Saturday morning starts bright, clear, and cold as we push away from our slip at the Chattanooga Yacht Club. We have no traffic at the Chickamauga Dam and are soon through the lock and passing by downtown Chattanooga.
The last ten days have been tiring as we have traveled long hours utilizing all of the available daylight. We have taken no rest days as we wanted to reach Mobile before Christmas. Nate and Sebastian have enjoyed these days as they both spend lots of time in the pilot house watching the river banks go by. Sebastian, at 16 years old, spends most of his time sleeping.
Our last day on the water begins with a predawn thunderstorm, hail, and fog. The hail was so large, Jeff was afraid our Solar panels would crack. Luckily, they came thru unscathed. We delayed our departure for several hours while the storms rolled over us. There are also tornado watches out today for the Mobile area. We consider staying another day at the anchorage while the weather calms down. However there are high wind warnings for Mobile Bay tomorrow. Normally we are weather weenies but have a mild case of ” get-there-itis” and would not reach Mobile by Christmas if we don’t leave today. Once out on the water, the AIS is alive with multiple targets of tows all heading upstream also trying to make their ports before Christmas. We are soon engulfed in a dense fog layer just 6 feet off the water. We have clear visibility above this layer in the pilot house but cannot see the many lurking deadheads, logs, and debris floating on the surface. We question our decision about traveling today but are now committed to our destination. Several hours later, we feel very fortunate to reach the busy Mobile ship channel without incident. After dodging the many working tugs in the downtown harbor, we are soon into Mobile Bay. We travel 10 miles through the bay alone except for an escort of Pelicans who seem to enjoy flying eye level a few feet from the pilot house. Nate becomes a little freaked out with these large birds drafting so close to the boat. He is much relieved to spend the last few miles in the safety of his cage down below in the guest stateroom. One pelican was so bold as to land on our starboard cap rail and hitch a ride for the next ten minutes. We race another thunderstorm into Dog Rive Marina. Luckily, we have our last line secure just before the skies open up. It is a relief to have the Tenn-Tom behind us. We will spend a few days at Dog River catching up on boat chores before continuing east along the Gulf Coast.
Total Miles Traveled: 724
Total Locks: 17