From Columbus MS, we traveled to Cooks Bend Anchorage, then to Demopolis AL. On the way, we passed white limestone cliffs at Epes. Along the way, we saw Spanish moss and palm trees–so we must be getting south.
Cliffs at Epes
Demopolis is where we met Troy (Bob and Vicki Rehkopf’s nephew.) Troy operates earth-moving tractors in the area and has helped build Catfish farms. He is currently working on building a shrimp farm. Troy took us to an operational catfish farm where we got to see him feed the fish pond. They use a special truck that sprays the fish food pellets out over the water. The catfish hear the truck and the pellets hitting the water and immediately start a feeding frenzy churning up the water. The ponds are much bigger than expected; they are shaped in a square and measure two-three football fields wide.
Feeding at the Catfish Farm
After Cooks Bend Anchorage, it was a few miles to the Heflin Lock. We passed a pusher tug with barges on the way to the lock. When got to the lock, we hoped to get through before the barges, but were told we would have to wait. This would mean about a two hour delay waiting for the barge to catch back up, pass us, lock through, and then wait for the lock to refill and be ready for us. The barge traffic has priority, over pleasure boats, so all we could do was enjoy the delay … MUCH to our surprise, the barge captain said it was OK if the lock operator let us go through ahead of him. So we quickly entered the lock with another boat (S/V Songlines) and locked though. We thanked the captain and left a treat for him and the crew on the lock wall.
After the catfish feeding, Troy to us to a cook out at one of his church family’s home. It was great meeting them and sitting around a campfire eating dinner. It was very heart warming to meet such a nice group of people. After dinner, we sang songs around the fire. What great singers they are with excellent harmonies! They sing acapella at their church. We would have like to have stayed a few days, but need to keep moving south.
The river below Demopolis is very twisty and curvy. Many times the part of the river we just covered was only a short distance away over the banks. The switch backs had us traveling north on our southern route many times.
From Demopolis, we went to Bashi Creek and anchored with two other boats rafted off of us—The Lower Place and Southern Cross. Later, two sail boats—Country Dancer and Song Lines–came in and anchored behind us in this quiet secluded anchorage.
On the way to Three Rivers Lake anchorage, we went through the LAST LOCK. In celebration of completing the last lock, Steve played a few tunes on his trumpet which included Anchors Aweigh and When the Saints Go Marching In. Those within hearing range loved hearing him play. The waterway now has tides, since there is nothing between here and the Gulf of Mexico. The Coffeeville Lock is the last one till we get to New York (unless we take a side trip to Lake Okeechobee).
This was the 30th lock experience for this trip. We are excited to not have to secure fenders and lines to get ready to go through locks. We locked through the Wilkins and Wheeler twice going to the rendezvous and away again.
From Bashi Creek, we traveled to Three Rivers Lake anchorage, which was a long passage back off the river. It felt like we were really getting into the back woods. We probably would not have gone that far, but we talked to another boat M/V Captain’s Choice that was already in the anchorage. We were the fourth boat in that anchorage. We did not see the alligators that the reviews talked about. Teresa was happy about that. The river waterway ends at Mobile on Mobile Bay. Travelling through Mobile proved extremely congested. We saw many ships barges pusher tugs, navy ships, and more.
Mobile shipping area
Once past Mobile, the water opens up into the Bay, and we saw open water for the first time since leaving Lake Michigan back in September. The water is now salty and our wake looks much more frothy. The open water allowed us to see the horizon over the water instead of the next river bank–a much welcome change. One of the other boats saw dolphins on the way into the marina. We’re eager to see them also very soon. The sailing vessel America greeted us as we entered the bay.
When docked at Dog River Marina, we plan to change oil, filters, get supplies and catch up since this is the first Wi-Fi in a while.