Monday, June 1, 2015

A log entry at last

Captain's Log: 1 June 2015; Hour: 2315

We've been lost in cell hell for the past few days. You never realize how much you depend on technology until you can't get it. Let me bring you up to speed on our adventure.

It started out quite undramatically on the first day. We awoke Saturday to dense fog in Knoxville. We were so eager to begin our journey but had to wait until the fog lifted, which happened around 0930.
The view outside the marina the
morning of our departure.
The crew took its place at various posts about the boat and the captain fired the first engine. The port engine hummed and we smiled with anticipation. Second engine. Nothing. I lifted the hatch in the salon for the starboard engine to make an inspection. It took a few moments before the truth dawned on me.

Now, here's one of those life lessons. We've had some battery issues. It's too lengthy (and boring) to get into but our new diesel mechanic decided we needed only two batteries per engine to start those big Detroit Diesel 8-71s. We ran test after test. We took the boat out. We started it in the slip. We did everything imaginable. Here's the lesson. As we were switching over to the two-batteries-per engine scenario, the mechanic used a battery from the generator that we're not using right now. That's another long story from Ft. Pierce last year when a pump was replaced but was missing a part. Anyway, I made the call of using the old generator battery with three new ones. Bad call. Yes, I was trying to save money but it ended up creating a mess.

I had to go out and buy the fourth battery anyway and by the time I got it hooked up and got the boat running it was noon. A far cry from the COD (crack of dawn) we had planned. Despite our late departure, we made good time. We were cruising at about 11 knots (13 mph). That may sound like a snail's pace but for a lumbering, old cruiser like this one it's a great speed. We docked at sundown and had logged 100 miles.

We found ourselves in a place called Ten Mile, TN. Quite frankly, I'd never heard of it but the place was hopping. They told us there'd be live entertainment. It was a guy with a guitar. Was he good? I couldn't tell you. My ears were bleeding. I swear to you Led Zeppelin was louder in concert. We had to move outside where it was a little quieter. The burgers were good and we were exhausted so we hit the hay.

Sunday morning we awoke with a renewed vigor. That intensity quickly evaporated when neither engine would start. I quickly surmised it was the batteries. Again. Why were they dead? Had they not been recharged by the alternator? I had no idea. All I knew was we had to get those batteries charged because we were burning daylight.

Fortunately, as were we fueling up, the guy helping us said they had a jumper pack in the office. I needed a charger and not a jumper pack but I decided to give it a shot anyway. I called my diesel mechanic to make sure I didn't blow anything up and he instructed me to disconnect the lead that connected the positive from one battery to the negative of the other. I turned the jumper pack on each battery for about 10 minutes. It worked. The engines started and we were on our way. There was just one problem. This battery situation was only going to persist unless we did something about it.

The Tennessee River just
outside of Chattanooga.
We hoped to stop in Chattanooga to buy a battery charger but couldn't find any stores close to the water that sold anything like what we needed. We breezed by Chattanooga and into some of the most beautiful scenery of the trip. Last year, when we had come from Florida, we did that leg at night and I had missed most of the magnificence of that stretch. It was just gorgeous. The river was wide. The cliffs were steep to either side. It was like nothing we had encountered thus far and everyone on board was just in awe.

We had thought about stopping in Chattanooga but, believe it or not, transient options are very limited. We decided to press forward to Hales Bar, a marina I was familiar with from the last trip, and stop for the night. Speaking of stopping for the night, I need to do just that. It's late and we have an early start tomorrow morning. I'll catch you up on the next entry. Wish us luck on those batteries!
Two of the Valentine boys at sunset.


  1. Solar charger maybe? Dead short? BTW, Just saw the marina news letter, welcome aboard! I look forward to seeing that old beauty on the Cumberland this summer. You will love the 4th of July from the river. Have a safe and eventful trip!

    1. Thanks, Will. Safe? I hope so. Eventful? Hmm, we've had enough of that to last the whole trip.

    2. Thanks, Will. Safe? I hope so. Eventful? Hmm, we've had enough of that to last the whole trip.

  2. We have a fishing cabin just down the road from Ten Mile. Yep its a wide spot in the road but it can be very busy!