Friday, June 5, 2015

Getting better every day

Captain's Log: 5 June 2015; Hour: 0740

I've been completely unplugged from the news world since we've been on this trip. The only thing I know for sure is that Bruce Jenner is now a woman. Apparently, I haven't missed much.

As you'll recall from the last log entry, we approached Wilson Lock in the middle of the night and were told they were closed temporarily due to electrical problems. We finally locked through five hours after we got there. I was scared to shut down the engines because of the battery issues. It
Wilson Dam & Lock at sunrise
would've been a mess had I not been able to get them started again. So I just sat at the helm and kept us from drifting ashore until daylight. In the meantime, a tug with about six sets of barges approached and I've seen this movie. They get priority at the locks. That means he's going to have to take those barges through two sets each trip. By that time, I'd had enough so I set a course back up river 5 miles to a yacht club I planned to finagle our way into. As I approached the entrance, I got a call from the new lock operator on duty. He apologized for the wait and said he was going to lock me through between barge lockings, which he didn't have to do. He also said I could tie up on the other side of the lock, something the overnight shift guy failed to tell me. Had I known that I could've gotten some sleep. We locked through with a tug boat and headed toward Pickwick Lake. A hat tip to the morning lock operator at Wilson Lock

We stopped at Grand Harbor Marina for fuel. My wife, Susan, was driving back from Mississippi and decided to surprise the boys by meeting us there. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a novice at this boating business but the crew and I have operated like clockwork docking and locking. It's been like a precision drill team. Wouldn't you know it, the first time Susan sees us it looks like Austin Powers when he gets that cart stuck in that narrow passageway. The wind was blowing the bow away from the dock and the more I fought it the worse it became. Then my port engine — the one that should be pushing us toward the dock — idled too low and shut down. Of course, with the battery issue it wouldn't start up which meant the wind just kept pushing the the bow further away from the dock. We finally got it docked. The guy working at the marina said he'd seen worse dockings but I'm sure he couldn't remember when.

We went to lunch at Freddie T's, went back to the boat, charged the batteries for about 30 minutes and the engines started right up. Which reminds me to insert something right here. The reason we're back on the water is because of the folks at Alred Marina in Guntersville, AL. I'm just tellin' ya, there aren't many places on the river with mechanics on duty to help in situations like that. Russ, Wally and all the folks there were fantastic. If you have to break down somewhere, that's the place to do it. They're the ones who hooked us up with Diesel Don. He's the reason we're back on the river today.

After leaving Grand Harbor on Pickwick Lake, we locked through at Pickwick Lock. We were then officially back on the Great Loop that you've heard so much about. Our next stop was Clifton Marina in Clifton, TN. An entourage of marina folks and transient boaters were out to greet us and help us get settled. I highly recommend stopping there. We showered, ate at a great, little Mexican restaurant around the corner where we watched the first game of the NBA finals.

This morning I charged the batteries for about 30 minutes, hit the engines and they both fired right up. This is the way it's supposed to be. We were back on the river by 0645 (we did have a fender blow overboard and had to go back for it) and are tooling down the Tennessee hoping to put another 125 to 150 miles behind us. When we left this morning we had 273 miles to go. If we stay on schedule, that puts us back in Nashville on Saturday night, a day ahead of schedule.

Let me just say this in closing. I know this blog seems to have focused on the problems but it has really been a fantastic trip. There's nothing like sitting on that bow, away from the hum of the engines, and just gliding down the river, especially around sunset. One of my boys commented this morning that he had no idea he could do all that he's done this week as far as working the locks and docking the boat and, in general, being a part of a team that can take a boat this size 765 miles. Not that we weren't bonded before but this trip has shown these boys things about themselves that they never knew they had and has given us a common experience we'll never forget. The adversity even helped to cement that feeling of accomplishment.

Here's to a day with no hiccups. We'll check in with you at the next stop.


  1. Barge traffic is going to get worse on the Cumberland. Cheatham and Old Hickory are very busy locks, especially Cheatham. I am one of the bridge tenders of the CSX railroad drawbridge in downtown Nashville and barges and tug boats are constantly running up and down the river. I was hoping to be on the bridge when you came through, but I too have been on vacation and I'm not going out there just for you...HA! I enjoy the blog.

    1. Hey Aron I would like to talk to you about your Job and the bridge in Nashville. Your job sounds very interesting to me. You can reach me at

      Thanks Bob

  2. Great to hear you tracking! Bring her up to the island near Cheatham Dam tomorrow. I'll have a cigar and a glass of bourbon waiting.