Sunday, December 2, 2012

Late November

November 16, 2012

The fog is really thick this morning and we call the Lockmaster at the lock and ask him what the schedule is for this morning.  He says that there are no commercial boats expected early this morning and to come up as soon as we can safely and he will get the lock ready.  We leave the dock about 7:30 after undoing Barbara El.

At the lock we have to wait for the lock for a few minutes.  We are drifting in the river waiting and here comes Ya-ting jumping in the middle of the pack and wakeing some of us and generally making a lot of trouble.  Kermit gives him the 5 blasts on the horn and finally he comes around.  We have all arranged our lock ties to permit Oban who is up river and needs a port tie in the lock to have room at that side of the lock and not have to tie up to the last bollard.  His boat could be too long.  We all get in and Ya-ting decides to take the opposite side even though we told him to take a starboard pin.  A real idiot.  We wait about 20 minutes for Oban and finally get him tied and down we go.  At the lower side we all slow down to let Ya-ting go ahead.

The rest of the day is a wonderful trip.  We arrive at our anchorage at Tensaw River about 4:30 and it is getting dark again.  We raft up and Kermit takes Rusty to the bank for a short walk.  It’s black mud and they sink up to their knees.  One of the problems with dogs on this trip.  They get back to the boat and get cleaned up.  We have dinner together and go to bed fairly early.

November 17, 2012

Off to Mobile.  It’s only about 55 miles to the Dog River Marina.  It seems like we have a lot of Tows working the river this morning.  Thank goodness these guys are good.  It got a little close a couple of turns.  We are splitting up today and One September is going to Fairhope.  They are going home for the holiday and leaving their boat there.

We get to Dog River about 2:30 and settle in.  About 4:00 we head across the street to the Mobile Yacht Club for dinner.  Had one of the best dinners yet on the trip.  Baked Grouper, topped with Crab.  OUTSTANDING!!

November 18, 2012

Mary Jo and George Gowan came in last night about 11:00 or so.  I was already in bed.  Got up to welcome them and jawed a while.  Then went back to bed.

Had mechanics look at my steering this morning which is leaking hydraulic fluid.  Their analysis is the same as those in the past.  The unit needs to be rebuilt or replaced.  They do not have the capability to rebuild and would have to send ours back to the factory to get it done.  They do have another unit in house that they ordered for another boat a while back.  It turns out it is not compatable with my system.  It will have to wait.

We go over to Fairhope to see One September.  The town is very nice and touristy.  Had lunch and walked about town and some folks shopped.

November 19, 2012

Wonderful weather.  Bright sunny skies and warm.  Cool mornings.  Great.  Slow day with not much happening.  Had lunch at the Pelican Reef Inn out towards the beach.  I think that was the name.  Kind of a rustic place, but the food was good.  Went to the grocery store afterwards.  Just what we need.  To eat some more.

November 20, 2012

Mechanics come to work on the engines.  Nothing major, just oil change etc.  I would do it myself, but don’t have the oil and they are going to do some other things.  This takes up most of the day.  Mary Jo and George are leaving today.  It has been great to have them on the boat.  I hope they have enjoyed themselves.  It  can get boring sometimes.

November 21, 2012

We head to Orange Beach, Al to the Orange Beach Marina.  What a great day to travel.  Weather is wonderful, the water is calm and the winds are light.  It is a great run.  We don’t get away until about 9:30.  Had to take care of the marina bill, get pumped out, etc.  Then smooth seas.  We did run into several tows on the way over which I did not expect.  There is more commercial traffic than you would think in this area.

Got to Orange Beach Marina about 4:00 and tied into a covered slip.  This is nice except the satellite receiver does not work under the roof.  Oh well.  Ate dinner at the restaurant at the marina.  They give us the loaner car which we will have until they reopen after the holidays.  This is a nice place.  Well protected, secluded.

November 22, 2012

Today is Thanksgiving.  I am very thankful.  I clean the boat and enjoy it.  Joy does a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  We ride around a little.  Go to the grocery.  A wonderful, lazy day.  Miss the family and the folks back in Savannah and many of our friends in other places, but we are having a wonderful trip and enjoying every minute of it.  We are blessed.

November 23, 2012

Since today is the day after Thanksgiving, the marina is not manned.  We still have the courtesy car so we decide to go over to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola.  It’s only about a 20 mile ride.  It is a great show!  The planes are very well presented and the quality is fabulous.  They have a wonderful collection of hardware from early days of flight to today.  And it is free.  If you ever get a chance to go there, do so.

While we were in Pensacola, we went to Best Buy and bought a new Ipad.  I’m going over to the dark side as this is my first Apple product.  The Navionics program is much better on the Ipad than the Droid.  We’ll see how it goes.

November 24, 2012

On to Ft. Walton.  The weather is beautiful and we get an early start about 6:30.  Wanted to stay at the Town Dock, but when we got there it was closed due to damage.  Tried to get a slip at another Marina in town, but none were available.  Finally called Bluewater Bay Marina which is up in Ward’s Cove on the north side  of Chocawatche Bay.  It’s out of the way, but they have room.

This marina turned out to be one of the more fun stops we have had.  We got there late and the UF/FSU football game was on in the bar.  There are many fans from both sides and it is a fun evening.  Had a couple of doz. Oysters on the half and had a great time.

November 25, 2012

Borrowed the courtesy car and went to West Marine and bought another battery charger.  Ours went TU again and I can’t depend on it.  I also install a battery isolator and rewire the port engine alternator so that it will charge the house bank some when we are running.  I am not able to complete the installation, but things are working.

November 26, 2012

Off to Panama City.  The winds are up early also and things on the Bay are a little choppy, but they are on the bow and it’s not a bad ride.  Once we are off the bay it’s much smoother in the river.  When we reach Panama City and enter the bay we get a great welcome from the dolphins.  They put on a great show in our wake and we made sure they had plenty of wake to play in.

Bay Port Marina is a nice marina.  We will be here for a week.  Don and Sam are due in on Wednesday evening.  Looking forward to their visit.

November 27, 2012

Clean the boat day.  Lots to do before Don and Sam get here.

November 28, 2012

Finish cleaning the boat day as Don and Sam are due this evening.  They get here about 6:30.  They have already had dinner so we lounge around on the boat and have docktails.  Great to have them.

November 29, 2012

Don and I go shopping for a little while.  I have been having problems with the new Ipad not working right with the Navionics program.  We go to West Marine, Best Buy and Home Depot and back to the boat.  Then Sam and Joy take off and Don and I finish the installation of the new battery charger.  Then docktails, and later the Falcons/Saints game on TV.

Early November

November 1, 2012

Made the run to Ditto Landing in Huntsville.  Left the dock at about 9:00 and met “Annie” just outside the marina entrance and were welcomed with a proper morning calopie serenade.  She is such a neat boat.  The trip started out very calm with the winds picking up as we went along.  Kind of brisk as we reached the Guntersville Lock and went through with a total of 6 boats.

Arrived at Ditto about 3:00 and tied up without incident even though we are right in front of the boat ramp.  Thankfully, they put a barrier across it and closed that side of the ramp.  Joy has come down with some kind of crud and is not feeling well.  Dick and Deanna send over a bowl of boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce which I must admit I ate most of.  Very good.

November 2, 2012

Went to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tn.  Had to take 2 cars as Michael’s rental was still too small for the 7 of us.  Lynchburg is a one horse town.  Not much is there that is not related to the Jack Daniels operation.  Ate lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s which started out life as a boarding house and today is only serving southern country cooking.  Good, but very similar to Mrs. Wilkes in Savannah.  And also more expensive.

The Distillery tour was neat and I enjoyed it a lot.  They now allow them to serve a small quantity of the plants product (1 oz. per person).  We were able to sample some Jack Black, Single Barrel, and one other.  Liked them all.  Did not get to purchase a single barrel.  You get to sample three and pick one and the price is determined on which one you choose.  Usually from $9,000 to $12,000.  They bottle your barrel, put your name on the barrel and all the bottles and on a tag on the wall in the single barrel room and ship it all to you.  Still a little pricey for me.

Dick Sheppard and his friend Gene are Jack Daniels Squires.  I am not sure what that title actually gets you, but they were definitely given special treatment.  I understand you have to be invited.

The town of Lynchburg is as I said a one horse town.  There  are not many shops in town and those that are there are definitely dependent on the distillery.  Did buy a couple of T-shirts at the company (Hardware Store opened in the 1800’s I think) store on the main (only) square in town.  Not really much going on down there.  It is after all a dry county and will likely remain so unless they change the law.  It supposedly takes 2500 people to vote for going wet and the population is only about 361.

November 3, 2012

Went to the Redstone Space Exhibit.  What a neat show.  Spent most of the day there with Dick, Deanna, Gene, Kermit and Kathryn.  It sure took a lot of hardware to put those little space capsules into orbit.  Fascinating.  Stopped at Gibson’s Bar-b-que on the way back to the boat.  Not bad.  A really fun day.

November 4, 2012

Turned the day into a work day on the boat.  Changed the Racor filtes on the engines and a few other things.

November 5, 2012

Made the run to Joe Wheeler along with Sareanna and Good Karma.  Kind of a dreary day, but not a tough ride.  Joined up with One September when we got to the Park.  Had dinner on the boat.

November 6, 2012

Made the short run to Florence, Al.  Only about 20 miles and both locks were pretty ready for us when we got there.  Had time to go downtown after we arrived.  Not much happening there.  Later had dinner at an Italian restaurant downtown.  The couple from “Annie” joined us for dinner.  Great time.

November 7, 2012

Ran to Iuka, Ms.  The day started out really nice with bright sun even though it was a little cool.  Immediately had to pass a tow which went off without a problem.  Then the weather went down the tubes.  By the time we got to Grand Harbor for fuel the winds were 25kts or better and the river was really nasty.  Tied up at Aqua Yacht Harbor and realized that we had been there the year before when we were looking at a boat there.  It’s still there.  Had dinner on board.  Tired.

November 8, 2012

Left Iuka and anchored out at 5 Fingers Cove near Bay Springs Lock and Dam.  The run down was easy and there was little traffic.  The 4 boats rafted up back in the cove and were very comfortable for the night.  It’s turning very cool here.

November 9, 2012

Today will be a short day so we get up late.  Kermit takes Rusty of his morning stroll and we watch the ride over to the island with glee.  Rusty is a great dog and is very patient with the activities and getting into and out of the dingy.  It is funny to watch especially when Kermit has to go wading ashore up to his knees in the mud in 40ish degree weather.  Rusty could care less about what the temperature is.

It’s a short run to Midway Marina and the trip is uneventful.  When we arrive, we check out the loaner van and head to town.  Not much of a town, but the locals seem to be proud of it.  They have a cute park.  There is also a  Wal-mart Super Center nearby so we pick up a few things.  Had dinner aboard Sareanna while One September and Good Karma go to the Catfish Restaurant.

November 10, 2012

Ran to Aberdeene, Ms.  Only about 41 miles.  Weather is still cool in the morning, but heats up some in the afternoon.  One September has friends from home, Jay and Sandy join us here.  The marina is really the back of a 7-11 store that has a boat ramp.  Well run.  Real skinny and winding entrance to the marina which makes it a little scarry.  We churned up a bunch of mud coming in.  Sareanna bumped something.  We all made it in.

Went to dinner in Smithville at a steak restaurant which is supposedly the rival of Ruth’s Chris at half the price.  If I remember, the price is less than half of RC’s but, the steak is not worth the cost.  Oh well, you don’t win them all.

November 11, 2012

Short run to Columbus, Ms.  We are looking forward to a town of substance.  We are not disappointed.  Columbus is a nice town.  Well kept and probably thriving.  Stayed here 2 days.  We go downtown to walk around and are here on a holiday and much of the town is closed.  We still had a great lunch at the CafĂ© on Main St.  The Welcome Center is Tennessee Williams first home.  Quaint.  Dinner at Huck’s was pretty good and reasonable.

November 13, 2012

Ran almost 70 miles today and anchored at Sumter Recreation area in Alabama.  Joy and I stay behind and leave late as we are trying to get our boat registration situation resolved.  The other boats and several others in the marina leave and go through the lock at 7:00.  We don’t get to the lock until 9:30.  Then we have to wait another 30 minutes on a boat coming up the river.  I leave the lock and head south and up the speed a little running at 11 mph instead of 10.  I am hoping I can catch the slower boats from the first lock down before they go through the next lock.

It is about a 3 hour run to the next lock and we get there about 15 minutes late.  We end up waiting again for about an hour while the lock is refilled and the other 2 boats get there.  I then up the speed again and run to the anchorage where the rest of the group is waiting.  I get there just about dark.  Long day.  Dinner onboard with the group again.  I go to bed early.

November 14, 2012

Run to Demopolis which is the Tennessee meets the Black Warrior.  This is the last day on the Tenn-Tom.  From here south we will be on the Black Warrior River.  Heflin Lock is ready and waiting for us and the green light is on when we arrive.  We lock down easily.  The weather has turned very cold and Joy and I are bundled up on the bridge.  We go past the White Cliffs of Epes which are kind of neat looking.  It is an easy run, little traffic.

Arriving at Demopolis Yacht Basin, the marina is very inviting.  The place is new and very clean and well run.  The fuel docks cater to the commercial traffic so they are a little more worn.  We did hit them pretty hard all at once.  I think about 8 boats arrived at about the same time.  It took a little sorting.

Tomorrow will be a VERY long day.  We are leaving at first light or before.  I am going to bed early. 

November 15, 2012

Got up before daybreak and the fog is real thick out on the river.  We have a long day ahead to make the next stop at Bobby’s Fish Camp which is about 100 miles.  The fog is making it difficult to get started.  We called the lock about 4 miles down river and he said he could take us if we could get there.  He also told us there was a Tow about 3 miles below the dam who was also waiting out the fog.  If we don’t get there before he does, we will have to wait until he gets through as he has priority.

We leave the dock about 6:15 and ease toward the lock.  We are traveling at idle speed trying to stay close enough to see each other, but far enough away that we don’t run into each other.  A fine line it is in this pea soup.  We have picked up another boat, Odan which is a Nordhaven, about 65’, a very fine looking vessel indeed.  With “Fandango” we had a total of 6 boats.  Somehow we made the lock without incident and lock down.

When we were let out of the lock at the lower end, the fog was worse than on the upper side.  Thankfully it was starting to burn off a little.  We pass the Tow waiting to go up and head down river.  Things finally start to get real nice about 8:00 and it’s going to be a nice sunny day.

About half way to Bobby’s we are passed by a Carver named “Ya-ting”.  It took some doing, but Good Karma finally got him to slow down enough to give us a half-assed slow pass.  Some of us were not real happy.  Otherwise the trip was pretty nice.

Got to Bobby’s and Ya-ting is there, the only boat on a 100’+ dock and tied up right in the middle.  Good Karma was first to the dock as he had to give Rusty a walk and it was getting dark.  He pulled in bow to bow to Ya-ting and could not get the dog off as the swim platform was not next to the dock.  He asks Ya-ting to move about 3’ so he could get the dog off and on.  Ya-ting refuses.  Not a way to make friends on the water.  It took about 20 minutes to get him turned around, retied and we raft up to him.  Finally Rusty gets off the boat and is REAL happy.  Not many of the rest of us are real happy.  We are rafted up on both ends of Ya-ting.  The owner of Ya-ting is hiding inside his boat and won’t come out.

We have dinner at the fish camp.  The Catfish was good.  The service was enthuastic if not the most professional.  The people here are wonderful and nice, but this is a fish camp.  About half way through dinner we had to go out and bring in another boat to the dock which we rafted up to our starboard.  The boat is the Barbara El.  They are not yet Loopers, but are headed home near Chicago I think.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Late October

October 16, 2012

Got up and met everyone at the courtesy van to go to Shiloh.  I found it a very haunting place and still don’t know what to think of it.  The visitors center has a video which was produced about the battle and it was bloody to say the least.  I think they said that about 23,000 men were killed or wounded in 2 days of fighting.  I was amazed at how peaceful and tranquil a place it was to have been host to such horror and carnage.  It will be a long time before I put it together in my mind.

After the visit to Shiloh we drove over to Savannah, Tn for a Walmart run.  Had lunch at the Toll House restaurant.  Drove back to the marina then to dinner at Rusty-T’s.  I thought the dinner was only marginal.  I also hated the TV over the table showing the presidential debate which I find demeaning.  Glad to get to bed.

October 17, 2012

We could not make up our minds whether we should leave and go to Florence or stay put at Grand Harbor.  Some weather is due in tomorrow night and it will cancel any plans the group had to anchor out.  Joy and I are going to Joe Wheeler on Thursday and could make the run in one day.  The Dock Master at Florence has not told us that they can take us all at one time.  Finally she called and said she could and we left about 10:30.  We have no locks ahead of us so it is a simple run of about 43 miles.

We arrive at about 4:00 and tie up to the fuel dock as the depth of the other docks are marginal and I don’t want to bend up my props.  The restaurant is closed.  So we had dinner on the dock.  Grilled chicken on the dock.  Nice evening.

October 18, 2012

All sorts of things are happening outside the boat.  I look outside and there are about 140 Bass boats milling around in the little marina.  Boats everywhere.  Joy said they played the national anthem and everyone stood up in their boats as it was played.  They took off rather peacefully given that they all wanted to get fishing.

Left about 9:30 headed for Joe Wheeler State Park and Marina.  The rest of the group is staying in Florence.  We called the Lock about 3 miles up the river and they said to come on up.  Got there and had to wait about 25 minutes for the water to be drained from the lock.  The last trip was a group of bass boats.  Can you imagine?

Came out into the lake and took a very peaceful slow run up to Wheeler Lock and Dam about 16 miles.  Locked through and had about 2.5 miles to the Marina.  Worked on the boat for the rest of the day.  Not many boats here yet.  Most will come in on Saturday.

October 18, 2012

Working on the boat today.  Installed the new GPS antenna as recommended by the tech at Port Charles.  It still did not work.  Called Lowrance and talked to them about it.  Checked out some things, but did not get it to work.

Couple of boats came in to the marina, however things are pretty quiet around here still.  That will change.

October 19, 2012
More boats coming into the marina/hotel for the get together which starts Sunday PM.  Otherwise a slow day.

October 20, 2012

Took a shuttle ride into town to the auto and hardware store.  Not much of a town, but they are proud of it.  They were having a car show right down town as well as a chili cook off.  Country music, everything.

October 21, 2012

Official check in for the Rendezvous is this afternoon.  Then tea and lemonade (alcohol is not allowed on the state park on Sunday and we are asked to be discrete) on the patio veranda and dinner with Looper introductions this evening.

October 22, 2012

Seminars today till about 3:30.  Then Looper Crawls and Vessel Safety Checks.  A wine reception on the veranda and dinner.

October 23, 2012

Seminars again today till about 3:00.  Then an optional tour of Rogersville which Joy and I passed on.  Then later from about 6:30 to 9:30 a local Bed and Breakfast in town held a special concert on their ground for the Loopers.  The band was called the KGB and they played a little of everything from Elvis to Johnny Cash, both current and oldies.  They were really fun.  Also, there were Smores and cigars were available if you so desired.  They took us over in a school bus and since the area is dry, we had to BYOB.  We still had a grand time.

October 24, 2012

Last day of the Rendezvous.  Some seminars and picture taking and more Looper Crawls and Vessel Safety Checks.  They also had a dingy race.  The Captain (driver) had to drive the boat backwards while blindfolded, directed by the Admiral (Navigator).  This made things a little more even.  Then another wine reception and dinner.

We had a great time at the Rendezvous.  We have however been here for a week and are anxious to get going.

October 25, 2012

Moved to the fuel dock at the marina and pumped out and headed out about 8:45.  We are getting a little late start and have a full day ahead.  We are headed for an anchorage about 85 miles up river on the top side of the Guntersville Lock and Dam.  We are leading and Sareanna and Good Karma are following.  The rest of the group are doing other things.  One September is going back home to Virginia Beach for about a week.  Seaquel is going south and heading for Florida about as fast as they can get there.  Catmandu is also heading south, but at a much slower pace.

We are headed for Chattanooga, TN.  Today is a long day upstream and we are lucky that we get to the Guntersville L&D and have no wait.  We also pick up Dave and Joy on Maia just before the lock and go up together.  We are going to an anchorage behind Goat Island, but it is getting late and it is almost dark when we get there.  Another boat named Water Music is in the anchorage and we have some confusion getting anchored.  Maia and Good Karma anchor separately and we raft up with Sareanna.  It was a very peaceful night.  Beautiful.

October 26, 2012

Water Music is the first to leave the anchorage.  Maia decides to stop and smell the roses and I can’t blame them.  The rest of  us head  up river.  It’s a little breezy and cool, but a very beautiful morning.  Lake Guntersville is a very beautiful lake.  An absolutely wonderful ride.

Today is another rather long day and it gets more windy as we go along.  We catch up to Water Music and we lock through Nickajack Lock and Dam together.  We all head for an anchorage just above the lock.  The three of us raft up, but Water Music chooses to anchor alone.  We have done almost 83 miles and are in need of rest.  The anchorage is very quiet and docktails aboard were very welcome.  We slept well.

October 27, 2012

Today is a relatively short day into Chattanooga.  What a beautiful ride.  The fall colors are strong and the leaves are falling.  The mountains are close to the river and we are fighting a current so we are forced to go slow.

We arrive in Chattanooga and go to the Aquarium Wall.  This is a concrete river walk just below the Aquarium in downtown Chattanooga.  The town has arranged with Marine Max to handle their docks for them.  Unfortunately, Marine Max is in the business of selling boats and not running marinas.

I call Brian and he come to the boat.  Later we go to dinner at the Big River restaurant.  Suzanne also came by and it was good to see her.  It has been a long time since I have seen her. (We also got to see Margaret as well.)

October 28, 2012

Went to the Blue Plate Diner for breakfast with Brian and Joan.  She does not seem to be feeling well and probably would have liked to stay at the house.  The rest of the day we piddle on the boat.  We need a day to tend to things aboard.

Brian picked us up and we had dinner at their house.  They have moved since we were here last near where their old house was.  Joan is not feeling very good as she has a bug Brian brought back from Turkey.  She is still very gracious and a lovely hostess.  Margaret joined us and we had a wonderful evening.  Brian loaned us his car for tomorrow so we could get around.  Thanks.  It was very helpful.

When we got back from Brian’s house, we became very concerned about the level of the water in the river.  Chickamauga Lock and Dam is about 4 miles up river and they are producing power, thereby letting water go through the turbines.  The concrete wall is constructed where another few inches of elevation of the water and the boats could float over the edge of the dock wall.  We call the dam and discuss it with them and they tell us that they are near the end of the release and the water level will go down instead of going up.  I am not real comfortable.  Not much I can do. 

October 29, 2012

Went back to the Blue Plate Diner for breakfast.  Unfortunately, it was closed.  Bummer.   We found a Starbucks at a hotel and had breakfast and afterwards walked down to the Arts Museum and the grounds where they have several statues.  This area is very nicely presented and we had a great time walking around.  Visited a bakery and a chocolate factory.  Then walked back to the boats along the river trail.  What a great job the town had done to bring the riverfront back together.

We went to Whole Foods and Walmart in the afternoon and got some shopping done.  We would like to leave tomorrow, but the forecast is pretty bad.  High winds are scheduled from Hurricane Sandy.  We plan to check it first thing in the morning to make a final decision.  I don’t think any of us are excited about the forecast.

October 30, 2012

We decide to sit out the day.  Instead of traveling down river, we are traveling to the liquor store to stock up.  I also get a haircut and we ride the electric trolleys to Chattanooga Choo-Choo.  They have a display of an electric HO train layout with nearly a mile of track and lots of miniature scenery of the local area.  Otherwise, it was not a very interesting visit.

October 31, 2012

We leave the dock at first light.  We are headed to Goose Pond Colony Marina.  It is a long ride, about 93 miles, but we are going with the current.  Our average speed will easily pickup 2 mph.  It has turned really cold.  However, the ride is very nice and we just bundle up a little.  We arrive about 4:30, take on fuel and then go to dinner at the restaurant.  Pretty good food and the service was great.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Early October

October 1, 2012

A long day ahead.  The next stop is Angelo’s Towhead at mile marker 1.5, about 100 miles down the river.  It is a cloudy day, rainy and cold.  Pretty dismal.  Got up and got ready to leave at 7:00 and the stern anchor has wrapped itself around my boat.  That took about 30 minutes to get undone and away we went.  Dick on Sereanna lead the way and ran point all day.  Did a great job and we had no problems with any of the tows.  Got to Angelo’s and dropped the hook rafted up in 2 groups and opened the wine.  Long day, short evening, we’re tired.

October 2, 2012

Another long day ahead.  We are going to anchor tonight in Cumberland Island Towhead a few miles up the Cumberland River.  It’s rainy and cool again and it’s been a pretty bumpy night on the Mississippi River.  Lots of Tows have been on the river all night.  We are ready to move on.

We turn left on to the Ohio River.  It is only a stone’s throw from the anchorage.  We thought that there would be less traffic on the Ohio than the Miss., but we are wrong.  There is barge traffic everywhere.  And we are now going against a fairly strong current.  We go from 12 mph speed to about 7 which is really slow.  Dick in Sareanna is having a tough time keeping up.

They are building a new lock on the river here and we took some pictures as we went by.  Looks like quite an operation.  I don't know who the contractor is, but I hope they have enough money in the bid to complete it.

We get to the first lock and dam and we are told to keep on coming as the wickets are down.  The current is really strong here and our speed slows to about 5 mph as we go over the wicket.  The water is very confused and we have a difficult time controlling the boat.  I did not enjoy the experience.  I would rather take the time to lock through as it is much more controlled.

A few more miles up the river we have our second lock and we find a sailboat named
Catmandu waiting.  He’s been there almost an hour.  We wait for over another hour until they finally call us in the lock. This is an old lock and has no lines for us to grab onto so we use our own.  They wrap the lines around fixed bollards and steel handrail posts and down we go.  One boat nearly got loose in the lock which would have been a real problem, but finally got things under control.

Went past Paduca, Ky.  Is that how you spell it?

About 5 miles  up the river we come to Cumberland Island Towhead and Jim’s Joy is first in the anchorage.  We drop the hook and call in the next boat to raft to us.  Finally got all 6 boats tied up and hanging on 2 anchors.  We decide to tie off to a tree on the bank to keep us from swinging around during the night.  That did not work very well as we got the line wrapped around One September’s prop and could not get it loose.  Mike and Kermit went for a swim and finally got it loose.  Time for a beer.

Had doctails aboard One September and introduced Catmandu to the group before turning in for a a quiet night on the hook.

October 3, 2012

Woke up to a gorgeous morning in Cumberland Island Towhead.  We are planning on leaving at 7:00 and heading up the Cumberland River.  The boats peel off from the raftup one at a time and we are the last to leave.  The anchor comes up without any problems which has been something I had been concerned about.

The trip up the river was wonderful but the current got stronger as we went.  We soon passed Canmandu as he travels much slower than we do.  We got about 5 miles from Barkley Lock and Dam and got a call from Catmandu.  He says that the Corps of Engineers is working on the dam and it would not open before 4:00.  Bummer.  We called the lock to verify and the news was confirmed.  We were told that we could tied up to the lock walls and wait.  And we did.About an hour later, Catmandu arrived and also tied to the wall.

We continued to sit on the wall for another 30 minutes or so until the Lockmaster called and told us to get ready.  They had finished the work early and were preparing the lock for us.  We locked through about 2:30 and called Green Turtle Bay and got our slip assignments.  We were tied up by 4:00.  It had been a good trip and a very nice day on the water.

We had dinner at Patti’s, well known for their 2” thick pork chops.  They were wonderful and VERY BIG.  I made it through less than half and took the rest home.

October 4, 2012

A comfortable day at the dock.  I looked at the battery charger which had quit working and found a couple of fuses blown and fixed it.  Ordered a new GPS antenna and adapter cable which will be delivered at Joe Wheeler in Alabama.  We also ordered our absentee ballots to be delivered to us at Joe Wheeler.

October 5, 2012

Spent some time plotting the trip to Joe Wheeler and Chattanooga.  Found marinas along the way and think the trip will be a fun time.  Sareanna wants to go to Chattanooga also which means we will have some company which is nice.

Worked on the fuel transfer pump and got it to work.  It does leak so I will order a kit to fix it and have it sent to Joe Wheeler.

Walked into town with Mike and Judy.  There really is not much here, but it is a cute place.  The girls are planning a road trip to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry.  There are 16 of us going in 2 groups.  We have 10 going and have arranged for a van from Enterprise Rentals and they pick us all up to go to dinner in Paduca, Ky.  Have a nice meal  even  though the weather is awful.  Then went to Wal-Mart and then back to the boat.

October 6, 2012

We leave at 9:00 for Nashville.  It is a drive of just under 2 hours and we head to the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Quite a production.  I find it interesting, but it does not take too long to go through.  Afterwards we have lunch at the Wild Horse Saloon.  We have gotten together  with the other 6 in the other van and have a fun lunch.  Then it is on to the Hotel (Mariott at Vanderbilt) to get ready for the Opry. 

We pick up our tickets at will call and are ushered in about 6:30.  The show starts at 7 and runs for 2 hours.  The first half is old Opry.  Little Jimmy Dickens was the lead and was surprisingly spry for being 91.  I thought he did a good job.  The second half was new country.

After the show, we tried to leave and got stuck in a very large traffic jamb.  Our show was getting out and a new show was starting soon and the mall next door was closing at the same time.  What a mess.  We got to the hotel about 10:30 and thankfully the restaurant was still open.  Got to bed about midnight.

October 7, 2012

Got up and went down to breakfast about 9:00.  We caught the hotel shuttle to downtown and took a trolley tour around town.  Nashville is a happenin’ town.  There are many things to do in this town.  There were several different music venues, the Parthenon, the State Capital, and other things which would make this a fun town to live in.  There are several sports teams in the area.  Several colleges also call Nashville home.  Seems like a fun place.  Entertainment is real big.

Had lunch at the Big River.  Then walked to the Legends bar and listened to some music.  Some guy
named Buck McCoy.  Not bad, not good, just too showy.

Called the hotel shuttle and got a ride back and picked up the van.  It was a long ride back to Green Turtle Bay.  We were tired when we got there and ready to hit the sack.

October 10, 2012

Left the dock at 7:00 for the run to Paris Landing State Park which is the next planned stop.  I took the lead right after going through the canal which leads from Barkley Lake to Kentucky Lake.  It was only about 2 miles up the river.  Had a long slow run up river to the park and arrived about 1:30 or 2:00.  Nice day on the water except that the wind and waves were from our stern and had a tendency to turn us a bit more than was comfortable.

The state park is nice with good facilities.  The staff was completely unhelpful.  No one would help with the lines and it made it a little difficult.  Also, the docks did not have enough cleats to tie up to.  We were able to overcome all obstacles.  Had a nice party on the docks that night.  I think we ended up with about 8 boats.  Good times.

October 11, 2012

Headed to Pebble Island Marina,   MM158, Johnsonville, Tn.  I had talked to them for a few days and they seemed real anxious to have us visit.  The have the best fuel price we have seen for a while at $3.99/gal. w/ a Boat US discount.  The run up was real easy, but the weather was not real nice.  Rainy, cloudy, and just kind of gunky.  Got there and they were almost beside themselves trying to help us in.  I think this was the most enthusiastic reception we have had.

Later that afternoon, took the courtesy van to see the Johnsonville State Historic Park and the local Civil War Museum.  Kind of interesting.  Seems they had some guy named Nathan Bedford Forest who was of Southern persuasion who spent some time harassing the Union fortifications and river establishments in these surrounding parts.  I don't think that he was ever promoted to President or any thing like that, but he eventually became famous for attacking the union forces from both directions at the same time after he was inconveniently surrounded and besieged and generally getting his butt kicked.  And somehow escaped the fray and capture.  Must have been pretty slick.  Anyway, he's kind of famous around here.

Afterwards, went to the small local grocery and even the gas station which has a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream store.  Then back to the marina where the marina furnished hor-dovours for the evening festivities.  Then dinner at the marina restaurant.

October 12, 2012

Decided to wait at the marina for the free cinnamon rolls and sausage biscuits and coffee at the restaurant.  The weather still sucks and it has been raining since about 3:00am when the thunderstorms started to come through.  We all met at the restaurant and decided to leave about 10:30.  The clouds are still hanging around the hills around the marina.  It's foggy and misty and damp.

We met our first tow about 4 miles up the river.  No problem.  Met our second tow about 25 miles up the river and I had to divert to the opposite side as he seemed to be pinching us to the bank.  I was not happy with that.  The fog and clouds continued to set in and we could not get in to the anchorage we wanted.  Eventually, we made the long run to Clifton, Tn. which was our intended stop for tomorrow night.

This is a small well kept marina, kind of skinny getting in, but nice once you are here.  Wonderful reception and very happy to have us.  Glad to be here.  We decide to stay tomorrow to rest.

October 13, 2012

Walked into town with Kermit and Kathryn.  It is Saturday and the town is CLOSED.  There are several shops which have signs which say open on Friday and Saturday, 10 - 4.  Only open 2 days a week.  And they are closed at noon.  The grocery store which is the only local thing other than a restaurant or bar that most of us would be interested in burned down about 2 weeks ago.  Not a good stop for provisions.  Still a cute, but dead town.

The marina seems to be filling up.  Went to dinner with about 18 Loopers at Meo Mio's.  Food was ok.  Took 4 trips in the courtesy car to get us all there and again to get us  back.

October 14, 2012

A flustery, blustery day.  We are staying put because of the weather.

October 15, 2012

Left Clifton at 7:00 headed for Grand Harbor Marina which is located on the Tenn-Tom down about ½ mile.  It is at the junction of Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.  The trip did not start out so good.

I was the last boat out of the marina of our group and I was supposed to lead.  Leaving the dock I hooked the water line with my swim platform and knocked it loose from the dock.  Other than making it loose, I did not do any damage so we continued on.  The rest of the boats were waiting for us outside the marina breakwater and followed us south.  About 1 mile down the river we went around a bend and could see a thick fog bank about 2 miles up.  It was thick enough that I could only see a small portion of the road way which was about 45’ up, but no structure.

We slowed down at the fog and eased into it.  The world went away.  I could barely see the bow pulpit and the fenders hanging on it.  We eased to starboard a little and the fog seemed to be just a little lighter so we continued on.  Thankfully the red and green bouys which were marking the channel under the bridge were in place and we found them and eased under the bridge.  We followed the north bank for about 3 or 4 miles coming to a bend in the river which I was able to predict with the GPS.  At the bend we turned South again and the fog started to lift as the morning got warmer.  Worst fog of the trip to date.

The rest of the run to Grand Harbor was pretty uneventful except that the current was real strong against us at the Pickwick Dam and we went past Shiloe which we will go see tomorrow.  Pickwick Lock was the 100th lock of the trip.  There will be a few more.

Arrived at Grand Harbor about 4:00 ready for a beer.  Wonderful reception by the dock crew.  We were tired and ready for a break.  Docktails at 5, dinner on board.  Early to bed.