Monday 10-09-06: We are up at 5:00 A.M. getting ready for our first real trip. We are going to Joe Wheeler State Park about 200 miles South on the TN River to the Great Loop Cruisers Rendezvous. The whole gang is going with us (dogs and birds). We bought a indoor/outdoor piece of carpet for the dogs to use on the deck. Our plan is to not put the dinghy out at all to take them ashore. We will see how they feel about this. I don’t know who can outlast, them or us. This should be an interesting trip. Our plan is to anchor tonight at Little Cedar Cove above the Nickajack Dam.
Boy am I glad no one was at the marina this morning. We had the two birds, Nate and Homer, in one of the carts, and they are yelling the whole way down the dock. Behind them are Daisy, our Sheltie, and Sebastian, our Jack Russell. This is quite a sight. Luckily no one was around. We load everyone on board and shove off about 8:30 A.M. It is going to be a beautiful day.
We arrive at Chickamauga Lock to find a barge locking up. We have to wait about an hour on him to lock thru. Once thru the lock we are on our way again. We pass thru the downtown Chattanooga waterfront.
There is a replica of the Nina tied up at the waterfront. The downtown is quite busy. We have a very scenic cruise thru the gorge as we pass Signal Mtn., Lookout Mtn., and Racoon Mtn. The cliffs rise straight out of the water. In places the channel is over 100 ft. deep only a few feet from shore. This is one of the prettiest sections of the TN River. We have the river almost to ourselves.
We pass only two boats heading North to Chattanooga. Every hour we take the dogs out on the side deck and tell them to “Hurry up”. They look at us as if to say what is wrong with you. We do this about 6 times on our way to Little Cedar Cove. We arrive at our anchorage at 3:00 P.M. We are lucky to find the anchorage all to ourselves. What a gorgeous place. After anchoring we take the dogs back to the side deck. Again they look at us like we are crazy. Sebastian wants to know why we are not getting the dingy ready to take him to shore. Jeff puts the leashes on the dogs and walks them once again on the side deck hoping this will help. No such luck.
We have a nice dinner of baked Ziti and salad. We try our luck at fishing. Susie catches one small striped bass. We have several other nibbles but no more fish. Good thing we had the ziti for dinner. We walk the dogs several more times. We finally decide to give up and go to bed. We lock the dogs in the stateroom with us so they won’t be tempted to go inside somewhere.
Todays total milage: 51 miles, 1 lock
Jeff was up at 2:30 A.M. to “walk the dogs”. No such luck. He is up again at 5:00 A.M. Yoo-hoo! Sebastian is the man! He goes #1 and #2. He gets two dog biscuits and lots of praise. Daisy is still holding out.
Today we are leaving Nickajack Lake and entering Guntersville Lake. Our guide book says that Guntersville is one of the most stable of the TVA reservoirs. There is only about a 2 foot difference between normal minimum and maximum pool. On Lake Chickamauga, where we live, TVA draws the water down about 6 foot in the winter. Our floating dock will be on the mud during this time. Our guide book also says that Guntersville Lake is not a deep reservoir. We need to be very careful when leaving the main channel so as not to run aground. Today we will be going thru South Pittsburg, Bridgeport, Stevenson, and Scottsboro to our final destination of The Guntersville Yacht Club about 68 miles from our anchorage at Little Cedar Cove.
Today is another beautiful day. We pass two trawlers going up to Chattanooga. They are coming back down for the Rendezvous later this week. They ask us for information on Chattanooga. We are still taking the dogs to the side deck every hour. They still look at us as if we are crazy. Now they don’t even want to walk across the rug. I thought Sebastian had gotten the hang of it. I think he is holding out for chicken strips. His pal Ziggy said that he got chicken strips. I guess giving Sebastian the dog biscuits made him mad. He says no more until he gets chicken strips. We are following a tow, Yahoo City. We tried to pass but he is going too fast. We don’t want to run that hard. We call Guntersville Yacht Club when we get about 5 miles away. Lisa, the manager, says to come on in and dock anywhere we would like. As we see the entrance to the club, Lisa calls us back and says that she had to leave to take her child to the doctor. She said to make ourselves at home and the keys are in the yacht club truck if we would like to use it. She recommends a restaurant called the Boone Docks. Once Jeff heard that they had oysters, he is ready to go. There is one other boat at the docks, Lucky Bet. The couple come over to help us tie up. They are members of the club. They are getting ready to sell their boat and move back to land. They say they are getting too old for all of the climbing up and down. They have had their boat for 20 years. That will be Jeff and I 20 years from now. We give in and take the dogs to shore. Daisy has held it for almost 36 hours! I don’t know how she does it. We find the keys in the truck just like Lisa had said and we head out to Boone Docks. Jeff has a dozen oysters. He said they were great. Lisa’s suggestion was right on. We head back to the boat to find the two dogs looking out the window for us. They don’t like us leaving them alone. I can hear the birds yelling from the other end of the dock. Again, I am glad no one is around. I don’t know what we are going to do at Joe Wheeler Marian with all the other boats around. They are going to think we are nuts. We are like Noah’s Ark.
We are early to bed tonight in hopes of getting an early start in the morning. We may have some weather coming in.
Today’s total miles : 67 miles 1 lock
We were hoping to meet Lisa this morning. We wait until 8:00 A.M. and decide to leave. We give her a call and thank her for everything. She said to please come back. We arrive at Guntersville Lock to find a barge locking thru. There is about and hour wait. The weather forecast calls for thunderstorms today. So far the weather is not bad. Hopefully we will be at an anchorage before the storms. It turns out the barge we were waiting to lock thru is Yazoo City. He was the one that we tried to pass yesterday but decided to stay behind him. Once he has locked thru, the lock is again raised for us to lock down also. After an easy lock thru, we are on our way down river again. We catch up to Yazoo City about 1:00 P.M. and decide to try and pass once again. We push Idyll Time as hard as she can go, a speedy 11mph. We are again having a slow go passing Yazoo City. I think he speeds up every time we try to pass. We finally get around this time. We keep IT going at full throttle to get a little space between us and the barge. We don’t want him on our tail all day. We reach our anchorage about 2:30 and decide to keep going. We should be able to make it to Joe Wheeler before dark. We are still taking the dogs out every hour. They have no desire to even walk in that area. I think we need chicken strips! The wind has picked up to about 15 mph. I hope it dies down before we have to dock. We arrive in Decatur to find a train on the railroad bridge. We have to wait on it to pass before they can raise the bridge. Yazoo City is gaining on us. The Southern RR Bridge opens and we are on our way again. We are still ahead of Yazoo City. He can’t catch us now. There is quite a bit of barge activity in this area. I believe this is a staging area for them. We arrive at the entrance to Joe Wheeler about 5:00 P.M. The marina is closed. Most of the slips are full. Jeff spies another Krogen. There is a slip available right across from her which has IT’s name on it. Several other loopers come out to help with our lines. The slips are very wide and we have no problem docking. Now I can relax. The other Krogen ” Travlin Man” belongs to Donny from Kentucky. It is about two years old and is a 39′. There are two boats on the end dock “Odeyssey and Double JJ” which are both Great Harbors. We saw another one of these headed to Chattanooga on our way down river. We have never seen a Great Harbor before and they are definately unique looking. We later learned that these three have been traveling together and are know as the jelly beans. Double JJ has a cat onboard. There are several other dogs on this dock. La Garza Verde has a sheltie named Lilly. Everyone who sees Daisy thinks that she is Lilly. Lilly has been doing the loop and is well known by the other boaters. We will have to check in with the marina in the morning to see if we can keep this slip. They want to get two boats in each slip. There will have to be an awful small boat to fit next to us. I hope we don’t have to move. We take Daisy and Sebastian for a walk. The park is very nice. There are several hiking trails, a golf course, tennis courts, and camping facilities. The hotel is very nice and they have a restaurant also which looks good.
Several boats come in after dark. They were held up at Wilson Lock. There were several boats anchored in the harbor and did not have their anchor lights on. The two boats were very happy when they reached the dock and were tied up.
Todays total miles: 82 and one lock
Thursday and Friday 10-12/13-06:
We spent the next two days cleaning the boat. We took Daisy and Sebastian for long walks/runs on the hiking trails. I think they are as glad as I am to be getting some exercise. Jeff picked up a rental car today from Enterprise. A good friend and former employee, Bill Crum is getting married in Chattanooga on Saturday. We will drive home for this and then back that night. It is about a 4 hour drive. We have decided to leave the birds on the boat while we are gone. We will take the dogs with us.
We leave early this morning for our drive back to Chattanooga. The dogs are happy to be back at their house. I think they are little confused though. We leave them at home while we attend the wedding. It is a lovely wedding and we are very happy for Bill and Shelly. In the afternoon we load the dogs back up in the car and head back to Joe Wheeler. We arrive back about 9:00 PM to find the birds doing just fine. We stopped at the grocery store on our way back to pick up a few items. There was a local pizza restaurant next door. What luck. This made for a very nice dinner once we were back on the boat.
More boats came in today. A small Sea Ray doing the loop from Connecticut came in and was able to fit right beside IT. I did not think another boat could fit but there was even a few inches to spare. I am glad we came in first. We have really enjoyed meeting all of the other loopers. Everyone likes IT. We give several tours of her.
Monday 10/16/06 to Thursday 10/19/06:
We register for the rendezvous on Monday morning. We signed up for the Looper Crawl on Wednesday. During the crawl you open up your boat so all the other loopers can come aboard. Our time slot is from 4:00 to 5:00 P.M. We also signed up for a coast guard inspection. Monday night we hear stories from those who have finished the loop. Everyone says to take your time and spend two to three years on the loop. Canada seems very interesting to us. The meals and seminars are very good. Our boat passes the coast guard inspection and we get a sticker for our window. We do more cleaning before our looper crawl time. We are worried about what to do with the dogs during the crawl. We tied them up on the back deck and they behave very well. Everyone is surprised to see the birds We are like a Noah’s Ark. The birds are on their best behavior also during the crawl. Boy are we glad when that is over. Now we can relax again. We enjoy visiting the other boats. There is quite a variety of boats here and also many different sizes. After listening to all the loopers, we have decided that it will take more than one year to do the loop. We also want to spend some time in Canada. We have made many new friends and look forward to seeing them again on the water. Everyone is so nice and willing to share their travel experiences.
Tomorrow some of the loopers are going to Huntsville to the Space Center. We have decided to stay at Joe Wheeler an extra day. Bonus IV has asked us to pet sit their dog, Chamie. We are glad to help them out.
Friday 10-20-06: Most of the loopers leave early for the Huntsville trip. They have to meet the bus at 7:00 AM. We spend the day cleaning the boat. We take it over to the gas docks for a pump out. I am very nervous about getting out of our slip. There is about 6″ between us and the boat next to us. Jeff does a great job in handling IT. We never even come close to touching the other boat. We decide to dock at the end dock on our return. This way we don’t have to worry about backing in with the other boat that close. We take Daisy and Sebastian for a run. We are all glad to be getting some exercise. We also walk Chamie several times during the day. She is such a sweet dog. We are glad that we could help Nan and Bob. About 5:00 PM we see another boat heading to the marina. It looks like a Krogen! It is a Krogen! Galdolf, a 42 Krogen, docks right behind us. Jane and Sean are also on the loop but did not register in time for the Rendezvous. We help them tie up to the dock. After dinner, we give them a tour of our boat. It turns out that Jane was on our boat during the Krogen Rendezvous back in January. The Huntsville group is still not back when we turn in for the night. I guess they are having a great time.
Saturday 10-21-06: We are up early so that we can leave at first daylight. Captain Bob brings us a CD for taking care of Chamie. This group played for them yesterday. By 7:00 AM it is light enough for us to leave. Several loopers come out to help us with our lines. Liberty Bell, an American Tug owned by Fred Myers, is pulling out of the marina at the same time. We let him go first. Once in the channel, Liberty Bell radios us to find out how far we are going today. We decide to stay together and go thru the Guntersville lock together. After about 30 minutes the fog rolls in. Within minutes visibility is down to only a few feet. Liberty Bell radios us and ask that we take the lead. Fred only has paper charts. We have both electronic charts and radar. Jeff seems very confident in handling the situation. I am very nervous. We are relying on the computer to see where we are going and the radar for any other boat traffic. We can not see any of the channel markers. We slow to about 6 knots. After about 15 minutes, we are out of the fog.
Boy am I glad. Jeff said it was no problem. Liberty Bell follows us the rest of the way. We have to wait at the Southern RR Bridge for a train to cross. We have almost no wait at the Guntersville Lock. Our destination for tonight, the Guntersville Yacht Club, is only 10 miles up rive of the locks. Once thru the lock, Liberty Bell decides to run fast to their destination of Alred Marina. They can go about 10 knots faster than us. We wish them well and enjoyed their company for the day. Fred Myers is a well know writer of guide books for the Tennessee River and other rivers. It was an honor to spend some time with him.
We dock at the Guntersville Yacht Club. Daisy and Sebastian have not gone to the bathroom all day. They are ready to get off the boat. There is a little girl on the docks when we arrive. This is too much of a temptation for Daisy. She jumps about 10 feet from the bow of the boat. The little girl catches her. I take both dogs for a walk while Jeff finishes hooking up the shore power. Several Yacht Club members come by the boat and we give them a tour of the boat while our Lasagna is in the oven. Jeff loves to show people our boat, especially the engine room.
Total Miles today: 82 and one lock
Sunday 10-22-06: We are up early to leave at first daylight. We take Daisy and Sebastian for one last walk. They will not be going ashore until we arrive back at the Yacht Club on Monday afternoon. We pull away from the dock at 7:00 AM. We can hear some of the other loopers ahead of us on the vhf radio. Maila and Cream Puff are about 10 miles ahead of us. There are several other boats going down river. The leaves on the trees are starting to change. It is still cold outside. We don’t even bother to uncover the fly bridge. We stay in the pilot house all day. We take the dogs out for a walk every hour. Sebastian doesn’t want to go out because it is so cold. He needs a sweater. We arrive at Nickajack Lock about 3:00 P.M. The lockmaster wants us on the port side. That side of our boat does not have a walk around. It is hard to tie up to the bollards on that side. I don’t like having to lock thru on this side. We had everything rigged for the starboard side. Now I have to switch all of the bumpers.
Once inside the lock everything goes well. We are the only one locking thru.
Once thru the lock we anchor at one of our favorite places, Little Cedar Cove. No other boats are here and we have the place to ourself. We continue taking the dogs out for a walk with no luck. Sebastian says it is too cold.
Todays total miles: 67 and 1 lock
Jeff is up early to walk the dogs again. Still no luck. Sebastian is still holding out for Chicken fingers. Today is our last day. We should be home this afternoon. The fall colors are very pretty. This section of the river is one of the most beautiful. We are going thru the TN River gorge today. The boat is running well. I am sure Daisy and Sebastian will be glad to get home. Nate and Homer don’t seem to mind the boat. We have to wait about one hour at the Chattanooga Lock. They are doing maintenance on the lock. It is very windy going into the lock. We have a difficult time getting IT over to the bollard. The wind wants to push us the other way. We are finally secure and radio the lock master that we are secure. Once in the lock it is about 30 minutes before they start lifting us. I think they are having mechanical problems. We are out of the lock about 2:00 P.M. We only have 9 more miles to the CYC. We are all secure in the boat house about 3:00 P.M. We take Daisy and Sebastian for a walk as soon as we are tied up. They have held it for two days. Our training sessions did not go so well this time. We will try again on our next trip.
Total Miles today: 51 and 1 lock