Midway Marina, Fulton, MS to Columbus Marina, Columbus, MS — October 30, 2013

Another early day today because we had 4 locks today and had no idea if there would be a delay.  I suspected that once we were locked thru the rest of the locks would know we were coming and could try and be ready for us.

I started the genny and pulled the power cord with Lenore still in bed. I was hoping that she could get a little more rest because she did not feel good yesterday.  We left the dock today with Lenore still down below but she came up on deck within about 10 minutes.  She was feeling better and the starting of the genny had been enough to wake her.

We were at the first lock in about 15 minutes.  There were 4 boats and they fit us in after they let out an upbound tow and taking the lock back down for another tow.  We were fortunate and by 8:10 we had the 1st lock behind us.

The sun was out for a short time this morning and the temps were relatively mild. The color on the river is really starting to come out and the sun shows it well.  When we got further south you could tell that there was not as much color.

We were able get thru the other locks pretty much driving right in and being locked thru.  The last lock held the doors open for another boat that had been at Midway last night and was running on plane.  He had been able to catch up.  The normal courtesy is
to exit a lock in the order that you entered. When they opened the lock doors this “fast” boater exited with the first boat.  I asked on the radio if I had missed something and he asked to go first. Another boater said no and said that it is common courtesy to exit in
the order you enter.  Mr. Fast said he was going to go fast and thought it would be better to exit first.  We told him he should have asked the other boaters.  He was kind of at a loss for words but finally came back and said he was sorry.

There was a lot of floating debris in the waterway.  Some was just plants that had been uprooted but there were also some logs.  The lead boat, Bella Sea Casa, did a good job of alerting the other 3 of what he passed and where it was so we could avoid it.

After getting tied up at Columbus Marina it was good to see a lot of boats we have not seen since Kentucky at Green Turtle Bay. We had traveled with some of them on the Illinois and Mississippi and it was good to talk to them again.

We were going to go into town for dinner with Humbug but Lenore was not feeling good so we stayed on board.  The marina was putting on a pulled pork BBQ for the boaters so I went over and brought a couple of plates back.  The food was very good and it worked out that we did not have to cook a meal on board.

The Weatherman is predicting some rain and possible thunderstorms for tomorrow so we will be in Columbus for a couple of days.  The next stop after this one is an anchorage and I do not want to be there in the rain. Once was enough.

Grand Harbor Marina, Counce, TN to Midway Marina, Fulton, MS — October 29, 2013

We got an early start because we had 3 locks to go thru today.  The weather started out in the high 50’s and the temps went into the 80’s once the sun came out. The first lock was about 3 ½ hours away so we had a pretty long cruise to get there.

We called the lock from about 4 mile away and were told that they were doing maintenance and it could be anywhere from 1 ½ hours to 4 hours before we could lock thru.  We just idled up to the lock and tied up to the lock wall. It was almost 4 hours before the lockmaster came on and said they were ready.  They had to fill the lock to get it ready for us.  We had a total of 7 boats in the lock that had come from the Tennessee River area.

One of the boats in the lock was a Pilothouse Trawler style named Passage.  It is a custom made boat that was in the slip next to us a Grand Harbor. Nice boat with a lot of room inside. Also a very well taken care of boat.

After locking thru we asked the lockmaster if he would inform the other locks we were going thru today and he said he would let them know and they would probably be ready for us. It worked great for the next 2 locks. They had the doors open and we were able to go right in.  We needed to pace ourselves because they waited for all 7 boats and the one sailboat was the slowest.

The scenery along the way was not much for the first part because we went thru a 25 mile are called the divide that was totally dug by the Army Corp when they connected the Tennessee River with the Tombigbee River.  Once past the divide we were in Bay Springs Lake which had some very nice fall color coming in but still quite a ways to go.

With the delay we got out of the last lock at about 5:30 and we still had 4 miles to go.  Dusk was setting in but the dock master was great at Midway Marina. He probably has done this before and he was able to get 5 boats in and tied up in about 15 minutes.  The other 2 boats anchored out for the night.

Midway is exposed to the Tenn-Tom but it did not matter last night because there was no traffic that set up any wake.  It was pretty peaceful for sleeping.  Lenore had a touch of a cold so we ate on board and she was able to rest.

Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, Alabama to Grand Harbor Marina, Counce, TN — October 27, 2013

This morning was pleasantly comfortable being 20 degrees warmer than yesterday morning, 51 degrees. The sky was mostly cloudy with a couple of breaks and there was no wind to speak of.

We started to get ready to leave and I noticed that the sailboat with the skull and cross bones flag had left and was on its way to the lock.  We had passed the sailboat yesterday and he came in a couple of hours after us.

I mentioned this to Pete (Humbug) and he called the lock and found out that they were clear at the moment and if we got started they would wait for us.  Needless to say we hustled and got off the dock within 5 minutes. We did catch the sailboat before it got to the lock so we all just drove right in.

The sailboat travels probably at about 6 mph and with the current with us we were making 10.5+ mph. The 3 boats left the Joe Wheeler Lock together and it was about 17 miles to the Wilson Lock.  We never did see the sailboat again as we were able to drive right into the Wilson Lock and the drop was about 76’ and they did that in about 10 minutes or so.  The locking was really quick.

After leaving the Wilson Lock there are some really large houses that sit on the south side of the river high on a bluff, probably 50’ above the water.  They have a great view but the area across the river is in Florence Alabama and is a trailer park.  Some of the units in the trailer park were the big, expensive motor home as used by traveling music entertainers that cost upwards of a million dollars.

It was Sunday afternoon and the river traffic was not heavy but very consistent. We only saw one tow and that was half way between the Wilson Lock and Grand Harbor at probably one of the widest parts of the river.  In this area the river is called Pickwick Lake because it was formed by the Pickwick Lock. A lot of bass boats were on the water setting up roostertails as they speed from spot to spot.

As we approached Grand Harbor I checked the weather radar on the internet because the sky was looking a little darker.  The rain was not too far away but it held off until we were fueled and tied up in the slip. The rain only lasted about an hour and it was just a light rain.

Grand Harbor is located in Mississippi but its mailing address is Tennessee.  As you start to drive out of the parking lot you enter Tennessee.  A little bit of a strange setup.

We are here for a few days so I am hoping to catch up on the blog.  I have written all the text at the end of each day but I need to organize the pictures so I am ready to upload everything.  Thanks to everyone for being patient on waiting for the new blog entries. The only trouble was that the internet connection was painfully slow and took several minutes for each picture to upload.

Ditto Landing Marina, Huntsville, AL to Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, Alabama — October 26, 2013

Today was a cold morning with temperature at 31 degrees.  There was steam off the water with frost on the canvas and dock.  I used a pair of lock gloves for my morning walk with Candy to keep my hands warmer.

The river was quiet with only a few bass fishermen out.  A couple were launching their boat at Ditto Landing just about the time we were leaving, 8:30. They were going fishing.

We did have to wait a short while for the railroad bridge in Decatur Alabama but it was only about 10 minutes.  There were tows along the side of the river and there was one active tug moving barges around for specific shipments.  We could hear the chatter on the radio.

The tow captain even acknowledged a sailboat on the river that had its mast down and was flying a skull and cross bones flag.  At first he was not sure what he was looking
at and then it got closer.  He and his friend had a good chuckle about that.  The sailboat was not moving real fast and we passed him about a mile or so past the barges.

While the day started sunny by about noon it was mostly cloudy.  We did not have any rain and it was kind of nice to get off the river early. We arrived at Joe Wheeler State Park at about 2:00.  A lot different view coming into the harbor then when the rendezvous was on, there were only 2 boats at the transient dockage.  The rendezvous had 60 boats.

The sailboat with the skull and cross bones flag came into the marina about 1 1/2 hours after we had come in so he was traveling really slow.  He is towing a small Boston Whaler behind the sailboat.

We had a relaxing afternoon doing laundry and picking up around the boat.  Somehow that never gets done when you are underway. There is always something to do on the boat.

Dinner was at the restaurant in the Joe Wheeler Lodge.  They had a buffet but we decided to order off the menu.  The menu was a “Limited” menu because of the buffet.  Even though it was limited we were able to order a couple of items that we had previously seen on the full menu (good waiter).

Goose Pond Marina, Scottsboro, AL to Ditto Landing Marina, Huntsville, AL — October 25, 2013

It was a cold, crisp, morning with a temperature of 33 degrees. There was a breeze this morning so the wind chill was a factor.  Tough to keep both hands warm when you are walking the dog carrying a cup of coffee.

We did not leave until 8:30 this morning because today should be a relatively short day with one lock and the current in our favor. The wind was out of the northeast and there were times it was blowing in the cockpit because it was behind us.

We had 1 lock today, Guntersville. We were not quite as lucky as yesterday.  We called the lock from 4 miles out and he said he was dropping a tow and should have the lock ready in about 40 minutes.  Right after we called there was more radio talk from a group of boaters going upstream and they were below the lock.  The lockmaster had them enter the lock when the tow was clear. The delay was about 20 minutes so it was not too bad.  There were 3 houseboats, one small Ranger Tug and a 33’ Nordic Tug.

The guy on the Ranger Tug sounded (on the VHF radio) like he needed to be on oxygen. His voice was raspy and strained but it did not stop him from talking to the lock and his fellow boaters.  We never got a glimpse of him.

The stone walls and bluffs really looked good in the sunshine between the lock and Ditto Landing. There were several of the rock outcroppings with a lot of color variation along the wall.

Overall today we made good time and it was an easy day.  We did meet a few other Loopers at Ditto Landing but no Docktails tonight.  We had a nice dinner on board with Humbug.  Carolyn has an oven and baked a pear dessert that everyone but her liked.

Lots of good walking area with an adjoining park by the marina.  Ditto Landing is really on the outskirts of Huntsville Alabama so we did not take the time to try and get into town.

Aquarium Dock, Chattanooga, TN to Goose Pond Marina, Scottsboro, AL– October 24, 2013

We left Chattanooga at 8:00 eastern time.  The sky was overcast and the temps were in
the mid 40’s.  Some wind blowing but that is really not an issue on river travel. We did get some nice photos of the Chattanooga riverfront as we were departing.

Chattanooga was fun. They have a saltwater aquarium and a fresh water aquarium and we visited both.  There was a lot of walking as the exhibits start on the 4th floor and you walk your way down on ramps thru the various floor levels going from exhibit to exhibit.  We even saw some Macaw Parrots, a butterfly room and a screech owl. The turtles were interesting in that there were so many different types.  Several hands on exhibits were available including one with stingrays.

We also went to see an IMAX movie.  The movie was about the construction off the
trans Canada railroad.  It was started back in the 1850’s and it showed how some bad decisions were made on the route and what it really cost in terms of life and effort for those building the railroad.  The movie was really good with great visual effects and sounds.

We got the boost in boat speed on the river that we had hoped for.  For most of the morning we were able to run at 11.1 mph and made great time.  There were a few boats on the river but they were fishermen. We made great time to the Nickajack Lock just was west of Hales Bar Landing.  2 Pleasure craft were coming out of the lock as we approached and there no waiting, we drove right in.

The day did warm up some and we had mostly sunny skies so it just felt better because the day looked good. We did gain an hour when we went back into the Central Time Zone.  We had left Candy on Central Time because it was a short couple of days we were back in the Eastern Time Zone.

We arrived at Goose Pond Marina a little after 3:00.  This gave us time for some laundry, grocery shopping and going out to the local restaurant for dinner.  The marina itself did look different when we arrived because there were no boats at the transient dock and we had our choice of where to tie up. We did see one of the boats that had been in Chattanooga the first night we were there.  They are on their way home to Decatur Alabama, just a short ride for them.

The restaurant was not as crowded as last Saturday and the noise level was not quite as bad.  The acoustics in the place are terrible so when there are a lot of people there is
a lot of noise.

Hales Bar Marina, Guild, TN to Aquarium Dock, Chattanooga, TN — October 21, 2013

Well it was 39 degrees this morning with a lot of river fog. The pictures show what the marina looked like this morning with the fog.

Also took some pictures of the resort cottages on the outside of the marina.  These are floating cottages that were pretty well rented out.  Truly a house on the water.

We waited for the fog to burn off and left around 9:30 this morning.  You can see the sun had come out and it warmed quickly.  According to the weatherman today will be the last day in the 70’s for at least a week or more.

The scenery along the river was spectacular today.  Going thru the river gorge with the mountains on both sides was great.  For the most part the mountains are covered with trees and they almost look like a carpet.  On top of the Raccoon Mountain is a water reservoir.  No way to see it but they will pump water out of the river and into the reservoir and use the water to generate electricity during peak usage periods.  The mountain is over 1100 feet above the river.

We also ran into a lot of current as we approached Chattanooga.  At one point I saw about 4.3 mph current as the difference between the water under the boat and the ground speed on the GPS.  This will be really nice when we head back downriver from Chattanooga.

There were a lot of homes/cottages/rental places along the river.  We also saw docks on the side of the river with a wood deck patio and a stair up to a parking area. The owner must live close enough that they just use it for day recreation on the river.

The river is deep with most of the areas in the 30′ to 40′ area but there was a section that the depths were 70′ to 80′ and the guide book said not to be surprised if we saw 115′ depth.  It went on to explain that this particular area was an ancient earthquake fault line.

The river for the most part is anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile wide for this section.  There are a couple of areas with islands and the channel splits at the island but we have been following the main channel all the way.

There are 9 Looper boats here at the Aquarium Dock tonight and the dock is full.  2 of the boats are not current Loopers but have done the Loop previously.  We had docktails tonight and it was a great time to get to know the people a little better. We did a mini docktails last night at Hales Bar with 4 boats in the marina.

We will probably go to the Aquariums tomorrow.  There are 2 aquariums, one is salt water and the other is fresh water.  There is also an Imax theater that I would like to go to.  It will be a busy day.  We are here for 3 nights.

I also included a couple of photos of Champ III on the Tennessee River.  These kind of photos are hard to get and we thank Kat In The Hatt, Katherine for the photos.

Goose Pond Marina, Scottsboro, AL Hales Bar Marina, Guild, TN — October 20, 2013

It was very chilly this morning with the temps in the high 40’s.  Lots of water fog this morning.  We had planned on leaving at 8:00 but we waited for the sun to burn off the fog and we left about 45 minutes later.

The fog did not stop the bass fishermen. Candy and I were out at 6:00 this morning and they were lined up at the launch ramp across the street waiting to launch.  There were 6 trucks in line with their bass boats when I counted them with another one in the ramp and another putting the empty trailer in the lot.  They were all over the place when we left the marina.

We had 7 boats scattered along the river today.  Journey left first as they were one of the slower boats.  Cat In The Hat anchored out last night about 6 or 7 miles further up the river so they had a good jump on the rest of us.

The Nickajack Lock was approximately 45 miles up the river and the marina was about another 7 miles past the lock.  We were pretty fortunate with no tow traffic on the river today.  It worked out well at the lock. We had 4 boats go thru in the first lock and they were followed by the slower boats about 1 1/2 hours later in the 2nd locking.

There was not a lot of wind today so the water was relatively smooth.  The only other boats on the river were the bass boats. That certainly is the boat of choice down here and must really generate a lot of sales for the bass boat companies.

We passed a couple of power plants.  One of them was a nuclear plant that was started in the early 1970’s but never completed.  With the environmentalists it will probably never be completed. It was easy to identify because the cooling towers were constructed and they have the strobe lights on top.

Once we re-entered Tennessee with had a nice view of the Cumberland Plateau.  This area of the Plateau is about 1000′ high. We have a couple of pictures of the Cumberland Plateau.

The locking at the Nickajack Lock was pretty uneventful.  The turbulence from the water filling the lock was not bad and we are tied to the floating bollards a little different now.

Some of the boats were anchoring out tonight after the lock but we still ended up with 5 boats in the Hales Bar Marina. The marina was pretty good about getting a slip assignment to the boats before they got to the harbor but the problem was that most of the slips had other boats in them.  There was no help in docking and it was almost like the guy on the radio did not believe there was a boat in the slip when it was reported back to him. They appeared to have no concept which slips were full and which were empty. Only one boat ended up where they were assigned.

This week is supposed to be cool during the day, 60’s and cold at night, 30’s and 40’s.  Hope the weatherman is wrong.

Ditto Landing Marina, Huntsville, AL to Goose Pond Marina, Scottsboro, AL — October 19, 2013

We had some rain overnight but by dawn the rain was mainly to the east of us.  It was cool in the low 50’s.  We had coordinated the departure time with the other boats headed to Chattanooga because we had a lock to go thru 15 miles from the marina.

The other boats were all Loopers that had come in yesterday from Joe Wheeler and
because of circumstance we will be travelling as a flotilla.  The 2 slower boats left about ½ hour before the other 4 boats.

The timing was pretty good at the Guntersville Lock with all the boats within approximately 1 mile front to back when we arrived at the lock.  One of the boats had called the lock when they were about 4 miles away to get a status and the lockmaster said they do not give out status reports and to call back when they arrive at the lock.  Sounded like a pretty “friendly” guy.  At the lock he was not much better with his answers pretty short and his volume was pretty low so he was difficult to hear.  Anyway we made it thru without any problems and the lock was ready when we arrived.

Pretty large lake right after the lock and the wind was up out of the southwest.  There were quite a few sailboats out on the water and the chart showed that there was a sailing club on the south shore.  The lake extended for about 12 miles past the lock.

After about 11:00 the sun was mainly out and the day seemed a lot nicer with the sun shining . The scenery was pretty good with the sun and clouds casting shadows on the Cumberland Plateau Mountains as we passed thru the valley between the mountains.  Still not a lot of color but there is a little. We are hoping that there will be more next week on the trip back but a local at Ditto Landing didn’t think a week would make much difference.

Along the way we were 3rd in the flotilla and a call came over the radio that someone had lost a ball fender, blue over white.  It was our fender and the knot that was holding it, pulled thru the top hole. We went back and were able to get it out of the water.  By the time we retrieved it we were last in line about a mile behind the other boats. Boy am I glad we got the call because we would not have known otherwise and the fender is about $200.

The Goose Pond Marina has a restaurant and we are going to have a Looper dinner with 16 people attending tonight.

Joe Wheeler State Park Marina, Rogersville, Alabama to Ditto Landing Marina, Huntsville, AL — October 18, 2013

It is a cold morning today, 45 degrees and clear skies.  We are at the Joe Wheeler State Park Marina in Alabama.  The Looper Fall Rendezvous ended last night and general departure is today.  There was a lot of steam/fog coming off the water this morning and you should have seen the loopers leaving about 8:00.  You could see them moving in and out of the fog banks as they headed for the river.  I am not sure how they were going to navigate in that except by radar and you need to be pretty darn good at that.

We left about 9:15 headed up river toward Chattanooga.  The fog for the most part had cleared and the day was partly sunny. We are travelling with Humbug again.  This is the first time since Pentwater, Michigan.

No locks today and we are going to Ditto Landing in Huntsville Alabama.  It is just past the Redstone Armory on the Tennessee River. We first past Decatur Alabama and had to wait for a railroad bridge in the downtown area. The river is wide and the first part was pretty deep by river standards.  In the Decatur area the channel is marked and the guide says not to stray from the channel.  After Decatur we traveled thru the Tennessee
River Wildlife Refuge.  This was about 15 miles long and no homes or other structures, all nature.

As we approached Redstone we got into NASA country.  This is where the space program was headed for a long time and was a real mainstay of the Huntsville community.  They diversified enough that the reduction in the space program has not hurt Huntsville as much as it once could have.  Also on the approach to Huntsville we could see some mountains not to far away and they are part of the Cumberland Plateau
that extends from Kentucky thru Tennessee and into northern Alabama.

We did pass a few tows going the other was on the river but not a lot of traffic.  Quite a few bass fishermen on the water for the whole 56 miles we were on the water today.  We actually travelled in a group of about 4 boats from Joe Wheeler to Ditto Landing and there were 2 loopers that were here already when we arrived because they started in the 1st pack today.  Everyone is headed for Chattanooga. We had a chance to have docktails with the other loopers today and it was nice until the sun went down and it started to cool off. We had a nice dinner on Humbug and got caught up with Pete
and Carolyn on what we each have been doing since Pentwater.  We will probably be travelling with them for a while now, maybe all the way to Carrabelle, FL. and maybe beyond.