Zippy Branch Anchorage to Fulton Lock Anchorage

October 13, 2016

Start: 6:45 AM

Finish: 7:48 PM

Hours: 13:02:45

Statute Miles: 57.49

Average Speed: 4.41mph

Locks: 3

Jamie Whitten -XX'

G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery -XX'

John Rankin -XX'

Another early start to the day with the sun giving us a show as we left our anchorage at Zippy Branch and moved out onto the wider water of the Yellow Branch to wait a few minutes while the others left the marina.

Lining up for the day’s travels.

Bajan Speed moving up to be with its own kind. The trawlers can travel a bit faster than the sailboats but not by much and at the cost of more fuel.

There was some barge loading and rearranging activity as we were neared the Divide Cut.

Also saw some campers along our way. A few were up and out to wave us by.

We entered the Divide Cut, apparently commonly referred to as “The Ditch” (not to be confused with the Dismal Swamp ditch) and prepared for about 3 hours of somewhat less scenic but still exciting travel. This is the canal which connects two watersheds which both empty very close together into the Gulf of Mexico. The Tennessee River watershed travels the more familiar route toward the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers while the Tombigbee River watershed lends itself a more direct, southerly route through the states of Mississippi and Alabama.

More interesting information about the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee%E2%80%93Tombigbee_Waterway

Many small creeks still run into the Divide Cut but with small dikes and diversion channels to keep the water from cutting channels of their own.

Mostly just straight down the middle for miles.

Larger spillway for perhaps a small lake.

Here's one in action.

We did see quite a bit of wildlife, mostly of the daily variety, though we saw did see one literally “mangy” coyote. Poor little guy even if he was a bit fearless of the boat traffic.

We also ran under a bridge that is similar in our thoughts to the I-40 bridge over the Tennessee River. The Highway 72 bridge is along the route we would often take when we would travel to Florida during vacations. We would look out on the canal and think when it would be us moving along the waterway. Now we are on a permanent vacation and heading to Florida!

Hundred of trot line floats (plastic bottles) along the sides of the canal

After traversing the canal we came out onto Bay Springs Lake and channel buoys began to appear once again to mark our way across the lake to the next lock.

You could spend weeks exploring the many bays and inlets on the lake and we saw many fishing boats—and some not so traditional fishing boats.

We soon got across the lake and approach our second lock, the Jamie Whitten, this one dropping the fleet down 84′. The lock is the fourth highest single-lock lift in the United States.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamie_Whitten_Lock_and_Dam

Great view from the top! The design is very similar to the other dozen locks we’ll traverse through in the days to come. This lock began what was a somewhat frustrating next few days with locks, commercial traffic and different lockmasters. We idled waiting for a raft of barges to be lifted and clear the locks.

The lock did have the best view of any for a sailboat once we got inside and tied off.

With the next few locks close together and the flotilla trying to make up for lost time, we cruised quickly down the river. Everyone waits their turn (most of the time) when exiting.

I now I know where my mulch comes from.

This push would perhaps bite us a bit later in the day. The river again changed into a smaller, flatter waterway.

We didn't have to worry too much as sailboats can't really wake much.

We had rafted up waiting for the next lock but finally got the all clear and the decision was made to make a run for the next lock to anchor even as the sun was setting.

We eventually traveled in the dark using lights of the Ford dealership downstream in Fulton, MS (I kid you not). We actually grounded once but fortunately the local college was playing a football(?) game and the stadium near the water lit up the shallow waters well enough to make our way into an anchorage off the channel. Both Moyia and I were a bit frazzled and promised to each other to never attempt such travel again. The boat cat seem to take it all in stride.