October 4, 1999

Mile 216, Tenn-Tom Waterway, Demopolis, Alabama

The maintenance in Green Turtle Bay paid off... I was able to isolate one
leaky oil hose and replace it and end all our oil problems. At least it is
running well so far. As we left Green Turtle Bay we headed down Barkley
Lake to the cut between the lakes into Kentucky Lake. Everyone at Green
Turtle had warned us that the water level on the lake was very low "So be
sure that you stay in the channel". Well, we never would stray from the
channel and all the anchorage's were well marked on the charts and in our
notes. Kentucky Lake was peaceful for the most part. We did have some wind
on our nose for a while but the "chop" was only inches high. Our first night
on the lake brought us to the Kentucky - Tennessee border where we anchored
in a secluded cove just off the lake. I launched the dinghy as we anchored
and Carol and I went for a dinghy ride to explore the unusual rock
formations along the cove before happy hour. Happy hour has become an
evening ritual amongst our small group of intrepid little boats. This night
it was bloody Mary's and snacks as we all watched the sun set over the
Kentucky woods. We got an early start the next day at the crack of nine and
proceeded south. Our plans for the day were to stop in a town called Camden
to see the worlds largest freshwater pearl farm and museum. Around two in
the afternoon we wound our way up the narrow channel of Birdsong Creek to
the marina two miles from the river. The marina was a tin roofed affair that
exemplifies this area of Tennessee. It was full of bass boats, pontoon
boats and weekend cruisers. We all docked at the fuel dock, removed our
trash and talked with the dock master about visiting the pearl museum that
Carol wanted to see. He loaned us his Lincoln Town Car for the 1 mile trip
to the museum. While Carol was at the "Pearl Museum" (which is in the show
room of a marine supply shop) I was poking around out in their back lot and
peeking into their barn. I discovered these cute little kittens which
appeared to be about 4-5 weeks old. I called out to Carol, she talked with
the owners who were delighted to give us a kitten and the hunt began. It
took six of us 20 minutes to catch one of these little barn cats. We put
her in a cardboard box and taped it shut with duct tape and punched some air
holes in the box. We took the Lincoln, which floated over the road, on a
shopping trip to Wal-Mart, ten miles away, for kitten essentials. We got all
the stuff. We arrived back at the dock by five p.m. and headed out to find
an anchorage for the evening. We were traveling with the other 2 boats and
found a secluded place behind an island to anchor. As we were maneuvering
Carol peeked into the cardboard box, the kitten leaped out, ran around the
deck and leapt overboard! Carol got on the radio and announced, "Cat
Overboard"...fortunately we had the dinghy in tow so I was able to retrieve
her in short order and we had one wet and angry little kitty. (She was a
very strong swimmer.) That was several days ago and today she uses her
litter box, sits and purrs on your lap and is as contented as can be. Even
starting the engine doesn't scare her... I think we have a winner, named
Pearl. And in the eventuality that she turns out to be a he, he will be
named Earl. We have had no further swimming episodes and hope that she
understands just what the edge of the boat means. It IS wet on the other
side! The people that we are traveling with all have dogs..which provides
yet another dimension to it all. Pearl has that intuitive sense about dogs
and keeps her distance showing all claws and teeth.

The following day we made another 56 miles up the Tennessee River to anchor
behind another island paradise. The highlights of the day comprised of a
home made Chinese dinner and the kitty used her litter box after I gathered
some dirt from the riverbank. Carol and I spent the evening watching a
borrowed movie and retired early only to be awakened by a huge tow going
past us in the early morning hours. Our travels continued for another 45
miles to the Pickwick Lock and Dam which heralds the approach of the
Tombigbee Waterway. The current just below the dam was the strongest we have
experienced to date. It was flowing against us and really slowed our
progress in the last couple of miles. This lock give us a 55' lift into
Pickwick Lake, our next lock will begin our descent toward sea level. We
tied to the dock at the Pickwick Landing State Park for the evening. We all
had a supper buffet at the park's lodge. It was all you can eat for six
bucks and we had catfish and chicken and ice cream and generally made pigs
of ourselves. The following morning we awoke to rain...the first we had seen
in a while, and the sheets were wet. I was disappointed that we had likely
sprung a leak but then discovered that it was Pearl that had sprung an leak!
The drizzle continued through the morning as we made an early trip to the
laundry right there at the marina. Carol and the ladies were able to secure
transportation to the local grocery store for supplies while I spent some
time in the engine room changing transmission fluid and generally tending to
the mechanical side of things. We were able to get underway by noon and
still put in a 40 mile day. The following day after yet another 40
downstream miles,and four locks, the largest of which was an 84' drop
towards the sea. All in all this day brought us 174' down towards the sea.
It was while we were going through these locks that we met up with a boat we
had first seen in Peoria called 'Taking Betts". They have been traveling
with our caravan since. That particular evening we tied to a barge on the
outside of a lock wall. The barge became a place to hold a party. We sat up
tables, I made salsa and Margaritas began to flow. We partied for quite a
while and had a Mexican feast with Tacos, Quesadillas, salsa and chips as
well a gallons of Margaritas. What an evening. For some the recovery period
was lengthy, and painful. Happy hour the following day consisted of soft
drinks only! But the following day also brought us to a beautiful anchorage
near an historic home called Waverly. We toured the old southern mansion
and were filled with the echoes of the south. It was an exquisite example
of a very unique architectural style common to this area. It was a four
story structure that was built around cooling ventilation which was much
needed, even during our early morning visit. The most unusual thing was a
portrait of one of the owners. Not only did the eyes follow you around but
the whole figure seemed to turn your direction as you walked across the
dining room she presided over. We all got the willies!

The days have been clicking buy at regular intervals and the scenery is
gradually becoming more of what we expect from the south. We are seeing
snapping turtles and a lot of root systems of trees. There has been an
abundance of water hyacinth which is a water plant that has a beautiful
purple flower and long stemmed waxy leaves. The hyacinths are so numerous
that they can clog the channel at times. The last few nights we have been
anchoring in coves that are filled with hyacinths. This afternoon we pulled
into the Demopolis Yacht Basin, a marina that sees just about every boat
coming down the Tenn-Tom Waterway as it is the last fuel stop for until
Mobile. We filled the fuel tanks when we arrived, as well as the water tank
in preparation for the trip further south. The fuel prices have been
dropping since we left Chicago and are getting back to what one would call
reasonable. We will be staying over here for two nights to re-provision and
tend to any mechanical needs. Tomorrow will be a day of laundry,
groceries, cleaning the boat and we are all going out to dinner at the local
restaurant.

As I write this the kitty is fighting my fingers on the keyboard..it is
always good to get help. She seems to be fond of the Macintosh operating
system.

We are looking forward to Mobile, where we plan to leave the boat for a few
days and take an auto trip to New Orleans. This entire group that we are
traveling with is going to rent a van and head out to New Orleans, eight
people, five dogs and one kitty... it should be an experience... plans are
in the making. The weather, for those of you who are interested, is hot and
we are the only boat in this group not to have air conditioning. Some of
the nights have been almost unbearable with very high humidity and no wind.
But tonight we have a good breeze and the temp in down in the 60's. A final
word about our fiends aboard La Ti Da. They called us several times in the
past weeks and we have tried to make plans to meet and cruise together here
in the Tenn-Tom. However, Robin got a job offer in Mobile so the ladies
moved on south. We hope to spend some time with them in Mobile. We are both
looking forward to seeing them again and to share our cruising experiences
and photos.

I know that I must bore you at times with some of the details of this trip
but I have come up with some figures that may be of interest to the number
crunchers out there.

Fuel Statistics
Average Price Per Gallon $1.28
Highest Price Per Gallon $2.30
Lowest Price Per Gallon $0.72
Gallons burned 943
Gallons Per Hour 1.8
Miles per gallon 3.8

States Visited
Rhode Island
Connecticut
New York
New Jersey
Pennsylvania
Ohio
Michigan
Wisconsin
Illinois
Missouri
Kentucky
Tennessee
Alabama
Mississippi

Days at Anchor 42
Days at free dock 38
Days at marinas 48

Bridges Passed Under/Through 466.
Locks 67
Miles Traveled 3124
Average speed 7 mph
14 States
2 Countries
126 Days

And our quote comes from The Nitty Gritty Tenn-Tom Cruising guide.
"Above Demopolis good anchorages are fairly easy to come by. Below Demopolis and
until you get close to Mobile, they're as scarce as a stick of Yak butter"


We are not exactly sure what yak butter is like but we will be searching for
those anchorages.