Distance to Turner Marine south of Mobile proper is about 340 miles, all of which, except for Mobile Bay, follows the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. For the most part the Tenn-Tom is not very wide and follows a meandering course down to Mobile Bay. It is very, very rural with most of its length having nothing alongside except woodland with an occasional short section with some riverside homes. From the marina in Columbus there are only two stopping places where a boater can tie up to a dock. The first is in Demopolis (120 miles) that has a nice marina. We stayed there for six days waiting out the cold, rainy weather, some nights below 32 degrees. The other place to tie up
is Bobbie’s Fish Camp, a short, rickety dock alongside the waterway that would charge us $66 for the night with no services (no electric, no water). Plus, other boats might raft to each other if there was not enough dock space but still charges the same rate ($1.50/foot) which we found to be outrageous. Bobbie’s claim to fame is that the restaurant there is supposed to have good, fresh, fried catfish. That didn’t interest us.
We continued down river a few miles and anchored alongside the riverbank well out of the way of any passing barges. In all, we anchored along the way in seven places. One anchorage (Three Rivers) was up a narrow creek which, after about 500 yards, opens up into a rather large lake. Some of the pictures we posted are of our transit up the creek. It was a bit disconcerting but the fact is that the lowest depth we saw was 15 feet, plenty for our 5-foot draft boat. The pictures of the fouled anchor were from this anchorage. Retrieving the anchor proved a bit difficult as we pulled up a 15-foot, four-inch thick deadhead. Fortunately, our anchor windlass is very strong. It strained a bit but did the job.
We spent Thanksgiving anchored at a spot on the side 106 miles from Turner Marine. We dropped anchor early in the afternoon on Wednesday and spent two nights there. The next day we cooked a full Turkey Day meal, whole turkey breast, homemade stuffing, smashed potatoes & gravy, cranberry sauce, and a banana cream pie for dessert. We watched the Macy’s parade in the morning and football much of the rest of the day, just like at home. We missed being with family but we had cell service there so we made lots of phone calls. Cell service all the way from Peoria, IL to Mobile was very spotty.
The last run, to Turner Marine, started from the Tensas River, a 50-mile trip. The day began gloriously with warm sunshine. However, approaching the industrial section passing by Mobile proper, the weather turned windy, cold, and rainy forcing the boat driver to pilot from the lower helm which is not preferred because of lower forward visibility. By the time we made the turn out of the channel to go to Turner marine it was pouring rain but visibility was about one mile so no danger there. When we arrived at the marina, no one answered our call. We had made reservations. It turned out that the marina is not staffed on Sunday, a fact which was not shared with us when we made the reservation. We had no alternative but to tie up at an open spot on the dock which we found. We stayed there three nights before beginning our trip east through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Note on anchoring: many new boaters are apprehensive about anchoring having heard or read about all the things that can go wrong as were we before we began this trip. We learned that, with good equipment, which we have, anchoring should be embraced. All of the places we chose turned out to be idyllic. See the pictures. You may agree.
As usual, we included a few pictures of notables seen along the way.