Warmed up the diesel engines and with guidance from dock manger Chip Lucas we eased out of the Grand Harbor Marina at 10:15 a.m. and headed down the Tombigbee. Just before leaving you could catch Keith and Chip showing off their Grand Harbor jackets.
The route from Pickwick Lake to Mobile Bay is commonly called the Tenn-Tom waterway. Construction on the project to create this route was begun in 1972. It is the largest civil works project ever undertaken by the Army Corp of Engineers. It cost two Billion dollars to connect the Tennessee River in Mississippi, to the Black Warrior River in Alabama a distance of 253 miles. The waterway was opened January 14, 1985. The deepest cut made was 174 feet with one five mile section averaging 75 feet of cut. More dirt was moved to build the Tenn-Tom than was moved to build the Panama Canal. Connecting to the Black Warrior River allows traffic to access Mobile Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. The total distance from the Tennessee River to Mobile Bay is 470 miles.
Today we set the throttles at 2300 RPM and traveled at 9.7 MPH. The 2 MPH current helped move us along with the lower throttle setting. The trip today was pleasant as the trees along the bank are still colorful and there was almost no traffic. We only met one tow and slowed down a couple of times for fishermen in small boats. The plan was to stop about 2 miles above the Witten Lock and Dam knowing that tomorrow will be a much busier day as we will go through the first four locks. We only traveled 36 miles arriving at mile 414 at 3:00 p.m. We turned to the port and went into a nice area protected by trees, and well off the main channel. We anchored in about 20 feet of water to allow room for the boat to swing around a single anchor off the bow. It is difficult to find shallow water as there was 50’ to 55’ of water most places coming into this cove. Having been warned about the possibility of getting the anchor stuck, we rigged it with a trip line and a floating marker. It really gets dark when there are no lights around! It creates a bit of a strange feeling to look out and not be able to see anything. Only the compass tells us that the boat continually moves around slowly.