Wednesday, 25 October 2006
Tennessee River Cruise 2006
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The Tennessee River is one of the most popular side trips taken by cruisers on America's Great Loop. This blog was recorded by Bob and Mavis as they set out from Kenlake Marina on September 18, 2006 to cruise the 650 mile length of the Tennessee River at Knoxville, TN.  Click here to start at the beginning.

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Posted on 10/25/2006 9:24 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 24 October 2006
Day 36 Pebble Isle to Kenlake Marina
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Barge raising Another cold day with ice and frost on the boat and docks. However, the sun was out and with the heat on it was beautiful cruising. We filled up with diesel and pumped out the holding tank for the winter before leaving Pebble Isle Marina around 9:15. Today we saw many more migrating birds resting on the river. One group looked like White Pelicans and another Snow Geese. At mile 49 a barge was being raised from the bottom about 50 feet down. It sank in the channel just before we left in September. Divers have to go down to attach cables and then the four cranes raise it to the surface. It's a major operation. After the barge raising it was just 6 miles to our home port. Our son Andrew is driving up to take us back to Nashville. All in all we had a fun and successful trip with 2100 photos taken and 1200 miles covered.

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Posted on 10/24/2006 4:39 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 23 October 2006
Day 35 Clifton to Pebble Isle Marina
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"Crew's Boat" heading south It was cold overnight. The docks had ice on them this morning with a dock temperature of 29 even though the water a few inches below was 58. Mavis had fun sliding down the ramp after a trip up to see if there was fog on the river. There was a little fog but nothing to hold us back and we were underway at 7:45 arriving at Pebble Isle at 2:30pm. We sighted a large flock of Snow Geese at the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge just north of I-40. This was the busiest day for boats on the river we have seen so far. A lot of boats heading south including the one in the photo. It is from Illinois and is named "Crew's Boat". We also passed about 4 tows which was unusual. At the marina we walked 1/2 mile over to the Johnsville State Historic Area. This was the scene of a major battle in the civil war where for the first time ever the Confederate calvary under Nathan Bedford Forrest  beat the Union Navy and sank several gun boats.  It seems that under a previous state governor the park was to be closed to save money and all the relics in the museum were moved to Nashville. The new governor said no to the plan to close but now they can't find where the relics were stored. The museum is open only by appointment but we peeked in the windows and it was empty except for a cannon and a few pictures on the wall. This is our last night aboard and we celebrated with dinner at the marina restaurant. Tomorrow we have 54 miles downstream to Kenlake.

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Posted on 10/23/2006 5:18 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 22 October 2006
Day 33 Joe Wheeler State Park to Aqua Yacht Harbor, MS
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Sunset on the way to Aqua Yacht Harbor We left at 7:15am with 5 other boats for the lock at Wheeler and then the Wilson Lock. Wilson was badly damaged a few months ago and is being rebuilt. As a result only the auxiliary lock is being used. It can only accomodate one barge at a time and has a double lift so it can take a whole day to get a single tow through. We were through Wheeler by 8:00am and then had a 2 hour cruise to Wilson. One of the boats called at 9:00am and was told it would be noon before we could start down. It was 12:45 before we entered the lock. By then we had 7 boats. There were only 3 bollards that worked so we had to raft up to 3 boats deep in the lock with 4 across beside us. Finally at 1:41 we were out. We wanted to get to Aqua Yacht Harbor to pick up our propeller we had left to be fixed on the way up. The GPS said we would get there at 6:45. Sunset was at 6:12 so we would be arriving in the dark. We made it as planned (see photo) along with several other boats that were heading for their slips. Aqua arranged for some live-aboards to help us in and take on 210 gallons of diesel. The first diesel since Lenoir City. Tomorrow we head for Clifton through the last lock of the trip at Pickwick Dam.

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Posted on 10/22/2006 2:23 AM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 22 October 2006
Day 34 Aqua Yacht Harbor to Clifton, TN
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Interesting home in Clifton The weather has turned cold and a north wind was blowing at 15-20 mph throughout the trip. As we left Yellow Creek and joined the Tennessee a large tow, "Melvin King" was heading for the Pickwick lock. This can be bad news as commercial boats get priority. However, 6 miles from the lock Melvin King notified the lockmaster that he was coming down and that there was a pleasure boat ahead of him. The lockmaster said he would take us first and for the first time on the trip the lock was open when we arrived. The river was busy today with cruisers heading south. We arrived at Clifton at 1:50pm. We drove the courtesy car into town to the grocery. On the way I took the photo of the interesting home that overlooks the river from a hill a couple of blocks away.

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Posted on 10/22/2006 5:13 PM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 21 October 2006
Day 32 Huntsville AL
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Bridge at Ditto Landing The weather was cold but the bus was warm that took us to Huntsville. We toured the Space Museum (looking pretty tired after all these years), the Botanical Garden, enjoyed a lunch concert (violin, harmonica & guitar), drove around downtown and the historic district, went to the art gallery, and had a party at Ditto Landing with local boaters and politicians. It turns out that a couple we met on a boat tied up behind us at Chattanooga was just elected to the state legislature. It was a long day from 7:40am to 9:15pm, but lots of fun. The rendezvous is now over. Today's photo was taken of the bridge at Ditto Landing. A racing shell is practicing on the river.

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Posted on 10/21/2006 3:38 AM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 20 October 2006
Day 31 Joe Wheeler State Park
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36 ft Grand Banks, "Room With A View" (4th boat from the right)It poured rain almost all day today, canceling the dingy race, and much of the boat open houses. This morning we heard a talk on cruising to the Bahamas by Skipper Bob, and then we learned about cruising the canals in France. I spent an hour on another 36 ft Grand Banks, "Room With A View" (4th boat from the right) It is like ours, in beautiful condition,  but built 18 boats earlier in 1981. It was interesting to see the differences that Grand Banks made in the design in such a short time. The main difference is in the forward cabin which is larger in our boat, but we have a shorter forward deck. They have one central A/C unit we have 3 smaller units. Tonight was the final banquet with awards. Tomorrow we are taking a bus tour of Huntsville and then on Saturday we head downstream at 7:30am with 5 other boats

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Posted on 10/20/2006 2:56 AM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 19 October 2006
Day 30 Joe Wheeler State Park
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Great Harbors1We awoke to thick fog. The morning was devoted to talks on crossing the Gulf of Mexico and cruising around Florida. Lack of marina facilities for transient boaters is the major issue in Florida as many marinas are being converted to private docks at condominiums. In the afternoon I toured several boats the most interesting being the Great Harbors. There are 3 here so they are becoming very popular as a good boat for doing the Great Loop (see boat on left in photo). Tonight there was a talent show with some great music by Eva and Ron Stob on the hammered dulcimer and guitar.

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Posted on 10/19/2006 2:42 AM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 18 October 2006
Day 29 Joe Wheeler State Park
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Joe Wheeler State Park It rained just about all night and this morning it was foggy and dismal. The conference opened with all the people currently doing the loop introducing themselves and talking about how they were doing the loop and some of the things they have seen and done. Many gave advice to those that were thinking about doing the loop. Next there was a talk on cruising the Tennessee to Knoxville and the Tenn-Tom to Mobile AL. This afternoon it cleared up and we held open house on the Katy Leigh and then toured several other boats. This is a great way to see what new gadgets people have bought and how they have decorated their boats. We will get a chance to see more boats tomorrow. The photo shows the hotel which is behind our dock.

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Posted on 10/18/2006 3:02 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 17 October 2006
Day 28 Joe Wheeler State Park
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Harbor Master Boats booth at the Rendezvous This was the first official day of the rendezvous. The weather was terrible with rain and wind all day, but since all events were inside it was not a problem. I spent all morning demonstrating our CD-ROM program "What to Expect Cruising America's Great Loop" to attendees as they lined up to register and buy stuff. Sales were brisk and Eva Stob had to reorder more CDs 3 times. I shared a table with Irving Martin from Harbor Master Boats (see photo). It was great to hear comments from people that had bought it before. One man has been through all 6 hours of the program three times. Several people were buying second copies to give to relatives so they wouldn't have to take pictures. Another couple is unable to finish the loop and wants to see the part they missed. At 1:00PM I demonstrated the program to about 100 people in a group. A speaker from Minneapolis presented his plan to build floating condominiums on 4 connected self powered barges that will cruise the river system. The project is being funded with pre-sales and is very well thought out. It will be interesting to see how it goes. A third speaker spoke on bio-diesel which seems to have great advantages especially in how it will clean out all the sludge in your fuel tanks the first time you use it. It also has no diesel smell with even as little as 5% bio-diesel (made from soy beans) mixed with petroleum diesel.

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Posted on 10/17/2006 2:33 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 17 October 2006
Day 27 Joe Wheeler State Park
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Chris Craft being towed by an RVToday was a quiet day getting prepared for the rendezvous events. We stuffed bags with brochures and give-aways. Our friends Bob and Gail came through on their way home from a Antique and Classic Boat Society event at Pickwick trailing their Chris Craft behind their new RV (see photo). Bob returned the keys we had lost at Gold Point. He also came to see the Harbor Master Coastal Cruiser his company had sold to a live aboard looper from Texas. Harbor Master is one of the sponsors of the rendezvous. An impromptu pot luck supper was organized beside the pool tonight and we had a chance to meet some new people and revisit with folks we met on the loop and at previous rendezvous.

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Posted on 10/17/2006 1:51 AM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 14 October 2006
Day 26 Huntsville to Joe Wheeler State Park
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Decatur island overrun by cormorants and kudzu Mike and Valli on Sanctuary filled us in on the action at the dock last night while we were at the movie. It seems that crowds of people kept coming and going from two tiny houseboats on our dock with curtains on every window. One person even delivered small packages to cars that would drive by. We can only guess what was going on there. There was a little fog on the river leaving Ditto Marina in Huntsville but we had no problem seeing the buoys. The Delta Queen paddlewheel cruise ship was docked at Decatur. Thousands of small black ducks were resting in the river as we passed the Swan Creek Wildlife Management Area. The photo is of a small island west of Decatur that has been taken over by cormorants and kudzu. It looks like something out of the Lord of the Rings movies. We were at Joe Wheeler at 1:15pm and came in with 3 other boats. Docking was very efficiently handled. We were thankful that we had moved from #12 on the waiting list to #1 and were assigned a slip. Four boats were already at anchored in the harbor. This is the biggest boating event ever in this part of the country. There will be 64 boats and 225 people attending the event. Cell phone service is marginal so it may not be possible to update the blog every day.

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Posted on 10/14/2006 5:57 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 13 October 2006
Day 25 Goose Pond to Huntsville, AL
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Another beautiful day and it is Mavis' birthday. We were out at 7:45 and before long were passed by Bob & Evelyn. They are the fastest loopers we have seen yet. I guess after thousands of miles in canoes it is time to speed things up a bit. Bob is battling a rare form of cancer and is interested in seeing as much of the country as he can. The river is beautiful with high hills on both sides all the way to Ditto Landing Marina at Huntsville. We arrived at 1:00PM The marina is a city owned facility and has little service. I had to call on the cell phone to get them to use their VHF radio. There is a 5 mile paved path along a tributary river that goes into town. It is well used by bikers and walkers. We went about 1.5 miles. Tonight we celebrated the birthday by going to the movie "Departed". When we got back we found the freezer had died a day or two ago. Dinner was macaroni and cheese rather than the steak we had saved.

 
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Posted on 10/13/2006 10:53 PM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 12 October 2006
Day 24 Hales Bar to Goose Pond
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Shrimp and grits from The Docks restaurant We left early before 8:00 and were through the Nickajack Lock by 9:00AM. The rest of the cruise was easy and we were into Goose Pond at 1:30PM. We met a very interesting couple of emergency room MDs from New Hampshire on the dock. They are cruising the Great Loop in a fast outboard powered aluminum cuddy cabin boat. We had seen them pass us twice before on the river. They had just returned from riding their folding bikes into Scottsboro a distance of about 6 miles. At Scottsboro they were interviewed by the local newspaper and given the keys to the city by the mayor. For several years they canoed in the wilderness of Canada. They traveled the voyageur route all the way from Montreal to Inuvik on the Arctic Ocean by canoe. They are now thinking about getting a trawler. We had dinner at "The Docks" restaurant which is a short walk from the marina. The food is fantastic. I had the Shrimp and Grits (fresh gulf shrimp with southern stone ground grits served with andouille sausage and pepper cream sauce). Would you believe that shrimp and grits go together and make a great meal(see photo)!

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Posted on 10/12/2006 9:44 PM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Day 23 Chattanooga to Hales Bar
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NOAA radar Last night we had a wonderful dinner at Bob and Gail's house which is right beside the Gold Point Yacht Harbor. Gold Point is a very well designed and built facility in a park like setting. It is mainly occupied by Carver and SeaRay cruisers sold by Erwin Marine Sales. They also own the huge Chickamauga Marina on the other side of the lake.  During the afternoon I decided it was time to start the generator for the first time this trip, but the generator battery was shot. Bob took us over to Erwin Marine (his company) and I was able to get a new battery. After dinner I installed the battery and the generator started right up. Next, I found I had lost the boat key. We used the spare to get aboard and this morning Bob called to say someone at the marina had found it on the ground. After all the hastle I put Bob through I doubt I will ever be invited again. After dinner we watched a DVD of the Lake Tahoe Antique and Classic Boat Society Event. It was very well done with a combination of video, stills, and great music. We made history this morning when the lockmaster said we would be delayed 30 minutes and then it only took 15 minutes. The norm is a 30 minute delay extending to an hour. He said the lock was in a "stall" with some maintenance being done. Sure enough the lower end door closing mechanism was being worked on by 3 or 4 men when we got inside. We cruised through the Grand Canyon in great time with a 1.5 mph current behind us and arrived at Hales Bar Marina at 11:30 CDT. It is now raining and very windy but the NOAA radar shows it will soon be over (see photo) Tomorrow we will go to Goose Pond Marina, Friday Huntsville, and Saturday Wheeler State Park for the AGLCA Rendezvous.

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Posted on 10/11/2006 2:05 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 10 October 2006
Day 22 Shady Grove to Chattannooga
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Floating house on Chickamauga LakeThis has been an easy day with just 16 miles of cruising and no locks. We are tied up at Gold Point Marina just above the Chickamauga Lock. Before leaving Shady Grove we used the marina van to go shopping in Soddy Daisy and stocked up for the rest of the trip. At one time on Chickamauga Lake many people lived in floating houses like the ones in the photo. They are no longer allowed but the originals are grandfathered. There are still 10 or so at the marina. Once the owners abandon them, the marina drags them to the end of the embayment and in the fall when the water drops they can demolish them and truck away the remains. Tonight we are having dinner at the home of our friends Bob and Gail.

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Posted on 10/10/2006 8:01 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 9 October 2006
Day 19 Big Hill Cove to Lenoir City
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The rain ended around mid-night and the rest of the night was quiet. We left at 7:30AM at first light and had a short cruise back to Fort Loudon Marina. We left the boat there and drove to Nashville to attend a patron party for our neighborhood home tour. On Saturday we were docents in one of the homes and drove back to the boat arriving at 10:30PM.
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Posted on 10/09/2006 4:14 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 9 October 2006
Day 20 Lenoir City to Blue Springs
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Tennessee Chapel The Fort Loudon lock is used so little that it doesn't open until 9:00AM. The marina is right at the lock so we waited until close to 9:00 and were at the lock at 9:00AM. The lockmaster said we would have to wait 20 minutes before he could open the lock. We were the only boat through and were out by 9:40. I thought we would have a lot of current to speed our way, but it seems that on Sunday morning they don't need to generate a much power so there was hardly any current and we cruised at 9.2 mph. A current of only  0.2 mph. It was a beautiful sunny day. The photo is of a place on the chart called Tennessee Chapel. It seems to consist of two large homes, a barn, and a church. There were horses like Clydesdales in the field. I will have to do some research. It is in a beautiful spot overlooking a long reach on Watts Bar Lake. We arrived at Blue Springs at 3:00PM. When calculating the time it will take using the miles marked on the chart it is confusing as there is a cut-off or short cut that saves 5 miles on this leg. Consquently we arrived much earlier than I had planned on as we took the short cut. We were greeted on the dock by Phoebe and Bob on Flamingo, a 62 ft Hatteras. Live-aboards, they have been here all summer to escape the hurricane season in Florida. Phoebe has family near here so it was very convenient. While this is a large marina it does not seem to be very friendly, so they seemed glad to have some company. In two weeks they will head down the Tenn-Tom to the Bahamas for the winter.

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Posted on 10/09/2006 4:17 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 9 October 2006
Day 21 Blue Springs to Shady Grove
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Thick fog Check the photo; you would think we were in Antarctica. We got up in thick fog and we could not leave until 8:30. Looking back the fog was still thick in places on the shoreline of Watts Bar Lake. It was a beautiful sight with the sun coming up behind the fog. We were through the Watts Bar Lock with only a slight delay. The current below the dam was running at 0.8 to 1.0 mph the entire way to Shady Grove so we made good time travelling 63 miles by 3:30PM. There are two other "loopers" here now so we will have a reunion at the cocktail hour.

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Posted on 10/09/2006 6:23 PM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 6 October 2006
Day 18 Lenoir City to Big Hill Cove, Tellico Lake
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Dayton courtroom, famous for the "Monkey Trial" Today's cruise was short, just 12 miles. We used the rest of the day to visit historic towns on the route that we were not able to visit by boat due to time constraints. I wanted photos of these places for our next CD project "What to Expect Cruising the Tennessee River".  We went to Kingston and Dayton. Dayton was the most interesting as the location of the famous "Monkey Trial" over evolution vs fundamentalism. The actual court room is still in use. (see photo). There is a little museum in the basement of the building that tells the story very well with lots of photos and memorabilia from the time period. On our return we cruised to the Stobs, tied up to their dock, had a wonderful dinner at their house and then anchored in the cove. We moved the boat away from the dock in case it got windy and our boat put too much stress on their dock. As always when we anchor, a thunderstorm came along but so far has been very mild. It's hard to believe that I can work in the aft cabin on the computer and update the blog from a tiny cove in the wilderness of East Tennessee. We can also bring up the new NOAA radar websites and see exactly where the storm is and how much more we are likely to get.

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Posted on 10/06/2006 1:15 AM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 5 October 2006
Day 17 Knoxville to Lenoir City
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Bob and Mavis with Ron and Eva Stob We were ready to headdownstream at 7:30AM but there was thick fog over all of East Tennessee. We finally got going about 9:30 when it cleared up a little, but it wasn't until 1120 that the fog lifted completely. At that point we were able to see the wall to wall mansions along the river clearly and even saw some we hadn't noticed on the way up. Arriving at 200 I called Enterprise and had a car ready to go shopping at 3:00PM. We went to Wal-mart and stocked up on food and then a liquor store in another county to restock our wine closet. Tom and Patty arrived on the sailboat while we were out shopping and at 5:45 Ron and Eva Stob (founders of America's Great Loop Cruisers Assocation) arrived by car (see photo). We all went to Calhouns for dinner. Tomorrow we will visit the Stobs home on the Little Tennessee River also known as Tellico Lake.

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Posted on 10/05/2006 1:36 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 3 October 2006
Day 15 Lenoir City to Knoxville
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Knoxville mansions on the river We made our goal today; 602 miles, 15 days from Aurora KY to Knoxville. For 14 days we have bucked 1-2.5 mph current. Heading back we will travel as much as 67% faster with the engine going the same speed. The river today is lined for miles with hugh mansions on both sides (see photo). Most appear less than 10 years old. It is just like Florida without the palm trees. I heard on the radio that there is a movement to have TVA stop selling off public land which will put an end to the clear cutting and construction of these large homes along the river. We got to Knoxville at 2:00PM and tied up beside the 28 ft sailboat "True North" belonging to Tom and Patty. This couple hosted the America's Great Loop Cruisers Association meeting at Fairhope Alabama we attended in October 2003. They live in Pensacola came up the Tenn Tom in the spring and have been cruising both the Cumberland and Tennessee since then. We will have dinner with them tomorrow night at Calhoun's, a rib place right on the river near here. Tonight we had really good pizza at the Riverview restaurant which is very close to the marina. Tomorrow we will tour the Old Town and maybe even visit the very large Womens Basketball Hall of Fame. I am curious just to see what such a museum would be like.

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Posted on 10/03/2006 1:53 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 3 October 2006
Day 16 Knoxville
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Women's Basketball Hall of Fame In checking my course plan I found that I could attend the Knoxville Rotary Club at the Mariott Hotel. The hotel was just up the hill beside the marina so I decided to attend. The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame was beside the hotel so out of curiosity I visited the Hall before Rotary. It has been open since 1999 and is very well done given the topic. I had the entire Hall to myself and only when I was leaving did a mom and 2 kids show up. Womens Basket Ball is over 100 years old. The 70's Pontiac Limousine used to carry the All American Red Heads is on display along with all kinds of other memorabilia. In some exhibits you could listen to what famous coaches including Tennesses's famous Pat Summit says at half time to inspire her team. I took it easy on the boat all afternoon while Mavis visited the old town hoping to find real antique stores. She was disappointed.

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Posted on 10/03/2006 7:26 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 1 October 2006
Day 14 Ten Mile to Lenoir City, TN
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Watts Bar Lake After we got the filters I spent 2 hours installing them but could not bleed the lines and found no fuel was getting to the engine. I gave up at 8:00PM and we had dinner at the restaurant at the marina. It rained overnight and I had to get up to put up the flybridge cover. That rain was not in the forecast. This morning I went at the fuel filters again and discovered I had put the rubber seals on incorrectly so that no fuel could get through the filters.  I redid the installation, bled the lines, and at 10:30 the engine started right up. What a relief that was. However, with 63 miles to go it made for a late arrival at Fort Loudon Marina. We arrived at 6:00pm, took on 180 gallons of diesel, pumped out the holding tank, and tied to up to a transit slip an hour later. The weather was perfect today and Watts Bar Lake is gorgeous with islands, lots of rocks, deep water, wide expanses, and high hills all around. It is surely one of the prettiest on the Tennessee (see photo).

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Posted on 10/01/2006 6:53 PM by Bob Duthie
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