“The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, ARiverDerci would be lost”. Ha Ha. The weather did turn, so Friday, Oct 26th we spent the entire day and another night at the Kentucky Dam Marina. The high temp went from the low 80’s to the high 50’s. It rained most of the day, with high winds, so we did chores on the boat and looked over our navigation maps. Our Eastern GPS chip which includes Kentucky & Tennessee ($199) will not work. So we will have to rely on our old Tennessee River Map Book from 1996.
We left the amenities and safe harbor of the KDM on Saturday morning. The rain had subsided, but the wind was still blowing steady at about 20 mph. Luckily it was at our back (like the end of the famous Irish proverb). Sunshine abounded, and we set out. The Tennessee River is beautiful, with huge lakes and many creeks and ‘fingers’. We ran into a little difficulty at one spot when we lost the main channel and ran aground. But no harm done to the boat. I think the wind and waves helped us get out of the shallows (in the middle of the river). The Kentucky Lake is very wide and even using the map it is sometimes difficult to tell where the main sailing line is. We were very vigilant after that in watching the buoys and in reading the mileage on the day markers.
As you can see in the above picture, there is still evidence of structures impacted by the Channel Widening Project when the dams were installed, and many acreas were flooded.
We are having the longest autumn of our lives. The changing colors of the trees are in the same timeframe as we are – we have seen them everywhere since the end of Sept. It really puts me in somewhat of a time warp, and if it weren’t for doing this blog and my journal, I would have no idea of the day of the week or the date.
On our travels we passed our Minnesota companions that we hadn’t seen for a few days. We all decided to stay at the Birdsong Resort & Marina at Mile 103.5. It was 2 miles off the main channel up Birdsong Creek, and we had a memorable time there. They have the only freshwater pearl farm in the US, with a little museum and store in their marina office. Skip, our marina attendant, gave us a great tour around the grounds via golf cart. Then we all shared dinner and drinks aboard the ‘River Rat’, and told stories and jokes in the cozy heated cabin.
On Sunday morning we tried to take the courtesy car to the Super WalMart to restock on groceries, but it would not start. So after gassing up (2.13 mpg) we set out once again in the sun and wind and chilly temps, and ate a Honey Crisp apple for breakfast. The scenery was fantastic, miles of water and high cliffs with autumn colors on display. The river narrows on this stretch, and navigation was much easier.
It was an easy cruise to the Clifton Marina in Clifton TN at Mile 158.5. This is the final destination for the ‘River Rat’, so we decided to have one last rendevous with our MN compadres. A chilly evening is forecast (28 degrees), but I feel at peace with the world, and know that my sheets are clean (I did 3 loads of laundry here). We were going to re-stock at the local grocery store, but it burned down 3 weeks ago, so we had to settle for the Dollar General. Oh well, such is life on the river. You have to go with the flow.
Clifton TN is a very historic place, mostly destroyed during the Civil War. But the people here are treating us ‘Yankees’ with the utmost hospitality. Sonja even lent us her own vehicle, as the courtesy car was in use by a couple from Denmark who are here on their sailboat. WOW.
We left the Clinton Marina Monday morning under clear skies and stiff winds at our backs. The scenery was beautiful, with tree-covered cliffs and stratified rock formations that made it look as if we were going down-hill when we were actually going upstream.
After cruising about 50 miles through the swells and whitecaps, we came to the Pickwick Landing Lock. The lift was 55 feet up, so on approach the doors look massive. Our timing was impeccible, as 2 other boats were there, and the gates opened right as we arrived.
We’re getting more adept at using the floating bollards in the locks. They are used instead of lines when the drop or lift is quite high. After we locked through, the Tennessee River becomes very wide again, and this stretch is called Pickwick Lake. From the lock to the entrance to the Tenn-TomBigbee Waterway was only a short 8 miles. So we have left the Tennessee River behind. Right after to enter the Tenn-Tom there is a beautiful marina called the Grand Harbor, which is where we are now. There are many other ‘loopers’ here, but our boat looks like a toy in comparison to theirs.
Tomorrow we will begin our trip down the Tenn-Tom, we’ll leave Tennessee behind and will be traveling in Mississippi. We’re really in the south now. I’ll leave you this evening with a shot of the moon rising over the bluffs at the juncture of the Tennessee and Tenn-Tom. We all see that same moon overhead.