Dec 312016

Howdy Y’all. We’ve made it to Alabama. Today was a day of locks, 5 locks. All went well and a special thanks to Dillan at Glover Lock for pushing us through just before an oncoming barge. They didn’t have to wait but he could have made us wait. It would have set us back so a very welcome thank you to Glover Lock.

Not much to report on this day where 5 locks down the Tenn-Tom was in order so that we could make our NYE stop at Demopolis, AL. The day was bright and sunny with little wind. Warm temps have been a nice reprieve for us during the nights and days. We still sport the best Lock attire with parkas and other winter staples. The sun makes it so much more inviting.

The Tenn Tom offers an interesting view when traveling south. It has the canal section which was built by the backs of men, the divide section which is the connection between the river and the canal and, of course, the river section. It is its own entity with beauty and tranquility. Very shallow for most of the way. You can see the stumps left after the locks were in place which creates a welcome but beware if anchoring sight. Fishermen were sparse but hard to see those that were there dressed in their camo. It must be hunting season as well as we see several boats pulled to shore with no one onboard.

Entering into Pirates Marina Cove is a bit hairy. It’s narrow and shallow but the marina is a rustic beauty after being in those locks and traveling 87 miles and 6.5 hours. The marina is rather rustic with the operator living in the 2nd trailer. Old T bird cars, trucks, and relics spatter across the open area. The main store and restrooms are a trailer but its great. We have a place to stop. The marina will be undergoing major renovations with new 8 ad 10 ft docks, new power and upgrades. The docks are being made now so Loopers will have a new home to stop to on their way to Demopolis, AL.

We had a walk to the Bevill Lock Museum where the Montgomery Snag boat has been retired. The boat was the last steam snag boat used on the rivers here in the south. Since the Tenn-Tom has only been opened since the 80’s she was the last steamer to clear all those possible “snags” that hindered navigation for both pleasure and commercial barges. She sits at the museum with a replica 1860 home with antiques of that era.

Scott bypassed the relay for the heater so now the heat works better than it has since forever. Tomorrow we tackle 2 locks to make it to Demopolis for New Year’s Eve. I wonder what they do in small town southern USA for such a special night?

 Posted by at 12:55 AM
Dec 302016

Normally we don’t like marinas.  It’s usually us out there for days on the hook enjoying nature.  What’s happened is its cold.  Way to cold.  So marinas offer everything and entertainment and meeting new people.  It’s been different but having to not run the gen constantly is a welcome advantage.

Today we passed through 4 locks.  The Pickwick, Whitton, Montgomery and the Rankin.  We called ahead to all of them to let them know we would be passing through.  They were very accommodating with only about a 15 minute wait at one and none at a couple others.  Made our long 7.5 hour day move a bit faster.  The winds picked up as we passed from The Tennessee River to the Tennessee=Tombigbee River.  Now on the Tenn-Tom the reality of new frontier awaits.  Heading down the Tenn Tom we notice that it is a summer’s dream.  Lots of cottages and spaces to swim and enjoy those summer days and nights.  It eventually continues into a man made canal section until it meanders back into a river.  The river is shallow with a max depth of around 12 -15 ft deep.  The waterway was made to allow boat traffic to come up from The Gulf and make its way with its wares to various cities along these inland rivers, all the way to Chicago.  It only opened in the 80’s and recreational boaters are very much interested in this part of the inland river system in the USA.  The marinas are saying they had more Great Loopers this year than in years past.

Passing through locks is a task that is so familiar to us but in this chill its a bit different.  Sometimes we were “rained on” by the lock, sometimes the gusty winds churned in the lock and sometimes it is just cold out at 7AM.  We try to be off the boat by no later than 2PM or earlier which is when the winds can kick up.  So now we are tucked in on the end of the dock at Midway Marina in Mississippi.   They shut the water off without telling us because it is supposed to get into the 30’s after 2 AM..  It’s 6:00PM and even after I called to ask about water they didn’t turn it on.  I now have a sink full of dinner dishes  with some water in the tank but we would have filled up more.  Wifi is terrible and guaranteed you will rock if there is any wind or wake from a tow.  So between these several issues we are not happy.

Scott is looking at the engines doing a once over and checking fluid levels.  Aiden is doing homework on the wifi.  I think it will be an early night as we try to push on as far as possible tomorrow.  Still have several locks to get through until Mobile, AL.

Isn’t this just great.  The heat pump relay just went.  Now he’s in the engine compartment rigging up something so we have heat.  Good thing we have back up with 3 marine heaters just in case.  Note to self if ever you boat in the mid south in December to bring, mitts, toques, scarves, parkas, heater back up, blankets, extension cords, slippers, and of course your sense of humour.


 Posted by at 2:17 AM
Dec 282016

We decided to take the courtesy van to the “downtown” of Grand River to visit the Christmas display put on by Patti’s Restaurant.  A million light display set out by a local that has had business here since 1880.  Beautiful lights in the 40 degree weather.

As we stopped at the grocery store to stock up the temp dropped.  The night was a chilly 32 F.  Setting up the heaters as well as the onboard air/heat which were set to full tilt kept us warm for the night.  Anyone traveling these parts needs portable heaters, toques, scarves and long johns.  It gets chilly even during the first part of the day.

We woke to 32 with frost on the entire boat, ropes and slippery decks everywhere.  We shoved off from GTB at 7:-00 AM with our sites set on Clifton Marina some 133 miles away.  Great mild winds and no locks made that trip easy.  Beautiful rock cliffs and houses on stilts set very high were interesting sites. We passed a few tow and barges but the river is so very wide that it too is easy.  The sun was shining as we ran the gen to stay warm with our extra layers of clothing.  Even with the sun the morning was cold.  The day warmed up to about 50 degrees but we didn’t notice it much until we stopped.

Clifton Marina has everything we need.  A courtesy car is available to head into town.  The main street is lit up with Christmas lights.  Restaurant, restrooms, and friendly folks who also offered covered slips for the rain coming tonight.  As we sit on the transient dock we decide to have dinner and make it a movie night.  Aiden has homework to do and he really wants to get the overwith while he has wifi.

 Posted by at 11:04 PM
Dec 282016

Leaving the amazing Clarksville Marina early this morning wasn’t too bad with the sun shining and temps in the 40’s. Every book will say that there is no marina at Clarksville. It is so new and offers the transient boater lots of amenities. Don’t miss this beautiful city as you make your way to Nashville.

We passed several barges on the sides of the river receiving their bounty. From sand, grain, coal, scrap metal and the odd combustible barges were being filled on the shores. We passed a ferry that catered to the motorist wanting to pass over The Cumberland. Fort Donelson with its canons facing west at the ready for The Union and Confederate battle that took place at the civil war are seen easily by any passing boat. The migrating egrets that were stationed on sandbars by the thousands were a gorgeous site on a sunny day.

On the shore is the maximum security state penitentiary that houses Kentucky’s worst criminals. It still uses the electric chair. The prison was constructed in the 1800’s and looks more like a castle than it does a prison.

Cruising along the river we eventually get to Barkley Lake where it widens into open spaces with several spots to anchor. We are headed to Green Turtle Bay Marina but not before we pass several fisherman in their camo boats and decoys by the hundreds. This is serious duck hunting grounds. The odd tree stands at full attention on a sand bar in the middle of no where.

Upon reaching GTB Marina we diesel up and find our slip in #5. I start laundry and the boys head off for a hike. Domestic chores have to be done so vacuuming is a must too. The boys come back excited about seeing 7 deer or reindeer. They had long tails. There is a feeder that sprays feed at exactly 7:00 AM so the deer come around at various times just to find the odd dropping from the mornings feast.

We do take a swim in the indoor pool area where Aiden tries out his new face mask, snorkel and fins. Perfect fit. Thanks Aunt Heather and Uncle Joe. we have keys to the courtesy jeep and need a few groceries. Also we’re off to see the city of Grand River and its Christmas Lights at Patti’s Restaurant where they do a million light display until January. I’m sure we’ll have pics for tomorrow’s post.

 Posted by at 12:17 AM
Dec 272016

We arrived at Anchor High Marina on Christmas Day in the late afternoon.  We needed to prep some final details including putting away all our luggage and supplies that Scott picked up before he left to come home last week.  The weather was a balmy 75 degrees F, 22 degrees C and sunny.  We spent the evening just catching up and enjoying talking about our time at the marina.  Setting a start up time for 7:00 at the lock we headed to sleep.

Waking to the sound of the alarm at 6:00 with the coffee on, we got ready to head to the first destination at Old Hickory Lock, a 65 foot drop to The Cumberland River heading west.  A quick radio call to the lock master left us with a 3 hour wait before we could lock down.  2 tows were ahead of us and locking up.  So we cleaned windows, set the course for the next few days and had another coffee.

The wind picked up to the point that there were white caps by the lock that we could see sitting at the marina.  This was going to be fun trying to lock through in those winds.  Then, of course, we get the call from the lockmaster that he will wait for us.  We shove off leaving the beautiful Anchor High Marina ,our new friends and memories, behind.  We had a great time at Old Hickory Lake this past summer.  Anyone interested in stopping by Nashville on a side trip on the Great Loop really shouldn’t miss the comraderie of the friends you will definitely meet on Old Hickory Lake.  Anchor High has transient dockage, all amenities as well as diesel and gas.  The staff are always welcoming and accommodating.

Locking through the lock was windy but not too bad in those winds.  Mainly because we did lock down which is much easier.  Entering The Cumberland River we see a couple fisherman in boats, a lot calmer winds and beautiful scenery.  We pass the Grand Ole Opry and the hotels.  The majestic General Jackson paddleboat is docked at the Opry.  This portion of the river winds and turns and really feels like you are not going very far.  The scenery is not a nice as it is when the leaves are on the trees.  We pass the City of Nashville with the batman building which announces the arrival of the city.  A unique waterfront city that has so much history in the shipping industry which has now become more a blast from the past with its hotels, bars, and of course, music.

Next stop is a diesel top up at Rock Harbour Marina.  They have a 24/7/365 gas/diesel availability with a swipe machine to use the pump at any time.  Then we’re off to Cheatham Lock on The Cumberland.  It drops approx 40 feet.  The winds had died down by now so this lock was relaxed and uneventful.  The river from here is much more serene and less commercial except for the tows and barges.  Today we only passed 3 barges and 2 rec boats.  Mostly the fishermen are out on a gorgeous day with temps in the 70’s.  The river travels more west on this stretch towards Lake Barkley.  We pass several bluffs, beautiful mansions, and several blue herons.  Our end goal is Clarksville Marina at Mile 127.  A new marina with the city within walking distance.  Full service marina with laundry, restrooms, fuel, and those city amenities.

Today we traveled from Mile 216 on the Cumberland to Mile 127 at an average speed of 21 mph.  The total trip took approx 5 hours including the 2 locks.  As I sit here writing this blog the winds have picked up, a storm has arrived with tons of rain.  Sitting here under the aluminum canopy that is everywhere for boating in Tennessee we are thankful we are not anchored.

 Posted by at 2:38 AM
Dec 152016

Times are a changing…..As we prepare to move along the path of the Great Loop “stuff” must be done.  Oil change is complete, filters and just overall maintenance has to be done and now the upgrading of the technology is a must.  One of the electronics we use, the Searay Navigator, is on its way out.  It may be the last one standing anywhere on any Searay since Scott doctored it many times.  Moving into The Gulf and ocean we feel its time to address this issue.  So we went to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show for options and settled on the Simrad and Mercury upgrade for the engines.  Hope it’s as easy an install as Scott gets ready to put that new baby in the dash.  I’ll have to post pics of the work after the install.

Continual changes with work make the start of this portion a bit of a mystery.  We are waiting for the opportunity to have a few weeks together to move.  Stay tuned.  Now that Aiden is in high school bringing him along when school is in session is out of the question.  So he will not do the complete loop.  Secretly I think he’s happy with that.

We will say goodbye to covered slips, clean fresh water, and the many friends we’ve made in the Nashville area and welcome salt water, sun and open seas.

 Posted by at 1:13 AM