Since we entered the Tenn – Tom we’ve passed mile markers on our charts. These start at 450 at Grand Harbor Marina where the Tenn – Tom turns off from the Tennessee River and count down to 0 in Mobile Bay just short of the Gulf. Nearly every looper stops at the last significant marina on the Tombigbee in Demopolis and then finds anchorages after that. After leaving Demopolis at mile marker 216 we needed two or three more anchorages before we reach the bay. We picked Okatuppa Creek at 123 and Three Rivers Lake at 64.
We found that several others were leaving Kingfisher Marina at first light, 6:30, so we did the same. We all were to reach the Demopolis Lock, 3 miles away, at the same time. This is the second to last lock we will see until we go through the Okeechobee area of Florida.
Five of us left the marina and an additional trawler joined us from the Foscue Creek anchorage just above the lock. Some of us had called ahead so we knew the lock would not be tied up with a tow. We went in as fast as we could (not very fast) and the six of us locked down.
After the lock we soon spread out. Two boats faster than us disappeared ahead and the rest fell behind. It was another good travel day. Partly cloudy with little wind or what there was following with us.
It must have been tow day, because we met several tows going each way. When we’re going 10 and a tow goes 6.5 mph on the narrow Tombigbee passing develops into more of an art. Our relative speed is not much and it takes awhile to pass. If it’s pretty narrow they seem to ask us to pass on the inside of the curve. As we come alongside the barges they start moving into us, leaving just enough space between us and the bank. As we go by the front the corner of the barges it is just moving into the position we vacate. It can get close. I think the barge captain prefers this way because if things get dangerous or we do something stupid he can force his boat the other way, pulling the front barges away from us and the inside river bank. He would not be happy about these barges running up the outside bank, but I’m glad he’s willing to trade that for us staying alive.
We picked Okatuppa both because it sounded nice (it was) and because its distance prevented most boats, which are slightly slower than us, from conveniently reaching it in a day. Boats that are faster are usually quite a bit faster, and will bypass it. It proved to be a very quiet and relatively narrow creek. We went about 500 feet up to leave room should another boat come, since they could not get by us. I don’t think anyone else is coming tonight, though. We are pointed nose upstream and used a rear anchor for the first time, since there is no swing room at all. I was concerned how rear anchoring would work for us, but it turned out very easy. Our wide rear swim platform makes a great place to work with the anchor.