Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cumberland River 9/21-9/30 - Nashville

We had already started noticing the water level increase while in Clarksville and noticed more debris coming down the river as we left.

Sally and Clarence Wall joined us in Clarksville and rode with us for two days to Nashville.  We had a great time together and I am not certain whether Sally was thinking two days or two weeks with the amount of food she brought.  They enjoyed their stay and both drove the boat while navigating debris fields.

When we got to Nashville, a boat that we met in Clarksville was already there and it seemed that there was only one spot for us to get into on the dock.  They told us that we should be able to fit in the space.  The current and debris had been building all day and Stacy had a somewhat tricky maneuver to get into the space.  She was able to do it with no problem but there was only about 4 feet in front and behind.  This may seem like a decent amount but not when you have current and debris to contend with.  Oh, and did I mention that we were docking next to a bridge piller that had to be negotiated with it's turbulence in the current.

Clarence & Sally left to head back to Chattanooga and we walked into town.  We walked over to the Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry was housed for many years and checked out all of the small honky-tonks in the immediate area.  Almost everything is in a few block area and most had no covers and live music.  Everyone who wants to make it in Country music tries to get noticed playing in one of these honky-tonks.  We stopped in Tootsies to listen for a few minutes and did notice that there was at least one VIP in the room.  We don't know who he is but he was with a couple at the next table.  He had a rather large bodyguard standing just behind him that would not let anyone get too close.  If anyone knows who the man in the white hat is let us know.

Tootsies is right behind the Ryman and we were told stories from some of the locals that the alley between them is famous.  There is a back door to Tootsies and this is where some of the stars that were performing at the Ryman would come to have drinks at Tootsies.  Apparently Johnny Cash was famous for it and the alley is also supposed to be where the Everly Brothers were discovered.

We didn't stay out very late and decided to do most of our exploring the next day.

Friday night it poured rain all night and on Saturday it rained a good part of the day.  Mostly it was off and on but enough to keep you from wanting to do much walking around.  I had not been feeling very well so we decided to stay at the boat for a while especially since we were expecting some other boats to come in.  The current in the river and the debris increased enormously.  There was a continuous stream of debris and the currents were estimated to be about 5 mph. 

By Sunday I realized that I was getting a major head cold/flu.  I did basically nothing all day and Stacy caught up on her reading.  We noticed that the 120 foot houseboat was prepping to leave and watched them get underway in the current.  The Tennessee Titans stadium is just on the other side of the river from us and they had come down for the game the week before.  They had not gone more than about a mile before they had trouble.  It seems that the engine strainers immediately plugged up from all the debris in the water and the engines had overheated.  Along with that both the bow and stern thrusters were jammed with debris.  Luckily the owner's Father-In-Law (a self proclaimed river rat who had run boats on the rivers most of his life) was on board.  He talked the owner through the difficult maneuver to get the boat back to the dock and they were able to get back with no apparent major damage.

I rested most of the day and we decided to try to go to a recommended place in town that evening.  The Station Inn has a bluegrass jam session on Sunday evenings and you never know who will come by to play.  We had to walk about 15 blocks to get there and when we arrived there were musicians all gathered around and playing.  Some of these musicians were quite good and it was obvious that some just enjoyed playing.

As I seemed to be getting worse by the minute, we left early and headed back to the boat.  I did not get a good night's sleep..again.. and we decided to not try to move the boat yet.  On Monday night they have a group of some of the best "session" players come in and it is a can't miss. Of course we did miss it with my fighting this cold/swine flu or whatever it is.

On Monday Stacy did laundry and I fell asleep just looking at email. 

I located a Walgreens online that was actually nearby and walked over on Tuesday morning to get additional medications.  We had decided to just stay on the dock here since there were no other boats coming up river due to the currents.  I had posted a message to the AGLCA board about the river stage and currents and was asked to keep that updated so that decisions could be made about coming upstream.  The one that we thought would come in finally gave up and turned around. 

This morning we awoke to the fire boat docked in front of us going out.  It seems that someone had jumped off the bridge back behind us.  They brought him back in and he seemed to be ok.  There are a number of homeless in this area and the police say that sometimes they are not jumping but rather just fall off the bridges.

Our plan is to leave here tomorrow morning and head further up river through the next lock.  The water levels have fallen all day and the current seems to be more manageable (only double what they were when we came in) and I think I have turned the corner on this cold.  The "river rat" that we met on the houseboat put us in contact with his marina where we have made arrangements to stay for a few day prior to the arrival of our next guests.  This marina, which is not listed in any of the guidebooks, is actually much closer to the airport so it will not be as difficult to pick up guests and he said he would help us out getting to the grocery store to reprovision. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cumberland River 9/14 - 9/20

We left Kuttawa and headed for Lake Barkley State Park where we tied up to their day use dock in front of the lodge.  This is normally used only for day use for boaters wishing to eat in the lodge dining room.  We did eat there and we were able to stay on the dock for two nights.  This time of year is apparently very slow so they did not mind us overnighting on the dock.  There is no power or water available so there is no cost to the lodge.

While there we looked at the hiking trails, tried out heavy equipment and watched the local wildlife hunting along the riprap wall.

We left Barkley State Park and headed towards Dover.  We wanted to get into a creek very close to Ft. Donelson but the water was already dropped to winter pool and the entrances were too shallow.  We moved on up about 3 miles and anchored behind Dover island.  We took a chance on the rain and dinghied back to the city of Dover and Ft. Donelson. 

Ft. Donelson was a Confederate fort during the Civil War that protected the Cumberland river access to Clarksville and Nashville.  It was lost to U.S. Grant early in the war and was a major blow to the Confederacy but made General Grant a household name.

Batteries along the Cumberland

Ft. Donelson National Cemetary (Civil War as well as all other wars)

Inside typical log hut for troops stationed at the fort.

Hotel where surrender was negotiated

While we were walking around in Dover I spotted a barber shop and stopped in for a long overdue haircut.  I highly recommend this shop.

While traveling up the river we have seen various animals; some of which we are actually able to get a photo.

Deer grazing in the new growth since the water was dropped.

Rare white pelicans congregating on a small piece of exposed land.

From Dover island we have moved on up to Clarksville.  The city provides a free dock with power.  We will wait here until Wednesday when we have guests arriving to make the trip to Nashville.  While here we have found a Harbor Freight Tools store to browse and we were able to watch the University of Georgia football game Saturday night at a local establishment.

We have two other boats here with us that we met when we were visiting Green Turtle Bay marina (Barefoot Shoes and Potest Fieri).  They have been traveling together somewhat and one was headed up river and the other down and ended up on the dock here with us. 

On Sunday we attended a local church here in town that was established in 1828.   The sermon was interesting and the building was beautiful. 

It has been raining off and on for days but we have not had the major storm activity that has been going on east of us.  We are feeling the effects of it in the river as the water level has risen and there is much debris coming downstream.  On of the boats with us left at 6:30 this morning headed for Nashville and turned around in a couple of hours due to a log jam that was impassable.  We are hoping a tow with barges comes through and breaks it up before it gets to us in a somewhat single mass.  Sometime later tonight we will probably find out.

I am pleased to see that my brightwork is holding up well in the weather.  I am glad I was able to get some fresh coats on before we left Goose Pond.  Even though it looked just about like this after 3 years, it is always good to freshen it up before problems arise.

Clarence and Sally Wall from Chattanooga are due to arrive on Wednesday and will travel with us to Nashville.  After that we will head further upstream and then pick up more guests in Nashville on the way back down river.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cumberland River 9/1 - 9/13

We decided that since we were starting back on a portion of the Loop that we hadn't yet done and that we would be meeting other Loopers on their way down the rivers that we would re-attach our AGLCA burgee on our boat.

We had met new friends Bill & Charlotte on "Omega" a couple of weeks before we left and said our goodbyes to them. We will hopefully see them again in the near future.

After traveling through Guntersville Lock we came to Bay Hill Marina to visit with other boaters that we had met before. These guys come up to Bay Hill during hurricane season and then go back to Florida over the winter. Since we are planning to go to Panama City over the winter this year we got together with them and talked about the different marinas there and plans for when everyone would be going down. Some of us plan to be at the AGLCA Rendezvous at the end of October and then go down and others will be just heading down after the season. The boats represented are "Eagle One", "PatsyRay", and "I Love Lucy".

We continued down to Joe Wheeler State Park where we met "NO MO YD WK", "KAOS", and one more that I can't find my information on. We had an informal get-together on our boat and talked of cruising plans and past experiences. It was good to meet more crusers.

After leaving Wheeler we once again traveled through Wilson Lock. This is the deepest lock on the Tennessee system and it really gives you a sense of perspective once you are inside.

After leaving the lock we passed by a beautiful waterfall landscape at a house on a prominent point. We then anchored in a cove adjacent to another waterfall that is one of the most popular spots on the river on a weekend. We took the dinghy over to see the waterfall since we could not possibly get SEASEA into the cove with all the boats (we were there over Labor Day weekend). The cove we anchored in was busy enough and even had a pontoon boat rigged to look like a Tiki Hut selling hot dogs and hamburgers with a "waiter" driving around in a dinghy. We had a great deal of entertainment those two days watching people try to anchor that had obviously never been taught the correct way. There was no use trying to tell the the proper way as most did not have enough rode to lay a proper scope anyway.

We stopped at Cuba Landing Marina to meet some friends, Gary and Mary Kay, that we met at Goose Pond some months ago. They have a houseboat at the marina and we stopped in for the night and had dinner with them. It was, once again, good to get back together with people we met before.

We had seen on the Local Notices To Mariners that the Army was to be conducting exercises near Paris Landing so we chose an anchorage close by and watched as guys jumped out of an airplane to do water landings. Others in small inflatables ran around picking up the paratroopers. The notice said that they would be jumping from Chinook helicopters but they jumped from a plane instead. I was looking forward to the helicopters.

On Thursday my computer hard disk crashed so I got online on my navigation computer (something I don't like to do for fear of any virus on a computer I rely on for navigation) to see if I could find a Best Buy or something in the area. The closest larger city was Paducah, Kentucky so we headed for Kentucky Dam Marina where we could get their courtesy car to go into Paducah. I found a Best Buy and purchased a new laptop. I am not as thrilled with it as I would like but it does work and will be a good backup for the navigation computer.

Since we had already paid for a slip at the marina we decided to use the car again the next day and drive over to Green Turtle Bay marina where we came in on our trip into the Tennessee River on our Loop trip. While there we experienced something that I hope to never experience again. We were talking with a Looper at his boat when, about 150 feet away, a boat exploded after being fueled. It had taken on gas and moved about 20 feet away from the fuel dock when the explosion took place. We both ran to the fuel dock screaming at anyone on the boat to jump off. A woman did jump off but a man was killed on board. The woman was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical and the marina, through a series of bad decisions in hindsight, almost had a major catastrophe in potentially setting ablaze an entire dock of boats.
It was a very disturbing day and I did not sleep well for the next couple of nights. This photo was taken by Bob DeGroot, another Looper that we had be talking with just prior to the accident.

After we left Kentucky Dam Marina we headed through the canal that connects the Tennessee River to the Cumberland River. We are now finally on the Cumberland River.

One of our stops on the Cumberland was in a bay by the small town of Kuttawa, KY. We had read about the maximum security prison referred to as the "Castle on the Cumberland" so we took the dinghy around to see it. There is a museum on the grounds that gives a history of the county and the Land Between the Lakes region. We toured the museum and got a shot of the "Castle" as we left.

We met some really nice people in the town when we took the dinghy over to see a park. They came out to the boat for a get-together and we have planned to stop back there on our way back with our friends from the PNW and have a barbeque with them. I hope the weather and our schedules will allow us to stop. You meet some of the best people when traveling to the smaller towns.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Cumberland River

Just to catch people up....we have departed Goose Pond Marina in Scottsboro, Alabama to make a cruise of the Cumberland River. We will take the Tennessee almost to the Ohio and then turn onto the Cumberland. We will go past Nashville and, hopefully, as far as we can safely navigate up to Celina, TN. This trip will be about two months in length and we will return to the AGLCA rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park toward the end of October. Our good friends from the Pacific Northwest will be flying in to travel with us for part of the trip and Clarence & Sally Wall will be driving up from Chattanooga to travel for a few days. We have had great weather since we left on Tuesday. I have not downloaded any photos from Stacy's camera yet so I will put those in another post.