Saturday, September 27, 2008


Friday, September 26

We took our time getting underway this morning; it was another clear cool beautiful morning. We all took advantage of the marina showers and finally got off about 9:00. Today we had a short day with just 35 miles to Chattanooga and no locks.

On the way out of the marina Diana got this nice picture of the hill across the river with the marina’s floating cabins in the foreground. They are semi-permanently anchored cabin that they rent out. You can spend your time enjoying the view or bring your own small boat to go out on the river or rent on of their rentals.

Visible last night when we pulled in was a large quarry operation farther up river, this morning we past it shortly after leaving the marina.

This is one of the most scenic stretches of the entire river; we took our time and enjoyed a lot of great scenery. I have included many pictures and will let them speak for themselves.

Shortly after 1:00 we were into Chattanooga area there is a school complex on the water’s edge that I believe is a private boarding prep school. By 1:30 we were tied to the city dock just below the aquarium. This picture looks up the terraced park at the two aquarium buildings. The one on the right is fresh water and was the first build (maybe 15 years ago) and the one on the left is saltwater and is only a few years old.

Off our bow at the end of the terraced park is a large water fountain. The other picture shows Memories from the top of the terrace.

Just up river from us is an old wooden decked bridge that was rescued from demolition and turned into a pedestrian bridge. We decided that we would leave the aquarium for tomorrow and go for a walk today. We walked up the hill to the pedestrian bridge. Diana decided that it looked like a long walk across the river and back and there was an art museum right there by the bridge. The museum is in three buildings of very different style, here are pictures of two of them.

Dave, Mary and I headed out across the bridge and by the time we could see the boat there were two rowing shells coming up river. We walked a couple of blocks on the other side of the river and came back across a newer (1917) highway bridge. It provided a nice view of the fountain, Memories, the aquarium and lookout mountain in the background.

I also got a nice picture of Memories from above. While we were relaxing after the walk the local tour boat, The Southern Bell, came by with the calipee planning.

We ended the day with an excellent dinner at the Bluewater Grille.

Saturday, September 27

We were in no hurry this morning and slept in. After breakfast we headed up the hill to the aquarium.

We decided to do the salt water half first. It was a very interesting and large display. They also had a butterfly display. One decided that it like Diana’s hat. In the tropical display they had a pair of Hyacinth Macaws. The fish were difficult to photograph so no pictures but it is an extremely well done display.

We decided the feet could use a break so we headed back to the boat to relax and have lunch. After lunch we head back to the fresh water half of the aquarium. It is an even larger display then the salt water and equally well done. You start by taking a very long escalator to the top. The exhibits cover all the rivers of the world but concentrates on the Tennessee. At the top you are in the mountains at the head of the river and you walk down ramps to different levels and that works you down to the Gulf of Mexico. The consensus was the Chattanooga Aquarium is a first class exhibit that was well worth the visit.

After the aquarium we decide that a walk of an extra block to a Ben and Jerry’s was well worthwhile. While we sat on a bench outside the aquarium there where carriages offering rides.

We went back to the boat for dinner and a free concert in the park. The band is at the far end of the park so it is not too loud.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jones Creek and Hales Bar

Wednesday, September 24

Mary and Dave arrived early evening last night. We got all of their gear and goodies onboard and spent the evening talking and showing Dave the boat. For those of you that don’t know Dave, he spent fifteen years as the captain of a marine research vessel belonging to the Smithsonian Institute. When he checks out a new boat it is with a professional eye.

This morning we made use of Dave’s car to replace the propane cylinder for the BBQ and pick up a few last minute groceries.

About 10:30 we got underway for what was planned as an easy days run of 32 miles to an anchorage at Jones creek. The weather was again perfect; sunny, a light wind and temperatures in the mid 60s. By the time we anchored it was about 80.

Guntersville Lake was an interesting change from the last couple of days. There are still the hills surrounding the lake but the water level is maintained at relatively stable level and there is a good deal of development with larger homes build not to high above the water level and lots of boat houses.

By 2:30 we had the entrance to Jones creek in site. We pulled slowly into a very narrow but well buoyed channel and on into Jones creek. It is a beautiful bay with wooded hills on all sides except for the low land separating it from the river. The only development on the water is a Boy Scout camp that has a small shelter and a dock visible. There are a few houses just visible on the top of one ridge line.

We dropped the anchor in about ten feet of water, and settled in from a peaceful afternoon and evening. There were a few fishermen in the area but they all left by dusk. After sitting on the upper deck and enjoying the scenery and a snack we had dinner on the mid-deck and watched a beautiful sunset.

After we got settled in, the deck hands breathed a sigh of relieve after another hard day of cruising and said we are taken a break.

Live continues to be very good.

Thursday, September 25

It was a beautiful morning at anchor, there was just the start of some fog that quickly burned off as the sun rose in a cloudless sky. The temperature was just 52 and there was a bit of a breeze. We took our time and got the anchor up a little before 8:30. Again the windlass and wash down system made an easy job of it.

We planned a 43 mile run today up the rest of Guntersville Lake, thru the Nickajack Lock and on up Nickajack Lake, ending the day at Hales Bar Marina.

We continued to have gorgeous scenery with more and more mountains. The day was beautiful but with ten to fifteen mph winds in our face we all stayed with long sleeves all day. About 1:15 we call the Nickajack Lock to say we were twenty minutes out and would like to lock up. The lockmaster responded the lock was up and he would dump it and be ready for us when we got there. We continued on and as the lock came into site the gates were closed. We kept going and shortly the gates began to open. Now the gates were open but there was no green light. I called on the radio and asked if he was ready. He said the lights were not on and we could come right in. We kept right on going into the lock without having to hesitate. Twenty five minutes later we were out of the lock and headed the last 8 miles to Hales Bar.

We went straight to the fuel dock and had to make a couple of attempts to get to the dock with a strong cross wind blowing. We got fuel and a pump-out then over to a nearby face dock where we tied up easily since it was into the wind.

The numbers for this fueling are better than the last but still not what we would like, 3.25 MPG. It is all up river and there is some current on much of it. We also had a day where there was an engine idling for a long, long time.

Hales Bar was originally a dam and power plant started in 1904 and completed in 1913. Unfortunately there was porous rock under the dam and the fix was questionable and expensive. The eventual solution was to build Nickajack further downstream and remove Hales Bar Dam. The power house was left and there is now a marina with slips both above and below the power house. Here are pictures of the building that sat empty for years and now is being used for dry rack boat storage.

After we got settled in Oreo decided he wanted to know more about operating the boat, but he was an extremely un-attentive student.

We also got this nice picture of Memories in the sunshine. Once we were off the water the late afternoon was actual quite warm.

Mary cooked dinner tonight, a cream with sausage, mushrooms and zucchini spaghetti, it was delicious. We again had dinner on the mid-deck on a glorious evening.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Monday, September 22

I got an early start and ran to McDonalds for coffee and wi-fi. I got the previous blog entry done, some emails sent and the news and weather checked. By then Enterprise just down the street was open and I returned the rental. They ran me back to the boat by 8:15.

We had breakfast, I got cleaned up and the boat ready for departure. We had a short day planned with a run of less than 30 miles to Ditto Landing Marina.

Looking behind us as we left we could see the highway 31 bridge; the marina is just below it on the right. On the left is the main city of Decatur, with a lot of commercial docks on the waterfront.

It was a beautiful sunny morning with a temperature about 70 and no wind. Once out of town the river runs thru the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. This is a major wintering ground for ducks and geese; we are a little early the birds aren’t here yet. Because of the refuge there is virtual no presence of man on either bank for twelve miles and on Monday morning almost no fisherman. We cruised slowly up river enjoying the scenery. We are starting to see mountains in the distance.

Other than a few fishermen the only boats we saw were two small sailboats motoring down river.

Of the total shore line probably less than one percent is rocky but Diana gets lots of pictures of rocks. This was an interesting formation with an arch in the middle and sun light shining on the rock behind.

Shortly before two o’clock we had the marina in site. We quickly got in and got tied up. It had been pleasant all day but was begin to get warm in the sunshine. The AC felt good. Diana got pictures of the spacious marina which is in a lovely larger park. They also have an RV park with a pavilion that serves both the marina and RV Park. It has restroom, showers and a laundry. Diana took the opportunity to do a load of clothes.

We had dinner onboard, and as the sunset it cold off quickly and we open the windows for the night.

Tuesday, September 23,

Again plans for a short day, only about 25 miles but with one lock. We slept in (a little) and took our time getting underway. We were underway about 8:30

On the way out of the marina we saw this Jefferson 42; it is very similar to Cat’s Cradle that I have written about in earlier entries. Cat’s Cradle is a Hershine that was originally sold in Canada then later brought to the US. Jefferson’s are build by Hershine and imported thru Jeffersonville, IN. If originally sold in the US it is a Jefferson, sold anywhere else in the world it is a Hershine.

As we headed out today the weather was about the same as yesterday (beautiful!), just a little more wind. The mountains are getting closer and there are more high banks. Still most of the shore is owned by TVA and not a lot of development.

Still not much pleasure boat traffic, there were more fishermen, I am not sure if there were more fish in this stretch or more launching ramps. One of the few larger pleasure boats we saw was this lovely old Pacific Trawler. It is registered out of Rhode Island. I am guessing they are doing the great loop and are on a side trip up the Tennessee while they wait for the season to go to the gulf.

Shortly we came to a large cliff that is the end of a mountain range that the river cut through. The last two days has been some of the most beautiful scenery of the trip so far.

About 10:30 we called the Guntersville Lock to tell them we would like to lock up. He said we would have to wait an hour to an hour and a half. As we rounded the next bend we could see the lock with a string of barges below it and the tow with the rest of the barges in the lock. The tow finished locking down and reassembling his barges and at 12:02 we were signaled to enter. By 12:30 the gates were open and Diana was driving out of the lock.

About a mile upriver is a cave favored by Gray Bats (an endangered species) as a maternity cave. They raise the young there because it is the right temperature, then move to cooler caves for the winter to lower their metabolism.

We continued up Guntersville Lake and reached an area where it widens out and there is a cluster of wooded islands. Just past these we turned up a side channel to the Alred Marina. We had trouble getting into the available transient slip because our bimini was about two inches too high to clear the roof. We backed out with no damage and tied along the end of the dock where there is no roof. By 2:30 we were tied secure, had power and were doing boat chores.

This is where Dave and Mary West are joining us for a week (sister and brother-in-law). We have talked to them and they are visiting a friend in town and will be here shortly.