Natchez

I’m anchored here. Big day.

When I was chatting with one of the crew of the cruise ship that was docked at Vicksburg he mentioned that Natchez was their next stop, and that it was his favourite. He said they dock in a similar way in Natchez, with their bow to the ramp. I took that to indicate that there would be some opportunity for me to stop there. I carefully checked the charts, Google maps/earth, Active Captain etc. Nothing looked encouraging, but I thought I’d try.

It’s about 75 miles between the two cities, so I set out at about 0600. Got to Natchez around 1:00 as planned. Clear cool and calm. I went slow and enjoyed the scenery. Had to dodge a few logs.

The second and third are coming into Natchez.

The river runs fast there. The big bend that Natchez was originally on was removed and it’s an abnormally long straight shot right past. I found two ramps. Was trying to imagine how a cruise ship could tie up. There was a 5 mph current 100 feet from shore in 60 feet of water.

I was sitting pretty much stationary heading into the current trying to figure out what to do next. I couldn’t see any way to go ashore, and was getting ready to turn downriver. But there was a guy on shore who seemed to have taken an interest in me. He was wearing a uniform and driving a city vehicle, and ended up hopping along the shore gesturing and trying to talk to me.

As we were trying to communicate I was crabbing closer to the bank. I was nervous because there had at some earlier point been a big casino right where I was. I though there might have been posts or footings lurking. But I did get down to 20 foot depth maybe 30 feet from shore. On an impulse I threw out my anchor and payed out about 150 feet of line. The anchor set immediately. After a couple of minutes I decided to go ashore and talk with the guy.

I wish I’d taken pictures. But I was trying to be careful and deliberate in everything I was doing.

Getting into the dinghy was like transferring between two moving boats. Both were leaving significant wakes. I pulled the RIB with some effort alongside, got a loop around the midship clear and got in with the end of the painter, got the outboard running, then let go of the line. Then a quick blast 100 feet to the ramp.

Randy, the guy on shore, was indeed trying to give me advice on how to get in. He was disarmingly friendly, enthusiastic, and generous. I got a 15 minute rundown while watching Mazurka steam along at anchor.

There were restaurants close by, but I couldn’t see the boat from them. So in consultation with Randy and a better lay of the land I went back, pulled anchor and ran a few hundred feet upriver to the other ramp, got in as close as I felt comfortable, and anchored again. Current was less here, maybe 3 mph.

Randy offered to take me on a tour of the town but I didn’t want to leave the boat unattended and wanted to get underway with lots of time to find a spot for the night. I had a late lunch at the local grill, and got back underway.

Randy suggested I go up to what he called Old River about a mile upstream on the opposite bank. My chart didn’t show anything there, but I found it. Glad I did. Just a diagonal cut that could easily be missed coming downstream.

I never had less than 20 feet of water, and it was all river bed. No snags or rocks. After a mile or so we entered the old river. I ran a few miles up looking around. There were a bunch of cottages with the big dike and a town behind them. No obvious easy way for me to get to the town. There was a Walmart less than 1/2 mile away that I could see on Google Maps.

I went back to the end and anchored for the night. Beautiful spot, no lights or noise or current.

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