Lesson One (Dates are flexible) and Lesson Three (Itineraries are flexible) have come into play on a regular basis since our last posting about a month ago. The flood waters receded enough that we could leave Evansville, IN, on Wednesday September 19, 2018. We took the same route downstream on the Ohio River as coming up, including stays at Golconda, IL, and Paducah, KY. Even though we had some help from a swift current, our progress was slowed by the amount and size of the debris that we encountered along the way. As you can see, some of those branches were at least 15 feet long and there were so many of them that we had two slow and tiring days. Lenny called them “unmanned watercraft.”
In Paducah, we began to meet up with more Loopers since we are on the main Looper route for awhile. On Friday September 21, 2018, a group of them headed out earlier than we did, enroute to cruising on the Cumberland River. Both the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River have their mouths on the Ohio River, about 10 miles apart. We elected to use the Cumberland River since we were taking it to Nashville, TN, and our next stop was Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, KY, just downstream from the Barkley Lock and Dam. We were relieved when we entered the Cumberland River and could leave the muddy Ohio in our wake. We anticipated a short day…
We met up with the Looper group that had left before us just upstream of the Barkley Lock and Dam, which was closed! A hydraulic pump had failed at 10pm the night before, and, when we arrived at about 1:30pm, there was no estimate of a reopening time. The lockmaster invited all the boats to tie up to the lock wall, just outside the gates, so we did not have to be milling around, burning fuel, and possibly running into each other, thereby further delaying the lock repair. Eventually, we became a group of six boats, all traveling to Green Turtle Bay Marina. So we waited, and waited, and waited, eagerly listening to the marine radio to hear any progress. Several times, they thought it was fixed, only to say, “Well, that didn’t work.”
It was getting dark, and there was no means for us to launch the dinghy and take the boys ashore. Chip and Dayle did their best, but they were pretty unhappy with full bladders. We had established a radio channel that all the boats could talk to each other on and had only one person communicating with the lock master. Finally, at 7:30pm, the repair was deemed successful! Even though there was a tow boat with barges on the other side of the lock that had arrived the previous night, the lockmaster said, “I’m going to lock these recs (sounds like wrecks, but shorthand for recreational boats) through first to get them out of your way.” We had to quickly enter the lock and get tied off to the bollards. He closed the doors as soon as the last boat entered and began to fill. We exited the lock at about 8:30pm, encountering the tow as soon as we motored past the open gates. Now it was pitch black and we were heading to a place we had never been before. It was the first time ever being on the water after dark in Then Again.
We were blessed that all the boats were going to Green Turtle Bay and that the lead boat was in contact with other Loopers who were already there. This impromptu group of dockhands used radios and flashlights to guide all of us to our proper berths. We knew we were in a somewhat tricky berth, and when Lenny looked out the next morning in the daylight, he said, “Good thing it was dark and I had those flashlights because I would never have gotten in here in the daylight!”
We stayed here for about a week. We were pleasantly surprised four days into our stay when Bob, the delivery skipper of Journey that we traveled with to get through the Newburgh Lock, showed up with another delivery boat right across the pier from us. Also across the pier from us was the sailboat Endeavour, a couple and three cats. Unfortunately, about a day or so after they left, they went aground and their boat sank after the rudder shaft became warped and caused a hole where it entered the keel of their boat. Their boat is a total loss, but they and their cats escaped unharmed.
Not much sightseeing in Grand Rivers, KY, since Patti’s 1880 Settlement, a huge tourist attraction, burned down earlier in the year. However, we had scheduled Volvo engine maintenance and several logistics trips. Paducah is actually the nearest large city for what we needed, so we rented a car for a few days. Our boat trip took 14 hours; the car trip about 30 minutes.
We parted company with the main Looper group on Friday September 28, 2018. The majority of them were cutting across the Land Between The Lakes and heading up the Tennessee River via the Barkley Canal. Our next big destination was Nashville, TN, still on the Cumberland River. We passed the Kentucky State Penitentiary on our way up river. You can see why it is also known as the “Castle on the Cumberland.” That Friday we stayed at Prizer Point Marina and KOA Campground. It was very well run and Lenny enjoyed a catfish dinner at their restaurant.
As we motored further and further upstream, the river began to narrow and we could see many islands and trees isolated in the middle of the stream, as you can see below. We followed the sailing line on the chart very closely, navigating from buoy to buoy, since the water becomes rapidly shallow outside of the buoy line. Saturday September 29 and Sunday September 30, 2018, found us at the Clarksville Marina at Liberty Park, in Clarksville, TN. This is one of the most well-run marinas we have stayed at, and we’ll stop there again on the way back down the Cumberland.
Monday, October 1, 2018, we reached Nashville, TN. Our home away from home for the next ten days was the Commodore Yacht Club. They are very welcoming of transients and we became temporary members upon arrival. We had a lot of activities planned and started by boarding Chip and Dayle for a few days so we could enjoy the sights without worrying about them being alone on the boat for an extended period. Louise had been fighting a bad cold for about a week, which sapped her energy for being out and about. Some places we went to were the Acme Feed and Seed, Rockbottom’s, and BB King’s Blues Club, which had outstanding jazz. Nashville is becoming “Nash Vegas,” with crowded, LOUD venues, and the ever-present bachelorette parties, vying to see who could sound like they were having the greatest time.
On Sunday, October 7, 2018, we worshiped with the congregation of Belle Meade Congregational, United Church of Christ. It was a send off day for one of their student ministers, but the members took the opportunity to receive our greetings from our home church, Parkrose Community, UCC, and to send them back to Portland. After church, we spent the afternoon in Franklin, TN, at the Carter House. This home became Union Headquarters and ground zero for the Battle of Franklin. The outcome was that the Union Army was forced to retreat back to Nashville, but the Confederates were not able to capture them. It was an eye-opening experience to look inside one of the buildings and see day light through all the bullet holes. Our guide was able to make the entire battle come alive, and we both keenly felt the loss of life on both sides that transpired there.
We ended up spending two separate days at the Country Music Hall of Fame. The front of the museum looks like keys on a piano, and they depict the first chords of the song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” We spent three hours on the third floor, where the museum begins, then came back the next day to complete the exhibits on floor two. Highlights for us were the Emmy Lou Harris special exhibit, the clothing and instrument displays – especially those from the 50’s and 60’s – and the Hall of Fame Rotunda. The Rotunda has the words to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” as the upper inscription. It features bronze plaques of the members of the Hall of Fame, just like the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame has their plaques. It was very hushed and reverential there, just like being in church – which, in a way, it was.
Our sightseeing was complete when we attended “A Salute to Ray Charles” at the Grand Ol’ Opry. This show was hosted by Darius Rucker and featured performers such as Travis Tritt, Ronnie Milsap, and Leeanne Rimes interpreting Ray Charles’ famous melodies. To the left, you can see Leeanne Rimes standing in the circle of stage floor from the Rhyman Theater, the original home of the Opry. You will be able to see this performance on your PBS station sometime in February (probably during Pledge Week).
However, the true highlight of our Nashville trip was on Saturday October 6, 2018, when Louise’s cousin Tracy Stout Sherman and her husband Roy spent the day with us cruising up to the Nashville waterfront and back. For Tracy and Louise, it was just like we had seen each other recently instead of at least 30 years ago. We shared many family memories and talked about growing up in Wellsville, NY. Part of our goal in cruising the Loop is to meet up with as many family and friends as we can, and Tracy was first on our list.
Our downstream journey began on Thursday October 11, 2018. We were supposed to arrive in Clarksville that evening after having locked through the Cheatham Lock and Dam. However, extremely windy conditions, as well as a back up in the lock queue, led us to stay the afternoon and evening at the Riverview Restaurant’s transient dock, a short travel day of only 14 miles to Ashland City, TN. A feature there for Chip and Dayle was the wildlife that came down to the bank to feed. On Friday, October 12, 2018, we were back in Clarksville, TN, and happy to be in a covered berth since it was raining a lot. We had spent six hours waiting to get through the Cheatham Lock, as one tow after another went in front of us. Very frustrating, with this lockmaster following the rules precisely.
We arrived at Eddy Creek Marina, in Eddyville, KY, on Saturday October 13, 2018. Most of the marina is closed, including the restaurant. We expect to encounter more seasonal closures as we continue our cruise. The weather is definitely autumn-like, with rain, highs in the upper 50’s, and lows in the low 40’s. We are very happy that we have our diesel heater and our enclosed cockpit. Beginning Tuesday, October 16, 2018, we will be headed up the Tennessee River to Chattanooga, TN.
Our Trip So Far
As of Saturday October 14, 2018…
- Days: 119
- Locks Passed Through: 41
- Miles Sailed: 1,994
- Engine Hours: 261
- Gallons of Diesel: 780