Christmas morning was clear and crisp. After a leisurely breakfast to temperatures in the low 30’s, we radioed the lock master to to check his schedule. He said that there would be a wait and at 10:30 we raised the anchor and powered out the small channel that is the approach to the anchorage.
I would love to tell you that the captain was at the helm, but typically I pilot the boat away from anchorages while Bob secures the anchor. As luck would have it there are several submerged snags in this channel and happenstance took me over two of them. Whatever we hit bent the prop and at high RPMs there was a noticeable vibration throughout the boat.
Severe and out-of-alignment vibrations cause a myriad of problems. We tested the boat at various RPMs and found that at 1400 the engine and hull purred. Anything over that gave everything the shakes. Generally we run at 1900 RPMs and make 8.5 to 9 mph; at 1400 RPMs we were running at about 7 mph. I tried to look at the bright side – we were much more fuel-efficient at 1400 RPMs, and we could enjoy the scenery more – but my objective at that particular moment was to travel south to warmer mornings and sunny days as quickly as possible and Santa had certainly put stout branches under the keel: switches in my stocking.
At 1530, after two locks and 30 miles, we lowered the anchor at Waverly anchorage along the Tombigbee River. The anchorage is tucked behind a small island. It is secluded and lovely at this time of year. There is an abandoned railroad bridge and best yet, the Traveler was well out the way of any passing tows. As the sun set we shared wine on the flybridge and listened to the chorus of birds. Temperatures were falling to the mid 20’s.