Day 33 – Oct 8, 2018

Got an early start with the goal of reaching Demopolis AL about 60 miles away. Heflin lock was waiting for us and we quickly locked through. The lock Master tossed a newspaper down to Ed.

The shoreline was largely undeveloped. The area is less populated and very “River like” vs much of the Tenn-Tom waterway.

Came to the White Cliffs of Epes. Pretty spectacular!

More white cliffs further downstream.

Reached the confluence of the end of the Tenn-Tom and the Black Warrior River just north of Demopolis.

Pulled into the Kingfisher Bay and Demopolis Marinas. This is one of the two best marinas of the trip with very nice facilities at a reasonable price.

We caught up with Scott and Kelly, the other pontoon couple and some of the other Loopers I’ve met along the journey.

We cycled into town for groceries and a cold beer. Downtown Demopolis is not thriving. There were no bars in sight, a reminder that we weren’t in Wisconsin!

Got back to the marina in time for a get-together with the Loopers. Everyone is going to hang out at the marina for at least another day trying to wait out hurricane Michael.

We got invited to come aboard the SS Nonni, who we’ve been traveling with at times during the past week.

It was interesting to see the inside quarters of one of the “pleasure craft”. Ed has since been mumbling something about buying a boat!



Launch Date, Time & Location

River Heights Marina
River view at River Heights Marina, start of the MikoMan to the Gulf Adventure

Due to the current forecast of 100% chance for thunderstorms and moderate rain all day on Tuesday, Sept 4, we’ve decided to postpone the launch one day to allow me to finish setting up MikoMan without having to do it in a storm at the launch site. The new plan is to drive to the Mississippi River on Wednesday, September 5 to finish set up.

The Adventures will continue with the launch of MikoMan on Thursday, September 6, 2018 at 9:00 AM at the River Heights Marina, 4455 66th Street E, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076. You’re invited to attend!



MikoMan Evolves

I’ve continued to change MikoMan to meet the needs of the voyage. Most of the seats have been removed providing more room and reducing weight.

The shelter at the rear of the boat is being built and will include the control console, two bunks, the battery box, solar panel regulator and cooking area.

Cabin start
Start of the “Cabin”

“Cabin” taking shape with temporary roof. The final plastic corrugated roof (to save weight) will be installed at the launch site

More work and MikoMan continues to evolve. This included installing the bunks and rain tarps, painting the boat, and adding LED headlights (for emergency) and an inside overhead light.

Zeke on MikoMan
Zeke on the bow of the newly painted MikoMan

MikoMan Crew Bunks
Crew bunks with rain flaps down

sewing rain flaps
Kathy pitches in and sews rain flaps for the boat

rain flaps on MikoMan
Rain flaps rolled up

Wet Run #2
MikoMan is nearly finished and taken on a test “Wet Run” in the wind on Lake Namekagon



“Wet Runs”

Kathy, I and a couple of friends took a test run of MikoMan on the Mississippi River at Trempealeau, WI in late July. My goal was to run the boat in the river current, which I’d never done before. I also wanted to check all of the electronics and go through a lock.

We did an out and back from the landing immediately north of Lock #6, first going upstream. There was a barge going through the lock at that time heading downstream. We found that the wake from the barge was not a problem at all for MikoMan.

All of the electronics worked well and MikoMan handled the current with no problem, even though the river was about a foot higher than normal. Unfortunately, I forgot to test my electric Minnkota back-up motor in the current. Judging from my lake experience with the Minnkota, and MikoMan’s performance in the current, I think (and hope) the Minnkota will be able to maneuver the boat to a safe shore, should we need it.

I was not able to pass through the lock due to several barges traveling on the river that day. Barges are given first priority for passage. Other commercial boats are given next priority, with recreational boats last. This did provide a lesson for the trip to allow time for delays at the many locks (40+) that we’ll travel through.

Following more work, MikoMan was taken for a second “Wet Run” on Lake Namekagon to see how she handled a fairly strong breeze and a few significant wakes. She was Excellent and Stable!

Wet Run #2
MikoMan is nearly finished and taken on a test “Wet Run” in the wind on Lake Namekagon

The Boat “MikoMan”

Maiden voyage
Friends enjoying the maiden voyage of MikoMan on Garden Lake in Namekagan immediately following her christening on July 3, 2018

I bought my 1996 Sun Tracker 24′ pontoon boat in September, 2017 specifically to make the Gulf trip. The boat was in good shape and equipped with 2000 Mercury 50 hp, four stroke outboard that runs very well. I’ve rewired the boat, removed most of the seats, added a back-up Minnkota electric motor, Lowrance GPS/Depth finder, VHF marine radio and a new AM/FM radio. More updates are coming soon, including a 100 watt solar panel and my mini-shelter for the trip.

Given the journey I’m planning, I felt it was appropriate to name the boat. I found out that naming a boat required a more formal ceremony to assure that the God’s of the sea and winds smiled kindly upon the boat and the crew, to assure safe passage and returns. The “christening” of the boat and naming her “MikoMan” took place before most of the crew, and close friends on Garden Lake near our home, on July 3, 2018.

I chose her name in memory of one of my best buddies, Miko, our Vizsla dog, who we lost a year and a half ago.

Ned with Miko