Saturday, October 23, 2010

2010-11 Knoxville to Columbus, MS

Friday, October 8

Well, we're off again! After a quick trip back home this morning in the marina van (pick up of athletic shoes, cruising charts) we were going through the Ft. Loudon Lock by 10:15. It was a beautiful day on the water.

54 miles later we pulled into the "Smith Marina" (home of friends Chuck and Vickie Smith).

After a quick tie-up of Segue and walk around the grounds for Lucy we congregated on the Smith's screened porch for refreshments. To our delight, Ben and Sharon Birdwell had come down to join us. We caught up with the Smith's latest adventure, a 3-week trip to Europe, and shared a delicious meal that was topped off with a lemon sorbet made by Chuck. Here we are, relaxed and full...

When I was putting lunch items back in the Norcold frig this afternoon I realized the refrigerator wasn't on. When Wayne checked it out he discovered that the appliance wouldn't work on battery power...only on AC. (If we're not plugged up to shore power somewhere then we have to be running the generator.) So...we've adjusted our plans to include a stop over somewhere down the line for repairs. Tomorrow we'll get down to just above the Chicamauga Lock and have a contact there that might prove helpful. More later on the frig!

Thursday, October 14 - We docked on Saturday at Chicamauga Marina just above the Chicamauga Lock. Sunday a repairman came out from Shelburne RV Refrigeration (Sid) and he did some checking on the frig...but needed to come back on Monday when Norcold offices were open to confirm his diagnosis. Monday morning he was back over and ended up placing a part on order...a DC power arrive on Wednesday, the 13th. Wednesday came...and the part didn't. The manufacturer agreed to ship in out "overnight" to Sid...and we decided to move on down to the Chattanooga waterfront area to make a little progress in the trip. Today Sid came over with the part and was finished by 1 PM. Sid was very reasonable with his charges: $75 for one service call and a 10% markup on the part.

Ah! Now we can get going tomorrow morning and be down to Goose Pond Marina on Saturday by noon. This morning I walked over the pedestrian bridge to the Whole Foods store and Walgreens. It's a lovely the 70's...with a brisk wind.

We met the nicest guy, Richard Walker, aboard Holiday VII, at Chicamauga. Richard has been up and down the TennTom over 20 times and had some great reviews of anchorages and marinas along the way. On Monday afternoon he let me go with him to the new Publix store in Ootlewah for a little provisioning. We're hoping to see him again on this trip since he's headed the same way we are.

Friday, October 15, 2010 - Today was a day of contrasts as we went from Chattanooga to our anchorage near Crow Creek. We had our heavy jackets on in the morning (I added gloves and hat). By 3 o'clock we were back in shorts and short sleeves, being beaten down by the sun as we made our way westward on the Tennessee. The winds were calm as we pulled out in the morning...but soon picked up to give us our first whitecaps of the trip (minor, but whitecaps!).

Leaving Chattanooga we came to one of my favorite spots on the journey...the section where I-24 parallels the Tennessee River for a while. When I come to this part I think about having been on that very stretch of I-24 many times...and now I'm seeing it from a different vantage. That's what a lot of this traveling by boat is for us: seeing places we've been before...but seeing them in a different way.

After about 3.5 hours of travel we reached Nickajack Lock and found a tug boat working to move a barge downstream. It would be 2.5-3 hrs., the lockmaster said, so we anchored there next to a park. Two other cruisers waited with us, Blue Yonder and Felix, the catamaran. We got there at 11:30 and were through the lock by about 2:45. The anchorage we had picked for this evening was still about 2.5-3 hours away...and we were now on Central Time, which meant that sunset comes at around 6:15. We had to pass the tow that had been ahead of us in the lock...and that took a little time. By 5:15 we were going into Crow Creek anchorage at about mile 401 on the Tennessee. Another cruiser had entered the creek about 5 minutes before we got there. To make a long story short, we didn't anchor in the creek area. The marked channel weaves all over the shallow area, in and out of the green growth. We just couldn't get comfortable with the depth or current. As the sun set we were weaving our way back out of Crow Creek. We anchored, instead, on the non-channel side of Crow Creek Island and it was a great place to be on a windless, moonlit night. This was the view out our window the next morning...

Saturday, October 16 - Gorgeous day traveling down from mile 401 to Goose Pond Marina at 378. We were docked early and in line for the courtesy car by noon. Our turn came up at 4PM and we took off for laundry and provisions. (Walmart on a Saturday night. Ask Mamaw Prichard!)

Sunday, October 17- Another beautiful day on the water. I woke up and looked at the alarm clock...6:30AM. I woke up fully and started coffee. At about 7 Wayne came up and said, "You know, my watch says it's 6..." Uh oh. I hadn't set back my alarm clock for Central Time. We left the marina by 7:45. :-)

Guntersville Lake is one of the prettiest areas on the Tennessee that we've traveled. I couldn't get over the feeling we we somewhere back up in Canada.... Camp-like settings and small, cozy looking homes peak through wooded banks.

We were docked today by 1 PM and had the afternoon to nap, work on odds and ends, and (of course) meet new people. We're at Ditto Landing near Huntsville (shout out to the Ledbetters!) Tomorrow we leave marinas and plan on anchoring out 4 or so nights before getting to Columbus Marina on the Tenn-Tom.

Monday, October 18 - Wayne was up at 4:45. It may take us a while to adjust to the time zone. We traveled today from Ditto Landing to an anchorage on the right descending bank just below the First Creek entrance. We had a little southerly wind at first, but just enough to be pleasant. We took Lucy to the bank (nice access to the land in this little cove) and rested for the evening.

Tuesday, October 19 - Headed out at 7:45 having done our morning "chores" and walked Lucy. We hailed the Joe Wheeler Lock and were told to come ahead. We locked through with Sunshine Lady and traveled most of the day with them in sight. They have AIS, which allows them to see where oncoming tows are located. When we got to Wilson Lock they spotted a tow in the chamber. We only had to wait 20-30 min. for the lock to take us down.

The closer we got to our anchorage tonight the more the wind blew. Pickwick Lake is so broad and long at this point that we were getting some pretty good sized waves, but it was not uncomfortable. We passed by Panther Creek anchorage and spied a couple of boats already at rest. We had decided to edge on down to Zippy Branch on Yellow Creek (thus putting us, technically, on the Tenn-Tom). Zippy Branch had 2 boats in it, but we found a nice spot close to the front on the western bank. It was so windy, though, that we opted not to take Lucy in this evening. We're trying out a new system (pad) for Lucy's elimination needs...and decided now was the time to try it out. Unfortunately, we're not so good at Schnauzer lingo (she's much better at telling US what SHE wants). Lucy refused to have anything to do with the mat. The wind died down as dark approached and we had a quiet night on the water.

Wednesday, October 20 - Up before 6 and out by 7:30. We're headed to Midway Marina to pick up some fuel and then on a couple of miles down to an anchorage at Cummings Creek, right before the Fulton Lock. We'll go through 3 locks today. Lucy's still maintaining her dignity.

As we headed down the "canal" portion we admired the neatly coiffed banks on either side (better on the right bank than left)...and we saw a coyote! I wanted a picture, but quickly lost sight of it as we moved on and a tree came between us. I saw it kind of walking along the canal with us...and wondered if it got a whiff of Lucy, the tasty little morsel.

The ride today was beautiful, for the most part. The trees are turning color. We both commented on how different everything looks now compared to how it looked when we last came down in December 2007. (I know the Bloomfields have made a similar comparison!)

We made it through all three locks, Whitten, Montgomery, and Rankin, with only a one hour delay at Rankin. We anchored near the channel for this wait. Out of Rankin we made our way into Midway Marina for diesel fuel at $2.79...a good price in these parts. As we pulled in I spotted a boat named Selah! with a home port of Edisto Island, SC (still one of our most favorite places in the world!) The Murrays live on Edisto and are doing the Loop. They plan to tour the inland rivers next year, including the Tennessee, and we exchanged cards in the hopes of meeting up again.

Anchorage for this evening was about 2 miles downstream from Midland Marina, close to Fulton Lock. It was a quiet, windless evening.

Oh. Just a note. That whole "new system" we had in mind for Lucy to use... it may not work out like we thought. As usual, the Schnauzer had a different idea for the pad.

Thursday, October 22 - Today we planned to anchor at Aberdeen Lock, Blue Bluff anchorage, but we have a new plan. As we came out of Midland Marina yesterday we started having a vibration in the props. A similar thing had happened a few days ago as we left a lock, and at that time we thought we'd solved the problem by doing a few reverse engine maneuvers to knock off anything we might have picked up on the props. (Common thing to happen in these locking situations.) Anyway...we called Columbus Marina in Columbus, MS, and found out they could dive in and check out the props, and even remove them and have them repaired. We decided to see if the locks would cooperate today to get all the way down to Columbus.

As we pulled up anchor a sailboat was passing us headed for the lock. We ended up traveling all day with the sailboat, though we pulled ahead some after getting out of the last lock. We went through Fulton, Wilkins, and Amory Locks. We left at 7:45 and were pulling into Columbus Marina at 5:15PM.

"T", the marina manager, was ready to hit the water for the dive when we got there. (He said he was glad to be doing it that evening because the temperature the next morning would be in the 40's.) He put on a mask and hit the water. A few minutes later he came up with a hunk of frayed rope. Down again, he went, and emerged with an even bigger piece. There were parts of the mass that actually fell off and sank before he could get them up, so it ended up being quite a lump of trouble. This is what he ended up retrieving...

(That's "T's" mask next to it for size comparison.)

What a relief! For the cost of a dive we were spared spending hundreds to pull the boat out for a look. Thank you, "T"!

Friday, October 23 -
After a leisurely morning we picked up the courtesy van and left for lunch out and provisions. Back at the boat that afternoon we met the folks on Sea Estate and Blue Angel. The evening brought a happy hour and more swapped boat cards. It was a good day.

Saturday, October 24 -
Borrowed the van this morning to have breakfast out and run a few more errands. We're thinking about leaving tomorrow (since we don't have to have props fixed) and spent the day taking care of some chores that need to be done in a marina. We're going to look at the weather this evening and see whether the incoming storms will keep us here a few days or not....

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