Demopolis and Bilges

Dusk over Demopolis

Our week in Demopolis was largely uneventful, with the brief exception of being denied use of the marina’s courtesy car due to lack of car insurance (we no longer own any cars!), until the last night, when I decided, at 11:30 pm after my shower to clean out the shower’s bilge box. Unfortunately, during the process, we discovered that the hose to the through-hull had turned into a siphon and promptly began ejecting water into the bedroom storage room. We realized that the through-hull for our shower and bedroom sink are placed so low on the boat, that when we are in fresh water and with the boat live-aboard-heavy, they are actually below the water line.

Thus ensued a 45 minute saga involving me holding the end of the tube above David’s head while he did some creative problem solving with the also apparently broken pump. We finally managed to get a solution in place that stopped the siphon, but with the issues on the pump and the knowledge that the through-hull was still underwater, we decided to stop using the shower, at least until we returned to salt water.

Since we’ve been having problems with lots of water in the starboard engine bay, that night David had also coincidentally been working on the bilge system. Unfortunately we discovered during our shower project disaster that the float switch for the bilge system had come free from the hull and was therefore failing to cause the regular bilges to run. In addition, the new dry bilge system David had been installing that night also seemed to be non-functional as well, which David later discovered was due to having installed the pump too high on the wall. We were finally able to drain enough of the water to discover what appears to be a small leak in the spot where the bulkhead in front of the diesel tanks is fiberglassed to the hull. When fixed, the dry bilge system is able to keep up with this leak, so we’re not going to sink, but obviously something we need to further troubleshoot ASAP!

We left Demopolis on Saturday with a small flotilla of boats just before dawn headed for the first lock. Being the fastest of the bunch, we headed first out of the lock. As I mentioned in the last blog post, there’s not much in the way of marinas or anchorages between Demopolis and Mobile, so our plan was to try to blast our way down to Mobile in the two weekend days, assuming smooth passage through the remaining locks.

This last section of the Tombigbee River was incredibly annoying as the distance we needed to travel was essentially double the miles as the crow flies.

We pulled into the Three Rivers anchorage via a narrow and tree branch framed entrance and set up on the hook for the night.

Our last day down the river was very uneventful and put us through our last lock on the inland river system with no trouble. Since entering the Erie Canal at Waterford we have travelled through 95 locks! 29 on the Erie and Oswego canals, 44 on the Trent-Severn in Canada and 22 on the inland waterways from Chicago to Mobile.

Highwind on the wall in Mobile

Due to our easy passage on the last two days, we ended up arriving in Mobile several days before our reservations started at Turner Marine. Unfortunately all marinas in the area were fully booked due to it being Thanksgiving week, and Turner Marine was not open on Sundays. We were able to grab a spot on the not-quite-free wall in the heart of Mobile for the night and we hoped Turner would be able to squeeze us in the next morning.

With plenty of the day left, we decided to do a bit of tourism in Mobile, starting with a visit to the USS Alabama. The museum was incredibly good, with almost all areas of the ship open for exploration. We also walked through the submarine USS Drum. It was our first taste of the warm southern weather, which was very welcome after the last month of cold nights and frosty mornings.

After the battleship, we went into town for an escape room, and with a little time to kill before our appointment, we found a beignet shop and had a treat.

The next morning we spoke with Turner Marine who found space for us to come in early, so we headed through the final portion of the Tombigbee River and entered into Mobile Bay. We were now situated and ready for the Thanksgiving weekend, where we planned to rent a car and drive to New Orleans for the long weekend.

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