I didn’t mean this blog to be a long, introspective, self-pitying catalogue of all the mishaps that have befallen us on this part of the trip. Really.
But when we realised, two hours out of Aqua Yacht Harbor down the Tenn-Tom Waterway, that hydraulic fluid was leaking from the lower steering helm and that we would have to turn around, go back, and get it fixed with no small loss of time and money, it felt as though we had reached a very low ebb.
Coming on top of everything else that has gone wrong on this trip, I felt that things were out of control, and that shrugging it off, going with the flow, and accepting that stuff happens, no longer seemed an appropriate response. Wallowing in gloom was much more comforting, even for an innate optimist with a belief that most things usually happen for the best.
It was Saturday, so no one could come out till Monday, to see if it was just a leaking seal or something more serious.
It was. Dave came and said we needed a new helm to stop the leaking, and we would have to source one for him to fit. This comes under the costing-an-arm-and-a-leg category of expenditure, but, ever resourceful, Ian went on the Internet and managed to find a reconditioned one at considerably less expense than a new one would have been. We paid for expedited shipping so it arrived the next day for Dave to fit on Wednesday.
In the meantime, the hours hung rather heavily. My usual method of working off frustration is vigorous polishing of the brasses, but Ellen McArthur-style, I had run out of Brasso. Mopping the floors and polishing all the woodwork had to suffice. The WiFi wasn’t that good so checking social media was rather tedious, having to wait longer than five seconds for posts to appear. I was reduced to staring at the laptop, deleting most of the 1500 emails that had somehow accumulated in my inbox.
The marina had a courtesy car which we could use for two hours at a time. So we could go out, but not very far. We went to Corinth, 15 miles away across rural Mississippi, to the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center. This was a purpose-built facility and very well done, focusing on Corinth’s strategic importance in the war, and the battles of Shiloh and Corinth, in which many thousands of men on both sides were killed in action. Outside, there was a water feature with engraved stones, commemorating events in American history. It was moving, and saddening.
Annoyingly, the weather was bright and sunny and would have been perfect for boating. Instead,we drove out to Pickwick Lake State Park, near the lock, but it’s mainly for boating and picnicking, with no walking trails, so we sat and watched a flock of geese on the water.
Opposite the marina, a little further along the main road, a narrow road led up a hill through the woods, so we went for a walk up there instead. Scattered among the trees were a few houses, some modern and well-looked after, and others more modest. We attracted the attention of a gentleman busy sweeping the fallen leaves from his front drive, who came out and chatted to us. We got the impression that not many people here wander about in the woods for the fun of it.
Dave came back and fitted the new helm on Wednesday, so we were good to go. But the next stage involved a 25-mile journey down the ‘Divide Cut’, a long straight passage where the waterway was carved out of the rock and where you can’t anchor. We didn’t want to be doing that in the heavy rain and winds which were forecast for the next day, so we decided to stay at Aqua Harbor till Friday and enjoy the journey in better weather.
We went to the small town of Iuka, where the old Tishomingo County Courthouse is now a small museum. On a wet Thursday morning, we were the only visitors and Jeff, the director, gave us a guided tour. His knowledge and insight gave us a much better picture of the history of the area than we would have gleaned if we’d just gone round by ourselves.
The restaurant at the marina was open on Thursday evening and we deserved a treat. This time it took the form of Cajun-spiced red fish, followed by Mississippi Mud Pie.
That night, it poured down and Carina rocked on the waves washing against the dock. The extra day at the marina was a price worth paying for the knowledge that we were safely secured in the storm.
We had a very early start on Friday morning, because as well as the long passage through the cut, there would be locks to go through too.
The sky was grey and overcast, but this time the cloud had a silver lining.
Surely by now you’ve had your full complement of disasters. Here’s wishing for a fair wind and plain sailing from now on. Still, the courthouse museum looked fascinating as did the owner of the little house in the wood. And the sky at the harbour was, as the Americans say, awesome.
Oh how my husband & I have enjoyed reading your blog. We have traveled the Atlantic side of the Intracoastal for 27 years & had many of your experiences… good & challenging. I only hope that we faced them with all the good humor & positive attitudes that you & Ian have. I think we have… life is too short & beautiful to be angry or grumpy. I envy your talent with a pen. If you ever write a book, I will buy it. Best wishes from Beaufort NC.
Thank you for your kind remarks Kathy, I’m glad you have enjoyed the blog. We’re not quite done with the Loop yet, so a little more to come! A book’s a possibility- my granddaughter (age nearly 9) has offered to edit it 😁