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....