It was another sunny morning with cool fall temperatures and dry air – a great day for a walk up to the Farmers’ Market. We picked up a few treasures including sweet potatoes, tomatoes, roasted peanuts and pink-eyed purple-hull “peas.” The vendor with the peas assured us that we would love these beans (and when we cooked them up later, we found out he was right). After the market, Maureen went on her walk along the river while Gale took the bicycle to Walmart to pick up a few items before going back to the boat.
Just before 11 am, we bid Motu goodbye and motored out of the anchorage heading south. Our plan was to stop at the Visitors Center at the Tom Bevill Lock, take on fuel at Pirates Cove Marina near there and find an anchorage above the lock for the evening.
As we passed by Pickensville Recreation Area just before the lock, we decided to check out the anchorage before going over to the Visitors Center. It was a pretty spot; however, we weren’t able to find anything under 30 feet deep to anchor. We preferred to look for a shallower, better protected place for the night and since it was already getting close to 3 pm, we decided to go straight to the Visitors Center and take a look around before it closed for the day. We knew the Center was not open on Sunday.
We first toured the U.S. Snagboat Montgomery, the last steam-powered sternwheeler to ply the inland waterways of the South. For nearly six decades, the Montgomery labored to keep seven of the South’s major rivers navigable. Built in 1926 in Charleston, SC, the Montgomery is 178 feet long and 34 feet wide. Retired in 1982, she is on display at the Visitors Center with interpretive exhibits providing visitors a return to the days when sternwheelers worked the rivers.
After exploring the snagboat, we toured the Visitors Center, an authentic reproduction of an antebellum style mansion. In addition to the impressive architecture of the building, it also contains displays and relics that relate to both the history of the area and the development of the Waterway.
It was nearly 5 pm when we finished looking around the mansion so we headed back to the dock where a Corps of Engineers official was waiting for us to return. He said with the heightened security concerns for the ten-year anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy, he just wanted to make sure we weren’t terrorists. (Actually, he didn’t say anything about terrorists – just that he was checking the boat out and looking for the captain.) Evidently, we looked harmless enough and he and Gale struck up a conversation about their careers as enforcement officers. The ranger said it would be fine for us to anchor above the lock for the night if we found a spot to our liking.
We still wanted to get fuel before the evening was over. Gale had called Pirate’s Cove Marina yesterday to make sure that they had diesel fuel and to find out what time they closed. The marina was located about a half mile from the Visitors Center so we motored back into the marina and found a nice protected setting but the docks were not well maintained. As we approached the fuel dock, the attendant hailed us on the radio to ask why we were coming in. Their radio didn’t receive our return transmission, so we just continued to go to the dock. The man who grabbed our lines, Dave, indicated that they did not have diesel fuel. In fact, he was rather rude about the whole thing. As it turned out, a boat had come in yesterday and bought all the diesel they had on hand. We thought we could probably make it to Demopolis on what was in our tanks, but Dave offered to take Gale to the gas station with a five-gallon jug to buy some extra fuel. When we asked about water, Dave indicated that we probably shouldn’t use the water at the dock, but they had a spigot in the yard if we had a jug to haul it.
By the time we left Pirate’s Cove, Dave was much friendlier toward us than he was when we arrived. Even so, we likely will not stop again or recommend this marina to anyone else.
We still needed to find a spot to anchor for the night. In looking at the guidebook, we saw that there was an anchorage just below the dam. The lock was open so we decided to go on through and anchor on the other side. We were held up in the lock for about a half hour due to some trouble closing the gates behind us. No worries, though, by 7 pm we had locked through, chosen a spot to anchor and settled in for the night.