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Day 24

Location: Aqua Yacht Harbor Marina, Iuka Mississippi, Mile 448.8 of the Tenn-Tom

Distance Travelled Today: 51 Nautical Miles

Total Trip Distance: 975 Nautical Miles

I have had more than my share of lousy weather this trip. I think it would have been smart to undertake this in September rather than late October and November. It has never risen above the low 60’s and it has rained more days than it hasn’t. Today was no exception. We were hoping for it to clear after last night’s rain but it was overcast and misting rain all day, and still cool. Tonight, the cold mist continues. On top of that, the current in the Tennessee River grew all day as the river narrowed and we approached Pickwick Dam, where the floodgates were open slowing us to 4 and 5 miles per hour. Tomorrow, the forecast calls for partial clearing with highs in the upper 60’s and Thursday and Friday it’s actually supposed to be in the 70’s. And we’ll be headed downstream from here on, southbound and heading south.

At any rate, we’re still having fun, but it was a long slow day up the Tennessee to Pickwick Lock and Dam. We arrived there around 2 pm but it took more than an hour to lock through. We finally emerged on Pickwick Lake at around 3:30 and quit having to fight the current. We cruised about ten miles up the lake and turned right into the beginning of the Tenn-Tom where we begin a 450–mile downhill run to Mobile. With the current finally behind us, we sped up to 8.5 mph (7.5 knots) and cruised into Aqua Harbor for the night.

We’ve had a few overbearing lockmasters this trip but the one at Pickwick wins the award so far. He required that everyone on deck wear a lifejacket. He demanded that we speed up to get into the lock but also wanted no wakes from anyone. He required that the smallest boat enter first and so on until the largest of the five boats was last. This required all of us to converse on the radio to determine the length of each boat. It seems that the lockmaster is king of his domain and makes all the rules.

The only disconcerting news of the day was we learned that the Coffeeville Lock just below Demopolis will close November 14 for six days. A quick calculation shows that we can maybe make it there by the 13th so I will leave Midway Marina in Fulton, Mississippi at noon Thursday when the inimitable Uncle Randy joins me and we will do everything possible to make it. I had checked the Corps of Engineers website just this morning and saw nothing about this but, after hearing about it from another boat, I called the lock and confirmed the information. Such is the way of locks and dams on the river.

Hardheaded George had another major encounter with the doorways this evening, bumping his head hard as he tried to leave his cabin. He is now stating that there are major knots on his head, but he continues to be hardheaded, if for no other reason than he refuses to duck after countless encounters with the ceilings and doorways.

This is our second straight night with no internet service so this will be posted some time tomorrow as we pass through service areas.

We have an appointment at a boatyard about a mile from here at 8:15 to get our mast raised back up. This will give us radar, better radio and better GPS reception.

We’ll report back in tomorrow night.

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