Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 8-18, 2011 . . . Joe Wheeler State Park, Alabama to Biloxi, Mississippi

SONATA departed Joe Wheeler State Park with the decks frozen in thick frost, John departed for friends in New York City, and just outside the park SONATA had its first lock for the day the Wheeler Lock and a lock down.

Just down stream from the Wheeler Lock is the Wilson Lock with its 95 foot drop. Into the lock, doors close and down SONATA goes like she is in an elevator . . . finally the bottom, the doors open and we escape further South . . . to warmer weather we hope.

At first it appeared to be driftwood, a stump . . . but no it was a deer with a large beautiful rack. He came across the bow from port to starboard, reached to new shore and climbed out of the water to go on his way.

Down the Tennessee River to the intersection of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi the Mississippi colors were broken from the starboard yardarm. Charlie had told John he needed a Mississippi flag and John gave him a flag a friend of his had flown in John's honor during his visit with him.

Before we arrived at the Aqua Marina in Iuka, Mississippi, we turned into one of the last coves on the Tennessee to see a waterfall where many anchor on their Tennessee travels.

The morning of the 9th brought us thick fog which delayed our departure from Aqua Marine. The fog cleared a few hours later and we were priviledged to see deer playing along the port shore. The weather remained clear until after we reached the Midway Marina.

A lock on the Tombigbee Waterway before we arrived in the evening at the Midway Marina, directed in by the Christmas lights.

At the Columbus Marina the white pelicans were in great abundance.

In our travels aboard SONATA we have frequently announced that we did not have cell-phone or internet connections . . . we were in the "wilderness." Here the problem is solved with a "pay-phone" booth along the side of the waterway . . .

Traveling south we passed many eagles in the trees alongside the waterway; what a beautiful part of the trip.

Before we pulled off the waterway to anchor in the Sumter Recreation Park the river was a mirror, a reflection of the sky above. Overnight was quiet and peaceful, without any movement in the still waters.

There is a story of a tug, the CAHABA, at the former Rooster bridge which was located near the "White Clifts of Epps." See that story at:

Before we reached Demopolis we passed Bill Netterman. Bill told us he was canoeing from Iowa to "warm-weather." He had no motor, just two duffle bags and a paddle.

Departing Demopolis we encounter a tug and barge before entering the lock, out next-to-last-lock. The Mobile River, the waterway, is full of twists and turns on the way to Mobile.

At Bobby's Fish Camp we had a "gathering". In front of SONATA was a delivery, ESCAPE POD, being delivered by Captain Kenny Hixson from Marine Max in Chattanooga. To our stern we had LINDY LOU a boat purchased by a seabee stationed at Camp David, Josh Haley, to take care of the President's utilities, and crewed by Josh's father, Mike Haley and their friend Pete Skornik. These three were enjoying their fourth full day on the water . . . for the first time. Many new experiences for them.

Underway from Bobby's . . . in the fog. SONATA traveled to the Tensas River off the Tombigbee for an overnight anchorage. LINDY LOU joined us for the anchorage and a social hour aboard SONATA. Mike, Pete, and Josh relayed the stories of their trip from Iuka, Mississippi, where they picked up LINDY LOU . . . and they are all still alive and in one piece.

Underway from the Tensas River into the Mobile River, the Tombigbee, we have fog again which then lifts for a great day. The reflection on the still water is amazing as we round the bends toward what the locals call the "Dolly Parton" Bridge.

A 45 minute wait at a closed railroad bridge as tugs and barges gather on both sides waiting for an opening. Once clear a few more twists and turns and Mobile comes into view.

In Mobile Bay a Navy "Fast-Ship" being constructed, and Mobile the city is to our port as we proceed south to the Dog River Marina.

The morning of the 16th SONATA departs Dog River Marina in the early fog into Mobile Bay with the birds perched on the markers to dry their wings. Another great sunrise into another of God's beautiful days.

Down the bay, pelicans sail past SONATA over the smooth seas; and, as we turn into the Mississippi Sound we pass the shrimp boat TWO BROTHERS, to be followed shortly thereafter by a tug pushing a benzene barge.

Arrival in Biloxi. We pass the Cadet Marina, the Schooner Marina, on to the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor which is in the shadow of the Hard Rock Casino. David's family will see us on Sunday, leaving Alan and Phillip to ride to Madisonville with us on Monday.