Fog. Cold. Spiders. Long straightaways. Three locks in one day.
And yet, quite fun!
We’ve entered the man-made segment of the inland waterway section of The Great Loop, heading downstream again for the first time in 20 days. It’s the most relaxing part of the trip so far – notwithstanding a cold morning without heat, a fog delay, some big spider sightings, and worries about multiple locks.
Shortly after leaving Grand Harbor, we entered the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (the TennTom), starting with the 29-mile Divide Cut that follows the Alabama-Mississippi border. “The cut” connects the Tennessee River with the Tombigbee River. It took eight years to create and allows Loopers to avoid the Lower Mississippi. (Most do.) No stopping is allowed here. It’s quite an engineering marvel.
You wouldn’t think a man-made canal would be much fun, but it was! We saw deer, fox, and cows on the bank. A train passing overhead tooted at us, just for fun. We passed just one barge. The 41 miles from Grand Harbor Marina to our anchorage at Bay Springs was so relaxing, I even read a book.
We anchored within sight of Whitten Lock, the first of 11 locks we will encounter before we reach the Gulf. Since the water was warm, we dove under the boat to see if we could do some underwater work. (Jeff needs to add a metal gizmo to the prop to help reduce saltwater corrosion, which is a concern later.) Nope. The water was too murky. That task will have to wait for another day.
We got a visit, by paddle board and kayak, from fellow Loopers on Legasea, anchored nearby. I took the dinghy to shore to find a signal, and also found some huge spiders. (We have spiders on the boat, and I’m pretty sure they’re biting me, but they aren’t big.) I hustled back just before darkness. I can’t get used to this 6 p.m. sunset! It really limits your options when living on a boat. To think that it will get earlier and earlier! The heater stopped working during the night, so we woke to a chilly 41-degree morning. Jeff fixed the problem quickly. We also woke to fog, so waited for it to lift before calling the nearby lock. The lockmaster gave us an immediate “ok” for lock-down. We were under way within 10 minutes and inside the lock soon after, joined by another Looper boat that we hadn’t met before. We led the way through all three locks today.
I admit I was concerned about going through three locks in a day. With any lock, you can be delayed by tow barges–sometimes by hours. You can end up setting anchor in the dark. We know some who have.
But not us. Not today. All three lock passages went smoothly and quickly. In fact, after the big and often dramatic locks of the Illinois and Mississippi, it was downright easy! But we know we shouldn’t become complacent. Another challenge is sure to come. We know of people who took eight or even 12 hours to do this 20-mile segment. It took us just four. Fortune is following us lately.
I even got a jog in today. A rare pleasure – well, maybe not pleasure. More like necessity. 😉
We sit in Midway Marina tonight, enjoying the companionship of both locals and Loopers as we prepare to push further south. We are about 400 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. That sounds far to me, until I remember that we traveled almost that far through Lake Superior before we even got to The Loop. And we’ve come more than 1,700 miles since leaving Huron Bay. What’s another 400? Well, we’ll see, won’t we!