Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas

Ron and I have been privileged to attend many churches along the way, some large, some small, some with music and some without.  Today, this fourth Sunday of Advent,  we attended St Brendan's in Clearwater Beach, FL.  We were very impressed with several things.  The music was wonderful.  The deacon, Dr. Bill Gorman, a former nurse, gave the homily and did a wonderful job.  He welcomed visitors and asked where each was from.  He told a story about a volunteer who worked with soldiers who displayed emotional problems in the emergency room of the hospital where he worked in New York.  When asked what this volunteer did to calm each soldier, she said, "I just told them that God loved them" and they immediately calmed down. The priest, Fr. Eric Hunter, a true Irishman, had a wonderful voice and sang many parts of the mass.  We attended the donuts and coffee social after mass and met a a very nice couple from Canada.  After church, we took the trolley to Tarpon Springs.  All in all, a wonderful day.

We will not be posting until after the first of the year, so we want to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Appalachicola to Carrabelle to Clearwater

We enjoyed the company of the crew on Glory Days,(Joe, Tom, Bob, Jim, and John), and after two windy, cold days at Appalachicola, we headed for Carrabelle to wait for the weather window.  11/11, 11/12, 11/13, 11/14 We waited!  While we waited for the weather window, we enjoyed Docktails at C-Quarters Marina every evening. After the first evening, we realized that everyone took their dog along and just let them roam freely to play.  So on night two, we decided that we would take Duke.  This marina was about 1/4 mile from where we were staying and we walked along the highway.  Ron decided to let Duke run freely with all of the other animals.....that seemed like a good idea, until someone said....I think your dog just left.  Ron followed Duke and found that he had returned to our boat on his own....guess he's just not a party animal!
 Although we stayed at the Moorings, just down the river, most of the loopers went to C-Quarters.  We chose the Moorings because we heard that Buddy, a long term employee and weather prognosticator, could tell us when to cross safely.  Both Tom Conrad (the AGLCA weather musings guy) and Buddy said that Thursday the 15th was the day to cross.  Buddy said that it was not wise to leave East Pass and set a direct course to Clearwater because of something called the loop current.  He said that we should instead set a course due east (30 miles) to Buoy 26 and then set our course southeast to Clearwater.  That would provide us with calmer seas.  Seven boats (Glory Days, Gemini, Jeremiah, Adagio, Gold Leaf, Nauti Nell, and Laughter) followed his recommendations and we were really happy that we had done so.  After the first hour of 2 foot waves, the sea calmed down.

  Although the first four hours of darkness were a bit unnerving, the 1/2 moon appeared around 10 pm and gave us some light for the remaining 8 hours we traveled in the dark.  When the sun rose we had to deal with crab pots for 4 hours as we approached was like a mine field of things that look like large hand grenades with wire baskets attached to the bottom.  If a boat snags one, it can damage the prop.  Fortunately, we navigated through them without incident.  The shore here is beautiful and the weather is warm.  My best friend Becky lives within a few miles of the marina, so we were able to meet her for we hadn't slept yet, that will come later. (Ron napped for an hour during the 22 hour crossing and I slept on and off for about 4 hours)
We had obsessed about how the crossing would affect Duke.  Should we give him sedatives?  Should we buy a grass pad for the stern?  How would he handle 24 hours without bathroom privileges?  Well, our worries were unfounded.  When we left Carrabelle, Duke went to sleep in the helm and slept for 22 hours.  He did not attempt to drink any water or eat any food.  Twice we gave him a small biscuit and he went right back to sleep.  He behaved no differently than usual when we arrived at Clearwater....he was a real trooper!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ft. Walton Beach to Apalachicola

11/8 (Ft. Walton Beach to Panama City).  We left at 0645 with Glory Days and Gemini.  As they pulled away from the dock, we put our boat in reverse, tried to back out of the slip and got stuck due to low tide and winds from the north. We threw a line to the port stern, pulled our boat over, and pivoted while reversing and finally got out of the slip.  The trip today was uneventful...much improved wind conditions.  A few military jets flew over which provided us with entertainment.  We arrived at Panama City marina around 1400. Duke, always anxious to exit the boat after docking, missed the dock and fell 4 feet into the water.  He looked up in total panic and swam to the nearest piling which was thick with barnacles.  He held on to the barnacles for dear life until Ron lowered the dingy to provide him with access to the swim step.  It took all of Ron's strength to haul him out with just his collar, so from now on, we are making him wear his harness or life jacket. We went to dinner at The Place, a good burger joint. with the guys from Glory Days.

11/9/ Panama City to Apalachicola
We left at 0700 and followed Glory Days through narrow channels in very shallow bays with 1 foot of water just outside the channels.  Then we traveled through 25 miles of  straight manmade canals unitl we arrived at Apalachicola.
Eleven loopers got together for dinner at Papa Joe's Oyster Bar.  We met the Groggs, Stan and Barbara.  Stan is the dean of the medical school at Oklahoma State and Barbara is a nurse practitioner.  Interestingly, they never owned a boat before starting the loop. 
We will be here at Scipio Marina for 2 days and then move to the Moorings at Carabelle.  We will wait there for an acceptable weather window so that we can cross the gulf.  We get daily weather advice from Tom Conrad through the AGLCA website on when conditions are conducive to cross (waves 2 feet or less and winds 10 knots or less).  Originally we'd planned to go to Steinhatchee only 75 miles, but we've decided to bite the bullet and cross from Carabelle to Clearwater (175 miles) at 9 or 10 mph which will take 18 hours to cross.  We will definitely be crossing with other loopers.  We're not sure how we will manage Duke's bathroom issues yet.  So far we've been blessed with safe weather, good companions, and common sense...all of which we will need for a successful crossing. Please pray for a safe crossing for all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Orange Beach to Ft Walton Beach

11/6  We made it to Ft Walton Beach by 3:00pm without any bad weather, although it looked threatening behind us.  The new auto pilot worked well, but we are still not getting good reception from a distance with our radio.  After arriving at the downtown free dock, we walked through the adjacent park and shopping area.  In the slip next to us is Gemini, whom we met through Jenny and Jerry Reves the night we anchored on the Tennessee River. About 11:30 pm,  4 or 5 older teen boys, who sounded as if they had been drinking, came onto the dock right next to our boats.  They were up to no good and made several comments about the boats and they people who were on them.  Fortunately, Duke did not attract their attention by barking, and after about 10 minutes they left.  It was the first time I've felt unsafe on the whole trip.
11/7  We arose early for an early departure.  Today we were scheduled to go across Choctawahtchee Bay, a thirty mile open water area. After listening to the forecast and discussing it with Steve (Gemini), we decided to stay put since there is a high wind warning through tomorrow morning.  Better safe than sorry!  Two more boats came in today in the rough weather...Inconceivable and Glory Days.  We went to dinner at the local Italian restaurant with the crew from Gemini (Steve & Beth)  and Glory Days (Joe, Jim, Tom, Bob).  Nice time!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Orange Beach

12/5  We had a great weekend visiting with Sherry....dinner Friday night at Cosmo's and Sunday breakfast at Hazel's. 

Then we went to the Outlet Mall near Sherry's home and were able to meet Foley.  Duke and Foley were able to play for a while and we got a tour of Sherry's condo (very nice!). 
This morning we are hoping to do a sea trial of our new Auto Pilot system, however, there were some glitches and our Vessel View is not may be here through today.  We are anxious to get to Carabelle which is several days away.  There have been very few days calm enough to cross the Gulf (only 3 good days in November).  We don't want to miss a good weather window. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eastern Shore Marine to Orange Beach Marina

11/30  Although the weather forecast was for winds of 15 knots, we decided to leave.  We had been stuck at Eastern Shore Marine for a week due to high winds.  Eastern Shore Marine was not bathroom/shower for women and one for men,one washer/one dryer, and a courtesy van with a sliding door that flew open when you drove it.  The people at the marina were nice, though, and the town of Fairhope was lovely.  When we left, winds were out of the northwest, and provided us with a following sea most of the way to the intracoastal.  As we arrived at the intracoastal, we immediately had dolphins on our starboard bow.  We had been in the intracoastal about 15 minutes when we saw a boat (Salt and Sand) ahead of us pulled over and boarded by the coastguard.  When the coastguard disembarked Salt and Sand, they had a choice of examining a catamaran sailboat, a homemade raft (with hippies aboard), and us.  Guess who they boarded?  You guessed it.  They boarded us.  The way they did it....someone drove the coastguard vessel and pulled along side us.  Two coastguard members boarded us from the stern while we traveled at idle speed.  The first thing they asked, "Do you have any weapons on board".  Then they asked for documentation on the boat, general information about where we were going, our home port, etc.  They were very nice, and disembarked after about 10 minutes.  I guess we looked like harmless old people.  After getting off the intracoastal and winding toward Perdido Pass, we arrived at Orange Beach Marina which is really tucked away at the end of a bay.  We chose it because we need to have some electronics done, and this facility has Saunders Yachtworks and Extreme Electronics. Today they are working on our AIS system, the VHF radio, and the Vessel View which does not have a GPS signal.   They are going to install our Nema 2000 Auto Pilot tomorrow.    The marina charges loopers $1.00 per foot (regular price is $1.50 per foot).  We are so pleased that we will be able to see Sherry Wright, our former daughter-in-law tonight...she lives nearby and is coming to see the boat and join us for dinner.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving week

We arrived on Tuesday at Eastern Shore Marine, which is a working boatyard with boat slips.  We are about 3 miles from the town of Fairhope and about 15 miles by car across the bay to Mobile.  Fairhope is a quaint upscale downtown with lots of shops.  They have a full time horticulturalist, so the flowers and decorations are fantastic.  Duke has had lots of fun with Sabastian and his sister Paisley.

They are the official dogwalkers for all of us with pets.  The photo includes one of Duke's favorite companions, Skipper, a Portugese water dog.

On Thanksgiving day, Bob and Vicki Riggs opened up their home to all of the loopers (about 30 of us).  They provided turkey, ham and wine, and each of us brought a potluck dish.  The food was fantastic....I know I gained 5 pounds! 

We've been here since Thursday because of weather.  It is unlikely that we will be able to leave until Tuesday or Wednesday.  At that time we will head for the intracoastal waterway toward Florida.  We hope to stop at Lulu's (a restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffet's sister) along the way.  Our first night will probably be in Orange Beach, AL where we will have some electronics work done.  Then we will proceed to Carabelle and wait for a weather window for crossing the gulf. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bashi Creek to Mobile Bay

11/21 Bashi Creek to Little Lizard Creek (80 miles)
We were headed for Alabama River Cut (anchorage), but we checked the forecast Tuesday and found that fog and deteriorating weather conditions were predicted.  The fog was expected until 10am and then severe storms in the afternoon, so we pushed on until about 4:30pm--right before dark.  We wound back into Little Lizard Creek and looked for a place to anchor.  Most of the depths were 30-35 feet...way too deep for a good anchorage.  We finally found a spot with 15 foot depth.  The bottom was so soft it took several tries before the hook caught. 
(note:  The section below is "rated" PS for Pet Sensitive) So please use parental discretion if your pet frequently reads our blog.)
We've always been able to get Duke off the boat at least 2 times a day, but this anchorage was swampy and it was getting dark.  Alligators are known in these parts, so we didn't want to take any chances.  We encouraged Duke for 3 hours to use the stern of the boat, but he resisted and whimpered the whole 3 hours.  Fifteen hours after his last potty break, he finally could wait no longer...but the guilt on his face....Oh My!
11/22 Little Lizard Creek to Mobile Bay (Eastern Shore Marine).
( Still at Little Lizard Creek--There was no fog as predicted, so Ron put Duke in the dingy and rowed to shore thinking he'd keep Duke on the leash but stay in the boat.  Duke broke loose into the swampy ground pulling his leash behind.  Ron, who had not taken his shoes along, went treking after him---they both returned in good shape.

We were 20 miles from Mobile Bay and the weather held.  We had about 8 miles across the bay to the marina in 30 knot winds.  Salty Paws came along with us.  They are a 22 foot boat, so they got tossed around quite a bit.  We were docked before the storms came through.  Many of the loopers are here and plan to go to Vicki and Bob Riggs home for Thanksgiving.  They did the loop in 2008 and offer a place for the loopers to spend Thanksgiving.  We are out of the river system now and are beginning to deal with tides.  The tides here are small...only about two feet unless a storm from the north comes through.  Then the tides are greater. 
We wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading our blog!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Columbus, MS to Anchorage at Mile 100 old lock

11/17/11 Columbus to Anchorage at Sumter Recreation area
We pulled in to the anchorage and found Last Dance already anchored.  We pulled up to a small dock at the boat ramp and found it fairly shallow and lots of vegetation growing in the water.  We chose the dock so that we could get Duke off the boat easily, but that meant not using the generator (depth and vegetation) for heat and it was VERY cold (28 degrees).  At 2am, Duke was so cold on the floor that he crawled into bed and under the covers.  There was a thin coat of ice on deck when we arose. 

11/18/11  Anchorage to Demopolis Yacht Basin
Demopolis is the last marina before Mobile Bay.  We stocked up on water, fuel and groceries.  This will be our last meal out at a restaurant for a few days.  Demopolis Yacht Basin has completed an entire new section with multiple docks and a state of the art building with restrooms. washers/dryers, and an activity room. Very nice!  They are currently digging another harbor.  Shingebiss is wintering here.  They will go home to Minnesota for Thanksgiving and then return with their car.
11/19/11 Saturday
We got an early start since it's 70 miles to the anchorage (many bends and bows to the river).  The actual distance as the crow flies is only 32 miles.  We are traveling with Happy Hours V and Salty Paws.  At the Demopolis lock, we were asked for the first time for our boat registration #.  Fortunately, we got it from Becky, who is managing our mail, a week ago.  The lockmaster said it is for "customs".  At 3pm we were near Bashi Creek and we had 4 boats in our caravan. We'd heard that a couple of other boats were already there, so we were concerned there would be no room and the next available place to stop was Bobbie's Fish Camp, 27 miles down river.  When we go to Bashi, there were no boats anchored, so Last Dance, Happy Hours V and Adagio got settled.  Salty Paws went on to Bobbie's Fish Camp..hope they made it before dark.    At the entrance to Bashi Creek was a homemade sailboat (made of bamboo & sticks) with a rudder controlled by a string attached to a steering wheel.  The young man, Zachary Aldridge, said he was getting his life together.   He had cruised from Tuscaloosa, but was originally from Chenoa, IL.  He looked and dressed like Johnny Depp in the Pirates movies.  He asked if we'd seen his friends in the raft.  This was the couple we saw near Pebble Isle, weeks ago.  He said they are now 4 days ahead of us.  It was a quiet night--10 hours sleep.
11/20  We left early (7am) and it was foggy with 1/4 mile visibilty, which cleared after 1 hour.  The river here snakes back and forth adding miles to the day.  We waiting 1 1/2 hours at the "last lock"  on the Black Warrior.  Since it was getting late, we decided to anchor out at mile marker 100 (the old lock).

  Water depths were good.  One of the towboat captains mentioned today that he had seen a very large alligator on shore...Now we have to watch for critters in the water!!!
Just a note:  since leaving Traverse City, Michigan in August, we have gone through 36 locks and we've travelled 2260 miles on the water.  We should arrive in upper Mobile Bay on Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grand Harbor, TN to Columbus, MS

Note from previous post:  At Ditto landing, I found two bullets in the washer while doing laundry.  We knew we were in Alabama!
11/14/11    Grand Harbor, TN to Midway Marina, Columbus, MS (52 miles
A note about Grand Harbor….We were way out on the furthest dock…convenient for fuel and showers, but a long way to the dog area.  There were signs posted everywhere that dogs must use the designated area.  Asking a dog that has been on a boat 8 hours to wait until you walk a long way to shore and then wait again….not so good!  Duke did meet some local Springer Spaniels who lived nearby.  See photo. (Duke’s the cute one with the lease attached)

A note on the Tenn-Tom:  The connection between the Tennessee River and Tombigbee was completed in 1985.  Digging for the 27 mile divide cut began in 1971 and involved moving more dirt than during the building of the Panama Canal. The total cost was two billion dollars. 

Although the wind advisory from yesterday had expired, it was still very windy when we left the dock.  We pulled out just after Jolly Roger and just before Happy Hours V.  Jolly Roger travels at the speed of sound and probably made it to Columbus in one day!  At Whitten Lock, we locked through with Happy Hours (couple from Australia). We locked through all 4 locks (with one delay) and arrived at Midway Marina just at dark.  A half hour later, and we would have been challenged to find a way in.  The staff was very helpful and assisted us with docking.  This was a dog friendly marina/decent showers.  After visiting with Mike and Gail, we turned in and prepared for an early start on Tuesday.

11/15/11 Midway Marina to Columbus Marina (61.9  miles / four locks)
We called Fulton Lock before leaving the marina, and were told we could get right in, so off we went.
Our second lock (Wilkins) had an upbound tow about two miles off and we were two miles off southbound, so we were told to wait.  We anchored for a while and then got into the lock.  At Amory Lock, they were doing some repairs, so we were again told it would be about 40 minutes.  After only 20, the lock opened, so we pulled up anchor, and off we went.  Our last lock of the day, Aberdeen, was open and ready for us when we arrived.  The locks on the Tenn-Tom monitor where you are and try to accommodate by being ready for you if there is no commercial traffic.  About 3pm, we passed a unique vessel…see photo. Do you think they are loopers? 
Right now we are at 163 feet above sea level.  A few more locks and we’ll be at 0 feet.  We are currently racing (at 9.7mph) to reach Columbus Marina before dark.  Sunset is at 4:50 pm and we are 18 miles away.  Tomorrow, rain is predicted, so we may stay and visit Columbus and the Waverly Plantation. 

11/16/11  Columbus Marina
We arrived last night right before dark and were directed to one of the covered slips.  It was good that our slip was covered, because heavy rains occurred during the night and early morning, leaving us dry under the canopy.  Columbus is the birthplace of Tennessee Williams and famous for the Waverly Mansion.  Along with Mike and Gail (Happy Hours V), we toured the plantation home, built in 1852.  It is a four story home with curved staircases going to the domed viewing area.  It was purchased in the 1960’s by an antiques dealer who still lives on the premises.  The grounds this time of year are dormant, but must be lovely in the spring.  I am standing in front of a 250 year old Magnolia.

 The house seemed to need a great deal of upkeep and repair….perhaps that’s why tours are allowed as a small source of revenue.  We had lunch at Pepper’s (a chain) and plan to have dinner with Roger and Mary (Jolly Roger) and Mike and Gail (Happy Hours V). We leave tomorrow for an anchorage at Sumter Recreation area.  We’ve heard the woods are full of snakes…guess I won’t be walking the dog.  The temps are expected to drop to 28 degrees tomorrow night…maybe the snakes will be hibernating!  The high temp yesterday was 78 degrees…quite a switch. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ditto Landing to Grand Harbor

11/10  We left Ditto Landing and the waters were calm, but really picked up during the trip.  We thought we were on Lake Michigan again with 1to 3's.  After a tiring day, we arrived at Joe Wheeler State Park.  Since no one at the marina responded to our call on Channel 16, we pulled into a slip near a few other transient boats.  Apparently the marina is not manned this late in the season...instead we went to the lodge to pay. (Also note that they turn the water off on the docks because of colder weather). We met the Samway family...Mike, Jennifer, Keenan (13), and Daria (10?)..who are from Miami and just finishing the loop.  They have a 48 ft Kadey-Krogen (Muddy Waters), and they know the Parkers from Chattanooga who also have a Kadey-Krogen.
 Keenan and Daria will return to school in January after a year off to travel.  What a terrific way to learn about history, science, math and English.
11/11 We awoke to 28 degree temps and a thin coat of ice on deck....very slippery.  It warmed up quickly and melted.  Muddy Waters led the way to the two locks for the day where there was no wait.  This lock had an unusual gate which goes up and down, rather than opening like the others.

Upon our arrival at Grand Harbor, we got a tour of the Samways' boat...beautiful.  Daria is a talented jewelry maker. 
11/12 Muddy Waters departed, but we stayed so that we could go to Shiloh.

The marina provides a free loaner car with no limit on time.

However, they do not allow dogs in the cars, so Duke stayed behind.   Shiloh is the site of one of the first major battles of the Civil War. (Ron liked, not so much) A huge vessel pulled into the marina....112 feet long manned by a crew, not the owner. 

11/13  Although we had planned to leave today, there was a high wind advisory with gusts predicted to be 40-50 miles per hour, so we decided to stay put.  Good that we did, because we had some computer problems and had to drive to Florence (50 miles away) to get the help of the Geek Squad.  We will not have our computer back for 2 weeks, so it's good that we have two others on board.  Our friends from Australia (Happy Hours V) just arrived, so we will probably be traveling south with them and Hal and Cheryl Baker (Mas Bueno). It's nice to have other boats on the water with us!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trail of Tears

Before it became Chattanooga, the area was known as Ross’s Landing.   1838 marks the beginning of the Cherokee episode for the “Trail of Tears” and one of the starting points was Ross’s Landing.  In the 1830’s and even back to Jefferson, the United States put into effect the removal of all Indians east of the Mississippi River to lands west, primarily in Oklahoma Territory.   In the Southeast, Cherokees were forcibly rounded up and moved west.  Thousands died along the Trail of Tears.

Chattanooga remembers that heritage throughout the downtown riverfront area.  Plaques record the history, and the impressive stairway under Riverfront Parkway gives examples for Cherokee mythology and life.

Chattanooga to Ditto Landing

11/7/11 Chattanooga to Goose Pond Marina (80 miles)
  We left at first light because we knew it would be a very long day (one lock).  There were no other boats on the river except small local fishing boats.

 Since we had lots of time, I came up with a list of things I've learned on this trip.
1.  I miss my mother, who passed away in February.  She would have loved hearing about our daily adventures.
2.  Since August (Traverse City), we've lost weight.  No snacks on board, healthier choices and smaller portions--plus lots of walking when we're ashore--- Ron has lost 15 pounds and I've lost 13.
3.  We miss the Illinois law which prevents people from smoking in restaurants.  KY, TN, AL --smoking is allowed.
4.  If you are affluent, you send your children to private or boarding school.  The public schools are considered substandard in the south.
5.  VHF radios are like party lines---be careful what you say.
6.  Marina descriptions are not always accurate
7.  Peoria could learn a lesson from cities like Chattanooga
8.  Take enough clothes for several weeks if doing the loop.  You may not find laundry facilities.
9.  Dogs who have learned to potty on the boat make life much easier.  (Duke prefers being on shore)
10.  Conversations between spouses should be banned when locking and docking--this can be a very stressful time:)

We saw evidence of the horrible tornadoes that went through this area last spring.  Many trees were twisted and homes were destroyed.

We arrrived at Nickajack Lock and were told it would be 30 minutes because a barge was locking upbound.  We anchored and had lunch and then got into the lock right away.  This was our second stay at Goose Pond Marina.  We used the courtesy car and went to WalMart for groceries....what a treat to have a car for errands.  Sorry we didn't use their laundry facilities...they were very nice.  Since storms are predicted on Wed, we will do boat cleanup and laundry then. 
11/8/11  Goose Pond to Ditto Landing
It was an easy travel fog so an early start.  There was one lock (Guntersville) and we locked right into the small chamber (there are two chambers at this lock).  They were working on the lock and we sat for a few extra minutes after the chamber emptied before they opened the lock gates.  We were hoping it wasn't broken as we sat 40 feet below the top of the lock.

  See spider in one of the bollard chambers.

 Time zones here are very confusing.  We went from Tennessee (Eastern time) to Alabama (Central time) and have gone from daylight savings time to standard time.  This is Painted Bluff.

11/9/11  Huntsville (day off)
Raining today so we took the day off , rented a car, did laundry and had my hair cut.  (Huntsville charges a fortune for haircuts compared to home)  Base price...$40.00.  
We spent several hours at the Space and Rocket Center which was very interesting.  The rockets for the US space program were built in Huntsville.  We had lunch at Rosie's Cantina-- a must go to place if you visit Huntsville.  The food was excellent.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chattanooga to Hiwassee River

11/2 and 11/3 (Chattanooga)
As Mr. Rogers always said…”It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood”, and that was true of our 2 days in Chattanooga.  We stayed at the city dock between the 2nd and 3rd bridges.  It is a single dock which boats pulled alongside, heading upstream.  (photo courtesy of J Reves)

The new security gate upstream had been installed, and the downstream gate was expected early next week. 
 Although we didn’t know it, Friday, Saturday and Sunday was the Head of the Hootch, a rowing competition with 1500 launches.  High school, college and other teams competed against one another.  We were able to see practices on the days we were there. 

Other special features of Chattanooga were the wonderful aquarium, two buildings(one with salt water creatures and the other with fresh water),

 the art district with restaurants, galleries and gardens, and many fine restaurants. 

 It was a treat to eat out for several lunches, dinners and one breakfast.  We joined Jerry and Jenny and their friends Jeff and Susie Parker one day for lunch.  Jeff is on the Board of Directors for the Aquarium.  They have also completed the loop AND climbed Mt. Everest.  One of their local contributions was to carve & paint a carousel horse for the indoor Chattanooga carousel. 
The riverfront is spectacular.  It’s too bad that Peoria didn’t consider something similar.  There is a water cannon and tiered concrete seating which form a natural stadium.  Walking paths abound.  There is a pedestrian bridge in addition to several auto bridges.  Art work is built into the walls and the brickwork pathways, detailing the history of the city. 

We found a bookstore / yarn store that resembled the old Fourteenth Street Hardware store in Pekin. Clutter everywhere!  And it was run by an eccentric weaver/ knitter.  She gave me a brief lesson and I left the store loaded with yarn. 
11/4 Chattanooga to Pine Harbor (Soddy Daisy, TN)  mile 464-487
No wait at the Chickamauga Lock. 

 We wound our way back to this harbor under an 18 foot bridge.  $25 a night—doesn’t matter what size the boat.  The restaurant here was packed and we had to wait, but it was worth it. 
11/5-destination is the Hiwassee River, B & B Marina.  After staying there, this marina is NOT recommended.  They charged $30 to tie up to a very rickety amenities except a portapotty. Dogs owners had not cleaned up after their pets on the docks or in the parking lot. 
We had dinner on Sweetgrass for the last time. 

 Jenny and Jerry are heading toward Knoxville and the Vanderbilt football game.  We are reversing our course and heading downriver to Chattanooga.
11/6 After waiting for the fog to clear, we traveled a few miles with Sweetgrass and said our goodbyes.

  We arrived at the Chickamauga Lock just as a downbound barge did, so we anchored and had lunch.  After about an hour, we called the lock and the lockmaster told us to hurry toward the lock wall and wait for the lock to fill.  The tow, Bearcat, had dropped two barges below the lock and was going back for the rest of his load.  We were the only craft to get through.  All of the other boats below the lock were told it would be 1 1/2 to 2 hours before they could lock through.  We arrived at the same dock in Chattanooga and found a spot between two boats.  Everyone else had departed after the rowing contests. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Goose Pond to Chattanooga

10/31/11  Goose Pond to Anchorage ( mile 378.2 to 426)
Beautiful day on the water.  We arrived at Nickajack lock and had a wait of about an hour.  After locking through, we had only a couple of miles to the anchorage.

 Sweetgrass rafted up with some old friends, Steve and Beth on Gemini and Ron and I joined them for cocktails and a briefing on Chattanooga.  Steve and Beth had visited the city a few days before and had lots of good ideas about what to see and do. 

above photo courtesy of J Reves

11/1/11  Anchorage to Chattanooga  Mile 426-464.
FOG, FOG, FOG!  See photos.

 This area is called the Tennessee River Gorge and it lived up to its reputation.  I kept thinking of Claude Monet as we looked at the beautiful colors. 

Below is Lookout Mountain.

 We passed the Southern Belle, a riverboat.

  We also passed the Tennessee Aquarium catamaran with four CAT C-18 engines which at full speed, burns180 gallons per hour.

  Let's be thankful they slowed as they passed, and we didn't have to deal with their wake.  After tying up to the Marine Max city docks, we went out to dinner with the skippers and admirals from Ookpik, Salty Paws, Two Bears, and Sweetgrass and enjoyed barbeque at Sugars.  Each of us was carded (state law) and Cathy had no ID so she had water, not wine for dinner.