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.

Tennessee River

Taking on fuel and water atJoe Wheeler Marine

I’ve been hanging out tied up to the municipal dock in Decatur, AL. I got in here Thursday evening. Susan is flying in to nearby Huntsville airport tomorrow morning and cabbing over here to join me for a few days.

The trip up the Tenn Tom was uneventful. I was especially interested in the divide cut section. Most of the pics are of that section. That was a huge project that was completed in 1985.

The waterways have largely been empty. I met a couple of pleasure craft southbound, and occasional tows. The standard tow on the Tenn Tom is 8 barges.

I didn’t really have any expectation for the Tennessee River. It’s big, and largely empty so far. I’ve gone through two locks. The current is strong in places, up to 3 mph.

Weather has been pretty unpleasant since I got here, rainy and cold. Clearing tomorrow, and looks nice for this week. We’re heading upstream.

Columbus MS

Hello Mississippi! I’m anchored here in the original river course next to Columbus. There is a dinghy dock nearby, and I was just ashore for dinner.

We’re 320 miles upriver from Mobile. This was about the limit of navigation on the Tombigbee before the Tenn Tom was completed in 1985. Steamers were coming here in the 19th century. Most of the travel so far has been on the original river course.

It’s been smooth sailing the last two days. Nice weather, and water levels are near normal. I stopped last night here.

I have plans to meet Susan next Sunday in Decatur, which is about 210 miles and a bunch of locks from here. Seems completely doable, although there is heavy rain forecast for the next two days. Hopefully that doesn’t cause issues with water levels.

Black Warrior River

I left Demopolis Tuesday morning and decided to detour up the Black Warrior. Tuesday night I anchored just below the Selden Dam, and arrived at Tuscaloosa just after dark on Wednesday, and spent the night at a restaurant dock.

I had a couple of meals out and put in a big load of groceries in Tuscaloosa. The weather was threatening on Thursday, and the dock was not suitable for stormy weather or higher water levels, so I left to head back downstream on Thursday afternoon.

There was a violent front coming through in the early evening, and I kept going on the river until the nasty stuff was over. Lots of rain and wind. There was a tornado warning, and a couple touched down within about 30 miles of my position. I anchored in a safe spot outside the channel about 9 pm after the front passed.

Got up this morning to find that the water level had gone up about 6 feet and there was a big tree hanging on the anchor chain. The second pic is of it floating free after I had got the anchor up.

Today I basically stayed ahead of the surge. The water levels are forecast to crest this weekend about 20 feet above today’s levels. Today I had a 2-3 mph tail current.

I’m now anchored here. Tomorrow I head north on the Tombigbee. Weather looks good for the next couple of days, and the Tombigbee isn’t flooding like the Black Warrior.

Demopolis

I arrived here mid afternoon. No issues with the two locks I’ve been through – these ones have floating bollards, and there is very little commercial traffic so no delays so far. Last night I anchored here next to a bridge abutment.

After fueling up I came over an anchored here. Nice spot, in a park. Went ashore and biked out for dinner.

I’m at a fork. The Black Warrior River goes east through Tuscaloosa to end near Birmingham. This was a big coal shipping route during WW II. It’s about 400 miles up and back. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing it as a side trip. It looks like there is a stop in Tuscaloosa near groceries, restaurants, etc. So maybe I’ll head for Tuscaloosa then turn around.

My Spot tracker is on all the time, so if you want real time tracking of my progress, check in here: https://maps.findmespot.com/s/CW3R

The Tombigbee goes north. It’s something like 240 miles to the Tennessee River. That’s the way home.

I’m not in a great rush. Sister Susan is joining me in two weeks, and I’m planning to be on the upper Tennessee then.

Weather has been pleasant, sunny and clear. Frosty this morning. Rain is forecast for Thursday. I’m enjoying the low water and lack of a strong head current. There is no debris. But that can change.

The geography changed gradually over the last two days. There are small hills now. The river is a bit of a canyon now. I didn’t see much of the surrounding area today.

Into the Rivers

I’m anchored here 98 miles above Mobile on the Tombigbee River. Last night I stopped here. Today was a short day – I woke to thick fog and went back to bed and slept late.

It’s very relaxed travel on a broad natural river surrounded by wilderness. It reminds me of the Achafalaya. Lots of switchbacks. Current yesterday was moderate, and the water levels seemed a bit high. Once above the junction of the Alabama River levels and current went down. It looks like nice weather continues for the next few days, and water levels are forecast to be moderate. Smooth sailing.

Dempolis is my next planned stop, in 2 or 3 days. There are two locks between here and there.

Fairhope AL

Hello Alabama! I’m anchored here in Mobile Bay. Calm conditions. Weather has been fabulous and looks good for the next week. I went ashore in the dinghy and walked up the hill for dinner at a BBQ restaurant. Fairhope is pretty and prosperous looking.

Last night I anchored in a beautiful spot near Pensacola. Dunes on three sides. Very picturesque. I’ve met a few eastbound cruisers and a couple of tows. Yesterday there were a few sailboats out in Pensacola. The most obvious signs of human existence often come from the various military aircraft coming and going, or just hovering around. It seems like there is a base of some sort every 20-30 miles.

The motor is working well. Today we spent a few hours at higher cruise speeds. Drivetrain is very smooth. I still have a minor air leak, but I’ve been working my way through the system and am determined to resolve it.

Pics in chronological order for the last two days

Tomorrow I hit the rivers. But that should have its own post.

Underway Again

After a nice trip home I’m back underway. Left Rich’s place in Panama City this morning, and stopped for the night here near Destin.

The trip north was uneventful, about 1300 miles each way. I rented a Hyundai Elantra. Decent small car. I got back to Florida Sunday evening, and yesterday replaced the injectors with Rich’s help. The motor is running much better now.

Today was lovely, sunny later in the day. Mostly following a cut channel, with very few boats out.

Taking a Break

I’m in Panama Beach getting ready to take a break. Escapade is safe and secure at a private dock offered by a Trawler Forum member, Rich. That’s him in the nice looking Pilot 30 escorting me in earlier today. Had a nice dinner out this evening with him and his wife Mary.

Tomorrow morning I pick up a rental car and head for Ontario, with a stop in Atlanta for a rapid COVID test.

Nice quiet cruising here. It’s been cool, with night time temps close to freezing, but not unpleasant. Most of the trip here from Apachicola was in a cut canal, and I anchored here last night.