Tennessee River

Taking on fuel and water atJoe Wheeler Marine

I’ve been hanging out tied up to the municipal dock in Decatur, AL. I got in here Thursday evening. Susan is flying in to nearby Huntsville airport tomorrow morning and cabbing over here to join me for a few days.

The trip up the Tenn Tom was uneventful. I was especially interested in the divide cut section. Most of the pics are of that section. That was a huge project that was completed in 1985.

The waterways have largely been empty. I met a couple of pleasure craft southbound, and occasional tows. The standard tow on the Tenn Tom is 8 barges.

I didn’t really have any expectation for the Tennessee River. It’s big, and largely empty so far. I’ve gone through two locks. The current is strong in places, up to 3 mph.

Weather has been pretty unpleasant since I got here, rainy and cold. Clearing tomorrow, and looks nice for this week. We’re heading upstream.

Columbus MS

Hello Mississippi! I’m anchored here in the original river course next to Columbus. There is a dinghy dock nearby, and I was just ashore for dinner.

We’re 320 miles upriver from Mobile. This was about the limit of navigation on the Tombigbee before the Tenn Tom was completed in 1985. Steamers were coming here in the 19th century. Most of the travel so far has been on the original river course.

It’s been smooth sailing the last two days. Nice weather, and water levels are near normal. I stopped last night here.

I have plans to meet Susan next Sunday in Decatur, which is about 210 miles and a bunch of locks from here. Seems completely doable, although there is heavy rain forecast for the next two days. Hopefully that doesn’t cause issues with water levels.

Black Warrior River

I left Demopolis Tuesday morning and decided to detour up the Black Warrior. Tuesday night I anchored just below the Selden Dam, and arrived at Tuscaloosa just after dark on Wednesday, and spent the night at a restaurant dock.

I had a couple of meals out and put in a big load of groceries in Tuscaloosa. The weather was threatening on Thursday, and the dock was not suitable for stormy weather or higher water levels, so I left to head back downstream on Thursday afternoon.

There was a violent front coming through in the early evening, and I kept going on the river until the nasty stuff was over. Lots of rain and wind. There was a tornado warning, and a couple touched down within about 30 miles of my position. I anchored in a safe spot outside the channel about 9 pm after the front passed.

Got up this morning to find that the water level had gone up about 6 feet and there was a big tree hanging on the anchor chain. The second pic is of it floating free after I had got the anchor up.

Today I basically stayed ahead of the surge. The water levels are forecast to crest this weekend about 20 feet above today’s levels. Today I had a 2-3 mph tail current.

I’m now anchored here. Tomorrow I head north on the Tombigbee. Weather looks good for the next couple of days, and the Tombigbee isn’t flooding like the Black Warrior.


I arrived here mid afternoon. No issues with the two locks I’ve been through – these ones have floating bollards, and there is very little commercial traffic so no delays so far. Last night I anchored here next to a bridge abutment.

After fueling up I came over an anchored here. Nice spot, in a park. Went ashore and biked out for dinner.

I’m at a fork. The Black Warrior River goes east through Tuscaloosa to end near Birmingham. This was a big coal shipping route during WW II. It’s about 400 miles up and back. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing it as a side trip. It looks like there is a stop in Tuscaloosa near groceries, restaurants, etc. So maybe I’ll head for Tuscaloosa then turn around.

My Spot tracker is on all the time, so if you want real time tracking of my progress, check in here: https://maps.findmespot.com/s/CW3R

The Tombigbee goes north. It’s something like 240 miles to the Tennessee River. That’s the way home.

I’m not in a great rush. Sister Susan is joining me in two weeks, and I’m planning to be on the upper Tennessee then.

Weather has been pleasant, sunny and clear. Frosty this morning. Rain is forecast for Thursday. I’m enjoying the low water and lack of a strong head current. There is no debris. But that can change.

The geography changed gradually over the last two days. There are small hills now. The river is a bit of a canyon now. I didn’t see much of the surrounding area today.

Into the Rivers

I’m anchored here 98 miles above Mobile on the Tombigbee River. Last night I stopped here. Today was a short day – I woke to thick fog and went back to bed and slept late.

It’s very relaxed travel on a broad natural river surrounded by wilderness. It reminds me of the Achafalaya. Lots of switchbacks. Current yesterday was moderate, and the water levels seemed a bit high. Once above the junction of the Alabama River levels and current went down. It looks like nice weather continues for the next few days, and water levels are forecast to be moderate. Smooth sailing.

Dempolis is my next planned stop, in 2 or 3 days. There are two locks between here and there.

Fairhope AL

Hello Alabama! I’m anchored here in Mobile Bay. Calm conditions. Weather has been fabulous and looks good for the next week. I went ashore in the dinghy and walked up the hill for dinner at a BBQ restaurant. Fairhope is pretty and prosperous looking.

Last night I anchored in a beautiful spot near Pensacola. Dunes on three sides. Very picturesque. I’ve met a few eastbound cruisers and a couple of tows. Yesterday there were a few sailboats out in Pensacola. The most obvious signs of human existence often come from the various military aircraft coming and going, or just hovering around. It seems like there is a base of some sort every 20-30 miles.

The motor is working well. Today we spent a few hours at higher cruise speeds. Drivetrain is very smooth. I still have a minor air leak, but I’ve been working my way through the system and am determined to resolve it.

Pics in chronological order for the last two days

Tomorrow I hit the rivers. But that should have its own post.

Underway Again

After a nice trip home I’m back underway. Left Rich’s place in Panama City this morning, and stopped for the night here near Destin.

The trip north was uneventful, about 1300 miles each way. I rented a Hyundai Elantra. Decent small car. I got back to Florida Sunday evening, and yesterday replaced the injectors with Rich’s help. The motor is running much better now.

Today was lovely, sunny later in the day. Mostly following a cut channel, with very few boats out.