The night was a rocky one, Barefootin’ was slapped consistently throughout the night by the waves caused by the northern wind coming across the channel. It wasn’t that it was worrisome, not by a long shot. The problem was that our minds were not accustomed to this noise. All four of us struggled with waking from the noise, falling back into the lull of dreams, only to be wakened once again. The pattern continued throughout the night for all four of us.
Needless to say, morning light was a welcome sight. We hit the “on” button to the coffee pot and rose with the sun. We ate on the move. The Captain checked off his list and the Rear Admiral checked off hers. We took the dogs for one last “potty walk,” and we boarded, threw off the lines and headed, no, not off, we headed over to the gasoline and pump out station. (fooled you, right?) Gassed up and pumped out, yes, we headed out of the channel and into the river.
The Wheeler Dam was just around the corner. And, yes, my pulse immediately skyrocketed at its sighting.
The highway bridge which crosses over the dam is St. Rt. 101.
I don’t want anyone to faint, but we actually went through this lock uneventfully. This even with gusting winds. Clint and I want to celebrate, but there is one more lock looming before this day is over. Wilson Dam is ahead, we have 15 more miles before we can prove our “lock through” abilities might truly be honed down to perfection (or close enough).
As we enter into the expanse of Wilson Lake the words “Wide open spaces..” from a Dixie Chicks’ song play through my head. I find myself in awe at the amount of water this river, with its many lakes, must hold. It is an amazing sight.
The wind continues to blow with gusts that keep the water stirred up. Clouds still fill the sky above us, the temp in the helm reads 54 with our windows closed. But, despite the chill, there is a warmth that comes with this scene of beauty. We enjoy every moment.
With 14 miles behind us since Wheeler Dam, we now see Wilson Dam raising its head in the distant. This will be the test. Have we “mastered” locking through, or was Wheeler a fluke? Soon we will know the answer.
The Captain calls the lockmaster, he’s ready for us. I put on my life jacket and climb to the bow, hang out the fenders and prepare my lines. We slowly move into position. The lockmaster comes out to watch (did someone tell him how entertaining our lock throughs are??). I wave up at him, he returns the same.
We approach a bollard on the port side, three-fourths of the way down the far side of the lock. I loop the line around the bollard twice. Afterwards I take a seat on the bow with the boathook and wait until the horn blows. I twiddle my thumbs. Ha.
The horn sounds, the water begins to move as does the bollard. Our decent is in progress as is our test of ability.
Holy cow! We did it!! There was some work involved, some muscle applied, but smooth sailing all the way down every last 88 feet of Wilson! Yes, we were quite proud of ourselves.
I was so elated that I “asked permission” to stay on the bow at a slow speed for just a short while. I told the Captain I wanted to see what it would be like on a trawler, to be able to ride up front, enjoy the ride a bit more.
So, I sat my booty down and we jugged along at 4-5 mph for a whopping 10 minutes or so. The captain would never believe this next statement (A-Type Captain, remember?), but it was nice. So quiet and you could watch each bird that flew overhead…
Another nice advantage to drifting along down river is seeing exactly what is going on around you. We pass this fisherman, I wave, he waves. I say it’s a cold morning for fishing. He says “yep,” (I could tell he was a man of many words). As I study his boat a little closer, since we are going slowly, I see that this fisherman has 8, oh yes, I said 8 fishing poles perfectly fanned out around him as he sits at the bow of his boat. Now, that my friends, is a fisherman!
* My apologies to our viewers today as my camera decided to act up, so most photos today are taken with my phone. Therefore, not the prettiest or most detailed.
Well, my 10 minutes of luxury (4 mph) passes quickly and I return to the helm by the Captain’s side. He hits the throttle (funny how men love that kinda thing) and off we go, leaving Wilson Dam and the quiet in our wake.
As the hours pass, the goal is 62 miles today to Grand Harbor Marina, the river widens again. The wind continues to blow, and the 1-2 ft. waves are plentiful with lots of white caps. Barefootin’ is truly a great riding boat…the bass boats that are staying in closer to shore are airborn often. Mmmm, no, that’s not for me. Bravery is not something I find exuding from my body these days.
We pass under the Natchez Trace Bridge. We’re watching our miles markers as the clouds dissipate above us and a beautiful blue takes its place. We will be turning left into the Yellow River/Tenn-Tom/Tom Bigbee Waterway at mile marker 215 today.
Aaah, there it is, our turn. And, the Grand Harbor Marina and its facilities take a majestic stance on the western side of the Tenn-Tom, just a short ways from the mouth of the Yellow River. In my excitement of seeing our destination I forgot to pick up my phone and snap a few photos.
We pull into the marina, a beautiful one, check in and find our assigned spot on H dock. We tie up and settle in. The rest of the afternoon is all about exploring our new surroundings. We take a long walk, go inside a villa for sale which overlooks the river, potty the girls (our little river rats), etc. When we get back to the boat, I head off to the showers and clean up. Clint does the same.
We have made arrangements to use one of the marina’s courtesy cars to go to Freddy T’s for dinner. We’ve heard good things about it. We are not disappointed!
Not only was the food delicious, the atmosphere was like that of a beach club in the Caribbean and the people, both service and patrons, were fun and friendly. Just a grand place…Clint and I pondered why there couldn’t be a place like this in a 30 mile range of our farm? We will definitely return to Freddy T’s again.
As we arrive back at the marina I take the opportunity to take a few last photos to end a wonderful day on the river.
As the Captain and I view this scene above, we think over the events of today with a smile. We both agree, we are finally “Gettin’ It!”
Travel Log: We have traveled 215 miles thus far, using 1.37 gallons of gasoline per mile.
Today’s Question: Who on earth is Tom Bigbee???