the leaks! Woke up around 5:00 this morning to drips of water hitting my pillow. We tightened the windows hoping to keep the water out, but that didn't do much good either. When we finally got up around 7:30, we went to work figuring out what was going on. For the window on my side in the v-berth, there was a seam in the gasket that's on the bottom. And water was coming in here. So I pulled the gasket out and turned it around. Then I put Vaseline on all of the gaskets, hoping to make a more watertight seal. Seemed to work! There hasn't been a drip from my window since this morning. I'm calling it a win. And we've got leaks in other places, too. We're not sure where all of them are coming from, so we'll just keep gooping up the possibilities with caulk until we have a dry boat. This process could take months. Keeps us busy, though. Right?

I was going backward, so this brings us to yesterday. Went through a lock. Again. Moseyed down the river for a while, then caught up with a barge. Usually the barges go faster than we do, but this section of the river was very curvy, so they had to slow down. The barge was going just slow enough for us to catch him, but just fast enough that we couldn't pass. And it was turbulent behind him! So we slowed down and followed farther behind. Finally got to our anchorage. Mom and Dad were already anchored happily. So we aimed for them, depth finder on. It was fine, 10 feet, 8. Then beep! beep! beep! 3, 2, 1 and bam! We ran aground! This boat never stops that fast! And we had so little warning, there was no avoiding it. Fortunately, there was a breeze strong enough to blow us right off the shoal. Depth went to 6 feet, then 8. Alright, we're back in business. Gave it a little throttle. 6, 2, 1, 0 beep! beep! beep! thud. Aground again. Can you believe that!? But the wind blew us off again. And we made it into the anchorage after that without incident. We tied up to the parents' boat, where we've been ever since. I'll admit, I'm not looking forward to getting out of here in the morning. I'm sure we'll be fine, but there will be that doubt and hesitation when we leave. If we run aground again, it'll just be embarrassing!

Still going backwards brings us back to Saturday. At one point, a sailboat passed us. When he went past, he called me on the radio. Just wanted to chat. Super friendly guy! Invited us for drinks if we ended up in the same anchorage that night. Unfortunately, we didn't make it that far, but I'm hoping we might catch up with them at some point. Also said when we get to Pensacola (where he's from), we should give him a call if we need a ride to the grocery store. Boat people are awesome! Made me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Saturday night, we anchored again. Once we were secure, I decided to row around on the dinghy. It was pretty there, so I wanted to explore. I'll leave you with some of those pictures.

Oh yeah! That cute picture of my parents on their boat reminds me. They have a blog, too! Here's the latest entry

Friday, November 12, 2010

First mates log. That means Trevor. This is my first post so I'll try to keep the grammatical errors to a minimum. We are currently at river mile 328.9 outside of Columbus, Mississippi. The past few days have been relatively uneventful and without incident. Without incident until the last hour. The last hour of the last two days has been stressful. Yesterday we tried to get into a great little cove that was highly recommended. The books stated that the entrance was deep enough for our boat. According to that pesky alarm that states things are shallow, they were wrong. We had our second brush with shallow ground. Today we had a little trouble with the last lock. That's all I will say about that. (By the way things on the boat don't give, your skull and skin however will.) I'm okay but moving on...
We are constantly learning and getting better at things. No one has been thrown over yet (i.ed. me) and we are still getting along. We took pictures the other day in order to give people a better idea of what we live and work in everyday but we haven't up loaded those pictures yet. So pay attention for those things coming down the line. See the problem is that not much has happened in the last two days so there's not much to report. But thanks for reading my ramblings and I promise next time the captain will have more to report.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Down the Tenn-Tom: Less Than 400 miles to Mobile!

Yesterday morning, we woke up to another foggy day. After the fog burned off, we headed out. It was decided that I would lead the way down, since my boat is slower and my depth finder works. That way, my parents won't leave us behind, and they won't run aground trying to anchor without us. That's the theory, anyway. :) So we started down the Tenn-Tom. We had almost 25 miles in a row of this:

It wasn't bad. I was told it was really ugly, so this was a pleasant surprise. But it did get a little boring. That boat in the picture is my parents' Off Our Rocker; they trailed us the whole day. Trevor spent the day reorganizing a lot of things. He's so good at that stuff! Maybe I'll take pictures of the inside of the boat soon, so you can see how we crazy people live.
Just before the first lock, we anchored. As I said, Trevor and I took the lead on this because we have a working depth gauge. Well, I found a pretty decent-looking place on the chart. Side note: the Tenn-Tom charts are horrible! The waterway is relatively new, so everything hasn't settled yet. So all the charts are really vague on what's below the water. There is no indication of depth anywhere. So I picked a wide-open, but sheltered space that looked promising. We headed that way, staring at the depth. It was nice and deep, 24 feet, 20 feet, 18 feet. The suddenly, it jumped to 6 feet, 5 feet, 4 feet. "Turn! Now!" I said. The depth finder beeps to say "Hey, don't know if you noticed, but it's pretty shallow here." It's hopping between 3 and 4 feet. My boat draws 3'3" (we say 3 1/2 feet to keep it simple). So we're on the verge of running aground. Luckily, our sailboat turns on a dime, so disaster was averted. Needless to say, that scared us out of that anchorage. So we went across the lake and anchored over there, in 20 feet of water. Here we are anchored!

Pretty anchorage:

Closer pictures of our boats:

Last night we ate dinner with the folks. Introduced Dad to the joys of steamed green beans (he loved them!). And we took control of the dinghy. Ha! First successful pirate mission! Dinghy for us! Now Trevor has somewhere to go when he gets in trouble. Bonus! Oh, and here's a picture Mom took of us learning how to drive the dinghy. We're so happy!

Today, we went through 3 locks! We went about 25 miles. Not very far, but with 3 locks, that's pretty good. We locked through with the same boats every time. Unfortunately for Peregrine (boat on the left in the picture below), our sailboat was slow, but the lockmaster waited for us every time. It was the same every time: Peregrine tied up on the port side, my parents in front of us, and me and Trevor bringing up the rear. Here's the picture:

And now we're anchored again. We'll go through another lock or two tomorrow. Mom's cooking dinner. Trevor's riding around on the dingy (turning on the anchor light and getting my pillow were his excuses, but he just wanted to play). Not bad at all.