Nov 4 Day 41 Goin’ Up Around the Bend

Not to belabor the battery topic, but the morning at anchor came with a certain electricity in the air. Had we solved our power problem? The good news was we heard no low battery chirps so confidence was high. We went “all-in” deciding to try to start the engine on the battery we’d left on overnight (remember we have two and so keep one off and in reserve). Vrooom. Engine fired right up! Yeah baby, we’re packin’ dual 31’s! We are now long electrons (or whatever is in there).

In other operational news, we are delighted with our new anchor’s performance. It’s not just another pretty piece of shiny marine hardware as it also sets easily and holds fast. It better given the anchor and related hardware cost nearly 5% of the cost of the boat! OK, so the boat wasn’t that expensive, but you get the point.

Heading further upriver after weighing anchor. Destination Tuscaloosa!


Of course, this being boating, there had to be some other problem rear its head. This time it was the water. We were floating fine, but could not get the water system on board to work. N had his suspicions over what the issue might be so remained reasonably stoic over the mounting dishes and related concerns. TBC!

We got underway heading further up the Black Warrior River. This river is much narrower and winds far more than the rivers we’ve been on to date. At one stage we literally came around a corner and were headed right at a downriver barge. No pic as we were too busy maneuvering out of the way! The river itself is far less traveled than the others we’ve been on as well.

There were tons of sandy beaches like this one along the way.


No doubt everyone’s tired of barge pictures by now, but here’s another one! We call the captain up on the radio and ask him which side he wants to be passed then go on by through a pretty narrow gap. You can tell when you’re approaching an upriver barge by noticing all the churned up sediment whether you have the actual vessel in sight or not.
…meanwhile the crew is up taking cute selfies while N is on the phone below to Enterprise arranging a car rental at next marina. N looks up to see the boat headed purposefully to the right of an upriver red nun buoy (VERY bad!) and drops the phone to rush up and calmly advise B we’re headed in a sub-optimal direction at 21 knots! Course was duly corrected with no harm done and the car rental was secured. 



The lockmasters are pretty chatty on this stretch. We were the first boat through for the day at one and the lockmaster told us barge traffic has dropped from 350 to 100 barges per month in the last 40 years. He attributed it Obama, but not sure how he accounted for the first 32 years! The lockmaster also had a real dilemma; Alabama is playing LSU this weekend and apparently historically when Alabama beats LSU in a presidential election year the democrats win while an LSU victory bodes well for republicans. I told him it didn’t matter as UW was going to serve up Alabama a “can of whoop ass” in the national championship game. He was entertained by that.

We’ve done 130 miles over these last two days at an average of about 21 knots representing our longest stretch without a fuel stop. We took on 86 gallons for an average of about 1.5 miles/gallon which was pretty good considering we’re heading against the river flow and came off plane several times to avoid swamping fishermen and floating docks before powering back up.

Made it to Hideaway Harbor just north of Tuscaloosa. Another interesting crowd of locals with lots of houseboats and other vessels in varying degrees of disrepair. This is what blogging looks like!


BTW, about flying the American flag. We have one and want to fly it. Early in the trip we had it attached to our stern light pole atop the radar arch, but that looked like too much stress on the pole and fitting so we need a new solution. I researched the correct way to fly a nautical flag and there are proper sizes based on vessel size and the flag itself should be flown from the stern and not the radar arch. We’re waiting until we get to a proper full service marina to get the right gear to fly the flag off the stern (and add another pole to the radar arch for a courtesy flag (plus we sort of want to fly a UW flag in the face of all these Alabama flags ALL OVER THE PLACE) plus of course we need to get our burgee going again so lots of flagging to get done!

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