Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Roy El' — The Tenn-Tom Takes A Trawler.

Our friends aboard Roy El' have hit a hard spot on the Tennessee-Tom Bigbee Waterway. I'm told Royel's been towed to Demopolis, Alabama where hopefully she can be repaired and returned to her owners, Roy and Elvie Short. These folks are cruising friends from way back. This is their home and everything they own.

We've had dinner on that aft-deck many times.

12 /13 years ago, we were just closing the chartbook on another uneventful run up the Tenn-Tom, the last leg of our long journey that started in the Abacos and ended at Pickwick Lake in Tennessee. On this final day of locks, as we slowly eased up the waterway, we shared the channel with just one boat. Roy El'.

Due to mechanical difficulties, the folks aboard Roy El' were late leaving Midway Marina that morning and they held us up at the first lock. We didn't mind waiting and the couple aboard was apologetic as they approached the lock.
These final miles of the waterway can wear you out. There are 7, 100' locks within 35 miles; when you start locking through with strangers, you've become well-acquainted by the time the gates on that last lock close.
We talked to each other on the radio as Roy El' and Istaboa motored across Bay Springs lake and by the time we were turning into Yellow Creek, almost home, Mel had invited them to stay at our marina and use a friend's empty slip for a few days. Roy and Elvie were tired and the weather was starting to blow and rain; they thought a covered slip would be a nice place to rest and do some engine repairs. RoyEl's crew was very appreciative.
As we left them the next day to head back home to Memphis we loaned them our old jeep because we boat people just do things like that. No, we didn't know them, but yes, we could tell they were good folks and it wouldn't be a problem. It wasn't
We didn't see Roy and Elvie again for a few years, but when we did happen upon them anchored in Hope Town Harbor, Abacos they were surprised and happy to see us. To their friends that day, they enjoyed recounting the same story that's written above.
We've crossed wakes many times since and have loosely kept up with each other. Back in 08, while both our boats were tied up in Panama City, Mel and I shared a New Years Eve with them and we met their kids and grand kids. Roy and Elvie are part of the small and spread out community of boat folks we call friends.

The last couple of years have been pretty hard on Roy and Elvie. Health issues kept them ashore and inland for a while, but they managed to get things back together and back aboard their home and vessel,

This news and the pictures of Roy El' aground and listing to starboard, taking on water, makes us sad and concerned. We've heard they were immediately rescued by another boat that, like us on that day years ago, was running up the waterway with them. We've read they're physically okay, but they must be so upset. They love their boat and the life it allows them.

Someone has an idea about a Gofundme campaign and we're hoping it will be put together. We'd certainly be contributors and be happy to promote it.

Roy and Elvie, you're in our thoughts and apparently the thoughts of many others.


  1. Do you what happened to cause this Grounding?

    1. No, I don't but I read that they hit something under the water. The Tenn-Tom is like that. Almost every time we ran that river we hit something and we never really knew what it was. Probably a submersed log that a tow boat had kick up.
      That river was the most dangerous leg of our trip down to the islands. Much more dangerous than crossing the Gulf Stream.

    2. I hit some thing on the CT River one night on the way to Hamburg Cove after a beautiful run from Westport, CT.-- I assumed it was a Log.. Prop/Strut-- Shaft.. Bent..
      The log must of hit the Strut and pushed the Prop into the Hull and the Prop cut half way through the Hull and flexed back-- I was lucky I was only doing about 10 Knots after I backed off my Throttles when I entered the river.. We did make it to Hamburg Cove for two Days and enjoyed ourselves.. I was was able to get hauled out near by to see all the damage-- "I Did Not Have a Vibration Under 2300 Rpm's" I did have a new Prop waiting for me.. I thought that was the only damage that was done when I dove on the boat the next morning..

      I hope Royel is repaired ASAP So they get there home back-- What A NIGHTMARE!! To see your boat like that!!
      No one was injured-- That's the important thing..

    3. Somewhere between Coffeeville Lock and Demopolis. Not sure where exactly.

  2. Where on the Tenn Tom did this happen?