Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Clarksville, TN to Cheatham Lake and the Harpeth River

  The courtesy dock at Clarksville lived up to it's name and was a courtesy for sure. It was quiet and we slept like logs and woke to another morning of dense fog. Our dock neighbor had already departed by the time we got up at 6:30 and we enjoyed a relaxing breakfast before Rosie attacked the bugs on the boat using the morning dew as the cleaning agent.
  I took Holly for a walk along McGregor Park and she didn't miss barking at anyone and everything, but did walk proudly beside me, albeit on a very short leash.
  By 9 A.M. we were ready to depart as a young girl came down to the dock and offered a hello before she sat down on the edge of the dock and started assembling her morning joint. I can only guess it was her first. I cautioned her to watch her legs as I backed away from the accumulated river debris hugging the bow of Swing Set and she gave a friendly wave goodbye. It was only her absence of several teeth that prevented me from suggesting she take a ride with us to the next port. This is a joke. The ride, not the part about the teeth.
  The Cumberland in this area is very narrow, and even more so with the pool being so low. We passed the Clarksville Marina which is still under construction but looks like it will be very nice. Some workers gave a wave and gave a honk. We passed several river homes stuck to the cliffs along the way, nice views but very little river access.

  This is the Clarksville Boat Club, a private marina right on the river channel. I had called them the day before and was told that they did have diesel, but their uncertainty as to when they last filled their fuel tanks gave me enough information to pass them by. I saw perhaps two vessels in the line up that may have taken diesel, so my instincts were right on to not stop for fuel at this place. No matter, we have plenty to get us to Old Hickory Lake; still running on Hoppie's fuel.
  We kept hearing about the necessity for AIS on the Cumberland River due to the narrow channel and the many twists and turns when encountering towboats. We haven't seen this to be the issue if we pay attention, and the key is that we go slow. Running any faster will just enrage the many fishermen we pass, so our pace is good for not only seeing the barges ahead of time, but also to keep the natives friendly and save on fuel.

  We had called the Cheatham lock one hour before we figured to arrive and was told that a southbound tow was in the chamber and would be spit out in time for us to cruise in and lock up into Cheatham Lake. We arrived one hour later on the dot and hailed the lockmaster and was disappointed to learn that there were some "difficulties" and it would be at least an hour and a half before we could lock up. We took up residence among several fishermen below the dam to wait it out and have lunch...and a nap...and play with Holly...etc. etc. until nearly three hours passed.
  While we waited I called ahead for fuel availability as we will need it eventually. Twenty five miles away there is diesel and they are charging a very proud $4.99 per gallon for it. Seventy five miles away we can get it for $3.69 per gallon. Guess where we are going.
  We had a couple of mishaps of our own as we raised our anchor and found it to be twisted around in spite of our swivel at the shackle, just to prevent what eventually happened. I don't like Rosie to be putting her fingers anywhere around the windlass or chain when something goes wrong, so I wound up leaving the bridge to unsnarl the anchor from the chain.
  We still pulled in right behind the southbound tow as he pulled out, and grabbed a floating bollard and chatted with the lockmaster a bit. He was sorry for our wait and before we pulled away, he brought a little gift bag to us full of water safety goodies and other trinkets. The coloring book and crayons are already thrown into the trash. We might keep the frisbee; at least until the first toss.
  I had an anchorage in mind for the afternoon, but with the hold up at the lock I picked a closer spot but it turned out to be a bust. My intended mark was a place called Johnson's Creek and it advertised a depth of 13 feet off the channel. Even with a normal pool, Johnson wasn't co-operating so I made for my intended anchorage in the Harpeth River, a spot I found this morning on Active Captain.
  The mouth of the Harpeth River off the Cumberland River was as narrow as the chart suggested, but it looked deep once the cut was passed and we were not disappointed. We slipped along in 30 feet of water for about a half mile before we came to a nice pool that opened up and had a lot of privacy. The river seemed to abruptly end right at the end of the pool we were in and the depth below our hull dropped to 4.5 feet so we figured we were at the end of the navigable river and dropped the hook.
  The river looked to continue along some bluffs that I thought would be fun to explore, so we popped the dinghy in, grabbed Holly and a couple of Buds and took a ride.

  I took these two shots before we headed up the Harpeth River in the dinghy and we had a pleasant surprise as to how far we could go. We passed a campground and several fishermen and cruised along for at least a half an hour before turning around and heading back to Swing Set. The river reminded me of the Huzzah in Missouri, and we were enjoying the ride.
  Back at the boat, we saw Holly take her first swim, unintentional it turns out, as she got too curious with something floating in the drink and slipped in. We turned a mishap into a bath and she recovered from her ordeal none the worse for wear and gained some experience to boot.
  I made a sirloin steak on the Magma grill as the sun set and dinner was as peaceful as can be. The water is so still here that the corn shucks that Rosie tossed out earlier are still bobbing around the boat. It should be a quiet night.
  For now, Rosie is catching up on some email on the iPad and I'm doing this blog on the desktop Mac as the cell service here is perfect. We'll yank the dinghy back onto the brackets and maybe catch something on T.V., or play some cards. Both activities will bring on the yawns in no time. All around, it has been a very good day.


  1. Purdy. The Harpeth goes all the way into Nashville. Looks small though.

    How far you going? Can you get to Carthage?

  2. My daily reading is increasing & I love it. Thanks Mike, this is just like a book you can't put down. LOVE IT & Miss you guys

  3. Sounds like a nice break from the 9-5 hoopla the rest of us are going though :)

  4. Carthage is about 100 miles upstream. We are not sure if we are going there or not. Locking through into the Cordell Hull reservoir is sort of a pain as you have to give a day's notice and can only lock through during certain times. I think the lockmaster only is there with advance notice. We'll see. Lots to do here on Old Hickory first.