The day we push hard to make distance to Demopolis so we can arrive before the weather turns to crud.

Start: Columbus Marina, Columbus, MS, 0700
End: Sumter Recreation Area, MM 260.0, 1615
Total Distance: 56.2 nm
Time: 9:14
Average Speed: 6.1 kts
Number of locks: 2

Up bright and early because we have two days and over 110 miles to get to Demopolis, AL where there is a marina we plan on staying at for a day or two. This will get us ready for our final push to Mobile, AL. Normally the 110 miles wold be at least three days, but the weather on Sunday turns to the ’thunderstorm’ end of the spectrum so we are going to try to burn through three locks and the miles in two days. Our plan for today is to push through two locks, 60ish miles and see if our engines keep operating at super high rpms, , or if they end up in big piles of slags and we end up rowing to the Gulf of Mexico. Big day.

Which starts at 0700. The journey, that is. We were up at 6ish getting ready to go. Fortunately for us there was way less fog than yesterday and we along with five other boats left the marina and headed to the first of two locks for the day. Green light was on, door was open and we all loaded up and were locked through.

Now the pack divides into two. The three fast movers take off for destinations unknown. The three slower movers (us, Hapy Wanderer and Barefoot Shoes) take off at 7mph and head down the waterway. The waterway turns to the East and the sun is directly in our eyes. There is some fog on the water. And we hear on the radio that there is a tow ahead of us who is policing up three barges that he lost control of the night before. And that there is a second tow with barges (3 wide) making his way up the river. Tow1, the dude who lost control of his barges, had captured two of the three and was attempting to tie them off to shore so he could go get the third, which was bobbing merrily along in the middle of the channel. Tow2, the dude coming up the river was polite, but insisted on getting a key piece of information–could he get around the lost barge. We, pleasure craft three, were motoring up to this drama. We ducked and weaved around the lost barge then around Tow1 with a good five minutes to spare before the three wide got to the lost barges. All of this BEFORE OUR COFFEE!!

We get to our next lock in an hour and there is again no wait. Which makes a total of ten minutes of wait time for the nine locks we have gone through on the Ten-Tom. One more tomorrow but unless we wait there for seven hours, we will have spent less time in the locks on the Ten-Tom than we did on the TWO locks on the Ohio. Rest of the day was uneventful. We put in over 60 statute miles arriving at Sumter recreational area just after 4pm.

The recreational area is a campground, a boat launch, parking lot and bathroom in, as far as we can tell, the middle of nowhere. It is on a small inlet just off the river with a fairly narrow and shallow entrance, but it opened up nicely and there were five boats in there by the end of the afternoon. We had a quick conference amongst the boats and decided that 7am was a good time to get underway; the next lock was three miles down river and this would put is there by 0730. Rest of the night was spent walking the dog, making dinner and NOT playing Pandemic. Jan has decided that a cooperative game takes away the satisfaction she gets from kicking our everliving rear ends, so she is denying us the opportunity to play.

Start: Sumter Recreation Area, MM 260.0, 0700
End: Demopolis Yacht Basin, 1426
Total Distance: 46.41 nm
Time: 7:26
Average Speed: 6.2 kts
Number of locks: 1

Last day on the Ten-Tom. I am up at 0500 and have no idea why, but Lucky likes it–he gets an extra long walk. Back at the boat by 6am and apparently I was not as quiet as I thought…Jan was up, had coffee already on the stove. We sipped some coffee, put the dinghy up, called the lock (nothing coming or in the lock, come on down) and all of the boats were moving down the river at 0700. It was a short run to the lock and we were there by 0730. This was a first for the locks on the Ten-Tom. When we called the lock master on VHF, she gave us a rundown on what to do in the lock. It took at least a minute of straight talking. And we could understand every word. Normally we understand few, if any, of what the lock masters, or two captains for that matter, say but this was clear! That can’t go on too much longer–we assume that she will be fired, replaced with someone who has diction issues, or is trained in the art of talking as if you have a handful of marbles in your mouth.

In the lock and out and we head down river. At just over 50 statute miles, this is another long day, but we can look forward to a day or two break in Demopolis. We don’t spare the engines for a second day and make over 6mph average for the entire trip. We pass some gorgeous cliffs on the way down, pass two sailboats and that is it. AJ knocks out his school and wasn’t even tracking that it was a Saturday. HAH! We have broken him.

We arrive at the Demopolis Yacht yard mid afternoon and have to wait 20 minutes to get fuel; we bob around in the river and watch jet-skiers do flips all around out boat. Fuel (burned over a gallon an hour again) and then to our dock. After we dock we find we are next to Kim and David (plus Salt) from S/V Skinny-dipper and we meet RJ and Sydney from S/V Patches. We met Kim and David in April in New Bern, NC before we both started. They passed us in Lake Michigan (we were on opposite sides of the lake) and we finally caught up with them. And Sydney/RJ have a blog we have been following.

Laundry, groceries are on tap for the next day or two and then we will figure out what the push down the final waterway will look like! 217 more miles until Mobile, AL!