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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.


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.

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