The Fleet is forming up again

Demopolis Yacht Basin is a gathering point or perhaps bottleneck on the Loop for several reasons. It is the absolute last place to have any work done on a boat for the next 237 miles. It is the only marina period for the next 237 miles until Mobile, the only town with Walmart and restaurants, and the only really reliable fuel stop between here and Mobile. So people naturally tend to settle in here for awhile to take on fuel and supplies and make any repairs necessary. Then when they get ready to go they do so in packs. And based on daylight available and limited speeds of most big boats there are not enough anchorages to accomodate all of them.

It will take most of these boats 4 full days running to make Mobile Bay. We plan to do it in three. A fleet of 8 boats gathered tonight to celebrate a birthday and plan these next crucial days. The weather looks good with just a bit of rain. We have one lock tomorrow and one on either the third or fourth day. It will be twisting oxbows and heavy barge traffic every day and big ships for the last 15 miles in Mobile Bay.

We will be up at 0500, moving by 0530 and at the lock by 0600. Once through, we will move ahead of the slower boats and try to run at some higher speed for a couple of hours to buy some daylight later. Then when we reach the first available anchorage at 71 miles we will assess our situation. If we have enough light to run another 2 1/2 hours then we will go to the only other anchorage and be set for a three day run. If not, we stop at the first anchorage and it adds a day. We can live with either. We had already run 91 miles to get to Demopolis with two hours in the fog. Tomorrow we will be starting an hour and half earlier, have one less lock and hopefully no fog. Should be apiece of cake.

Now to tell the rest of the story that so many of you have written to ask about.

We arrived off Demopolis Yacht Basin on Saturday at 1715. We had previously called and were told to call again upon arrival at this point. Radio contact was made with an individual different than the one we previously spoke to. We asked were there any problems with entering the harbor as this was our first time. No, just come on in and when you see the two sailboats on the end of a dock come around the end and turn into the second slip and I will be available to catch a line. No-one said if you do not kiss that last sailboat as you turn that you will go aground. Within a minute we were out of depth and churning mud . I swung the stern out to put water under the props and the bow went aground. Full reverse to try and unstick us and this mouth breathing idiot on the dock is saying, “Mister, I wouldn’t go much further over there because it gets mighty shallow!”

As I got in the slip he caught two lines, quickly tied them and took off as I climbed down from the flybridge with blood in my eyes. He never told us the gate code,never told us where anything was and disappeared. The office was supposed to be open until 1800 so I headed over and arrived at 1740. Locked up tighter than Dick’s hatband. When I found a security guard later he said something must have gotten into him because he lit out early.

Today I cleaned out handfuls of mud from my raw water strainers . I went to take on fuel and advised the manager of what had happened on Saturday and she was very apologetic and and was particularly concerned that he had closed the office early. They suggested that I run the boat out into the river and run a mile or so upstream at power to see if the props were still balanced. We did and they seem fine. We took on fuel and pumped out waste. Jan and I did this unassisted and it was the most efficient stop we have had so far. If you want it done right…

There will be no pictures for several days until we reach Mobile. I will add them in when I can. Please be patient.