Friday, October 30, 2015
The day of our departure from Chattanooga starts out with us being fogged in...we wait a couple of hours and are able to get underway.
Looking back at the Chickamauga Lock after departing Chattanooga.
Just a few miles up the river we pass the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant which has a special ice unit to divert steam should there ever be a leak from the plant.
Overnight we stayed at the Shady Grove Marina at Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. Charlie pulled out his fly rod and caught some nice fish ... he let them return to the river for another day.
The Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant was begun in 1974. Four reactors were proposed and over the past 40 years billions have been spent on this plant ... that has never produced any electricity! The staff of over 540 was reduced in 2013 to 140 ... it is now recommended that private funds should finish the project.
Just a little further up the river the come to the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant that over the years has taken some of the equipment from the Bellefonte Plant. Maybe a savings.
The Watts Bar Lock.
Fort Loudoun Lock is the last one we must travel through on the way to Knoxville. When we left the marina at Fort Loudoun we passed many beautiful homes along the river.
Knoxville, the home of the Vols.
The Knoxville skyline ... we docked at the Volunteer Landing Marina and are ready for almost two weeks here in Knoxville! It will be a great stay!
First stop after Pebble Isle, Clifton Marina. A sharp turn off the river into their boat basin. The staff prepared a special spaghetti dinner for the some six or seven boats that pulled in that evening.
We passed the Shiloh Battlefield which contains places named Bloody Pond, Hell's Hollow, and the Hornet's Nest. General Grant was sitting on the porch of the Cherry Mansion, built in 1830, on April 6, 1862, when the two day battle started. By the end of those days, some 23,000 men were dead or dying ... (as stated in Fred Myers Tennessee River Cruising Guide) "... much innocence and enthusiasm was replaced by grim reality as those who had come to defend their cause discovered the horror of war."
Into the Pickwick Lock, six looper boats. MANANA was the last one to enter and she tied outboard to SONATA's starboard side for the lift. The rear doors closed and the lock was ready to fill.
After the lock filled to the proper upper level, the gates opened and we are free to proceed to our next destination. For some the overnight stop would be Grand Harbor.
For the one night stop SONATA tied to the outside wall in front of MANANA.
The Wilson Lock is the lock with the greatest lift on the Tennessee River. SONATA calls the lock about one hour in advance of arrival, just to let them know we are coming. Once we are nearer we call again to report the lock is in sight and we are ready for the lock-up. When we arrived the downstream doors were closed, then opened. SONATA was given a "green-light" and a whistle sounded noting that we were permitted to enter the lock. Into the lock the downstream doors then close and the filling of the lock commences with Charlie holding SONATA in place next to the bollard which rises with SONATA in the side lock wall. Water to the proper upstream level the gate is opened/dropped, and SONATA has now completed a 95' lift in the river and proceeds to the next lock a couple of hours away.
The next lock is the Joe Wheeler Lock. Doors closed ... opened and up we go.
This map from Fred Myer's Cruising Guide shows the Tennessee River system and includes helpful information about the river, marinas, and anchorages, as well as some of the history alongside the river. We started the Tennessee in Paducah where it ends and stopped at mile marker 650 in Knoxville where it is formed by the French and Holston Rivers.
SONATA stopped at the Joe Wheeler State Park for an overnight and dinner at the Park Lodge. The American's Great Loop Cruisers' Association (AGLCA) will hold its 2015 Rendezvous here on October 14-15. The Association also holds rendezvous in Norfolk, Virginia, in May. Some 250 boats are expected at this meeting next week.
Continuing up the Tennessee SONATA passes the tug ADDI BELLE all dressed it its Tennessee colors. Surely a Tennessee Vols supporter!
SONATA had the occasion to rescue a family distressed "at sea", on the river. They were spotted as we traveled up river and they were drifting and paddling with ski boards down river. They, husband, wife, and two boys, had engine problems. SONATA reversed course with them in tow and took them back to their launch location. The following email was received the next day, 10/06/2015
From: Greg Frady, NASA/MSFC Chief Engineer
Space Transportation and Exploration
Subj: Thanks for the pull
Charlie and Bonnie,
Thanks for providing my family a pull to the dock today. Coming up on the end of the season, I coaxed my family to go out on the boat one more time to tube, ski, and knee board. All was well until I heard something give way and discovered upon arriving home that my lower unit has either a broken shaft or a stripped gear. My family truly appreciated the blessing of your arrival and tow back to the dock. I was blessed even more when I read your blog. I realized we became part of your story as you travel the loop --- which I never knew existed. It was fascinating to read of your travels and to look through your pictures. What a great way to spend your time and I assume retirement.
I wish you well on your journey and maybe we will cross paths again, but maybe next time I can help you two.
NASA/MSFC Chief Engineer
Space Transportation and Exploration
This is just another example of what happens on the river. Each day is exciting and you never know who you will meet and whose life you will touch. We were so happy to help and to create new friends.
Ditto Landing was the next stop for SONATA. Up the next morning to depart we found a fairly heavy blanket of fog. Radar on, navigation check on the Chartplotter ... two Coast Guard certified Captain's on the bridge in control ... SONATA had no fears and after a few hours of travel the fog cleared and the day was another beautiful day on the river.
We turned off the Tennessee to the Goose Pond Colony Marina. Very nice marina with a great place to eat that evening.
From Alabama back into Tennessee and to the Nickajack Lock.
Between the Nickajack Lock and Chattanooga the river and the scenery is nothing but beautiful. You travel past the old Hales Bar lock and power plant that was closed ... because the water leaked under the dam through rock strata. It was cheaper to build another dam and lock, the Nickajack, than to try to repair the strata.
The river has many deep places, some deeper than 150' due to an ancient earthquake fault. Parts of the river has names like "The Pan", "The Pot", "The Skillet", "The Suck" ... all named because of the swirling, boiling, water as it appeared to the early boatmen on the water.
Just as you arrive at Chattanooga you pass Lookout Mountain, the oldest and largest military park. It also features the world's steepest passenger railway. On its slopes the last battle of the American Revolution was fought, and, in 1863 Union and Confederate forces clashed in one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War; some 34,000 were killed.
We approach our marina and dock behind a proud member of the Volunteer Navy; we also fly our Volunteer flag...SONATA is in the middle of the three boats with Lookout Mountain in the distance. The river is full of scullers from colleges everywhere competing in The Head of the Hooch Regatta.
Shortly after arriving in Chattanooga Charlie met with one of his earlier clients, Kline Milton McMahan, who is currently assisting in managing a horse operation near Nashville. We all went to lunch together and spent an afternoon of visiting and remembering old times. Charlie was happy to see Milton and they will meet again when we drive to Knoxville next year.