Cruising

Wow! It has been a long time.

It has been a long time since I’ve let my fingers walk on the keyboard. So long that I had to look up my last post to figure out where I left off.

Four Months!

July. It has been a long time.

Let’s get started. Here’s what I’m going to do. Give a brief review of our travels in the last 4 months then go back and expand on what I thought were significant.

Last time we were in Canada celebrating Canada Day with new friends. We still are in contact with them through Facebook.

While traveling the Trent-Severn waterway we had a situation with a recurring problem that required the boat to be lifted out of the water. With out a place to stay we rented a vehicle and drove to our home port of Grand Haven, Michigan. Friends and family were gracious enough to put up with us for almost 3 weeks.20160729_134614

 

Thanks again to everyone that helped out.

With the boat back in the water and August slipping away we pushed through the Georgian Bay in 2 days and back into the North Channel of Lake Huron. At the top of Georgian Bay is Killarney, Ontario. We were now in familiar waters, having travelled here in 2013. My thoughts were to push to Mackinac and down the coast of Michigan to Grand Haven. Silly Me

Lake Michigan is not a lake to mess with. We ended up in St. Ignace, MI waiting for weather and waves to become better. Waves again forced us into Beaver Island. Then with our sights set for Frankfort, we were forced into Charlevoix. Let me tell you this. If you are forced into a harbor Charlevoix is a great place to pushed into.

With an open window we moved from Charlevoix to Frankfort and from Frankfort to Manistee. Where again we had to wait for a weather window to move again. Then to Pentwater, Muskegon and finally on September 4 we reentered Grand Haven harbor and completed our Great Loop.

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We stayed at the municipal marina for 2 weeks, met with friends and family, went to Dr, appointments, and caught up with what needed to be caught up with. We were so busy that by the time we left we were ready to get back to the easy pace of cruising.

A salmon festival had us leaving Grand Haven in not the best of conditions. We traveled the Lake Michigan coast in 17 – 20 feet of water. Very close to shore. But any farther out and we were being banged around by 4-6′ waves. We made South Haven and stayed til better conditions arrived. Then New Buffalo MI and Hammond IN.

We arrived in Hammond on Cynthia’s birthday and went to the Casino next door to the marina. If we signed up for Player’s Cards we would get a free buffet. Whoo Hooo, free food and a birthday dinner to boot.

Now off the big lake and into the rivers again for smooth cruising. Our cruise down the Illinois River was uneventful. The upper Illinois River is highly commercial and is not the prettiest of scenery but in improves the closer you get to the Mississippi River Valley.

The Mississippi River has a great current that makes for easy travel at speeds unthinkable in slow-moving vessels. We would travel around 14 to 15 mph at engine speeds that would usually have us at 8 or 9 mph. Then we make the turn up the Ohio and speeds drop from 15 down to 6 in a boat length. But this is only for a couple of days and we enjoyed our nights at anchor on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

From there we entered the Cumberland River just north a Paducah, KY on a Sunday. The Kentucky Lock and Dam was closed for repair and barge and tow traffic had been re-routed onto the Cumberland. Where when we first traveled the Cumberland we saw 1 barge this time we saw and passed more than 12 moving tows. The Cumberland is much more narrow than the Tennessee and the Ohio and water levels were much shallower than the last time we were on it, making the passing just a little more nerve-wracking. But a great day and we were able to enter the Barkley Lock without waiting.

Now up the Tennessee and on to the Tom Bigbee River. We are currently in Columbus MS and what was supposed to be a short stay has become weeks. I turned and put out my back and have been here recuperating until we both feel comfortable in my moving capabilities.

Life goes on.

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Cruising

Cruising; Tennessee River Gorge and Chattanooga

Above Guntersville Alabama on the Tennessee River is the Nickajack Lock and Dam. That section of river, called Nickajack Lake, to Chattanooga TN is also known as the Tennessee River Gorge. We began our run of thirty miles up river from Hales Bar just 8 miles up-stream from the lock. It was a great day with lots of sun. The trees in the gorge were starting to turn and we had plenty of color although they had not yet reached their peak color.

A look back

A look back

Entering the gorge

Entering the gorge

Quarry outside Hales Bar

Quarry outside Hales Bar

Along with the trees in color there are many rock formations and cliffs along the river. I was surprized at the homes and cottages located on the banks of the river. We were also amazed at some of the deep spots in the narrow river, at one point we measured a depth of over 100 feet deep. When the river became narrow we had to deal with some stronger currents. At times the force of the river dropped our speed from 9 mph down to 4 real fast then back up to our regular up river speed of 9 again all in about 500 yards.

Approaching the Southern Belle

Approaching the Southern Belle

Southern Belle

Southern Belle

The gorge gave us plenty to look at on our way to Chattanooga, plus we crossed paths with the Southern Belle, an excursion boat designed to look like the old river boats. We always wave at passing boats – especially the excursion boats – it’s just what we do. Later, in Chattanooga, Toots and I were walking and a couple stopped to say they had seen us on the river. They were on the Southern Belle and saw us waving and were genuinely pleased we waved as they passed by.

We arrived into Chattanooga and tied up to the stationary docks in front of the Aquarium. The local marina management call them the Aquarium docks but the locals all call it Ross landing for the original docks that were there since the 1830’s.

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Me and Toots with our visitors package

That Thursday we found ourselves the only boat at the stationary docks and for the first time we were a little unsettled. Here we were in the “Big City” and all alone. The next morning we were approached by a homeless person asking for a handout. His first request of a cigarette but we don’t smoke so Cynthia, always the giver, offered food. She  noticed his lack of teeth and suggested a banana. He left with the banana, water and some chicken salad, plus a plastic spoon to eat with. Later in the day we informed a park official of the occurrence. He asked if he was the only one and would let other park employees know to keep an eye on our boat. That was our only encounter and later that afternoon more boats joined us at the Aquarium docks for the weekend.

We found that the water from the Chickamauga lock and dam is shut off during the night and the pool of water near the landing will drop almost 3 feet during the night-time. It took a couple of days to get the boat tied correctly to handle the movement. During the day the boat would be high off the wall and in the morning we would be level. Cynthia used the ladder off the back of the boat to get off. Toots and I would use the side and morning walks were aided by the boat being easier for both of us to move on and off.

Toots now on land

Toots now on land

Preparing to off load, "Come here. I got You."

Preparing to off load, “Come here. I got You.”

 

Chattanooga has a lot to offer very close to the marina docks; museums, two aquariums, restaurants, and entertainment. After a walk on our first afternoon we met some people recording a video for their company. Soon we had them on the boat and were dancing to the Happy Song. They promised to forward the final print to us in an email.

petting the dog

petting the dog

Cynthia, Toots, and myself explored the “Art District” and had lunch at “Rembrandt’s” a bakery and sandwich shop with out-door seating and decent food. I had a sandwich called Ruben’s Brother, slaw instead of sauerkraut, Good. Will have to remember that one next time we get pumpernickel bread. After lunch Cynthia went on to the Hunter Museum of American Art while Toots and I headed back to the boat.

"Chocolate things, Hmmmmm"

“Chocolate things, Hmmmmm”

"Pastries, Hmmmm"

“Pastries, Hmmmm”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cynthia was impressed by the Museum and it’s ability to incorporate an ultra modern building with a mansion built before the Civil War, or known here as “the Northern Aggression”.

Hunter mansion

Hunter mansion

 

Part of the modern museum building

Part of the modern museum building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solid silver tea pot & elevated crystal bowl on a solid silver stand (in background).

We made great use of the restaurants with outdoor seating that allowed us to bring Toots along with us during our dinners. I have to say Toots behaved better than some of the children.  She was a good dog at all the restauranst attracted many admirers.

The Chattanooga Aquarium has two buildings – a fresh water exhibit and a saltwater exhibit. Cynthia went first then I followed up after she returned. On the roof this past weekend tight rope walkers had stretched a line between the spires and put on a couple of exhibitions on Saturday. The weather was great – clear and not a lot of wind. It was a great day for watching the crowd and the exhibits.

Chattanooga Fresh Water Aquarium

Chattanooga Fresh Water Aquarium

Wire Walkers

Wire Walkers

Wire walkers going both ways

Wire walkers going both ways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday had us relaxing and just walking across the foot bridge to an area of shops and parks. We had lunch in a German restaurant with pretzels, wiener schnitzel, and German potato salad all with a “thanks y’all” attitude.

It seems that Cynthia and Toots were getting tired of all the walking and needed a rest, so we spent the remaining evening watching people pass by with only a quick trip to Rita’s Italian ice shop which was a short distance from the marina.

Reluctantly we decided it was time to get back on the water. Chattanooga was a very enjoyable stop and worth the side trip of 500 miles. We hope that other side trips will be as enlightening and fun. We have many other pictures of our time spent here and hope that you were able to view some of the pictures shared on Facebook.

Monday, after a wait for the fog to lift, we began our trip back down the gorge and enjoyed a following current and the color change in the trees that took place in only the short time that had passed since we first came by.

My attempt at "artsy" its a hay bale

My attempt at “artsy”
it’s a hay bale

Colors turning more vibrant

Colors turning more vibrant

More fall colors

More fall colors

Now we are traveling back down the Tennessee River toward the junction of the Tennessee and the Tombigbee River, where we begin moving more southward toward the Gulf of Mexico

We have promises of Southern hospitality we hope to enjoy, and also possibly tour some of the antebellum homes that still exist in Mississippi.

Until next time; here’s to river travel.

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Cruising

Cruising; Tennessee River and Joe Wheeler State Park and the Looper Rendezvous.

I know, I know, it’s been a long time since our last update. But I have a good excuse – more than one really; we have been busy moving through the rivers, they are great, just to let you know, we arrived and attended the AGLCA’s rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park, and we have met and talked with many new friends.

Now we are in the middle of a side trip farther up the Tennessee River heading toward Chattanooga, Tennessee. & WiFi has been sporadic. We expect more of the same on the Tenn-Tom. THAT’S IT! The inter-web is at fault.

A small tow

A small tow

Quite an high bluff

Quite a high bluff

Lots of rock formations

Lots of rock formations

Current before Pickwick Lock and Dam

Current before Pickwick Lock and Dam

Since our last entry we have traveled through the Kentucky Lakes area and entered the Tennessee River. Our trip up the Tennessee river has been beautiful and full of great sites and adventures. It seems that the powers that be are releasing water and lowering the levels of the reservoirs. Dams are letting water spill to lower the lake levels. These have not seemed to affect where we are able to go but some of the channels into the marinas are becoming shallow. Being our first time in the area we are not familiar but the locals have voiced their opinions and give advise on how to be careful and where to watch for shallow water. We have also noticed some strong currents as we get closer to the next lock and dam. Some of the dams have spectacular views of water being released down river. We are traveling up river and against the current. The push against the current has slowed us down as much as 4 mph. Some of the other Looper boats, single engine trawlers, have really felt the push against them. I spoke with one Looper with a trawler that had a top speed of 8 mph, they were slowed to less than 4mph.

So far on the Tennessee we have encountered four locks, and because we are traveling up the river we are lifted to the next level. It seems that going up is a rougher ride than going down. Water is pumped into the lock chamber and some of the Lock masters really pump the water in and it makes the boat want to move around. While on the Illinois River the lock masters did not want us cleating the lines to the boat. Here on the Tennessee it is different. Some want the boat cleated, some don’t. We’ve had some big lifts also, as high as 90 feet. Cynthia and I are getting the hang of the ride but it still is a different challenge at each lock.

Tied to the lock wall waiting for the tow

Tied to the lock wall waiting for the tow

Impressive outflow of water from the lock

Impressive outflow of water from the lock

Tow boat and barges coming out of the lock

Tow boat and barges coming out of the lock

Working boats always have the priority over pleasure craft. That means if a tow is at the lock or near we will wait until the working boat has locked through. We are always at the discretion of the lock master. We have waited as long as over 3 hours to enter and pass through the lock. One time we were advised that a tow was locking through and it couldn’t fit all the barges in at the same time so they moved half through and pushed them out. Then the tow boat was lifted back up and hooked up the other barges and back down to reconnect with the other barges and then proceed down river. That wasn’t so bad but then the lock master filled the chamber without letting us in so that bass fishermen could lock down and be at the weigh- in, in time. It seems to me that fishermen and I just don’t get along. We were just trying to get to our daily destination marina before dark.

We arrived a couple of days ahead of schedule at Joe Wheeler State Park for the AGLCA rendezvous and settled in for the week. The day after we arrived Loopers were coming into the marina most of the day. About sunset the last of the days arrivals tied into the slips and people were chatting and milling about. Cynthia and I went below for dinner. While eating we heard sirens and a commotion on the dock. It seems that a late arrival had collapsed and nearby boaters helped him out. The whole story was the man had collapsed and had a heart attack. It just happened that the boats tied to the dock behind him were occupied by a former Fire Chief, a retired Doctor, and a retired Dentist. The Dentist had an AED Machine on board his boat in case he had a problem. (The AED machine are the paddles and charger you’ve seen on TV where the place the paddles on the person and yell CLEAR.) Well these three people saved this mans life. He did not have a pulse when they found him and they started CPR, and with the AED machine they were able to get his heart started again, all before the paramedics arrived. That’s how the Rendezvous Week started.

The rendezvous consisted of meet and greets, with vendors, Loopers, marina people. Dinners, entertainment, and everyday seminars on aspects of the Loop. Cynthia and I split up to get the most of all the seminars. Toots did not like being left on the boat by herself and has developed some very bad habits.

The seminars gave insight into what to expect while traveling the Loop, tips on what to have on board while traveling for convenience and for safety. The event with the gentleman on the dock really made the safety aspect hit home. Many of the seminars were given by Gold Loopers, (people who have completed the loop). They told of good places to anchor, available marinas, and lots of places of interest that would be worth stopping to see.

Different size boats on the loop

Different size boats on the loop

Toots doing a contentment wiggle

Toots doing a contentment wiggle

Other Looper boats

Other Looper boats

That's our dock. We are on right side between the blue boats

That’s our dock. We are on right side between the blue boats

Grand Haven people might remember this boat in town

Grand Haven people might remember this boat in town

Our friends Silvi and Simon's boat from Montreal

Our friends Silvi and Simon’s boat from Montreal

We learned a lot and enjoyed ourselves. We met many nice people and passed out a lot of those boat cards we had printed. I have started tying knots again and made a monkeys fist for everyone on our dock. I tied over thirty knots and handed them out.

We left Joe Wheeler after a week and began a side tip farther up the Tennessee toward Chattanooga. We are now a couple of days away and expect to be able to spend the weekend enjoying ourselves in downtown Chattanooga.
Until next time, smooth sailing and we will keep you updated.

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Cruising

Cruising; Cumberland River and Kentucky Lake

Our last entry had us at anchor just up river from lock and dam 52 on the Ohio River. We started our evening ritual, dinghy down, then Toots into the dinghy. We’ve been working on how to get Toots off the back of the boat and down the 5′ to the dinghy.
We tried three different ways;
The pass between Dearest and myself, that didn’t work. Toots seemed to grow extra long toenails and hold on to everything.
The Life-jacket on and use it as a carrying strap with me trying to carry Toots one-handed and climb down the ladder, that didn’t work either. Toots wiggling around at the end of my arm and me swing around on the ladder.
Dearest suggested we use the dingy crane and hook the handle of the life-jacket and lower her down. This seems to be the best so far. Toots doesn’t really care for the idea, however with me below and Dearest above we try to keep hands on her at all times. I have to say it’s the best so far. Toots goes up easier than down but she is getting better and more used to flying and we seem to have solved the on/off problem for the mean time.

Sunset on the Ohio

Sunset on the Ohio

We spent a peaceful night anchored, had a beautiful sunset, that I posted on Facebook.

We found an anchor alarm app from Active Captain. (Anybody that does any cruising should check out the Active Captain web site, it will help.) The anchor alarm uses GPS to triangulate onto where you set the anchor. Just a hint try to start the alarm close to where the anchor is dropped, and give yourself some room to swing. Sometimes if the GPS signal is lost the alarm will sound. With our first attempt Dearest could walk around the boat and if she got to the back of the boat the alarm would sound. We reset the alarm from as close to the anchor as possible and had a quite night.

We were in a good spot tows coming south would be slowing for the lock and tows coming north would be still leaving the lock and moving under the nearby bridge. This gave us a night of very little rocking.

We left our anchor weaving between tows that were waiting for the lock and proceeded towards Paducah, Kentucky. After our lecture from Fern at Hoppie’s we decided to bypass the Tennessee river at first and head for the Cumberland River a little farther north. This would add a few extra miles but less tow traffic and a more pleasure craft friendly lockmaster.

Tow waiting for the lock

Tow waiting for the lock

Tow waiting for us to move and the lock to open

Tow waiting for us to move and the lock to open

The Cumberland River is much narrower and on a Sunday we only saw one tow boat working a staging area and just a few small pleasure craft.

Entrance to Cumberland River from Ohio River

Entrance to Cumberland River from Ohio River

Entrance of the Cumberland River from the Ohio River

Entrance of the Cumberland River from the Ohio River

The Cumberland is a scenic ride with many turns and a current that is surprisingly strong, and slowed us 2-3 miles per hour. Dearest helmed the boat for the first part of the day and I took over a little later. While taking my turn at the wheel I found myself playing riverboat captain, with visions of Mark Twain and old style steam boats with paddle wheels trying to find the part of the river with the least current. Constantly watching the depth and the banks of the river. It was a fun ride.

Steep banks and deep water

Steep banks and deep water

Looking for the best spot in the river to travel

Looking for the best spot in the river to travel

 

 

 

 

 

We came to the Barkley Lock and Dam, the highest lock we have seen so far on our adventure. The lock has a lift of 58 feet. From the pool waiting to enter we could see birds flying below the top of the dam. It reminded me of a scene from movies like “King Kong” or “Tarzan” with birds flying along the edge of the escarpment. I was impressed.

Once inside the lock the ride up was quite fast and we covered the 58 feet in a shorter time than the 12 feet in lock 52 the day before.

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We arrived at Green Turtle Bay Marina (GTB) and Resort shortly after leaving the dam and found our slip and were ready for a few days at the dock.

We found the people of GTB very helpful and accommodating. It was time for some routine maintenance on engines, so we scheduled the work to be done while we were there. Our stay went from 3 days to a week with special prices the longer we stayed. If it makes a difference if you have fuel enough for the additional trip up Kentucky lake it is worth the money to wait to fill your tanks at Pebble Isle Marina on the South end of Kentucky lake, Fifty cents a gallon less plus Boats US discounts.

Toots enjoys a wiggle after a dip

Toots enjoys a wiggle after a dip

Toots takes a cooling dip

Toots takes a cooling dip

Gazebo on grounds at GTB

gazebo on grounds at GTB

Yacht Club restaurant at GTB

Yacht Club restaurant at GTB

Upon leaving GTB we proceeded South on Kentucky Lake to Paris Landing State Park. Just a short distance, 40 miles. Wind was blowing right up the lake at between 15-20 and with a long distance gave the lake some pretty good chop. Nothing real bad but Dearest did mention that it was like being back on Lake Michigan and she would be happy to get back to river travel.

Another boater pushes through the waves

Another boater pushes through the waves

There was lots of room at Paris State Park, attendants didn’t assign spots but told you to pick a good one. It seemed that the attendants were more interested in the Football game on TV and the nice looking lady behind the desk. It happens. Our stay was not bad but we heard from others that had little of no help at all. It is a pretty place that could be handled better. However, we did have an attendant that was interested in fishing from the dock next to ours.

looking for fish

looking for fish

on patrol

on patrol

very close

very close

 

 

 

 

From Paris we went to Pebble Isle, as spot we had planned to skip but stopped for other reasons. I would now make it a primary stop. The owners were very helpful and with extra people coming in called for a cook to open the restaurant. We stayed an extra day due to weather and the owners put out free snacks for travelers that evening. A car was available to use, with stores close by, great fuel prices and less than a dollar a foot slip rental, makes Pebble Isle a great stopping point on the trip.

Pebble Isle  Satellite dishes look like mushrooms growing

Pebble Isle
Satellite dishes look like mushrooms growing

Pebble Isle That's us at the very end

Pebble Isle
That’s us at the very end

We have made a longer day today, 70 miles, with great weather and beautiful scenery the day went faster than we had expected. We are now in a nice small marina in Bath Springs, Tennessee.

Tomorrow, if the weather holds, we move south again. We are starting to realize that we are moving into the real south. We should pass the Shiloh Military Area. Even the charts are showing Civil War areas. We are following history now.

Until next time we are having a great time and hope to be able to do some more sight-seeing once we finish with the Looper rendezvous. Schedules can be so confining.

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