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Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway

Southbound

Capt. Eric Grubb

 

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Above, some wild turkeys along the bank. It was fun watching them glide across the waterway from trees on the other side. It was the first time I had seen turkeys glide that far.

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Finally, the clouds were clearing, making for near perfect conditions.

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Our first meeting with a towboat. Most of them were in a 3x3 configuration, with the towboat in place of a barge in the center of the last row. The locks were 600' by 115', so this is the largest configuration that could go through without being broken apart.

You can see that there isn't much room left to pass in a narrow channel. We slowed to no-wake speeds for the passings, and called them when it wasn't readily apparent that we'd pass to port, or "on the one (whistle)." We scanned VHF channels 13, 14 and 16, but found that most towboats would answer first with a call on 16.

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At MM 421, we entered the Bay Springs Lake, which was formed by the creation of the Bay Springs Lock and Dam, later renamed the Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam.

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Heading south from Pickwick Lake, our first lock was the Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam at MM 411. This lock has the 4th largest single-lock lift in the U.S., at 84'. We called two miles out on VHF, and it was ready for us when we got there.

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Above, your webmaster acting as co-captain and deckhand for the adventure.


For the locks and Gulf crossings, I wore an auto-inflatable PFD. Interestingly, a few locks asked us to confirm that "all occupants were wearing PFDs and the radar is off" prior to entering the locks, while others didn't. I suppose it depends on the individual lockmaster. Additionally, some asked for the USCG Documentation Number prior to lockthrough.

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Above, the water starts to go down in the Jamie Whitten Lock.

 

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