On Saturday, Nov 16, we drove from St. Louis to Aqua Harbor on Pickwick Lake near Iuka, Mississippi to begin the second leg of the journey to the Gulf of Mexico. We fueled Random Plan and prepared to leave Sunday morning at daybreak.
Friends Mark and Rick were with Mike for this leg of the run to the Gulf. Rick’s friend Don drove the three of us to Pickwick and dropped us off.
We took off at 7am Sunday, a dark and misty morning with strong winds. Passing by the fuel dock at Aqua Harbor, headed for the Tenn-Tom waterway.
Cutting through the mist.
After about 5 miles on the lake, we entered a man-made canal that provides the link between rivers to get us all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Random Plan’s radar shows the long, straight and narrow canal very well.
Breakfast while cruising.
Today, we will go through 7 locks. This is the first, with Mark making sure the stern stays off the lock wall.
And Rick on the bow.
This lock is the highest one we will encounter. We will drop about 90 feet. The chartplotter shows our location in the lock chamber, with a depth of 106′, just as we start to drop. We will exit into Bay Springs Lake.
The lock chamber after we drop 90 feet.
And the doors open to reveal Bay Springs Lake. Here we go!
Another lock with a shorter drop. We’re still at the top, and you can see the river beyond is just a bit lower. We use very sophisticated special purpose tools to keep the boat off the lock walls.
Mist and rain most of the day.
In the late afternoon, fog developed and we had to slow down. At one point, it seemed to engulf Random Plan. Mark help keep a sharp lookout.
Our first night, we docked at Columbus Marina in Columbus Mississippi. We made 108 miles and passed through 7 locks, and arrived right at sunset at 4:30pm.
A full moon over the swamp.
On Monday, we woke to blue skies and took off at 8am. We took it easier because we had made such good progress yesterday.
More barges now. Narrower channel, but really no problem. We contact the barges on the radio and they tell us which side they prefer we pass them on.
We arrived at our final destination at the end of our second day of cruising, a day early! We pulled into Kingfisher Marina in Demopolis, Alabama at 4pm.
So, on Tuesday, we had an extra day to hang around the marina, make some new friends, and have dinner with fellow river travelers.
On Wednesday, someone from the marina drove us 2 hours to Birmingham, where we caught a flight back to St. Louis. Just as planned.