Sept 29 – Oct 5

September 29-Paris Landing, Kentucky Lake,TN

Well, today will be the last of a long string of warm 80 degree days and 60 degree nights for awhile. A cold front is moving through tonight and has projected highs in the mid 70’s, with lows in the upper 40’s–still sunny with no rain expected this week. After breakfast, we made some business calls and then began some work projects. We finished with those by 1:00 and then relaxed by doing some reading. One sailboat came in for gas and a few fishermen came and went from the boat launch. The Coast Guard Base in the harbor finally showed some signs of activity when a gas tanker and an oil truck came down their pier to fuel up the Coast Guard tow and do an oil change. It was our excitement for the morning. In the afternoon we saw 2 “loopers” go by on the lake and listened to their conversation on the radio. According to them, more “loopers” would be following in the next 2-3 days. They are in Green Turtle Marina now, north of here. This must finally be the group of “loopers” that got delayed up north with the flooding of the rivers. If we run into them down the way, we’ll have to ask them about it. Later, 3 old Chris Craft “woodies” from IN, KY, and NY came in for gas and supplies.

They were loaded up with luggage so they must be traveling a long distance. They fueled up and were off again. Late in the day, another “looper” went by, but didn’t stop here.

We wondered where they would be spending the night. We saw more boats that were clamming with divers. They dive for mussels and harvest the meat for consumption and the shells are sold to Japanese pearl farmers.

It was hard to find a cool place to sit outside today. There was no breeze to keep cool, even in the shade. We ended up spending some time in the AC just to keep from being frazzled. Bob grilled dinner before dark and we watched some of our favorite Monday shows on TV. Tomorrow we’ll anchor out in Leatherwood Bay, about 6 miles from here.

September 30-Paris Landing to Pebble Isle Marina, Kentucky Lake, TN

We were awakened by rain in the middle of the night, so we got up to close the hatches and went back to bed. Within a few minutes, the rain had stopped and we got up to open the hatches again. It was nice to sleep with the fresh air coming in through the hatches. In the morning, we got up to have breakfast and got ready to leave to anchor out in Leatherwood Creek by 9:30. It was cloudy and a cooler 65 degrees. The wind was stronger than it had been in days at 5-10 mph. It was from the north and was making small whitecaps on the lake, but the ride was smooth going south.

The clouds disappeared and the sun came out to warm things up. We took a slow 7 mile (at 8 knots) ride to Leatherwood Creek.

Our cruising guide charts and notes told us there was a minimum depth of 15’ in the entrance channel, but not according to our depth finder in the boat which read 6’. We draw 4’. That’s a little close for comfort, but we continued on. (The chart data must show depths at the summer pool level and now that the lake has been dropped to winter pool levels, the chart data is incorrect.) We slowly entered the channel when the warning buzzer went off for shallow water. We stopped….made a 360 degree turn and slowly motored out. No sense taking any chances. We decided to give up on anchoring there and keep going south. We entered the area of the Tennessee National Migratory Wildlife Refuge where we saw many white pelicans. This is the area where 300+ species of birds gather on their migratory paths traveling north and south. Since the lake is 6’ down, more land is exposed forming islands and more shoreline. There are green areas of exposed weed beds all along the edges of the channel.

We passed more populated areas with beautiful homes on the hillsides and anchorages that might have been usable earlier in the summer. We saw an old abandoned dock

near the ferry at Cane Creek, which was transporting cars from one bank to bank.

“Towering” above us was Pilot Knob, the highest spot in the area and part of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Memorial State Park on the west shore.

Pilot Knob overlooks the locale of the Battle of Johnsonville. Pilot Knob, named for its use as a landmark by riverboat pilots, is the highest point in West Tennessee. At this spot, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general, destroyed Union boats and supplies with camouflaged artillery in 1864. We found the channel where we would enter to go to Pebble Isle Marina. It was well marked, but still looked foreboding being narrow and unforgiving (shallow) if you got out of the channel.

We entered slowly and the water depth was good. The opening to the harbor was very narrow, but we wound our way in.

With the help of the marina owner, we took a spot on the floating transient dock. He came to catch our lines and help us tie up.

We were settled in by 12:30 and eating lunch. We walked to the office to register and walked up the RV campground adjacent to the dock with Murphy. He enjoyed the freedom to run. The marina is within walking distance of the Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park that also exists on the south shore. We walked on a couple of covered docks to check out the larger houseboats. We met a very nice couple from MI, Dennis and Judy, who have been living on their boat and have made the Great Loop a few times. They are currently keeping their boat here in Pebble Isle and have a winter place in Boca Grande, FL. We were invited to sit and talk with them. They offered to share their charts with us to show us places to anchor, and the use of their car to do some provisioning in the nearby town. The camaraderie of the boaters we meet on this trip is overwhelming. Everyone has been so friendly and helpful. They share whatever they have, in whatever way they can. After awhile we came back to the boat and went through their charts, marking the anchorages on our charts. It may be useful down the road. We cleaned up and had a cocktail before going to have a sandwich at the marina restaurant for dinner.

When we returned, the wind had increased and was tossing the boat around at the pier with waves off the lake. It looked like we would be the only transient at the dock for the night and we hoped the wind would die down later for better sleeping. We watched some TV and took Murphy out before going to bed. Cute boat name #36.

October 1-Pebble Isle Marina, Kentucky Lake, TN

Well, it’s already October and September has just flown by. We have a request to make of all of our readers. Our blog site keeps track of how many hits we have gotten since we started it in June and the number is up to almost 5,000. We were wondering if you could just send us a quick “Hi” where it says to “CONTACT US”, just so we can see who might be reading our blog. You see, it’s kind of like a web that spreads out into cyber space and we wonder who is out there reading about us. Please include your name if you think we may know you otherwise we can’t tell where the “contacts” come from. Thanks a lot and we hope you enjoy it.

I woke early to work on the blog and caught sight of the early morning fog on the water.

It was blowing across the water in waves that were being lifted softly into the air.

It was a chilly start to the day at 49 degrees. Good thing we have heat on the boat. We’re probably going to need it before this trip is over, at least in the morning to take the chill out of the air. The sun came up with a soft pink glow in the East. The day warmed up quickly once the sun came out, but the high today would be 75 degrees with a cool northwesterly breeze. Bob got up later and we had breakfast before he worked on tightening the stuffing box, cleaning the air conditioning vent, and drying out the hatches in the cockpit floor. I washed the boat and worked on marking the charts with anchorages. When we were done, we borrowed the courtesy van to go into Johnsonville to the hardware and liquor store. It was a short 5 mile drive through the hills and valleys, but very scenic.

We drove along the top of the ridge and were able to look down into the valleys of fall color. After we finished our shopping, we made a short stop at the Johnsonville Historic Area in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park.

The park consists of 600 acres located on the east bank of Kentucky Lake. Johnsonville was named after Governor Andrew Johnson and is the site of a unique military victory. Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his calvary attacked and destroyed the river port depot of Johnsonville. The fall of Johnsonville represented not only a Confederate victory, but also the only record of a naval force being engaged and defeated by a calvary force. The town of Johnsonville disappeared in the 1940’s when the TVA flooded the area forming Kentucky Lake. The museum here contains some military artifacts and information about the area. We headed back to the boat after taking a driving tour of the rest of the park and relaxed doing some reading and research on the Internet. The sun came and went with the clouds, and at times the wind howled through the valley. We enjoyed the sun and the cooler temps. There were a few local boaters and RV campers around, but we still remained the only visiting boat on the dock. We had dinner and watched TV. It would be cooler tonight than last night. Bob took Murphy out before we went turned in.

October 2- Pebble Isle Marina, Kentucky Lake, TN

It was another cold morning of 59 degrees with fog on the water. It cleared off quickly once the sun came out. The clear, blue sky was a mirror image on the water.

There was no breeze this morning and it was as calm as could be. I did some wash and cleaning around the boat. We hung out until the air warmed up a little and then took the courtesy van to the town of Waverly. They had a WalMart there and Bob really needed to get some parts for his repair projects. We took the 8 mile ride into Waverly around noon and were back at the boat by 1:30. On the ride, we passed a road with an interesting name called Ulcer Hollow. At the drive-in theater that we drove by, they were showing 2 “must-see” movies –House Bunnies and Beer ForYour Horses. Hmmm! Once we got back, we finished up our projects and took a dinghy ride out into the lake for a couple of miles in both directions.

To the south, we went as far as the Dupont plant and to the north to an old abandoned distribution station for tows. It was a gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky and the lake was calm without a breeze. The white pelicans, egrets, and herons were perched along the shoreline.

We motored around the marina to check out the boats, too. While we were gone, 2 boats arrived to spend the night.

We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon before dinner. I took Murphy for a walk into the RV park and returned to do some reading. We ate an earlier dinner as it is getting dark even earlier this week and cools off quite a bit once the sun goes down. We have not been sleeping with the hatches open the last 2 nights, because the temps get down too low. We watched some TV until the debate came on and went to bed after that. Tomorrow we are leaving for Cuba Landing and another new adventure. This boat name #37 is for my brother.

October 3-Pebble Isle Marina to Birdsong Creek Anchorage, TN

Note: We are now considered to be on the Tennessee River. Kentucky Lake ended, for all intents and purposes, at Paris Landing.

Waking this morning at 7:30 with a temperature of 52 degrees, we could hardly see anything due to the fog.

It was much heavier than the last 2 mornings. We had breakfast, got ready to leave, and pulled away from the dock at 10:00. The sun burned off the fog quickly and it was a bright sunny morning with a cloudless blue sky. As soon as the sun comes out….BANG….it’s warm! Before we left the dock, Bob went to talk to the people from New Zealand. (Yes, I said New Zealand!) They were docked in front of us last night. They told Bob about being tied up at the wall at Kaskaskia Lock and Dam. (where we spent one night). They were there for 12 days because the river rose 38’ very quickly and was closed. There were 3 other boats there with them, without power or any facilities. They were able to have a rental car brought to them and went into town, but that’s about it. They finally made it to Pebble Isle where we were. They were moving on today because they are storing their boat in Demopolis (just north of Mobile, AL) and going home to New Zealand. Their comment to Bob was “the kids are getting twitchy”. They also said that 40-60 boats were stuck when the rivers closed in the last week or two and were starting to move south again. I guess we’ve been ahead of them all along and that’s why we haven’t seen many “loopers”. One of the local “ex-loopers” said that most of the people don’t start the loop until the beginning of October, but we don’t know if that’s true. The interesting part of the New Zealand story was that they started their loop from Bradenton, FL, just across the river from where we live. Amazing! This morning before we left the marina, we saw 2 guys dressed in camouflage clothing walking the shoreline picking up clams. (They wore “camo” clothing so the clams wouldn’t see themJ) I guess it’s a big business in these parts. Once we left Pebble Isle we motored at 8 knots down the river and decided to anchor out for the night in Birdsong Creek, since the weather was so nice. Cuba Landing will have to wait! We passed the Johnsonville Steam Plant for TVA.

It was a huge eyesore on the land, but I’m sure it provides many people with jobs and major electrical power in the area.

As we approached the CSX railroad bridge, we called to check the height clearance and were told it was 25’. We told the bridge tender we would have to stop and put down our antennas because we would need 30’ of clearance with them up. He was kind enough to raise the bridge for us. With a “thank you very much” we continued on our way.

We passed a tow with barges at the narrowest part of the river and when it opened up to a very wide area, we saw lots of fishermen. This is now part of the Tennessee Wildlife Refuge. Here is where we turned into Birdsong Creek. At the end of the creek, about 2 miles, is Birdsong Marina, but we would drop anchor in a small bay just inside the entrance to the creek.

It was pretty secluded and quiet here, aside from a few fishermen and some interesting looking duck blinds along the shore. I hope it’s not duck hunting season yet. We had lunch and decided to explore the area by dinghy. We took a slow ride up the river to the end where we found Birdsong Marina.

Birdsong Marina is ½ way between Kentucky Lake and the Tenn-Tom River entrance. It is a full service marina, RV campground, and mobile home park, but the most interesting thing is the Freshwater Pearl Farm on the premises. It is the home of North America’s only freshwater pearl-cutting operation and was recommended to us by a few people, so we decided to take a look. ( ) There was no one at the marina when we arrived, but there was an interesting sign on the store door.

We walked up the hill to the office after leaving our dinghy at the dock.

We got there just in time to view a short video telling about the farm. They cultivate anywhere from 150,000-500,000 mussels a year and harvest in the spring and fall. There is more than one species of mussel found in the Tennessee River, which includes a unique species with an unusually thick shell that allows for 3-D shaping of implants to culture pearls. It takes 5-7 years to grow a pearl. The shell is shipped to Japan and other eastern countries to use in cultivated pearl industries there. Tennessee exports 25 million pounds of mussel shells to foreign countries annually. At the turn of the century, pearl button factories once lined the river banks and “pearling” was a favorite sport. The history about how they discovered that pearls could be cultivated here in the Tennessee River is amazing in itself! Here is a close-up picture of the Brail boat used by fishermen to snag mussels.

Here is a picture of where they cultivate the pearls.

The hooks hang down from the boards suspended in the water.

They also dive for them. It was a real educational experience. We left there and came back to the boat to sit on the bridge in the shade and watch the fishermen come and go. From where we are anchored, we can see the river and the boat traffic pass by, what little there is. We took Murphy to shore once we found a dry place to land the dinghy, and then had dinner before the sun went down.

We watched a DVD and then actually got a channel on TV (Super Nanny was on). It was something, at least. We took Murphy to shore one last time before going to bed. The stars were out by the millions and the moon was just a sliver in the sky. Aside from a few hound dogs barking in the distance there wasn’t any noise other than insects buzzing on the shore. We would have a very quiet, restful night.

October 4-Birdsong Creek, TN

We were completely fogged in when we woke up this morning. We heard bass boats buzzing by in the fog, but we couldn’t see a thing. Bob took Murphy to shore and disappeared in the wall of fog. I wondered whether he would be able to find his way back. He did after a few minutes and by then the sun was shining through the fog enough to reflect off of the boat so others could see us. It all burned off within an hour or two. Bass boats-the “weekend warriors” as Bob called them, continued to stream out of the marina past our boat at 50 mph, motors tilted up, forming huge rooster tails behind them.

I worked on the computer before breakfast. The coverage was spotty so it took forever to do anything. This is what I had to do to get decent reception. (Note the bass boat in the background)

I finally got yesterday’s blog loaded in and then had breakfast. A formation of 4 WWII planes flew overhead as we watched them with the binoculars. Bob got the TV antenna on the boat to work with the parts we bought in Murray last week. Hurray! Now we can get more than one channel without snow. He also worked on putting coat #4 of varnish on some areas of the boat. It’s an endless job! It was 85 degrees by noon and the sky was filled with thin, wispy clouds. There was a slight breeze blowing now and then. We had lunch and then took a dinghy ride down the river. We motored south for about 8 miles. The river was lined with rocky bluffs of colorful layered rock and forests of green.

The water was calm and very deep near the bluffs.

We were able to get up really close to a sign we saw on the banks. You know you are in the south when the sign reads “Bubba’s Cove”.

We dinghied to the big bend in the river and then turned around. Duck River enters here. Many bass boats whizzed by us on our ride, hardly making a wake in the water. We saw one houseboat from Pebble Isle and a couple of pontoon boats taking a nice Saturday ride on the river. It is hard to believe that it is October and 85 degrees. It’s like having an endless summer! Back at the boat we sat up on the bridge in the shade watching the fishermen around the boat. Many people fish in the area, but we haven’t seen anyone catching anything. I guess the crappie fishing is supposed to be good right now. We had dinner as the sun was setting with beautiful colors of purple, pink, and yellow in the sky.

The moon had come out earlier in the afternoon and could be seen in the western sky. It has been a welcome relief when the sun goes down and things cool off a bit. We were surprised to get football on TV and especially excited when it was the Wisconsin-Ohio game. FANTASTIC! We watched the game and rooted for our home team, even though they lost the game. After the game, we went to bed once Murphy had his last trip to shore. We are thinking of staying another day here in Birdsong Creek to see some friends, Tom and Kay, from Fish Creek who are passing through the area. He is a delivery captain for Skipper Buds and moves boats around the country. He picked up a boat in Madeline Island last week and is moving it to Sarasota with his first mate/wife. They should be staying at Pebble Isle tomorrow, just back up the river about 7 miles, so we can dinghy there to visit with them. He was very helpful to us with advice, via phone, as we traveled down the river. He has done this trip numerous times with many boats and is an expert on the river. It would be nice to see them and thank him for his help in person.

October 5 – Birdsong Creek Anchorage to Cuba Landing, TN

We were awakened at 6:30 by the boat wakes as 15 bass boats, (I counted them) screamed by. It wasn’t as foggy as yesterday around the boat, but there was a wall of fog on the river. Bob took Murphy to shore before the fog burned off at 9:00.

The sunrise was beautiful as it came up above the trees.

As we ate our breakfast, we heard gunshots in the distance. More duck hunting, I guess. We discovered our friends, Tom and Kay, came past Birdsong Creek early this morning and would not be spending the night up the river. We missed their call this morning as they passed by in the fog. That’s too bad! We really wanted to see them. So we had a change of plans and decided to move down the river to Cuba Landing.

We hauled anchor at 11:00 and traveled down the river about 12 miles arriving at noon. We passed a tug along the way. We hadn’t seen one for a very long time.

We took the narrow entrance into the harbor with plenty of water and stopped at the gas dock for a pumpout.

While we waited there, a family came down to the dock and were admiring our boat. The girls were a mixture of ages from 5th grade to second grade.

They were so interested in the boat and asked to see the inside, so I gave them a tour. They were amazed and so excited to go up to the bridge.

They gave me their email address and I promised to send them the pictures I took.

We took a spot on the dock and would spend the night.

It is a cute little place. Someone told us there wasn’t much here, and there really isn’t, but the people are friendly and helpful. We tied up and were able to hook up to cable TV. They even had the NFL package and we were able to watch the Packer game. Unbelievable in such an out-of-the-way place! We sat in the comfort of our AC and enjoyed watching the game (even though they lost). There was a lot of action at the boat launch which we can see from the boat. Many people were out and about on a beautiful fall day using their boats—pontoon, wakeboard boat, fishing, go fast–you name it, we saw it. This is a very popular place. We enjoyed our view from the back of the boat as we watched people go up and down the river.

We relaxed as the sun went down. We got to see a gorgeous sunset and relished the quiet of the evening as darkness fell. We heard another boat call on the radio asking for dockage for the night and so we might have a neighbor at the dock. They were expected to arrive at around 5:00 and they did. It was a sailboat from Grand Rivers. Bob and I made some calls home and then made dinner. The sun set creating beautiful colors in the sky.

I baked some cookies for dessert and we watched some TV until it was time to turn in. Murphy got his final walk and we went to bed.

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