NIAGARA TO NASHVILLE
2083.4 Miles of 2083.4
2171.5 Gallons of Diesel
14 Locks of 14
2083.4 Miles of 2083.4
2171.5 Gallons of Diesel
14 Locks of 14
We are in Tennessee. Now what? There has to be more but that will have to wait for now.
We have cruised over 2000 miles to get to Tennessee it is without a doubt that we have boating in our blood. Aiden has learned more about nature, history, family, self initiation and so many other things. We feel very fortunate to have been able to do this trip. I miss my kids at home, Amy and Steve, and I miss our dog, Newton. Mitchel, who I barely got to see while here in Canada. My friends, my ladies, and you know who you are, I miss you all so much. Lunch, dinners and nights out have to be planned when I get home. No excuses.
Thank you to my mom and Pat who without you two we would have taken a much more difficult path to get out of Little Current after hitting the rock and then getting back. We appreciate the sacrifice you two made to help us out in little time and took so much of your time to get us underway again.
Amy and Mitchel who have taken such great care of our baby, Newton. We miss him so much but know that he is well taken care of.
Steve who always comes through with anything we need at the house and office. Thanks for holding down the fort with all those tasks that were needed.
And again, all of you who took the time to read and follow our journey. This journey is truly a boater’s dream . Wth the knowledge that you are reading this crazy personal journal makes it so much more.
Life is a journey! Stay calm and journey on!!
Leaving Nashville we are now set to move to our final spot. We have to lock up Old Hickory Lock and travel about 30 miles or so to get there. It’s a nice quiet drive passing only a couple barges. There are tons of fishermen which causes us to slow and reduce our wake. Homes are up on bluffs with long staircases coming down to their boats. There are a lot of pontoon style boats, fishing boats and run abouts on the Cumberland. We can see the water level that spring brings on the mud lined rockface. Boats have lifts that lift them up. Some are up about 50 or more feet from the water’s edge to beat the spring flooding.
The river is narrow but again, the barges and their tows have to get through. Stay on the channel and use your charts and you’re good.
Making our way to Old Hickory Lock where we wait until the lockmaster drains the lock for us. It’s a good wait as this is a 57 foot high lock. There are fisherman just waiting below the lock doors for their perfect catch. As the lock doors open we head in and tie to a bollard. The bollard floats up with us again and makes this lock super easy. It’s a bit cool today. Only 85 and little sun so locking is pleasant compared to some I’ve done.
We are only about 1/2 mile away from Anchor High Marina when we leave the dock. We head over for a top up of diesel and it is apparent that they have been waiting for us. The attendant says “You’re the ones we have been hearing about”. We talk a bit and head over to our slip. This is super sweet. A covered metal slip in a condo style boating experience. I want this to take home. What a great idea to have these boats covered. The drawback here is that your power is on a meter. Just like a house. No one uses their air conditioner unless they need it.
After lunch we decide that we would like to take a dip in Old Hickory Lake. We are shown a couple places to go and drop Low Voltage and dingy over. Again Old Hickory Lake was formed when the locks were made so the lake is not entirely open for boating. You must follow the old river bed that winds through the lake. We find Wedding Cove and Skinny Dip Bay to be perfect. Tons of boats are in Skinny Dip Bay with waist high water so smaller boats are anchored here with the larger boats off to the one side all rafted together. It’s a big party. We anchor in the dingy and have a quick swim. The storm that was forecasted starts to roll in. We start the 15 minute trip back and stop in Wedding Cove. There are a couple boats there getting ready to leave. Turns out one of them is a fellow Scott knows from work. So we talk a bit and then we all head for cover at our marinas on the lake.
This marks the end of our journey.
Today marks the last night of our journey. Leaving Harpeth Island with only about 40 miles left to go it is bittersweet. I know we will all miss the calm and serenity of these little anchor spots. The adventure will continue but in a different way as Conductance will sit in her marina slip for approximately one year. But before that happens we will visit Nashville, TN. There is a 500 ft city dock available for dockage. It is by reservation but in our opinion not run well. I called the number several days ago for the reservation and asked to make one and was politely told that I was not guaranteed a spot even if I made a reservation. The transients and how they park their boats determines how many boats are on the dock. There is no harbourmaster and no one is watching the dock. So we decide to go and see what is up as this makes no sense whatsoever.
Anyway while we travel to Nashville we pass very narrow areas of the river. It had been dug out by hand in solid rock from when they first decided to connect this river for commerce. Barges and their tows make their way this way so it must be wide enough for those big puppies. We didn’t pass one barge and tow on this portion of the narrow winding river. I’m certain it would have been fine…tight, but fine. The scenery is still beautiful with the trees and stone on both banks. Farm land is here too in the low areas of the Nashville Basin, as it’s called. We must travel a portion of this river for 10 miles that as a crow flies is only 1 mile. The river winds and turns so much that the boater must takes the long way.
We get closer to Nashville and now can see the AT & T building. It is referred to as the Batman Building. You’ll see why in the pics. The dock has power and water and only one boat on it. As we get settled we can see a storm brewing in the sky. We got Conductance all set up with power and water and started to talk about this reservation thing as we had lunch. The fellow on the phone said we had to leave as the entire dock was full. One boat and it is full. Apparently they are all on their way. So we talk with the other boater. She said that she has been coming here for decades and has never seen this dock full in any of the years. Hmmmm. So we decide to take a walk into the city and see the sites and pop back to the boat to see what is going on. Apparently Tim McGraw is playing at the Bridgestone Arena. The city streets are bustling with people everywhere. Walkers, bikes, and bikes with several people riding on them and a bartender serving drinks with a sober driver at the front of the cart driving. The drinkers pedal to keep the cart moving. Lots of fun and singing going on. Next girls trip has to be here. There are horse drawn buggies, bike rentals, golf cart rentals, a train to get you around to the different sites, busses. Any means that you need is available. Bars are also abundant. The party never stops and it is only 1:00 pm. It’s also raining but rain here in the south lasts about 10 minutes and it’s done.
We took the time to stop at a convenience store as we are all out of beer and bread. Two essentials on a hot day. We also head over to the State Building which Nashville is the State’s Capitol. It is a beautiful stop with history and architectural style. The museum is there as well and built in the same era as the Capitol building. We saw Coyote Ugly Bar, the 3 storey, fully packed and famous Honky Tonk Bar. We walked by the Ryman Building which was the original Grand Ole Opry where Elvis and many others performed. The Johnny Cash museum and so many more. Too much to see in just one afternoon and evening.
We did end up staying on the dock with 2 boats for the evening. A far cry from the 500 ft full dock that we were told. Both of those boats did not expect to be there either. One was broke down with engine trouble and the other boat was the mechanic’s boat. Not sure how this place runs but they really should take a lesson from the little town of North Tonawanda, NY.
Scott took some shots of the city at night. Aiden was exhausted and headed to bed. Tomorrow we travel to our home for the next year where Conductance will have some maintenance done and a good thorough cleaning.
We left the hidden gem of Hickman Creek, at Fort Donelson, to go to Harpeth Island to stay on the hook once again. This is our favourite way of boating. To stay on the hook for several nights and see so much nature, history or whatever the destination has to offer us makes boating.
We travelled down the Cumberland River to Cheatham Lock. It was a slow lock to fill and took about a half hour to lock through. Darn it’s hot here. Sitting on the bow waiting to lock up with a lifejacket on just makes the job so much more difficult. I always come back on the boat and down a water and take off the T shirt that is now soaked.
After Cheatham Lock we find mile 153 on the Cumberland River and enter to our starboard down a narrow area of about 25 feet deep to an open pool of water 7 feet deep. There we anchor. It’s a busy place with several day tripper boaters passing through to go further up this small alcove to beautiful rock bluffs.
We drop Low Voltage and take her up the river further. It’s so peaceful with those 300 foot rock bluffs towering on one side and low lying farm land on the other. The boaters here consider this one of the most beautiful anchor spots available on the Cumberland River. We pass a campground and also pass under a bridge. The water runs slowly so there is debris but nothing the dingy can’t handle. This little river runs a long way so we turn around after about a half hour and slowly make our way back to Conductance.
It’s a comfortably hot afternoon. The sounds of locusts is deafening as it has been everytime we stop here in the the warmer south. We are now only about 40 miles from Nashville. We meet a wakeboard boat and chat them up for awhile. The young fellas just started wakeboarding about 3 months ago. So of course I had to let them know about Scott’s history with boarding. As a past Provincial Champion (yes, I’m proud of him for that accomplishment) he answers all their questions and gives them some tips. They were a lot of fun.
We stay up long enough to hear the sounds of the day enter into the sounds of the night with frogs croaking and locusts going to sleep. The stars are not as bright tonight being so much closer to Nashville and more light pollution. We did have a stunning sunset and shortly after that we head to bed for a good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow is NASHVILLE!!!
I ran into town with the courtesy van to get groceries. Scott got caught up on work related issues. Aiden slept. By the time I got back the last load of laundry was done and now we get ready to shove off to go anchor in a small bay.
Along the Cumberland River we see an old castle style building. After reviewing its history it turns out to be a penitentiary. It stands so statuesque on the hillside. We see osprey nests, more blue herons and tons of remnants of what this river must have looked like prior to the flooding after the locks were made. The bluffs and cliffs along this tiny old river must have been a sight. Now most of them are underwater but still hold a view all to their own.
At mile 87.7 on the Cumberland there is a small charted “bay” to anchor in. We travel from mile 31 at Green Turtle to 87.7 on the river and realize all the structure under Barkclay Lake. Submerged bridges, roads, you name it. When they made the locks to control the Cumberland they just flooded the areas without much thought. The original Cumberland was a small riverbed and that is the channel that us boaters must follow even though “the lake” looks like you can cross it any which way. On the zigzaging journey you will see, just outside the channel, birds sitting on land just below the surface, trees growing on islands in the middle of nowhere. Then you have to pass a barge.
Arriving at our destination we are met with a small opening in the river to where the depth are supposed to be 7 feet at pool. We go in slowly. Following the channel in we are met with a beautiful “bay” and Fort Donalson. Fort Donelson was the stronghold of the Confederates during the civil war that the Union, under the direction of Ulysses Grant, took over and changed the war. It was this very spot that 13,000 Confederates gave up the fort to a 2 ships and a very large Union army coming in from land. It changed the civit war as the Cumberland River was the strenght of the south. Now in Union hands they were able to take Nashville and continue south until the war ended. History is everywhere in this little area.
The boys went on a hike to investigate the history while I slept off a headache. After dropping in the dingy they went to the fort and walked the trail that many Union and Confederate troops did. The history of the United States of America was made here. As Canadians we don’t know much about the history but we do know of a civil war. What a great experience for Aiden to live!
This bay did not disappoint for the evening as well. Frogs and locust sounds, fish jumping and a gorgeous night sky with Nashville’s hue of lights in the distance. Stunning and quiet.
We got off early again today expecting a bit of delay at the 2 locks on the Ohio River plus the addition of the construction of a new lock that will replace the old 2 locks in 2020. We hear the wickets are down at both locks which if you recall is a lock where at the side of the lock there is a wall that lowers in high water to allow flow. We are currently in high water. Leaving Angelo’s Towhead where we were joined by two other boats, one going south and one north, we leave the other south bounder anchored and leave with the north bounder. The sun is barely up.
We are off the Mississippi River now. Turning into the Ohio River we are met with several tows and docked barges waiting. The river is now a dirty brown instead of the disgusting brown of the Mississippi. It changed colour instantly. For the next several miles we pass another hub of barge industry. Moving south to the new construction lock we are met with a construction accident that will close the river down for several hours. We are allowed to pass through as they set up. They have a procedure where one boat, or tow and barge can go through single file, in only one direction at a time, for about 3 miles with an assigned tow to escort you through. Only us and one other boat get through before it is shut down for 9-10 hours today to clean up the accident. We feel like we won the lottery. In fact we hear on the radio the other south bound boat we were in Angelo’s with last night ask to pass. They were told to find a comfortable spot and it would be late afternoon before they could pass. Of course they wouldn’t be the priority when it was open.
At Lock #53 the barge is putting up the wickets. The lockmaster had to call the big guys to find out if we could pass. It was about a 10 minute wait. We were told that some wickets have been put up and some are only half up. We are instructed to talk with the working barge captain to find out where we can get through. A bit hair raising. Current, half up wickets and trusting the guys on the barge to know exactly where we are to pass through in a small opening at a no wake speed as well. We made it! That saved us several hours because it was probably that or have to wait until the procedure for opening the lock for the first time after several months of closure is done.
What’s that in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s Superman!!!! Everyone knows Superman was from Metropolis. We pass Metropolis with its casino boat and that would be the highlight in this little town. No big introduction to the “Big Guy in the sky”. Not even an acknowledgement about Superman.
The Ohio River is busy with tows and barges all the way. We make it to the entrance of the Cumberland River. The Ohio River weaves through and around to the entrance even though it looks like you can go straight across. Very shallow everywhere so must stay in this weaving pattern in the channel on the sailing line. It is about 10 feet deep in several spots on our depth gauge.
At the confluence of the Cumberland and Ohio the water changes colour again. There is a mix of a greenish hue and a light brown that weaves through promising us clearer waters on the Cumberland. The Cumberland is narrow from what we have been used to on this trip. It meanders around and seems to really go nowhere fast. It is starting to look beautiful again. The green trees, blue skies and greenish hue of the water is welcoming after so many days of the brown. There are rock formations, sand grooved by rushing flood waters and industry…..and more tows and barges. It’s a tight squeeze to pass these big guys carrying 10 barges or so in such restricted space. Scott does it like a pro, as always.
Moving through the Cumberland our next stop before civilization is a lock. Barkley Lock and Dam. 57 feet lift. She’s a big one. We tie off to a moving bollard that goes up with us that makes the big lift easy. It takes awhile. I’m on the bow in a lifejacket sweating in 90+ degrees in full sun. By the time we are done locking up my shirt is completely soaked. That shower is going to feel good tonight.
Green Turtle Marina Resort & Spa lives up to its name. Carrie and Melissa at the office are super friendly and help us with all our needs. There are 2 outdoor pools, 1 indoor, a spa, a fitness centre, our fuel, laundry, showers, even a courtesy car. It has condos to rent if you want off your boat and so much more. Turtles, turtles, everywhere turtles. The turtles here will eat out of your hand.
After we gas up and needing only a half tank, we get our favourite number 5 slip. Always a coincidence. The number 5 follows Scott around all the time and this is just one more of those times. Of course the pool was a must, laundry and dinner. Aiden found 6 tree frogs on board over the last couple days. He can finally let them go on land. Of course before that happened he had to learn the “sound” of a green and grey tree frog. Understand their habitat and be sure they would have a good start in their new home of Kentucky. We checked….they have them here too.
Coming from Angelo’s to Green Turtle is a long 10 hour day even though if you choose you can get up on plane on the Cumberland and parts of the Ohio. The Cumberland Towhead looks like a great anchorage but we really wanted to gain a day and pushed onto Green Turtle.
We are up and out just as dawn rises. We are ready to travel the 100 miles to get to an anchor spot called Angelo’s Towhead. As we leave the confluence of the Kaskaskia River and the Mississippi River a couple huge asian carps jump. One made it into the boat. Scott was at the helm and I was on the bow getting prepared to leave. Aiden was sleeping and missed it all. This fish was flopping around the back of the boat but in the seat areas. Blood and fish goo everywhere. Scott pushed it out of the boat. I had to clean up but the boat will smell like fish until I can clean it properly. We are on water rations so cleaning it up must be quick and use limited water. It’s gross to say the least.
As we continue upstream we realize that since we have been on the lock wall the river has receded. I’d say a couple feet lower. We can at least see the tops of the wingdams now. We are down a mile per hour on our current push so that will not only add to gas consumption but also time. We have also found a couple stowaways too. Tree frogs! We have to get them off before we stop or they will simply climb back on. I have been using one of the zapper fly swatters to kill spiders. Works fantastic! Every boat should have one just for this purpose.
During the morning we see 3 deer crossing but they turned back being a bit freaked out by the boat. We tried to let them go in front but they turned back instead. So we watched them climb to the side they started on and move on.
Winds are calm and the sun is hot. It’s going to be tough to stay cool today. We made it to Angelo’s Towhead by 3:00. A good 9 ½ hour day behind us. The cove to anchor is quite deep at 40 feet. You have to head in to about 20 feet to drop the anchor. Not much wake protection but a bit less current here. Too strong to take Low Voltage down though. We decide our route for tomorrow, have dinner and teach Aiden poker. He catches on quickly and beats us several times. Bed early to start another 9 hour day.
The rain started while we were watching the movie. A scamper to be sure everything is in order for the big storms starts. Tarps are on, windows and vents closed, and checking of the lines. We’re good.
After midnight the big storm comes to life. Everywhere around us is thunder, lightening and rain. No winds. Straight down rain. The lightening show never disappoints but the duration is a problem for those of us wanting to move on. The next stop is our only stop and it is in a diversion canal. The diversion canal directs all the water from storms into this canal from the city of Cape Girardeau, MI. A little rain isn’t a problem but a big storm will cause 8 mile an hour current, debris and literally a wall of water from the drainage. This storm has put a damper on our spirits. We head back to bed and will check weather in the morning.
After our storm passes the morning is damp but dry. Nothing like receiving a flood warning on your phone. Emergency procedures, etc. We’re good as we sit on a floating cement lock weir. Our hopes that Cape Girardeau got shielded by a southwest wind was quickly diminished when we look at the data. They received over an inch of rain. Not knowing how big or how much rain this canal can take before it gets bad makes us stay again. I wish we had the ability to know this info. I’m writing to Cape Girardeau after this trip. Even a town dock of sorts would be a nice opportunity to stop for travelling. The diversion canal is 70 miles away and the next anchorage is almost 90. There are a couple others but Scott doesn’t like the looks of them on the charts. Too much possible shoaling. At 10-12 miles an hour on the Mississippi going 70 miles will take several hours and adding to that cuts it close to nightfall. Going fast is out of the question due to needed diesel preservation and debris hitting potential. So we go back to bed as it is only 5 AM.
So I try to clean the boat. Aiden finishes up his DaVinci clock that he received from his birthday. He also repairs a cabin light in his room. Scott looks at stops on the Cumberland River. Our last river and the books we have don’t cover it. So he studies the charts for available stops. Lunch is approaching but the guys are too wrapped up in repairing a blown speaker on our TV that we use for movies. It happened last year so Scott bought the speakers to replace and has never found the time.
It’s a hot one too. Little sun through the clouds but this far south you never get a reprieve even during storms. It’s just a movie night but with the 15 amp service we are able to run one air conditioner to beat the heat at night. The voltage drops a bit so we use a fan to move the air around using our smaller air conditioner.
Sitting here on the wall of the Jerry F. Costello (formerly Kaskaskia Lock) lock we decide that we have to stay another day. It sounds like it would be a day off but it really is disappointing to not move. We have to move to keep the pace needed and weather is one thing that can and will stop you in your tracks. We watch a thunderstorm and heavy clouds pass to the north but nothing here. Thunder showers expected tonight but we’ll have to see what happens.
At the lock we are pleased to find power. 15 amp power just outside our door. Why were we not told? So this little lock that people pass by to put in 100 miles in one day sits here with everything you need, except water at your doorstep. But there is water available. No need to run the gen now. There is enough to charge the batteries and then later run a bit of air to beat this 95 degree temperature.
We spend the day on land taking the dingy to shore. We walk the Confluence Trail to the mouth of where the Mississippi River and Kaskaskia River meet. An outdoor classroom is there. It was under the water with the past floods so the sand is mucky and the muck is muckier. We watch Aiden play in the debris. Perhaps I should say I watch Scott and Aiden play in the mud. Food for though….Mississippi mud pie ice cream really does look like Mississippi mud. It whips like cream and the little oreo cookies that is put in the ice cream is a look alike for the chunks. The entire area has been under water for over a month so much of the vegetation has died. The grass is trying to start up again and the workers are trying to get the mud off the paved paths. They will get it all done just in time for the next year’s flood by the looks of it. We grabbed our hose and nozzle and headed over to the well. The pump there has a connection for a hose so we not only get cooled off but take a shower in our bathing suits. We really must look like hillbillies standing there in our suits, taking a shower and rinsing with a hose and nozzle. It was kind of fun. I’m sure the folk here are wondering about us Canadians. Remember we are still in conservation mode with water and diesel on the boat so taking a shower on the boat is out of the question.
We head back to the boat for dinner and a movie hoping that the predicted thunderstorms pass by.