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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!

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