October 6-Cuba Landing Marina to Double Island Anchorage, TN
It was another glorious sunny day. (I bet you get tired of hearing me say that.) It wasn’t as cold last night as in previous nights, so we didn’t have any fog this morning.
The only bad thing about staying at Cuba Landing was you are able to hear the constant hum of the highway traffic on Interstate 40 which runs between Memphis and Nashville. Obviously there’s a lot of traffic between those 2 cities. Other than that, it was a nice little place. We had breakfast and worked on the Internet (fast connection there). We worked on our itinerary for the next two weeks of the trip. We would have to be a little more scheduled to be in Pensacola, FL on time (Oct. 25) to pick up our friends, Bernie and Barb, for the last leg of the journey. As we were looking out the back of the boat with a view of the river, we saw a “looper” going by. Oh my gosh! Bob was so excited and couldn’t contain himself! He literally ran for the binoculars. Can you believe it? It was a boat we had seen in New Buffalo, MI in late August. It was a couple we had talked to because they had a cocker spaniel too. The boat’s name was Jenny. Bob got on the radio and called them. They had anchored in Birdsong Creek the day we left. Bob and he chatted about the “looper situation” and we came to find out they stayed 3 weeks in Grafton, IL at the end of the Illinois River (another place we stayed). Grafton had been flooded in early June this year and again in September when the water rose over 30’ to cover the parking lot. They were on floating docks so it wasn’t a problem for the boat, except that they couldn’t get to shore from their boats. They were there with about 12 other boats doing the loop. Once the water went down, everyone was able to move and they were on their way south again. I could tell Bob really enjoyed talking to another “looper”. They said they’d see each other on the water. I’m sure we will. Bob took Murphy out for his morning trip and was befriended by a cute little kitten. Murphy would have nothing to do with it after she took a swipe at his nose. When I took him out one more time before we left, the kitten found Murphy and me again, but this time I had some dog food to give her.
She ate it hungrily, but didn’t really look malnourished, so I’m sure she’s getting fed somehow. She was very friendly and just looking for a good home. So sad…..We got everything ready to leave and pulled away from the dock at 10:15. (It seems I have been changing clothes 3 times each day before noon—something warm in the morning when I get up, short sleeves by 10:00, and sleeveless by noon as the temperatures change so quickly.) We found out that Cuba Landing is closed on Monday and Tuesday, so there was really no one around. The sailboat that was docked overnight with us had left about 8:00 this morning. There was absolutely no wind and the river looked like glass today with reflections of trees all along the shoreline(we were doing 27 mph. when the picture was taken).
There was no one traveling on the river in either direction. We were alone in the wilderness for quite awhile. Bob was able to use the new little gadget that he bought in Cuba Landing.
It was a channel marker indicator that he had been looking for since we started this trip. It helps to remind you which side of the green/red river markers to be on and sits on the dashboard.
Plan A for today was to anchor behind Denson’s Island depending on the depth. We got to a section of river where we saw houses on the bluff above us
and RV campgrounds and mobile homes on the other.
We passed a lot of beautiful rock outcroppings as we continued south on the river.
We came up on Denson’s Island and slowly motored behind the island where the map said the anchorage was. It was pretty open to the wind and VERY deep (30’).
It would take all of our chain and some rode to anchor safely. It was a pretty place, but we moved on to Plan B–to anchor farther south down the river behind Kelly’s Island. We ended up passing the sailboat that had left this morning before us, right near Lady Finger Bluff.
This is a prominent landmark formed when the river carved a path out of limestone found in this area. We came upon a dredge working at Perryville, mining sand and gravel from the bottom of the river. They were sticking out quite far into the river and made passage more difficult.
We soon discovered some kind of bridge boat coming up behind us in the distance. We lost him when he had to slow down at Perryville for the tug, but then picked him up again when he got back up to speed. He continued to follow us down the river. We got to Kelly’s Island which was a very narrow anchorage with lots of stumps. We were afraid of getting our anchor hooked and not be able to get it back up, so we scrapped Plan B.
On to Plan C which is an anchorage behind Double Island. Moving down the river, there were numerous spots with communities of houses on stilts along the flat, northern bank.
Look at the guy in the foreground in the fishing boat. He is driving the boat from the bow.
The southern shoreline was lined with beautiful rocky bluffs, like New Era Bluff, high above us.
We passed the boat called Jenny, who we spoke to earlier on the radio. We gave a friendly wave, as most passing boaters do.
They were continuing on a little farther down the river. The other boat finally caught up and passed us at Double Island. It was a 60’ Neptunus called Triton.
We pulled off the main channel and behind Double Island. It was a wide anchorage with no stumps and we could anchor in 15’ of water. Perfect!
Plan C it is, after going a total of 33.5 miles today. We dropped anchor a little before 1:00 and had lunch in the shady cockpit. It was wonderful that we could sit in the cockpit in the shade and have such a marvelous view out the back of the boat.
We can see the river channel and any boats that come past.
This is a slice of heaven! After lunch, Bob put on another coat of varnish to those areas he was working on. By now, we had a nice breeze blowing and cotton ball, cumulus clouds in the sky. We haven’t seen clouds in a long while. The forecast is for thunderstorms later tomorrow afternoon and rain most of the day on Wednesday. We’ll see. We’ve heard that before. After Bob got done, we decided to take Murphy to shore and explore a little bit.
We rode around Double Island and over to the northern shore to look at the rocky bluff.
We found two “noodling” holes in the banks along the shore that are normally covered with water. These huge holes could harbor some really big catfish.
We came across a dead Gar floating in the water. It is a very unusual looking fish with a long needle-like snout full of teeth. Some of the guys in this area fish for Gar.
We came back to the boat and spent the rest of the afternoon reading in the shade of the cockpit. It was wonderful! The sun began to set and the cicadas joined the other insects in their evening song. We sat in the pre-dusk coolness, cooking dinner and waiting for darkness to fall. After dinner, we were able to get 2 local channels on TV, which is totally amazing. We enjoyed “Dancing With the Stars” before taking Murphy to shore for the last time and then called it a night.
October 7-Double Island Anchorage to Clifton Marina, TN
This morning it was cloudy with rain clouds looming in the distance. It was 72 degrees at 7:30. We had breakfast and took Murphy to shore before it started to rain. By 8:00, it started to rain lightly, so we hauled anchor and left the anchorage. We wanted to beat any bad weather that was coming our way. We took a slow 10 mile ride to Clifton Marina, passing more beautiful bluffs and an area of old mines,
The beautiful Southern belle marina manager, Sonya, was waiting to catch our line and help us in. She was very welcoming and happy to see us.
At the same dock was a Nordic Tug, Adriana, who had followed us through the Cal-Sag from Chicago on Sept. 6–a month ago. He has been living on his boat for 2 years and taking his time doing the loop. Larry is from Rhode Island and traveling alone, so he told us he was happy to follow us on that part of the river and let us do all the communication with the bridges and the tugs. It was fun to finally meet him before he moved on today. Once we got all tied up and checked in, I took Murphy to shore as it was starting to rain. We got back to the boat as it rained harder. It didn’t rain long before the sun came out, although dark clouds continued to move in and it will rain off and on rain all day. The sunshine didn’t last long and the rain moved in again. It rained steadily most of the afternoon while we had lunch and just took it easy. It was nice to watch the rain come down and hear it’s soft patter-patter on the hull. It was a great day to do some reading. Three “loopers” pulled in while it wasn’t raining and the sailboat we passed the other day was already here. It will be a full house tonight.
Later in the afternoon the rain stopped and we were able to take Murphy for a walk around the marina to look at some of the boats.
We were able to sit in the cockpit before dinner and enjoy the coolness of the day after the rain had stopped. Earlier, Bob had signed us up to have dinner at the marina. Sonya, the marina manager, was cooking up some homemade chicken and dumplings, corn bread, buttered white beans, homemade dill pickles, greens, and fried cinnamon apples. It wasn’t a diet meal by any means, but it was delicious southern cooking at it’s best. We waddled back to the boat and watched the debates on TV as it began to rain again. The storms are moving through the area tonight and should be gone by mid-morning tomorrow. We plan on going into town to check out the Civil War historical buildings and artifacts. We took Murphy out before going to bed in between the rain showers.
October 8–Clifton Marina, TN
It was still lightly raining when we got up this morning after raining most of the night. By 8:00 the rain had stopped and the last 2 loopers had left.
had to drive through the new Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.
Why they have a golf course here in the middle of nowhere is beyond us, but they did. The scenery was beautiful! The golf course sits in the middle of the rolling, forested hillsides where the trees are starting to change to their fall colors. There were lots of cactus that were getting ready to bloom and some banana and palm trees. Go figure! The clubhouse was done in log cabin style.
After dinner, we relaxed with some TV. We are leaving tomorrow and planning to anchor out before going to Aqua Yacht Harbor, where the Tenn-Tom begins. After the news at 10:00, we took Murphy out for his last trip and went to bed.
October 9-Clifton Marina to Sparrow Bluff Island anchorage
We woke to cool temperatures in the high 50’s. It was sunny and clear. We wiped down the boat after breakfast and things warmed up a bit. We got ready to leave and pulled out at 10:00. It was a little breezier than we’ve seen in many days. We meandered down the river to Clifton Bend-a large S bend in the Tennessee River. We had heard a tow go by earlier this morning, but met another tow going north shortly after leaving the marina. It seems that there aren’t many tows traveling this section of the river. We passed our first opportunity for anchoring behind Eagle’s Nest Island, but it was too wide and open to the winds today. So we continued on past Swallow Bluff-aptly named for the swallows who built their homes there, to Swallow Bluff Island.
There is no trespassing on the island according to our Skipper Bob’s information. We were wondering how someone from the water would know this, as there aren’t any signs to inform people of this restriction. As we neared the island, we noticed something moving on the nearest point of land. As we got closer, we discovered it was a band of 4 goats.
Maybe that’s part of the reason for the “no trespassing” information. Either way, our plan is to dinghy Murphy to shore at the boat launch, just around the corner at the Big River Plantation Resort. (We always have to have someplace to take Murphy to shore when we anchor out.) We dropped anchor around 11:00 after traveling 10.5 miles today. (We would do the Pickwick Lock and Dam tomorrow.) It was a quiet, secluded spot behind the private island.
We skipped lunch and took a dinghy ride around the island to see what it had that made it so private. We couldn’t see anything on the island except the goats and an old abandoned truck. There were no wires, no signs, and no structures of any kind. We drove up close to Swallow Bluff to look at the homes the swallows made among the rocks.
From there we went to the dinghy dock, near the boat launch, at the Big River Plantation Resort.
We walked around with Murphy and looked at the homes there. Some had elevators to carry them up to the main floor. (Note the elevator on the outside of the house on the right side.)
There were some really nice homes on stilts and some people had even built themselves tornado shelters. (Check out the brown cement structure in the middle with the 2 air vents.)
I spoke to a local gentleman who told me they haven’t had a major flood in this area for 4-5 years, but the last time they did, the water came up over the bank to the homes on stilts. Amazing! We motored back to the boat and played some cribbage on the bridge in the shade. One small boat went by, but otherwise we saw no traffic on the river. We had cocktails in the cockpit, watched two dragonflies mating, and relaxed until dinner. It was a lazy kind of day.
There was a slight current in the anchorage, but the wind had dropped off completely. We ate dinner and darkness fell. Bob and I watched some TV and then took Murphy to the boat launch for his last trip to shore. It was a chilly night, but there was a ¾ moon shining to help light our way. It was quiet and peaceful, except for the hum of our motor. We could see the orange glow of lights from people’s homes on our ride back. We closed everything up and went to bed.
October 10-Swallow Bluff Island anchorage to Aqua Marina, MS
It was a cool morning with fog on the water, but the sky was clear and the sun was out. We had breakfast and dried off the boats before hauling anchor at 9:00.
While we were drying off the boat, a looper came past. We would probably catch up to them later in the day.
I drove us out of the anchorage just as a tow was coming down the river. As we pulled out, we noticed the goats must have spent the whole night on the fallen tree in the water because the old “Billy” goat, complete with beard, had laid down and blocked the way for the other 3 goats to get off. So there they slept, all huddled together. I hope he moves soon so they can get off and get something to eat. Twenty minutes later, we passed “Loon”, that 36′ trawler, that we saw earlier on the river. There were lots of stilted homes along the banks and on the bluffs.
We had to slow down for lots of fishermen along the way. We passed a sunken barge on the bank with 2 more submerged barges under the water. This area of the river was definately more populated. We passed an area called Chalk Bluff where the river scraped the sides of the bluff creating beautiful rocky cliffs and exposing the white and orange limestone.
The water turned to glass without a breeze and the day started to heat up.
More and more we see how the land becomes exposed, due to the lowering of the river to create the winter pool, combined with the lack of rain this summer. Many tributaries are dried up and unusable. Piers and stairways down to the water hang above the dry river beds. Land that is normally under water rises to become islands and beaches. Farther down the river we noticed an animal pacing along the shore. Through the binoculars we discovered it was a coyote, probably looking for food. As we neared the city of Savannah, the houses became larger and looked more like southern plantation homes. We passed the Nordic Tug, Adriana, in an anchorage and gave Larry two toots on the horn as we passed. As we got closer to Pickwick Lock and Dam, we passed by Shiloh National Military Park which we plan to tour by courtesy car tomorrow. I felt myself getting a little nervous about doing the lock, but everything would be fine. We called ahead and the lockmaster told us he would be able to lock us through right away. We arrived at Pickwick Lock and Dam at 11:00 and we were given directions on where to tie up.
I was ready with all the fenders and our useful “happy hooker” to loop over the bollard. We were the only boat in the lock and the lockmaster said we’d have “the best seat in the house”. That it was!
We were 50′ from the doors and would rise 55′ in the lock. As we got close to the bollard, I took the “happy hooker” and looped it over, then handed the line to Bob. While he held the line tight from the bridge, I kept the boat away from the wall with a boat pole and kept an eye on the fenders. It took 20 minutes and when we were done, we hit the “EASY” button and heard it say “that was easy”.
It made us laugh and released our tension.
Once the lockmaster opened the gates, we entered into Pickwick Lake. The lake is huge and so are the homes you find along the shore and on the bluffs.
There are many deep water branches on the lake where homes on the bluffs overlook boathouses and docks. We crossed over into Alabama for a mile or so and then made our turn into Yellow Creek, which now put us in Mississippi and the beginning of the Tenn-Tom Waterway. This picture shows Pickwick Lake in the background as we turned into Yellow Creek.
Once we were in Yellow Creek, we passed Grand Harbor Marina on our way to Aqua Yacht Harbor, where we would be spending two days.
We arrived at 12:30 after a 46.5 mile trip today. We didn’t make very good time, since we had to slow down a lot for boats and fishermen. This ends our travels on the Tennessee River and begins our trip on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, commonly called the Tenn-Tom. We tied up on the main wall among many other transient boats, some doing the loop.
cool boat name #38.
We walked up the hill to the pool overlooking the Yacht Harbor. The sun was setting and the moon was already out. It started to cool off nicely. We watched some TV and took Murphy out one more time. We planned to get up early and leave for Shiloh Military Park around 9:00 before it gets too hot. It’s supposed to be sunny and 85 degrees…..again. It will be fun to get away from the boat for awhile and see the area.
October 11-Aqua Yacht Harbor
It was a warm night sleeping without a breeze. We woke early to the sound of boat motors and people leaving the dock headed for places unknown.
We had breakfast and got ready to leave for Shiloh Military Park. It was already warm and humid at 9:00, but this is Mississippi, right? We plan to be back before the heat of the day takes over. There was a nice breeze blowing though, so that helps a little. Murphy will sleep in the coolness of the AC while we’re away. We hopped in the courtesy van and drove the 25 miles to Shiloh. We started at the Visitors’ Center where exhibits introduce the battle and the war. In the center of the room was a canon and they offered a 25 minute film of the battle.
We didn’t stay for the film because we were short on time. We decided to take the self-driving tour of the battlefield. It helped to orient us to the ground on which the action took place and make the tour stops more meaningful. There were 14 major stops which included the Hornets’ Nest (an impenetrable oak thicket where a major defensive stand took place by General Grant), Ruggles’ Battery (guns from 11 batteries were gathered to bombard the Union),
Shiloh’s Casualties (the largest of 5 mass burial trenches of Confederate soldiers),
Shiloh Church (headquarters of the Confederate Army and the church that gave the battle its name).
There were many markers explaining military positions and details of each battle during the military encounters. This marker explains the color and shape-code of the markers.
We came upon 2 markers representing the 16th Wisconsin infantry.
There are many monuments of importance such as this monument to the men from Tennessee who served in the war.
Each state that participated in the battle here seemed to have a monument of their own, except we couldn’t find the one for Wisconsin. This is a monument to all the unknown Confederate soldiers that died here.
Each of the generals had a monument in their honor. This one is of Union General William Wallace. The spire in the middle is an upright canon barrel.
This is a memorial to the Confederate Army by the Daughters of the Revolution.
This one is to the men who fought from Iowa, a very distinctive monument.
The Battle of Shiloh was over in 2 days. It had cost both sides a combined total of 23,746 men killed, wounded, or missing. A total of 54,500 Union and 44,000 Confederate soldiers fought here. The United States National Cemetery located on the grounds holds 3, 584 Civil War dead, 2,359 of them unknown. Note: The National Cemetery did not allow the Confederate soldiers to be buried there because they were not considered to be United States soldiers. They were thought to be traitors.
It was a very interesting and informative trip. I wish we could have had more time to see the movie and walk some of the battlefields. We brought the van back within our 2 hour time limit. I did some needed cleaning and Bob chatted with the other boaters. We used the van 1 more time to hit the local hardware and grocery stores. We walked Murphy and relaxed a little when we got back. It had clouded up a little, but by 4:00 the sun popped out again and we took a dinghy ride around the marina. Then we headed across the bay to Grand Harbor Marina to take a closer look. There are many cool bays to anchor in around here. Too bad we don’t have more time to stay and check it out. We got back and made dinner before it got dark. The moon came up and spread moonlight across the water. We watched a DVD that one of the boaters let us borrow and went to bed after walking Murphy. We would be leaving tomorrow and going up the Tenn-Tom. I don’t know how much cell or Internet service we will have going through the “ditch”, so I’ll do the best I can to keep up to date on the blog.
October 12-Aqua Yacht Harbor to Cotton Springs’ anchorage, Tenn-Tom, MS
It was cooler and very breezy this morning. We wondered if we would have trouble getting the boat off the dock to leave because it was blowing so strongly. We had breakfast, dried down the boat, and got ready to untie the lines. We pulled away from the dock at 8:45 with the help of some of the other boaters. Everything went well and we were away and moving down Yellow Creek. We motored 5 miles to the end of Pickwick Lake and saw lots of deep water anchorages. Too bad we didn’t have time to try out a few of them before we left.
Here we entered the first section of the Tenn-Tom Waterway called The Divide Cut. It is a 25 mile ditch with no stops or anchoring allowed along the way. It is literally a ditch that was cut to connect the Tennessee River with the Tombigbee River.
I did some of the driving for awhile.
We passed a sailboat that had come from Aqua Yacht Harbor too.
About 18 miles into the Divide Cut, we entered the deepest part where the land from here south, drops down in elevation alongside the ditch. Both sides of the Divide became very steep here.
The day became cloudy and the wind picked up creating small white caps on the river.
There are spillways along the sides to allow the river tributaries to flow into the Cut under control.
We encountered our first tow, who wouldn’t answer our call until we got up close to him.
Bob called numerous times and he finally answered to tell us which way to pass. The pass brought us very close to each other. We would have to be extremely careful on the bends, so as not to run into any tows there. It was very desolate on both sides of the ditch.
We seldom saw any birds, but we did happen to see a coyote that stopped to check us out. Seven more miles and we came to the end of the Divide Cut and the end of the “no anchoring” zone. This brought us into Bay Springs Lake where we met another boat going north.
We decided that because of the wind today, we would not try and do the lock, but would anchor out tonight instead. We chose an anchorage in a bay just north of the Whitten Lock, the first of 11 locks on the Tenn-Tom.
We put down the anchor in a nice quiet cove by the Tenn-Tom Visitors’ Center and boat launch (for Murphy). We traveled 37 miles today (at 18 knots) and were settled in by 11:30. We were blocked by the wind and had a nice view of the lock to see any boats that might come past. We took Murphy to shore and walked around the park area. Murphy got to run to his heart’s delight. We left there after awhile and came back to have some lunch. After lunch, we took a dinghy ride to the Visitors’ Center around the corner.
We tied the dinghy to the dock and walked up the short hill to the Center to find it was closed on Sunday. (I guess we forgot today was Sunday.) We decided to walk along the paved nature trail through the woods and over numerous wooden bridges to see where it led us.
It took us to the Butler Dogtrot Log Cabin.
It was built in 1860 by the Butler family of 7 and moved to its current location before the TVA flooded the area to create Bay Springs Lake. It is called a Dogtrot cabin because 2 small cabins were built close to each other and then connected by a walkway. That way the dog could go back and forth between them, hence the name “dogtrot”. The walk through the woods was reminiscent of our fall days in Wisconsin as we continued along the path which took us to the top of Whitten Lock.
We walked across the spillway to where we could view the chambers. This lock drops 84’, the longest one on the Tenn-Tom.
The lockmaster emptied the water in the south chamber as we watched, even though there were no boats locking through. We enjoyed the view from up there and could see down the river south, where we would be traveling tomorrow.
We stopped to view the sign and map of the Tenn-Tom Waterway.
We untied ourselves from the dinghy dock and took a ride down the nearby channel for about a mile to Bay Springs’ Marina. It was tucked way back at the end of a bay. We saw more “noodling” holes where the soil here is a deep rust color along the shore.
To our amazement, we found a huge catamaran (maybe 80’) docked there which was registered in the BVI’s.
We toured around the marina looking at the boats, which is something we like to do and came across cute boat names #38, #39.
The skies darkened and it looked like it might rain, so we dinghied back to the boat to try and get some football on TV. We did for awhile and then did some reading. We could see it raining to the west, but the sun popped out every now and then over us. The area around us was like a park setting and we enjoyed the solitude we found there. We ate an early dinner and watched some TV. It got dark earlier because of all the clouds today.
We are planning on getting up early and making a long run of locks tomorrow.