Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Pickwick Landing to Florence, marina

Have I got news for you.

Ida update #1: Ida went over us last night. We'd set out a bucket prior to act as a rain gauge. We had some wind wake us around 1:30 am when a cabinet on the stern had doors slam open. But otherwise no incident. The rainfall collected was about 3-4 inches. It was steady all night, heavy at times, but not the torrents we were expecting. Winds were sustained between 5-10 mph, with a single gust around 25. All good news.

Ida update #2: For those of you who do not know we have a condo in NOLA. I'm happy to report we still do! The property manage was in yesterday and said no windows were broken and no water intrusion. The roof still needs to be investigated, and we know some of the condos have issues since some HVAC units blew free (thankfully, none fell off the roof, which is astounding). We don't know if ours did. As for the city, it's in a bad state. A major tower that held the power lines for 5 NOLA boroughs fell. FIVE! Apparently the word "redundancy" doesn't exist in Entergy's lexicon. Anyway, current assessments are no power in NOLA for 6 weeks. Yikes!

The weather was gray and cloudy but not windy nor very rainy so we decided to go to Florence. We had reservations there for tomorrow and Thursday, but packages we'd sent had already arrived. It's not too far, so we moved on.

Watch the skies...

Fellow boaters know that periodically the Coast Guard makes announcement about conditions on 22A
We always listen but given Ida we were quick to change the channel. These aren't the clearest announcements (sadly, radio is not stereo quality) but we picked up a mile marker and the words "lock closed." Um... what lock again? Checking maps we confirmed Wilson Lock. And its the one we have to go through right after leaving Florence. It doesn't impact today's plans, but in a couple...

As we understand it, no longer exists.
Russ called the Coast Guard on the phone. They said a long wall had collapsed. As the day unfolded we discovered that a floating long wall, well, doesn't float anymore. We don't know if Ida had anything to do with it but it sank and is covered by 75 feet of water. This is one of the walls commercial tows would tie up against while waiting for the lock to turn. 

Wilson lock has 2 chambers, but only used the big one. We were told the small chamber took "too much man power."

Luckily we planned on staying here a couple of nights. Hopefully we'll get word if the lock will open anytime soon. This might put the kybosh on the whole trip because, frankly, there is no other way to go up the river.


Monday, August 30, 2021

Wolf Island to Pickwick Landing State Park, anchor

The best thing about yesterday's long day was today was very short. It included a lock, too. When we got up we checked our AIS information to see if any tows were near or using the lock. It looked clear, so we quickly weighed anchor and headed out.

Still a slog. The closer we got to the lock and dam the slower we went. At times we traveled around 5.9 knots. 

We hailed the lockmaster about 2 miles out. They were still dumping the chamber when we arrived. There are 2 at Pickwick and, giving the raging rapids of the dam, I wanted us near a door and out of the current. But we only saw the signal for the large on. Russ hailed for confirmation of which chamber we'd be using. The big one! We hadn't heard that the small one was broken so we guessed they were trying to dump water so using the big one whenever they could. We had the large chamber all to ourselves.

Spotted a coyote on the bank.
Russ picked this anchorage, Pickwick Landing, for a number of reasons. First, it's small and should shield us well from any Ida remnants. Second, it's very near a marina, which makes walking a dog much easier.

So far the weather's been calm. Mostly misting rain, no down pours yet, and no wind to speak of. No lightning, no thunder. The weather apps all tell us it will be mostly tonight. We put out lots of rode, just in case.

While at the helm I spied some flotsam in the water,
which wasn't uncommon. When we passed it,
however, we realized it was a swimming deer!

That was so unusual Russ took a quick movie.

Total lock count: 53


Cuba Landing to Wolf Island, anchor

Someone is gonna realize that hurricane storm names need to sound more threatening: Doomwinds, Widowmaker, Stormageddon! Ida sounds like your least favorite great aunt.

Anyway, despite being a fair distance away Ida is impacting us. Not directly. But we're trying to get to Pickwick Lake (hoped to do that today) when, in an effort to lower the lake for a lot of water to come, they are pushing a bunch of water down. And right at us. We were lucky when we get 7 knots. 

Needless to say, we didn't make the lake. There's an anchorage by a state marina we're shooting for. We plan to get an early start at it tomorrow, with some luck at the lock, be anchored by noon. Tomorrow night we should see a fair bit of rain and winds around 25 mpg. Being tucked in a cove would help considerably.

Threatening skies all day long.
We said we wouldn't to it again, and yet, today was a loooooooooong day.


Took this picture at the marina. The
large round thing is our radar, when the 
mount is down to dock in covered slips.

We are not en route. This is while anchored. 
We're behind a little island
and the river is rushing, so lots 
of swirls and eddys that keep us swishin'!

Russ grabbed this image from our GoPro. Because
it records slowly (making fast movies) AND the copter 
was moving SO FAST it didn't show up in the vid.
We think they were practicing search and rescue.
He came by incredibly low... startled the heck out of us!


Friday, August 27, 2021

Paris Landing to Cuba Landing, marina

This was the third time we've been on this section of waterway, the first in 2019 on the loop, then about 2 months ago on our way to the Ohio. There are not many marinas. The typical thing is Green Turtle Bay to Pebble Island to Clifton to Aqua. Chasing 80 (fellow loopers) mentioned they stop at Cuba Landing instead of Pebble Island -- PI is a little close to Green Turtle Bay so Cuba Landing smoothes out the timetable a bit.

Since we'd never been, we thought we'd check it out.

We left around 8:30, after Russ took a sticky run. While underway he finished making yogurt (a regular task these days) and I did some laundry. While behind the wheel we kept one eye on the water, still dodging the occasional log, and one eye in the sky. The clouds built all day. Thunderstorms were predicted for later, but with this heat and humidity you just don't know. We did get a smattering of rain but nothing else.

Note the building in the water? An old
train station from before they made the lake.
Cuba Landing had been damaged by storms a couple of years ago (probably why we hadn't heard of it then). They'd been working to bring it back. We got put into another covered slip, which we don't mind given the sun is a major source of heat for us.

They told us the slip was 18 wide. I docked her stern in while Russ guided me as I backed in. He'd already taken the antennae and radar mount down, not knowing the height of the slip. We got this down to a science now.

Every dawn makes me sing that Cat Stevens song:
Morning has broken, like the first morning...
It wasn't until we were about half way in that Russ said, "No, this is a 17 foot wide." Once docked and secured he concluded 17' 4". Not the smallest we've docked in (Gulfport wins that on with 16' 6") but still noteworthy. I got her in just fine but I kept one eye on our washer/dryer vent which just squeaked past the roof supports by a hair.

Every now and again we have these no drama victories. Feels good!

Passed the island on the left, turn left, 
wander around the marina, spin and in!


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Sugar Bay to Paris Landing, marin

The heat is still upon us. After 2 days on anchor we decided to head to a marina. We've been fine in the heat and humidity -- the upgrades are working well -- but we plugging the boat all night to not worry about managing our batteries sounded nice. Russ is still investigating what's needed to do the last piece of the autogen install, the part that automatically starts the generator once the batteries get low. Once that is done we an just run the AC all night long. Sure, we'll be startled awake at 3 am when the generator starts, but we'll be cool and comfy!

About a 4 hour day today. Hot, but other wise a great trip. The water was much browner than when we came up six weeks or so ago. Lots of logs in the water too making piloting a little more dicey. Both of which are results from the massive floods they had in Tennessee. 17 inches of rain, all starting to make it's way here. 

Morning through the new awning.
Behind us were friends from our loop, The Lower Place. They were returning from a trip to Nashville. Robin and Charlie called us asking if we'd seen the horse. Horse? Apparently a casualty from the flood. I'm kinda thankful we didn't see it. 

Paris Landing is known for the diesel prices being decent. We pulled in, pumped out, fueled up, and snagged a slip. We did brave the heat to go eat as Carmelita's, just a 15 minute walk from here. Otherwise, we hid indoors.

Grumpy pug in her new life vest.
Sometimes there is no pleasing that dog.


Pisgah Bay to Sugar Bay, anchor

Short yet fun ride today. We purposely chose our anchorage last night because it was tucked by a western edge. Given the heat, that would give us a little more shade due to an earlier sundown from the trees. We wanted something similar today.

We went to a bay south of Sugar Bay, but couldn't find exactly the right place. So we traveled back to Sugar Bay. First we checked out the area nearest the boat ramp, but it wasn't quite right. We crossed the bay to s smaller inlet on the other side. It's perfect.

While there's not a boat ramp here during the heat of the day we walked the dog on a rocky beach nearby. It was close and it was already in the shade. Lizzie, being a pug, has a hard time with hot and humid. This worked well.

Tender run to walk a dog. Lovely little bay.
I forgot to mention another project Russ worked on while in GTB. He installed sonic hull cleaners, called Hull Shield. A number of boaters we know have done this with really good results. In Longboat Key we are plagued with these worm things that attach themselves to the hull and running gear. Typically we have to have a diver scrape them off about once a month, but if the water is at all warm, it's every 2 weeks. Apparently, the sonic emitters put out vibrations such things find offensive. I'm looking forward to seeing how well they work. 

Got the whole day in this time. Lots of "nope, let's go over there!" 


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Grand Rivers to Pisgah Bay, anchor

Despite the heat advisory in affect we thought, after spending 9 days in a marina, we'd anchor out a couple of nights. Kentucky Lake is really pretty and we really didn't want to rush travel down it. Between the new batteries and all Russ's electrical upgrades, we stayed cool all day. 

We traveled about a hour to Pisgah Bay. Several years ago when we RV-ed we stayed on this same bay while visiting the Land Between the Lakes. From our campsite we saw boats anchored on the bay, wondering what that life was like. Just fast-forward about 5 years...


Off this bay is an old quarry before the lake was made.
As a result, high cliff walls are "decorated" by visitors.
I'm sure on the weekends there is lots of swimming and diving.

Not just hot out but humid. As a result the lows in the evening aren't that low. This will continue for another couple of days.

We got inQuest a new shade cover in front.
It's a Shibumi. Smaller and better than the 
umbrella. Altho it only comes in those silly colors.
The overall play is to take our time a bit. We have an appointment in Huntsville where Russ's son will join us for a spell. So we have a bit of time to kill. Besides, with the massive flooding they experienced in Tennessee last week all that detritus is making its way down river. We'd like to avoid that too if we could.

Btw, the new chair is AWESOME.

And for those curious about Russ's tech upgrades, while in Green Turtle Bay he had a new switch delivered as well as a digital panel for autogenning our generator. 

The switch he installed to easily turn the batteries on and off. Prior he had to disconnect cables, which itself wasn't a thing, but reconnecting them made a spark, which he wasn't wild about. Now it's just a switch on and off.

Our generator is now getting a lot of use. But it is mechanical. We have to turn on a little heater for a few seconds (more if it's cold) then push and hold a switch to start the thing. After a few minutes, letting the motor warm up, we flip the power so it charges the batteries. Low tech. Russ is a high tech guy. He installed an electrical panel to fix this. I can affirm it works so far -- not only can he turn the generator on and off at the panel but today it auto-started when the batteries got to around 40%. The last step in the conversion process is to have the power turn on a couple minutes after the generator starts and off a couple of minutes before it turns off.

I told Russ if we stop doing the boat thing we need to live near a working marina. He should become a boater handyman.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Little River to Grand Rivers, marina

Short day. We weren't trying to get here so quickly but between the current and some packages waiting for us at the marina (more later) we thought we'd expedite the trip. Moreover, we'll get a little more time on Kentucky Lake next week, which should be better anchoring (judging by the anchoring we did there a couple months ago).

At the Little River they put us in what they called a "house boat" slip. There was a house boat next to us. It was about our width but twice our length. Docking in the slip was like a small river cruise all its own.

Backing out. The slips is at least 80 feet long.
And note the size of the house boat next door.
Cloudy day again, but no rain nor wind. We got docked, stern in, by 11:30 am. First thing we did was pick up our new captain's chair!

About 3 weeks ago we realized the chair wasn't working properly. The seat back wouldn't secure, so if you leaned back it would go back. After a quick investigation Russ discovered one of the supports was broken. So, the search for a new chair went from a "want to have" to a "need to have." Someone had mentioned LleBroc, and their website has nifty stuff. As we traveled we pointed and clicked on the website and ordered a new chair.

At Green Turtle Bay, and there's actually a 
green turtle!
Here's what's odd. These are not cheap chairs. They aren't the most expensive, either, but they are pretty pricey. If I owned that company, and we got a totally out-of-the-blue order from anyone, I'd have my people contact them and say, "We're thrilled you've chosen us! We'd like to ensure you're getting exactly what you want" and spend 10 minutes with that costumer.

That did not happen. Thankfully they did send an invoice with a "look this over and make sure it's right" note. It wasn't. I called them, and then we worked it out. Frankly, I'm astounded it worked out as well as it did. At one point I was on my hands and knees measuring the diameter of our post.

The prison we passed on the lake. 
The inmates got an awesome view.
The second little issue was shipping. I told them we were underway and they needed to contact me for a shipping address when the chair was ready. They called on the phone to get the address. They sent a follow-up invoice that it would be shipped on Aug 15. Then we got another note saying it had been delivered. Aug 13.

When you want something quickly it never happens. This was so fast we didn't even give Green Turtle Bay (the marina we shipped it to) a heads up it was coming. Thankfully, they received it and put it in the garage with the attitude "someone will come looking for it." It was waiting for us when we got here.

The third issue was, again, not a cheap chair. It was in a huge box and wrapped in sheets of Styrofoam. No bubble wrap, no support Styrofoam pieces. In fact, the chair had lots of space to move back and forth in the box, and it did. The box, while wrapped in cellophane, was nearly falling apart once we took possession.

Ta Da! The new chair. Flip up arms and
bolster. Looking forward to giving it a try.
So, I dunno. Looks awesome, feels awesome. We're looking forward to using it next week when we get underway. I'm hoping the chair itself is better made than the company is run.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Clarksville to Little River, marina

The last time we were on Little River we were at anchor. This time we're at the Lake Barkley Marina. Largely out of frustration.

We planned on anchoring tonight. We tried to get into 2 anchorages but, due to depths (lack of them) we couldn't do it. On our second attempt a local happened to be fishing nearby. He mentioned that the lake is down over a foot. Looks like more than that to us judging by the banks and tree lines.

Lake Barkley is a flooded river bed, as I mentioned before. The surrounding areas weren't hilly but rather low-lying areas with pocket-ponds here and there. As a result you're floating over the land that separated the original river from those ponds. If the lake is lower, just not much clearance. Moreover, if we could get in and they further lower the lake, we wouldn't get out.

Cloudy all day with spits of rain here and there.
In checking the weather it looked like more storms were likely, too. And I'm grouchy today. Thus the marina.

I do want to say that we remain really impressed with the Clarksville marina. The docks are nice and solid, everything is clean, it's surrounded by a nice park area, and has a wonderful walking path to some eateries. This time we chose Mexican. It was weird (they served us our tortillas with french fries) but quite tasty.

The Taco Salad I ordered. It looks like a taco!
It was really good too.
In the plus column of the day, we're officially out of the "cone zone" for Fred. And we're north, in Kentucky. Hopefully that means a little cooler for a while.



Saturday, August 14, 2021

Nashville to Clarksville, marina

A little longer day but very nice. We had the current with us, so it felt fast. Getting off the town dock was fine. By the end of Friday night that small dock was full. The only spot left open was the one in front of us, and we didn't park there because the power stanchion was broken.

We had 1 lock to get through, which was reasonably well -- only a small wait for the doors to open. The day was more of a race with the weather. Storms were predicted for the afternoon. You can see the clouds darken on the left (vid below) as we neared the marina. In fact, just as we were docking the winds came up and screwed up our attempt. As a result, the boat wobbled a bit and we had to reset.

Fort Nashboro, named after General Francis Nash
who fought in the Revolution.
Had a great day in Nashville. We took a really long walk up and over Capitol Hill and down to the Farmer's Market. Just beyond that is a wonderful park and a bell carillon, with 50 towers houseing 95 bells (one for each of Tennessee's counties) and plays wonderful tunes on the hour.

They certainly embraced their title, Music City. Everywhere you go, even in the morning, live music can be heard coming from various venues, and that goes on all day. Even the pedal-powered bars, both the driving and boating kind, have music playing. It is quite a little town.

Total Lock Count: 52

From the bell carillion looking toward the capitol.

Downtown, bustling by 10 am.

Near our docks looking downtown.
This artwork reminds me of a bad roller coaster.

I call this shot "The Heron."
While almost always alone, the blue heron is everywhere!

The General Jackson, a stern-paddler that comes up from Opryland.
Sadly, the video isn't nearly as impressive as it is to see it go by.

Almost our entire day, save for when we left the dock. 
Our camera records 1 frame per second. A tow or two was passed,
but the sky and clouds are fun to watch.





Thursday, August 12, 2021

Gallatin to Nashville, city dock

We only had 1 lock and, given it was Thursday, we didn't hustle and get out right away. We managed to get underway by 8 am, so we didn't dawdle either. 

And, yet...

Wouldn't you know it, there was exactly 1 tow underway and he beat us to the lock.

While we were about 5 miles from the lock, way too early for us to hail him, we heard a tow do so. Coming up. We, of course, want to go down. When we got within a decent range of the lock they told us the wait was going to about 3 hours.

Much of the lake is cottage country.
Makes it tough to walk a dog while on anchor.
Originally we thought we'd anchor but Russ read the description of the area which read "flooded timber". He was more concerned about snagging the anchor on a tree, so we opted to tie off onto one of the cells.

We have a vid of this. Had to try a couple of times but we got the boat to drift away from the cell, hanging on a couple of lines. Then, we waited.

Going up to and setting on one of the cells. Really not meant for "pleasure crafts."

Even the doors took forever to open.
The reason this would take so long is this was a very small lock. So the tow needed to broken up, the barges sent up first and parked out of the chamber, which was sent back down to get the tow boat itself. Then it was all reconnected and off they went. Took only 2 hours, not 3. So that was a pleasant surprise.

The lock, however, is a drag. IT TAKES SO LONG. It's a long drop, 60 feet, so gonna be longer, but I swear they used a garden hose to empty the thing.

By the marina. You can see piles of algae, even
though they have a fountain (left) to help.
On the plus side, once we were let out we zipped down the Cumberland with an 11 knot current. So that made up time. Got in around 4, just in time for dinner.

inQuest at the docks from the pedestrian bridge.

Even at high speed that lock takes a LONG time. Then a nice ride
all the way to the General Jackson in front of Opryland.



Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Saunders Branch to Gallatin, marina

Traveling from east to west, now.
Weeks ago the plan was to hang out in these parts for a week or so, exploring the nooks and crannies of the Old Hickory Lake. At that time we were stalling for 1) some packages to arrive in Gallatin and 2) hoping to get together with my folks in Nashville for a few days. My folks cancelled with my urging them to do so; Covid (part 2) raising it's head made me nervous for them to do any traveling. Moreover, the weather is being unkind -- crazy hot, and crazier humidity -- and that makes us not want to do anything. No kayaking, no tender rides. It's just too hot and sticky. And (to future explorers) there's a kind of algae that has the smell of bug spray, like OFF! and this place has it. You can even see clumps of algae around. That makes swimming, the only hot-day activity available to us, right out of the question.

We decided to turn around and start heading back down river. The original final destination (Old Lock 6 wall) was about 3 hours away and we planned on turning around after that anyway, but if we're just going to hide indoors to avoid the heat, we may as well do that where it's easier to walk a dog. So. Marina bound.

"Take me back to my boat on the river..."
An old and lesser-known Styx song.
Anchor came up fine and the trip to Gallatin was a short one, only a couple of hours. 

Gallatin Marina is pretty big. It's also full of boats. So I'm prefacing the commentary with "it's clear they don't have to deal with transients a lot" given it looks like a popular local place.

However.

Russ made reservations yesterday. They didn't give us docking details at that time, which isn't uncommon. 

The instructions: Call when you get here. Dandy. Just 10 minutes from their door we did... and they didn't seem to know what to do or where we should go.

When we take the dog in the tender she must
wear a life vest. She doesn't swim well anymore.
The instructions: Go to the fuel dock and talk to Bob (not his real name). So... no radio to talk to Bob with? Nope. We head to the dock. At a distance, with Russ on the bow, the two of them yell at each other (to be heard, not in anger) about where to go. 

The instructions: We'll meet you at Dock A. Still no slip number. Now, we've done this once or twice, so we're fairly comfortable about navigating around marina piers and fairways, or even just docking ourselves. But usually marinas have markings somewhere so you know where to, say, look for Dock A. At the fuel dock, 3 guys (Bob included) pile into a golf cart and -- I kid you not -- we watched where they were going to know where we were going. No small challenge given all the docks are covered, so they disappeared into the darkness.

Just as we passed the last pier (which had a big open spot on the t-head, so I was thinking "Surely, that's where we're going") Russ believes the cart stopped about half way down the pier. We turned to head that way. I moved inQuest slowly since the depths were disappearing. Ah, an open slip appeared with 2 of the 3 men were on one side, 1 on the other, and a 4th popped up, an older gentleman, possibly another boater.

Tender smooches. (Get it... tender?)
It's covered so first Russ dropped our antennae. Then I spun the boat and slowly backed her in. The slip was 18 feet wide, we're a 16 foot wide boat. But, I got 4 guys plus Russ there... should be a piece of cake!

Russ, from the stern, gave me instructions, which we always do since I can't see behind me well. "Move the stern a little to port." That kind of thing. He managed lines, making sure the dock guys had something to help guide me in. He asked someone, "How is she on that side?" I heard him ask the guy 3 times and got no response, at which point I stopped moving the boat because I really needed to know. Finally Russ adjusted me a bit himself and told me to keep going. He did everything! These guys largely stood there holding lines, and nothing else. Russ had to manage them, telling them where to go and what do to. Only the elderly gentleman actually helped, pushing on the side a bit to keep the boat straight. According to Russ, he had to tell them how to tie a cleat.

No damage, no real drama, just frustration. It would have been easier if we'd just been told where to go and did it ourselves. But we're docked and we'll be here for a couple of nights. Russ biked into town and got his package. Little else to do but hide inside to stay cool and, occasionally, walk a dog.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Stark Knob to Saunders Branch, anchor

While we started early-ish it didn't take long for the clouds to threaten the day. Weather apps warned of t-storms, right around the time we would get to our original destination. We decided to make is a shorter day and move along tomorrow instead.

As a result, the drive was pretty easy. A bit of rain every now and again dampened the decks, but no downpours. We set anchor, had lunch, took naps... and still no storms.

I count 8 deer.

The air ishot and humid, and clouds come and go. A pop-up storm is certainly not out of the question.

We passed the anchorage, thinking we'd tough it out, then turned around
and ducked back in. I'm a sucker for the lure of a nap.


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Nearly Nashville to Stark Knob, anchor

Since they were closing a section of the Cumberland for the race we made sure we were well clear of the city early in the day. We passed the city dock on our way. I'm certainly looking forward to spending a couple of days there. Nice location to downtown.

Along the river front is "old town" of Nashville,
the the new town towering behind it.
We passed a tow on our way to the one and only lock today. Sadly, this lockmaster was busier with mostly local traffic -- everyone with a boat was enjoying the warm day and locking is fun! (Not to those of us who do it a lot, but there you go). A small boat was locking down so we tied to the wall and waited a bit before our go. After we crested, the doors opened with several boats in the way, all in a rush to get into the lock without waiting for us to get out. Russ tried to educate them on lock etiquette. Oddly, they didn't appear grateful for the enlightenment.

Someone put a plan on the hillside.

We've seen a couple of these. It's a funicular system
designed for a boat. Get's the boat well out of the way of floods.
Notice the track on the right that lead all the way down.

Once on Old Hickory Lake with the Sunday crowds, we sussed out a couple of anchorages. The first was just jammed with boats. We explored a bit, then bagged. We could have stayed but we wanted to chill. They didn't look like a chill group. more like a "party hearty, Marty!" group.

So we pressed on for another 5 miles and found our current anchorage. It had a few boats but not near as many. We turned on the AC then headed below for well deserved naps.

Gonna be a hot week coming up. We hoped to anchor out most of it. We'll see how things go.

A little bit of catchup. This is from yesterday, getting into the Commodore Yacht Club.
Skinny entry, both in width and depth. We pumped out first. But I didn't want to turn inQuest
around because of the depth, so we backed our way onto the t-head.

Starting in the lock today, which goes up 60 feet. Note the 3 boats on the other side,
all in a hurry to get into the lock. Also notice how many boats are zipping around
us as we find an anchorage for the day.


Total lock count: 50