Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lotsa Locks and no bagels

We have been movin on down the river. Many of you have seen my lock video and have seen the aura of locking. There can be a dark side though. The locks on this River system are fairly new as compared to the locks up north. The walls, comparitively speaking, are in great shape and relatively clean, but there are some locks that get an infusion of debris that build up because the doors opening and closing and things getting pushed in by the barges. Using a technical term, it can get quite yucky! Below are some pictures of experiences we have had along the way. 

Having a drink and some beer after a hard day of cruising!
Big tug, little tug. I installed special equipment on the boat that allows me to see these big tows on my chartplotter well before I can see them by eye. I get all their contact information, size of boat, speed, direction and distance. The tow operators are very friendly and appreciative when you call them in advance and ask how they would like you to pass. Usually you ask, " on the one whistle or two whistle side"? When radio communication is not possible the passing vessel is done with your horn, one blow of the horn is passing  with them on your port and two blows of the horn is with them on your starboard, hence the term whistle. Very simple and no confusion. We all understand. As you can see I need to be more concerned then him when passing. 

Lock Yuck!

Our partner boat ROAM anchored for the evening. 

We stopped in Columbus, Mississippi and went to town. Tennessee Williams used to live in this house as a child. This gentleman was visiting and believe it or not he lived in the house before Tennessee Wiliams. We had a nice chat and he told us about his life living here as a 13 year old boy back in 1939.
Whole in Columbus we also visited the Freedom Cemetary. Many unknown rebel soldiers are buried here as well as local people. We happened upon this grave which is the poet Sahra Teasdale's. 

As they say, nothing is free in life. We got to use the marina courtesy van, but as you can see, we were also the advertisement.

We visited the battle grounds of Shiloh where over 23,000 soldiers killed, lost or wounded in a 2 day period. This is a Cemetary on the site. A must see exhibit when in the area.

There is always something different to see on the River. And did I tell you we always seem to have phone service!

This is the Bevill lock visitor's center. Unfortunately it was closed, but it has a complete display on the construction of the locks and the waterway system. I guess we will have to do some research on the web 

This was a spot during our Shiloh tour. We had to take a picture in honor of Jess's maiden name. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

One week on the water

The weather has been great, the waters are calm and the scenery wonderful. Cruising the Tennessee is a great experience. In our opinion this has been the best all around experience. The boaters are courteous, the locals are friendly and accommodating, the fuel is comparitively dirt cheap and the marinas are running $1.00 per foot with electric. We feel like we died and went to cruisers heaven.
We entered our first lock yesterday and having been through several on other trips this was also a good experience. Unlike all the other locks we have gone through, these locks have floating bollards. You just throw your line around the bollard and it goes up a rail as you rise. These locks are faily large because they are used for commercial barge traffic. So we are like little rubber ducks in a tub. We passed a few working barges on our way up the river. Yes, the Tennessee actually flows north, so even though we are heading south we are going up river. Besides the barges being "towed" there were also barges being used as they were mining sand and gravel from the river bed. I used towed in quotes because one would think of towing as being pulled, but the barges are being pushed by tugs. It is amazing to see one tug pushing as many as 6 barges two wide. I installed AIS on the boat before we left. This is equipment that allows me to identify the tugs well in advance of seeing them. I can call them on the radio by name and ask them how they would like me to maneuver around them. They are friendly and courteous and very appreciative that we respect their lack of maneuverability. 
Below are some pictures taken along the way 

Guess where we stayed one night? Yes, the Mermaid Marina! The sign was the highlight of the accommodations. When you cruise some of the experiences you have make the trip most interesting. The grocery store was 15 miles away. They lent us their work van to use. It had 104,000 miles and was previously the town van. You had to jiggle the key for about 5 minutes so you could turn the ignition. If cleanliness is next to Godliness then we were in hell. A variety of things were thrown all over the place, electrical supplies, plumbing supplies, a lifer preserver, oil filters toilet tissue and what van wouldn't be complete without 22 caliber long rifle bullets. 

Our friends Rich and Cheryl early in the morning before pulling anchor. 

They do expect high water along the river. This height is typical of many of the houses along the way. 

Passing a tow on the river. 

Holy lockamoly!

Inside the lock during the lift. 

The floating bollard.

The lock princess and her wand. 

This is my sonar in the lock. Look at all those fish. We could have scooped up dinner. 

Jess and Cheryll with a cruser who failed to bring enough food. 

You can always find a good sunset when cruising. Every time you think you saw the best, another one comes along 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Another Adventure Begins

Our fall repositioning trip is underway. As many of you know, we are doing what is known as the Great American Loop. This is a trip that goes up the East Coast, Hudson River, then any of the many canals that head west, the Great Lakes to Chicago, then the Missisppi to the Tennessee, the Tom-Bigbee River to Mobile, AL , crossing the Gulf of Mexico to Tarpon Springs, FL, down to Key West and then back to where you started on the East Coast. Our choice has been to do this in pieces over several years. Some people do it in one trip, which can take anywhere from 8 months to a year or more. 

On this Trip we will be starting on Kentucky Lake, which is on the Tennessee River and will be going to Mobile, AL. The boat trip will be 640 miles and about 5 weeks. We will go through 12 huge locks on the way down. These rivers are used by commercial barge traffic and are very circuitous at times. Some of the barges can be 20 long and two wide, so getting out of their way is important! They stop for no one. 

The last 3 days have been all about getting the boat to Kentucky Lake, launching it and then getting our rig to the destination point in Mobile. We then rented a car in Mobile and drove back to our starting point. A definite brain exercise to get all the moving parts to work in sync. Our friends, Rich and Cheryll are joining us on this trip. Today we start the real trip. 

So sit back in the comfort of your home or office and join us for a ride through the south!

Sunrise on Kentucky Lake