Monday, July 21, 2014

We Finally Made It!

Captain's Log: 21 July, 2014; Hour: 0740

I didn't think it was possible after a 4 1/2 hour wait at Watts Bar Lock, but we pulled into Knoxville right at hour 2100 yesterday. Our goal was to make it by nightfall on Sunday and we barely made it. I couldn't believe the journey was finally over.

I was told that some of the most beautiful scenery was from Nickajack Lake on and they weren't lying. As I stated in a previous blog, the scenery is very Swiss. The water has a deep green color that churns into a light green in your wake.

Along the Tennessee River near Chattanooga

On our all-nighter we were surprised by the Chickamauga Lock. We didn't expect it to be so close to downtown Chattanooga. When we reached it in the dark we weren't really sure what it was. Our chart plotter didn't show it. It just showed a railroad bridge. Captain Bob had insisted we carry paper charts as a backup and I'm glad he did. I pulled out the chart for our section of the river and there it was. A lock right in the middle of town.

Chickamauga Lock at night

We called the lock master and she said we'd have to wait for the Southern Belle to lock through. The Southern Belle is a riverboat that runs tourists up and down the river from downtown Chattanooga. What we found odd about that was it was midnight. It took Southern Belle about 30 minutes to lock through and by the time we locked through she was waiting to lock back through from the other direction. Hardly worth the time, if you ask me, but I didn't buy a ticket on that cruise.

The Southern Belle cruising the Tennessee River at Chattanooga

After the debacle at Watts Bar Lock, where we ended up waiting 4 1/2 hours to lock through, we thought there was no way to make it to Knoxville by sundown. We pushed those Detroit diesels as hard as we dared and headed for our last lock; Fort Loudoun Lock. Fortunately, we were locked through with another pleasure boat I had been talking to via VHF radio earlier in the day. Once we were in Fort Loudoun Lake we saw some of the most gorgeous houses of the entire trip. As far as tasteful development, we didn't see much else on our trip to match it.

A house on Fort Loudoun Lake

It was a fitting end to our journey. Alex, Carr and I enjoyed the view from the top deck of Yesterday as the sun faded below the trees. An hour ahead of schedule, Captain Bob announced that we were almost in Knoxville. What a welcome site that was.

Pulling into Knoxville

Yesterday pulled snugly into her new slip in Knoxville where she will be lovingly restored and enlisted in the Vol Navy

From start to finish, including the massive delay in Fort Pierce, it was a 33-day journey — 17 days of it on the water — that took us over the equivalent of about a fourth of the Great Loop. We saw gators and gulls. We saw bald eagles and dolphins. We saw a raging gulf we thought might swallow us whole. We encountered untold great people on the water, many of whom were following our journey on this blog. We saw adversity and overcame it. We met frustration and endured it. We pushed forward when we thought neither we nor our boat could take it, and we had an experience none of us will ever forget.

I would like to especially thank Captain Bob Buckland and First Mate Alex Plante. Their perseverance and ingenuity made it possible for us to overcome adversity and soldier on, despite conditions that would stop ordinary humans in their tracks. Their uncanny ability to take items already on the boat and put them to use to fix a mechanical problem was truly a wonder to behold. Their can-do attitude brought us through and I am eternally grateful they were on this trip.

Thanks to all of you who followed this blog for your encouragement. It didn't quite go as plan, but what does? That's what makes a simple trip a true adventure.


  1. Well spoken, Uncle Phil... and the sincerest of congratulations to you and your good crew upon arriving at your destination!

  2. Always nice to get back into the slip safe & sound! Keep on posting during the renovation/restoration process!

  3. congratulations captain Phillip I'm glad you finally made it to your home destination now it's time for some catch up time with you listeners is live this afternoon I look forward to hearing you and congratulations you are now officially a real captain of a real boat Jimmy Shelbyville

  4. Actually the Southern Belle cruise is pleasant and worth the money.

  5. i hate to see the adventure come to an end it gave me something to look forward to i couldnt wait to check your comments every day also i had never heard of the great loop thanks a million for making me a smarter person and thanks for letting people join in

  6. Very nice and want know more about this article ..I really enjoyed reading it..plz keep updating..