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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Friday Oct. 7, 2011 - From Chattanooga back to Nickajack Dam

Chattanooga's Riverfront is beautiful on a peaceful fall morning!

The air was cool and the river looked liked like a sheet of glass when we woke this morning. We fired up the propane grill and put biscuits on to bake, then started another propane camping burner and boiled water for our coffee and hot chocolate. When we had plenty of boiling water we replaced the kettle with a frying pan and Marvin cooked bacon and eggs. It was a pleasant morning as we ate breakfast and watched the riverfront area wake up and come to life with boats, people and wildlife.
Marvin fries up the bacon in the "outdoor kitchen" of our yacht :).

Shortly after the dishes were washed and we were about ready leave, a marina employee came by and asked if we’d had any problems during the night. He said that another boat, docked behind us, was boarded by someone about 2:00am. He didn’t offer any more details, so I don’t know exactly what happened, but it is kind of scary to think about someone climbing aboard while you’re asleep.

About 8:30am we cast off the lines and made another pass to look at the “Delta Queen” before turning downstream for the trip back to Nickajack Dam. A strong breeze made this morning feel more like fall, and the morning sun was at our backs. This made the colors of the mountain trees stand out and appear brighter than they were yesterday morning when the sun was in our faces.
The historic Delta Queen, now docked and serving as a floating hotel.

As we rounded the bend where I-24 runs alongside the river, Marvin spotted a doe deer and two smaller deer on the right bank. When Glenda, Abby and I were here in June, there was construction being done on this bank – I assume for erosion control – and flowering plants had been placed at the top of the bank. The three deer were having a fine breakfast at the expense of those plants.
The Gorge has to be one of the most peaceful places on earth to cruise in a 6 mph boat!

This doe with two young were feeding on the recently landscaped riverbank directly across from I-24.

As we continued down the river at about 6½ miles per hour, we noticed quite a few more boats on the water than we’d seen the day before. Mid-morning we were surprised to see a group of about 7 or 8 small speedboats traveling at what appeared to be 90 mph or so, coming around the bend and headed toward us. Their engines screamed and as they passed, they skipped along the surface, often with only their prop in the water and nothing else touching. Over the next hour or so, we would see several more groups of these speedboats, all travelling toward Chattanooga at an extremely fast pace. We learned later that these were part of a loosely organized group that left Nickajack Dam boat ramp and raced to Chattanooga, ate lunch and raced back.
Since there are no shower facilities at the marina in Chattanooga, we had brought along two "solar showers" and placed them on the roof of the cabin before leaving this morning. The water was hot by mid-day. We were on a wide, remote part of the river, so we slowed down and Marvin drove while I changed into my bathing suit for a shower out back in the cockpit. Then we switched and Marvin got a shower while I drove.


The Gorge is 26 miles of one fantastic scene after another. It was hard to quit after only two days of cruising!
As we got closer to Nickajack Dam, most if not all of the speedboats that passed us earlier passed us again going downstream, and when we arrived at the ramp we realized we would have to wait awhile as the group of 40 or so speedboaters were all trying to trailer out at one time. In talking with some of them we learned that this is an annual event held on Friday before a weekend of professional dragboat racing. Most of the boats that passed us were running about 110 mph, but a few of them were “only” doing about 90. While I’m sure they had a great time, I guess I’m just not wired for living life at that speed.
We eventually got in line with my truck and trailer, and pulled the Knot-So-Fast out of the water and into the parking lot, ending our trip. Even at 6 mph or so, it seemed to go by way too fast! After packing things away and tying down fenders, antennas and such, we headed home. Marvin and I were both tired, but we agreed that this was a great trip. I hope we can do it again.

We stopped at Cracker Barrel in Ft. Payne to eat supper. When we got back to the truck there was a note on my windshield which read " If you want to sell the boat, call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX". While it's flattering to have someone admire the boat that I built, we're having way too much fun with it to think about selling it!

October 06, 2011. Another Cruise through the "Gorge" on the TN River

With the tugboat and truck full of gas and packed for the next adventure, I tried to sleep Wednesday night, but was too excited. I got up at 4:20am and pulled out of the driveway at 4:55, on my way to Jasper, TN for another cruise through “the Gorge” section of the Tennessee River. About 5:45 I exited I-459 at the Trussville exit and met my good friend Marvin Roye, who would accompany me on this cruise. We drove another 2 hours to the Nickajack Lock and Dam boat ramp, where we slid the Knot-So-Fast off her trailer and fired up the little 9.9 HP engine. The motor purred like a contented cat, as usual. After making a few entries in the log book and making sure the GPS and VHF radio were working, we pulled away from the ramp and headed upstream at 8:58 am. The weather could not have been any better – temperatures in the 70’s and not a cloud in the sky!
Entering the Gorge section of the Tennessee River


About 5 miles from the ramp we passed the old Hales Bar power generating plant and the  Hales Bar Marina, which was the site of the Glen-L boat  builders “Gathering” a few weeks ago.  I had missed this year’s get-together due to an issue with our dachshund Daisy.  Daisy severely injured her back (a common problem with dachshunds), and we were afraid we were going to have to put her to sleep. In fact, we had made arrangements to do just that, but thankfully we got a second opinion on her condition. To make a long story short, Daisy had surgery, and although she still has a long way to go, she is improving each day.



Marvin and I swapped "wheel duty" throughout the day.


Anyway, Hales Bar Marina looked about the same as it did when we docked there in June, with the exception of six of the floating cabins that burned sometime around the first of September.  I told Marvin that Glenda and I had seen a bald eagle just upstream from the Marina when we were there last year, and I hoped we’d get to see one on this trip too. The river was quiet, and we passed only an occasional fishing boat as the bright sun warmed the cabin, eventually making us shed our long sleeve shirts.  Marvin said the trees were beginning to change colors, but other than a few yellow leaves (the only fall color I can see very well) I just had to take his word for it.

About 10 miles into our trip, as we entered the actual gorge, I spotted the first of three bald eagles we would see today. He (or she) appeared from behind us on the port side, between our boat and the riverbank, and flew ahead of us for about ¼ mile before we lost sight of him. I was able to get a couple of camera shots, but the quality wasn’t very good.
The first of three eagles we saw, this one almost got away before I could grab my camera!




Marvin and I took turns all morning at the wheel, and we didn’t stop as we ate sandwiches for lunch. We passed a couple of larger cruisers headed downstream, but for the most part we were still sharing the river with only a few small fishing boats. At 2:00 pm, I spotted another bald eagle fly out of the tree line and over the river some distance ahead of us. He made 3 passes from the trees out over the water and back, and on the third pass, was accompanied by another one. We were too far away and the passes out of the tree line were too quick for me to get a photo, but I still felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I saw them.


I called Marine Max, which operates the marina in downtown Chattanooga, by phone to make sure they had a slip available for us to stay in overnight. Since we don’t need electrical or water hookups, the truth is that we could anchor out, but I like the ability of having a steady dock where I can step off the boat and stretch my legs, set up a folding chair and take a break from the rocking motion of the little tug.

The Chattanooga Aquarium operates a tour boat that takes passengers on a two hour trip through the Gorge, and it passed us headed downstream at a fairly slow pace. A short time later, the captain radioed to “any concerned traffic” giving his location and that he was moving upstream. I realized his location was just downstream from us, and when I looked out the rear, saw him approaching us at a much higher speed. I moved over toward the right bank to give him all the room I could, and hopefully to avoid the worst of his wake. He slowed as he approached us, but his wake was still the biggest one we had to deal with during the trip. I turned our little boat into the wake as he passed, and crossed it almost head-on. We dipped and rolled, but with the exception of a spilled can of soda, we survived it unscathed.
I24 runs alongside the Tennessee River just downsteam of Chattanooga.

One of the Chattanooga Ducks, an amphibious tour vehicle.

We pulled into the marina’s fuel dock at Chattanooga at 4:15 and checked in. As we approached we saw one of the amphibious “Duck” tour boats, full of passengers, ending its water tour. We drifted along waiting to see it motor up to the ramp and then drive out of the water and up the ramp to the street. After paying the dock fee for the night, we untied and took a short ride past the old “Delta Queen” riverboat which has now been converted into a floating hotel. We then picked a spot on the “Bluff Dock” in front of five other cruisers and tied the Knot-So-Fast up for the night.




This beaver made his home along the rock bank at Bluff Dock in the heart of Chattanooga!

As usual the Knot-So-Fast was the smallest boat at the party!!


Marvin had taken care of all the food for the trip, and we fired up the propane grill where he cooked pork chops, baked beans and baked potatoes. We ate as the sun went down and watched a sculling team and several people on stand-up paddle boards taking advantage of the last few minutes of sunlight on the river.
Marvin cooking pork chops and potatoes. Our boat may have been small, but
we ate like we were on the biggest yacht around!

I'm told these are easy to master, but I have my doubts.





I had intended to make this post to the blog from Chattanooga, but couldn’t find a workable internet connection. The Bluff Dock is a busy place with lots of pedestrian traffic . We enjoyed talking to several people who stopped and asked about the tug. We were asked a couple of times “What year is it?”, as most people think it must be really old. Things quieted down and we were able to get to sleep by about 10:00.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tenn-Tom Trip Ends - June 15, 2011

I woke at 5:15 this morning and the thermometer read 74 degrees - about 10 degrees warmer than yesterday morning. Since we didn't have a real schedule for today, I went back to sleep for another hour or so. Then, after cleaning up the boat and taking Daisy for her morning walk, we hopped in the truck and drove to McDonalds for a biscuit. Then we untied the boat and idled out of the Marina on the backwater, taking a path parallel to the main channel of the Tenn-Tom for several miles. I think the section we were on was probably part of the old "original" path of the Tombigbee River, before the Corps of Engineers straighted it out in the 1980's. Anyway, it was a pretty morning ride upstream that eventually joined back with the main channel. We continued upstream for another few miles, passing several fishing boats using "noodles" or gallon jugs to float fish.  


Columbus Marina as seen exiting the Stennis Lock. The first building is Woody's restaurant, which has been closed for some time. The marina office and slips are behind the restaurant.


Grain loading facility near Waverly Marina.




The grain silo facility next to Waverly Marina was busy loading a barge and a couple of Corps of Engineers boats were moving downstream, apparently tied together. Their large outboards were kicked up, and they were being pushed along by smaller Yamaha outboards which were mounted alongside the bigger engine. Glenda and I wondered what they were doing. We got our answer when they pulled into Columbus Marina as we were topping off the fuel tank on the Knot-So-Fast. I commented to one of the drivers on the little Yamaha 6 hp outboards pushing the boats. He told me they had just gotten the smaller outboards, for use as auxiliary power, and were in the process of breaking them in.
Breaking in their new Yamaha 6 hp auxiliary outboards.

Our total mileage for the last 3 days was 86.9, and filling the tank took 6.77 gallons for an average of 12.83 mpg!

The little tug boat continues perform well. I still need to move the batteries and fuel tank forward to get some weight off the stern, and there are places on each side of the deck that catch and hold rainwater that I need to address, but overall she is a great little boat. The Glen-L company designed her well.

The little Yamaha 9.9 HP outboard still hasn't missed a beat, either. I still get strange looks from people when they see it and ask "Is that the ONLY motor you got on that thang?????" I know they don't believe me when I tell them that it pushes the boat just fine. We currently have about 1300 miles on the boat, and are looking forward to our next trip.
 This little guy crossed the river in front of us this morning.



Glenda Says:
We were successful!  Even old people can have fun.  Of course I missed the grand kids, but truthfully anytime I am enjoying myself I wish I could share it with the people I love.  I know this kind of travel is not for everybody but to me the joy of it outweighs the inconveniences.  We slept in this morning, we were both moving a little slow.  But I perked right up after my morning coffee.  I enjoyed the morning ride.  This morning I got a photo opt with a water snake headed quickly across the river.  He was not happy when we intercepted him attempting to get a better picture.  The Columbus Marina was nice and clean.  It was pleasant to have the truck and not have to hike over to the showers.  We met a couple of nice people who are living on their boats.  I'm not sure I'm ready for that.  It was also very dog friendly.  Unfortunately most of the "neighbor" dogs were exuberant labs.  They were very friendly but their idea of fun was attempting to bat Daisy around.  She did not care much for that.  The heat is still the most difficult thing to deal with, but being a school teacher, summer is the only time I have to spend much time on the boat.  We'll just have to deal with it.  Hope you enjoy our blog!











Tenn-Tom Trip, June 14, 2011

Last night was really cool after the storm. When I woke up it was about 65 degrees!
We got an early start today, leaving the Marina at 6:05, and the lockmaster at Stennis Lock had the doors open for us when we arrived. By 6:30 we had been lowered about 26' and were exiting the lock on the lower side.

Early morning fog made the river seem extreemly peaceful.

I don't think I've ever seen this many buzzards in one place. This is one of 6 towers they were covering.

Not the prettiest group of girls at the dance.
For the first few miles I was a little dissapointed in the scenery.Downstream of the lock, the scenery looked bland and artificial. We didn’t see anyone fishing, and the pelicans, herons and other birds we were so accustomed to seeing had vanished. Then after a few miles we began seeing hundreds of birds – buzzards! We passed under an electrical distribution line and there were literally several hundred buzzards perched on the electrical towers and along the river bank. Like some people, buzzards are more attractive if viewed from a distance. My new camera let me get way too close to their faces. I was beginning to think that buzzards was all we would see today.


Thankfully the scenery soon changed and we ended up seeing (and getting pictures) of 2 bald eagles, a raccoon, osprey, and several other birds. Glenda and I are both trying to get used to making the new camera work like we want it to, but sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own. We are getting pictures that we never could have made with the older cameras, but we need to work on using the features of the new camera to make the quality of pictures a little better. As we travelled farther downriver toward Belville Lock and Dam, we also passed more and more homes. Many were the kind of homes that made you wish you could just sit in the swing on the front porch with a glass of sweet tea and watch the river flow slowly by.
I never get tired of seeing the bald eagles.

Prettier than the buzzards.

We're not sure what he was looking for, but he was in a hurry!

We didn't seem to bother him as he walked along the bank.

I don't know what to say about this one - "Just in Case?"

Another unexpected structure!

These ladies were taking it easy under a "whole yard" fan.
At 11:20 we arrived at the Tom Beville Visitor Center and the historic snagboat “Montgomery”, which is dry docked on the riverbank. The Beville Lock and Dam is adjacent to the snagboat and visitor center.

The snagboat, (which I mistakenly thought dated back to the Civil War period), was commissioned in the 1920’s, and powered by coal-fueled steam boilers. It is a true piece of history, and they’ve done a great job of restoring it. It was easy to imagine what life would have been like for the workers onboard.

The Snagboat "Montgomery", circa 1926
The wheelhouse looked like it was still operational!

!
Glenda loved the rear lounging area. Through the window you can see the paddlewheel.

The view from the upper deck was great.
The visitor center is also impressive, but I failed to see any historic or cultural significance to it, since it was built in 1985. (That’s pure opinion on my part.)

Just before we left the site, a tug with (I think) 5 barges exited the upper end of the lock and passed by us headed upstream. We would see him again today at Stennis Lock as he was in the process of locking up when we arrived. The wait was short and we were soon in the lock for the second time today.

As soon as we came out of the lock on the upper side, the first thing I saw was our white pelicans! They are much prettier than the brown ones we see on the coast, but I do love to see the brown variety circle above the water at 40 or 50 feet and the fold their wings and plunge at what looks like 100 mph into the water. More often than not, when they surface they are swallowing a fish. I guess God made us all different.

We tied back up in our slip at the Marina and headed for town in the truck to sample some of Columbus’ fine dining. Then after we left Backyard Burgers, we stopped by Walmart to pick up a few things. Back at the marina, we showered and tried to post this entry to the blog, but the bugs overtook us at the office and we couldn’t get a strong enough signal to connect to the wi-fi from our slip at the far end of the marina. I’m writing this in MS-Word, and I’ll cut and paste it tomorrow when I can get closer to the wi-fi router.
Most of the turtles drop off into the water before we get close enough for a picture. These hung around a little longer.

I had almost given up on seeing an osprey on this trip. Then this guy and his mate flew by late in the afternoon.

Wondering what kind of creature might make this his home.

The tugboat's pilothouse stood above the lock gates as he waited to go upstream. As soon as he was out, the chamber was emptied and we got the OK to enter the lock.

They may not be as aerobatic as their brown cousins, but they are prettier.






Glenda Says:
Ladies never believe what men promise!  Tom said if I got up right away and got ready he would take me into town for a cup of coffee before we left.  Welllllll, I fulfilled my end of the bargain but by the time he finished his toiletries he said it was too late!  Oh well it is a bad habit anyway.  The morning was beautiful.  I even got a little chilly as we skimmed across the water at 5:50. A.M.  We got through the lock without any difficulties.  I am always scanning with the binoculars because, by golly, if I can see it with the binoculars Tom can take a picture of it with his super-duper new camera!  Early in the day was best.  We saw the bald eagles closer than I have ever seen them.  (my best God moment of the day)  "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings as eagles. "  Then we spied a easy going racoon walking along the bank looking for breakfast.  He did not seem to be particularly concerned with us so we were able to get some good pictures.  By the time we arrived at the "snag boat" it was getting hot.  We ate lunch before we toured the boat.  It was commissioned in 1926.  I told Tom if he built me one like that I would go anywhere he wanted to go.  (but I would probably need a wheelchair)  We walked through the vistors center, mostly for the air-conditioning, but the antiques were nice.  Then it was back on schedule if we were going to make it back to Columbus marina by 7:00.  I napped briefly on the way back but it seems that while was I trying to nap was when Tom decided to get all friendly and toot the horn at everybody he saw.  Can you tell that by the end of the day the heat had made me a little irritable.  At one point when I was tying up the boat Tom said, "I will tell you what you doing wrong there one day when you're not dehydrated" .  He is a smart man!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tenn-Tom Waterway Trip. Just Me and Glenda. June 13, 2011

Glenda and I are on a tug boat trip without any of our grandchildren, for the first time since we launched the boat last year. We decided to take the opportunity to cover some new territory, so left Montevallo this morning pulling the Knot-So-Fast on her trailer, headed for Columbus MS. About 10:45 we arrived at Columbus Marina, which is located just off the main channel of the Tenn-Tom Waterway, North of Stennis Lock and Dam.

White Pelicans!



The tug boat "Ashleigh", from the Port of Mobile, heads downstream toward Stennis Lock.
 



It was hard to tell if the Waverly Marina was open for business or not (?)


Barge Loading Facility a couple of miles North of Columbus Marina.



Clear Skies to the West after the Storm.

Columbus Marina is a small but modern facility, and we were met by the marina’s very helpful and friendly manager, T. Caldwell. We were given our choice of several covered slips, which later proved to be a blessing. More about that later.

After launching the boat and tying her up in the slip, we unhooked the trailer and took the truck into town to find lunch. We had a great lunch at the Main St. CafĂ©. It’s the kind of place you find in all small towns, where the locals and informed visitors enjoy a relaxing meal in the hub of town. Of course the sweet tea was excellent, as was the food.

Back at the boat, we decided to do a little exploring while we waited for the sun to get a little lower in the sky. We untied and headed out of the marina, passing the Stennis Lock and Dam before turning upstream. Our first unexpected sight was a group of WHITE pelicans. We are used to seeing lots of the brown pelicans on the Gulf Coast, and I knew that the white variety existed. I just didn’t realized that they were found this far inland. If my memory is correct, the main difference (aside from the color), is that the brown pelicans catch their food by diving from the air at great speed into the water, whereas the whites feed by catching small fish that swim by them as the float. (Somebody correct me if this is not correct). I’m sure Abby will do some reference work on white pelicans when she sees the pictures! 


We puttered upriver at about 5 mph, playing with my new toy, a Canon SX30-IS camera. Beginning with our first trip on the tug boat a little over a year ago, I had become more and more frustrated with my old digital camera. We saw lots of wildlife, but managed to get only an occasional photo from close range. It seemed that every time we saw a really beautiful bird, alligator, deer, or what-ever, that we’d scare it away by trying to get the boat close enough to take a decent photo. After the trip to Chattanooga a couple of weeks ago, I looked through the photos we had taken and decided I had to have a better camera for wildlife scenes. We had seen so many beautiful examples of God’s creation, but my camera just wasn’t up to the task of doing them justice. The SX30 has a 35X Optical Zoom and can go up to 140X with its Digital Zoom – It’s really neat! I hope I’m still this happy with it when the VISA bill comes at the end of the month.


After about 7 miles of upriver travel, stopping often to check out the Corps of Engineers facilities and to photograph birds and such, we turned around, making it back to the marina just in time to get the boat secured before an afternoon thunderstorm hit with lots of lightning and 40+ mph wind gust. After a couple of “waves” of stormy weather, things calmed down and we enjoyed much cooler temperatures.





Glenda Says: Ok, test do we really like each other well enough to spend this much time together given that about 16 feet is as far away as we can get if we need to. We’ll see how it goes. Columbus Marina is very nice. It is also very quiet. I had hoped it would be a good place to bring the grandkids but I don’t see a good place for them to get into the water . There is a nice recreation area with a simple play ground but it’s more than ¼ mile from the marina. The marina is very “Daisy” friendly and other than being harassed by an overzealous yellow lab she seems to be enjoying herself. I really enjoyed our ride upstream. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt looking for wildlife. I saw another deer by the water today. I have decided to look for God everywhere and the deer reminded me of when the Pslamist said “my soul pants for you as the deer pants for the water”. ( I think it was the Pslamist that said that) It was hot enough for the deer to be panting. I was not ready to come back but the captain insisted and it was a good thing. About 20 minutes after docking our roughest storm yet came in. The lightening was horrible and the wind was worse. The good news is it should be a very cool night for sleeping.

More White Pelicans

Monday, June 6, 2011

TN River Trip - Final Notes and a Story About a True Salty Dog.

Our trip from Goose Pond Colony Marina in Scottsboro, AL to Island Cove Marina in Harrison, TN and back, with a stop in Chattanooga, covered 219 miles, and put 39 hours on the Knot-So-Fast's 9.9 hp engine. This brings our total mileage on the boat to about 1200!

Mileage for the upstream half of this trip was 11.09 mpg. I have not filled up again, but judging by past trips and the fuel gauge, I suspect that the downstream ride was done at about 14 or 15 mpg for a round trip average of about 13.

We did better with our food planning this time. In the past we always packed twice as much food as we needed. This time we finished the trip with a little surplus food, but not nearly as much as before. I still packed way too many clothes. I've decided that in the future I need to pack a presentable set of clothing for restaurants or other social events, and wear bathing trunks and a tee shirt while travelling. This would be more comfortable and they could be washed out in the sink and would dry overnight. A couple of pair should be all I need.

Glenda and I are still studying how to move the batteries and fuel tank forward. This would solve two issues; 1) It would balance the boat better, putting her closer to the designed water line, and 2) It would give us some much needed space in the cockpit and eliminate the problematic water flow issues around the covers that I currently have over the battery and tank compartments.

Before this trip I made compartments between the cabin top beams to house 4 life jackets, a book rack on the port side of the bulkhead and a binocular/cell phone rack under the steering wheel. These small changes gave us extra storage under the port seat and eliminated lots of clutter on the dash. I'll continue to work on storage improvements.

The biggest lesson I learned on this trip was the need for a spare pair of binoculars! When our only pair broke on day one, I knew I'd have a hard time finding another pair. I was pessimistic about the super-glue repair I made, but with gentle handling the repairs held up for the length of this trip. I did become acutely aware, however, of how often I used them and how important they are. My aging eyes are not really all that bad, but I have severe color-blindness and can't distinguish the red/green navigational markers by color alone. The binoculars make it easy to see the shapes of the markers from manageable distance. We also use them constantly to read signs, look at wildlife, and a host of other essential tasks. As my Daddy use to say, I would have "been in a world of hurt" without them.

Now for the Salty Dog story. At about 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, we went to our church small group meeting which lasted until about 7:30. Daisy was in the back yard as usual, and Glenda made sure she had plenty of water on the shaded back porch, because it was really hot. Shortly after we got home our neighbor informed us that she had rescued Daisy from the tug boat, where she assumed we had mistakenly forgotten her. Glenda assured her that we did not leave her in the boat. A quick investigation revealed that Daisy had dug under the gate of the back yard, CLIMBED the stepladder we had put beside the boat, and jumped into the cockpit. Once there, she apparently was afraid to make the leap back to the stepladder (or she just chose not to get out). Apparently her condition caused a stir and a two unknown ladies had noticed her, giving her some water and then knocking on the neighbors door to inform her of the cruel owner's (our) neglect. I guess that proves that Glenda was right - Daisy loves to ride on the boat. What really makes me feel like an idiot is that we've been carrying her up that stepladder for over a year!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

TN River Trip - June 4th, 2011 - Our Last Day of the Trip













We stayed tied up at the fuel dock pier at Hales Bar last night, and had a pretty consistent breeze through the windows. We got up early and pulled out at 6:01, with the "River Dawg" right behind us. River Dawg's owners were headed to their homeport in Guntersville, finishing a 500 mile river trip in the 60'+ houseboat. They told us about locking through at Chickamauga yesterday when, using the stern thruster to keep the big boat against the lock wall, they overloaded the thruster battery and it literally blew up!


We saw more tugs on the return trip from Chattanooga.


When we arrived at Nickajack Lock about 7:00, we were informed that we had about a 45 minute wait, since a towboat was just about to be locked down. About 7:20 the lockmaster radioed to inform us that the tow was almost down in the lock, and they would be locking up a pleasure craft, then we would lock down next. He also asked us to make way for another downstream tow, with 7 barges, that was going to tie up on the lock entrance wall and wait for his turn to lock down after us. We then heard "Mo Jac" a larger yacht that had passed us yesterday and also overnighted at Hales Bar, call to say he was approaching the lock and needed to lock down. It was clearly getting busy.



The small boat that had locked up exited the lock at about 8:00 and we were given the OK to enter the lock. The River Dawg entered first and tied to his starboard side, and we pulled in behind him and secured to a bollard. Although River Dawg's captain had expressed some worry about keeping the houseboat in line without the use of his stern thruster, he didn't seem to have any trouble keeping her firmly against the wall. Mo Jac was approaching the lock and after being warned by the lockmaster to "slow it down" he passed us and the River Dawg and tied up on the downstream end of the lock. This put us in the perfect order to leave, fastest boat first, then the River Dawg, and finally the Knot-So-Fast. The 40' drop to Lake Guntersville level was quick, and we were out of the lock and on our way to Goose Pond Colony by 8:30.

This dock section apparently got away from its owner. It was floating in the middle of the river.


Going upstream we navigated around islands using the normal navigation line on my GPS. Travelling back, we took the opposite side of the islands when the charts showed there was sufficient depth.


Herons were the most commont birds we saw, and one of Abby's favorites.

Thursday evening while we were docked at Chattanooga, a couple with 3 children walked by and the smallest child, a red-headed boy who looked to be about 4 years old, squealed when he saw our little red tug. He obviously recognized my boat as the one he'd seen in the children’s' books, and he was begging his Mom and Dad to let him climb in. His mother explained to him that it was not their boat and he couldn't get on someone else’s boat. I told them that if it was OK with them, he was welcome to climb on and look. He and Dad stepped into the cockpit while Mom took their picture. The little guy was grinning from ear to ear.



Back to Saturday, we were just South of the Willow Creek Steam Plant when we saw pontoon boat in the middle of the river with several people aboard. Several kids started making hand motions for us to blow our horn, and we obliged them with several toot-toots. I then noticed the young man aboard yelling, waving and pointing toward the front of the pontoon. I couldn't hear what he was saying, and had no idea what he was pointing at. I slowed to an idle and turned the tug toward them, pulling up on their starboard side. That's when I saw "Eli", the little red-headed guy that we'd met in Chattanooga! He had the same ear-to-ear grin on his face as we pulled up! We talked with them for a few minutes, said goodbye to our little friend and headed downriver again. Maybe we'll run into Eli again someday.

The Willow Creek Steam Plant.


About an hour away from Goose Pond, we started packing away all the accumulated "stuff" in the boat. When we arrived we found our truck and trailer just as we left it at the marina, and within about 20 minutes we were loaded and headed home. We'd promised Abby a catfish dinner on the way home, so we stopped at the Catfish Cabin in Guntersville. Abby was lured away from the catfish when she saw flounder on the menu. (She said she wanted "real" seafood, not catfish.) Both the flounder and the catfish were great, and the meal would have been perfect had it not been for the fact that our ticket showed that Glenda and I both got a "Senior Citizen Discount" on our sweet tea. (Glenda has a little bit of a denial problem.)

Bridge Construction


I have decided we need a bigger boat. These trips are just too much fun not to share with more of our grand-kids.









Glenda Says:

It was cooler last night! It was the only night we weren't under a covered slip, which may have been the key. We got an early start. Abby just stayed in her gown and slept some more until after went got through the lock. We stayed close to the "River Dawg" up to and through the lock. Even though the trip has been hot I still have mixed feelings about it being over. Being out on the river, even in the heat, makes me feel "real" if that sounds crazy so be it. I watched the river banks carefully hoping for more sightings of all the creatures you know are hiding there. I'm remembering not to take the beautiful herons, magnificent ospreys and charming dragon flies for granted. They are always free with their appearances. I really want the trip to go on but as they say "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". The heat as left me as limp as a dishrag, as my momma used to say. So it is time to go home and recover.
Abby enjoyed seeing the dragon flies in varying colors. (Look closely on her leg).



Abby Says:

I'm ready to go home too. It has been fun but it is hot. Today I mostly played with my DS but the best part was the dragonflies that kept flying in and landing on me. My favorite one was blue with a large green head. He kept moving his head around like he was looking at me. We stopped a couple of times and walked around some. I liked that too. I told Papa that the trip would be better if we could sleep in more and stop more.