Saturday, 30 September 2006
Day 13 Soddy Daisy to Ten Mile, TN
Day 13 was the day for things to go wrong. Around noon the engine suddenly slowed down then came back up to speed. It would do it every 15 minutes or so. We were still 10 miles below the lock and another 10 miles to the Euchee marina. A brand new 48 ft Krogen had joined us at the Hiwassee River so we had company. The question was would the engine quit all together. I check various things in the engine room. Was air getting into the fuel line, was the primary racor plugged? (I switched it to the standby but it made no difference) I checked the transmission temperature, the shaft log temperature, and so on. Everything pointed to the engine mounted fuel filters. We made it to the lock and had a good chat with Jeff, the owner. (He is planning to do the loop next year and will be at the rendezvous at Wheeler State Park later this month). Jeff said the best place to stop was Euchee Marina which is where we planned to stop. I slowed down 200 rpm for the rest of the way after the lock and the engine behaved. I went to my spares chest and found I only had one filter and not the two that are required. Clinton, the Developement Manager at the marina drove me to a couple of places but we had no luck. He then had his wife call auto parts locations in Athens, TN and she located 3 units. She is driving them down here and I'll put them in tonight. That's service!! Today's photo is at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. This is where the sandhill cranes stop over in the fall on their migration south. Garrison Bluff at the center has a "hacking station" (tall wooden structure) where eagles are grown and released into the wild.
Posted on 09/30/2006 9:15 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 29 September 2006
Day 12 Chattanooga to Soddy Daisy, TN
It is still dark at 7:00AM so we didn't get away until after 8:00. We are now cruising new waters for us as we cruised to Chattanooga in 2000. The locks are much smaller now and so far there have been no tows. One reason is the TVA generator at Sequoyah is nuclear so no coal is required.Chickamauga Lake is lined with marinas and summer homes. For the first time we were passed by several cruisers. We tied up a Shady Grove Harbor Marina at 11:45. The owners are very friendly and accommodating. They live in the marina on a 65' Somerset house boat. The largest inventory of Croc shoes I have ever seen is in the small store on the dock. Both Mavis and I bought our first pair of Crocs from Terri the proprietor. We borrowed the courtesy van and drove into Soddy Daisy. An old mining town it is now a suburb of Chattanooga with various home developments. We could not find any sign of an old town. Back at the marina I talked to the crew on an air powered swamp buggy that came in for fuel. They had just returned from a week tearing up the everglades. Tonight loopers from Boulder Co. came over and had dinner and some wine with us. We are apparently the only other loopers to have stopped at this marina this year. We stayed here because of the glowing report they wrote in the email service sent to all loopers. It really is a great marina. I spent an hour updating all my electronic courses and we are now just 3 days and 160 miles away from our goal, Knoxville.
Posted on 09/29/2006 6:48 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 28 September 2006
Day 11 Chattanooga
We used a weather day to stay in Chattanooga another day. The weather was unsettled all day with rain off and on. We climbed the mountain to the city 3 times today. The first time was to visit the north side of the river which has been restored with lots of shops, restaurants, and a carousel. We had breakfast there at a sandwich shop that bakes its own bread. I paid a dollar just to see the carousel run as there was no one around. However, the noise brought in a number of people with kids and it then played steadily. We walked back had a rest and then set out to see the fresh water side of the aquarium. It now has a display of seahorses and some strange looking relatives of the seahorse called sea dragons. We were there 2 hours as there is much more to sea than in the salt water aquarium. The free electric shuttle bus took us downtown and we walked back through the art district. Mavis bought a little decorated box at one store. We ducked into a coffee shop when it started to rain. Then it was back down the hill to the boat. At 6:00 our friends Bob & Gail came for drinks and then we went to the 212 Market St restaurant for dinner. It was by far the best meal of the trip. The salmon was perfectly cooked and came with a great creamy sauce. Bob and Gail just got back from Lake Tahoe where they were showing off their classic Chris Craft motor launch.
Posted on 09/28/2006 6:48 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 27 September 2006
Day 10 Hales Bar to Chattanooga, TN
The weather was perfect today and the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee was beautiful. The photo was taken just below the pumped storage facility on Raccoon Mountain. The major disappointment at Chattanooga was the fact that the new docks are cutoff from the aquarium due to construction on a bridge that crosses the docks as well as a new condominum being built. The result is you have to walk up 49 steps then climb a switchback affair to the Hunter Art Gallery. Only then can you get on a city street and get to the aquarium. We toured the new salt water unit today. It has an amazing butterfly room with live butterflys flying around through a tropical jungle. The other really interesting room is the invertibrate collection of jelly fish some of which light up like led toys. The main tank is almost overwhelming there are so many fish swimming about. After the aquarium we saw the Imax movie "Deep Sea 3D". It was spectacular and the best 3D effects I have seen yet. We had dinner aboard. Tomorrow we will take a rest day here and cross the walking bridge to the other side of the river and check out the new park there.
Posted on 09/27/2006 6:20 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 26 September 2006
Day 9 Scottsboro to Hales Bar, TN
We were ready to go at 7:00AM but found thick fog at the marina. After about an hour it started to lift and we left shortly after 8:00. The route goes northeast between mountains on both sides of the river and is beautiful. This was wildlife viewing day. At Bellefonte Island we saw an otter on the bank and a deer swim successfully across the river and bound out of the water with much spashing. At Burns Island we saw four eagles soaring high over the river and then Mavis spotted a nest 2/3 of the way up a nearby power line tower. Passing the TVA Widow's Creek Steam Plant I noted the water temperature rose from 75 to 80 degrees. During the entire trip we only passed one cruiser (a looper) and no barges. We tied up at Hales Bar Marina at 3:30PM. The marina has expanded with a new restaurant on a barge. We had dinner with two other couples that are leaving for Chattanooga in the morning. The two men were both United Airlines pilots and happy to be retired. It is just 33 miles to downtown Chattanooga. We should arrive before lunch and have lots of time to see the aquarium and other attractions.
Posted on 09/26/2006 6:41 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 25 September 2006
Day 8 Guntersville to Scottsboro AL
The cold front moved past and today was perfect; cool and sunny. We had a short 23 mile cruise to Goose Pond Colony Marina near Scottsboro (rather than Jackson Country Park) and arrived by 11:00AM. This is a first class facility with a very friendly staff. We cleaned up the boat and I worked on the water tank vent which was plugged up by a mud wasp. When the water was running since air could not get into the tank easily there would be loud booms occasionally as the tank contracted. Another hour was spent finding out the cable TV did not work and hooking up the satellite antenna. Then the tracking control box would not work but I managed to aim the antenna manually. Of course then I had to call DirectTV to have them authorize the receiver since I had not used it in such a long time. I found out the tracking control had lost its memory and had to be reinitialized. Isn't technology marvelous. However, we can now get Nashville TV on the boat. We borrowed the marina courtesy car and drove to Scottsboro for lunch in a neat little coffee shop on the square beside the town hall. Scottsboro is best known for its unclaimed baggage center. All the bags that are lost on airlines and never claimed are shipped to this town. The contents are sorted and sold cheap in a large quite fancy store. Most of the store is clothes but some space is devoted to electronics and books. We bought a couple of books. There are 3 other boats here doing the loop and we all got together for cocktails in the marina picnic shelter. Tomorrow we will cruise 53 miles to Hales Bar the last stop before Chattanooga. I expect the current will run close to 2 mph so it will take 7 hours plus we have the Nickajack Lock to go through.
Posted on 09/25/2006 6:06 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 24 September 2006
Day 7 Decatur to Guntersville, AL
It rained just about all night. Today was cloudy all the way until we were docked at Alred Marina. Then the sun came out. There was just one lock today but overall the cruise took 7.5 hours to go 52 miles. We bucked a 2-2.5 mph current for most of the way. We borrowed the courtesy van and went into town to do laundry, grocery shopping, and have dinner. Russ at the marina recommended the Top O' The River restaurant and it was great. While its specialty is catfish we both had the shrimp scampi which came with corn bread, pickled onion, cold slaw, and a baked potato. All for $10.95. The restaurant is very large, must seat several hundred, and is right on the water. We watched the sunset out the windows and took this photo just outside the window. Tomorrow will be a short cruise to Jackson County Park near Scottsboro AL.
Posted on 09/24/2006 6:40 PM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 23 September 2006
Day 5 Florence Al to Turtle Point Yacht & Country Club
I was up a 7:00 and called the Wilson lockmaster to see when we could go up. She said she could take us in 3 hours but we should head over in 2 hours. We got there at 10:30 and were finally through at 11:30. A total of 4.5 hours with about 1 hour drifting around. It is just 5 miles to Turtle Point. This is a private club and a good friend from Nashville made the arrangements for us to stay here. We docked beside another hugh yacht (see photo). This one called "Freedom" belongs to the man that founded "Books A Million". Renting a car turned out to be a challenge with the first vehicle a panel truck with only two seats so Mavis couldn't go back to the office with the driver and myself. Then I had to wait while they washed a car that had just been returned and drive back to Turtle Point to pick up Mavis. It was raining very hard when I got back and she could not see that I was there. Anyway, we drove back into town, toured Sheffield (mostly pretty grim), went to the W.C. Handy house (closed 10 minutes before we got there), had ice cream at a 1918 shop called Trowbridges, and then visited the spectacular new Marriott conference center. The tower contains a spa and revolving restaurant. The view is magnificent and looks up and down the river for miles. Please note all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Posted on 09/23/2006 1:48 AM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 23 September 2006
Day 6 Turtle Point to Decatur, AL
Just one lock today at the Wheeler Dam. We set out in in a partly cloudy sky that threatened rain all day (see photo). I learned that it's not a good idea to call this lockmaster on the cell phone. I called to see when we might get up. He chewed me out wondering why I didn't use the VHF Radio. Then when I did use the radio he refused to speak. It's not an easy life being a lockmaster. It was very windy all the way with gusts up to 25 mph. About an hour away from Decatur a call came over the radio from a "westbound trawler" that had lost power and was drifting into the railway bridge. There was nothing we could do to help but when we got to the bridge a 34 ft Marine Trader had dropped the anchor and a runabout was ready to tow the boat to the marina. We docked at 1:30 at Riverwalk Marina and had lunch at the Hard Dock restaurant. Then the trawler came in. It seems it had run out of diesel. The new owner did not know how to read the sight glasses. I made the same mistake when we bought the Katy Leigh in 1999. This afternoon it was time to fix the generator which was leaking antifreeze. It took a couple of tries tightening up the clamps on the end covers of the heat exchanger but that is all it needed. So now everything is working again, at least until the next thing fails. I don't even count the AC pump which gets air in the line when we are running so we don't have air until I fool with the sea strainer and get some water to the pump. Tomorrow we cruise to Guntersville. Tonight it is raining hard and from looking at the weather radar it looks like an all night affair.
Posted on 09/23/2006 6:10 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 22 September 2006
Day 4 Grand Harbor to Aqua to Florence AL
It turned out that the yacht "Bullish" also belongs to the new owner of Grand Harbor a David Woods from Jackson TN. His daughter was working in the marina store. I gave her a demo of our CD-ROM and this afternoon we learned they are going to carry it at the store. The diver did not return the phone call. We moved the boat to a jet ski dock and tried to reach the bow thruster tunnel but it is just too far down for my arm. Fortunately, Aqua Yacht Harbor said they could haul the boat if we came right over. It is about 2 miles down Yellow Creek. We hauled the boat and found nothing in the tunnel. I put a new fuse in the circuit and the thruster worked. It draws 580 amps through a 300 amp fuse. However, the fuse is designed to not blow until 30 seconds of 600 amps. If the current rises due a blockage it can blow in 2 seconds. It would appear that either a gar fish or turtle got in the tunnel and was there when I turned it on. The Aqua people power washed the algae off, exchanged the prop which had a small nick and we were underway at 11:30AM. We were very impressed with the all the people at Aqua and their customer service attitude. I also learned that we had no blisters 3.5 years after Green Turtle Bay shaved the bottom and covered it with epoxy. The bottom paint will be good until next spring. We arrived at Florence at 4:25 and tied up near the replica of Christopher Columbus ship the "Nina". We had a long talk with the Captain who has sailed the Nina on the loop (see photo). Tomorrow we will go 3 miles to the Wilson Lock which was badly damaged by a barge a few weeks ago. They are using the ancient auxilliary lock which can only handle one barge at a time with a double lift so it is very slow. Hopefully, we can wait here at the dock and only show up when they are ready for us. After clearing the lock we will cruise 5 more miles to the Turtle Creek Yacht Club.
Posted on 09/22/2006 2:03 AM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 20 September 2006
Day 2 Pebble Isle to Clifton TN
The weather was perfect today with hardly a cloud in the sky. We cruised up river 63 miles in 7.4 hours. The river is now much narrower at only a few hundred yards wide. Nearing Clifton you go past Beech Creek Island. In the 1930s before Kentucky Dam was built the locals built a dike across to the island so the water could only go down the other side. Watching the depth sounder we could see that the dike is still there under the water in the main channel. The Clifton Marina is all new and very good. It is right beside the river and built to withstand a 500 year flood (27 feet above summer pool) with hugh long poles that go high into the air and anchor the docks. The VP Operations from Quimby's was at the marina and we got talking about marinas. I demonstrated our "What to Expect Cruising America's Great Loop" and he bought a copy. He made a good case for advertising in the 2007 Directory. They distribute 8,000 copies per year. He then drove us to town. After a short walk some boaters picked us up in the courtesy car and we shopped, visited the home of Pulizer prize author T.S. Stribling (see photo) and drove back to the marina. The wireless won't connect here and there is no Verizon service at all so this post will have to wait. Tomorrow I will use the courtesy car to attend the Clifton Rotary breakfast club and then set out 56 miles for Grand Harbor Marina on Pickwick Lake.
Posted on 09/20/2006 3:40 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 20 September 2006
Day 3 Clifton to Grand Harbor
I was up at 6:00 to make the Rotary Club meeting at 7:00AM. The fog was so thick on the river you couldn't see more than a few feet. The Clifton Rotary has just 22 members. They were all worn out after having entertained 20,000 people at their 3 day Horseshoe Bend Fall Fair last weekend. They had concerts, fish fry, home tour, vendors, etc. There was no speaker the members just talked about what went right and what went wrong. They have been holding the same event for 24 years. Today was they day that stuff went wrong. Leaving the dock the bow thruster ran for a moment and then siezed up and would not run. When we arrived at Pickwick Lake I found the 300 amp fuse had blown. A diver is supposed to come tomorrow as almost certainly something is stuck in the propeller. I will drive the courtesy car to Aqua Marina and try and get another fuse. Then I had been smelling antifreeze for several days and found the pan under the generator had overflowed with antifreeze even though I had not run it for a week since I replaced the impeller. I could not find any leaks so called Northern Lights and was advised that more than likely when I went searching for the pieces of the impeller I failed to replace the "boot" over the heat exchanger properly. The raw water impeller was pumping lake water into the engine and overflowing the system. I'll work on this again tomorrow. When we got to Grand Harbor Marina, 40 miles west of Florence AL we tied up beside a 125 ft yacht, "Bullish" that was taking on about 4,000 gallons of diesel. (see photo). It took 5 hours to pump that much. The pump would stop everytime the bill went to $1,400. We had dinner at Freddie T's. Freddie also owns the marina and was offering 10% off for transients. If all goes well in the morning we will get to Florence tomorrow afternoon.
Posted on 09/20/2006 8:23 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 18 September 2006
Day 1 Sept 18 Kenlake Marina to Pebble Isle Marina
We had a great weekend at Kenlake getting the boat ready for the trip. We also visited the Homeplace at Land Between the Lakes for the first time. Homeplace is a recreation of an 1850's farm. It was fall fair weekend so there were a number of interesting exhibits including an ambrotype photographer. He had a portable darkroom and made the plates in his exhibits. He said that his photos cannot be distinguished from antiques and that someone had sold one of his photos as an antique for $300 on eBay.
We left this morning at 7:45 in rain. Even on cloudy days the river can be beautiful as in today's photo. We arrived at Pebble Isle Marina at 2:00 and were welcomed by 5 other boats doing the Great Loop. Cocktails were at 5:00pm on Golden. Tomorrow we will cruise to Clifton Tennessee.
Posted on 09/18/2006 8:39 AM by Bob Duthie