A Perfect Day

Well, if I had to nitpick I’d like it 10C warmer. And early on was a bit cold, damp, and at times impenetrable.

The big tows were all on the bank waiting it out. I did too. The first southbound tow that I saw getting underway I followed. It was the Keith Darling with about 35 full barges.

I had noticed coming down to Memphis that I was running at about the same speed as the tows. I caught glimpses of boats north and south of me on AIS but we never closed the gap. So I had made a plan to try to get on the back of a tow.

I did that today with the Keith Darling. Stayed 3/4 – 1 mile behind all day.

It was so easy and so educational. I’m going to suggest that as a great strategy for big river newbies.

I anchored here

Fabulous spot. No current, little commercial activity and cows. I identified it this morning with Active Captain and stopped at my target time of 1600.

After the freezing fog (that’s what the weather alert called it) burned off it was clear, calm, sunny and cool, maybe 10C max.

I should also report that my generator seems to be fully functional now. I have it running now for evening heat and cooking. Will decide later whether to shut it down tonight.

I’m happy to be towing the dinghy. At these speeds I keep it on a short painter and don’t even think about it.

So back to following the tow. I’ve been listening intently to the VHF working channel 13. I’d say 20% of what I heard made sense when I first entered the Mississippi. At Memphis it was 50%, and now it’s 80+. Every meet between tows is negotiated over the radio, often with very few words. Following one boat for the day gives great insights into these negotiations.

The other huge advantage of following is that the tow has right of way over northbound traffic and they stay well out of the way. I essentially stayed on his path and didn’t sweat any of the meetings.

I also want to report that there’s almost no debris now. I only had to dodge once or twice and wasn’t obsessing over log spotting.

I also had a lot of opportunity to play with my new plotting and tracking capabilities. They also really helped me refine my intuitions about crossing courses on the bends. I was finding the bends disorienting watching the tows, but watching it play out on the plotter really helps. The drifting is very cool. I was watching this from a good view point.


I’m looking forward to tomorrow. More of the same and warmer.

Tonight’s sunset

A few more pics. Hope the detail on the tows comes through. I’ve got a little screen and don’t look to closely at them. My new phone seems to take decent pics.

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