Welcome to the blog of Fred and Julaine as we chronicle our adventures traveling the "Great Loop" on Boreas, our Carver 405.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 117 – at Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, TN - October 31, 2011

We spent a second day here at Grand Harbor Marina so that we could visit the Shiloh National Military Park which is about 20 miles away.  Back on September 21 we passed by this park as we approached the Pickwick Lock and Dam.  As I mentioned in that post, the 4000 acre park contains 151 monuments, 217 cannons and more than 450 historic tablets that detail the Civil War’s first major battle in the western theater which took place on April 6 and 7, 1862. What was amazing to see today is just how many monuments, tablets and cannons this actually is.  The tablets give historical information about the armies and units engaged and they mark troop position on each day of the battle.  As you read the tablets, you are facing the same direction as the troops mentioned at that point in the battle.

We drove through the entire park and walked to a number of locations where you can’t drive.  We walked along the “Sunken Road” where the Union troops held their position for seven hours before finally giving ground.  They retook this area in the counterattack the next day.  We also walked to one of the five known mass graves where many of the 1728 Confederate dead were buried.

We very much enjoyed this day off the water to explore a place with so much history.  However, we are looking forward to heading down the Tenn-Tom (the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway) tomorrow.

            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0
one of the five known mass graves where
Confederate soldiers are buried

the "Sunken Road"

fall colors we encountered on our walk in Shiloh National Military Park

more fall colors

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 116 – Florence, AL to Grand Harbor Marina, Counce, TN - October 30, 2011

Today is our last day on the Tennessee River.  We started traveling the river as we left Green Turtle Bay back on September 15.  When you add it all up, we traveled 1042 miles on the Tennessee River.  This is an amazing waterway and it is easy to see why so many people choose to boat here.

We are seeing what we imagine is “peak” fall color now – although we think that peak color in Michigan is better.  Michigan has more of the trees that turn beautiful reds, oranges and yellows – we see lots of shades of brown here.  Today was a beautiful travel day with sunny skies and moderate temperatures (although it was a bit chilly when we departed).

We are spending tonight and tomorrow night at Grand Harbor Marina which is at mile marker 449.7 out of 450 miles that make up the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (mile 0 is at Mobile Bay) – that’s right, we are three tenths of a mile into a 450 mile journey toward the Gulf – all downhill, dropping 414 feet to sea level!

            Miles: 35.7      Bridges: 1        Locks: 0

fall colors on Pickwick Lake

more fall colors

a few more colors along Pickwick Lake

sunset from our slip at Grand Harbor Marina

the colors are amazing as we look down the Tenn-Tom

Day 115 – Joe Wheeler State Park to Florence, AL - October 29, 2011

After eight nights at Joe Wheeler, we finally departed!  The morning was foggy (as we suspect many mornings will be for the next few weeks) and we departed as the fog was just starting to lift.  The miles we have to travel today are small (under 20) but we have two locks to go through.  We left just after 8:00am to arrive at the first lock after one tow went through, but before the next one got there.  We locked through with five other pleasure boats.  After exiting the lock and traversing Wilson Lake, we arrived at the Wilson Lock.  Contact with the lockmaster revealed that we would need to wait about two hours as he was locking through a split tow (check out Day 55, August 30 for more details about split tows).

Just over two hours later the tow is through and the lockmaster is refilling the lock so we can lock through.  Our group has grown by three more boats so there are nine pleasure boats to lock down.  Twenty minutes later we hear from the lockmaster again.  He is having mechanical problems with the lock and he has called in the maintenance person.  Apparently one of the valves in the lock is not closing properly and the lock is not filling.  Fortunately the maintenance person is close by and the lock is back to functioning relatively quickly.  Our total wait time for the Wilson Lock was just over three hours.

We arrived at the Florence Harbor Marina just after 2:00pm, got the boat secured and headed off with John and Rita from Brandy IV to Office Max, WalMart and the liquor store.  We had dinner at the marina restaurant where we enjoyed awesome live music with our pizza and beer.  The Muscle Shoals area (of which Florence is part) is a spot that is well known in the music recording world.  Many well know songs were recorded in Muscle Shoals.  In fact, W.C. Handy, “Father of the Blues” was actually born in Florence.  If the talent we heard during dinner is any example, it isn’t hard to see why musicians come here to work together and record great music. 
            Miles: 18.9      Bridges: 3        Locks: 2
fall colors on Wilson Lake

looking at the back wall of the Wilson Lock

Julaine tending the wall while locking through
Wilson Lock

Loopers exiting the Wilson Lock

Days 113-114 – at Joe Wheeler State Park Marina - October 27-28, 2011

We had a successful Rendezvous attending sessions detailing the next legs of our trip, engine maintenance, marine electronics and provisioning (not just the food, but everything you need on your boat when you are living on it for an extended amount of time).  We were also able to have a vessel safety check done on Boreas.  It was well worth the time we spent and we had a great time and lots of fun.

We spent two more days relaxing at Joe Wheeler State Park Marina after the AGLCA Rendezvous was over.  Both days were cloudy, rainy and cold.  Fifty-seven Looper boats were at the Rendezvous and by the end of the day on Friday, all but fourteen of them had departed (we were hoping this would happen so that the crowds at the marinas along the next stretch of the trip would be a little bit smaller).  We spent the two days doing laundry and boat chores and Fred caught up on some work he had to do for projects back in Midland. 

            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Days 108-112 – Joe Wheeler State Park Marina, AGLCA Fall Rendezvous - October 22-26, 2011

We are at Joe Wheeler State Park to attend the AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) Fall Rendezvous.  The AGLCA holds two rendezvous each year (one in the fall and one in the spring) in locations where Loopers are likely to be at that time of year.  They offer daily seminars on what to expect in the next sections of the Loop as well as helpful information for current Loopers and future Loopers (e.g. marine electronics, engine maintenance, provisioning).  There is also a chance to get a vessel safety check from the Coast Guard and a chance to tour some of the Looper boats that are in the marina.  We are learning a lot and enjoying the company of past, current and future Loopers.

           Miles: 0 Bridges: 0 Locks: 0

the lodge at Joe Wheeler State Park with Looper boats docked
along the front seawall

more Looper boats on the docks at Joe Wheeler State Park Marina

Boreas at Joe Wheeler State Park Marina

Boreas at Joe Wheeler State Park Marina

across the creek from Joe Wheeler State Park Marina

Day 107 – Ditto Landing to Joe Wheeler State Park - October 21, 2011

Due to fog, we were slightly delayed in our departure this morning.  The nice thing was that once the fog burned off, it was beautiful and sunny – although a bit cool.  Almost one third of today’s trip was through the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.  As a result there were no homes, cottages or industry, just nature at its finest.  In sharp contrast, we also traveled past Decatur, AL where there is quite a bit of industry along the river.  Once past Decatur and the TVA’s Browns Ferry nuclear power plant (which is just west of the city), the river becomes a bit more scenic and homes and cottages dot the shoreline.

            Miles: 46.7      Bridges: 4        Locks: 0
in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
a close-up shot of the erosion at the bottom of the rock face in
the picture above
Decatur, Alabama

Decatur, Alabama

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 105 & 106 – Goose Pond Marina to Ditto Landing - October 19-20, 2011

We have two days of travel to get from Goose Pond to Joe Wheeler where we would like to be on Saturday.  Fred has spent long hours looking at weather maps and reading forecasts trying to decide which two days we should travel.  Both Wednesday and Thursday are calling for cool temperatures, possible showers and lots of wind.  We finally decide that Wednesday is the better day (the wind gusts are only suppose to be 25mph instead of the 30mph planned for Thursday).  We got an early start under very cloudy skies and very cool temperatures.  The day reminded me of many of our final trips of a boating season going up the Saginaw River to the marina to have the boat hauled out.  We had on our heavy coats, gloves and as the day progressed we both put on long underwear under our jeans.  It was windy as predicted and we actually had small waves and white caps – pretty unusual when boating in a river.  Fred has become very proficient at the helm – in spite of the wind today he had no issues even though he had to “dock” three times – once in the lock, once at the gas dock and finally into our slip.
             Miles: 38.7      Bridges: 1        Locks: 1
truly a fall day - gray sky, gray water, misty hills

still waiting for more fall colors

our favorite - a rock bluff high above the river

Days 103 & 104 – Little Cedar Cove to Goose Pond Marina - October 17-18, 2011

There was just a bit of fog when we got up this morning, but it burned off quite quickly and we were through the Nickajack Lock by 9:00am and headed down the river toward Goose Pond Marina.  We will be staying at Goose Pond for two days to take advantage of their laundry facilities and their courtesy car (so we can do some re-provisioning).  Having those two chores done will put us in great shape for the AGLCA Rendezvous which begins next week at Joe Wheeler State Park.

We were able to get the courtesy car on Tuesday evening and had “date night” at the movie theatre in Scottsboro, AL – you can’t beat movie popcorn and a chick flick (we’ll try to choose a more Fred friendly movie next time).

            Miles: 42.8      Bridges: 3        Locks: 1

the Sequatchie Valley, one of the world's two rift valleys - created by the
earth's surface litterally splitting apart

this colorful hot air balloon flew right over Goose
Pond Marina...

...and appeared ready to land on the golf course across
the embayment

Day 102 – Chattanooga, TN to anchorage at Little Cedar Cove - October 16, 2011

Today was our trip back through the “Grand Canyon of the Tennessee”.  This is truly a spectacular section of the river.  It is hard to capture in pictures how beautiful the hills and bluffs actually are.  We had an easy trip with sunny skies and mild morning temperatures, rising to the 80’s by the late afternoon.  We choose to anchor in Little Cedar Cove near the Nickajack Lock & Dam for tonight and it was a lovely place to spend the night. 
             Miles: 36.1      Bridges: 2        Locks: 0
Brandy IV traveling down the river just south of Chattanooga

Lookout Mountain

the beauty of the "Grand Canyon of Tennessee"

great weather and fabulous blue sky made todays trip a real treat

I don't think we'll ever get tired of seeing the amazing rock bluffs
high above the river

what a treat to travel through such a beautiful part of the country

The old Hales Bar Lock - the Hales Bar Dam had serious problems of water
leaking through rock strata under the dam.  Faced with exorbitant costs
for uncertain cures to the problem (and a lock too small to meet the
needs), TVA removed the dam and replaced it with Nickajack Dam.

the old Hales Bar Power house

check out the huge rock right in the middle of the marina basin - that's not
something I'd want to maneuver my boat around!

Day 101 – Shady Grove Harbor Marina to Chattanooga, TN - October 15, 2011

We very much enjoyed staying at Shady Grove Harbor Marina.  The marina is off in a small embayment off Soddy Creek and was a beautiful protected place to stay for the night.

Although we passed by Chattanooga on the way up the river, after learning of some new security measures that have been instituted at the town docks, we decided to stay one night on the way back down.  Since we only had to travel 21 miles today, we had plenty of time to explore Chattanooga.  We walked along the riverfront and over the world’s longest pedestrian bridge over the water.  Chattanooga is a great place to visit and hopefully they can continue to make their docks friendly and safe.

             Miles: 21.1      Bridges: 3        Locks: 1
Chickamauga Lake

Boreas at the Olgiatti Dock in Chattanooga

looking at the Tennessee  Aquarium from across the river

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 100 – Blue Springs Marina to Shady Grove Harbor Marina - October 14, 2011

Fifty-two more miles downriver today.  The sun was out and it was a beautiful day to travel.  We are seeing a bit more fall color than on our trip up the river, but we are definitely not at “peak color” here in Tennessee.

Since it is Day 100 of our trip, we thought it would be fun to give you some statistics for the trip so far.  We have traveled 2005 miles, gone under 190 bridges and locked through 21 locks.  We moved the boat 51 days and anchored out 14 times.  We have purchased 974 gallons of fuel – which may seem like a lot, but we are actually experiencing better fuel economy than we did during our shakedown cruise last summer.  We are having a great time and look forward to the next 300 (or so) days.

             Miles: 52.1      Bridges: 3        Locks: 1
a few fall colors showing through

fall colors and beautiful rock bluffs

inside the lock chamber of Watts Bar Lock looking out (and
down) at the river over 59 feet down

Day 99 – Fort Loudon Marina to Blue Springs Marina - October 13, 2011

Today we began heading down the river.  We will actually be going down river now until we reach Mobile.  The weather was not great today – we had off and on rain showers all day long.  I spent lots of time rolling and unrolling the front windows.  My other job was using the squeegee and playing the part of human windshield wiper.  Other than the rain it was a relatively easy travel day.  Since we are going down river we got a little boost of speed from the current.
             Miles: 43.0      Bridges: 5        Locks: 1
we continue to enjoy the beautiful rock bluffs along the river

the true University of Tennessee fan - an orange boat,
the roof of the boathouse a white and orange checkerboard,
an orange porta-potty (at the top of the hill) and the "T"
carved in the lawn facing the river

Day 98 – up the Tennessee River to Mile 622 - October 12, 2011

We spent a few hours today going a bit farther up the Tennessee River toward Knoxville.  John and Rita (along with Fred III) joined us on Boreas for the trip.  We had heard that there were lots of amazing homes along this stretch of the river and we wanted to check it out for ourselves –we were not disappointed.

            Miles: 33.4 Bridges: 0 Locks: 0

3+ stories with a matching boathouse

unique shape in both the house and boathouse

the house on the left is the "main house" the one in the
middle is the "guest house"

another main house (on the left) with an amazing guest house (in the middle)

Day 97 – at Fort Loudon Marina - October 11, 2011

Today it rained, and rained, and rained some more.  We had hoped to do another day trip, but the weather cancelled that plan.  However the day was not a complete loss as Fred and Fred III got to spend time in the engine room.  They changed the oil on the generator, repaired the oil changing pump and worked on fixing the minor leak we’ve been having in the cooling system.
            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 96 – Tellico Lake and up (and back down) the Little Tennessee River - October 10, 2011

We did a “day trip” today with Fred III, traveling into Tellico Lake and up (and down) the Little Tennessee River, ending up back at Fort Loudoun Marina when we were done.  We had heard from many people that a trip up the Little Tennessee River was not to be missed – and it was amazing.  We were able to see the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance during most of the trip.  We ended up getting as close as 20 miles away from them.  The most remarkable part of seeing the Smoky Mountains from the water is you get a much better idea of how high these mountains actually are.

The guys did some boat cleaning (waxing and washing) when we got back to the marina in the late afternoon.  The plan is to do more cleaning again tomorrow and perhaps another day trip.

            Miles: 53.8      Bridges: 6        Locks: 0

the Great Smoky Mountains

looking up the Little Tennesse River at the Great Smoky Mountains

a few more fall colors

the Great Smoky Mountains

the Great Smoky Mountains

the clearly visible rock folds you see are evidence of the powerful
geological forces that shaped and formed this land
millions of years ago

the Great Smoky Mountains

the spillway of the Tellico Dam