We left off with our arrIval at the famous or infamous Bobby’s Fish Camp. It is only a single dock about 120 feet long on the side of the river. The first three boats that arrive get to tie to the dock and everyone else ties to them. The advantage to early arrivals is they get a guarantee of shore power and the rest are catch as catch can. If there is an outlet left and if you have enough cable to reach it then you can plug in, but if your cord is too short or all outlets are taken, then you are out of luck unless your neighbor agrees for you to crank a generator and then only if your genset exhausts to the outside rather than between boats which could be dangerous for many reasons.
We were late and Cbay was rafted to an Ocean Alexander and 20 BUCK$ was rafted to us. I have an excess of power cable because the architect that owned our boat before was, as I have said before, overly cautious. His caution is paying off for us all the time. We have twin 50 amp power plugs. These are 125 volts each. They can be plugged in separately to a dock that has 50/125 plugs or if they have 50/250 then a splitter is used to plug to the dock and splits the power from 250 volts into two 125 volt legs. This set of cables weighs about 80 plus pounds. But if the power source is more than 50 feet away we have another 50 feet of 50/250 cable which weighs close to 100 pounds I guess. We have yet to use it but if we need it and don’t have it then we are out of luck, so we carry it. We were able to plug in. 20BUCK$ did not get to plug in but they have a power inverter that can keep them going overnight.
Old Bobby, the founder, died last year of cancer. He had long fought heart disease and kidney problems and it was all just too much. His daughter is trying to keep the place going and they have a small restaurant on premises that also serves the surrounding community but it was closed today.
We had a pretty good night until about 0230 when a passing tow on the river rocked our world with it’s wake and set all boats to bouncing. Luckily we used plenty of fenders( bumpers ) and suffered no damage though Jan leaped up and ran outside. It can be a little unnerving the first few times sort of like awakening in an earthquake.
Next morning we were socializing with new friends and one of them had a huge boat called a Florida Bay Coaster. These are sort of cult boats in a way. They look different than any other boat. This one was named “Irony” and was three stories high. There have been only about eleven of these made so far. All are different. “Irony” had a dog aboard named Buster who looked almost exactly like Petey on The Little Rascals when I was a kid. He even had the black eye for those who remember Petey. His owner said he did not bite and was just playful. Famous last words because the thing bit me on the back of my left hand. I take a blood thinner called Plavix and started bleeding like a stuck hog. I had to immediately seek the first aid kit. I hope that Buster was up on his shots. I did not ask and Jan kept apologizing to the owner as if I had bitten the dog instead of the other way around. Maybe I should have titled this blog “Man Bites Dog”.
We cast off at 0715 and by 0745 we were in the very special Coffeeville Lock. Special because when you come out at the bottom you are finally at sea level or virtually so and you will see no more locks until you reach the Dismal Swamp in Virginia. Hooray!
Today we saw many interesting things. We passed Lover’s Leap where supposedly someone jumped to their death after romance gone bad. We passed a ghost marina called Lady Bug Marina where once upon a time there lived three goats named Butthead, Bambi and Billy. They would greet all new arriving boats and demand to be petted before letting people up the steps from the dock. In a storm Butthead fell in the Tombigbee River and drowned. Bambi grieved for him and died shortly thereafter, and within a year Billy just lay down and died probably of loneliness. Goats are very communal creatures. The family that owned the marina was so distraught they moved away and floods destroyed the old docks. They say if you go by real slow you may hear a mournful baaaaaa. It’s possible.
We covered about 65 miles and came to Bate’s Lake anchorage. A Great White Heron was standing in the entrance. Not a good sign because if it can stand there, the channel is likely silted up and big boats cannot get through to the lake to anchor. Ken dropped his dinghy and motored in to investigate while we idled in the river. Did I mention it was pouring rain and he got soaked. There was only 2 feet of depth at the entrance so this was not for us.
We went another half mile to the Alabama River cutoff which has some stumps at the entrance but was passable because three other boats were already in there . It is very narrow and tricky to get in but we did it.
After we tied up I saw something trying to swim across the channel. It was Bambi! No, not the goat but a yearling dear that still had the spots of a fawn. One would not think deer with those skinny legs could swim well but they are good swimmers, except this one was so small and he was confused. What had happened to it’s mother I do not know but she could have left it bedded down and went to forage and something scared it off the bed. Later in the night I heard a wildcat scream on the side the deer had jumped in from so that may explain it. Anyway, all the anchored boats must have confused it because it would get almost to the opposite shore and turn around and swim toward a boat, then realize it could not get aboard and swim for another boat. We became concerned that it would tire and drown. I took the camera and flashed it to frighten it away and it worked. It turned away from the light and headed in the right direction and climbed out. What a relief! And this time I have pictures to prove it.
We had grilled steaks and pork chops aboard 20BUCK$ and they were great. Everyone turned in early and it is quiet as a tomb except for that wildcat somewhere upriver. I pray no drunk bass boat driver comes flying through here tonight and hits one of us. It has happened before.
Tomorrow if the fog lifts early and the storm winds in Mobile Bay settle down we will be in saltwater and another type adventure awaits. Naval ships, cruise ships, cargo vessels and oil tankers abound in the ship channel there. We will be a small fish in a very big pond. Until then…