After we sat for a day with the rain we were ready to move. The forecast was for cloudy skies but no rain. The radar showed most of the rain to the south and east of us so it did not look to bad. Candy and I had a little mist on the first walk of the day and that pretty much told the story for the rest of the day. I think we were chasing the weather
on the Tennessee River today.
We were underway early because we had 60 miles and 2 locks. We were on our way to Joe Wheeler State Park Marina to meet up with Humbug to go to Chattanooga. Joe Wheeler is where the Looper Rendezvous is and I was afraid there might not be any slips. Today was the last day of the rendezvous and when I called this morning they said they had one slip that would fit us.
There were a lot of bass fishermen on the river today. The first 30 miles or so is still called Pickwick Lake. It is wide but as we went further east the deep part really became a channel and the rest was fairly shallow.
The development along Pickwick Lake is not a lot but there are areas of homes scattered along the shore. There are a few towns with the biggest being Florence right by the Wilson Lock. Large lock named for President Woodrow Wilson and construction started back in about 1911.
The lock is the largest on the Tennessee River and I think the lift is about 78’. The water comes in pretty fast and really moves the boat around. This was the toughest locking experience we have had so far but we made it to the top.
We went thru Wilson Lake about 15 miles to Joe Wheeler Lock. We had to wait for a tow that was in the lock. We could see the tow while we were 4 miles out so we slowed to an idle speed to use of the time. When the tow finally started to exit he was just crawling and then finally stopped as he cleared the door. The lock master came
on and told us he was tying up and we should come around him and enter the
lock. Well it looked a lot tighter than it was and we fit between him and the lock walls but there was not much room to spare.
It was a good thing Joe Wheeler State Park Marina had a slip because there are not many marinas along the way. There are a few private ones but the closest public ones to Joe Wheeler are about 10 miles before or 10 miles after.
When we arrived the dock master was there to help us in. After Labor Day the dock master’s day normally ends at 4:00. We arrived at almost 5:00 and she mentioned that the day before she was there till 6:00 waiting for a boat to arrive. Pete from Humbug was also on the dock to help us in.
The slip was about 16’ wide with no separator piles and we were next to a houseboat. The woman from the houseboat was a little nervous but taking my time and going very slowly we were able to get in without an issue. It is a good thing that there was not much wind.