Andy rested up and recovered from his cold. We were ready to get moving down the rivers. We had lots of miles still ahead of us and we just really wanted to get going. Our boat insurance won’t let us pass Demopolis Alabama until Nov 1st so our plan was to head that way and hope our timing was good. It was already Oct 22nd. We had lots of locks still ahead. Let’s get these done!! Locks, Locks, and more Locks. This lock was a doozy. It dropped 82 feet. It was the biggest, baddest one yet.
This picture was taken by a fellow looper Rick who flew his drone above the lock. You get a real perspective of just how large these locks are. They are built for commercial traffic and barges. The barges on this section were impressively large.
I wondered this morning as we left Aqua Yacht Harbor why I was feeling bittersweet. I am so ready to get through his next section of rivers and closer to the gulf. I wonder if other women felt the way I feel about these locks? Am I the only one who hates them? They are NOT hard at all. In these locks you simply tie your line to a Ballard and watch it lower, making sure the line stays secure. (Showed above). Really easy compared to the Erie Canal. It’s the waiting AND waiting. A lot of times we are stuck waiting for barges to enter the lock and they move at a snails pace. If a barge makes it to a lock before us, we are forced to idling for hours waiting. They move really slow and the process of lowering them takes forever. Then they refill the chamber before we can enter and it can be hours long. We have waited up to 5 hours and we have friends who waited as much as 8. Sometimes it’s just a few hours. The waiting is stressful especially if you have a destination and lots of miles to cover. The delays can put you into your marina well after dark. This happened only once to us. Some locks have a place you can anchor waiting your turn, some locks you just drift and idle. There is no place to tie off and secure your boat. It is nerve wracking to say the least! We watch to see if there is a tow in front of us and then decide if we can “outrun them” to the lock. In most cases the lockmaster knows the boat traffic on the river by watching AIS and already knows who’s coming before we announce our arrival. It’s up to the lockmaster who he lets in first. The “pleasure craft” as we are called have the last priority. Sometimes it works, sometimes we wait…..and wait. It’s a bit of a game.
So I dread it. I get anxious that we won’t make the run to the next spot until after dark, which happened to us going into Green Turtle Marina. That was a nightmare. Andy says I use that word too much, when things are difficult, not a nightmare, but tonight it was a true nightmare!! I was scared to death. The inlet was super shallow and the markers were hard to find. We got into our slip by the kindness of a fellow looper who stood at the end of our space with a flashlight and guided us in. He grabbed our lines and helped tie the boat. This “Looping” thing has so many great benefits. Mostly the people who are also looping look out for everyone. We all know the struggles. Some days go smooth like butter, some not. Our approach the Green Turtle was one of those “not so smooth” days waiting for the lock and approaching the marina in the dark, 11 other loopers in tow and no idea where to go or where our slip was. Normally the marinas have staff that help tie lines and direct you, but in this case it was after hours and we only had the kindness of fellow loopers who always jump to assist. Because of this I always run to the aide of any boat, even when staff is present. Because loopers care, staff is ambivalent. They see this all season. Not that they aren’t good and accommodating, they are, but Loopers CARE!!!
More pictures of the locks. They are just huge on this section of the river.
We made our way to the next marina and again the next day another marina. We arrived at Columbus Marina and the weather forecast looked terrible. We had 4 days of rain and for at least 24 hours straight it poured pounding rain, hard rain that I thought was never going to end. We were with a huge group of “stuck loopers” due to the weather. Loopers make fun when there is no fun and I have really enjoyed these days being “stuck” because they always end up being interesting. The marina had a curtesy van. We had 14 people who all wanted to brave the rain and go to dinner. So Mr. Tex (Greg) shuttled us the the restaurant in the pouring rain. The van was in such bad shape that it leaked and the seatbelts didn’t work. None of us cared because we were getting off our boats. We all arrived safely and enjoyed a nice dinner out.
This picture shows my Nebo app and how many loopers where held up here in a storm.
I hated leaving because after 4 days I get comfortable, although I didn’t love sitting on the boat for 4 days in the rain. So off we went when we felt it was safe to venture off. There are not always marinas on the river. Today was one of those that we needed to anchor. It is not my favorite thing to do but I had no choice. We picked our spot, turned into the location and dropped the hook. We had a fellow boat with us who also choose this spot. (I do feel better when another boat is anchored with us). The evening was beautiful and this spot was eerily quiet. You could hear the leaves russel and birds in the distance. There was no current and we had a good night here.
Fall has really kicked in and the days are getting cool and the nights are freezing. We pulled out the down comforter!
We are headed to Demopolis today where we will, again, wait out an incoming storm. We will also be here until the insurance requirements to stay until Nov 1 (something to do with hurricanes and blah blah blah..)
Will we ever get to the Ocean?? The river just goes on and on!!😭😭