About six miles upstream I came to the first available creek of suitable size. It looked good so with a sigh of relief. I eased Therapy in. Much to my surprised the current in the creek was very strong AND flowing inward not out to the river. There was no way my anchors would hold in this so I continued my search. A few miles farther I tried again and again found the same thing – strong current flowing in.
Trying to figure what was going on I used the GPS to trace the upstream course of these creeks. What I found is they weren’t really creeks but minor river channels. If I followed them far enough at some point downstream they flowed back into the Tenn-Tom. (Had I taken the chart along I would have saw that the first place I tried was actually the head end of Big Bayou Canot - the same Bayou where I had gone under the bridge!) So what I had was a complex and confused but very connected river system. This situation could have been enhanced by the high water but whatever the reason, I had a problem. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and being trapped behind the bridge was looking pretty good right now but there was no way to make it back before dark.
Searching the GPS I found that little farther up the Tenn-Tom was another “creek” that split in two near its mouth and flowed opposite directions - Big & Little Lizzard Creek. At least it gave me two choices and I knew these would be my last choices as darkness was near. When I arrived it looked promising but again the current was high flowing in and going both ways up the creeks.
Now the situation was serious. The Tenn-Tom was full of junk and I shuttered to think of being out there after dark. And looking for what. More of the same thing? The Alabama didn’t offer much more with the exception of less debris. On it the current was still swift, anchorages were scarce AND it was 20 miles away! It would take at least two hours to get to the mouth and then what? (Fear would keep me off plane while creeping upstream)
No, I had to find something there. I went up the 14 ft Big Lizzard as it seemed to have the lowest current and tossed both my anchors off the bow. They wouldn’t set and just bounced across the bottom as I drifted. I found a seemingly attached 10-inch tree limb sticking up in the middle of the creek and thought maybe it would hold. I idled up along side and checked but hope again fades as it seemed too unsecured to trust for the night. The sun was almost gone.
In several spots along the creek there were neglected and sometimes collapsed crude cabins. Most looked to be abandoned but it was hard to tell. As I floated past one of them I noticed two 4”x 4” post sticking out of the water about six feet from shore. The post were the remains of an old dock and there was about a 16" sticking out of the water. They were in a slight indentation of the shoreline and the current seemed to relaxed a little around them. I check them and they seemed sound. This was going to have to do.
I had to break off a couple of low hanging tree branches that were scraping along Therapy’s top, plus I only had about four feet of water. Normally this wouldn’t be a concern but I was still thinking about changing river levels because of the flooding. If it took a big drop I could find myself in the middle of nowhere sitting high and dry. (For the same reason I didn’t want to pull the bow up on shore IF I could have found a suitable spot) OR if it came up a few feet there was a chance of my lines coming off the stubby post. But I would just have to deal with it – this is where I was staying the night.
By the time I had Therapy secure (a relative term in this case) the light was almost completely gone. The first mosquitoes I had encountered on the trip started to swarm around me but I took a moment to take a closer look at the very nearby shore. There was a collapsed cabin, another roofed shelter and several pens that looked to me like they were made for chickens or maybe dogs. There were various buckets setting around and some other stuff. A very rustic and rural setting. Was someone still using it? Would they be back tonight? That’s when the movie “Deliverance” came to mind and now I wished I had never seen it.
Before climbing in the berth I decided to note the water level at a couple particular points onshore so I could check for changes. I tried using the sounder’s bottom alarm but abandoned the idea when current moved Therapy around enough it set off false warnings. Inside I watched a movie on the laptop before retiring for the night. It was amazingly quiet and peaceful. I actually slept well. I got up once during the night and went out to verify the water level. It showed a slight drop of about an inch. While out there I decided to do my best to raise it but it had little effect. In spite of that it seemed the river had decided to be kind to me after all.
The next morning I cast off and snapped a few photos of my anchorage of necessity. I can’t say I was sorry to leave but although not ideal it had served well. Now it was back to the Tenn-Tom and dodging debris. The apprehension of the previous night was quickly forgotten as I look forward to returning to the Alabama River.
The remainder of the return trip is uneventful. I knew the unusual hours of Millers Ferry lock would cause a delay so I took my time. I even stopped for a leisurely lunch on a sand bar relaxing for a while in a lawn chair. I thought to myself I need to stop pushing so hard on these trips and do this type of thing more.
I completed the lockage just as darkness fell. I had called ahead to Sand Island Marina about fuel that evening and they said they normally closed at dark but would be happy to wait for me. As I was filling the tank in the dark I noticed lights on the opposite bank of the creek. There was a state park there and very near the shore was a shower house. I couldn’t resist. The park had a small dock near by so I pulled in and walked up to the facility with towel in hand. I would have gladly paid for the privilege but found no one around so I stole a shower. A nice HOT cleansing shower. Any day now there may be an Alabama Park Ranger knock on my door with an arrest warrant but I will plead guilty and do the time. It was worth it.