Day Two

I anchored at mile 114 just above Chester, IL between two dikes. Nice spot. There are many places to anchor around the dikes and dams.

Progress today was 60 miles in about 10 hours of travel. I’m traveling at about 9 mph through the water, so an average of 3 mph current against me. I’m able to get out of the current a bit on bends by hugging the inside. In deep water the current is about 4 mph.

I’m enjoying this, though it requires a high degree of vigilance when outside the marked channel. Today was a bit more relaxed as I got into the rhythm of things. Not much debris, though there is the odd big tree.

Mile 54

I’m back on somewhat familiar waters. I came south through here on Mazurka a few years ago. The Mighty Mississippi. It still impresses.

I anchored here at dusk. Was underway for about 11 hours – 18 miles down the Ohio and 54 miles up the Mississippi. Heavily overcast and grey, with gusty SW winds. This isn’t very sheltered, but is well outside the channel.

The pics show my interests. Lots to see today – tows, wing dams, industry and a massive ongoing effort to keep the river under control.

Ohio River

I finally got through the Kentucky Dam around noon, and had a fast ride down to where I anchored here on the Ohio River about 6:30. I’m between two wing dams in relatively quiet waters. Nice spot, protected from the southerly winds expected tonight. The last two pics are looking forward and aft from my anchored position.

The Ohio is high, but has been dropping for a while, so there isn’t any major debris. Smooth sailing. Lots of barge traffic, and I expect lots more down to Cairo.

I’m getting excited about climbing the Mississippi. I like going upstream as there is an incentive to get in close to shore to avoid the current, and far less risk in doing so. Downstream is comparatively less interesting and the appropriate route is in the deep water channel.

Rain has stopped and the weather looks pretty good for the next few days. Water level is forecast to go up about 8 feet on the Mississippi this week, but will still be pretty low. Minor flood stage is about 30 feet, and a year ago it was at 36 feet. Right now it’s at 17 and going to crest at 25 on the weekend. I can work with that. When I came down a few years ago it was at about 30.

Kentucky Lock

I’m sitting next to Kentucky Lock waiting for a slot to get down. Busy spot

The trip down from Pickwick was pleasant and uneventful. Lots of current on my tail. I burned 24 gallons of fuel going 160 miles.

It’s now pouring rain, and the area is due for 2-3 inches over the next 24 hours or so.

From this lock it’ll be a quick trip down the 20 miles remaining on the Tennessee, then onto the Ohio River and through one lock on the Ohio to get to Cairo, where I turn right to go up the Mississippi. Water levels are high on the Ohio but low on the Mississippi, but the rain will bring the water up as I’m traveling. It looks manageable. It’s 200 miles against the current from Cairo to Alton, without any fuel stops. I’m planning on five days from here to Alton.

Wish me luck!

Sprint Time

Well, it’s all relative… I’ve been really loafing since I left Knoxville, on the assumption that I’m meeting guests in Kentucky Lake. But I’ve also been watching river levels. The Mississippi is low. That’s good. Not that I’ve been terribly concerned, but a good spring flood there could stop or hinder my ability to get to Chicago.

In consultation with Samantha and Sarah I’ve rebooked our biking and boating rendezvous to downstate Illinois, and am headed there now. Get up the Mississippi while the going is good.

So I have eight travel days to go down the Tennessee, about 360 miles, then down the Ohio about 50 miles, then about 240 miles upstream on the Mississippi to get to the bottom of the Illinois River. I’ll have to use my alarm clock to get started early each day.

Today I stayed put. I’m on the town dock in Guntersville. I picked up a few things, did an oil change and disassembled and cleaned my fuel separators. They were pretty gunked up. I hope that resolves my persistent air leak.

A friend suggested after seeing snow in my last post that I shouldn’t be in a rush to head north. But I like this weather. Today was about 20C and sunny. Any warmer and it would be uncomfortably hot 🙂

So Long Tennessee

I’m anchored here, just into Alabama, and a change to CDT. That’s three time changes in two weeks.

Going downstream is different. Faster with less fuel, which is nice. But I’m not in a big rush, and generally don’t mind going slow upstream.

I’ve taken a few pics, including the Racoon Mountain stored energy reservoir, which was completed in 1978. Pretty cool.

I stopped for the weekend in Kingston TN to wait out a snowstorm and record low temperatures. Weather is back to pleasant now.

The Upper Tennessee is nice. Very little commercial traffic, and lots of marinas and anchorages. Lots of people fishing from small boats.

Next stop is Guntersville for a few supplies. Then on down to Kentucky Lake.

Repair Stop

I left Knoxville Tuesday.  A few hours into the trip downstream I was stopped by a law enforcement officer.  He was curious about the Ontario licence number.  I turned off the motor, and was drifting downstream while outside chatting with him when I went aground on a rocky bar.  Not badly, but when I backed off I damaged my prop.

Today I had a short haul at a yard on the Little Tennessee River to install the spare prop and renew anodes.   All good now.

In hindsight I should have called a towing service rather than trying to get myself off.  But that’s not my instinct.  I really need to work on that, or get a different boat. 

On a related note, the charts on my Garmin are shit on this area.  Navionics is better, but still showed 10 feet where I was hung up.  I’ll make more of an effort to stay in the marked channel going down to Paducah.

Tonight I’m anchored just above Fort Loudon Lock.  Had takeout from a local Calhoun’s restaurant.  Tomorrow I’ll continue my leisurely cruise downriver.  Snow and very cold is forecast for Saturday, but generally the weather has been pleasant.

I’ve been thinking about elevations and the trip to Chicago.  I’m in the top pool on the Tennessee River, about 810 feet above sea level.  Chicago is at about 510 feet.  From here to there I descend on the Tennessee and Ohio, then go upstream on the Mississippi and the Illinois Rivers.  I’m not sure I have a strong preference on going upstream vs downstream.  Upstream is slower, but more engaging and interesting.

I’ve also been refining my schedule.  I think that after my next set of guests depart from Kentucky Lake in early April I’ll head straight for Chicago, if conditions allow. 

I haven’t been taking pictures, but will post a few of Susan’s.  I like it around here.

Knoxville, TN

Town dock, Knoxville

That was pleasant. Susan joined me on Sunday afternoon in Decatur AL as planned, and we got underway immediately. I had suggested that she fly out of Knoxville, about 440 miles upstream, and she had a flight booked for Saturday, today. I realized early on that this was pretty ambitious, particularly with a head current that was up to 3 mph in spots.

We ended up arriving here Friday afternoon, with lots of time for her to get COVID tested and for us to explore Knoxville a bit.

The trip up was lovely. We had the river to ourselves most of the time, and the weather was gorgeous all week, sunny and calm, and warmer later in the week. We traveled dawn to dusk, and only stopped briefly in Guntersville and Chattenuga for provisions.

From here I’m heading down the Tennessee to meet Samantha and Sarah in Land Between the Lakes. We have a date there in three weeks, and it’s about 630 miles. It’ll be a very leisurely cruise, with time for stops and diversions.

But first I have to do some repairs. The fridge stopped working earlier this week, and I think my inverter is dying. So I’ll likely try to get that sorted before leaving here. And I have some old friends to catch up with.

Susan took a gazillion pictures, so I’ll ask for her best and post here later.