Monday, October 24, 2016


Saturday morning early, like midnight there is a lot of radio noise outside the boat. I get up in the middle of the night to see what it is, and outside our salon window is a steel wall, and the lights of a tug attached to the barge farther back. When I get up in the morning, to be ready for a 7am lock through, the tug has moved off of the "cell". But he is only about 30' to the side of us still.  And there is a small tug with one barge pushed up on the bank behind another Looper. Someone has contacted the lockmaster, and he is asking us all to get to the lock before 7. So we all start moving, and follow the small tug through the lock. It was a good thing, as the construction workers are starting just after 7, and it appears the tugs waiting by the cells are not going to get through for a few minutes. The one boat runs off and leaves the rest of us. There are 5 of us following the small tug with the single barge. About 5 miles from lock 52, the small tug calls to see if he can get locked through. He is told not for several hours. The small tug tells the lockmaster he is a government boat. There is also talk of an "Email" the lock should have. As we come near the west side of Metropolis, the small tug pulls out of line and runs his barge up on the shore again. I think we have lost our host for lock passage. The five of us get to lock 52, and are told to anchor with the other looper that already arrived there. Then the small "government" tug gets called by the lockmaster, and requested to come for a lock through when the two downbounds in the lock exit. I look at he AIS screen, and see the tug start to move again. In just 5 minutes he is making 7kt against the current pushing his one small barge. He goes into the lock and the lockmaster tells us pleasure craft to follow him in. I see that his stack has the "TVA" logo on it. I think this guy is nice to travel with, as he is a free pass for fast locking. But not to be, he turns up the Tennessee River, and the rest of us press on to the Cumberland River. The lock at Barkley Lake is friendlier to Pleasure Craft. The Cumberland is a true river, but you are in walls most of the ways up. And the width is pretty consistent, so it feels like a canal. I increase my rpm trying to keep up with Blue Moon a newer, 40' Mainship trawler ahead. We pass some quarries, and some fisherman.

Not much else. We see some eagles, but mostly buzzards that are starting to gather for migrating. They are usually found next to a dead fish on the river bank. There appears to be an hierarchy on which bird gets to eat first.

We get to Barkley Lock a little after 5, and have to wait for a tow to leave. The fast boat is waiting when we get there. All of us get into the lock. It is a very fast filling lock, about 5' per minute I am thinking. I call Green Turtle Bay where we have reservations for docking. I tell them we are in the lock, and may be a few minutes late. They wait for us, and get us tied into our places. As we motor in, I am surprised at the number of boats flying the "AGLCA" burgee, and all the states represented by the various boats. We have dinner at the "Yacht Club Restaurant". This county is dry, so there are lockers in the "Club" for the regulars to store their spirits.
        Sunday dawns, and Barb and I start getting ready for attending a church. We know it will not be the Baptist, their service starts at 9:30, and we are not through with breakfast clean up at that time. The showers are full at the marina, so we take a shower on the boat. We realize we are not even going to make the 11am service at the Methodist Church. We dress more casual, and take the hike into town. Google Maps gives us some bum directions to the local bank where we are seeking an ATM. We go the wrong way on Googles directions, and after 1/4mi, turn back. We find town on our own, and there is the bank. We eat a hot dog at "Dan's Cones", and get and ice cream also. Barbara buys some things in the local grocer, and we walk back to the boat. In the evening we go into town to Pattis 1880s Settlement Restaurant. There are 8 of us, and they send a van to the marina to pick us up. They are famous for their 2" thick chops and pies. I order the 2" chop. It is big, and I only eat half. I also want a piece of their famous pies. I get the pie, and glad I did not order one with a meringue topping. The topping is nearly 6" tall.
      On Monday, we decide to stay another day. I work on cleaning up SummerTime. Barkley Lock has done a number on the hull, leaving black scum wherever a fender touched and passed the scum on. And it has been awhile since SummerTime was cleaned. Chuck gets the courtesy car, and drives the girls to the next town over to buy groceries and other supplies. It is a productive day.
      On Tuesday morning, we get a pumpout and fill our water tank. We are going to buy our fuel farther down the Tennessee River where it is substantially cheaper. We take the connecting canal from Barkley Lake over to Kentucky Lake. The land between the two lakes is called just that: "The Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area". The East shore of Kentucky Lake, on the Tennessee River is undeveloped, with only campgrounds and boat ramps.

The west side of the lake has private resorts and camps, and the larger private marinas. There are a lot of fisherman here, bobbing around in the lakes chop with their bass boats, and some pontoon boats. It is a lovely area. We motor down to Kenlake Marina, and "Somewhere in Time" pulls in there for gas, where it is about $.50 cheaper than the place we left. We drift in front of the marina entrance while Somewhere In Time fuels. We leave there and head for our planned anchorage, Ginger Bay. Just before arriving, we get a warning on the radio from another looper. They have run aground entering the bay. They warn us the channel is not in the center, but right against the north shore. We motor in, on the north shore, and there are three other boats anchored in there besides us. Chuck launches his dinghy, and we go for a short ride. We see two young deer as well as an eagle in one arm of the bay. Towboat US arrives and pulls off the hapless boat. We raft with "Somewhere In Time". We get in a short swim. And we launch our dinghy for the first time since before Havana, IL. It is hard to start, but eventually it will idle. I had bought some ethanol gas conditioner at the ships store in GTB. We have dinner with our friends. It is a nice quite anchorage and a good end to a good day.
      We get up in the morning, and are off to Pebble Isle Marina at New Johnsonville, Tn. It is another choppy day, and the wind while cool, feels good. We see more fisherman today. And the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area ends. After this, we start to see individual houses on both banks. Eventually the lake turns into a wide river. We pass some old building ruins from when the river was flooded to make  the reservoir/ lake.

We get to Pebble Isle Marina after 5hr from Ginger Bay. It is a quaint little marina inside a very protected bay, or pond area.

In fact, once through the channel, the air temperature which had been so nice, becomes hot. We fill up for the first time since Hoppies, and it takes 100.5 gallons for the 41hrs we have run. We have an ice cream bar from the store, as there is no town nearby, and some earlier arriving cruisers have the courtesy car headed for dinner.
      I get up, and have to tell the marina that I do not have the oil filter for them to do an oil change. I get them the number so that they can run to NAPA and get a filter. In the meantime, we all go to the little grill at the floating office and partake of the free cinnamon rolls. Pebble Isle's Randy and Tammy are renowned for these home made goodies they bestow upon cruisers. They are delicious. The oil and filter get changed (after 210hr), and we are off about 11:15. We are in the river full time now. Right after we get south of the town, and in the wide, flat, windy part of the river, I see the first cypress tree growing in the water. We are definitely getting into warmer climes. All is going well until about 3pm. We have been seeing lots of houses on both banks, and fisherman. I slow for a pontoon boat pulled up against the hill, and when I accelerate back to speed, the tach quits working. Barbara comes up, and I have her check the tachometer at the lower station. She comes back to report it has stopped also. And then a buzzer goes to making noise. I look, and the engine coolant temperature is up to near 240F. I slow and get SummerTime over to the shore that is out of the sailing line if a tow comes around the bend just 1/4 below us. I go and lift the hatch to the engine room, and the alternator is not turning. There is not a belt visible. We deploy the anchor, and shut the engine down. I open the hatches and let the Perkins start cooling as I gather up the spare parts and tools. I put a blanket over the head, and lean across to where I can get to the old belt. It is not quite in two.

I get the new belt on. "Somewhere In Time" has come back and is standing by. I see them start to lower their dinghy, and have Barbara call them, as I start the engine. It immediately starts cooling down from the 220F it was at when I shut it down. And the tachs are both working, a good sign with a diesel that your alternator is working. We weigh anchor, and start south again. Sue has determined we will not make our planned anchorage, and called looking for a marina. We head down river to Mermaid Marina where they say we can get in over their narrow channel's bar. It is good to have a "buddy boat" when you are traveling. We pull into Mermaid, and it is a narrow opening off of the river, and shallow. SummerTime clears bottom, but Somewhere drags and makes it in. The marina owner is apologetic the restaurant is closed until Friday. He does offer to make us pizzas. We order 2 large pizzas, and they are delivered to the boats about an half hour later. We all comment on how good the pizzas are, especially the cheese on them. We get a good nights rest in a protected marina. We get up the next morning to leave, and Barbara checks the store part of the Marina. They actually have an "Anti-itch" cream that she buys to put on her bug bites. It works immediately. This little place in the middle of nowhere is an old fashioned general store for the community. And they make great pizza even when it is non operative hours for the restaurant.
       I program the GPS to get us from Mermaid Marina at mile 140 on the Tennessee River to Aqua Yacht Harbor in Mississippi on Pickwick Lake. There are 65 turns involved in the route to get there. It is all river travel now, and the level is obviously down from the normal summer levels. We pass a farm family harvesting their corn. In fact, a tractor hauling corn from the picker to the hauling truck running along the shore is beating me at my high speed.

 There are a lot of boats at docks off of the river proper that are sitting in mud.


We get to Pickwick Dam about 4:15. The Lockmaster holds the lock for us when we call and tell him we are inbound, just a few minutes out. I contact Aqua while in the lock. They tell us that they leave at 5, we should just pull up to the transient dock and take one of the available spaces. We arrive at the marina at about 6:10, and tie to the transient dock as instructed. After securing the boat, we go over to the restaurant on the far side of the marina for dinner. The food is good, there is a musician performing, and we get dessert. I get the Peanut Butter Pie and it is very good. We are going to spend a couple of days here.
       On Saturday I mount the two antennas for the AIS system in permanent positions. This has become a very useful system. I regret not staying in Chicago and completing this system so that it was available all the way down the river system. In the afternoon we get the courtesy car, and both couples head off to complete errands. I am needing to pick up my prescription refills in Selmer, TN, where the closest Rite-Aid is. And we hit NAPA and get another spare alternator belt. Chuck gets some parts also. And we go to Fred's Dollar Store for a tv coax cable. And then we head to Pappy John's to get what is supposed to be the best ribs. They are out of ribs at 5:30. Pappy's staff sends us back into town to find ribs at another BBQ joint. After we sit down, we find out that they are out of ribs also, along with BBQ chicken. We get BBQ pork and brisket dinners. I order a piece of Strawberry cake, and the three layers must be 9" tall. From here we go to Corinth, MS on the way back to the boat. We do grocery shopping at the Kroger there, and fill the courtesy car with gasoline. On Sunday, Barbara and I take the courtesy car to a Methodist Church outside of town. In the afternoon, we go to Shiloh National Cemetery and Shiloh National Military Park with our friends from "Somewhere In Time". The Cemetery is still used for vets, though started many years after the Civil War Battle as a preservation. And later the military park was set up. Cannons are place around the large park as they would have been in the peek of the battle. This has been a very good week to be traveling and we have taken time to sight see at last.


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