Tennessee River Cruise 2006

The Tennessee River is one of the most popular side trips taken by cruisers on America’s Great Loop. This blog was recorded by Bob and Mavis as they set out from Kenlake Marina on September 18, 2006 to cruise the 650 mile length of the Tennessee River at Knoxville, TN. 

Click here to start at the beginning.

Day 36 Pebble Isle to Kenlake Marina

Raising a sunken river barge

Another cold day with ice and frost on the boat and docks. However, the sun was out and with the heat on it was beautiful cruising. We filled up with diesel and pumped out the holding tank for the winter before leaving Pebble Isle Marina around 9:15. Today we saw many more migrating birds resting on the river. One group looked like White Pelicans and another Snow Geese. At mile 49 a barge was being raised from the bottom about 50 feet down. It sank in the channel just before we left in September. Divers have to go down to attach cables and then the four cranes raise it to the surface. It’s a major operation. After the barge raising it was just 6 miles to our home port. Our son Andrew is driving up to take us back to Nashville. All in all we had a fun and successful trip with 2100 photos taken and 1200 miles covered.

Day 35 Clifton to Pebble Isle Marina

Cruising on the Tennessee

It was cold overnight. The docks had ice on them this morning with a dock temperature of 29 even though the water a few inches below was 58. Mavis had fun sliding down the ramp after a trip up to see if there was fog on the river. There was a little fog but nothing to hold us back and we were underway at 7:45 arriving at Pebble Isle at 2:30pm. We sighted a large flock of Snow Geese at the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge just north of I40. This was the busiest day for boats on the river we have seen so far. A lot of boats heading south including the one in the photo. It is from Illinois and is named “Crew’s Boat”. We also passed about 4 tows which was unusual. At the marina we walked 1/2 mile over to the Johnsville State Historic Area. This was the scene of a major battle in the civil war where for the first time ever the Confederate calvary under Nathan Bedford Forrest  beat the Union Navy and sank several gun boats.  It seems that under a previous state governor the park was to be closed to save money and all the relics in the museum were moved to Nashville. The new governor said no to the plan to close but now they can’t find where the relics were stored. The museum is open only by appointment but we peeked in the windows and it was empty except for a cannon and a few pictures on the wall. This is our last night aboard and we celebrated with dinner at the marina restaurant. Tomorrow we have 54 miles downstream to Kenlake.

Day 34 Aqua Yacht Harbor to Clifton, TN

Clifton Home

The weather has turned cold and a north wind was blowing at 15-20 mph throughout the trip. As we left Yellow Creek and joined the Tennessee a large tow, “Melvin King” was heading for the Pickwick lock. This can be bad news as commercial boats get priority. However, 6 miles from the lock Melvin King notified the lockmaster that he was coming down and that there was a pleasure boat ahead of him. The lockmaster said he would take us first and for the first time on the trip the lock was open when we arrived. The river was busy today with cruisers heading south. We arrived at Clifton at 1:50pm. We drove the courtesy car into town to the grocery. On the way I took the photo of the interesting home that overlooks the river from a hill a couple of blocks away.

Day 33 Joe Wheeler State Park to Aqua Yacht Harbor, MS

Late Arrival at Aqua Marina

We left at 7:15am with 5 other boats for the lock at Wheeler and then the Wilson Lock. Wilson was badly damaged a few months ago and is being rebuilt. As a result only the auxiliary lock is being used. It can only accomodate one barge at a time and has a double lift so it can take a whole day to get a single tow through. We were through Wheeler by 8:00am and then had a 2 hour cruise to Wilson. One of the boats called at 9:00am and was told it would be noon before we could start down. It was 12:45 before we entered the lock. By then we had 7 boats. There were only 3 bollards that worked so we had to raft up to 3 boats deep in the lock with 4 across beside us. Finally at 1:41 we were out. We wanted to get to Aqua Yacht Harbor to pick up our propeller we had left to be fixed on the way up. The GPS said we would get there at 6:45. Sunset was at 6:12 so we would be arriving in the dark. We made it as planned (see photo) along with several other boats that were heading for their slips. Aqua arranged for some live-aboards to help us in and take on 210 gallons of diesel. The first diesel since Lenoir City. Tomorrow we head for Clifton through the last lock of the trip at Pickwick Dam.

Day 32 Huntsville AL

Bridge at Ditto Landing Marina

The weather was cold but the bus was warm that took us to Huntsville. We toured the Space Museum (looking pretty tired after all these years), the Botanical Garden, enjoyed a lunch concert (violin, harmonica & guitar), drove around downtown and the historic district, went to the art gallery, and had a party at Ditto Landing with local boaters and politicians. It turns out that a couple we met on a boat tied up behind us at Chattanooga was just elected to the state legislature. It was a long day from 7:40am to 9:15pm, but lots of fun. The rendezvous is now over. Today’s photo was taken of the bridge at Ditto Landing. A racing shell is practicing on the river.

Day 31 Joe Wheeler State Park

It poured rain almost all day today, canceling the dingy race, and much of the boat open houses. This morning we heard a talk on cruising to the Bahamas by Skipper Bob, and then we learned about cruising the canals in France. I spent an hour on another 36 ft Grand Banks, “Room With A View” (4th boat from the right) It is like ours, in beautiful condition,  but built 18 boats earlier in 1981. It was interesting to see the differences that Grand Banks made in the design in such a short time. The main difference is in the forward cabin which is larger in our boat, but we have a shorter forward deck. They have one central A/C unit we have 3 smaller units. Tonight was the final banquet with awards. Tomorrow we are taking a bus tour of Huntsville and then on Saturday we head downstream at 7:30am with 5 other boats

Day 30 Joe Wheeler State Park

1 We awoke to thick fog. The morning was devoted to talks on crossing the Gulf of Mexico and cruising around Florida. Lack of marina facilities for transient boaters is the major issue in Florida as many marinas are being converted to private docks at condominiums. In the afternoon I toured several boats the most interesting being the Great Harbors. There are 3 here so they are becoming very popular as a good boat for doing the Great Loop (see boat on left in photo). Tonight there was a talent show with some great music by Eva and Ron Stob on the hammered dulcimer and guitar.

Day 29 Joe Wheeler State Park

The Inn at Joe Wheeler State Park

It rained just about all night and this morning it was foggy and dismal. The conference opened with all the people currently doing the loop introducing themselves and talking about how they were doing the loop and some of the things they have seen and done. Many gave advice to those that were thinking about doing the loop. Next there was a talk on cruising the Tennessee to Knoxville and the Tenn-Tom to Mobile AL. This afternoon it cleared up and we held open house on the Katy Leigh and then toured several other boats. This is a great way to see what new gadgets people have bought and how they have decorated their boats. We will get a chance to see more boats tomorrow. The photo shows the hotel which is behind our dock.

Day 28 Joe Wheeler State Park

Duthie Learning Booth at AGLCA Rendezvous

This was the first official day of the rendezvous. The weather was terrible with rain and wind all day, but since all events were inside it was not a problem. I spent all morning demonstrating our CD-ROM program “What to Expect Cruising America’s Great Loop” to attendees as they lined up to register and buy stuff. Sales were brisk and Eva Stob had to reorder more CDs 3 times. I shared a table with Irving Martin from Harbor Master Boats (see photo). It was great to hear comments from people that had bought it before. One man has been through all 6 hours of the program three times. Several people were buying second copies to give to relatives so they wouldn’t have to take pictures. Another couple is unable to finish the loop and wants to see the part they missed. At 1:00PM I demonstrated the program to about 100 people in a group. A speaker from Minneapolis presented his plan to build floating condominiums on 4 connected self powered barges that will cruise the river system. The project is being funded with pre-sales and is very well thought out. It will be interesting to see how it goes. A third speaker spoke on bio-diesel which seems to have great advantages especially in how it will clean out all the sludge in your fuel tanks the first time you use it. It also has no diesel smell with even as little as 5% bio-diesel (made from soy beans) mixed with petroleum diesel.

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