Oct 15-31, 2008 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

Previous Log - The most recent past log

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I cheated this month and left a couple of entries in from the first half. Afterall, Freedom is back at sea again and besides that, I do my own website work. So, thanks to everyone who has kept up with us and I just hope your trust isn't misplaced. I also absolutely know that the trip is much more exciting than the projects. Here is to our trip!

FREEDOM RETURNS TO SEA - Once again, on schedule, we left to get back to cruising. Behind us was Green Turtle Bay and in front of us was the Tenn-Tom along with the Ocean. We are ready and we are traveling south with our friends and as it happens, the Grand Marshals of the parade. Bill and Bette.

You can see their boat in front of us.

As we went through the cannel connecting Barkley and Kentucky Lake, the colors of the leaves changing just happened to tell us this was going to be a good trip. At the same time, there was a little knot in my stomach just to remind me to stay aware on the trip. It's been three months since we were really moving so if something was going to break, it would be today.

When we left in 2006 we immediately encountered cold weather. It appears this time we just might not have as cold of an adventure. Now you might be thinking, what about that enclosure you just spent three weeks sewing? I say, KEEP IT STOWED! Someday it will come out and save the day. Hopefully that day will be next year or longer but who knows.

We passed under the bridge in the canal and were off in the Tennessee River heading against the current. Bill and Bette travel a bit, read that a knot, slower than we have. I'm beginning to understand this trip is to teach me to slow down. In case you are wondering, that is a very good thing.

We are in an economical crisis and what are we doing? We are going back to cruising. Is that just a ridiculous expense that should be criticized? NO, it is simply a way to transfer dockage to fuel and by the way, we are now saving fuel like never before. I'm already amazed at how slowly the fuel gauge is falling. Of course we aren't going as fast so the real test will be when we have to change tanks. Then the math takes over, remember math - that science thing that is full of data to prove if your opinions are really fact. I love proving or disproving theories. So we will have some great data in the next few days.

More trees were showing their colors as we went south. We anchored under an almost full moon. It was a wonderful evening with very good friends.

I didn't have much light but you can see we have anchored in a nice bay at about mile marker 69 on the Tennessee River. After we planned tomorrows trip, we also had some great conversation. Who knows what problems of the world will be solved during this trip.

Oct 14 - We departed yesterday to beautiful clear air and more colorful trees in their full foliage transformation. Just a few more miles up the river we encountered our first lift bridge. This one is for a railroad train so there is always the possibility you may have to wait. I guess it is still cheaper to man this bridge than to build another one.

The other good news today is there has been a major correction in the market so that made our day quite a bit. Of course you already know about that unless you've been in hiding under the dog house. Time will tell if it stays up or goes back down.


 Bill had a problem with his inverter so we went into a relatively inexpensive marina tonight. This was at Cuba Landing and it was only a buck a foot. For us, that is a new low for pricing of a marina. It was nice that we went in because our hot water heater wasn't working so I was able to run the hot water without the gas on for 25 minutes to recharge the igniter battery that is integrated into the heater. It's working again so I guess that fixed it.

We left early again on Tuesday morning and it was clear at the marina. However, two miles down the waterway, we encountered fog. THICK fog. You can see to the lower left that you can just make out Bill's boat and the bank. We hug the bank to ensure if a tow was coming down the river we would be out of the way. Of course we also made a few radio calls too.

Below you can see what my navigation screen looks like on the laptop. I like it because in the upper left we get a big picture of what's coming up. Lower left is a picture taken from a satellite and finally the big screen is so I can see where we are. Our only worry at this point is hitting a channel marker but there aren't any in this stretch so we decided to poke ahead at about a knot and a half. (Land lovers, that is about 2 miles per hour.)


 We got out of the fog in about an hour and guess what greeted us. More fog.You can just make out Bill's boat in front of my dinghy as he enters the next fog bank. And then we were lucky enough to clear it out and of course run into another one. At this time, we've been traveling for a little over two hours ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 knots. The fog finally burned off and we were back to our 5 knot average as long as the current is flowing too much against us. We will really encounter the current in a couple of days right before we lock up into Pickwick Lake.

It was time for some fun and I saw this sign somebody had placed on the dock outside their house. Just in case you can't read it, the sign proclaims - DANGER Shark Infested NO SWIMMING.


One thing I do as I travel the waters is to look for interesting homes. What do we want to build??? Well this one may not be what I will build but it is interesting. This is in an area where the river floods the ground. Most homes are on stilts but this one chose to build on floatation and have four poles that will hold it in place when the water comes up. I'm not sure what they do if a tree ends up lodged under it when it comes down but I guess the idea works for them.

At about mile 145 we encountered this dredge pulling rock from the river bottom. It was there when we came up so I guess it just works this section of the river. You can see one of the rock sorting arms dumping rock on the top of a barge to be unloaded just about a mile back down river.

I really wanted to emphasize this is a much different trip than we made two years ago. So far it hasn't rained and we are still in shorts and T-shirts. Isn't life good?????

Below is a piece of history. During the Civil War, a gentleman by the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest rose from private to lieutenant general during this war and one of the reasons why is he figured a way to attack General Sherman's supply lines. In the process, he had a major victory for the Confederate Army. However, Sherman had already decided to take off and "live off of the land" and said he would "make Georgia howl" until he could reach seaborne supplies at Savannah. Still, Sherman said, "That devil Forrest must be hunted down, even if it costs 10,000 men and bankrupts the Federal Treasury."

I'm not sure how it all ended but it is pretty obvious the pictures below are from a cannon placement or just a place to ambush supply ships from a fortified area.

As far as bankrupting the country, I'm sure many more will be happy to do that today.

 We anchored on Wednesday night and it was great. I simply rafted up to Bill and Bette and they came over for dinner after we had Bette's wonderful salsa and a few drinks on Bill's boat. I had dreamed up a new dish and it came out great. I will post the recipe the next time I cook it because Bill and Bette gave me some suggestions for improvements. It was good this time but will be delicious next time.



 More great conversation and it was time for bed because tomorrow was going to be another day of motoring up the river.

Once again, the moon was full and it was another great day with friends. We are missing Mark and Susan but they had to stay behind.

After we got underway in a brief encounter with fog, the scenery was similar but I did have to take a picture of this house. I'm wondering if it will be there again when we come back up the waterway at sometime in the future. You can see in the picture to the lower left that part of the fence is missing. Of course if you look further down the hill, you can see the fence. It truly makes you wonder when you are going to see their living room down the hill. I happened to also notice and you can just see it in the picture that the glass on the left side is cracked. That, I'm guessing, is because of the shifting foundation. Glass doesn't like to shift!

We had been passed by a bunch of boats and knew that we had two possibilities. First would be they would have just locked a group up and it would take an hour before it got back to locking us up. However, two things happened. Bill suggested that I call ahead sooner than normal and let them know we were coming. The other was everyone was held up because there was a tow that locked through first. That means everyone had to wait until the tow was done and then they would come back for the pleasure boats.

As you can see below, there were a bunch of people wanting to go up. 14 people locked through on this lockage. This was the first time I've ever seen boats rafted up locking through. It was also the first time Bill and Bette have seen this so that means it was pretty unusual!

They brought us up slowly so everyone didn't bounce around too much and everyone was appreciative that they made it through.

You can see my sail cover in the picture to the left (doesn't it look so good? That new cover is just tight and doesn't block the view at all. Behind the cover is Gary. Gary was the person we rafted to. The way it works is you put the big heavy boats on the inside and the light small boats raft to them. It really makes for tough work for the guys on the inside.

As we were locking up, five more boats called asking to lock through. The lock was going to go through the paces today!

Below left, is a picture of the crew of Beauty and the Beast. I helped him fix one water problem and we thought that was it. However, in the lock he told me about another problem. I thought it through on the way up and think I gave him the solution before they departed. Who knows if I will ever find out.

Below is the lockmaster. She was very patient and I'm betting this is the larges number of boats locked through in quite a while.


 We made it to Grand Harbor Marina yesterday and Freedom docked right next to another Gemini 105. From right to left you see Alley Cat, Freedom and Tortuga Verde. As it ends up this was the Green Turtle Bay boats. Why? Alley Cat left from Green Turtle Bay on Friday and we caught up with them. They are very nice people and we had a great conversation this morning sharing boat talk.

Since it rained most of the day today (Thursday) we didn't leave. So tomorrow morning we will probably all leave together and go through the Continental Divide. Our plan is to anchor in Bay Springs and then move on down the Tenn-Tom. Bill has a new inverter that will be in Columbus on Monday so our goal will be to get there, pick up the inverter, reprovision, and then the next day move to an anchorage where we can explore the town.

We probably won't be updating again until Monday when we will get wi-fi again.


 Oct 19 - Everytime we reach a bridge the question seems to be, Will we make it? Of course we have charts with the heights in them but still, you sometimes wonder. We have one bridge after Demopolis that will be close for Bill and Bette. That day will ultimately come in less than a week to see if we make it again. We will but it fun to wonder.

As we cut through the continental divide, the picture to the lower left shows how they allow water enter the channel. This is just to ensure a ton of stuff doesn't get washed into the channel so it doesn't silt up.

The picture below is to show you that there are times when things are growing very close to the channel and you better stay in the channel.


 This lock is Whitten Lock and it is after Bay Springs. The drop is 84 feet down. It makes you look pretty small doesn't it. By the way, you might have noticed I'm not putting tons of repeat pictures about the Tenn-Tom back on the site. If this is the first time you are reading our site and are interested in even more detail, please go back to the October15-Nov 15, 2006 and June 15-July 15, 2008 logs.

Deb has turned into the Lock Queen. All she wants today is a five minute warning before we get into the lock. Then, she is on duty to rope the floating pin and keep her end of the boat off the wall. I get the job of driving the boat and keeping my end off the boat off of the wall. So, it really is a no-brainer however if you've never done it worriers worry and planners plan. Bottom line is Deb and I both fit our role characteristics and got through the first lock fine two years ago. Today, we are really laid back and are truly enjoying this trip back down south.

We have time on our hands when going down the waterway so I wanted to know how much water was drained out of this one lock to take our two boats down on our trip. Here are the figures. Lock is 600 feet long X 110 feet wide and it drops 84 feet. That means there are 5,544,000 cubic feet of water in the lock that was evacuated. Then you need to multiply that number by 7.48 gallons per cubic feet. So, that means there are - drum roll please - 41 million 469 thousand 120 gallons drained just so we could go down. I guess I know where my tax dollars have gone. Isn't it nice that you know exactly where your money goes that you pay the government! At least my money didn't go for wooden arrows. I'm happy to support my brother and friend Paul's retirement along with the Coast Guard and of course these locky things.


 It turned COLD after the front came through. We stayed two nights in Grand Harbor and it rained for a day in the process. I mention that because I put the enclosure up at Pickwick Lake and Bill said that meant that it was going to be really warm all day. Well, it was for us. The enclosure works wonderfully and by the afternoon we have to unzip parts of it and open the vents on top of the Bimini.

To the left you can see that the moisture in the wood chips is even creating a bit of fog on top of the barges. It is always fun meeting barges coming at you at a full head of "steam." (I know, I need an editor to take out the semi non-funny stuff.)

Lower left you can see just some of the beautiful colors in the trees along the waterway. Lower right you can see a picture of me with our enclosure in the background. I'm living my dream - sitting in a tee shirt along with shorts on a day that, at the time, was 55 degrees. Not a bad life!

Yesterday we did four locks before anchoring and left this morning at 7:15 am with some fog on the water. We arrived in Columbus, Mississippi on Sunday at noon. After filling up with fuel we pulled around to the transient dock. Then we were met by some friends of Bill and Bette. After a good conversation, we too the transient van into the old part of town to see all of the antebellum homes. You can see some of the pictures but this is one of if not the best collection of these types of homes in the area. The story is that since the town was used as a hospital site for both the Union and Confederate armies, the women of the town met Sherman and asked that he not burn the town. He complied and that is why they are still standing.  
 We got back to the dock after lunch and our tour and they were having a party for our arrival. At the time, we've already heard four bands and more are going to play. This is all occurring about 30 yards from our boat.  
Isn't it great when everyone is so happy to see you!

 Oct 21 - We are officially on the Tenn-Tom waterway and there is quite a bit of wildlife here. To the right you can see an eagle and below another bird trying to find dinner.

We decided to stop at a small marina tonight for two reasons. First it was supposed to be 39 or 40 degrees and the second is we wanted to visit the Tom Bevill Museum along with the Montgomery Snagboat. We stopped at the Marina Cove Marina at a buck a foot and no extra charge for electric. They were nice people here and gave us the keys to the courtesy car so we could go to the museum first thing in the morning.

The thing you might notice in the far lower right picture is the hydrila that grows like wildfire down here. It is a bad weed and chokes up the waterway.

Here are a couple of factoids for you about the Tenn-Tom.

The Tenn-Tom is the largest building project in the history of the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is over five times longer than the Panama Canal, and required the moving of over on-third more earth.

It took 12 years to build the Waterway. Construction began in 1972 and was completed in 1984.


To the left is the Tom Bevill Visitor Center. (From the brochure) - In the 19th century, just prior to the Civil War an interest in Ancient Greece swept the United States. This interest influenced government, society, art, literature and architecture. The refined lines of classic Greek architecture were interpreted throughout the country. In the South, Greek revival architecture were interpreted throughout the country. In the south, Greek revival architecture was expressed as the "Temple" style with its trademark colonnaded portico. The portico was especially suited to the southern climate where it was adapted as a veranda. Opening to all floor levees, such porches shaded the interior and served as open air living and sleeping spaces.

An intriguing fad was a rooftop cupola shaped like a small temple. These structures, also known as "belvederes", served as observatories and aided ventilation by providing an escape for air drawn through windows on lower floors. (These also became known as widow walks. Women waited for their men to return from the sea and many times they did not thus making them widows.)

Above far right is a helm station from a steamboat. This reminded us of the fact that Deb had three grandfathers who were steamboat captains. The latest, actually wrecked his steamboat by running it aground and thus lost his job. Hopefully, her husband won't do the same!

The second floor of this authentic reproduction of a home had displays about the Tenn-Tom along with displays of the wildlife in the area.

Another couple of factoids we picked up at the museum.

The Whitten Lock (at Bay Springs) has a lift of only one foot less than the highest lift lock on the Panama Canal.

The Tenn-tom Waterway has a role in the space program. The M/V Delta Mariner uses it to transport Delta 4 rockets from Decatur, AL to Florida and California launch sites.

How about a few more factoids?

An average barge tow can move as much freight as 120 rail cars or 480 tractor trailer trucks. A barge can move a ton of freight twice as far as a train and six times as far as a tractor-trailer truck on the same amount of fuel.

The average lock on the Tenn-tom holds about 14 million gallons of water.

The first person to swim the entire length of the Waterway was Sue Vondracek, writer for the Anniston Star's Living Today Department.

The U.S. Snagboat Montgomery, circa 1926, is displayed next to the Visitor Center. It retired from service in 1982. It is open for inspection from the pilothouse to the engine room. The 180-foot vessel removed submerged stumps and fallen trees from the inland waterways of the south for most of this century.

The picture below is actually two pictures that I lucked out and took in two locations but they seemed to splice up well when I put them in side by side. This is the best picture I have of a lock operation when I'm not in the lock.

This picture is from another view of the wonderful chandelier that hung the three stories inside the visitor center.
The picture to the right is of the Montgomery's boiler. The boiler created the steam to run the engine that is pictured to the lower right. The engine of course then turned the shaft and ultimately the wheel on the rear of the ship to power the vessel.

 The purpose of this ship was to remove "snags" which may be stumps, logs or other obstacles from the waterway. They would even send crews ashore to cut trees that were hanging into the waterway.

To the left you can see the crane that was doing the "heavy lifting." Below left is the engine and cable assembly that integrated with the crane. To the lower right is the operator station of which Deb is running the crane today. DUCK!


 The picture to the right shows the pilot station along with the crane operators station.

Below is a picture of the crane controls and to the lower right is the pilot controls.


You can see that someone appropriately placed the ships control in the proper position. When this ship was initially commissioned, it ran on coal. Later it was fitted so it would run on oil.

To the lower left you can see a picture of a crew bunk area.

To the lower right you can see an actual daily operating log. I tried to adjust it so you might be able to ready it. You will find they had two crew members fall overboard because of a broken cable. They were recovered and were fine.

When the crew members were brought back aboard the boat, they would have been brought upstairs to the "office" area next to the Captain and Chief Engineers quarters. In the office was the medicine cabinet with appropriate medicines of the day.

I was happy we stopped by since this was the last thing we had not done traveling the Tenn-Tom waterway.

The fog was gone when we got back to the boats and we called the Tom Bevill Lock to see if we could come through. Since there weren't any tow's in the area, he readied it for us and we were able to leave and be in the lock within 20 minutes. We locked through and were underway by about 9:45. Not bad since we have only one good place to anchor and it is about 35 miles downstream. That will leave us with about a 55 or so mile day tomorrow and hopefully we will get underway early. I expect it will be about 9 hours before we get to Demopolis.

Oct 23 - It seems you never get pictures of your own boat in these cruises. Since we are traveling with Bill and Bette, I have some. Bill and I exchanged pictures. So here are some pictures Bill took from the time we left to yesterday. 

 Oct 24 - One of the most beautiful and unusual features along the Tenn-Tom is this bluff. As you come around a bend, all of a sudden it just appears and then you never see anything like it again.

We haven't seen as many of the trees that have started changing colors down here in Alabama but on the bluff there were a few and as you can tell they were beautiful.

Below is another thing that was quite unusual. The front of this barge is obviously modified but I'm not sure why. At first I thought it was for a helicopter to land on but as we passed there were other things mounted on the front. Perhaps it was a modification to see if it would improved the miles per gallon a tow will achieve.



 We stopped at Demoplis Yacht Basin because a big cold front was supposed to pass and we were to have thunderstorms and all kinds of rain. However, as I write this it hasn't happened. Yes it got colder but no big event things. As luck would have it, it was good we were here anyway because I had a number of emails that were very important that needed my attention.

I'm sure we will be of to the fuel dock at 8 am and then back on the river heading downstream. We won't have another wi-fi connection until Monday and only then if we are lucky. We plan on stopping at Dog River on Mobile Bay and then heading on to Biloxi where we will meet up with my father on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.

 Oct 26 - We have had a wonderful trip so far. For the most part the days have been great, the locks haven't delayed us, the boats seem to be doing fine, the company is perfect, and the meals have been decadent.

Yesterday we woke up to fog and weren't able to get underway until 9:15 am. This meant we would be doing a longer day to make up for the two hours of time we lost. We anchored along the river out of the channel and had a great meal.

While underway, Jimmy Buffett decided that it was time for a nap. I guess he was just working too hard during the day with all of this traveling. Both Jimmy and Deb have been really happy with the enclosure. When it is 55 degrees outside and the sun shines, it gets too hot inside to handle and we have to vent things. Now that is what I love. I have had shorts and a t-shirt on every day as we've been heading south.

The pictures below are of the spillway below the dam at Demopolis. Beautiful isn't it. The overcast clouds were creating rain and mist from time to time so we didn't really miss the rain event.


Yesterday, we had a place picked out along the river but couldn't find water any shallower than 35 feet. Well, that is just too deep to anchor. We discussed a possibility of going on past the next bend and trying that but Bill noticed that nobody was home at the house above the dock below. No lights on, no cars. So we decided to tie up and explain if someone did come down. Afterall, it was starting to get dark.

Below you can see Bill rafted up off of us and of course we once again had a great dinner.

Bill and Bette had just left the boat when we saw a tow coming up along the river. The fog was to really come in at about midnight but as you can tell, it was starting to form at about 9 pm already.

They have two very large, very bright spotlights on these boats that can light up the river bank for the captain. On top of that, they also have radar and of course maps that are as good as the ones we have on a computer or chartplotter. So my bet is they won't get too lost on this trip. Still, after the fog gets heavy they still have to push into the bank and stop until it lifts the next morning.

The fog finally lifted at 9 am and we were able to leave our little dock at mile 129.5. You can see to the north there is still fog on the water and below left you can see we are heading for a bend where it hasn't totally burned off yet. However, in each minute the fog got less and less and finally, it was gone.

Jimmy Buffett celebrated the event with a bath. When he starts slinging water everywhere, I have to take him out to the cockpit so he doesn't get it on the upholstery and of course on the electrical panel either.

I started calling the Coffeeville lock about 40 minutes before we arrived. Even though it was only 4.5 miles away, they didn't answer multiple hails on 16 or 14. Finally, I called on the telephone because we started getting service again. No answer after 10 rings. Ok, now what? I waited 5 minutes and started over again with the radio calls and ultimately called again on the cell phone. The guy seemed a bit perturbed that I called. Sorry, I thought you might be dead or injured and my next call was going to be to the coast guard to provide assistance for you!

At least he knew we were coming although didn't sound like he would be too helpful in getting us through. I wanted to say, open the lock and make it snappy!! Of course I didn't because that never gets you anywhere. In the end, he had the lock ready and we motored right in. He actually ended up being very helpful so you can't always judge by your first impression.

Once in the lock we saw the birds still had it figured out that when the lockmaster blew his whistle, dinner was going to be served on the lock doors.

We left our last lock and Deb celebrated with a high five. I caught the picture to the lower right of the water which will make up the current trying to help us get to the ocean.

 Oct 30 - Somehow I missed the notice. I'm not sure if it is because we are cruising and the mail only gets sent to us occasionally or if it is because I don't own a 4-wheeler. However, the bubba society decided to hold a 4-wheeler rally right here on the Tenn-Tom waterway. In addition, they still have some tent frames left in the background to ensure we know this rally is held in the summer too.

The last bridge we must have open for us is in front of us and the last time through this bridge, I had to wait on a train for 30 minutes. This time it must have been a different operator because the train waited for us! Yes, that is the train just below. I knew he was ready to get moving because he blew his horn just as we were getting ready to head through the bridge.

We are ready to be done with the Tenn-Tom! This has been the best trip ever because of two things. First, we have had a blast traveling with Bill and Bette. When we anchor out, one of us will anchor and the other just rafts up to them. Of course that wouldn't be true if bad weather was coming however it just hasn't been bad weather. Cold weather on the other hand is what it has been. That brings me to the second reason. The enclosure. Worth every penny of 300 bucks and 3 weeks of work!

Below right, you can see we are getting close to Mobile and we are ready for open seas.


One of the last dinners we shared together was this dish I made. This is the second try at it and I must say it was delicious. Saute onions, peppers, then add the squash, okra to saute it for a couple of minutes. Next open one or two cans, depending on how much you are making, of canned chopped tomato's. I like the basil and garlic kind. Drain the water off of the second can if using two and let that heat up before you add the shrimp, scallops and previously grilled sausage. Cover it and let it cook until the seafood is complete. While that is happening, warm the bag's of rice or if you are making your own rice, you would already have that underway. When complete, plate the dish with the rice making a bowl on the bottom and the seafood mixture in the middle topped with Parmesan cheese and garnished with parsley. Of course a little garlic bread on the side will complete this meal. Like I said, delicious.

To the lower left you can see Bette and Bill on our boat enjoying this meal. We would trade off each night and every meal was special with special people.

Lower right is what it looks like as we round a bend from the wilderness and Mobile is in the distance.

Before you head under the bridge, you had better be ready for some serious boat traffic. I'm talking about big boat traffic in this harbor. As you can see, first we meet a tow as we pass under the bridge and we will go between it and an ocean liner used for shipping. Next we are going to encounter a dredge that takes up half of the waterway and of course another loaded tow is going through the gap between the dredge and the large vessels tied up loading or unloading. However, we have to go through too!

So, through we went. You can see Bill in the picture to the left making his way between the tow and the ships.

Well that would have been enough excitement but no. Next we encounter one of the ocean going ships coming into harbor along with two tows. About 30 seconds after I took this picture, the ship calls us and asks us to cross in front of him. I thought, "you're nuts." I didn't say it but if we would have done it and one of our engines would quit then we would have been squashed fish food. I called back for clarification and he said not to do it now. Good thing because I would have told him I wasn't going to do it anyway.

Below is a picture of the government center for Mobile.

We got out on Mobile Bay and it was rough. We've been in calm seas for 4 months now and a small craft warning has welcomed us to Mobile Bay. Actually, the winds were 25 knots from the north and the tide was coming in. As you may remember, Mobile Bay sits north to south so that meant the tide and wind were opposing. We were getting tossed around pretty good and all we had to do was get to Dog River which was only about 7 miles away.

But Wait! We can't end the story here. Since it was so close we just motored. I started into a channel that I've used before to go directly to Dog River through the spoils from dredging the main channel and found that since we were at low tide and the wind was blowing the water out of the bay, we couldn't make it. We turned around and headed down to the marked channel further south. It was interesting because in these seas Bill's mono hull was wallowing around quite a bit. We were fairly stable but we could definitely tell the effects. We start into the marked channel and start coming back up into the wind at about 50 degrees. All is going good until I see Bill has a sail out. About 5 minutes later he called and said, "I've lost my engine." Ok, I though he had the sail up to steady him. Instead, he got it out just in time before he went aground outside the channel.

Remember I was concerned about crossing in front of that large ship? Bill was able to sail into Dog River and I was ready with fenders out on both sides and I had made up a hundred foot tow line. Luckily, he was able to get the engine to run but only on idle. The engine quit 3 times as he was making it to this dock. We both though I might have to give a hand but it ended up just fine. Bill found the problem which turned out to be an air leak but he changed his fuel filters too. Just think if that air leak would have started one hour before while we were in Mobile Harbor!

With a fixed engine for Bill and full fuel for us we departed Dog River and headed south for Biloxi, Mississippi. We may or may not see Bill and Bette again on this trip south.

We were late getting away from Dog River and the winds had died down on the bay. We were able to motor sail and would have just sailed except we were now facing sundown and the timing would be a problem. As it turned out. It was a big problem. The current was still against us and the sun set with sailing vessel Freedom still having seven miles to go to an anchorage. In front of us was a narrow channel, a big bridge, another narrow channel, and finally a marsh we were going to hide behind. All of this we have to navigate with no moon out. Yes, we picked the darkest night for this excitement.


I remembered I had given Deb a night vision monoscope a few years ago because she can't see at night. Tonight, I pulled it along with my binoculars out and put them both to use. To make a long story shorter, we made it into the first channel at dusk and all the light was gone before we cleared the bridge. By using the night vision unit, I was able to pick out the can's before we would hit them. Fortunately, the GPS map was dead on or should I say live on in this area. When we passed the narrow channel, I then turned out and into the waters leading to the marsh. We had two miles to go and missed the pilings that were shown on the GPS. I only saw one of them with the night vision unit but it was where it was supposed to be. We anchored an hour and a half after official sundown and about fifty minutes after total darkness.

We had happy hour, ate and went to get a deserving sleep. When I woke up the next morning guess what I saw? The marsh. All was good and we had just had another new experience. Deb was scared but I was actually having fun because I knew we were prepared for such an event. I guess it is like the quote I use on my main page, "I'm not afraid of the dangers we face. I'm afraid of missing the opportunity to experience and enjoy what life has to offer." Of course I wrote that. The way I face adversity today is completely different than what I did before leaving to go cruising. I now know that many of our decisions have the potential to be life and death. You better be prepared to make those and also have the tools available so they always end up with the result being life.

We got underway and were off to Biloxi to meet my father. We passed these oil refinery's and were reminded of how exposed they are to a hurricane. However, they have to be in this location because of the need for oil tankers to be able to feed our addiction. This would have been one of the refinery's that had been shut down this summer during the hurricane.

To the right is Biloxi and we arrived. Marinas are closed and not much is going with boating here. Of course the main draw is the Casino action. We called a number of places and found no answers on the phone. I figured they just didn't have their dock houses open at this time. Wrong. They were out of business. So, no anchoring out or staying close. We were able to get a trainsit slip at Ocean Springs Harbor Marina. The good news is that it is only ten bucks a night including electricity. The bad news is they don't have showers and we would have to take a cab to the Beau Rivage to meet up with my father.

Another adventure and I'll tell you more as we live it.

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Jim and Deb's Adventures