Sunday, October 26, 2008

Summary of the Season

The season is over for us, the boat is at Polestar Marina, where Bloch Marine service will winterize it, haul it out, shrink wrap it and repair the prop damage. (Hopefully it is only a prop and not something more.) We do not plan to be aboard again until May.

Looking back we spent a total of about 14 weeks aboard the boat. Seven weeks in May – June and another seven September – October. In general the weather was great, we had only two storms and we were securely tied up for both of then. Almost all the rain we saw was at night. We had a high proportion of the days with at least some sun and generally light winds. Both Diana and I agree that it was a great summer. We saw a lot of beautiful scenery, saw many interesting places and meet many wonderful people.

The fuel and mileage log shows that we did 2184 miles, went thru 24 locks (including over two that the wickets were down), burned 736 gallons of diesel, put 327 hours on the engines and ran the generator for 44 hours. Allowing ½ gallon per hour for the generator this gives us a total season of 3.06 miles per gallon. This is the type of fuel efficiency we were looking for when we bought this boat. Many boat this size are in the one MPG. The count of pictures taken is still being tallied, I am glad they are digital and I don’t have to pay for film processing.

I did not get a chance to do a fuel report on the last fill. From GTB to St Charles we took on 120 gallons at Hoppies then need 70 more to fill at St Charles. The distance traveled was 296 miles and five hour on the generator. This works out to 1.57 MPG. Included is 220 miles up the Mississippi against a current of 3.5 to 5 miles per hour for much of the way and 30 hours of running hard, (2500 to 2700 rpm), to fight the current which is way above the normal cruise of 2000 rpm that would have produced better mileage.

This is the last planned posting for the season. The next will be about May first as we get ready to start next summer’s planed trip up the Illinois and up to the Canadian canals.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Green Turtle Bay to St Charles

Wednesday, October 15

We started the day with showers ashore for the whole crew, well the human crew; the deck hands said they would bath themselves. Then we went up to Dockers, GTB’s great little breakfast and lunch spot. They have the greatest pecan pancakes.

Next we made sure everything was ready to travel and topped of the water tank. There are two ways to get to the Ohio River from GTB, thru the Barkley lock and down the Cumberland or thru the Kentucky lock and down the Tennessee River. The Tennessee is 22 miles shorter but the Kentucky Lock is frequently backed up with Tow traffic. I called the Kentucky Lock on the radio (I had check the traffic on the internet, it showed one tow working nothing waiting) and he said to come that way and call him when we were thru the canal between the lakes. When we got there he was just finishing the down bound tow and then locked up a pleasure craft. We waited about 45 minutes and got through the lock in good shape (don’t ask the admiral about the window screen).

What a break we are now a least twenty miles ahead of the other way and when we exited the lock there is a tow waiting to enter (he has two thirds of the exit blocked) that we squeezed by and continued down river. There is a second and third tow in the next five miles. That is at least a five hour wait if nothing else shows up if we had been a little later.

There is a tremendous amount of barge activity along the last ten miles of the Tennessee, not only loading and unloading but repair facilities. One two mile stretch of one bank is almost continuous floating dry docks, with both barges and tows out for service.

We reached the Ohio which is at Paducah, KY. It is interesting, with flood walls the bases of which are twenty feet above the water. The gates are open and people drive down and park below the flood wall on the river bank.

Another five miles is lock 52. It is the busiest lock on the rivers, and old and slow. When I looked this morning there were eighteen tows waiting to lock, estimate 21 hours. They are very good about working in pleasure craft. They have both a large and small chamber; we waited about half an hour and they got us into the small chamber.

When the water is high they have “wickets” in the dam and these are simply laid down, then traffic flows right thru the opening. When we went up the Ohio in May the dam was down, we didn’t see the lock, it was entirely under water.

It was now almost 4:00 and there is another lock in twenty miles. The best (only?) anchorage on this stretch of the river is about two miles downriver from the lock, near the I-24 highway bridge. The channel is on the Illinois side of the river and there is still 8 to 10 feet of water on the far (Kentucky) shore. It is a bit open, but just enough current to hold the boat steady on the anchor. The barges are all lined up on the far bank waiting their turn in the lock. This is across the river from Metropolis, IL, The water tower with Superman on it is not visible from the river, we saw it from the highway driving down.

Pikka likes to navagate, but she has a hard time consentrating.

It was another warm afternoon with a high in the mid 80s and a brisk wind. This evening we sat on the front deck enjoying temperatures in the upper 70s and watched a full moon rise while playing peek-a-boo behind some clouds. This may be the end of the warmth, the forecast is for a cold front with rain tonight and a high tomorrow only in the 60’s.

For now life continues to be very good.

Thursday, October 16

Neither of us got a lot of sleep last night. We were only in bed about fifteen minutes when it started to rain. It doesn’t take much rain on the upper deck, that than runs off to the lower deck, to be pretty loud. Along with the rain came some wind (not heavy) but it was enough to swing us on the anchor. We had been hanging on a current of about one mph but the wind was enough on our big surface area to swing us about 150 degrees. I had to go out and check that the anchor was well hooked and hadn’t pulled itself out when we swung. We spent the night swinging back and forth as the rain squalls came and went. One of us was about every half hour checking our position.

This morning the rain was ending but it was still low overcast and lots of moisture. We had hot oatmeal for breakfast and were underway by about 8:00. The plan for the day was to get through lock 53 (the last on the Ohio) and down to the mouth of the Ohio where it meets the Mississippi.

We got the anchor up and worked our way back to the channel. There were still lots of tows all over the river.

Twenty miles downriver was Lock 53, we caught a tow just a couple miles before the lock. I throttled back and was prepared to follow him; he was just a couple mph slower than we were. I called the lock and asked for lockage. He called the tow then called us back and said come on around the tow, the gates were open on the main chamber and we should come right in. The tow had only four rows of barges and the lock will hold five. So we went to the far end of the chamber, the tow followed us in and we locked down together.

Both 52 and 53 are due to be replaced by the new Olmsted lock, see Diana’s pictures. Because of this the only maintenance is that required to keep them functioning in the short term and it shows. Olmsted was started in 1990 with a scheduled completion of 2002. The current completion date is 2013, 2017, 2021, take your pick I have heard them all. Since it changes every year it doesn’t really matter.

The last six or eight miles of the Ohio are again very busy with lots of barge activity. There are barges parked everywhere, on both banks and anchored in the middle of the river. Large tows are going both ways while harbor tugs move barges from a staging area across the river to a loading/unloading facility.

After we got thru the lock in good time we also picked up about one mph of favorable current. This was going to get us to our planned anchorage by 1:30, a rather short day. Knowing there was supposed to be an anchorage behind an island twenty miles further up river. We decide we would start our battle with the Mississippi River current.

We pushed the engines up to 2600 rpm and gave them some work (normal cruising is 1800 – 2000). We were seeing current form 3.5 to over 5 mph. This is what was expected, I also believe the current is strongest in the first fifty of the 185 miles to St. Louis. We made it to the anchorage about 5:30; the water looked questionable, so we slowly tried to noise in. With the depth finder still showing five feet under the center of the boat the bow was suddenly hard aground. Since we had good water at the back we just reversed off and went back out one hundred feet to ten feet of water and dropped two anchors.

We watched a beautiful sunset, in a clear sky and the temperature began to drop immediately. High today of mid 60’s but a low tonight in the mid 40’s.

Friday, October 17

It was a cool clear morning, 46 outside, 56 in the cabin. The admiral was happy when I started the generator and turned the heat on before she got out of bed. We immediately set about getting underway (after I start coffee brewing first). By 7:00 we were in the channel and making way against the current. Our plan for the day called for 66 miles upriver in eleven hours. It doesn’t sound like a lot but with our top speed of 11.5 and current of over 5 at times it made for a long day.

Actually we found that running at 2600 to 2700 rpm (about 80% of full power) gave us enough average speed to do our six plus mph. It also burns less fuel than wide open.

As we continued upriver we marveled at the change in the water level since we were here Memorial Day weekend. As we went through Cape Girardeau Diana took a picture of the mural on the flood wall, it is similar to a picture in May when the water was high. I have also included a picture from yesterday of the junction marker where the Ohio meets the Mississippi. It is a red marker for the Mississippi and a green for the Ohio. Next is the same marker from May.

Shortly after Cape G. we meet the McGees coming the other way. This is two couples (brothers) that took delivery of a 59 foot Gibson the same time we got our boat. They spent the summer in the St Charles area and are just now headed south. We took time to get pictures of each other and chatted on the radio, and then we continued our journeys in opposite directions.

By 5:30 we were nearing an anchorage that was recommended last weekend by Mark on the Nordhavn. We eased our way in behind the wing dam, found good water and dropped the anchor. The hour meters show 10.8 hours today. That is about all the day light there is now.

Saturday, October 18

Another up at the crack of dawn and underway by 6:50, sunrise is 7:15. The morning was clear sky, no wind and temperature of 48. The wind remained light all day and only a few clouds, with the temperature finally reaching the mid 60’s late in the day.
The plan was another long day, 70 miles into the current to reach Hoppies Marina. We again ran at 80% of full power all day. By noon it looked like we might be pushing too hard the starboard fuel gauge was looking like we might not make Hoppies at that power. The option is to run slower which will burn less fuel but will add an extra day (night at anchor) to the trip. I went back and measured the fuel with a calibrated wooden dowel which is more accurate than the gauge. It appears the gauge is under reporting by at least an 1/8, we keep on pushing.

We continue to meet many tows, since this part of the river has no locks they can push more barges. Five by five is very common and a couple of six by six. They are slow and cumbersome but they are moving a lot of heavy freight. One barge is the equivalent of about 45 truck loads.

This afternoon we watched a small ferry cross the river in front of us. Then two cars drove off and he reloaded with about eight cars and two motorcycles. These ferries are just a barge with a small tug on the side.

By 5:30 we had Hoppies in site and called on the radio. They said they were just finishing fueling a 58 foot cruiser and he was going to move to the other end of the barge, we were to pull in where he pulled out and we could fuel, and then spent the night right there. Pretty soon the little 58 foot cruiser pulled out from in front of the big yacht in front of it. We slowly motored into fuel dock, bow to bow with the “Water Gremlin” of Stillwater, MN. Water Gremlin is a well known company in our hometown of White Bear Lake.

We took on 120 gallons of diesel (not a fill but more than enough to get us to St Charles. We got the power connected and had an interesting conversation with Fern (the proprietor). She is extremely knowledgeable about the river and what is going on.

It was another long hard day but it gets us thru most of the stretch of heavy current and no more anchoring with tows going by all night. Again the hour meters said 10.8 hours.

Just as the sun was setting I walked up to the top of the walkway and got this picture of the 58 footer, Water Gremlin, and us on the outside of the barges. The boats on the inside are permanent residents. The area where I stood to take the picture was underwater less than a month ago after the remains of Ike. The ground still showed signs of saturation recently.

Sunday, October 19

One more good, long day with a little luck at two locks and we will be back in St Charles. Our luck just ran out, at 7:00 the fog is thick, visibility less than 1/8 of a mile. Finally after 8:30 it has lifted enough that it looks like we can get underway shortly.

Water Gremlin with a paid crew and lots of electronics is out before us. Diana got these pictures as she left. Then just after we left she got a picture of the fog clearing.

With a two hour delay the plan was now to go to the Alton Marina, just after the second lock and twenty miles short of St. Charles.

We set the power at about 80% where the engines run well and we get decent progress against the current. Not too far up river we go around the dredge Potter working to remove silting from this summer’s floods.

There is a tremendous amount of barge activity in the area around St Louis. Facilities of all sorts on both banks and large rafts of barges anchored in the middle of the river waiting to be broken into smaller tows to fit the locks. These barges collect large quantities of debris during flood stage. It just all accumulates on their bows. When they are later moved the debris is all turned lose again.

This morning the river was a mine field of debris, everything from twigs to logs and whole trees floating down river. I tried to pick my way thru it but there was apparently one submerged log that I did not see. I didn’t hear anything but suddenly there was tremendous vibration on the starboard side. We slowed way down and checked things out. In neutral there was no vibration, only in gear. Has to be the prop and shaft not the engine, that’s good. At idle there is vibration but it is deemed acceptable for short periods of time. We will still have two engines for locking and docking.

We proceeded on just the port engine; amazingly we are still able to make progress against the current. Now we need no major delays at the locks to make Alton before dark. We pass thru downtown St. Louis and its lovely skyline with the arch, but it is hard to enjoy at the moment.

We reach lock 27 which is in a cannel separate from the main river and are now able to relax a little. They are just starting to lock down another boat and we wait about half an hour. We get in and lock up without a problem. Now we are in the 8 or 9 mile long Chain of Rocks cannel which has almost no current. We can run a little easier (70-75% of power) and still make decent speed. Half way up the cannel we meet more of the Minnesota navy headed south for the winter. The “MIMI” belongs to the Hubbard family.

We reach the end of the cannel and are back in heavy current for five miles as we go by the junction of the Missouri River with the Mississippi. There are more barge facilities here; Diana got this picture of two tows in dry dock.

We soon have the Mel Price Lock in site, our last lock for 2008, the lock master says we will us the small chamber, the gates are open and we have a green light. While we are headed for the lock, a fishing boat dashes in front of us and ties up at the back of the lock. I have to go out and around him and with a tailwind that keeps blowing the back end away from the wall we have a bit of trouble getting tied up. Finally we are able to back into position and we lock up. The small chamber apparently has not been used for a while and when the gates open there is a large quantity of debris swirling in the turbulence created by the opening gates. It takes us several minutes to pick our way out of the lock. I try and use the starboard engine when it looks questionable and protect the good port by leaving it in neutral.

The Alton Marina is in site less than two miles upriver. We get in and tied off, it is time to unwind, it was a tough day. This is a lovely marina; we are just a little too tired to really enjoy it.

Monday, October 20

We have just twenty miles with less current today; we take our time and are underway about 8:30. There is a relatively high bluff along the Illinois side of the river all day today, with many homes on the top. Old ones as we leave Alton then newer homes as we get further up river. Diana gets many pictures of the interesting rock formations.

Shortly before noon we have the large eagle marking the entrance to Polestar Marina in sight. We pull into the Wahoo dock and tie up right where we took deliver this spring.
Our car is up next to the Wahoo office, thanks to Dave and Mary who moved from Nashville to here on their way home to Minnesota.

We make arrangements with Bloch Marine Services, to pull the boat, winterize it, shrink wrap it and repair the damage to the prop.

Now it is time to start packing.

Tuesday, October 21

We finish our packing, move the boat to the fuel dock, top of the tanks and pump out.

We carry the last of the items going home; it is again a van full, up the steep ramp to the car.

I will do a summary of the year as another entry and will include fuel information there.

By noon we are on our way to Minnesota. It is a long day but we make it by 10:00 P.M. and it feels good to have the long drive behind us.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Home again

We are back in White Bear Lake. We drove home from St Charles yesterday. The complete report of our journey from GTB to St Charles is in the works, but there is so much to do that it maybe a day or two until I can get it posted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Starting the long trip North

Tuesday, October 14

We took today off. We took a relaxing day at GTB to mental prepare for the long trip up the Mississippi. When we leave here it will take us between six and nine days to get to St Charles. We will be at anchor each night accept for one night at Hoppies (see the May entry for description of Hoppies). The trip is; thru the Barkley lock and 32 miles down the Cumberland, 69 miles down the Ohio with two locks, then 185 miles up the Mississippi against strong current to the first lock on the Mississippi and finally two locks and 37 miles to St Charles.

The tough points are the two locks on the Ohio, they are the busiest locks on all of the rivers and the wait can be lengthy and then the 185 miles of the Mississippi from Cairo, IL to St Louis. The estimate I am getting from boats that came the other direction in the last week is the current is between 3.5 and 5+ mph. Since we like to cruise at 8 and our top speed is less than 12 it is going to be a long 185 miles.

The last couple of days coming in here the Coast Guard morning broadcast have been advising of a grounded 61 foot Hatteras just ten miles up the Cumberland from GTB. Yesterday I was standing on the dock talking to a couple of the marina people plus the Captain of the Local TowBoat US operation. When the employees left, Capt Gordon said he thought he would take a run out to look at the Hatteras.

I ask if I could go along and he said sure. It was a beautiful afternoon for a boat ride and an interesting hour of conversation with a very interesting guy. He grew up in Hawaii, has lived across the country and has thousands of hours in boats of all type (sailed Hawaii to Tahiti race 17 times). He has also worked at and owned TowBoat US operation around the country. The Hatteras was not a pretty site. It is lying on its side, listing about 30 degrees and the port shaft, half the prop and the stabilizer are out of the water. Capt Gordon says in Florida he could use prop wash from a tow boat to wash sand out from under and in a couple days refloat it. Here because the bottom is clay and rock it will take a barge with a crane to move it off.

This will be the last entry in the blog for a while. There will be no internet access until we get to St. Charles, then we will be busy preparing the boat for the winter and packing to go home. I will do a long summary of the summer when we get back to White Bear Lake.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Green Turtle Bay

Sunday, October 12

We plan two short days, so no hurry to get going. We finally get started on another gorgeous morning and proceed slowly down river. We decide that the forecast is for warm enough temperatures that the AC is going to feel good so we choose to go to KenLake Marina as opposed to anchoring in one of the many lovely bays in the land between the lakes. We are now back where all of the starboard shoreline is LBL.

Diana continues to photograph the pretty scenery.

By early afternoon we were headed into the KenLake Marina. They are a private marina within a state park. They don’t have a lot of permanent slips but they have 800 feet of nice new transient docking. They also have a nice ship store and a small breakfast and lunch eatery all on an old barge.

We got tied up and settled in and chatted with our neighbors across the dock. They were two couples from Clear Lake, CA. They had trailered two small (24 -27? foot) sailboats from CA to Knoxville, TN. They are working their way down the Tennessee then will go up the Cumberland to Nashville, retrieve their trailers and return home.

Later in the afternoon a lovely Nordhavn 62 came in and tied in front of us. This was a couple from Mason City, IA who had the boat in La Crosse for the summer and are taking it to Florida. They had started their boating career on Clear Lake, IA where I have sailed many times. He was very helpful with conditions on the Mississippi and a possible anchorage.

Monday, October 13

It was another nice morning, temperature in the upper 60s, but with a little wind and cloudy. We went up to Cindy’s on the Barge for breakfast. The crews from the other three boats were already there. After breakfast we watched the others get underway then got going ourselves.

The wind was higher than forecast. We had 10 to 15 gusting 20, fortunately it was behind us and the flybridge was pleasant. We continued to cruise the river at a leisurely pace and watched the scenery go by. Diana got more photos of interesting rock formations.

Finally about noon we saw the red and green marker that indicates a split in the channel. This is the mouth of the Barkley Channel that takes us from the Tennessee River back to the Cumberland.

From there it was just three more miles to Green Turtle Bay where we had reservations for two nights. We pulled into the fuel dock, fueled and then moved to our slip. By now a front had moved thru and the sky had cleared and the wind in the harbor was only 5 to 8 (much easier to maneuver in).

The fueling was good news and better news. The mileage was back to just under 4.1 mpg and the price with Boat US discount was $3.59 a gallon. The cheapest we have seen all summer.

We borrowed the courtesy van and ran to the IGA. This should be our last supplies of the trip and we tried to buy enough to get through the next ten days without much left over.

We had a nice afternoon socializing with eight or ten other boaters here then watched the full moon rise behind the boat as we grilled pork tenderloin for dinner.

We are still enjoying live!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Paris Landing State Park

Friday, October 10

We had a peaceful night until about 6:00 A.M. It seems there was a small fishing tournament with a 7 o’clock start. Between 6:00 and 7:00 about twenty fishing boats launched at the ramp 100 yards from us and tied to the dock right next to us. I got up, fixed coffee and went out to watch.

It was another calm clear morning with a temperature near sixty. The fisherman all got off; we had breakfast and headed out not to long after the fishermen.

With little or no wind and bright sunny, the flybridge was comfortable all day. It was another great day of cruising as we continued down Kentucky Lake. As we get into the area of the lake where it begins to widen, but mostly with large shallow areas, we begin to see large numbers of pelicans. This is the first time we have seen pelicans since the spring migration headed north back at St Charles. Another sign fall is here. We continue to see a little color but it is still early for color here.

The second pelican picture is included for two reasons. It is a good close up of the pelican and it also shows a little of the milfoil problem on the river. Some of the wide shallow areas of the river have heavy milfoil that grows rapidly in the nutrient rich waters that are 8 to 10 feet deep at summer pool. Now that the water has been drawn down 4+ feet to near winter pool, the heavy growth is in 5 to 6 feet (or less) and is heavily matted. The egrets and herons actually walk across it. I estimate some of the mats to approach 50 acres in size.

We are now on the section of the river used by the boats heading south to the gulf, we are seeing many more pleasure boats headed the other way. This picture shows three cruisers going by and passing a slower sailboat.

By three o’clock we were pulling into Paris Landing State Park Marina. This is where we came into when we were headed up river after a long day of high winds, then rode out the remnants of Ike, with 60 mile per hour gusts that night and the next day. What a difference, bright sun and still near calm conditions make.

Saturday, October 11,

We decide to stay a second day at Paris Landing; we used their showers, took our time getting ready and then walked the near mile to the Inn and Convention center. We had their buffet breakfast and then leisurely strolled back to the boat. It was a lovely morning, clear skies, calm and temperature in the low to mid 60s. The walk through the lovely state park was delightful.

When we got back Diana took a load of laundry up to the laundry at the office. Then she dug out all the cans and bottles she has been saving, this is one of the only places we have found that has recycling bins. I gave the boat a thorough wash down from top to bottom. By the time everything was done the temperature was in the low 80’s and it was past lunch time. We had a late lunch, and then both laid down to relax and cool off for a little while.

Later this afternoon a couple more transient boats can in. We helped them tie up and chatted a while. Now it is time to catch up on this blog and plan the next couple of days.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Clifton and Cuba Landing

Wednesday, October 8

Our decision to stay put yesterday proved to be a good one. Not only did it rain off and on all day but in the evening we had a thunderstorm followed by an all night rain. This morning was low overcast and wet but the rain stopped about five this morning.

Since we had a longer day planned we got up and underway by 8:00. It was still warm (upper 60s) and the day cleared slowly to be another pleasant day. Just over an hour after we left Aqua was Pickwick Lock. We waited about ten minutes for the chamber to be opened and got through without any problem.

This puts us back in Kentucky Lake. There are no more locks until we leave the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers to go to the Ohio and Mississippi for the return trip to St Charles.

Another hour down river was Shiloh Park where we were on Monday. Here is a picture of Pittsburg Landing where the Union forces came ashore and one of the national cemeteries above it.

These pictures show more of the beautiful scenery.

Before 4:00 we were pulling into the nice little marina at Clifton, TN. This is not a big facility but they have very helpful staff and the cheapest diesel fuel on the river. We pulled in and got 100 gallons and a pump out.

The mileage on this tank works out to be just less than 3.5 miles to the gallon. We had hoped for four, but I am afraid that is only a target for ideal conditions. There are a number of things that I think are preventing us from the ideal; a fouled bottom, idling waiting for locks (6 on this fill up), and a thermostat stuck open on one engine. This causes the engine to take much longer to warm up and that tank is using more fuel. Still I am very happy with 3.5, since standard gas engines would be closer to one.

Thursday, October 9

This morning was cool and clear, with heavy dew. We took our time getting up, had a cooked breakfast (as opposed to the normal bowl of cereal) and finally got underway a little after nine.

There was not a cloud in the sky all day and although the temperature warmed to the seventies it was chilly on the flybridge. There was about a ten mile per hour wind that no matter how the river turned was in our face. This gave us an apparent wind of 15 to 20. Despite the wind chill it was a beautiful day.

By 3:00 we were pulling into Cuba Landing marina. This is a nice little marina in a secluded cove. Shortly after we were settled in a PDQ 34 power cat came in and tied across the dock from us. We had looked at PDQs before we bought the Gibson.

On shore, sheltered from the wind it was actually warm. We enjoyed the afternoon chatting with our neighbors and then watched a beautiful sunset as we grilled marinated chicken breasts for dinner,

Live continues to be good.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Aqua Harbor & Shiloh Military Park

Sunday, October 5

We had a peaceful night at anchor and awoke to a beautiful morning. This picture was taken as the sun rose while we were still at anchor. I mentioned the minnows in the last post, this morning there were two fishermen in a john boat with a hand net catching them. They had a large plastic bucket in the bow into which they dumped them. Despite the abundance of minnows a good throw of the net appeared to bring up only a dozen or two and many throws came up empty.

After a leisurely breakfast we got both anchors up without a problem and headed back out onto Lake Wilson, it was another beautiful day.

We started about an hour from the Wilson Lock, when we were twenty five minutes out, we called on the radio. The lockmaster replied the lock was up and let him know when we were close and he would open the gates. If you read our upriver blog you remember that Wilson Lock has a drop of ninety three feet, the highest in the eastern US. It also has an upper gate that rises straight up and down rather than swinging sideways. The pictures show; looking forward at the lower gate, the upper gate rising out of the water, the upper gate all the way up, the upper gate after we were at the bottom and the lower gate opening. My calculations show that 45 million gallons of water were emptied out of the chamber to lower us the ninety three feet, all in less than fifteen minutes.

We continued down Pickwick Lake (the upper stretch is more river than lake) with little traffic other than a lot of fisherman. From something heard on the radio I believe there was a bass fishing tournament that day. The wind was light, when it was directly behind us it actually felt a little warm, when the wind was from the side or on the bow it was delightful sitting on the bridge enjoying the scenery. For the first time we are starting to see some fall color. On the lower part of the lake it is wider and in the afternoon there were many pleasure boats out.

By 4:00 we were pulling out of the Tennessee into Yellow Creek (the start of the Tenn-Tom waterway), past Grand Harbor Marina and into Aqua Yacht Harbor where we had reservations for two nights.

We got tied up and had a relaxing evening with dinner aboard and conversation with other boaters.

Monday, October 6

We borrowed the marina courtesy van and drove to Corinth, MS where we had a car reserved. We returned the van to the marina and had a quick lunch.

Then we headed out to Shiloh National Military Park. This is a 4000 plus acre park that documents the two day battle between the confederate forces who surprised the union forces who thought the confederates were twenty miles away. The confederates had the better of the first day but the union forces were able to get reinforcements across the river that night and ultimately won the battle on the second day. The casualties were in the thousands on both sides.

The battle draws its name from a small church that was in the middle of the battle field, the original was destroyed during the battle, and this one was build shortly after the war. There is still a congregation that meets in a newer (1950s) building at the site.

The park is filled with both monuments and with markers that detail where different units were and who they were engaging on an hour by hour basis throughout the battle. It has a way of making the civil war seem very real and personnel. I would strongly recommend it to anyone that is anywhere near the area.

This is an example of a monument to a fallen high ranking officer.

The union dead are buried in a National Cemetery on the grounds; the confederate dead are in several marked mass graves.

On the way back to the boat we drove through the Pickwick Landing State Park. We had planned to stay at their marina on the trip up river but could not get in. They are rebuilding some of their slips for permanent boats and the displaced boats are using what would normally be transient dock, so no transient dockage this year.

We had another peaceful night on the boat but the weather forecast says that may change. Aqua is a great marina, with excellent facilities, but they lack a decent internet system. The wi-fi system is fine but it attaches to the internet by satellite, every time the gust of wind comes by the connection is lost. I am getting behind on the post again.

Tuesday, October 7

I had a part I needed. The service department was able to order it Monday for deliver today.

We borrowed the courtesy van again and returned the rental car. Since the part would not be in until early afternoon and the weather forecast was for rain, thunder showers and windy we decided to stay put for another night.