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Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11 2012 Demopolis and the Black Warrior River

We slept pretty well and woke to a somewhat warmer morning. About 8:00am we left the marina and headed North on the Tenn-Tom, then turned to starboard and entered the Black Warrior river. It was a quiet and peaceful morning, and the 13 or so miles we traveled were mostly wooded, with low banks. There were, however several spots where the banks turned to high cliffs. The first of these cliffs we saw as we headed upstream was of the white, clay type substance we saw yesterday at Moscow Landing, with a layer of harder rock just above the waterline.
These bluffs looked to be made from the same clay type soil as we saw at Moscow Landing.



Several barges were tied up along the bank in a couple of places, but we didn't pass any moving tow boats. We went past the cement plant and then the Alabama Power steam plant at (I think) Forkland, AL.
Several barges were "parked" along the bank of the Black Warrior.


The cement plant with barges at the loading facility.
 
 
This is the Alabama Power "Barge and Wastewater Canal" with the steam plant in the background.
 
We would like to make the entire trip from the headwaters of the Black Warrior, through Tuscaloosa, and to Demopolis one day, but for now the steam plant marked the time to turn around and head back home. On the way back downstream, I pulled over to the right bank to get a better look at "Pearl", a small steel-hulled trawler we'd seen on the way upriver. As I snapped a few pictures, I heard a lady say "I like your boat", and I realized the owners were on deck on the bank just above us. We had to fight the wind, which had now picked up, to keep our boat in position close enough to for us and them to asks a few questions about the other's boat. We got back to the marina and gassed up the Knot-So-Fast with 7.1 gallons. Not bad for 3 days and 91 miles of fun! (That comes our to 12.8 mpg).

After tying up at the marina, we took time to tour Bluff Hall, which was built by Allen Glover in 1832. My great-great grandfather, Nathaniel Glover, was also in the Demopolis area at about the same time, and, like Allen Glover, he came there from South Carolina. So far, though, I can't make a definite family connection between them.


Back at the marina, I hooked up the trailer and Glenda took the truck and trailer around to the city boat ramp, while I took the boat from the marina. She did a good job of backing the trailer in, and after a little winching, we had her in place on her trailer. (Glenda hates backing the trailer in, but she's getting pretty good at it.)


Glenda Says:
I slept really well last night.  The temperature was just right.  We got up about daylight and shared some pleasantries with our boating neighbors.  Dan and Carla from Minnesota had rented a car and were headed back today.  Several other boats were headed south for their adventure.  Tom and I just decided to meander up the Black Warrior for a couple of hours.  The wind had increased and it was partly cloudy so there was a chill in the air.  I don't believe the leaves could be any prettier any where else.  We watched a hawk as he appeared to just hang in the air not moving.  We stopped to take a look at another "custom built" tug docked at a house.   The owners were in the yard and we got the chance to speak to them.  We were yelling from the boat into the wind but we were still able to pass compliments back and forth. 

"Pearl" was a unique, custom built steel-hull trawler, that is a star at the Christmas on the River boat parade in Demopolis.
 
We decided to come home early since some cold rain is forecast to come in during the night.  But we got the chance to visit Bluff Hall, an 1832 house that sits on the river.  Built by Allen Glover as a wedding gift for his daughter and her husband Frances Lyons.  It was beautiful.  I enjoyed Demopolis, there is a lot of history and yet a lot of convenience too. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nov. 10, 2012, Demopolis and Moscow Landing


Beautiful colors!
We woke this morning to a light fog on the river. We took the truck and went to town to buy some water, and to take a short walk along the riverfront park.
By 8:00 am the fog had lifted, so we straightened up the boat a little and pulled out of the marina at 8:25, headed downstream toward the Demopolis lock and dam.

Outside the lock, we lined up behind a large sailboat that we'd seen yesterday afternoon, just north of the marina. When we saw it yesterday, we noticed the duck decoy tied to the back, seemingly following the boat. When we pulled up beside the couple this morning I had to ask how long the duck had been "following" them. The lady, with a heavy accent (maybe Swedish?) told me that the duck had been with them for 10 years!

Glenda then noticed the deer on the bank to our port side. The sun's glare prevented us getting a good photo, but on the return trip we got several when we saw about 20 in the same spot.

We only waited a few minutes before the gates opened and we were told by radio to enter the lock. 20 minutes later we exited the downstream gates, after being lowered 40 feet.
The gates hold back the water as we are lowered 40 feet to the next level.

We continued south for about 13 miles to the site of the old "Moscow Landing", where pre-historic fossils are plentiful in the clay layer exposed at the river bank. We had to look a while to find a spot on the bank with a sandy bottom, as most of the bank in the area is rocky. We nosed up to the bank and put the boarding ladder over the bow, removed our shoes and climbed down into the edge of the water. I had to carry a rope over 100' up the bank to find a tree to secure the boat to. We walked the bank and found several fossilized shells, plant stalks and few pieces that looked like petrified bone.
If you do a Google search on Moscow Landing, you can get more information about the prehistoric layer that is exposed here.

We untied and Glenda fixed lunch and we headed back north, arriving again at the Demopolis lock at 2:45 pm. The lockmaster was waiting for us and we entered just as a tug and barge combination called to say he was about 2 miles away. Luckily for us, the lockmaster let us go ahead and lock through. We'd known that the tug was not far behind us, and we were hoping we could get to the lock in time to go first. Otherwise we'd have had wait nearly and hour. Exiting the lock we saw LOTS of deer, and we realized they were probably regular residents of the Foscue park and campground.

Arriving back at the marina, we checked in and paid for another nights dockage. After listening to the first half of the Alabama game, we rode into town and had a catfish dinner. We got back to the boat and listened to the final part of the game.


Glenda says:
We really slept pretty good last night.  The little electric heater knocked the chill out of the air and we actually slept until the sun came up.  After a brief moment of panic this morning (I couldn't find the coffee), the day went perfectly.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I could almost believe all was right with the world.
Just think I could be sitting on a dinosaur!



 It was lots of fun climbing out of the boat and tromping around the fossil area.  I hope when I get to heaven God will explain all about what we call "prehistoric" time.  It is hard for us to comprehend time much less eternity.
Some fossilized tree limbs. 
   Daisy had a blast running and sniffing at everything.  I think it will be worth a trip back to bring the grandkids.  We saw lots of individual fishermen along the bank and lots of boats enjoying the beautiful day.
Isn't she lovely?

 On the return trip, I was able to get some really good pictures of the deer grazing near the lock.  It was a pleasant day of travel.  When we returned to the dock a couple from Minnesota was interested in the boat so Tom gave them the "grand tour".  They are traveling in a 30 foot sailboat.  I wanted to go walk through the graveyard where the mausoleum is but there were gates and Tom wouldn't go in.  We ate at Halls Catfish and Seafood, it was good.  The air is not as cool tonight so we are not even going to get the heater out. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nov. 9, 2012 - Demopolis, AL

Tom says:
Glenda and I trailered Knot-So-Fast to the Demopolis Yacht Basin this morning, for a few days of leisure cruising on the Tenn-Tom waterway and Black Warrior rivers.

We launched about 9:15 am and checked in at the marina, parked the trailer on thier storage lot and headed upriver. We traveled north to Rattlesnake Bend, a loop off the main channel that meanders for about 8 or 10 miles before reconnecting about a mile north of the point where it split. This was a quiet, peaceful trip, and Glenda says the leaves are really showing off their colors!

Coming back south, we passed the marina and went to Foscue Creek campground and the Demopolis lock and dam, just to get a look at them. When we got back we talked with a couple who trailered their 27' C-Dory from New Mexico to Kentucky, where they started on the "Great Loop". They are leaving tomorrow headed South, and I'm hoping we can lock through with them at the dam.

We put a total of about 31 miles on the boat today, at an average speed of 5.2 mph. The weather was a little cool, but sunny and pretty comfortable overall. As I write this the temperature is dropping pretty fast, though. I did find a 30amp adapter on e-bay though, so we can plug in our little heater if we need to.

One of a thousand views we had of the leaf colors.

view to the west of the marina at sunset.

Tranquilo, on a stop during the Great Loop adventure. Makes us a little jealous!!


Glenda Says:
He was unconcerned about his photo op.

Glover Mausoleum, Tom's grandmother was a Glover, wonder if they are related
Boy do I need this trip!  So far it is working well.Its time for me to get a dose of the wonders of God.  I seem to forget how powerful he is too often.  The leaves are beautiful!  I hope to add more pictures but it won't be the same for you if you're not here.  We did get to see a couple of very large hawks and lots of water birds.  The turtles were also taking advantage of the sunshine.  Demopolis is a very historic town and you can see some of the sites from the water.  I am looking forward to seeing dinosaur fossils tomorrow.  So far the chill has not bothered me much but its not bedtime yet.  Daisy is doing well as usual, she just wants to be wherever we are.  You know, its nice to be loved!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Great News - Locks will stay open for recreational boaters !!

USACE heard your voice and reconsidered its plan to close the Alabama River Locks to recreational boaters!!



Thanks again to everyone who signed the petition asking the USACE to reconsider their decision to close the Alabama River locks to recreational boaters.

Due to your input, the Corps did reconsider, and the result is that the LOCKS WILL REMAIN OPEN ON A REDUCED SCHEDULE !!!

The new schedule will take effect in February 2013, and will consist of the locks being open 4 days a week, for 10 hours each day. The locks will be closed on federal holidays and some other times during the year, but the bottom line is that with a little pre-planning, the access will allow for navigation from around Wetumpka to Mobile and the Gulf Coast.

The trips we've taken on the Alabama River have been experiences that I will never forget, and have provided memories for our grandchildren that nothing else can compare to. 

The beauty of the changing landscape as the river winds through the high sandstone cliffs in the northern section to the huge white sand-bars of the lower sections is really hard to put into words. When you add the thrill of seeing bald eagles, leaping gar, deer, raccoon, and even a black bear, it's easy to understand that this natural resource should always be accessible for our future generations to enjoy.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you for helping to keep this great part of God's creation accessible to everyone.

Tom

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

HELP!

The federal government has just announced plans to close the 3 locks on the Alabama River, effective October 7th!!

Please go to the link below and sign the petition from the Alabama Scenic River Trail Association, which asks the government to reverse this decision:


http://www.change.org/petitions/alabama-scenic-river-trail-push-back-against-closing-alabama-river-locks-to-recreational-traffic#



Thanks for your help.
Tom

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday June 26, 2012. Headed Home.

Tuesday June 26, 2012.

Jay Landing is in the heart of a heavy industrial area, and the noise made it hard to  get to sleep last night. We woke early and decided to get a head-start on our trip back upstream to Ditto Marina. Our ice was running low, but the office here at Jay Landing would not be open until 9 o'clock, and there was not guarantee that they even had ice. Although everyone here was very friendly, overall the marina was a disappointment. The bath/showers did not appear to get much use (or cleaning). One positive was a good wi-fi connection.

Jay Landing marina and campground. 


We pulled away from our slip about 6:00 am and headed east. We were going to to stop at the Riverfront marina and see if the office was open so we could get ice, but as we passed the city harbor and boat ramps, I saw a self-service ice machine across the yard beside the highway. We pulled in behind the Pickwick Belle riverboat and walked to the ice machine. I was pulling out my wallet when I saw a sign on the machine, "Free Ice Today, Limit Two Please". I'm not sure what the deal was, but I got a free bag of ice and carried it back to the boat. Looks like a good day already!

Just in case you ever asked yourself "Where does Meow Mix come from?"


We were headed upstream and against the wind all day today, and I kept the engine about 4,000 rpm just to maintain a speed of a little over 5 mph. This was the hardest we'd push the little Yamaha on this trip, and I wondered how it would affect the gas mileage when I filled up.

The weather was great today. There was a good breeze through the windows, and the humidity was low. We saw quite a few more boats out today, compared to yesterday, but it was still pretty quiet. We made it to Ditto marina where our truck was parked at about 12:30 and pulled up to the fuel dock, where the tank held 8.8 gallons. A quick check on my phone calculator revealed we'd gotten 15.6 mpg since the last fill up! It appears that by reducing my speed to between 5 and 5 1/2 mph, I got about a 3 mile per gallon savings. Not earth shattering, but good to know if we ever get in a situation where we need to conserve gas to avoid running out.
Can you spell RELAXED?


There were noticeably more boats on the water today than yesterday.


After settling up with the cashier for gas, and the transient slip and ice we got on Sunday night, Glenda and I pulled the boat out of the water and headed home, stopping at Cracker Barrel for lunch. This was a really good trip - no real agenda, and a short daily mileage plan made for a relaxing 4 days.

Glenda Says:
We slept pretty good again last night.  Despite the heat from the day, after the sun went down it got quite comfortable.  During the night I actually sought out my jersey sheet.   We have slept every night with the door open and only the screen up.  This worked very well with airflow.  The manager at Jays Landing was very accommodating and it was nice to have a shower.  But I felt a little too much like I was upsetting a communities routine, so I was not quite comfortable there.

We woke early and after a quick cup of instant coffee we decided to head out.  The wind was cool this morning and it felt nice and relaxing out on the cockpit.  Tom was in a good humor due to the free ice and Daisy is just happy to be here.  The trip back to Ditto landing was pleasant.  I think we need to plan a few more of these kind of trips.

 By the way if anyone out there is reading this blog trying to decide if this type of cruising is for you feel free to e-mail me any questions.  I don't know much about logistics but I can tell you my experiences, mistakes and successes!




Monday, June 25, 2012

Sunday June 25, 2012. Ditto Landing to Decatur



Monday June 25, 2012
"Oh, we're closed on Mondays".

Ditto Marina really quieted down overnight.  At dark last night, the place was buzzing with people, boats, and cars scurrying about. At daylight this morning it was dead quiet and no one was anywhere to be seen. I woke at daylight and got up, only to realize that the “daylight” was coming from the lights at the marina office. I checked the clock --- 4:30 am!  By that time I was wide awake and could not go back to sleep. I finally did doze off for a while, and Glenda and I both got up around 6:30. This time the daylight was real, so we got in the truck and drove to McDonalds, which was closed for remodeling. We then backtracked to BoJangles and ate breakfast. I’ve never eaten at a BoJangles before, but they beat McDonalds hands down.
Glenda and I in front of Ditto Marine's fuel dock.

After a quick stop at Walmart for a few groceries and to get Glenda a pair of sunglasses (her good pair broke yesterday), we were back at the marina. I took care of the porta-pottie while Glenda walked Daisy. By then it was almost 9:00 am, but the office was still closed. At 9:15 there was a nice lady in the office, but she said the office wasn’t open for another hour – maybe later. The cash register was not “open” and she couldn’t take money for my slip and ice. Since we are coming back on Tuesday, I told her I would settle up then. I hope the office is open when we get back.

We headed toward Decatur about 9:30 am, turning right out of the marina onto the main river. Unlike the last two days, we had the river pretty much to ourselves. We passed under the I-65 bridge going into Decatur about 3 ½ hours later, and had only passed 3 other boats since leaving Ditto – two bass boats and one lone kayaker!
Can you see the kayaker? Look at the base of the rock wall, just left of the center of the picture. You may have to zoom in.

The rock formations had lots of interesting features when we hugged close enough to them to notice.
This section of the river seemed mostly remote, broken up only by the occasional Army facility and several more gorgeous rock bluffs. It was a quiet, peaceful ride. Glenda took the wheel for a while and let me take a short nap. 




As we approached Decatur, I called Jay Landing and Riverwalk Marina to ask about renting a slip for the night, but only got recordings at both numbers. Glenda then called the Chamber of Commerce and learned the location of Riverwalk Marina, and learned that a restaurant, the Hard Dock, was adjacent to the marina. That sounded good, so we passed under the Hwy. 31 bridge and saw the restaurant on our starboard side. It was closed. We idled past the marina fuel docks, which had notes saying they were out of gas taped to the pumps, and looked for the office. There were some nice floating docks which appeared to be transient docks, but they were not covered, and we really wanted to get out of the sun. Finally we saw a gentleman working on his boat, and we inquired where office was, and pointed toward a large building, and then added, “but they’re closed on Monday”. That’s OK, I thought, we’ll find a place out of the way and settle up tomorrow. His answer to the next question was “There aren’t any showers”. I didn’t even look at Glenda. I put the boat in forward and we headed to Jay Landing marina.

Passing under the I-65 bridge, we could see the US Hwy 31 bridge several miles ahead

We had to go under the railroad lift bridge, which was raised to 60’ or more when we turned into Riverwalk’s harbor, but was now completely lowered. I put down the antenna and Glenda stood on the side of the boat to watch to make sure we had clearance. With a good 2-3’ to spare we passed under and were met with a pretty good chop as the river widened and the wind kicked up. We passed the City dock and took a picture of the Pickwick Belle, the riverboat, before arriving at Jay Landing. Again we found someone on one of the docks, and asked were the office was. There were several empty docks near the small office, and we tied up. We then learned that the office was closed today, of course, because it’s MONDAY! I felt like Gomer Pyle when he said "Stupid, I guess I just wasn't thinking!" The gentleman we first spoke with was very helpful, though, and directed us to a covered slip and the shower/laundry facilities.

Glenda and I discussed walking to a BBQ restaurant that my phone map said was less than ½ mile away, but when I called them, the young lady said it was “at least a mile, maybe two”. Although there was a good breeze, the temperature was near 100 degrees, so a delivered pizza sounded much better than the possibility of a 2 mile walk in the sun. The pizza arrived in about 30 minutes and we finished all but 2 pieces, which we put in the cooler for breakfast tomorrow.
After all day on the boat, even the delivery of a pizza is a big event!!





Glenda Says:

I felt MUCH better this morning.  I slept really hard last night.  We went and had a nice breakfast.  I must say while I don’t care to back-track alot, it has been nice to have access to the truck. 

I sat on the cockpit for a while this morning before the sun got really bad.  The land seems to drop to gently rolling hills between Huntsville and Decatur, rather than the higher mountains.   I kept the binoculars handy in hopes of seeing more wild life but the herons, swallows and buzzards were the only ones that made themselves visible.  I guess any intelligent animal was finding cool place to rest. 

I was disappointed we could not find a place to eat within walking distance but having pizza delivered to a boat was kinda fun.  I’m sure I’ve gained 2 pounds on this trip.  The people here at Jays Landing have been nice but Decatur is more industrial and it’s just not very picturesque.  

I’m sitting here on the dock watching the fish chase minnows, waiting for it to get cool enough to walk to the showers.  I know Daisy has been a little quiet on this trip but she told me to tell everybody “It’s HOT!” 

At the city dock in Decatur

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday June 24, 2012, Back to Ditto Marina

We slept pretty good last night under the covered slip at Guntersville Marina. We were at the end of the pier and the slip beside us was empty. Directly in front of us was a trawler that was occupied, but we only saw the couple as they took their dog for a walk - we never even got to speak to them. There was some music playing from somewhere in the marina last night for awhile, but it was pleasant and not at all loud.

This morning we hung around the marina talking to the owner and several boat owners there. We really enjoyed talking with Ferrell (not sure about the spelling) Jones, an 86 year old WWII veteran.

This was the only vessel at the City Harbor Sunday morning.


We made a round through the marina looking at all the boats, especially those with "for sale" signs. There was a really pretty Nordic Tug named "Pilgrim", with a home port of Wilsonville, that made me drool a little. At about 10:00 the sun was beginning to heat up, so we left the marina, made a round through the City harbor, which was empty except for Fire/Rescue boat, then headed south toward Guntersville Lock and Dam, which was about 10 miles downstream. Just before the dam, we stopped to get a closer look at the fenced off cave we'd seen from a distance on the trip up yesterday. When we got close we saw the sign explaining that the cave is a brown bat habitat.

Brown bat cave just upstream from Guntersville Lock and Dam.


At noon we were within a few hundred yards of the entrance to the lock, so I radioed the operator and requested a lock downstream. The reply was not what we wanted to hear. They were waiting on the "Jack Walker", a tugboat with barges and would have to lock him through first, and our wait would be approximately 3 hours. The tug would have to break his group of ten barges and take some of the through the lock, then return and take the remainder through. The lock operator first told us that if there was room for us, we might be able to lock through with the tug on his second trip. That plan fell apart a few minutes later when he called again and said that they could only take four barges on the first lock through, meaning that on the second trip there would be the tug and remaining six barges, leaving no room for us. So we circled around while they uncoupled the group of barges, then we circled some more. Then we went across the river to a small cove where we saw a large houseboat, a pontoon boat, and large cruiser all rafted together. As we eased past them in the cove, we surprised a group of four ladies who were swimming at the rear of the boats. It was apparent that they were not expecting company, but after the initial looks of surprise, we got smiles and waves from the group.

The Jack Walker was pushing ten barges!!


Finally, just before 3:00 o'clock, the Jack Walker rejoined his pack of barges and exited the lock on the lower side. An Alabama Marine Police boat was waiting on the lower side to lock through upstream, and as soon as he entered the lock, the lockmaster radioed us that he was filling the chamber and would be ready for us  in a few minutes. We were ready too! At 3:25 we were in the lock, accompanied by 3 young men in an aluminum flat bottomed boat, ready for the 40+ foot descend to Wheeler Lake level. At 4:00 we were exiting the lock, and thanked the lockmaster for getting to as soon as he could, given the circumstances. He apologized for the delay, thanked us for our patience, and wished us a safe journey. Both the TVA and the Corps of Engineers lock employees have been courteous and helpful during every lock through the Knot-So-Fast has done. This is only the 2nd time we've had to wait for any real length of time at a lock.

This couple yelled to us that they'd trade boats with us. I declined their offer. Their's looked like too much work in the hot sun.


With the delay, I called Ditto Marina to let them know we'd be arriving late, and I was told the office was open til 8:00 pm. When we arrived at 6:40 pm, the office was locked up. We did find a marina worker, though, who gave us information about the showers and such, and said we could settle up on the slip rental in the morning.
We almost caught up with the Jack Walker just before we arrived at Ditto marina. His ten barge load made him even slower than the Knot-So-Fast! The marina entrance is just to the right of the rear of the tug.

Glenda and I took a quick showers, uncoupled the trailer and drove to get a bite of supper. When we arrived back at the marina it was almost dark, so I spent some time on the blog before going to bed.


Glenda Says:
I really enjoyed the morning.  We took our time leaving this morning and we had the opportunity to meet Mr. Ferrell Jones.  Mr. Jones is 86 years old and he came by to admire the boat.  Before long I discovered that Mr.Jones is one of our WWII veterans.  I really love getting to hear personal stories of our history.  That is the best way to learn history, from those who experienced it.  He fought in the final battles in Germany right at the end of WWII when he was just 18 years old.  I wish I had more time to spend with Mr. Jones. 

We thought we had a leisurely day planned out.  Only 30 short miles or so, arrive back at Ditto Marina, take a shower and use the truck to go to some nice place to eat.  But once again I had to hear Tom's favorite phrase "we have to be flexible you know".  We were stuck at the only lock we went through for 3 hours!  We managed just fine.  Explored a little into a couple of creeks and interrupted some senior citizens enjoying a dip. (truthfully they were probably not much older than us) 

Once we finally got through I had a hard time just enjoying the ride.  I was hot and tired, I'm afraid I'm not as tough as I used to be.  I did get a good picture of a little raccoon walking along the bank.  It was if he was posing for me.

Raccoon scavenging for a meal along the river bank.


We arrived back at Ditto a little before 7 and even though I hated "eating like heathens"  we showered before we went into town for a bite to eat.  I don't like tying up this close to the office.  The lights are bright and drawing bugs. ( I sure that has nothing to do with my ill humor at the moment)  But I'm game to be off on another adventure tomorrow. 


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Another Tennessee River Trip - June 23, 2012


June 23, 2012


Every part of the Tennessee River that we've seen is beautiful!!

Glenda and I had planned to take the KnotSoFast to Gulf Shores this week and take a leisurly cruise on the ICW, but the impending storm in the lower Gulf changed our minds. So this morning we left home and headed North instead, to Ditto Marina on Lake Wheeler on the Tennessee River between Decatur and Guntersville. We arrived at Ditto about 10:30 and were in the water just before 11:00.



We travelled upstream at 5 mph, to the Guntersville Lock and Dam, where we radioed the operator and requested a lock upstream. He told us to approach the gates and wait 15-20 minutes while he emptied the chamber. We noticed a pontoon boat floating just a hundred feet or so from the gate, and radioed the lockmaster and asked if he wanted us THAT close. Turns out he had not seen the pontoon boat, and asked me to approach the captain and tell him to move back while the chamber was being emptied. We pulled up beside the pontoon boat, which was occupied by a young couple and three children. The man explained that the boat was a rental, and yes, they did intend to lock though, but he'd never been in a lock and did not know how to contact the lockmaster. I relayed this by radio the lockmaster as we both pulled away from the gates a safe distance and waited for the lock to open. Once inside, we both tied to the starboard wall for the 44' trip straight up to Lake Guntersville.



I didn't take time to plan our trip very well before we left, and thought we'd spend the night at the Guntersville City dock - no power or showers, but it's only one night, right?? Wrong! As we approached the City of Guntersville and I informed the "Admiral" that we would not be getting a hot shower tonight, she changed the game plan, and we ended up at Guntersville Marina, about a mile away from the City Dock. I guess you gotta keep the crew happy. Guntersville Marina is great, though. They let us use the courtesy car (pickup) to drive into town for supper at Wintzell's Oyster house, and they have a good solid wi-fi connection and clean showers.

Looking west from Guntersville Marina at sunset.



After supper, we took a short ride out of the marina to let the sun go down and the air cool off a little before we headed for the showers. As we got a few hundred yards out, I switched on the VHF radio and heard someone calling the the Knot-So-Fast. I responded and we moved to channel 68. The other voice said "This is the River Dawg" and I just saw you pull out of our marina." We had locked through at Nickajack Dam with River Dawg, a huge houseboat, last summer when we took Abby from Goosepond Colony Marina to Chattanooga. River Dawg's captain and his wife had remembered visiting with us as we waited for the lock to open. We stayed out about 30 minutes and then pulled back into the marina and saw River Dawg on our port side, with an empty slip next to it. We pulled in and talked with the owners and a couple of their friends for a few minutes, swapping stories about river trips, storms, irresponsible boaters, and, of course, dogs.



We then moved back to our slip a couple of docks away, and tied up for the night. After a good hot shower, we are finishing the blog and getting ready for bed. The mosquitoes are out - not terrible, but they are here.



Our total mileage for the day was about 27. That's a close estimate, but when I checked the chartplotter, it showed a daily total of 834 miles, and an average of 136 mph!! I'm not sure what happened to it, so I'll reset it again in the morning and see what happens.

Glenda Says:

I have really been looking forward to this trip. I was disappointed and fearful that we would not make our annual cruise without grandchildren. First Tom bought a new apple computer and I think he really just wanted to stay home and play with his new toy, then we saw the storm developing in the gulf and I thought that was it. It is nice to have so many miles of beautiful rivers here in Alabama to see, that means multiple options. So we just changed our plans. Tom is always reminding me I have to be "flexible"

. If you like beautiful mountains and rocks you can't go wrong taking a cruise anywhere on the Tennessee River. I enjoyed watching all the families out having fun on the water and it’s always nice to get the smiles and waves from people who think our boat is cute (oops sorry that’s suppose to be manly) It was also nice to reconnect with the River Dawg and share memories of last years Chattanooga trip. That’s really what this lifestyle is all about, meeting people and sharing experiences. Last year we really didn’t get to meet the owners of the River Dawg just talked by radio and smiles and waved as we moved along the river. It was a pleasure to get faces and names.

It’s hotter than it was earlier in June but not near as bad as I've seen it before. It was nice to get a real shower. Ladies never let your "captain" convince you that a solar shower is a real shower. I'll acknowledge its better than nothing but we had too many other options available this time. The Guntersville Marina is quite nice and very accommodating. Everyone has been very pleasant. You know it makes the biggest difference when people are just nice.

Right now I'm looking at the gorgeous sliver of a moon and listening to someone eles mellow music as the boat gently rocks. "Ain't God good"!





Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday June 3, 2012 - Last day of our trip

Post for Sunday June 3, 2012.

We woke this morning to cool temperatures (although not as cool as Saturday morning), and looked at the weather forcast. Our original plan was to head out this morning for Goose Pond Colony Marina, about 52 miles downstream near Scottsboro, AL, but the forcast for thunderstorms on Monday made me question that plan. After the ordeal we went through in the storm on Mobile Bay in March, I wasn't ready to tackle any more "scattered" thunderstorms! I made the decision to explore the area close to Hales Bar, and to be at the boat ramp at Nickajack Dam where our truck and trailer were, by lunchtime.

I had been wanting to give Abby some lessons on docking the boat, and the free time we had this morning was the perfect opportunity. After we all got dressed and had a bite for breakfast, Glenda took the camera and walked past the floating cabins to the end of that dock. I motored to an adjacent dock that was empty, and showed Abby and Dakota how to approach the dock slowly at about a 30 degree angle, then just before the bow hits the dock, put the engine in reverse and turn the wheel all the way to starboard, pulling the stern around and the boat parallel to the dock.

Abby tried it first, and performed like a salty old sea captain, putting the boat parallel with the dock and about a foot away - in a near perfect position for the first mate to step onto the dock and tie up! Dakota was a little nervous, but also did a great job, needing very little assistance from me. She put the little tug right up to the dock, making the fenders lightly kiss the dock bumper. Then Abby took another turn and made another near perfect docking. I couldn't help but think of how many times I had found myself either too far from the dock for Glenda to step out, or rammed the dock because I misjudged my speed or the wind. The girls showed me up with their perfect 3 for 3 score.

Abby docked the boat like she'd been doing it all her life!!
After the docking lesson we headed upstream (with Abby at the wheel) and were blessed with another sighting of the eagle pair that we'd already seen twice on this trip. After taking a few pictures, we headed downstream for Nickajack Dam, where we found our truck and trailer safe and sound where we parked it. We pulled out the Knot-So-Fast and ended another great trip.
One of the eagles we saw on three different days!


I am posting this a week after our trip ended and apologize for the delay, which can be blamed on a combination of factors. First, the internet connection at Hales Bar Marina was down for some reason, and we could not post from there. When we arrived home Sunday night, we were greeted by 3 more grandchildren, who stayed with us through Monday (that was a total of 5). Then early Tuesday morning we went to Gulf Shores with 4 grandchildren and a dog, in two seperate vehicles! During the circus that resulted from trying get all the kids, suitcases, food and such in the car and truck, I left my packed up computer and camera sitting in the floor of my office. Without the computer, of course, I had no way to make the final posts to the blog. Thankfully we did not forget any of the kids, and they had a great time shrimping, boat riding, visiting the zoo and going to the beach.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Saturday June 2, 2012, Chattanooga to Hales Bar Marina


Saturday June 2, 2012, Chattanooga to Hales Bar Marina

Last night was peaceful and COOL! We didn’t bring any warm bedding and didn’t expect temps in the 50’s, but we made it through OK. I think I’d rather be too cold than too hot to sleep. After several request for the granddaughters to wake up, I finally pulled the cover off them and folded it up. That seemed to wake them ;).

Once everyone got going, we walked up town to Panera Bread for breakfast, where I was unfaithful to my diet. I’m sure someone has reported their cinnamon rolls to the White House staff, and it won’t be long before they are declared illegal.

The girls were given their choice of one activity before they left Chattanooga, and they decided they wanted to ride the carousel at the park across the river. So we walked back up the 180 or so steps from the dock to the pedestrian bridge, then across the river to the carousel, where they enjoyed a 3 minute ride for $1. When we got back to our side of the river it was time for lunch so we got a quick bite to eat at the food court in front of the aquarium.

Abby and Dakota checked every animal before picking the one to ride on.

We left Chattanooga about 12:30, and turned downstream, passing kayakers, paddle-boarders, fishers, a tug and barge, amphibious “Duck”, the Southern Bell cruise boat, and numerous other pleasure craft. Chattanooga’s riverfront is a busy place on a cool, sunny Saturday morning!!
Saturday morning the riverfront was full of boaters, kayakers, and stand-up paddle boarders.


Just below downtown, where the interstate runs along the bend in the river, we turned into Chattanooga Creek and passed under the highway. It looked like a great place to explore with a canoe or kayak, but it quickly got too narrow for me to feel comfortable. Also the warning signs stating it was unsafe to swim or eat fish from the creek concerned me, so we turned around and got back on our route.

The rest of the trip back through the Gorge was great. There was a cool breeze – so cool that I actually closed the front windows – and the water was full of other boaters enjoying the great weather. We got grins and waves from almost everyone we passed. When we got close to the spot where we’d seen the eagles on Wednesday, we slowed and scanned the mountainside with binoculars, and spotted one of them flying.  As he got closer to the water, I noticed two other birds flying close behind him. These others did not have the adult eagle’s white head and tail, and I wondered if they were young eagles learning to fly (?). Maybe someone more knowledgeable than me can tell us if that behavior and the time of year would make my guess reasonable. Unfortunately they never got close enough for us to get a really good look at them.

Statue of Native American. We couldn't read the plaque in front of it.

The girls were running low on energy before we got to Hales Bar Marina.
We checked in at Hales Bar and got gas (7.02 gallons), which computed to 13.51 mpg. Everyone showered and we washed clothes, dumped the porta-pottie and took care of other housekeeping chores. We also ran into Ken, who we'd met last year when we rented a slip next to him and his wife Doris. Last year, the temperature was almost unbearable, and Ken and Doris loaned us a fan and extension cord so we could sleep. It was great to see Ken again. Everyone at Hales Bar was very helpful.
The girls started watching a movie in the v-berth, but quickly fell asleep. We were all pretty tired from the last 3 days of activity.






Saturday, June 2, 2012

Friday June 1, 2012 - Chickamauga Back to Chattanooga


Friday  June 1 – Chickamauga Back to Chattanooga
(Pics to be added later)

It rained during the night, but we didn’t get an storms, and it was peaceful at the Chickamauga Marina fuel dock, so we slept pretty good. I woke up before the ladies, and took all our dirty clothes to the laundry room to wash, and took Daisy for her morning walk.

A check of the radar showed that we would probably have more light rain, and we did until about 11:30 this morning, so we took the time to relax a little. When the rain stopped we thanked Melanie for letting us stay and use their facilities, and Abby gave her an autographed copy of her book.

After a short stop at the TVA park dock for the girls to feed the ducks, we headed out for the lock. I called by radio and the lockmaster said he’d be ready to lock us downstream in 10 minutes, and just as we arrived the green light flashed and the lock’s horn sounded. We were lowered the 50’ in just a few minutes, and during the lock through the last of the clouds passed and the sun came out. We exited to sunny skies ahead of us, and a noticeably cooler wind.

With no set schedule, the girls talked me into stopping at the Riverwalk park at Chickamauga River again. Before tying up to the park’s dock, we travelled up the Chickamauga River for about a mile and half. The riverbank looked remote and made you feel you were in the middle of nowhere, but the occasional sound of machinery and glimpses of a chemical plant and Coca-Cola plant over the treetops let us know were still close to “civilization”.  All along the bank there were dozens and dozens of animal den holes, some at the water level and some a foot or so higher. I’m not sure what type of animals built those, but I suspect they were otter and/or beaver dens. Abby and Dakota caught a glimpse of a brown animal they described as looking like a small otter as he slipped into the water.

We arrived at the Chattanooga Docks about 4:00 and found the Bluff Dock empty again. A couple of other boats arrived before dark though, so we weren’t completely alone. We spent the evening watching the herons, ducks and a mink scurrying along the rock bank. The weather was cool – about 75 degrees and sunny – a near perfect day!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thursday May 31, 2012 - Chattanooga to Chickamauga Marina

We spent most of today in Chattanooga. We walked the downtown area and made stops at the Moon Pie Store and the Visitors Center, and ate some great BBQ at Sticky Fingers restaurant. The weather was overcast and a little humid, but pleasant. About 3:00 pm we pulled away from the dock and headed upstream toward Chickamauga Lock and Dam, but took a short break at Chickamauga River and the park there that is part of the Riverwalk Park system. This is a great, paved walking/biking trail that leads from downtown Chattanooga to Chickamauga Dam, and has several parks along the way. We turned into Chickamauga River, which looked more like a creek, and passed under the trail's bridge. There was a small floating dock there and we tied up and let the girls explore the park. The only glitch was that dogs aren't allowed, so Daisy had to stay in the boat.
Abby and Dakota could spend all day feeding the ducklings - they named the runt "Jimmy"
The Knot-So-Fast looks a little bit like a toy next to the Delta Queen.


From there we continued upstream, and when we were about a mile from the Dam I radioed the lock-keeper and asked to lock through upstream. He told me that he would empty the chamber and be ready for us in about 10 minutes. We arrived at the gate and within a couple of minutes the gates opened and he blew the hornp, signalling us to enter the lock. Once we were secured to the bollard, it only took about 25 minutes to rise th 50' from Nickajack Lake to Chickamauga Lake. The lock-keeper wished us well from the lock wall as we exited and turned to starboard toward Chickamauga Marina. The clouds were decreasing now and the sun was beginning to heat up.

Entering Chickamauga Lock which will take us up 50'.




We checked in with Melany at the marina, and since our boat was so small and we didn't need a power hookup, she offered to let us stay on the back side of the fuel dock - for free! Then she gave us a key to the bath-house and laundry room. Talk about Southern hospitality!!
A Dragonboat team at Chickamauga Marina.


It was getting hot by then, so we took the boat about 200 yards over to a public pier at the TVA park that is directly across the inlet from the marina. Glenda and the girls walked over the hill to the swimming area and cooled off in the water. I took care of the porta-potty (not fun) and then joined them for a few minutes before heading back to the boat, and making sandwiches for supper. Glenda and the girls finished eating while I talked with a couple of guys who wanted to know about the boat. One gentleman named George talked about wanting to do the Great Loop in a pontoon boat. He bought a book from Abby before he left.
From the pedestrian bridge. Can you spot the Knot-So-Fast? (No it's not a toy boat)

We then took a ride for an hour or so until the sun got a little lower, and then tied up at the fuel dock for the night.


Glenda Say:

We had a leisurely morning in Chattanooga this morning.  We went up the street a few blocks and of course we had to make a stop at the Moon-pie store.  My favorite is banana so we got a box of a dozen.  We decided to eat at Sticky Fingers BBQ for lunch before we loaded up to head off to Chickamauga Marina.  The trip through the lock was uneventful, thank goodness.  We took the girls down to the “beach” area and let them play in the water for a little bit.  Of course Tom loved answering questions about the boat and Abby sold one of her books as we sat at the public dock.  We waited till close to dark before we went up to shower and get ready for bed.  It really is relaxing not to have an agenda, no reason to be in a hurry.  I have really enjoyed watching Abby and Dakota enjoy each other. 
A favorite spot for the girls!





Dakota says:

Last night me and Abby slept on the bench.  It was comfortable but Abby kept kicking me.  Papa fixed hot chocolate for us for breakfast.  Then we sat on the dock and fed 6 baby ducks, one was a runt.  Later we all went across the bridge to the park where there are giant stone animals that usually spray water but today water was only coming out of the fountain.  I was disappointed because I wanted to see the animals squirting but it was lots of fun anyway.  As we crossed the bridge we could see our boat down on the dock it looked really little.  On our way to Chickamauga, Papa took us on an adventure when he saw a creek.  We were able to stop and play at a park.  My favorite area was the butterfly area.  We were able to spin like we were spinning a cocoon.  At Chickamauga we played in the water and I beat Abby in a swimming race. 



Abby says:

This morning we woke up to Daisy’s barking.  We were supposed to be able to sleep in but Daisy was loud.  Papa fixed us hot chocolate this morning it was really good.  When Papa stepped out with his granola bar he saw a mother duck and her 6 babies.  We grabbed a tortilla and fed them it was fun.  The little babies were so cute to feed.  We walked across the bridge to the park that has water spouts, it was fun to play.  After that we came back across the bridge and went to the Moon-pie store where they sell moon-pies and souvenirs .  We waited until we finished eating before we went back to get what we wanted.  We wanted BBQ at Sugars but it was closed so G.G. went back and asked the lady in the moon pies store where another BBQ restaurant was.  She told us about a place called Sticky Fingers, right across the street.  After lunch we left the dock at Chattanooga and headed to Chickamauga Marina.  On the way we stopped at a small park and played for a little bit.  At Chickamauga there were ducks everywhere!!!!  There was a little area for swimming, we put on our lifejackets and walked over.  We played there for a little bit and me and Dakota tried to share the towel.  We ended up compromising and wrapped it around the two of us.  We fed the ducks while Papa was talking to a guy about the boat and I sold a book to him!  After that we got ready to take a shower and ready for bed.