A Day in New Orleans

Thursday, November 16, Mobile to New Orleans

We locked up our boat and left it for the rest of the year. It will be in good hands at Turner Marine, but was hard to leave it knowing we’ll be gone for so long.

We drove right to the French Quarter in New Orleans, immediately parked and walked around the area for about 4 hours. The Market area was full on enticing goodies – especially attractive after doing very little gift-type shopping this year.  I also realized that this was the first time I’ve walked around New Orleans during  daytime – my trips here were always for conferences and we only had the evenings off so it was it was great to walk down so many streets and enjoy the french architecture. Dirk’s priority was to have a beignet and latte at Cafe du Monde and we enjoyed that treat.

We fly home tomorrow, so no more boat blog for a while – until January 5th or so. Thanks for following along with us. Happy Holidays!

A Few Days in Mobile Alabama

November 12, 13,14 Mobile Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

We spent a few days cleaning up, doing some laundry, walking around the area (it was rainy at the time) and borrowing the courtesy car at the marina to get a few supplies we needed.

 

There is aren’t any stores, restaurants or sites nearby, and since we are renting a car to leave Thursday morning to go to New Orleans, we decided to pick it up a few days early so we can visit some museums and local areas.

Today’s destination was the  USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Dirk is very interested in older military boats and planes, and I usually enjoy stories of people who have worked with them. The museum on the Mobile harbor includes the massive USS Alabama Battleship, an airplane museum and the oldest American submarine on public display, the USS Drum, as well as a number of other planes, boats, helicopters and tanks on the lawns.  The airplane museum also had a few exhibits on WWI and WWII planes and was running films on the Tuskegee Airman of WWII and the battles Pacific campaign so we spent about an hour there before going into the submarine.

 

The USS Drum was very active in the Pacific in WWII and was decommissioned after the war, and later donated to the museum (without funds for maintenance as I understand it). Walking through the submarine was pretty interesting but then we found two notebooks to look through in a small mess hall. One contained trip reports with maps of their paths. The other was by a former sub mariner, Tom Bowser, who started volunteering to help restore the sub starting in 2000 and has practically devoted his life to it. He and the one employee responsible for the sub museum (Lesley..) along with other volunteers and donations they have raised,  have practically rebuilt it from inside out and the notebook shows before and after photos of rooms, huge metal sidings rusted out and repaired, and so much more. To put that much very hard work (sandblasting, bending metal – themselves !) and dedication and fund raising effort into a project – well, amazing.

 

Example of before and after work…

After a quick lunch in the museum we started our tour of the USS Alabama. Fortunately a self guided tour guide is provided to help us find our way around and up and down the ship. We went up about 7 levels and down 3 and still didn’t see all we could have before it was time to leave.

We found a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner and are back on the boat now.

 

 

Mobile, Alabama!

November 11, Saturday Alabama River Cut-off mm 52.8 to Mobile

Well, here we are, a few days earlier than expected, and there are so many Great Loopers here it is amazing. By “here” I mean at the Turner Marina where we are tied up and at the Dog River Marina next door where most of the people we have recently been traveling with are staying.

We slept in a bit and didn’t leave our anchorage today until 8am (which used to be an early time) and had wonderful weather for today’s trip. The day was sunny and it warmed up nicely – what a treat.

The landscape began more southern looking and more industrial as well, and finally we were in the Mobile Alabama harbor.

We passed all sortsof commercial and military ships, and dry docks for ships as well.

After about 5 miles we were out in the Mobile Bay, and then found the channel that would lead to our marina.

Once we were all set in the marina we met new (to us) loopers and then went next door to find the people we’d been traveling with, Bev, Bruce, Tammi and Mike. We dingy’ed to dinner across the small river and had at great time also with new friends Steve and Betsy.

One postscript –  As we were leaving the ‘other’ marina to cross over to ours, we found locked gates that blocked the way. As crazy as it seemed, we couldn’t find an opening, but Dirk found a ladder! He leaned it again a large container next to building where we climbed up the ladder, over to a ledge, through a railing, down some steps and then walked back to our marina. I wonder if anyone will take notice of the ladder’s strange position in the morning…

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Two early days with loopers

November 9 and 10, Thursday and Friday, from Demopolis to Bobby’s Camp to mm 5.28 anchorage

Since there is a lock a few miles south of the Demopolis marina, the marina recommends that people traveling south the next day meet at 4:00 pm to coordinate a time to leave together. This planning helps the lockmaster get more boats through at the same time,  and gives us travelers a better chance at getting through the lock early in the day. It was agreed that we would leave at 6am and a designated caller checked in with the lockmaster at 5:45 am. He said to come along and we did! There were 5 of us in the lock I believe.

Dirk and I had planned to stop in an anchorage about 60 miles south (a long enough day), but it was only 1:30 pm when we got there so we kept going. The river current was helping our speed, and we weren’t tired (yet). As a result, we arrived at a well-known, unusual “marina”, named Bobby’s Camp, before dusk, which was the target for the next day! So we gained a day in our effort of getting south to warmer weather. It was our longest day on the loop we think (87 miles).

Bobby’s Camp offers fuel, docks for about four 40′ boats, and has a Alabama catfish style restaurant that is a favorite stop along the way down to Mobile Alabama. When we arrived there were already about 9 boats tied up – 4 to the docks and then the rest are the rafted to each other! It’s the only game in the area and that’s how it’s done. Everyone still pays the same going rate, whether or not you are lucky enough to be one of the boats that gets electricity that night, or have to climb over 2 to 3 boats to get to yours.

While eating fried catfish and other fried goodies at dinner, another 6am departure for the group was planned for Friday to get us through to next lock without delay. As it turns out, the boat we were rafted to needed to leave at 6am to go north, so we were motivated in the morning to get away quickly. Since we were at the front of the group of 8 loopers we got some interesting photos in the morning mist when leaving the lock. Before we spaced apart due to differences in preferred speeds I got this photo of most of the boats in a row.

The river scenery has been fairly similar from mile to mile, but here are a few favorites shots of our travels these days.

 

 

 

Demopolis Alabama

November 7 & 8; Tuesday and Wednesday Demopolis, AL

We had a good long day of travel yesterday and made it to our destination easily by about 3pm.  I had thought we’d anchor out again but weren’t held up by the locks and had some help from the river current as well. The morning light was beautiful, and later we encountered a lot of weeds along the way, but were able to dodge them.

As we headed to the marina in Demopolis we saw the White Cliffs of Epps and the White Cliffs of Demopolis. Both of these are from the same time period as the White Cliffs of Dover and also composed mainly of chalk! Quite a site.

Once we were settled at our slip we caught up with a number of loopers from previous stays, and later joined a group going out to dinner – 18 of us! Why are there so many loopers in one place? First because we are bringing up the tail end of northern cruising, and the northern Michigan boaters don’t want to leave home during their summer. But we are all in this one marina because it is the only one around!  There just aren’t any other large marinas for 216 miles. A van shuttled us back and forth to the restaurant for $5/person – we all went to the local Red Barn – excellent! The inside was definitely old barn too.

Today is about laundry and picking up provisions for the next 5 days or so on the river as well as getting some local info on the good anchorages along the way. And we picked some cotton from the nearby cotton field.

 

Night 2 Anchored on the Tenn-Tom

November 6, Monday Somewhere on the Tenn-Tom

Our travel days were suddenly shortened on Sunday – no more day light savings and we now have to be done with our travels by 5pm. We are already missing that extra hour.

Yesterday we would have stayed at a well-regarded marina in historical Columbus, MS, but anchored out instead. We just couldn’t make it before dark. Today we stopped to visit friends Jim and Andrea on State of Bliss, and as a result cut it close making it to a recommended (deep enough) anchorage. So early to bed…etc, is the new goal.

Our travels yesterday took us through 4 locks and we met sailor Dan on the way to the third one (Amory). We are always happy to see him again after initially meeting him in Joliette IL and seeing him again in a number of other stops. He travels slowly, but keeps on going, whereas we stop now and then for a few days and eventually catch up to him again. He rafted to us in the lock which gave me the opportunity to make him a sandwich too as we were having lunch at the time.

The scenery was again lovely, particularly when the sun came out. We saw a family in a small bay with a shallow center – looked like they were walking on water. The boat ahead of us is Sweet Liberty – we are traveling about the same path lately.

We anchored at McKinley Creek Cut-off, mile 348. We decide where to anchor based on recommendations from a few written guides, plus comments from previous visitors found in the Active Captain app most of the loopers use. Very helpful!  The anchorage was beautiful and I saw the milky way around 8pm and the full moon around 10!

Today we went through a couple of locks as well as visiting friends as mentioned earlier. Wish I had thought to take some photos of them! So, more here sights along the way.

Tonight we are anchored at the Windham Landing Cut-off mm 286, making our day’s travels a little longer than normal.

Now on the Tenn-Tom in Fulton, MS

November 4, Saturday  – 55 miles and 3 locks to Fulton Mississippi

We started early, prepared for a long day, particularly due to the three locks that were on the way. Fortunately there is less barge traffic and we were able to move in and out of the locks fairly easily. The first lock lowered the boat about 90 feet from the level of the Tennessee River!

It was sunny during part of the morning and so we could appreciate some fall colors as well as other scenery as we traveled in rivers, lakes and canals to today’s marina.

This very nice Midway Marina also had a courtesy car so we treated ourselves to an excellent Mexican meal. Then we returned so I could use their marina lounge and wifi to catch up on this blog.:)