Friday, June 29, 2012

Clifton to Savannah, TN

  Before I start on the segment from Clifton, TN to Savannah, TN, I want to show these pictures I wanted to attach from the last post.
  The floating homes in the picture here are in the Perryville Marina. They back up to a fairly steep cliff and are pretty neat really, but some need some fixing up.

  This is the Beech River we found ourselves in, looking for an anchorage after a long day. I thought the picture would reflect just how narrow this channel was, but compared to what we have been traveling in, this was narrow but it doesn't look like it here.

  This is the low bridge that we had to get under on our way out of the river. The picture was taken from the flybridge. We had plenty of clearance coming out, but Rosie was right on when she told me going in that we had "about a foot" of room to spare. Glad the river went down during the night instead of up.

  Heading up the Tennessee River towards Pickwick Lake you see lots of river houses, many of them are new construction. This is a row of them and they are all very nice and they look affordable. I took this one for our friend James. He told me to be on the lookout for a house down here. Here ya go, James.
  We stopped into the Mermaid Marina on the way, just to see if they had anything we needed. As we pulled into a very narrow opening into the harbor and approached the gas dock/restaurant/lounge, a pretty girl came out and asked if we were tying up. I took a look at the rubber tires lined up along the dock and decided to ask first. "Do you have groceries?", was my question. To which she replied, "Yes, we do."
  I then got down to the nitty gritty and asked if she had bread. When pretty girl had to go in to ask someone if they indeed had bread, I figured right then that not bothering to tie up was a good decision.
  "We don't carry bread, but we have snacks and stuff", came the girl's report a bit later. Not being in dire need of "snacks and stuff", we pressed on.
  Fast forward to our trip in the dinghy to a restaurant in Clifton. We found "Smokies" bar and restaurant on a search site on the iPad. I read claims of "best restaurant in Clifton", "fine dining", etc. We pulled into the Clifton Marina and were directed to a place we could tie up and walk "just up the hill" to Smokies.

  Here's Rosie posing in front of "Smokies" on our way out. The trouble is, we ate there before we walked out. Normally we wouldn't even bother to eat anywhere as grubby as this place was, but I figured we had already walked all the way there, so what the hell.
  Even though the one half of the place had a sort of store where cigarettes and beer were sold, along with a few bags of "snacks and stuff", the waitress told us that they couldn't serve beer with our food. Hoo boy. Rosie ordered her usual chicken sandwich and I had a burger and we got the heck out of there. As we walked along on the grass next to the highway on our way back to the dinghy, one thing we were thankful for was that we didn't pay for a slip for the night. By the way, I think "Smokies" was named after the cook. Not sure if the smoke coming from the kitchen was from the beef or from her Marlboro.
  The trip from Clifton to our current anchorage just up from Savannah, TN was about 35 miles and we took a very leisurely pace of 6.5 M.P.H., stopping every hour or so for a dip in some very clear water.

  The river through here is also lined with some very nice homes. We thought this one was unique with the tracks to take the pontoon boat right up under the house. Hope they get the boat out of there before a flood shoots it through the roof of the garage into the living room.

  We approached Savannah with hopes of finding a short way to get into town and procure some groceries. We aren't getting too low, but it's been two weeks since we've gotten any and we are starting to look for an opportunity to get some. The main part of town was blocked with homes such as this one, old south construction and gated. Of the many homes we've seen, many much bigger than this one, this place was impressive due to the elaborate landscaping.
  The public park and ramp was too far away from town for walking, so we decided to forgo any thoughts of shopping in Savannah. We only have about 16 miles to the Pickwick Lock and Dam and thought about locking through but when we came upon our current anchorage, we decided to stay the night and make a nice day out of it instead of a chore.
  We put down the hook behind Wolf Island, behind actually two islands in a nice slough with some shallows at the top to prevent much boat wake activity. The current is a little more pronounced here which meant hanging on when taking a dip, but we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon, sunning and swimming. I even cast a fishing line in too. We were positioned with the bow of Swing Set pointing into a nice pleasant breeze, but also into the setting sun which made for a cooler seat in the cockpit, something we'll have to pay attention to in the coming days. Predictions here for today are for 106 degrees.
  After dinner last night of the last of our minced clam penne with some more of our Steve Heubner home made pork sausage, we watched a movie on Netflix because we had zero T.V. reception. We cooled down the cabin while watching the movie and then turned off the A/C and had a nice cool night even with the hatch closed. I woke to Rosie mopping the decks at nearly 8 A.M., something that rarely happens. (Sleeping late, not the mopping.)
   We do have a very good Internet connection and thus were able to catch up here before heading upriver. I'll call the Pickwick Lock and Dam before we haul anchor to see what the commercial traffic is like at the lock. Our plan is to anchor in a cove just past the Pickwick Landing State Park where there is a waterfall. We stayed there 28 years ago and figure it is probably a good hangout for the holiday weekend.
  Thanks for all the well wishes we receive in our emails and on Facebook from our friends and strangers alike. Hope you all have a safe holiday weekend.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

To Perryville, Tennessee and Clifton Too.

  We have completed the Kentucky Lake portion of our trip and are now on the actual Tennessee River. Our first day we covered nearly 50 miles in some intense heat. The wind was blowing just about the same speed we were going, but only from our stern, so it was as still as can be onboard. We initially stopped in Duncan Bay for lunch, but the flies had the same idea and there is little worse than heat when the flies are around.
  By late afternoon we were bushed, not having really recovered from our great weekend, so I found a place to anchor called Richland Creek. We went way back up in there facing a wind out of the North/Northeast and let the wind generators sing. The wind caused some light chop and that gentle lapping against the hull turns into slapping and thunking, something that makes sleep a bit restless, but we did OK.
  It was Cheerios and coffee for breakfast and the day started out crisp and clean with low humidity. Rosie mopped the boat and I checked fluids in the engine room and found a loose hose clamp in the process. I also did some minor repair on our cockpit seat bracket; it's been a while since it's seen as much action as it did last Saturday night.
  By 11 A.M. we were on our way and we planned on stopping at Pebble Island Marina to see what they had to offer at the ships store and since it was going to be noon when we arrived, we decided to patronize them by having lunch. The ships store had none of the four items that I was after and the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Sorry about their luck. We did talk to a guy who keeps his boat there about our wind generators and about his solar panels. He liked our setup and may add on one wind generator to his houseboat. He's headed to the gulf by late August so we may meet him on our way.
  Birdsong Marina was another hour up the river and we wanted to go there too because we stopped there back in 1984 and have fond memories of it. The marina is about 2 miles up a crooked creek. I've ridden on moto-cross tracks with less turns. We hailed the marina on channel 16, then on 68, but as we got closer we got the impression that the place hadn't seen much in the way of upgrades since 1984. If I don't like the looks of the transient dock, Swing Set isn't getting close. Our friends know about some of the places we've docked Swing Set, so when I say it was bad, was bad. I don't want to give them a bad rap if they don't deserve it, but I should have known. When I mention to the fella at Pebble Isle that we were stopping by Birdsong, he was mysteriously silent. I think now we know why.
  After Birdsong the river gets narrow soon after and we started looking for an anchorage and that's when our day started going downhill. The wind was really blowing against the current, what there is of it, but causing a lot of chop. One place that was mentioned in Quimby's looked promising, but we couldn't get a hook to set using both anchors, and the rest of the places looked too skinny to stick our bow into.
  Our travel day lasted longer than we wanted it to and it was late afternoon by the time we reached Perryville, Tennessee when we pulled into the Perryville Marina. I wanted to post pictures of the place but we are in a remote part of the world here and my photos won't load up on this blog. I'll try to add them all later. Suffice it to say, the marina harbor is interesting. As you enter the harbor there is a long row of floating houses, some are in better repair than others. There were sticks in the water directing us to the gas dock and it looked like no one was home, and again, like Birdsong, the docks were not in very good shape.
  We pulled out of there and stuck our nose into the mouth of the Beech River where the charts promised an 18 foot depth but a bridge about 1/4 mile up the very small river blocked our path, or so we thought. I eyeballed the clearance of the bridge and posted Rosie atop the dock box on the flybridge with a view of the particulars. "Plenty of clearance", Rosie said, but plenty to her once questioned was about "one foot", she said. The river, more of a creek really, twisted around and we found a spot to drop the hook out of the way of anyone transiting the area at night.
  We had a real nice dinner of leftovers and we both hit the computers; me with the blog and Rosie on Facebook. I gave up when I couldn't post pics and we finally hit the hay about 11 P.M. which is late for us. I woke up around 4 A.M., worried about the river rising and us not having enough clearance on the bridge to get out. I've inherited worrying for nothing from my dad. Hi Dad. While I was up anyway, I checked our charts and marked possible anchorages all the way to the Pickwick Lock and Dam and found plenty of them.
  When we finally got up this morning I discovered that the river had actually dropped about a foot during the night. It could have gone the other way too; but I do have an alternative plan for just about anything, but it would have meant a little work, and I hate work.
  This morning was absolutely gorgeous but we know the heat is coming. Temperature forecasts in much of this part of the country are in triple digits. We're scaling back our miles traveled for a couple of days, so we only planned a twenty mile day today and that's what we did. We anchored behind a nice big island just 2.5 miles up from Clifton, Tennessee at the 155 mile marker. We dropped the dinghy in and went for a ride to see what the Clifton Marina had to offer. They didn't have anything we needed but we were offered the courtesy car anyway. We settled for use of their dock to park the dinghy later when we return to go to dinner at one of the more popular restaurants in town, just "up the hill" from the marina.
  We motored back to the boat and laid around in the water some and tackled a fix it project on our steering but did more harm than good. Presently we have the generator going to cool down the cabin and finish this blog. If I hit "publish" and nothing happens, I'll be adding on what happens tonight onto this blog too. If not, I'll post again when we have better service here with AT and no T. Here goes nuthin'.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Last Great Weekend in Kentucky Lake

  This is the photo I took last Friday morning looking out at Lake Barkley from "Nickle Cove". From here, it was just a couple of miles over to Green Turtle Bay where we met up with Madge and Jerry. Brett and Christine came down with some other friends from St. Louis, too, Brad and Leslie.
  After a nice dinner at the Green Turtle Bay Yacht Club we went back down to the dock where a group was gathered around and Jerry and Bobby kept us entertained with some guitar playing and singing. As the crowd thinned out way after midnight, it was just Bobby, Jerry, Rosie and I...and another friend, Jack Daniels. Having been admonished earlier about not keeping quiet during some of the more quieter tunes, Rosie was doing her best to refrain from most of her comments but just as Bobby began to pluck out a tune, Rosie spied a bag of snacks sitting on a table in front of him and she belts out, "HEY, ARE THEM PEANUTS??!!" She's great at concerts too.
  On Saturday morning, our friends from St. Louis, John and Tina, along with another couple from La Grange, KY, showed up and by 11 A.M. we were loaded up and following Blonde Moment over to the Quarry for a day of fun.

  Here from the left is Jeff, Sandy, Rosie, Brett, Brad, Tina, Leslie and John sitting in the cockpit of Swing Set. You can see the rock walls of the quarry in the background.

  Swing Set is rafted up with "Blonde Moment" on her port side and "Just One More", owned by Steve and Dina, on her starboard side. The raft up was under way when we arrived but they split the boats to squeeze us in.

  This was how most of the day was spent, just lounging around in the water, but as the sun went down, the fun really started.
  One couple we met in the quarry last weekend showed up and brought us a big bag of sweet corn, just out of the blue. Everyone has treated us so well down here. They're trying to get us to stay for a few more weeks, but as some entertainer once said, "Go out on top", or something like that.
  Brett hooked up his strobe lights and fog machine and people danced and partied into the wee hours. John Travolta would have been proud. We eventually wound back up at Green Turtle Bay at nearly 3 A.M., after a minor detour or two.
  A big dock party that Madge and Jerry had been part of had already wrapped up, and Jerry helped us in to drop off our visitors and we shared some of the highlights of our day. Some, is the key word here.
  Brett and Christine and Brad and Leslie departed about mid-day on Sunday after hugs were shared and tears were shed. We know we will see all of them again, but we don't know when.
  We couldn't get too motivated on Sunday, plus it was very hot, somewhere around 98 degrees. I had to switch out one of our shore power cords and I needed some help from Rosie just to get through it. Accomplishing this great feat called for a celebration, and we didn't want the ice cold beers still floating in the cooler to go to waste, so we started knocking those down.
  By early evening, we joined Madge and Jerry for one last go around at the Yacht Club at Green Turtle Bay where another Sunday evening crowd was gathered at the beautiful bar there. I met a well traveled fellow sitting next to me and got filled in on some travel tips for the Tombigbee Waterway. I don't think you can ever sit at the bar at any Yacht Club and not learn something. We were really having fun but right after I finished my sandwich I felt myself running out of gas. I left Rosie in good hands with Madge and Jerry and I went back to the boat and sat with Holly for a bit and then turned in. The whole weekend had finally gotten the best of me.

  Speaking of Holly, I just had to include this picture I took on Friday morning. Holly is becoming right at home on Swing Set and has mastered the stairs to the flybridge and chooses the upper stairs to survey her kingdom from on high. I think she is a mixed breed, part billy goat and part fish.
  This morning we'll fill up with diesel fuel and water and get a pump out, and then head upriver, leaving our last lifeline of support from our friends. We cannot express our thanks to Madge, Jerry, Brett, and Christine enough for the things they have done for us in the last few weeks. We're also very happy that we got to visit with John and Tina, and Jeff and Sandy, and Brad and Leslie, one more time. We have no doubt that we will see them all again at some point. I think they all had a good time this weekend but I'm sure they got wore out too.
  Our adventure resumes.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What's On The Menu?

  Whether we are traveling every day, or just hanging out like we've been for the last few weeks, we develop a routine, as I'm sure most organized people would. The major components of our day consists of maintaining the boat and maintaining ourselves in the way of personal hygiene, or our sustenance. In other words, what we eat.
  Part of the fun, or adventure, of what we do is making meals on what some would consider to be limited resources. I know that in the whole scheme of things, what we have here aboard Swing Set is somewhat luxurious compared to how a lot of people on this planet live, but compared to what was our well stocked kitchen back in St. Louis, this could be called camping.
  I've mentioned our vast array of dry storage for canned goods and the like, and of our Norcold AC/DC refrigerator, but you must realized just how small this refrigerator is. The freezer has 3.6 cubic feet of storage and the main compartment is 7 cubic feet. I know guys that can eat 7 cubic feet of White Castles at a sitting, so you can imagine what we are dealing with.
  Let's talk about power to run that Norcold for a minute. Being able to run on either alternating current, or direct current, is essential for a refrigerator on a boat, I think. The next best thing would be to have a top loader refrigerator/freezer, but we do with what we have. We have learned that when we are on the move and the main engines can spin our alternators, along with help from the wind generators, we charge up everything during the course of the day to run everything we need until we pull up anchor and head out the following day. Sitting on the hook doesn't do the same amount of charging, even with a decent wind blowing. (Bear in mind that we can't run our air conditioner off the inverter.) Now, it's been very hot around these parts for the last week and that means that the refrigerator runs more, but we're still getting away with turning it off when we go to bed. The fact that we need to run the generator a little in the morning to cook breakfast at times, or in the evening to cook dinner, the refrigerator gets help because the batteries are charging when the generator is on. One day this week we didn't run the generator at all, mainly to see if we could do it, but in general we will run it a couple of hours a day and maintain an eye on the battery voltage levels on our house bank and inverter bank. Power management is one of our chief endeavors here on Swing Set and with just a little effort we are making out just fine. Thankfully, the nights have been nice and cool, making living without A/C bearable.
  So when we cook, we cook more that what we'll eat at one sitting so we can just zap something later in the microwave, something we can do with power from the inverter alone.
  We have been living aboard now for two months and after the initial monster shopping spree to fill the larder, we've had three more larger trips to the grocery, the last one being a week ago. When we get to a store and can get fresh vegetables, we'll get stuff to make a salad, so naturally our meals shortly after will be something that revolves around a salad so that the lettuce doesn't go bad.
  Just a word about recipes; we read lots of posts from others that live on their boats and they always want to compile a recipe book for boaters. The problem with recipes is that you have to have what's in the recipe to make it. We take the approach that we inventory what we have, then decide what we can make with it. We end up with either a culinary delight, or something we call "an adventure in dining".
  This week we had broiled spare ribs along with a salad that was a hit. On this same night, being one of the very hottest of evenings, we treated ourselves to a couple of hours of air conditioning until nature took over and the outside air cooled down with the sunset. The next night we were going to finish up the spare ribs by heating them up and adding some canned asparagus, but Rosie had made some hotdogs after cooking bacon for breakfast on the previous morning, and I began to wonder what I could make with a couple of leftover hotdogs.
  We had bought some burritos at Wal-Mart two weeks ago and had been using them in place of bread for our lunchtime sandwiches, so I took two of these burritos, spread some canned spaghetti sauce on them, added some shredded cheddar and mostly mozzarella cheese and topped with a sliced hotdog on each. Now, these were not the best homemade pizzas we've ever eaten, but let me tell you, we've had pizzas in St. Louis on "The Hill", the Italian neighborhood there, that were not as good as these. This is a fact.
  We now had a very large can of leftover spaghetti sauce, so last night I added two cans of minced clams we got on a bargain at IGA last week, cooked up a half box of penne noodles, made some garlic rolls out of rolled up burritos, and we had a feast last night. See how it goes?

  Yesterday we decided to jump in the dinghy and head back over to The Moors for breakfast,  not because we didn't have breakfast stuff on the boat, but just because it's nice to break up the routine for just about anything out of the ordinary. That's what makes life interesting. Holly was left on the boat and here is Rosie with Swing Set in the background at our anchorage in Smith Bay. Behind the boat is the main channel, or Kentucky Lake. We were a little exposed in this anchorage, but the breeze was persistent coming from the south and it kept the wind generators, and us, happy nearly all day.

  After a breakfast of delicious hot coffee, biscuits and gravy for Rosie, and a big plate of pancakes for me, I put this sticker on our table for the picture. I'm saving the rest of our vast supply of RiverBills stickers for the most remote or interesting locations we encounter. No sense getting in a hurry to use up our supple of stickers, we're in this for the long haul. Rosie did order the waist slimming small order of biscuits and gravy, and my monstrous plate of pancakes fed both of us again this morning, and we still have enough to go around again. If you are on a budget, you can't go wrong with pancakes. Ever.
  We got back to the boat and we were lounging around and we got invaded by two runabouts full of kids, so we did what's great about living on the hook and we moved. The nearby quarry normally provides us with not only family entertainment, but some generally some adults are in there too, and it wasn't long before we made some friends. I use the term "friends" lightly here, as the people we met were in need of jumper cables and they thought I would have them. "Derek", as he introduced himself, had a bad battery on his Jet Ski and was joined by three others on another Polaris PWC. We tried to charge the Jet Ski with a battery tender I've had since we sold our BMW motorcycle but as soon as I plugged the charger in, the inverter faulted and we had to start the generator. The exhaust from the generator was about to asphyxiate Derek as he was sitting on that corner of the swim platform, so when he said he had jumper cables "back at the truck", I asked as the where that may be, and he said, "across the lake".
  I politely suggested that the other fella go fetch the jumper cables while we engaged ourselves in a cold Bud Light and Derek saw the wisdom in this plan, especially since it meant turning off the generator. Two beers later, here came the other three and quickly got the Jet Ski started. Derek nearly didn't want to be rescued at this point, though. I gave Derek the Battery Tender as I saw no more use for it, and we both figured a small jumper could be made from it as it had alligator clips on one end, and a cigarette lighter plug on the other.

  You can see the progress Holly is making on her swimming lessons. She doesn't wear the life jacket anymore, at least until we get underway in bigger water. Holly will jump off a raft she is lounging on, but still won't make the 4 inch leap off the back of the swim platform. The other day, I mistakenly let her on the beach and when she wouldn't come and I started going after her, she beat feet for the water where her protector, Rosie was waiting, and she swam as fast as a rat out to the safety of Rosie's arms. I honestly never saw any of our dogs swim that fast.

  Rosie couldn't help taking this picture because "one of us looked so damn cute" in it. Which one of us I wonder? Holly has taken to excursions around to the bow of the boat, especially when we aren't paying attention. She gets on the top step of the stairs leading to the gunnel from the cockpit and looks over at us. If we aren't looking, she gets her two front paws on the gunnel and looks again. She gives one last glance as her first back paw lifts from the step, and off she goes unless we call her on it. Usually though, she makes the circuit and shows up on the steps on the other side of the cockpit like nothing had happened. She used to do the same thing at our condo into forbidden territory.
  I already mentioned our dinner last night of minced clams and pasta; after that it was time for some relaxation after a grueling day, but the anchorage we picked after leaving The Quarry had the sun punishing us. It was a hot one. We intended to get back to Green Turtle Bay on Friday afternoon anyway, so we decided to head back over to Lake Barkley to spend the evening on the hook with the trees blocking the hot setting sun. We found a nice deep quiet cove just up from the canal that separates the two lakes and slipped in, giving the two other boats already there ample room. We sat on the cockpit steps enjoying the view for about an hour and then retired to the salon to read our books, but only after Rosie offered a toast to us for the good time we are having so far. I actually went to bed before the sun went down on our longest day of the year and finished the book I was reading. I was bushed. I've read three books in the last three weeks, but in the first three weeks while we were on the move, I didn't finish one. The long days of traveling mean I read one or two pages before zonking out.
  I was going to include a nice picture of the view we had this morning when we got up at 5:30, but the photo was taking too long to load up. You know, early to bed and all that, but we were helped waking up by some fishermen who came blasting between us and the houseboat anchored nearby. They thoughtfully slowed down as they just got between us, causing the biggest wake possible. They were just creeping along by the time they reached the back of the cove, so as not to disturb the fish that they didn't catch after ten minutes. My dim view of the fishermen around here is increasing at the same rate of my inability to catch any of said same fish.
  As much as we are looking forward to our last weekend around here with our friends, we are really looking forward to returning to our travels upriver on Monday. Maybe we can contain ourselves enough this weekend to be able to post some pics before we cast off. Don't count on it.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bopping Around Kentucky Lake

  I just want to update the blog a little. We are still in Kentucky Lake and really enjoying our time here. We plan to head upriver next Monday so some friends can come visit this coming weekend.
  The last couple of weekends have been filled with meeting new people and having a whole lot of fun. Boaters are easy to meet because there is lots in common, but at times there is more in common with others than most.
  To prevent any potential embarrassment I won't mention names, but last weekend some friends lost their anchor and about 150 of chain in the quarry. Ouch. That kind of tackle doesn't come cheap, but it wasn't their fault as it could happen to anyone. The steep rock cliffs underwater in the quarry are natural snags for any anchor and they don't let go.
  We've been in Pisgah Bay for the most part but the deep cove we were in is a natural ski cove and the skiers were using Swing Set for a pylon. We also had horrible service in there and it's nice to be able to send emails and post the blog without waiting forever for things to upload. I do want to mention that in response to AT&T's advertised "thousands and thousands" of WiFi hotspots across the USA: I think you have to be sitting right on top of the counter at places like McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts to get service.
  We had extra incentive to move our anchorage this morning. Like I said, we were in Pisgah Bay, having stumbled over to it after a late Sunday in The Quarry. It's the next cove over and I needed my Navionics to assist in finding a place to drop anchor. Bud Light strikes again.
  Yesterday was recuperation day, but we did manage to take our trash to a state campground nearby and dump it, but mostly we swam around and read our Kindles. A houseboat came in late in the afternoon, and so did all those sailboats like they did last Monday and we all gave each other lots of room. The houseboat however, pulled up the hook and moved over pretty close to us this morning and we decided to vacate the premises. Not so much as a privacy issue, but ski boats would have been forced to navigate between our two boats and even make bigger wakes for us. The mom and pop crew on the rental houseboat seemed to be having some sort of disagreement over something this morning and I asked Rosie what she thought was the matter. She said that maybe their engine was dead and I asked her how she knew that they even had an injun', and why was he dead? She barely was able to keep the hot coffee she was drinking from spewing out her nose.
  So now we're back in Smith Bay and we have a great signal. We had some business to attend to with our financial advisor and were able to print some documents, sign and scan them, and send them back. Pretty neat to be able to conduct this type of business while on the hook.
  We have 1/4 tank left on our water but we think it will last until Friday when we motor over to Green Turtle Bay once again. We'll be picking friends up there on Saturday morning for a fun day in The Quarry once again. I think we can last until then if we keep using the lake for our own bath tub, come to think of it, it's how the injuns did it.
  It's hot here like it is in most of the midwest and we always wonder how we are going to be able to cope with the heat. Daytime is not bad, but the key is if the nights are cool and right now they are. Florida will make us or break us, but plan B will be to get a slip somewhere and plug in until the temperatures come down. Today we plan on staying in the nice clear water here in Kentucky Lake and take it as it comes. I'm tempted to try out our snorkel gear but I figure there's no hurry, even clearer water is on the horizon.
  It'll be a few days before I post again but you can sign up to be emailed when a new blog is posted. I can't promise any juicy tales from the weekends, but you never know, I might make a mistake one Monday morning.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Turtleville Is No Place To Buy Groceries

  It's been a few days since my last post and there are reasons, and they are still not resolved. I couldn't get access to my blogging editor page and I thought it was our location, although we were in Pisgah Bay were I posted my last blog from and it was slow, but it worked.
  This morning we moved one cove over where I have 4G service but the blogging editor page was still blank. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and I'm an old cat skinner, so I saw a button called "old blogger interface", so I pressed it. Someone is definitely trying to tell me something because here we are, blogging away as an "old blogger".

  On the morning after our storm we moved over to what is known by our friends here as "Private Cove". There is a narrow opening off of the channel of the Tennessee River here in Kentucky Lake and the cove opens up fairly well, but not so much that we would want to get much wind as we cannot let out much scope because the bank is already pretty close, getting us into what Rosie calls "Snake City".
  Snake City is anywhere a person gets in close proximity to tall grasses near the water, or anywhere you don't want to find yourself. Years ago when I raced motorcycles, be it moto-cross or enduros, we called these the Giggly Weeds. Probably for different reasons, however.
  We spent the day near Snake City but saw no snakes, I think. Rosie did see plenty of very large turtles sunning themselves as they do, and we then became fellow residents of what she started calling the area, "Turtleville". "Look at those suckers", as she spied a group of turtles on a large log, "they must be TWO feet around!"
  "Must be snappers", I said.
  "I know!", came Rosie's astounded response.
  We occasionally shared the area with a few fishermen, apparently they didn't get the memo about this being the "Private Cove". The night was peaceful after a delicious meal of fried pork chops, baked potatoes,  and mixed vegetables. I mention our meals occasionally because even though we are living on a boat, we aren't existing on crusty stale bread and putrid water. We are eating good and each meal is an adventure to see how good it can be on our limited stores. I have only one thing to say about the people in charge of producing canned "mixed vegetables"; even though carrots and potatoes, being the lowly "root variety" of vegetables, are cheaper, they shouldn't be the largest percentage of vegetables in the can. A few kernels of corn wouldn't kill you. However, thanks for keeping the string beans to a minimum.

  Some other critters liked our anchorage too. The mayflies are swarming now and Swing Set was coated with them come morning. We waited until we had enjoyed a good breakfast before embarking on our mayfly elimination efforts. It's easy, but mundane work, as the mayflies sit happily in one spot until you pluck them off the boat. I prefer to douse them with a bucket of river water, more bang for the buck.
  We resumed our typical mid-day ritual of lounging around in the water on our rafts. These are the rafts that we'd stored away at our condo that we bought in the last century. They are holding air well, but the thin canvas is separating from the vinyl and the creases between each "pillow" on the mattresses are developing a midriff bulge. The mattresses will soon become one large round pillow at which point we'll go in search of new ones, but I know we'll never find any like we had when I was growing up. I think our family had the same air mattresses for years. They were stowed away in the rafters of the garage and were drug out every spring. These things were industrial in nature; the heavy rubber was coated with a canvas thick enough to make any sailor proud. They got blown up via a brass nozzle in the corner of the pillow portion and if you were smart you went to the gas station to use their compressor. I remember heading to the Lake of the Ozarks and getting the mattresses blown up as we got fuel for the outboard motor on the boat. These things were tough. None of those mamby pamby "pop up" valves like the new skimpy air mattresses have. Think inner tube, baby.
  So there we were floating around and Rosie was apparently thinking about my snapper comment and she starting scrambling for the swim platform. "I think I see a head peeping out of the water over there", she said when I asked what was the matter.
  "Probably just a stick, or a turtle", I said as I tried to dismiss the panic.
  "Call it what you want", she exclaimed, "but I'm getting the hell out of the water". She grabbed her personal Bushnell's and took a look at an object that was about to go on the attack even though it was about 30 yards away.
  "What do you see?" I asked her,
  "Musta went under", came her reply, but she didn't get back in. Wait until we visit Tadpole Town.
  I felt like some new scenery, so we motored over to the quarry where there is always people around. We had been in the quarry last Saturday and we had a terrific time. There are no pictures and no stories to tell. Not on this blog.
  Not much was happening in the quarry on a Wednesday. We shared the pond with a couple of fishermen in a joncatching going on, there seemed to be little to learn. When an idea pops into my brain, it's hard not to share it, so I took a chance and said to them, "You know, I'm not a fisherman, and I was wondering what you guys were using for bait, but I figure it doesn't matter as you haven't caught anything but tree branches for over an hour."
  You know, the younger guy busts out laughing and asks where we were from. I said we were from St. Louis and were passing through. I mentioned our trip up the Cumberland River and he was fairly impressed. I admitted as to our plans to spend two months on the Tennessee River before cutting south on the Tombigbee Waterway. The younger fella turns to the older one and says, "Did you hear that, Clem? He says their gonna spend three months on the Tennessee River! Must be nice to have the time to do it," he said.
  They finally moved down the bank and kept at their fishing. As they putted past on their way out of the quarry about an hour later, they stopped their outboard for a second just to wish us well on our adventure and gave us a heartfelt "Good luck". Nearly everyone we meet is happy to hear about our endeavor.
  I didn't want to stay in such close proximity to the big rocks in the quarry for the evening, so we moved over to Pisgah Bay again to spend a couple of nights. Yesterday we spent the day doing some chores on the boat and lounging on our gradually billowing air mattresses. Holly doesn't miss a chance to take up residence on a vacant mattress and will eagerly swim to Rosie if I take her out a ways from the boat and Rosie calls her. It's clear she likes the water.
  I wanted an adventure, so we cleaned up and set out in the dinghy close to 4 P.M. to do some grocery shopping in Grand Rivers. I knew our friend Madge was at her boat by then and she would have gladly taken us in her car, but we need some experience in this grocery getting department and there is nothing like learning by doing. It's about a five or six mile dinghy ride to the Lighthouse Marina: It's the closest dock to "downtown" Grand Rivers.
  We docked at the courtesy dock at the Lighthouse and followed the directions to the office and advertised ships store. The pretty girl at the office gave us the code to the gate and didn't have a care as to when we were returning, but apologized for having no ships store, unless buying expensive prints of boats and lighthouses will make your boat perform better, or fix it if it's broke.
  We figured to try out a restaurant called Patti's in Grand River because it came highly recommended. The place is one of those touristy places filled with knick knacks along the walls and has the Cracker Barrel type gift shop to lure you away from your money as you wait for a table. I purposely went on a Thursday thinking that there would be no wait and I was right. We were quickly seated and greeting by one of the granny dress wearing waitresses. They must pay these young girls extra to get them to wear these get ups. I don't know how they get the boys to wear them, but what the hell, we're in Kentucky.
  The famous meal is a two inch thick pork chop, and even though we just had thick pork chops on the boat a night or two before, I went for it. Rosie had Chicken Oscar that I got to taste and she really liked it. The pork chop they brought to me was obscene in size and I could only eat about one third of it. We packed it up to go as I can taste it now this weekend accompanied by some fried eggs. I'd recommend Patti's even though the stuffed dolls that line the walls are a bit scary and I like the waitresses in different attire. Something like the girls wear at Hooter's, please.
  Our main mission was to get some groceries so we trekked off to the IGA. My thought was to grab two carts and check out separately in order for each of us to get cash back on our debit cards. It's the closest thing to banking that we have been doing so far. This was a mistake. We brought our cloth grocery bags and a backpack with us to carry the groceries back to the dinghy. I learned later that the correct method would have been to fill our bags up while they were in the cart to insure a proper fit for the walk back to the marina. With me and Rosie filling up our carts like we would never visit another grocery store again, we exceeded our allotment, as it were.
  As we snaked through the aisles grabbing up vittles, we ran into a guy from Green Turtle Bay and said hello. It occurred to me to ask for a ride back to the marina, but I still wanted to do this ourselves, and the marina was only three blocks away. This was another mistake. Once we checked out and tried to fit two grocery carts full of goodies into three little cloth grocery bags, and a back pack already full of leftovers from our meal at the restaurant, I began to scan the other customers for someone who might be able to give us a ride. The fella we knew from Green Turtle Bay was long gone. Smart man.
  We stuffed all our stuff into what we had, plus hung extra plastic bags from extra fingers and walked out into the early evening heat. There sat a young girl in a very nice golf cart, so I asked her for a ride. She allowed as to how she was waiting for her mom and wasn't sure how long it was going to be. It wasn't getting any cooler out and we had cold stuff we wanted to get back to the boat, so we gave our thanks and set off.
  About two long blocks later when I was removing the second rock from my Topsiders, along came mother and daughter to give us a lift for the remaining portion of our trip. They had come in search for us to give us the ride and the woman turned out knowing our friends from Green Turtle Bay. She pointed out where they lived and offered help if we ever needed it, no matter what.
  Holly was very happy to see us when we got back to Swing Set and I kept her company as Rosie found a spot for everything we brought back. Then it was Rosie's turn to play with her pet as I attempted again to get some Internet service to post a blog. Nope.
  We tried T.V. and got nuthin', so we broke out the dominoes and Rosie trounced me again as the sun went down along with the temperature outside. We like our books, an important thing if you're going to live on a boat, so we went to bed at a time a lot of people would consider to be early, but when you get up with the sun at 5:30, falling asleep with a book in your hands at ten o'clock doesn't seem like a bad idea.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our First Severe Storm

  Rain was forecasted all day today with severe thunderstorms predicted for the P.M. hours. A dreary day brightened up about mid-afternoon so we played around in the water some and took a dinghy ride, but as the afternoon wore on, the clouds thickened and I checked the weather radar and forecast again to find three pending weather alerts for this area. We hung the dinghy on the davits and secured the boat. We'd been sitting on a hook with 85 feet of rode out in 12-14 feet of water and it had been holding well in a decent breeze since yesterday morning, however, had I known of the magnitude of the wind that we were about to get, I would have put out more ground tackle.

  Rosie and I were sitting in the cockpit watching the gathering clouds and a couple of sailboats came into the cove we were in, then a couple more, until eight boats filed in and all but one made their way to the back of the cove we were anchored in. One boat stayed to the west of us, or upwind. A pontoon boat joined them all and I figured them to be a youth outing of some sort. The wind was picking up as they assembled and I wondered if they would get their anchors down in time.

  The wind and rain came and we lost sight of the other boats. The wind generators were absolutely howling in protest and starting braking, which they do when the wind velocity reaches over 60 M.P.H. Rosie switched off the power to them to prevent them from damage and I fired up both engines, the chartplotter on the iPad, and the radar. Swing Set was bucking like a bronco with the wind racing right down the cove from the west. I wasn't sure the anchor was going to hold, so I was prepared to drive through it. I watched the storm pass on our weather radar and could feel the wind start to subside after about 15 minutes.

  When we got a visual on the other boats, we could see five of them in the shallow water in the back of the cove heeled over. One boat that managed to stay at anchor had their sail become unfurled and it was in shreds. Stuff from the boat in front of us was floating by which we couldn't retrieve but we figured the back of the cove would be full of stuff for everyone to salvage later.
My suspicion about the youth outing was confirmed when the bravado war whoops started as the danger passed. I might have whooped too if I didn't consider what any of the damage was going to cost.
  For our part, nothing seemed to be wrong until I tried to catch the news on the T.V. The GFI receptacle feeding one side of the salon kept tripping. I don't know if there is a short from the lightening, or the GFI got a jolt and is now weak. I'm going to change it out with another one in the morning when I have some better light and see if the new one trips too. I have a couple other ideas but I'll do one thing at a time to determine the problem.
  The sky started to clear up and it looked like the other boats were staying the night, whether they wanted to or not. We had a nice dinner and I started in on this blog.
  Photos were taking way too long to load up so I went up to the salon to kill some time when I saw another front coming in. Rosie and I put on rain gear and went to the flybridge and plugged in the chartplotter again and turned on the radar. The weather radar showed a very small cell and it passed quickly but I was a bit nervous about a very big aluminum houseboat that had anchored upwind of us during the lull. I hailed him on the radio to suggest that he put the bow up on a nearby beach but it's rare that anyone renting a houseboat cares about listening to the VHF.

  Some of the more experienced persons reading this may laugh at my description of this storm as being severe, but I can't recall many worse ones that I've been out in other than this one. Other than the electrical issue, we did suffer a casualty. Our three year old AGLCA burgee has bit the dust.
  One thing that has been odd is that all three storms we have been in since we left St. Louis have all been on Mondays. What do you say we just avoid Mondays altogether?

Friday, June 8, 2012

One Month and Counting

  We left St. Louis one month ago and it seems like yesterday. I thought I would post a quick blog with some random thoughts because unlike the books I have read about other people doing this sort of thing, a blog is something that needs continuous input to keep readers interested, especially if the blog is accessible through a link on several other websites like this one is.
  I am constantly thinking about what the next blog will be about. It's easy to do when we are traveling because new things happen all the time. Now that we are resting easy here in Smith Bay on Kentucky Lake, new things to report are harder to find.
  Today marks the fifth day we have been in this spot; the anchors have not moved an inch. It's nice here and the view is excellent. I have posted updates on our facebook account on how we've been just lounging, grilling, swimming, etc., and our friends reply that they are envious, jealous, and just plain hate us. But just like the books I have read on the subject that have inspired us, I'm hoping this blog will in turn inspire others to follow their dream, whatever it is.
  There are still things to do on a boat at all times. We've been waxing, of course, and doing little odds and ends that always need doing. The other day, after the severe thunderstorm that we had, I found over 4" of water in the cooler in the dinghy. Not a problem if we were using it for a cooler, but our life jackets, minor tools, and handheld VHF are stored in there. The VHF is only weatherproof, not waterproof, but it was bobbing around in the bottom of the cooler and did not offer a response when I fished it out and turned it on. Being through several floods over the years, I have some experience with such occasions, so I took it apart and let it dry out. I put it back together and it started squawking like a newborn baby.
  Then, I finally got wise and left the drain plug out of the cooler for future downpours, you would think I would have done that before, but I didn't think the lid would leak so much. For added insurance, I added another drain hole nearer to the bottom of the cooler so no more water will accumulate in there, plus decided to keep the VHF in the pouch of a little cooler we keep in the big cooler, for items that need, well...need to be kept cool.
  I also found the primer ball on the outboard on the dinghy was getting cracked. It's only three years old, but rubber does that. Yesterday we went on a mission to find a new primer ball for the fuel line. We were going to visit our friend Madge at Green Turtle Bay anyway, so we finished some chores in the morning and headed downriver about 6 miles, first to Kentucky Dam Marina, and then to GTB. Kentucky Dam Marina had primer balls for a cheap price, but not the size we needed, but we bought some wax and toilet deodorant there, just to spread the wealth around some. After getting gas for the dinghy at Green Turtle Bay, we visited their well stocked ship's store and got the primer ball we needed, but at two and half times the price. This is not the life for comparison shopping.
  Madge was just arriving for her weekend at the boat when we pulled up and she had what we were really after: two 30 packs of the golden nectar, Bud Light. We visited with Madge for a bit and then jumped into the dinghy for the ride back up the lake after donning the life jackets; not on us, but on the Bud Light.
  Not only does the blog keep me busy, but between Rosie and I, it's always one thing or another dealing with administrating our emails and regular mail. St. Brendan's Isle has been well worth the money it costs for joining. We get an email telling us about new mail that has had the envelope scanned and if it's something that looks important, we have them open it and scan the contents. We then can shred it our we save it to our electronic files. We haven't had to have them send anything to us yet. I'd recommend them to any travelers.
  Later today we are pulling up anchor and going back over to The Moors for dinner and we'll fill up the water tank and get a pump out. This evening we're going to probably anchor in Pisgah Bay if I can find a spot with Internet service, then we're meeting some folks tomorrow in the local hotspot, The Quarry, for some of the activities that take place in there.
  So while we're here on Kentucky Lake, our blog posts will be a little further apart. Reporting on our day to day activities seem a bit narcissistic to me, and we're not trying to brag about how great this is, so I'll only send something along if I feel it makes a good story or exemplifies the basic live aboard experience. Until then, check out the sunset we saw from our "back porch" last night.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Smith Bay on Kentucky Lake

  Before I get started I must do a public service announcement. Last week I received an email from a couple that have been reading our blog and asked for a favor. Lonnie Dee Robertson and his wife Jinna live on their trawler and support their existence by performing and mostly from the sale of two books they have written. They have a website where you can learn more about them: It is
  The book Lonnie wrote is the story of his renovation of a 90 year old wooden boat. When I read this, my first thought was that a man has to know his limitations, and two things that a man must never do is try to renovate a 90 year old boat. The other thing is to never try to dat a stripper. Both things are a lesson in futility.
  But I went to Amazon and bought the book. What the hell, the Kindle version was only $2.99. It's going to take a whole lot of books to fill the fuel tank on any vessel at that rate.
  The other book is about life on their boat told through the eyes of the eight Chihuahuas that they travel with on board. Yes, I said eight. They do not seem certifiably nuts in the pictures on their website, but evidence is evidence. I didn't look for the book as told by the dogs, for two reasons; one big reason was that the book is described as being informative even for children.
I don't want to read anything that remotely appeals to them mind of a child. The other thing is that I have the impression that the only thing that may possibly go through the mind of a Chihuahua is two things; What can I lick, and what can I bite?
  So there is my endorsement as promised to Lonnie, such as it is. Go to their website and check them out. You might just get a different impression.

  We are in Smith Bay currently. We came in here on Monday in search of a nice spot to pull Swing Set in shallow water to clean and wax the scum line that built up on our 900 miles of travel. We spent Monday at work on the boat and it looks good as when we left St. Louis.
  Some weather moved in Monday evening after we finished a dinner of grilled pork tenderloin and salad. When I saw the clouds building I checked the weather radar and knew we were in for a storm. My stern hook had a good bite and the bow anchor was 25 yards in front of us buried in the sand. As we sat in the cockpit and watched the light show, I kept an eye on the radar. When the lightening got really intense, we retreated to the salon and hunkered down. We were eventually smack dab in the middle of a severe thunderstorm with forecasted 60 M.P.H. winds. The wind generators were howling with glee but the winds never got that high I don't think, but the thought of us being pushed up onto the beach did cross my mind but the anchors held, the storm subsided and the rest of the night was clear and calm.
  Having depleted our wax supply on Monday, we took the dinghy across the lake to The Moors Marina and Restaurant for the recommended great fisherman's breakfast and to check out what they had in the ship store. When I say "across the lake", don't get the impression that we're close by; I think it's still about a four mile ride. The breakfast was indeed a good one but even though I could have bought swimming pants for a three year old in the little store there, no wax could be found. We'll be making a trip over to Green Turtle Bay later this week and I know they carry my brand of wax.
  Rosie polished stainless steel yesterday and I did some odds and ends. There may not be much to tell in the forthcoming days because we are staying put around here until about the last week in June to build up our fuel bank. With fuel as high as it is, it's the only way I can see to combat the price; just don't travel as much. No problem, it's very nice here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kentucky Lake For A While

  After an evening catching up last Thursday with Madge Koerner and Brett Thompson, we were treated to a shopping excursion with Brett on Friday morning and we invaded Walmart. Rosie and I usually avoid Walmart like the plague, but we needed to accomplish the most shopping with as few stops as possible, so Walmart it was. The added thing was that the IGA in Grand Rivers doesn't sell beer, so down the road we went.
  A few days earlier I had learned that LIttle Johns raceteam was going to be in Pisgah Bay for a drag race over the weekend, so we decided to watch the races and see John and his family on Saturday and Sunday, so we spent Friday packing our new groceries away and Rosie washed the boat. Madge had some girlfriends showing up from her softball team and it turned out that we knew one of them. The world keeps getting smaller.
  When Christine and her dad, Jerry, showed up, Brett, Christine, and us, went up to the club at Green Turtle Bay for dinner and had a great time once again. It was early to bed for me but Rosie stayed up to visit some.
  On Saturday morning, the plan was to depart at around 10 A.M. and head for Pisgah Bay and the races. The races start at noon and we wanted a good spot.

  Brett and Christine didn't have any pictures of Blonde Moment running, so we were glad to oblige, and they took a couple of shots of Swing Set too. We were low on fuel from our trip up river, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to keep up. Blonde Moment runs.
  We picked a good spot to anchor, Blonde Moment furnishing the bow anchor and we put out a stern hook to keep us in view of the race course. Boat after boat rafted up and we wound up with a good party.
  Little John called us multiple times, but our phones weren't within earshot, and the race announcer kept referring to the "Swing Set crew", but we weren't tuned into the race channel on our stereo. We were catching the runs as they came up, but mainly were just enjoying the party.

 We had a pretty decent raft up, reminiscent of our weekends on the Mississippi. When the racing appeared to be over, some of the boaters in the raft up decided to descend on other venues, but our motto is to never leave a good party in search of another, (we break this rule on occasion) so the rest of us piled into two dinghies and went over to the race camp. We inquired as to the whereabouts of the Kwitcherbitchin' race team and were carted up the hill in a pickup truck and deposited in a small clearing and in the midst of Little John, Terry, Randy and Diane, among others, and set to having a real fine time.

 We got several group photos and Diane sent them to RiverBill' and they were featured the next morning on Bill's website.
  It was getting pretty late when we jumped back into the dinghies and we made our way back to the four boats rafted up and we all spent the night right there on the hook.
  More folks showed up on Sunday, but Brett and Christine had to make an early exit for the drive home. One of their friends turned out to be someone we knew from our travels years ago and he tied up his 50 foot express cruiser to us along with his friends and family and we enjoyed their company until the sun went down.

  This nice woman, Tammy, came over from five boats over to say hello after noticing our "cute little puppy". Note to self: Keep the dog.

  Speaking of Holly, here she is near the end of the afternoon, just about whipped. She had attacked one end of one of the lines on the boat and was unraveling it, so I cut off about a foot of it and let her go to town. She got plenty of hugs and kisses from nearly everyone and slept very well that night.
  While "One Fathom Under" was parked on our starboard side, Trust Me, a 49 foot Defever trawler had been on our port since Saturday afternoon. Mike and Jan live on their boat nearly all the time. Their home is in Cape Girardeau, MO, but they trade time between Green Turtle Bay and the Fort Meyer's area. They mentioned a bar called "The Naughty Mermaid" and I knew we had been there with our friends Gary and Judy who winter in Cape Coral. I told them I'd introduce them when we get down there this winter. Mike and Jan are in the Little John picture, Mike wearing a brown long sleeve T-shirt and Jan is the blonde woman in black. Very nice people. We traded travel and live aboard tips and figure to see them when we get south.

  Ken and his crew left as it was getting dark and a front was moving in and his anchor got snarled up in a crappy bed. Blonde Moment had the same problem when they pulled their anchor too, but not the same one.
  The two boats in the picture behind "One Fathom Under" were at anchor since we had arrived. I met them when I took an extra bag of ice over there, figuring they might need it. They were traveling up the Tennessee River and had a home next door to Pearson's Cedar Creek Marina and knew the people we had met when we were there. You never know who you're going to meet.
  We wanted to stay in Pisgah Bay for a couple of days but I couldn't get a good signal to do the blog or download email, so on Monday morning we pulled up anchor and headed over to Smith Bay, two coves upriver. We have a sandy beach and 3G, what else could we want?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Harpeth River to Green Turtle Bay

  After the storm passed through when we were anchored in the Harpeth River, we were treated to this pretty view as the storm made its way to the East.
  We didn't make any effort to get up early the next morning, but a passing bass boat did the job for us. I was glad that they were able to see us in a very thick morning fog.

  I called the Cheatham Lock and Dam to find out what their schedule was like as far as locking commercial traffic and learned that the closest tow was 17 miles downriver and they were socked in by the fog too. The lockmaster remembered us from a couple of weeks ago and said we would most likely be able to lock through before anyone else if we got on the move when the fog lifted, as we were only about 3-4 miles upstream.

  We pulled out of the confines of the Harpeth River and used our radar to poke our way down to the lock. Just as I called the lock on the radio, the lockmaster said that he was just about to call us as the gates were open, ready for us to enter when we got there.
  We had a clear sky by the time we slipped into the chamber after getting a warning about some big logs partially blocking our path. I told the lockmaster that we would just nudge them out of the way and we took up a spot on our starboard side along a floating bollard and waited. The lockmaster rolled up in his cart for a chat and we reported on the last two weeks we had spent upriver. He gave us a goodbye and told us to stop by again some time and said it would be just a bit before we were on our way.
  Rosie remarked as to how the wait seemed a bit long when we were contacted again and told that there was a minor hangup and it would only be about ten minutes or so before we could lock down. I replied that we were hanging tight and then shut down the engines to wait. A minute or two later I heard a loud banging and turned around to see a guy with a large hammer taking the upriver gate to task. It's amazing to think that this large structure could be brought in line with a hammer. Soon enough, the gate closed and down we went. With the gate open we pulled out and gave a friendly toot goodbye; no more locks between us and Kentucky Lake now, over 100 miles away.

  Rosie set to work on her morning ritual of mopping the dew off of Swing Set. We had only officially washed the boat two times since our departure on May 8th, but the boat is staying clean using this free water from nature. Holly watches Rosie to insure there is a thorough job being done.
  Clarksville, Tennessee was coming up again and I figured to arrive mid-morning, but a dip or two in the river was putting us behind and a check on the weather report promised a repeat of the storms we had on the previous day.

  The sun was still shining brightly as we made our way past the new Clarksville Marina entrance just upstream from McGregor Park and the municipal dock. It looks like it's going to be a beautiful marina. As we found our way along the dock and tied up the boat, clouds rolled in and the wind picked up, and we were glad to be in a secure spot.
  I did some figuring and came up with a plan to do some provisioning since we were in a town with a nice dock and free electricity. Did I say free electricity? We still had two days to get into Green Turtle Bay and less than 100 miles to go, so I thought we could take our time to provision, ride out the rain, and get an early start the next day.
  By the time we hooked up our electrical cords and changed into street clothes for our shopping spree, the sun was back out and it was baking. The air conditioning was switched on so it would keep Holly cool and be a welcome thing for us when we got back to the boat.
  I tried to use various programs on the iPad and iPhone to find out what was where but gave up when the most promising program kept trying to send me to a grocery store in Quebec, Canada. With the abundance of retail places along Riverview Drive, I figured that groceries couldn't be too hard to locate.
  We walked up the hill to the busy thoroughfare and the first place I saw was a BP gas station that advertised a food mart. Lucky us. The pickings were slim in the BP and the woman behind the counter confessed to "not getting out much" when we asked about the nearest grocery store. I approached a nice policewoman that was getting her lunch fix and explained as to how we were traveling by boat and was looking to get some groceries at a place not too far to walk to.
  She directed us to a place "about 3 miles up the road", and I said, "I'm 57 years old. If I do a 6 mile round trip walk, you'll have to be calling an ambulance." When she mentioned a closer place, "only about a mile up the road", we asked if it was before or after the bridge.
  "Oh, it's before the bridge", she said.
  We exited the shop with some of the stuff we bought there and with loaded arms we cautiously stepped up to cross the busy street. The name "Riverview Drive" may give you the impression of a pretty tree lined lane along a lazy river, but this was a four lane 50 M.P.H. speed limit racetrack. I grabbed Rosie's free hand and told her she was going to have to hurry. I had no intention of coming this far to die in the heat on this busy street with a loaf of Wonder Bread clutched in my hands.
  We made it safely back to the boat and dropped off what we had and set out again to get the stuff we really wanted, only now in the opposite direction. After walking over a mile we stopped into yet another convenience mart at a gas station and was told that the Big Lots store was another mile or so up the road. We know when we are licked, so we both said "forget it", and started our way back to Swing Set. We stopped at a sandwich shop to get lunch and was happy to sit in the cool dining area for a while before venturing back out in the heat and dust of the busy highway.
  We made it back again to the safety of the boat and as we contemplated our nearly two hours wasted effort to get provisions, it occurred to me that getting groceries has proven to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. The oddest thing was that had we wanted to get a tattoo, or the brakes done on a Buick, there was a place to have both things done about every block or so, but no where to get something to eat unless it was fast food, or licorice whips and HoHo's.
  I was regretting my decision to hole up at the city dock there in Clarksville, but a nap and a couple of beers later, all seemed better. As late afternoon gave way to early evening, a cool breeze brushed over us as we sat in the cockpit and watched all the people using the park and boat ramp.
  Of particular interest was a young girl that walked onto the dock with three little kids in tow, all about the same age. We guessed they were triplets. Apparently a younger brother of hers came by shortly later and we were wondering what was up when what looked like the father of the two older ones came motoring up in a jon boat that was about 12 feet long and looked like it had fallen off the trailer at least a couple of times. We watched with some trepidation as they all piled into the tiny boat for a late evening ride. I'll give the guy credit as he pulled out three tiny life jackets for the youngest ones, and was even more impressed as he kept pulling out lawn chairs from I don't know where on this little boat, for the adults to sit on. I was about to ask if they had sufficient life jackets for the rest of them, but thought that it might be an insult. I had second thoughts about not saying anything as they let loose of the dock before he started yanking on the starter cord on the tiny outboard motor. They didn't drift away too far before the Mercury sputtered to life and they putted happily away, all of us waving at each other.
  Rosie and I buttoned up Swing Set and set off to stroll to an O'Charlies at the opposite end of the park. It was a nice walk and lots and lots of Clarksville residents were out enjoying the evening.
  We walked into the restaurant and were quickly seated and we ordered a couple of big draft Bud Lights in frosty glasses. We chuckled as we were carded by the pretty waitress and we struck up a conversation with her about our trying to find a grocery store. A woman was setting behind me and jumped into the conversation to help, even to drive us when we got done eating. I did a quick study of the circumstances and noted that her and her date were finished eating and I didn't want to rush our dinner, especially if I had to continue talking to her with my head turned around and my food in front of me. We thanked her profusely for her offer and settled in to a nice meal.
  In each of the nice waitresses visits to our table, we found out more about her and her life of going to school and trying to make ends meet for her young child and fiance. When the bill came, Rosie was so impressed by the cute thing, she wanted to tip her about 35%. I put the brakes on her generosity and we settled on just over 20%, our normal amount. Rosie is not as cynical as I am, but no waitress is worth her salt if she doesn't have a sob story or two in her arsenal, just for saps like us.
  By the time we walked back to the boat, the sun had set and we retreated back to the cockpit to get what was left of what turned out to be a good day. Our friend in the jon boat had successfully disembarked his passengers, with a proper head count, and as he passed by, he said, "I'm curious"...
  I was ready for a question about our travels, as he might have noticed our "Port of St. Louis" on the transom, but he said, "How much does that boat cost?"
  A phrase I use when a question is not appropriate, or when I just don't want to tell, is one I learned from a good friend a long time ago when I would ask him a similar question, is the one I used here; and it was, "I can't tell you". Add a smile at the end and question time is over.
  By 7 A.M. the next morning we were again on our way. It started out pretty but the forecast was a sour one, predicting severe P.M. showers. We passed Bumpus Mills, our anchorage that we stopped at on our way upstream at about mid-day, and the weather was holding out, but the radar was promising rain later on. I calculated that at our rate, we could be at Green Turtle Bay by about 6 P.M., so we called our friend Madge Koerner, and asked if she would be around; she held our package sent from Tom at the Good Windlass Company with our circuit breakers in it that we ordered.
  As we entered into the widening part of  Lake Barkley, the clouds started moving in and we knew a storm was eminent. We had some sparse showers as we made our way past a couple of tows going in our direction, and when we got to within 4 miles of our destination, the sky opened up and we got plenty of wind, rain, and lightening; only the chartplotter and radar kept us on course. I kept one hand on the wheel and the other was gripped around my bourbon and Coke, like any good captain would do.
  The rain had settled down to a sprinkle by the time we pulled into the marina and was greeted by Madge and her son-in-law Brett Thompson. We told some stories of our last few days and were invited to go on a shopping spree the next morning with Brett.
  We have traveled about 900 miles in the 23 days we've been gone so far and have really enjoyed it. Our plan is to catch some drag races over the weekend that our friend Little John is in over in Kentucky Lake, and then just chill out for a couple of weeks to build up the fuel fund some. Payday is on the 1st for us and we had just about scoured the bottom of our checking account on the 31st. No big deal. If things come too easy, they're not appreciated as much.