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Captain Mel navigating the waters of the Tombigbee River

Anchored in Aliceville Lake, Alabama

The Tom Bevill Visitors Centre

U.S. Snagboat Montgomery, the last steam-powered sternwheeler on the Inland Waterways of...


Critters in them thar woods

Diver Mel to the rescue

The stunning white cliffs of Epes, Alabama

Shores of the Tombigbee River just outside Demopolis, AL

Downtown Demopolis, AL

We slipped quietly from Mississippi into Alabama at noon on Wed Oct 18th. Sometimes there is a sign marking the state line along the side of the waterway but in this case there was nothing, just a note in our Skipper Bob's book that told us what mile marker the line was at and a corresponding mark on our paper chart. I always get a kick out of crossing from one state into another. Actually we zig-zagged back and forth from Mississippi to Alabama and back several times for 6 miles until we were finally in Alabama for good.

The river had risen 4 ft between 8 in the morning and mid-afternoon. The heavy rain from the day before had washed so much debris into the river that it resembled an obstacle course. We took turns driving, keeping a constant watch for the huge logs in the river, especially the deadheads, logs that are not on top but underneath the surface,not sunken to the bottom yet. All you can see is the very top of the log as it bobs vertically vs horizontally in the water. These are the monsters that eat propellers!

After only 29 miles we pulled off into a lovely anchorage in Aliceville Lake and stopped for the day. We anchored near the Tom Bevill Visitor Centre which is beside the Tom Bevill Lock and Dam. After a tasty lunch of bbq burgers we rowed the dingy over to the courtesy dock at the centre and toured the building and the U.S. Snagboat Montgomery, the last steam-powered sternwheeler to travel on the inland waterways of the south.

For nearly six decades the Montgomery worked on the Alabama, Coosa, Black Warrier and Tombigbee Rivers in Alabama and the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in Forida, Alabama and Georgia. Her job was to clear trees, sunken logs and other debris that might obstruct river traffic. After her retirment in 1982 she was brought to the Tom Bevill Visitor's Centre and put on display.

The centre itself portrays a Greek Revival home similar to those built in the area between 1830-1860. The bottom floor is decorated in the American Empire Style, popular just before the Victorian period and the upper floor serves as a museum with numerous exhibits and models. The grand staircase leads up several flights to a rooftop cupola, known also as a belvedere where we had a gorgeous view of the lock, river, lake and of course our lovely boat anchored just off-shore.

The temperature was in the 90's and after we dingied back to the boat I was hot enough to put on my suit and go in for a swim, hoping that we weren't far enough south for alligators. I was in and out fairly quickly. The water was refreshing, so refreshing that I jumped in again just before bed, this time for a quick "skinny dip". Really, really quick since I know the gators feed at night!

When we pulled up our anchor the next morning we accidentally snagged our anchor marker line on the rudder so I had to go back in for yet another swim, well sort of. I was only in up to my waist and didn't really enjoy touching bottom (still thinking gators). We had drifted into shallow water during this escapade so once I freed the line the Captain dug us out of the mud with the engines. Luckily our keel touches bottom before our props do. WHEW! After this early morning adventure we continued on south and the weather was not so nice, in fact we encountered more torrential downpours and strong winds so we revised our plans to find another anchorage and headed for the Demopolis Yacht Basin. It was a long 90 miles but we were relieved to be tied to the dock as we heard the wind howling during the night.

We met up with some boaters we had met along the way here. We joined one couple from Naples,Florida travelling on their Catamaran Algernon up at the New Orleans Bar and Grill for dinner last night. Tonight Carl and Sally from Kentucky came by the boat and asked us if we would like to join them as they were heading into Demopolis to Captain D's, a very tasty but reasonable seafood place.

Tomorrow morning we are off again on the last leg of the trip to the Gulf. We have 217 miles to go before we reach Mobile, Alabama. At mile 45 the Tombigbee and Alabama Rivers join to form the Mobile River. Just before we reach that junction, after the last lock on the system we will be in salt water and have tides to contend with. There is only one marina (sort of) called Bobby's Fish Camp, which apparently fills up quickly so we will be anchoring between here and Mobile.

No internet till then so Y'All check back in a few days for a taste of Mobile!

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