Friday, October 31, 2014

Sunday, October 26, we left Zippy Cove at 10 AM having waited for fog to clear.  This was our first full day on the Tenn-Tom this trip.  We always find this part of the trip interesting because of our proximity to the shore.  In this remote area we've seen some neat birds and animals.  

 "Do you think these feathers make me look fat?"

We traveled 37 miles, the last 8 being on Baysprings Lake.  Funny, but we'd never really appreciated how pretty this lake is, or how many great looking anchorages are available.  Probably because we never considered stopping on it before now.  

We had chosen an anchorage down near Wilkins Lock, called Baysprings, because of the recreation area and dock nearby.  We arrived at the anchorage around 2:45 and proceeded to set anchor in about 15 ft.  We'd no sooner started the process when the windlass stopped working.  It wasn't the breaker...and Wayne soon figured out that he could release the brake on the windlass and it would operate for short periods of time.  We decided we could rely on the same technique the next morning to retrieve the anchor.  Wayne looked in the windlass operation manual and we think he's identified the problem.  When we get to Columbus he will do some maintenance on the unit.

Meanwhile, it was a beautiful anchorage and the recreation area gave us an opportunity to walk a little.

Monday October 27, the windlass worked well with only one time needed for
Wayne to intervene.  We went through Whitten, Montgomery and Rankin, and Fulton locks...winding up at our anchorage for the night near Smithville Marina. We actually sounded our way into the little cove right next to the Wilkins Lock, but didn't feel comfortable with the shallow depth so went to the area in front of the marina. The anchorage worked out well, it was just a bit longer dinghy ride to the courtesy dock.

During the day we passed (and not easily, I might add, at their speed!) a canoe with the name WildRavenAdventure.Com. That evening, the canoe pulled into the Smithville Marina. For those friends of ours who think this is an, that, my friends, is an adventure!! ;-)

Tuesday, October 28 – The windlass was cantankerous this morning, so we will definitely have to spend some time at Columbus Marina solving the problem.

We went through Wilkins, Amory, and Aberdeen locks, pulling into Columbus Marina around 3:30 PM. By the end of the evening several other Looper boats had pulled in, most all seeking shelter for the evening's predicted storms.

Approaching Columbus, MS, by water we were “buzzed” several times by planes from the Columbus Air Force Base. “Shout out” to Ralph and Kay!!!

That afternoon as we traveled we touched base with our friends Pam and Jim Hemphill who live nearby. Fortunately, we were able to work out a rendezvous with them that evening before they headed out on consulting work. Ever the the most gracious and talented hosts, Pam and Jim came to the boat with a complete home-cooked supper of appetizers, smoked pork tenderloin, baked beans, coleslaw, bread, and dessert. YUM! For two people who've been eating “boat food” for three days, it was a most welcome respite!

Jim is the adventuresome soul who came down to Carrabelle, FL, seven years ago and went with Wayne and I on Segue as we made our first (and only, so far) overnight crossing of the Gulf. We all laugh (now!) at the plight Jim and Pam had with lack of cell phone coverage that night. Pam was sure they'd have to dredge the Gulf bottom to ever see Jim again!

Pam and Jim lived in Knoxville at the time and we met them at Choto Marina. We've kept up ever since...and had a wonderful time Tuesday evening sharing news and stories of the time between now and our last visit.

The storms came that night...lightning, thunder, rain, and wind. It was good to be tied to a dock.

Fall is definitely here!

Wednesday, October 29 – Wayne started early working on the windlass issue. After repeated calls to the Muir rep in the US and a most helpful technician, he determined the issue to likely be in the windlass armature. He decided to remove the windlass and take it into a shop in Columbus tomorrow.

I realized pretty early that morning that I had left at home a 6-month supply of a medication. I called our friend, Carol, and she went over that morning...found the medication, and shipped it off that afternoon. “A friend in need...” ;-) Thank you, Carol!!

Meanwhile, we signed up for the courtesy car that afternoon and went in to Columbus on some errands.

Thursday, October 30 – Wayne successfully got the windlass off and we took it in to the engine shop to see if they could repair it.  

Many Looper boats pulled out early this morning, eager to make their way down towards Demopolis. We are content to be here for a few more days...or longer, if need be. 

Friday, October 31 - Anxiously waiting for a call from the engine shop to know what our next move will be.  It's supposed to turn really cold tonight and be down in the lower 30's tomorrow morning.

And...guess who pulled in yesterday evening?  The couple and their dog!  This is a view of their camp from our slip.  Amazing that they can get all of that in the 20 ft canoe!  

They told an amazing story about the canoe and it's maker.  They ran onto something in a river upstream and tore a hole in the bottom.  They called the manufacturer, who declined to help out in any way by telling them what they might do to repair the tear.  The couple said they would be interested in buying a new canoe from them if they could get a discount (Wild Raven has been doing a blog and Facebook for 6 months on the water now)...and the manufacturer said, "no discount."  "Well, we'll have to buy a different brand," they said.  "You'll have a hard time finding one that will allow you to pack in all of the equipment you now have in THAT canoe," said the company!  So...when all this came out on Facebook and the blog, another canoe company stepped up and is building one for them, to their specifications, and they will pick it up in Tuscaloosa three days from now.  Pretty amazing story!  I failed to get the canoe company's name.  No matter.  They may soon be out of business due to this story!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Goose Pond and beyond

View from our perch on the bridge as we headed down Guntersville Lake.


 Beautiful sunset at Shellmound, just above Nickajack Lock.

Wednesday the 22nd of October, we left Goose Pond intending to do 44.7 miles, transit the Guntersville Lock, and end up at Ditto Landing Marina in Decatur, AL.  It was a quick day of travel to the lock and we went right in and out.  So then we start thinking how we could probably do more traveling today if we could find an anchorage below Ditto.  We checked our Garmin Blue Charts, an app that lets us see some of the same info on Active Captain...only we don't have to be connected to the internet, and picked out two possibilities.  

We made it to the first choice around 4:30 PM.  This part of the country gets dark at around 6 these days so we were thinking we could get in and set anchor, take Lucy in, and still be back to the boat before 6.  Limestone Creek (mile 311) gets good reviews on Active Captain and probably would work if you didn't need to take a pet to shore.  The channel in was deep, but long and narrow.  By the time we got back to the area we might consider anchoring in, we still hadn't seen a good place to dinghy in before dark.  There is a dock further in on the Creek, but that path is shallow and some distance still away.  We opted to bail out of this anchorage and look for other options.

It's about this time that we remembered one of our Ten Commandments from the other trip: If you are headed for an anchorage that night, and not a marina or dock, you need to be in the anchorage well before dark so you have time to set anchor, ready the dinghy, etc.

Duly noted, we made our way back out to the river and whatever options we could find.  Using the Blue Charts again we located Riverwalk Marina in Decatur, AL.  We've stayed there before and it was fine.  We called, made arrangements...and got docked just as it was getting dark.

Riverwalk is a quirky place, in a good sort of way.  The manager left instructions to pay at the adjoining restaurant, the Hard Dock Cafe, which we did.  While there we ordered a take out dish and talked with a fellow who works in Decatur, lives in another town, and owns a houseboat at Riverwalk where he lives during the work week.  It was a pleasant wait for the food...and the food was good!

Thursday, October 23, we left Riverwalk, made a right hand turn onto the Tennessee River.  Downtown Decatur, AL, that morning.....


 Approaching the nearby railway bridge we saw there was a train crossing.  We had a brief wait...but it took no time for the bridge to raise.

Later that morning we got within sight of the Wheeler Lock.  We hailed the lock master and told him how far out we were. He said to keep on coming and just avoid the work area around the lock.   We got to the lock gate in about 20 mins. and waited only a short time to go in.  As we were entering the lock, the lockmaster requested that we go to the furthermost bollard (we usually go for the first or second).  We did as told, and looking back at the open gate we saw why he wanted us there...

That's a little intimidating!  ;-)

No problems, though.  We left the lock downstream and headed for Wilson Lock, about 1.5 hrs. away.
Wilson is unusual because the gates rise from the water.  I have a video of the lock wall rising that day and will post it when we're not running on our mobile hotspot.

We got into Florence Harbor, Florence, AL, early afternoon and took the rest of the day off!  We met Laura and Bill Bender on Kindred Spirit III at the transit dock.  Both Laura and Bill are very active in MTOA (Marine Trawler Owners Assn.).  We just joined MTOA before the trip, so they gave us a lot of great information about benefits and meetings.  Laura and Bill have been living aboard full-time for 6 years, having sold there land home.

Friday, October 24, we got the courtesy car early and ran rounds to the grocery, Home Depot, and used DVD store (we've hit a lot of evenings when TV wasn't available...nor wifi).  We spent some much needed time reorganizing supplies and straightening up the place.

This morning, Saturday, October 25, we left Florence Harbor.  At last we're seeing fall leaves!

Our view of the river as we left the harbor....

Yes, there was a little fog to go through, but otherwise we had a beautiful day of travel down the Tennessee River to our current location at Zippy Cove, one of the first anchorages on the Tenn-Tom.  Tomorrow we'll carry on.  More later....

Friday, October 24, 2014

Island Cove to Goose Pond

Sunday the 19th of October we traveled from Island Cove Marina to Shellmound anchorage, just north of Nickajack Lock.  We cozied into the back cove there (skirting the greenery in the water) and had a nice, uneventful night.

Monday we were socked in by fog and didn't get going until around 10.  The lock wasn't busy, though, and we got in and through in no time.  We were only going about 38 miles that day down to an anchorage 10 miles north of Goose Pond Marina.  We had plans to go into Goose Pond on Tuesday...and with only 10 miles between us and the marina we'd be there in no time and have a WHOLE DAY at a great marina with laundry and a convenience van (a vehicle the marina makes available to transient boaters).  We learned this little move on the last trip.

So...Jones Creek at mile 388 was our selected anchorage for the night. Sounded ideal, down to a deserted boy scout camp with dock for taking Lucy in with the dinghy. We turned off the river into an entrance that, after a short channel, opened out into a little lake. Tree-filled hills surrounded the place and the wind was calm. Nirvana!!

We picked our way to a 10 ft. depth in close proximity to the deserted camp and another dock that looked promising. Secured with a bunch of chain dropped on top of the anchor, we got the dinghy off and took Lucy for a ride/walk.

We tried the closest dock first, not the boy scout dock. Turns out the dock didn't go all the way onto land and looked a little rickety. We motored over to the deserted camp area and found it to be a new dock...about 4.5 ft. off the water.  We tied the dinghy to a post and Wayne hoisted himself up onto the dock.  I then "handed" Lucy up by the handle on her life vest (most handy handle).  I then waited in the dinghy for them to do the necessary...when we loaded up the two and motored back to the boat.

This is a picture of the boat anchored as we came back from the dock outing.

We're thinking, "Wow, this is the perfect anchorage!"  Until...

Around dark we happened to look out the back door and see, oh, I'd say a gazillion bugs hanging all over the boat.  They looked like fish flies to me, except not as long.  Totally creepy, though.  I'm imagining having to "deal with them" tomorrow morning when we take Lucy to the shore.  I'm not real fond of bugs, anyway.  Much to our relief, the bugs left...even before we went to bed.  Quite a phenomenon, though.   

A beautiful morning greeted us the next day, though there was a little wait for lifting fog.  We suited up (we have started wearing our rain pants and jacket for morning rides due to dew) and headed back to the new dock for Lucy's communion with nature.  Everything went fine until we got back in the dinghy for the return trip.  A few yards away from the dock the engine stopped.  Oops.  We'd run out of gas.  Wayne rowed us back to the boat while I held Lucy on the side of the dinghy and gave directions.  He definitely got his exercise in that day!

Out of the anchorage early, we made it down to Goose Pond Marina in no time.  Goose Pond is notorious for having an approach that is thick with millifoil and water lilies, so much so that depth finders often misbehave and give false shallow readings.  And here I always thought water lilies were pretty!  These are not.

The transient dock was nearly empty when we arrived, but slowly filled up as the end of the day rolled around.  We had a chance to take the courtesy car for groceries and do some laundry before the demand for those services was taxed.  

We met all kinds of nice people there on the dock, most doing the Loop, too.  We also got to see a previous owner of the boat, Ray Whitney.  Ray and his wife Patsy live nearby and he has a boat at Goose Pond.  We had a good time visiting with him and learning a bit more about the boat's history.  I caught a picture of Wayne and Ray looking over Journey.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Island Cove

Spent last night at Island Cove Marina.  We had anchored out in Huss Lowe Slough nearby, but the cove was so filled with green stuff in the water that we couldn't get into the dock we were aiming to use...or find another place within dinghy distance to walk Lucy.  The winds were higher than expected, having looked at the weather reports, but we had a good hold with the anchor.  Called ICM and they had a slip for us 80 ft covered slip!  We were glad for the "room to roam" as we made our way in the slip in the wind.  Split an order of loaded nachos from the Mexican restaurant here...and life was good. ;-). Today we're headed through Chickamauga Lock, about 6 miles south, then to an anchorage at Shellmound, near Nickajack Lock.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Loudoun to Chickamauga

Here's Wayne, Lucy, and Journey in the background as we took Lucy for a walk on Wednesday morning.

Then we motored up to Ft. Loudon Marina for fuel and water...then into the lock and out by 10:45.   I was a little windy in the chamber, but we got in and tied up without issues.  (Caught a good shot of lock wall for future art projects, too!  Feel free to copy.  ;-)

It was pretty chilly during the trip down Watts Bar Lake.  We now realize how nice it is to have the entire upper helm enclosed!  We had planned to anchor at Cozy Cove at mile 547 but made really good time, thanks to the current and winds.  Instead, we anchored at Hornsby Hollow Recreation Area near mile 541.  We've spent a week there in years past so were drawn back by the "pet friendly" factor.

Morning brought fog, and lots of it.  We could see enough to take Lucy into the dock, but waited until about 11 to leave the site and head down to Watts Bar Lock.  We decided to try locking through from the lower helm.  Wayne drove and found it to be a much better perspective for us on the lock wall.  Always a good thing, to find something else that makes locking through easier.

Coming out of the lock we caught this view of the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Unit 1
(with cloud floating from the top) and Unit 2 ("Unit 2 will be the first new reactor to achieve commercial operations in the U.S. since Watts Bar Unit 1 in 1996." TVA website

As we went along our route into Lake Chickamauga today the sun came out and we were treated to a beautiful day on the water.  We saw a couple of eagles, but none close enough to capture on film.  We worked on honing our chart plotter/autopilot skills for most of the afternoon ride and got a lot accomplished.  This is the first real opportunity we've had to play with the system while traveling.  We do LOVE the autopilot!

This evening we're docked at Blue Water Campground and Marina, Dayton, TN,  a friendly and well-located stop.  50 ft. covered slip, cable TV, internet, Papa Johns within delivery distance...for 75 cents /foot.  Hard to beat!  

We'll be anchored out for the next three nights, or that's the plan right now.  Next marina stop will be Goose Pond.

Oh, and in case you, too, have been wondering about the spelling of Loudon (Loudoun)'s an piece from WBIR that attempts to explain the variations.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It starts today...

We left Concord Marina on Wednesday morning around 8:15.  At this point in the day, the weather looked fine for travel (ominous sounding statement, right?)  We let down the radar arch with newly installed TV antenna and made our way out of the cove under the low bridge to the river.  There we re-positioned the arch and took off for Harbortowne boat yard on Tellico Lake.

The view of Concord in the morning was beautiful!

By 12:30 we were docked at the boat yard waiting to be lifted out for a quick zinc on the propeller.  It was 4:30 before we were pulling out to make our way to an anchorage for the night.  The boat yard had a "traffic jam."  ;-)

Wind, rain, and chilly weather accompanied us to the anchorage, Powerline Cove on Tellico Lake.  Great location for us.  We went all the way to the back of the cove (didn't have to fight for a spot since we were the only boat around) and anchored in 10 ft. close to the boat ramp.  Perfect for the night and for the morning's trip to shore with Lulu.

Up this morning and ready to go as soon as daylight has made it to the cove.  We'll go up to Ft. Loudon Marina and take on a little fuel and water, then hope to be transiting the Fort Loudoun Lock soon after it opens at 10.  Today we plan to go 55 miles, 7 hours,  beyond the lock to mile 547 and anchor out again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The rest of the story

Picking up where we left off in the search for a boat, we did indeed find our Journey... and there's a story there.

We started our search for a new boat during the fall of 2013 with a trip to the east coast.  We had picked out several boat models to see based on our "wish list" for the new vessel:

* No (or little) exterior teak
*34' - 40' in length
*Consider a single engine (diesel)
*Galley up
*Teak and holly floors, if possible (no carpet)
*Good walk-around area for docking and locking
*Easy access to water level for dinghy rides to shore (cockpit)
*One sleeping cabin and head (eliminating space needs and maintenance headaches)

The first boat we looked at was a Camano.  No teak showing on the pictures and it looked good and sturdy.  We actually looked at two models that were for sale in the same location.  The first boat was in a boatyard "on the hard," as we say, or on land mounted on a block and stand structure.  We climbed a ladder up to the back deck and checked out the inside.  Nice, compact, clean, no carpet (check, check, check).  Then to the outside and walk-around.  Oops!  Deal breaker: no rails on the tiny walk-around. This boat wouldn't work for us.  We went ahead and saw the next Camano, out of courtesy to the owner who had set up an appointment for viewing...but we knew it wasn't the boat for us.

Next we looked at a Sabreline trawler, an older model.  The fact that this boat showed lots of wear didn't bother us because we were there to look at the design.  It was in seeing this boat that we added a want to our wish list: we wanted a sedan flybridge design so that the main living area was on the same level as the cockpit.  This boat was an aft cabin, like our former boat, Segue.

After the Sabreline we viewed both a Carver and a Bayliner, but rejected both.  Neither had a good walk-around area...nor did they have cleats in the center of the boat.  The cleat issue was big for us because we've found that being able to snug up to a lock wall on a center cleat is the easiest ride for us and the boat.

Returning home to Knoxville, we felt we had accomplished a lot in narrowing down our search.  We started looking at Mainships, primarily, because of their design, price point, and reputation.  When we went to Florida for 2 months in early 2014, we focused on Mainship.  In February we drove from Nokomis, FL, back to the east coast of Florida and the Carolinas to view several Mainships for sale.  We looked at Mainship 39's, but they had two sleeping areas and the galleys were up, not down.  Finally we honed in on a Mainship 34' that was gorgeous, even if it would require adding things like dinghy, lift, etc., and it was at the top of our budget.  We got a contract on the boat and were trying to figure out how we would bring it home (by land or "sea"...both of which would require money and time) when the survey turned up a problem.  We decided there were some unknown costs associated with fixing the issue and got out of the contract.

Through all this our broker, Brian from Chattanooga, had been super helpful and supportive.  We came home in March and asked Brian to keep a lookout for something we might like.  Wasn't long before he called us to come down and take a look at a 32' Island Gypsy 1999 sedan trawler.  We were a little leary of the 32', two feet shorter than we'd considered, but decided to take an afternoon to check it out.  The rest, as they say, is history.

This is Journey:

Oh.  So, you notice the TEAK on EXTERIOR of boat.  Well, all I can say is that when we saw this little beauty for the first time at the dock in Chattanooga...I fell in love.  I swallowed hard and vowed, "I will do the teak."  ;-)  There's so much that we like about this boat. The walk-around area is wonderfully spacious and the rails are high enough to make us feel very secure in handling lines or securing the boat in a lock.  We even like the up galley because it is not very visible from the seating area in the salon.  Lucy will be safer because of the height of the sides on the walk-around...and there's a door at the end of the salon we can close so she won't fall down the stairs.  (Did I mention Lucy is blind now?  Happened last year.  Won't impact her longevity, just a retinal thing.)  We are enjoying the way the salon opens onto the back deck, the ease of taking the dinghy off and on, and the space on the upper deck.

We brought her up from Chicamauga Lake in late April and docked at Concord Marina.  From that point on, we've been working to get her ready for the Loop trip.  Wayne has done a ton of installing, rigging, and improvising in the process.  The lift for the dinghy was constructed with the help of Ben, inventor par excellence!

 At last, we set a date for departure, October 15, and started having friends over for a glimpse of our home for the next year.

 Wayne's mother, 95 and just retired from Walmart, came down for a visit, along with Wayne's sister, Linda.

I said goodbye to my mall-walkin' buddies, Martha and Bill, as they were leaving Knoxville for Atlanta.  Then we had them over for an "inaugural ride" on the re-vamped vessel.

 On September 7 we had an "open boat" and invited friends.  Among them were Beth and Glenda, Brenda R's dad, Jeanne, and Donna.

In October we had another "open boat" and had several of our neighbors come out to visit: Ann, Steve, Christy, Julie, and John.

I had a couple of chances to enjoy the company of Hook's Bookers, including our October meeting at Paneras (We missed you, Anne, Norma, and Mary!)

And...oh, I am so remiss in taking photos of these other friends.  We enjoyed evenings with our boating buddies, the Birdwell's, Bloomfields, and Smiths; our dear friends, Jay and Carla; the Merrie Librarians; the lunch bunch, Willa, Joan, Linda, and Patty; my longtime friends at LML, and finally, our friends the Alexanders, Pierces, and the Barnes.  Fortunately for us, Kay, unlike me, was mindful enough to catch a shot of us the Friday night before our departure...

Thank you to our dock mates at Concord Marina for making us feel right at home.  Nice Aft 2, BobKat, and Supertramp...we'll miss you!  

And, a shout out to our favorite boys in Wake Forest! They have visited the boat and are ready to spend the night when we get to the east coast next spring!

See you on down the river....

We are ready...

So, here we are at Concord Marina on Tuesday, October 14.  We had planned to take Journey down to the boatyard on Lake Tellico today and end up at the Ft. Loudoun Lock area for the night.  Tomorrow we would have started our Loop trip for real.  Today's downpours and high winds would have made for a lousy trip.  I think this was just Mother Nature's way of reminding us that she can trump any plans for travel we might have.  Message received.

We have embraced the change in itinerary (like, why not, right?)  We've organized items brought on at the last minute yesterday (big THANK YOU to Steve and Christy for the ride to the marina), and Wayne got the TV antenna installed on the radar arch.  I've been working on the blog and will have more (with pics) later.  We're thinking tomorrow may prove a good day for us to run down to the Tellico boatyard and Thursday looks like a perfect day to begin our larger trip.  More later....