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    Saturday, September 11, 2010
    Kentucky Dam Marina/Gilbertsville, KY
    Weather:  L=70, H=83; sunny and humid

    The predicted thunderstorm passed south of us and Hermine was now to the east so it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. Jim & Sharon Angel (Blue Angel) are at this marina so they came to visit with us and we updated each other regarding our travels.  We last saw them in early August at Whitehall, MI.  Later in the day, Barb & Dave (Hallelujah) invited us to their boat for happy hour.  Their looper friends, Kelley & Heidi (Prime Time) drove over from Green Turtle Bay to join us.  This marina is part of the Kentucky Dam State Park resort.  It has a lodge, golf course, etc.  Together with Jim and Sharon we went to the lodge for dinner.  The lodge arranged transportation to and from the lodge for us. We very much enjoyed our stay at this marina and would recommend it to fellow boaters.

    This marina is a real jewel.  Now that they are going to open a second lock at the TN river, it makes most sense for Loopers to come up the TN river and not the Cumberland, and this marina is just great.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010
    6:40 a.m.       Depart Kentucky Dam Marina/Gilbertsville, KY
    3 p.m.          Arrive Pebble Isle Marina/Johnsonville, TN
    Distance travelled: 74 miles
    Weather: L=59, H=88; sunny, blue skies

    Because it was such a beautiful day and we were making good time, we decided to travel further than we had originally planned. There was very little traffic on the water - only one tow/barge and only a few pleasure craft.  When we arrived at Pebble Isle we were greeted by Scott and Marlene (Nomad) whom we had met at Peoria and travelled with a few days.  There were 2 other looper boats here as well. Together with Scott and Marlene we ate dinner at the marina restaurant and updated each other on our travels. We would highly recommend this marina to other boaters. 

    Pebble Isle Marina is very Looper friendly as well, and is highly recommended.

    Monday, September 13, 2010
    Pebble Isle Marina/New Johnsonville, TN
    Weather: L==52, H=95; hot, humid

    We borrowed the courtesy van and together with Scott & Marlene (Nomad) drove 4 miles to the little town which consisted of a Dollar Store, bank, post office, liquor store, and grocery store.  Later in the day 2 more looper boats arrived: Jane & Pete (Somerset) and Keith & Bobbie (Kim Jo III).  Happy hour was on the dock.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010
    7:30 a.m.       Depart Pebble Isle/New Johnsville, TN
    3 p.m.            Arrive Clifton Marina/Clifton, TN
    Distance travelled: 63 miles
    Weather:  L=57, H=89; sunny, warm

    Although we were ready for our usual early departure, we were delayed because of fog.  Once we got going it was a beautiful travel day with a sunny blue sky.  We travelled with Nomad and Somerset or at least we started out with them, but because they travel much faster than we do they arrived at the marina long before we did.  There were already other looper boats there when we arrived. Happy hour was on the dock with the following loopers:  Marlene & Scott (Nomad), Pete & Jane (Somerset), Marilyn & Erwin (Solitude), Woody & Judy (Osprey), Dorothy & Larry (Knot Home).  This is a small quiet marina but very accommodating to loopers. Some of these loopers have almost completed the loopers while the rest are only about half way.  We said our goodbyes to our Canadian friends, Scott and Marlene who just started the loop at the beginning of August.

    This is pretty much the ideal kind of cruising day.  

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010
    6:45 a.m.    Depart Clifton Marina/Clifton, TN
    3:25 p.m.    Arrive Dry Creek anchorage M211
    Distance travelled:  53 miles
    Weather:  L=66, H=90; hot, humid

    All 6 looper boats departed Clifton.  Before long, Nomad and Somerset passed all of us.  As we passed by M172, Steve & Carolyn (Here & Now) were at the river's edge to wish us all adieu from their home as all 6 boats passed by.   By the time we 4 slow trawlers arrived at Pickwick Lock a tow/barge had arrived minutes before us coming from the opposite direction and guess who had to wait. Finally, about 1-1/2 hours later we were finally locked up.  The 2 faster boats got there way before the tow and did not have any delay.  We arrived at our anchorage shortly after; the other boats all went to different destinations.  Our anchorage was beautiful and we were the only boat there.

    Our Loop friends Pete and Jane have frequently passed us on this trip.  Suffice it to say they are a bit faster than we!  They are eagerly cruising towards Grand Harbor where they will "cross their wake" and have ordered their Gold Burgee to be picked up there.

    On this lock, the gate does not open like most TN locks with dual doors that open, but rather this gate you see in this picture slowly drops down into the water and you exit out over it.

    This area has a considerable amount of stratified limestone type rock.

    Apparently, these little trees are a unique species found only on the TN river.  They grow quite happily even when the base of the tree is fully immersed in the water.  

    Here we are in our anchorage, peeking out the inlet back to the TN river.  A very nice place to anchor.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010
    6:45 a.m.    Depart Dry Creek anchorage M211
    12:15 p.m.  Arrive Florence Harbor/Florence, AL
    Distance travelled:  46 miles
    Weather:  L=76, H=92; hot, humid, somewhat overcast

    This morning at 7:21 we officially crossed our wake which means we have completed the loop and now qualify as gold loopers.  However, we still have to travel approximately 400 miles before we are home.  We also travelled out of TN and crossed into Alabama and will eventually cross back into TN.  We stayed at this marina when we were just beginning the loop.  Docked here are replicas of the Columbus' boats, the Nina and Pinta; for a fee they are conducting tours.  Also docked here is a megayacht called Freedom.  It is owned by founder of Books-A-Million.  Next to it, we are like a toy boat in size. In the evening we took a walk around the harbor and down to the riverside before calling it a day.

    Sorry about the blur, it was a kind of time exposure with no tripod.  There were a couple dozen folks on board clearly being entertained.  You could see nicely in the front windows to see the chef in his white linens preparing the food.  Bet they never did the Loop though!

    Here she is by day.  A beautiful boat (ship?) by any standard.

    These sure don't look like very big boats to head out into the Atlantic with to discover "new worlds".  They seemed to be fairly popular attractions.

    Friday, September 17, 2010
    7:20 a.m.     Depart Florence Harbor/Florence, AL
    4:10 p.m.     Arrive Bay Hill Marina/Athens, AL
    Distance travelled:  31 miles
    Weather:  L=71, H=90; hot, humid

    Since we had a short distance to travel we decided to leave a little later than usual.  This turned out not to be a good decision.  As soon as we pulled out into the river, there in front of us was a tow with 15 barges headed to the lock about 5 miles ahead.  You know what that means!  The tow had priority had the lock so we tied up to the auxilliary wall and waited 3 hours until he was locked through.  By the time we got locked up and crossed Lake Wilson which is only about 15 miles long, there he was at the next lock, Joe Wheeler lock.  So onto the auxilliary wall again to wait.  Since his locking procedure was about 1/2 done by the time we got there we only had to wait about 1 hour before we got locked up. So, what should have been about a 4-hour travel day turned into about 8 hours. When we got to Bay Hill Marina we were greeted by Roy & Elvie (Roy'El) who are gold loopers.  Their warm welcome made it all worthwhile and we soon forgot about our long day.  Happy hour was on their boat with 2 other couples.  Roy & Elvie made a wonderful Mexican dinner for us; we called this our loop completion dinner.  We will stay at this marina for 1 more day before continuing home.

    This is a typical wall that we could "hang on" while waiting for the lock to open.  These gates you see in this picture are the auxiliary lock, not the one we actually go through.  Seems they generally don't use these auxiliary locks.

    It is easy to know when they start bringing the lock water level down.  Here is the area that it gets dumped into.  Note the volume that must be flowing to create this maelstrom!

    Here we are arriving at our marina at Bay Hill.  It is hiding behind the permanently located barges.

    This is a nice touch at a marina, when you are a Looper.  They even have a special rate for Loopers.

    Saturday, September 18, 2010
    Bay Hill Marina/Athens, AL
    Weather: L=67, H=87; hot, humid

    Brenda & Elvie walked 2 miles this morning. The remainder of the day was spent doing boat chores.  Happy hour was aboard Roy El' with Roy & Elvie, Larry & Theresa (Lauren Grace), Dave & Joy (Columbia), and Ed & Lucy (I Love Lucy).

    A typical Looper sundowner meeting at 5:00pm.  This is on the good ship RoyEl with Roy and Elvie and friends.

    Roy maintains the high ground so as to referee the general melee if things get rough.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010
    6:40 a.m.       Depart Bay Hill Marina/Athens, AL
    12:15 p.m.      Arrive Ditto Landing/Huntsville, AL
    Distance travelled:  47 miles
    Weather:  L=69, H=99; hot, humid

    Although we have had sunny days, the humidity has been stifling.  It was a good travel day with no locks to contend with.  Our stay at Ditto was very pleasant with changes since we were here at the beginning of our loop last October.  They now have a new office building, gas dock, and transient docks.  It is so much nicer!  We talked with and watched locals as they were winding down their weekend, hauling their boats out of the water and trailering them home or having them put into the dry stacks.

    As we left Goose Pond, we can begin to see portions of the Appalachian geography in the distance.  What a nice feeling.

    These nice new transient docks (these are 60 foot) are a pleasant surprise in the "new" Ditto Landing.

    In addition, it is now easy to go from the transient dock to the new office building.

    Monday, September 20, 2010
    6:45 a.m.       Depart Ditto Landing/Huntsville, AL
    12:30 p.m.      Arrive Goose Pond Marina/Scottsboro, AL
    Distance travelled:  44 miles
    Weather: L=71, H=92; hot, humid

    Another hot day on the water!  There were a few fisherman on the lake but that was about it for boats.  As we got closer to Guntersville Lock we saw a deer (buck) swim across the lake.  Then about 1/2 mile farther on, we saw another deer (doe) swim across the lake but in the opposite direction.  When we got to the lock it was ready for us but then we heard a boat the Coast Guard boat Ouachita call the lockmaster to say they were about 3 miles out and would also like to be locked up. We told the lockmaster we did not mind waiting for them, which we did, and we locked up together.  When we arrived at Goose Pond Marina we were greeted by Paul & Stacy (SeaSea) who keep their boat at this marina.  Happy hour was on SeaSea with the following:  Paul & Stacy, Ken & Brenda, Bill & Charlotte (Omega), Ray & Patsy (Patsyray) and 'would-be looper' Les. Joining us later were Larry & Theresa (Lauren Grace) who arrived from Bay Hill Marina.

    This buck was swimming across the river and crossed in front of us.  Later, we also had a doe go the opposite way, but never got a good picture of her.

    Here is the Coast Guard cutter Ouachita (pronounced "Wichitaw") that looks after the buoys on the main navigation route of the TN river.  The Corps of Engineers looks after the buoyage on the secondary channels.

    This is the entrance to the Goose  Pond Colony marina.  It is a bit narrow with lots of weeds on the edges, but the marina is first rate and the people are great.

    Here you can see the winding entrance from the main river to the marina.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010
    Goose Pond Marina/Scottsboro, AL
    Weather: L=70, H=91; hot, humid

    Brenda, Stacy, and Charlotte went for a 2 mile walk around the resort.  Then Ken & Brenda used the courtesy car to go into Scottsboro.  We had to purchase a new battery for the generator.  It turns out that the fellow who was working at Advanced Auto Parts is also a 'would-be looper' who plans to make the trip in about 2 years.  Even more coincidental is that when he saw our name he knew about Tellico Lady as he has been following our journey on our website since we began the trip.  We then went to Unclaimed Luggage.  This is a huge annex where bargains are to be had.  Ever wonder what happens to all the luggage that airlines lose or that is unclaimed by passengers for whatever reason?  This is one place where it goes.  At this store you will find laptops, cameras, clothing, shoes, handbags, books, jewellry, etc.  When we got back to the boat, Ken worked on the generator and Brenda washed the boat.  In the mid afternoon there was a knock on the side of our boat. The guy from Advanced Auto Parts came by to ask more questions about boats and the Great Loop.  He stayed for about 2 hours; we hope we were able to give him useful information.  Around noon day, our boating buddies Nancie and Bill (Watauga) arrived.  Finally they have caught up to us if only for a short time as they plan to stay here longer than we do.  We were happy to see them as we had not seen them since Chicago.  Tonight, Ray & Patsy, whom we met last night, invited all of us to their home for dinner.  They live in Scottsboro and are the harbor hosts for the Great Loop Association.  When loopers come through they always try to have a gathering for them.  All the people who were at happy hour last night on SeaSea plus Bill & Nancie went. There were 13 of us in total.  We had a great time - delicious food and good boating stories.  We are grateful to Patsy and Ray for providing us with yet another 'looper' experience and memory.

    Here is the Looper party at the lovely home of Patsy (fourth from the right) and Ray (fourth from the left).  What wonderful hosts, and what a stunningly beautiful home.  

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010
    6:15 a.m.       Depart Goose Pond Marina/Scottsboro, AL
    12:45 p.m.      Arrive Hales Bar Marina/Guild, TN
    Distance travelled:  53 miles
    Weather:  L=66, H=92; hazy, hot, humid

    We did not see much boat traffic today. Again there were some fisherman.  We saw one tow/barge but they were tied to a Federal mooring cell.  Later a boat named Snow Cat passed us going in the opposite direction. They radioed us to tell us that they recognized our name because they had just come from our marina where they had been for awhile. While there they heard about us and our adventure. They are from Tobermory, Ontario and are now headed south.  Today we crossed from Alabama back into Tennessee.  We got through Nickajack lock with no delay. We had planned to anchor at Little Cedar Mountain, one of our favourite anchorages, but it was so hot and humid today that we opted to come into Hales Bar Marina where we could access power and use our air conditioners (spoiled!).  Our plan is to travel to Chattanooga tomorrow, Blue Springs Marina on Friday, and then to Tellico Harbor Marina on Saturday.

    Hales Bar marina is up near the old abandonded power plant you see in the distance.  The white domed roof you see is the floating Coca Cola theatre.  Formerly was the Pepsi theatre, but I guess thing do go better with Coke!

    The evening was beautiful, just more of the allure of the TN river.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010
    6:40 a.m.       Depart Hales Bar Marina/Guild, TN
    1:50 p.m.       Arrive Island Cove Marina/Chattanooga, TN
    Distance travelled: 49 miles
    Weather: L=70  H=93; hot, humid

    Today was an uneventful, good day on the blue highway.  There was very little boat traffic, just a few fishing boats, and we got through Chickamauga Lock without delay.  We arrived at our marina in good time and basically relaxed for the remainder of the day.

    What a lovely morning site to the river cruiser.  The Tennessee river has so many beautiful scenarios.

    When you arrive at the Chickamauga Lock, it is hard at first to tell where the lock entrance is.  I would sure hate to be a tow Captain trying to snake my barges into this lock right now.

    Ahh, the "Red Sky at Night" is a nice finale to the day

    Friday, September 24, 2010
    7:15 a.m.       Depart Island Cove Marina/Chattanooga, TN
    2:40 p.m.       Arrive Blue Springs Marina/Ten Mile, TN
    Distance travelled: 69 miles
    Weather: L=67, H=91; hot, humid

    Today's travel was very much like yesterday's.  We got lucky once again at Watts Bar Lock and got through without delay. This is the lock that we wanted to get through before October 12 as it will close then for 3 weeks for repair. We had dinner at the marina restaurant with Ray & Delila (Sundancer) to again celebrate our loop completion.

    The Watts Bar nuclear power plant is quite an awesome site to see.  These are the cooling towers.

    We had a welcome back wing-wag from the fellow flying this old DeHavilland Chipmunk.

    We cut about 5 miles off our trip by taking this "small boat channel", which is always an attention getter.  Note how close the red and green ATONS are ahead (the poles stuck in the bottom).  With our 5 foot draft, we do pay attention!

    Saturday, September 25, 2010 --- Home Again!
    7:05 a.m.       Depart Blue Springs Marina/Ten Mile, TN
    3:10 p.m.       Arrive Tellico Harbor/Maryville, TN
    Distance travelled:  69 miles
    Weather: L=70, H=80; rainy off and on but mostly just overcast

    We left at the first sign of daylight - maybe anxious to get home?  It was a good travel day.  When we got to Fort Loudoun Lock we got a welcome home greeting from our favourite lockmaster.  We locked up without delay and 2 hours later we pulled into our slip at Tellico Harbor. We were welcomed by many friends at the dock.  Charlie brought our gold loop burgee to us so we had photos taken of us with our new burgee.  A boat flying the gold great loop burgee signifies that the boat and its crew have completed the great loop.  In retrospect, it was an experience we are glad we had but it is hard to believe that we really did it.  We saw many sights and met and made many new friends.

    Here we got to photograph some of the dock photographers that were  shooting us.  I think that fellow on top of Elegant Lady is going to get a job as a "Paparazzi" for the Looper Magazine.

    Upon docking, we immediately exchanged our old battered burgee for our new "Gold" (signifying Loop Done) burgee.  Note the wear and tear on the old one.  It would not have lasted many more miles.

    Then came a period of dock talk to catch up on what everyone was up to this last year.  What a great bunch of friends.  "B" Dock is the best.

    We then settled down for some great food, great talk, and a few adult beverages to enhance the oratory.  A good time was had by all.

    Some statistics:
    Weeks travelled:  51
    Distance travelled:  5837 miles approximately
    Locks:  120


Copyright(c) 2008 Ken Bloomfield, All rights reserved.