Tensaw River,AL

5 November 2014

Yesterday started off the same with hearing Passage on the radio at 5AM. We were both up since when you go to bed at 7PM and get 9 hours of sleep you are up at 4AM.

No fog this morning, but there was a tow coming into the lock below us. Estimates were it would be 6:47AM before we got into the lock.

That gave us both time to get showers and for Susan to reheat the dirty rice from last nights dinner and put an over easy egg on top of it. What a great breakfast, gooey eggy goodness with healthy rice!!

The lock was full today. We had Passage , Fracas (sail boat we had met in Green Turtle Bay), Mara Beel , Estrellita , Roundabout , Miss Ginger , El Nido and us along the dock wall.

The last boat Stella is a couple from Romania/Switzerland that are doing the loop. I had talked briefly with them last night at Bobby’s. There wasn’t room for them on the lock wall. Our extra fenders were still down from having Mara Beel along side, so I waved them into position next to us.

Soon we were out and gone. Susan and I both left out a whoop, our last lock for 5 more months!!

We motored down the river. The Black Warrior river is a twisty turny river as it winds it’s way through Alabama. Once again it was a bird day with lots of herons.

Turns out that herons are no longer our go-to picture. We are on the hunt for gators. Since yesterday when we missed the two gator, its been a gator obsession.

We passed thousands, well OK hundreds (well really maybe two dozen) herons, not a picture of one.

Gators, gators, gators. Find the gator. All day, no gators.

But we did see a pair of Bald Eagles along the shore. I called them as males, they were side by side, clearly fishing and there were beer cans higher up on shore. If that’s not two guys out goofing off on a Wednesday, I don’t know what is. Susan did get some great pictures of one of them in flight.

Once section of the river makes almost a figure 8 with the four back to back horseshoe loops. Look up Newman and Horseshoe bends. Not really sure why the ACoE didn’t just make two quick cuts and get rid of 6 miles of river, but they didn’t. Of course we met tows in that section and they were great about letting us know when it was safe to pass. The tow fills the entire loop, so there is just a few minutes when you can zoom by. The tow Captains in this section have a tough job, but everyone of them has been nice and very friendly on the radio.

We passed some cool things along the river:

– Massive coal fired power plant. It was huge and there were three barges out front that had coal being unloaded. There was a crane that was taking massive bites of coal and dumping it into a conveyer system. I wondered how many barges a day they go through.

– Huge dredging project, but it might be a pipeline replacement project. There was a huge dredging barge and three small tugs moving pipes around. But there was huge lenghts of pipe before and after the dredge. It wasn’t clear if they were dredging the chanel or digging down to old pipe and pulling it up, putting new pipe down.

– Scrap iron recovery. There were three sets of cranes that were unloading barges that had scrap steel. The magnetic hooks would go down, grab a load of iron/steel, lift up and dump it onto a conveyer system that took it away. There were huge smoke stacks, not sure if it was a remelt or they were doing smelting of new ore at the same time.

– But no alligators.

We swung into the Tensaw River about 3 PM. It is about ¼ mile wide and runs from where we are (40 miles above Mobile) almost to Mobile. It’s not navigable the entire length, but it does make a good place to stay the night. It makes a great place to anchor out, there is no wind and very little current. Since we are below the last lock (yay us!) the level goes up and down with the tide. There are 8 of us anchored in the river.

We’ve seen these smaller white birds on the trip. I had assumed they were seagulls, since we are rapidly approaching the coast. They are about the size of a blue-jay. They hover over the water about 10 feet up then fold their wings and drop into the water like a rock. They are up flying again in about ½ a second. I’ve seen two with small fish, so I guess it works. Very strange to watch.

Susan tried fishing again with no success. Her goal was to catch a fish and then troll it to get the attention of a gator. But she was driven inside by mosquitoes that came up from the riverside.

Dinner was meat loaf from Mariano’s market in Chicago. It was like eating meatballs that had been formed into a loaf, the loaf was much more dense than what Susan normally makes. It was good, but wasn’t hers. What was hers, was the fried cabbage and onions and mashed potatoes. It was a great meal.

We are just going to hang out after dinner. The last few days of up at 4, going by 5 and then a 11 hour day has gotten old fast. We have a short run of about 6 hours to the marina, lots of time to find a gator.

Looking forward to a break the next two days.

7 thoughts on “Tensaw River,AL

  1. Love looking at all your pics!! Have a safe depart on Saturday!

  2. Foster- from your description, are the birds Kingfishers? Also-as your favorite (only) Cajun friend Susan and you can visit us in Houma. I have alligators in my back yard along with a dock with power. They do hibernate in cold weather, so act fast!!!

    • I think we ran into hibernation since it was only 50 today :( However we did see lots of dolphins! That made us happy. The bird were white and the only pictures I see of kingfishers has them boldly colored, so I don’t think that’s what they are. We’ll keep researching, they were cool!

    • Alrighty, how does this week work for you, we are in NOLA Sun – Tue. Oh wait, you are still working on the Mighty Tenn-Tom :-)

      The birds look like doves, just a little bigger. Maybe one of the other bird people that read this blog will see this and can identify them.

      As an aside, we did see a half dozen pelicans follow the boat yesterday with the gulls. We were churning up shrimp and they were snagging them. Very cool.

    • I have a picture, I’ll send you a note when it gets posted (I’m behind as usual)

  3. Don’t feel bad about not seeing a gator…I’ve lived in FL for 10 years now and I still have not seen a wild gator. They’re a lot harder to spot than TV would make you think.

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