Tuesday took us through the first of twelve locks. The Coffeeville Lock and Dam would lift us over thirty feet out of tidal waters and into the fresh water of the Tombigbee River.
After shaking off the cobwebs of the prior night’s work in the engine room, we raised the anchor and got underway at 0700 hrs. We powered upriver for 11.5 hours and traveled a total of 96 miles; an average of 8.35 miles per hour. The day was partly cloudy and due to our lack of air conditioning, we welcomed the relief from the Alabama sunshine. Late in the afternoon, the gray sky deepened.
At 1815 hrs, lightning reigned, and thunder was on top of us. Again we found ourselves without an off-river anchorage nearby and we began to look for whatever refuge was available. A south wind blew. Heavy rain drops began to fall and we tucked again behind red nuns (navigational aids marking the channel), today at Four Mile Bend, to find a spot out of harm’s way to spend the night, or to at least wait out the storm.
I turned the boat into the wind as Bob went to the bow to ready the anchor. Lightning continued to pop all around us. The rain poured down in buckets at this point and I couldn’t see through my glasses so I tossed them aside; not much visibility anyway. As the Traveler turned her bow southward, and the wind menaced, Bob lowered the anchor in nine feet of water. The current was trying to swing the stern back toward the channel and I fought it with the stern thruster as the boat tugged mightily against the anchor. Suddenly, a calm fell around the boat. We could see the wind whipping the water further into the river, but we were in a quiet halo of stillness. The rain fell in vertical sheets, but the Traveler sat motionless with her anchor line slack, bow to the south, and parallel to the river’s bank – giving us time to set out the stern anchor.
It was a thunderstorm to anchor by. Just as quickly as it had approached, after an hour the storm abated and left us with the air cooled and ready for night.