09 Nov Days 54,55,56 & 57. Tombigbee Part 2
The second part of the Tombigbee started early with a group of boats leaving Columbus Marina at 7AM. Because of the time change the sun was just rising. We went straight into the Stenis Lock and then traveled 4 hours where we had a short delay waiting for a tow out of the Bevill Lock.
The sun was out and us hardy Canadians were dressed for summer.
A short while later we passed the famous “ Phone Booth in the middle of nowhere” I see it on many looper’s blogs, no one knows why it’s there, but in a portion of the river where there is very little to photograph, it stands out.
That night we anchored out in a small bay off the river with Knot Diggin and two other loopers.
We rafted off with the Watsons to save room for the others and because it was very well protected and one anchor would hold both boats. We then had a nice walk in the Sumter Conservation Area to get some steps in and stretch our legs a bit.
The next morning we were all up early and left at first light.
Not long after clearing the only lock of the day, the Howell Helfin Lock, the scenery changed as we passed the White Cliffs of Epes.
It was an interesting surprise in an otherwise boring part of the river. Apparently the Cliffs are chalk deposits and were created about 70 million years ago just like the White Cliffs of Dover.
By 12:30 we arrived at our destination of Demopolis, Alabama where we took on fuel. Demopolis is a regular fuel stop for the tows that run the river and because they sell such huge volumes, it is relatively cheap and always fresh. Rumour has it that some tows take on 30,000 gallons. We bought 100. Part of the reason it is so cheap is it is also “Self Serve” the lady came out and caught our dock lines and then said “There’s the pumps, help yourself” and walked away. We tipped accordingly.
At Demopolis Yacht Harbor they also have a daily meeting to update Loopers about the river conditions we would encounter the rest of the way to the Gulf and possible anchorages to use on the way. It was a short meeting. Water levels were high and lots of current and debris in the river and most anchorages were unusable.
We decided on the straight shot of 97 miles to the famous “Bobby’s Fish Camp”. It would be a long day but with only one usable anchorage along the way, it was the only real option.
Another before sunrise morning and we were into the Demopolis Lock at 05:45 with 10 other boats.
The water levels were high and the current strong. Not as bad as the Mississippi but still not without some danger.
This poor guy ran into troubles a few days before.
This guy wasn’t having a good day either.
After 10 hours of river adventure we arrived at the famous “Bobby’s Fish Camp”.
Bobby’s is a Looper’s staple, mostly because of location as there is little other option, but also because of the “All you can eat”, Catfish dinners.
Bobby’s is also known as the King of rafting boats. There is about 100’ of dock and we were tied to 10 other boats for the night. Three rows of boats rafted four deep and one three deep. All paying the same rate of $1/ft if you also buy dinner at the restaurant. So this night they made approximately $500 for dockage plus about 25 dinners in the restaurant. I am not complaining, it was an experience. The Looper comradery was great, the catfish dinner was very good, hard to eat, but good.
Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt…
The last full day on the Tombigbee was another early start. The group planned on untying all those lines @ 06:00 and enter the Coffeeville lock right away. When we arrived the Lockmaster went through a lengthy process of recording every boats name and registration numbers before we entered the lock. When that was done he announced that it was almost 7AM and we would have to wait for shift change to open the lock.
It was still hard to dampen the spirits of all the Loopers because it was the last Lock of the river system and from then on we would be at Sea level.
Another 9 hours and 83 NM would bring us to our last anchorage of the River system at the Tensaw River, a nice big side channel with a small current to hold the boat steady all night. We slept well in the Tensaw.