Friday, November 1, 2013

Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway & Black Warrior Tombigbee

Well we are done the river system! Surprisingly the last night we had at anchorage was a little sad, this chapter of our adventure was finished.

Traveling the Tenn Tom (Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway) cuts off mileage and is a slack waterway without the pull the current in the Mississippi. It is the optimal route to Mobile Bay.  It is a recreational area and heavily traveled south in the fall. The Tenn Tom is divided into three areas: the Divide Cut, the Canal Section & the River Section. In total we navigated ten lock & dams. Then we traveled the Black Warrior Tombigbee

The divide cut is a 27 mile canal that connects the Tennessee and Tombigbee river basins. It took seven contractors eight years to complete the canal that is 280 feet wide and 12 feet deep. 

The Canal Section is a series of five locks that runs relatively parallel with the Tombigbee river. There is a levee on the right bank that protects the canal & the river system. 

Many diversions are placed along the canal banks  to stop creeks from rushing in and causing erosion. I had to take pictures as the diversions were as diverse as the bridges along this journey. I'm sure each one had an engineering reason for its style but I just don't know. 

The river system is 149 miles long and was constructed to eliminate the sever bends found in the Tombigbee River. It has dense growth and wildlife.  It is not so populated with cottages in the northern section of the river. There is lots of debris and stumps in the water. Ox bows add personality and cautious anchorages. An oxbow is a U shaped bend in the river system. 

White Sand Hills

Wildlife Along The Way

We have seen so much wildlife along the trip. Deer, raccoons, birds & ducks of all types, turtles (Dave told me how to spot turtles and I haven't been disappointed) snakes, wild turkeys the list goes on. We kept seeing bird houses in the strangest remote areas then found out that the Corps of engineers erected over 5,000 birdhouses to support the development of aviary wildlife. 

Great White Egret 

Alligators are so fascinatingly beautiful. They smile at me. I swear they are smiling. They lay in sunny spots enjoying the rays much like a turtle and you can get so close. Ok in the sail boat, not the dingy. Can you imagine those jaws with a rubber dingy. I think not. As you get close they slide slowly in like a submarine. If you stay far enough away they remain in full site. We could get as close as 15-20'

Black Warrior Tombigbee Waterway Welcome to the swamp!
We did have a patch that seemed relatively boring. For two reasons I think. One, we were ready to enjoy a new water system and get off the river. Two, we were becoming accustom to the landscape. Well we came alive in the Black Warrior Tombigbee Waterway. 

I found it fascinating and terrifying at the same time. Now doesn’t that sound mellow dramatic. But its true. I am so afraid of creepy crawly’s you can’t even imagine. For years & years Daniel used to terrify me by putting plastic snakes in my bed. I would throw back the sheets and see this snake after a long day and he would get me every time. For a split second my heart would race complete and utter terror would arise. No exaggeration! I don’t know where it comes from but I have total snake terror. When we were in Columbus a local told us about when they went into the bayou fishing. Sometimes they would run their boat to hard into the sides of the shores or a tree. Snakes would be sunbathing in the limbs and fall into their boat. I haven’t been able to go under a tree in the bayou since.  

I have to tell you though that I find the birds, fish, trees fascinating. Just enough like ours yet totally different. The trunks of trees are beautiful messes tangled out of the water from the constant receding and advancing of the water.  Moss hanging and blowing in the wind like a white sheer curtain is lovely yet spooky. The fish tiny and silver jump, jump and jump again I don’t know what they are trying to catch but I smile at each jump. Birds.  There are so many birds of every shape and size but my repertoire is so limited. Now also for the terrifying. Have you seen those crazy horror movies shot in the bayou, run down shanties, noises that you can't define? I search the shoreline for snakes terrified but really wanting to see their heads poking up. I search for alligators. I listen for birds, animals, sounds, people. People's alien accents  are just strange enough to make me think of scary movies. Its just a voice. Just the same as you and I. I try to take pictures. Show the beauty. Show the scary but it never seems enough. Not right. The sounds, how do you capture sounds? 

Owls hooting birds raising in a flurry for no reason, scattering from some unknown predator.  You can’t image how much roots and trees and stumps look like alligators, snakes...

I could get lost out here in the back water. Ok maybe until the power died on my lap top.

Wow, over four months already as live a boards. Two months on our trip. I didn’t think I would be happy but I really am. I love the anchorage's. I love the people. Not the marinas as much as they lack privacy. I don’t even mind the small space of the boat.  I am trying to figure out my place in this trip. How to keep busy. How to keep up exercise. How not to turn into a constant vacationer that drinks and eats to much and that could be so possible. 

We are ready to do some work on the boat that we have discussed ad nauseum over the years but now that we have spent some time on her are ready to make the commitment.  Then off we go. I’m still not sure where the next trip goes. Bahamas, Florida, Cuba but I am excited and ready. 


  1. Marc & Linda, This last post made us a little emotional remembering how we felt as we left the rivers - glad to be done but a little sad at the same time! Linda, you expressed it perfectly!

    Turner's is a great stop. One of the guys there that does mast stepping, Sean - his parents sail the North Channel on their sailboat 'Ultimate Therapy'. They are friends of Roy Eaton's and sometimes fill in when Roy needs to be away.

    Enjoy the next phase of your adventure. We can't really say any one part was better than the other; each different and special in their own way. Stay safe!

    1. Hello Lynne we are so happy to see that you are following the posts. Marc & I spent so much time enjoying your blog that I feel we know each other.
      We met John & Maryilyn Lucy our last night in Louisa. They were a wealth of knowledge and gave us Seans info. The boat is coming out this week for bottom paint, then new rigging & radar.
      We are enjoying everyday!

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment and the kind words. I am not sure what it is you are wanting to know. Marc and I are both happy to answer any questions about anything on the blog you are interested in. We are always happy to know you are out there reading. Happy Sailing Linda