Saturday, October 17, 2015


Saturday, October 17, 2015 -

On Sunday we made it up to Mile 576 and Little Paint Water Creek.  Lovely spot...and we had it all to ourselves.

Monday morning we'd planned to leave around 7:30 AM...but fog had set in over night and we ended up staying until after 10 AM.

This route is very familiar to us, so we noticed that there's been quite a bit of new construction along this piece of the Tennessee...mainly residential.  But it's still a pretty part of the river...


Ft. Loudoun Lock was a pretty quick lock through, and from there we went over to the marina to fill up before heading to Concord Marina.  It was around 5 PM when we docked at Concord and closed up the boat for the night.  Our friends, Jay and Carla, met us there and gave us a ride home.

We're glad to be here...and have spent most of the first week home moving back into the house and off the boat.  When the dust settles I'll post an entry with some stats on the trip.

Thanks to all of you who followed our journey and kept us connected to you at home!  Looking forward to catching up over the next few months!

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Well, I told you yesterday about our having permission to go through Chattanooga today, and it worked! See, the river was totally closed for three miles right through the riverfront area so a rowing regatta could take place. Restrictions were due to be lifted at 5PM, unless the event ended sooner.
Wayne called several offices yesterday on the way up and finally talked with a Coast Guard Chattanooga individual who said we could go through…we’d just have to go at no wake speed for three miles. Oh, and the Coast Guard had asked Chickamauga Lock not to lock anyone down during the time the river was closed…so it looked like we wouldn’t have much competition for the lock as we traveled upstream. ;-)

Last night we had distance thunderstorms and a persistant rain. Woke up this morning to pouring rain. Pulled up anchor and made the short trip to the beginning of the “closed” area. Coast Guard, TWRA, and local sheriff boats we all out protecting the space. We we guided to the center of the channel and told to proceed at no wake. Meanwhile, scullers and rowers were running a circular course outside the channel. Everything went smoothly, and we were, indeed, the only boat (besides official boats) on the channel.

Chickamauga Lock gave us a ride up…and took down three pleasure craft. Hmmm. Thought they weren’t locking down during the event. Well, then we hear a series of calls back and forth between the Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxillary, TWRA, and the lock. Bottom line: those boats were escorted through, but when another boat attempted to lock down about half an hour later, they were refused “on orders of the Coast Guard.” So…YES, we feel special. ;-)

We’ve made it all the way to Blue Water Marina and Campground Resort at mile 504. Ah! A dock, a walk…and…pizza’s on it’s way! Life is good!

We could be home Monday afternoon…or Tuesday at the latest. Hoping the locks cooperate! ;-)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Melton Bluff to...well, near Chattanooga

Wednesday, October 7, 2015- Flint River mile 339

We had a “bluebird day” today traveling up Wheeler Lake to an anchorage at the Flint River, mile 339. Flint River was listed in our old Tennessee River Guide, circa 1998, and isn’t noted in Active Captain at all. All this to say, we were hoping it was still a viable anchorage for the night because it would be within a couple of hours of Guntersville Lock next morning.

We followed instructions in Fred Myers’ book, staying in the center of the Flint channel until we were in front of the first little island. We attempted to anchor just in front and starboard of the island…but ended up backing up some and basically anchoring on starboard side of the channel. Turns out, we could have anchored in the middle of the channel and no one would have known. We didn’t see a soul all night. In fact, it was a little eerie. ;-)

Next morning when we pulled up the anchor it was caked with good ole Tennessee mud. We were in no danger of moving during that anchorage!

Thursday, October 8, 2015 - Jones Creek at mile 388

As we left, we passed this cornfield...It was a neat anchorage!

We left at the crack of dawn this morning and were back on the main Tennessee channel by 7AM.  We saw some fantastic clouds this morning!

And the trip to the lock had other beautiful venues...

We had ten miles to get up to the Guntersville Lock from our anchorage and the closer we got, the harder the current ran against us. When we rounded the corner to the lock and talked with the lock master he said a tow was approaching the lock from the upper side…and it would be 3.5 hours before we could lock through. Groan!!...

We tried to find a spot to anchor up close to the lock (the lock master wanted us “in sight, so we’d be in line.”) We gave up on that because of rock bottom and fast current and got permission to tied up to the long auxillary lock wall instead.

We got to the lock at 8:30…and left around 11:30.

While there, though, we got to see “old friends” from the trip this time, Bama Dream with Jesse and Linda. They finished their loop, too, and are headed, slowly, up to Knoxville for a visit before they go back home to Guntersville, AL.

The rest of our day was pretty uneventful. We went on to an anchorage we’d used on the way down in 2014…Jones Creek. Beautiful spot!

Only thing is…I’d forgotten about those bugs that come in at dusk and cling to the boat…then are gone in the morning. The rub is that they leave a bit of “residue”….

Friday, October 9, 2015 - Williams Island anchorage at 454.6

We left Jones Creek at around 7:45AM and when we got to Nickajack Lock, shortly after noon, we were pretty quickly upstream bound. Quite a difference from yesterday! ;-)

A pretty uneventful day…some beautiful scenery in the “grand canyon” before Chattanooga…
and lots and lots of “go-fast” boats!

We made it all the way to Williams Island anchorage at 454.6 before anchoring for the night. Nice spot…

but it took us several tries to find mud instead of rock in this current.
While sitting here, we saw a “one-of-a-kind” sight…a homemade ferry!

Whew! We’ve been going faster than I can type! Tomorrow we have “permission” to travel through the Chattanooga waterfront while a regatta is in progress. Three miles with us going at no wake speed. Then Chickamauga Lock. From there, we’re going up as far as we can stand to travel and still get pizza delivery. ;-) Blue Water Marina at 504.4 is about as far as we can imagine…and Papa Johns delivers! ;-)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Florence to Anchorage at Mile 287 - October 4-6, 2015

On Monday morning, October 5, we were picked up by Enterprise and by 10AM we were heading out of Florence bound for Northshore Animal Clinic in Knoxville. We’d decided that the rest of the trip would be better for us and Lucy if she could be in a more controlled environment.

At 4PM, Eastern Time, we got to the vet and handed over our Lulu. She’s used to the people and surroundings there and will get along just fine while we forge home. We then drove back down to Chattanooga to spend the night.

This morning, October 6, we left Chattanooga at 5:15AM, Central Time and (breakfast time included) got back to the Enterprise location in Florence at the last minute, 9:15AM. Whew!
But wait! Then we took the Florence Harbor courtesy car to grocery store…and were back at the boat by about 11:30. While I returned the courtesy car to it’s place in the parking lot, Wayne called Wilson Lock, a short jaunt from the Harbor, to see if we might be able to get through this afternoon. We were thinking we could then go up through Wheeler Lock…or anchor somewhere on the Wilson Lake if they were tied up.

“Leave within the next 5 minutes!” said the lock master. We did. And it was a most interesting lock-through. We were in the lock this time with a Coast Guard work crew and barge...

But the new twist was…we had to get past the forward barge as we left the lock...

Viewing it all was a class from local school...

So, then we called Wheeler Lock just to see if we could get through that one, too…and they had the doors open for us when we got there. ;-) Life is good!

About twelve miles later we settled into an anchorage at Melton Bluff.

Monday, October 5, 2015

On down to the Tennessee

A bit more about Alton, IL---

We had a pleasant stay at the Alton Marina! Wayne, of course was working most of the time on the dinghy lift repair...

But we did take the last day to visit the farmers’ market. A bike/pedestrian trail runs near the marina and we walked along that to the market area. The city sits on a hill, and it was visible as we rounded the path.

It was a nice sized market with plenty of parking room and display area.

We bought some fresh veggies and some dish towels made from vintage table cloths. I had to take some pictures, of course...

Wayne then headed back to the boat while I walked on into town for a look-see. My first stop was the Tiffany Inn, a bed and breakfast upstairs and a stained glass workshop and store downstairs.

After finding a few things I couldn’t live without, all small in nature, of course, I was invited to tour their guest garden for the inn...

Neat idea for those used wine bottles...

It’s a bit hard to see with the morning sun…but the background is a wall mosaic.

 And...the city on a hill.

The Argosy Casino on the waterfront...

Kaskaskia Lock Wall, Mississippi River Mile 117.5

We called the Mel Price Lock and Dam before 6:30AM this morning and checked on locking through. They said they could “fit us in” around 7:30, so we left Alton Marina at 7 and eased our way on down. Another pleasure craft, Aunt Aggie, was leaving the marina at the same time and we locked through together. Aunt Aggie is doing the loop…and they are near home, too. Hailing from Atlanta,GA, with the boat kept at Chattanooga, TN, we will be on the same course going home.
A little ways down the river we entered the Chain of Rocks Canal to the same named lock and dam. The gates were open when we got there…and we were through with all the locks we need to do on the Mississippi by 9AM. ;-)

The day was cloudy and grey, but only a few sprinkles of rain. Otherwise, it was an easy day. We didn’t see many moving boats at all. We saw plenty of tows along the wayside, sitting still. The river seemed far less busy than what we remember from the last trip down.
Here are a few views we had along the way….

THE arch at St. Louis, MO.

Quite a colorful site on the otherwise gloomy looking Mississippi!

Love the symmetry in this...

And a beautiful home made from stone that seemed to match the stones by the river.

We tied up to the Kaskaskia Lock wall, mile 118, around 4PM. We were assisted with the docking by Chris and Gwen on the sailboat Davali.

We got the dinghy off (the popper upper worked fine!) and rode over to take Lucy to the park nearby. We approached the boat ramp only to get mired in mud before we could get near it. We then tried getting onto the bank at places where rocks were stacked instead of mud. No luck. Looks like Lucy will need to “walk” on the lock wall. Or…so we thought. Well, actually she did do part of her business later. It’s OK. We’ve lived through this before. Just like the vet said…we’ll feel worse than she will.

Anchorage on the Mississippi, Mile 18 - September 28, 2015

We were out at 6:45AM this morning hoping to make it all the way down to around mile 18 on the Mississippi. For all the hours and miles (102) it was an enjoyable day. We certainly averaged over 11 miles/hour with our high number coming in at 13.1mph.

Saw some great clouds...

 From a distance I thought this was a bridge.  It's pipelines.

Just at little tease from the Mississippi here...making us think we're back in Tennessee!

 Cape Girardeau, home of that well known radio talker..

This barge is so big, it makes that dump truck on the left end look like a Tonka toy!

What was different for us was the eddies we found ourselves in at times…usually when we were really speeding up! It was like someone had flushed the toilet…and we were goin’ down!

We passed many tows coming up stream…but didn’t have to pass anyone as we zoomed on down.

We had marked several places BEFORE the wing dams we’d picked out just in case one of the anchorages looked really good. They didn’t. We even samples a few. At last we got to the sections of wing dams on a big ox bow (so the tows are going slow) and way out of the channel. BINGO! We anchored in 32 ft. and put out 100 ft. There’s so little current back here tucked into the stone structure, we didn’t move much at all.

A "wing dam" is a barrier or structure built out from shore to deflect the river current...and prevent erosion of the shore.

Got the dinghy down and took Lucy to shore…though it wasn’t easy. The reviews of this area said there were “white sandy beaches” around. Not so much. The white beaches came further down on the river around mile 17. Wayne climbed up on the rock wing dam and carried Lucy to shore for relief. (She’d been 36 hrs. on hold for a complete “walk!”)

Anchorage above Lock 52, Ohio River - Wednesday, September 29, 2015

Rather than have Wayne scale the rock wing dam this morning to take Lucy, we decided to let her wait until we settled in this evening.

The skies were rainy looking today…and we had a few sprinkles…but nothing major.
We went on down the last miles for our Mississippi trek for this trip and turned up onto the Ohio River. Our speed fell from a high of 13.4…to 7.5. But! That’s better than we were thinking we’d have on the Ohio!

We had three locks to transit today…well, two and a half, actually. The first was Olmsted Lock which is still in the construction phase. Olmsted will replace the other two, Lock 53 and Lock 52, when it is completed. For now, to get through Olmsted a boat has to be guided through the open lock chamber by a guide boat. We went through with two other pleasure crafts.

Lock 53 is really, really old and rough. We had round rusted cells to hug up next to for the ride. We didn’t have floating bollards, but handed the lock attendant a line from both the bow and stern. The result, for us, is that we tetered bow to stern on the rounded cell. The dinghy seemed always to be near disaster on the rusted wall…and, you know, that dinghy has already had it’s fill of injury for the trip.

Lock 52, our last lock on the Ohio, was relatively easy going. We used a 50 ft. line on bow and on stern. The lines were connected to the boat on one end, curled around a fixed post on top of the wall, and passed back to us.

As we were leaving the lock the attendant asked where we were anchoring that evening and we told him Cuba Landing, first place we saw on the Tennessee River. He said there were lots of work tows down there and it would be better to lock up here on the Ohio between the lock and the next bridge. We were glad to call it a day and did just that.

The shore was a bit messy being mud and sand mixed, but it suited Lucy just fine.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - Kentucky Dam Marina, Gilbertsville, KY

On leaving the Ohio River boats returning to the Tennessee River have two options. First, you can take the Cumberland River to the Barkley Dam and Kentucky Lake, passing the Tennessee River junction, and cut over to the Tennessee further down. That route is about 69 miles from the Cumberland/Ohio junction. The second route is to leave the Ohio River immediately when you reach the Tennessee River and enter the Kentucky Lake at the Kentucky Lock and Dam. The last route is shorter by about 20 miles…but the Kentucky Lock and Dam is notoriously busy and will usually require a lot of waiting time to transit.

We’d done the Cumberland route the first time around so chose to do the Kentucky Dam this time. We called the lock the night before to see if anything major was going on to cause delays. The lock master was not encouraging and tried to steer us to Barkley…but we persisted.

On Wednesday morning we headed down the Tennessee River for Kentucky Dam. When we got there, the lock master was really nice and asked us to go to an area on our port side to wait for the lock to open. She was bringing down a tow and large number of barges so it would probably be at least an hour wait. We readily complied. ;-)

When the lock came down the tow then had to “connect” all the load and slowly move out of the lock area.

We were set to go in solo, as she defined, but a small tow with barge asked if he could go up with us. She said she really didn’t like doing that…but, what was he carrying? Corn. No chemicals? Nope.
So the tow entered the chamber first and tied to the starboard wall, forwardmost bollard, then we came in and tied to the port wall at the first bollard. After a total of waiting and traveling up…we exited the lock 2.5 hours later.

Fortunately for us, we had planned to stop at the Kentucky Dam Marina which is right beside the lock. The marina staff helped us in, we refueled, and we in our slip by 3PM.  (OK, we're on this dock...but we're little and don't show.)

They have a courtesy car at the marina so we signed up for that immediately and took off for supplies.

Three hours later we were unloading groceries and feeling like it was time for bed!

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - Anchorage at Richland Creek, Mile 87.7

Left Kentucky Dam Marina at 8:15 heading for an anchorage at Richland Creek. Windy today…and a following sea. Gloomy and chilly! Got to our anchorage around 4:30…long day.

We’d seen several commercial docks at this anchorage and thought we’d have an easy time taking Lucy to shore somewhere. Not so. Wayne took her in on the dinghy and aimed for a couple of boat ramps we saw…but they all looked like private ramps when he got up close. He ended up taking her to the side of the creek and walking her on shore. Lucy’s having some intestinal problems and we talked today about how we might be able to get her home to our vet for the remainder of the trip.

Friday, October 2, 2015 - Mermaid Marina, Decaturville, TN, mile 140

The next morning, as we took Lucy to shore, we decided to go further into the creek to what looked like a commercial dock. One of the reviews on AC had mentioned a floating store and restaurant and we were in hopes they would 1) let us dock the dinghy to walk Lucy and 2) have something good for breakfast.

Bingo! Dani’s was open and welcoming. While Wayne walked Lucy, I ordered sausage and biscuits and chatted with the owner. There’s a resort community right there on the river and an RV/trailer park. The store/restaurant stays open up until about mid-December and closes until around the first of March.

As we nibbled on the sausage biscuits we pondered our destination for the evening. We wanted to get as close to Pickwick Lock and Dam as we could so that we might have a chance to get all the way up on the next day. We decided to see how far we could go…and got to the Mermaid Marina at Decaturville, TN, by late afternoon.

It was cold today!! And the further along we went, the colder it got! We were helped onto our dock by two guys, one of whom turned out to be one of the owners. We plugged up and started the heat!

Friday nights are pizza nights, whenever possible…so our first question was, “who delivers pizza?” Turns out that even though their restaurant was closed for the season, the marina store sells pizza baked there. Good enough! We ordered one and enjoyed the best $10 pizza we’d had all week!

The marina store is packed with “stuff”: t-shirts, hats, and other clothing…like you’d expect. But they also have at least one of just about anything else you might need. There’s a small community there on the river, made up of some houses and some motor homes or trailers…and they drop in for the occasional item or to talk.

Here's our 360 view of the surrounds as we were tied to the dock...

That's the marina office in front of the boat...

Took this picture of the office the next morning...still aglow with the evening's lights.

And...ya gotta love their sign...

Saturday, October 3, 2015 - Wolf Island anchorage, mile 192

We left the marina early…and bundled up like Eskimos! It was cold and dreary all day. We were hoping to get to Pickwick Lock in time to get through and get to an anchorage (complete with taking Lucy to shore) before sunset at 6:30.

We held out hope all day that we could make it happen…but the current was taking our speed down with every mile we made. We started “playing the curves” on the river to get out of the heavy current, we upped our rpms…and, in the end, decided we’d be better off anchoring and making the run early the next morning.

We passed by Wolf Island thinking we’d anchor at one further up, Diamond Island at mile 195. When we got to Diamond Island and scoped out the anchorage. Way too much current for our taste…and turbulence. Back we went to Wolf Island (a pretty quick trip since we had the current WITH us on the river) and anchored at the southeast end in 8ft. We were out of the current and moved only with the wind, slightly. Took Lucy to the towhead nearby where we spied a sandy beach…

then back in the warm boat.

Sunday, October 4, 2015 - JOURNEY crosses our wake!
We were out of our anchorage and headed upstream by 7 AM this morning…right after taking Lucy to the nearby shore.

We had called the lock the night before to ask if they knew of any delays for Sunday morning. Wayne talked to Cory at length, and Cory ended by saying he’d see us in the morning.
It took us about an hour and 45 minutes to go the rest of the way to the lock. We were in contact with Cory as we went and he didn’t see any reason we would be delayed in going up.
We entered the auxillary lock at around 9 AM as the only pleasure craft around. As the lock doors were closing, a call came in from an upbound boat within sight of the lock. Cory opened the doors…and eventually had not one, but two other boats going upstream. We were not concerned about the time…just glad to be tied to the lock wall with the process started. ;-) left some stuff on this bollard.

Exiting the lock, we started watching for the Yellow Creek on our starboard side so we’d know when we were “crossing our wake.” This would mark the “official” end of our loop trip, even though we still have 400 or so miles to travel before we get home.

At 11 AM, Central Time, we crossed our wake! 6000 miles “under our belt” on this trip and only 400 more to go!! ;-)

In spite of the glow we were giving off with the event…it was still cold! We have had the generator running during the day to heat the bridge with a space heater…and the cabin for Lucy. This week is predicted to be much warmer, and we look forward to that!

We’re headed for Florence Harbor Marina, Florence, AL. We’ve decided to take Lucy back to our home vet for boarding while we finish the river trip, and so have rented a car for tomorrow to run her up to Farragut. We’ll return to the boat on Tuesday…and possibly leave the marina then to go through Wilson Lock the same day. We’ll see.