We are getting use to the hum of engines and the buzz of bow thrusters at the crack of dawn every morning and evening as Loopers arrive and depart all the marinas we are staying in now. It’s a constant flow as everyone is moving south down the Tenn-Tom. Some Loopers will stay at a marina for weeks at a time and others will stay only one night. Everyone is on their own schedule on the Loop and that’s what makes this trip so unique. Some buddy up with other boats and some travel separately, however, we’ve found out first hand that the locks would rather fill the chamber for several boats instead of just one.
Monday we had wanted to get going early from Grand Harbor. We had 3 locks and 55 miles to get to Fulton, MS (Midway Marina) but the fog didn’t lift until 9am, so we waited. The fog had cleared the area in front of the marina so we thought it was ALL clear. As it turned out it wasn’t, so we pulled over on to the side of the lake and waited until we felt comfortable to proceed. Even though we have radar, it’s not fun traveling in full on fog.
So the Tenn-Tom Waterway. It’s easier to give you the Wikipedia definition…..
The Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway (popularly known as the Tenn-Tom) is a 234-mile man-made waterway that extends from the Tennessee River to the junction of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee River system near Demopolis, Alabama, United States. The Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway links commercial navigation from the nation's midsection to the Gulf of Mexico. The major features of the waterway are ten locks and dams, a 175-foot-deep cut between the Tombigbee River watershed and the Tennessee River watershed, and 234 miles of navigation channels. It was under construction for twelve years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway was completed in December 1984 at a total cost of nearly $2 billion.
We got to our first lock Monday and ended up waiting for an hour and a half at the lock for 6 looper boats that had called ahead to the lock before us. The drop in this lock was 88 ft. and it takes 50 mins to fill the chamber, so the lockmaster had us wait. We ended up traveling with that group the rest of the day and met a few of them when we arrived at Fulton.
Yesterday we did some chores in the morning and then headed out for a bike ride along the Tenn-Tom. They have a beautiful commemorative underground railway bike/walk path. Later we met some new looper arrivals, did “docktails”, had dinner and hit the hay early (8:15pm). I know, pretty boring aren't we 😉.
We were up at 5am, TM’d, prepped the boat and left by at 7:20am with a group of five other Loop boats all on our way to Columbus, MS. We have four locks and 60 miles today. As I write this, we’ve just gotten out of our third lock and it’s 11am!!! Yaahh!!! All the locks so far have been open and had the green light waiting for us. Now just one more lock and 36 miles.
Below are a few pics from the Tenn-Tom~
All for now~
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.
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