November 5, 2015 – Thursday – Columbus Marina to Windham Landing Cut-Off (MM 286) – 50.0 statute miles traveled

We decided to get off early to beat the crowd to the Stennis Lock as it was only about a mile away. We left at sunrise and made our way back through the plant life minefield. There was patchy fog but visibility wasn’t too bad. When we arrived we found that Les Chateau, a large boat I am guessing at 75’ or more, was already there in the lock. We had called ahead and the lockmaster had said he would hold the lock for us. Two other sailboats followed us out so with Namaste there were five boats all together. This was another 27 foot drop.

When we got out the bottom end the fog was pea soup thick. Sea To See waited until the other boats went ahead and then pulled out in front of Namaste. We started down the river with the chart plotter and after we got about a sixteenth of a mile ahead of Namaste she disappeared in the fog. Jim radioed to say he had lost sight of us so we stopped while he felt his way back into being visible.

We made sure the running lights were on and I fired up the radar. With both the chart plotter showing the boat icon on the river and with radar showing the river sides we were good to go. We proceeded at about 4 mph and Namaste stayed right on our tail. Seeing tows would be no problem as we could “see” everything that broadcast and AIS signal. Potential boats without an AIS transmitter were another issue. I began blowing the horn every two minutes so expected that between that and what could be seen on the radar we would be safe. The radar picture was so good that we were even picking up the larger patches of plant life that was still floating in this part of the river below the lock and dam.

After about six miles the fog became less dense to the point where we could go our normal speed. Eventually it burned off.

We intended to anchor just prior to the Tom Bevell Lock at MM 307 but when we checked the anchorage out we found the part we wanted to anchor in too shallow and the part that was deep enough to be quite exposed. We found out how shallow it was the hard way by running aground at about 1.5 mph. This is not fast but fast enough that when we hit the soft bottom we kept sliding long enough before we stopped that we were well embedded in the mud. Reverse didn’t do a thing at first. I rocked the bow back and forth with the thruster and then tried reverse at the same time. Finally, with about half throttle reverse, we slowly came free.

This was enough for us to have a conference and decide to go through the lock to an anchorage 21 miles further down the river. While we were making this decision Sonata and Manãna arrived and went into the lock ahead of us. Once again the lock doors were open, the green light on and we had no waiting.

We found the Windham Landing Anchorage at MM 286 to our liking and settled in at a depth of about 12 feet. There was a little sun and a little rain. I sat in the cockpit for about an hour to read but eventually was driven back inside with an additional six bug bites. The Namaste crew came over for Chart Hour then it was dinner on your own.

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