Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tennessee, Little Tennessee & Tellico Rivers

We finally made our trip up the Tennessee river to Knoxville and took in the Little Tennessee and Tellico rivers as well.

My nephew Andrew and his girlfriend Holly came to Chattanooga to travel with us to Sale Creek in Chickamauga Lake.

Downtown Chattanooga was having a rowing regatta while we were there and we watched as all of the various kayaks and canoes passed us.
After we departed the docks in Chattanooga we went through Chickamauga Lock and entered Chickamauga Lake. We anchored in Sale Creek and enjoyed our time swimming and touring the area in the dinghy.Even though we carry sufficient water, there is just something about taking a bath in the lake.
We had worked out with a friend in Chattanooga to shuttle Andrew's car to Sale Creek so that we did not have to backtrack. This was a great plan and we were able to drop Andrew and Holly off.

We remained at Sale Creek and waited for friends Bo and Carmen on "Old Grumpy" to join us. They came in and rafted to us and we enjoyed our evening there.

We departed Sale Creek and headed up to Watts Bar lake and anchored again. This time we toured the area in our dinghys. When we tried to leave, I pulled the anchor and found that we had hooked a tree. This can be a very difficult situation but it turns out that the chain had just dragged under the branches and the tree fell away from the anchor.

We headed on up the river and stopped at Blue Springs marina in order to get a belt for Old Grumpy's generator. We found one that fit, made the repair and had a good pizza at a new local restaurant.

The next day we planned to meet up with two boats that were traveling the river ahead of us. RoyEl and Colonel's Lady were coming back down river and we made a plan to meet at Little Paint Rock Creek. We arrived first and dropped our anchor and rafted Old Grumpy to us. Later on RoyEl and Colonel's Lady came in. They were originally planning to raft to us as well but the wind had increased and we did not feel comfortable with 4 boats on our one anchor so they anchored separately and came over by dinghy.

We had orginally met Colonel's Lady while we were in Jacksonville. They came into the marina with an engine down and we took them into town to get supplies and then had dinner at Cracker Barrel. It was good to catch up with them again. We met RoyEl at the Great Loop Cruisers Association rendezvous last year. They are attending again this year and were cruising the river ahead of the rendezvous.

The next day we headed toward Ft. Loudoun Lock. On the way we saw an eagle that was eating a fish on the edge of the river.

At one of our anchorages, Stacy had Carmen, a former hairdresser, cut her hair and then we swam in the cool water.

We went into Ft. Loudon marina to watch the Georgia/Alabama football game and became thoroughly depressed with its outcome. Otherwise, the marina was good and we had a good meal at Calhoun's restaurant. On our way there we passed a large building that we found out is a new facility for Christiansen Yachts to build mega yachts. Reportedly, the facility is being built specifically to build Tiger Woods' new yacht. It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

We traveled on up to Knoxville and spent a couple of nights on the free docks downtown. We had gone as far as practicably possible on the navigable waters of the Tennessee River.

We specifically chose a time to arrive in Knoxville when there was not a University of Tennessee home ball game. We came to find out that the "Volunteer Navy" sets up a week in advance and one person came by to ask when we would be leaving as they needed to move a 110 foot houseboat onto the docks for the game the next week. Since we were leaving the next morning, they were happy.

There is real beauty along the river and it is obvious that the construction of the dams and locks flooded entire farms and lands. The best signs of this are the various silos visible above the water.

There is a great deal of development on the rivers and there are some unbelievable homes built along the river. One that was of specific interest to us was a house that was nestled in between two large rock bluffs.

After departing Knoxville, we headed back down the river to the Little Tennessee river at Ft. Loudoun Dam. We headed up the Little Tennessee and stopped at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. They have a free dock there and we rafted our two boats to the dock. The museum traces the history of the Cherokee and specifically of Sequoyah, who created a written version of the Cherokee lanquage.

While at the dock we took the dinghy over to the recreated Ft. Loudoun. This was a British outpost that was only used for about 4 years. The site has been studied and the buildings rebuilt. They have re-enactments here throughout the year. The views from the Little Tennessee are wonderful with the Applachian range as a backdrop.After leaving the museum dock we went just a few miles to visit with some friends Ken and Brenda Bloomfield. We met Ken and Brenda at Goose Pond marina when they were traveling through. We rafted our boats to the end of their dock and visited with them for a couple of days.

While there we took a trip on their boat up the Little Tennessee as far as you could go (about 30 miles) in a boat our size.

After we had breakfast on Old Grumpy, they left us to head back down river. They needed to be back at Goose Pond before we did so they made a bee line back.

On our way back we took all of the shortcuts that were marked. The last one was a bit tight and I wouldn't recommend it as it only saves a couple of miles but you are going so much slower that you really don't save much time.

We anchored again at Little Cedar Mountain before making our last day run back to Goose Pond and were greeted by a flock of turkeys that flew by us from one side of the cove to the other. The next morning they all flew back.

The trees are starting to change color and Stacy saw a good photo op when we had some dark clouds form a background for sunlit trees in our anchorage. The Tennessee river is just beautiful this time of year.

We will be headed to Joe Wheeler State Park next week for the Great Loop Cruisers Association rendezvous. We should enjoy more of the color change in that trip.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

J & Kendra Tingle with Ben & Charissa Hubbard

Our nephew J Tingle, his wife Kendra and friends Ben and Charissa Hubbard drove down for a quick visit from Chattanooga on Friday, August 15th. They left straight from work and we headed upstream to Jones Creek and anchored for the night. Saturday morning J and Ben jumped off the boat into the water and enjoyed a refreshing swim and a dinghy run over to a local rope swing. All four of them hiked up to the Pinnacle, a rock outcropping high above the anchorage.

From the top you can barely see SEASEA in the anchorage below. It took them far less time than it would have taken me to make the hike and they seemed to have enjoyed it.

Jones creek has a rather narrow channel coming in so J and Ben led us out in the dinghy to make sure we were clear of any hazards.

We always enjoy visits from our family and friends and even though this was a quick overnight trip, we had a good time and a good visit.

We are looking forward to the fall weather and the color change in the leaves. We still plan to make our trip up the Tennessee River to Knoxville sometime next month.

British Columbia and the Victoria "Splash"

On Tuesday, July 22nd we flew out to Vancouver, British Columbia and took a ferry over to Sidney on Vancouver Island to meet up with the friends we made while traveling the Great Loop. When we arrived, Chuck and Chris welcomed us to their boat Essi-Anna and we started traveling through the Gulf Islands. Along the way we saw quite a few seals,

a few eagles,
and we always were on the lookout for blackberries that were just coming into season.

We stopped in some great anchorages and visited beautiful quaint towns like Cowichan.
Wherever we went we found the people welcoming and the scenery beautiful. In one small town we stopped by an old inn and found the owners trying to install some fencing to keep the local deer from destroying beautiful flower gardens. We helped to set up the fence and netting in an attempt to dissuade the deer but I am sure the deer tried even after our efforts.

The flowers were abolutely beautiful this time of year and we couldn't help trying to capture the beauty of some of them. There is no way to show how beautiful this area is.

We were joined part way through the islands by our other Great Loop friends Bill and Gail on their boat JUWIKA.

As Chuck has a keen radar for bakeries, we found the Bakery Boat in the harbor and paid them a visit. A couple lives on board and they bake fresh goods every morning. We purchased pies, buns, and butter tarts just about everywhere we went.

We visited the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, a beautiful club with an incredible history.

We found parks to walk in (You don't generally see the same type playscapes in our parks in the Southeast).

And, of course, we did what most people do on boats.. we napped and read.

One of the things we, as boaters, noticed was the large tide swings in this part of the country. While we were in a marina we were noticing these flower boxes placed on the pilings along the docks. The next morning we realized that the flowers were well above us.

We had to re-orient ourselves to thinking about the tides while we were anchoring. Fortunately, this area is all deep water compared to what we are used to so it was not so much of a problem

We made our way to Victoria harbor on Friday and on the way in we were able to see the Olympic mountains very clearly.

Once in our slip we toured the town. We were here to attend the Victoria "Splash" on Sunday but first we had to see the Empress Hotel.
When we were here in 2004 we were in a slip directly in front of the hotel and I brought some tea from the hotel to Stacy on the aft deck of the boat we were on. This time, Chuck treated Chris, Stacy and I to High Tea at the Empress.

We had an absolutely wonderful time and can not be more grateful to Chuck and Chris.

On Sunday we attended church in the morning and then climbed a spiral staircase to the bell tower to watch the ringers. This was an interesting display of timing and coordination.

On Sunday evening we attended the "Splash". The Splash is a concert event by the Victoria Symphony where they pull a barge into the inner harbor in front of the Parliament building and the Empress Hotel and the symphony plays from the barge. Boaters attend by dinghy, kayak, canoe or whatever they have and landlubbers cover the grounds of the Parliament building.

The whole spirit of the evening was demonstrated by this one person that had set up his boat in the middle of the crowd and was cooking bratwurst and handing them out to anyone that wanted one. He sent two down to us and we enjoyed them in our dinghy.

The concert opened with dances featuring the local First Nations tribes. This was a special year for the Splash because the next day was the celebration of the 150th birthday of British Columbia.

At the end of the evening a group played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes and there was a fireworks display over the harbor.
The total number of people attending the event numbers somewhere around 40 thousand by many reports and it was an event we will not soon forget.

The next day Chuck and Chris had to leave to go back to Washington so we transfered over to JUWIKA and spent the next 3 days with Bill and Gail.

Monday was the BC Day celebration and it seemed that there were more people in town for that than for the splash. There were concerts all day (including Sarah McLaughlin, Burton Cummings and Feist) at the Parliament Building, the "Snowbirds" flew over and performed some aerobatic maneuvers over the harbor and there were demonstrations of 150 years of firefighting equipment.

When we left Victoria with Bill and Gail we headed over to San Juan island to see if we might be able to see the whales. I was looking for humpback whales and didn't know that we were actually looking for Orcas until we found them. We saw a pod traveling and were able to watch them for a while before they left our area.

We traveled for the next couple of days with Bill and Gail and had a great time at anchor. One evening we anchored with quite a few other boats and noticed these guys having dinner. It was innovative for sure but I certainly appreciate our aft deck after watching them.

Bill pulled up anchor and headed back to Sidney where we caught the ferry back to Vancouver for our flight out.
We had a wonderful time on our trip and would like to cruise in the Pacific Northwest again. The "Splash" was a highlight of a trip made special by good, good friends.