July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure
By Kismet, Monday, December 15, 2008

Early in the morning, as the fog lifts from the banks of the Tennessee River, I’ve been reflecting on one of the common goals Lisa and I talked about, prior to embarking on our second Great Loop. We decided it was paramount to seek out new places as we travel on new waters, explore new towns, and also try to make some people connections on this second adventure. So, in that vein, we venture on to explore the Tennessee River 250 miles upriver past the normal cut-off route that leads to the Gulf of Mexico and warmer southern temperatures. We’ve heard rave reviews from other boaters who’ve made this trip, so we felt it would be well worth the 14-day side trip up the Tennessee River to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and back before we head further south.

Shortly after docking at the free dock in Guntersville, Alabama, our Chattanooga-bound caravan gathers for an impromptu happy hour.

Before we get to the side trip I want to bring you up to date. Since we endured the flooding on the Illinois and Mississippi River, Lisa and I arrived at Green Turtle Bay Marina, a Looper destination in Grand Rivers on Lake Barkley in Kentucky, to waving hands and smiling faces of boaters we’d met before we even left Charlevoix. It was nice to return to a familiar place safe and sound — we’d enjoyed the Green Turtle Bay stop on our first trip —while knowing we, along with many other Loopers, had survived the flooded waters of Illinois River. Our Green Turtle Bay stop provided an opportunity to clean, rest, change the engine oil and socialize for three days without having to be concerned with the rigors of daily water travel. Green Turtle Bay had 25 Looper boats berthed at any one time while we were there. Some would leave, others would arrive, but each boat arriving followed the same basic routine —clean, rest, socialize, and commiserate about the flood waters that we’d all experienced.

After three days of dockside R&R, walking, and site-seeing in the small town of Grand Rivers, we left to head further south, upriver on the Tennessee to a string of small-town marinas and secluded anchorages while bypassing the Yellow River turnoff, which leads to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. It was here, at Mile Marker 215, that we ventured into new waters for us, up the Tennessee River.

The Tennessee River meanders 652 miles, starting in Knoxville, Tennessee, where it flows downstream to Chattanooga. In Chattanooga the river heads southwest into Alabama before changing course to head north through Mississippi and back into Tennessee before ending in Paducah, Kentucky. It’s the waters from Mile Markers 215 to 464 that we’ve not traveled before. We do so now in order to meet its people, become acquainted with the local culture while absorbing its beauty, with the ultimate goal of being able to experience the Tennessee River Gorge.

Four of our six-boat caravan rafted up in a quiet cove next to Little Cedar Mountain, just before the start of the Tennessee River Gorge.

As Lisa and I travel up the Tennessee River we’re enjoying the charm of this section of the river, which is new to us. Forty-eight miles past the Tennessee-Tombigbee cutoff is where we come to an inlet called McKernan Creek. We were told that if we went back about a mile or so we’d have great wind protection from all sides and be able to anchor in 12 feet of water. Cottages, homes and boathouses surround this quiet anchorage and although it’s very peaceful, somehow we feel we’re invading the surrounding homeowner’s privacy. We set anchor, have dinner, and retire for night.

While making coffee the next morning, I notice a man in a kayak making way towards our boat. My initial thoughts are that we’re in some kind of trouble for anchoring in the residential section of this quiet creek. To my surprise Cameron was not on harbor patrol but interested in meeting us, to find out where we were from and invite us to come ashore for coffee and breakfast. Unfortunately we had to decline but we were delighted to be able to make a connection with an interesting person while just anchoring out. A few days later Cameron stopped by our boat for a longer visit, while docked at Joe Wheeler State Park, and we plan on trying to meet up with him on our trip back down the river. One of our goals was accomplished already.

From McKernan Creek we traveled a short distance to Joe Wheeler State Park Marina in Rogersville, Alabama, where we attended the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) Fall Rendezvous. Because Lisa will be covering this in a separate log I’ll keep moving on up the Tennessee River.

Lisa and I getting ready to watch a 3D movie at the Tennessee River Aquarium IMAX theatre in Chattanooga.

We left our dock at Joe Wheeler in a seven-boat caravan to travel 187 miles upriver. The ultimate attractions on this leg of the trip will be the Tennessee River Gorge, Chattanooga, and the Tennessee Aquarium. The cast of boats includes Freedom’s Turn from Michigan, Going There from Pennsylvania, Sunshine from North Carolina, Wanderin’ L&M from New York, Bella Luna from North Carolina, C- Life also from North Carolina, and of course ourselves. The first two days we traveled 83 miles, with the second day bringing us to Guntersville, Alabama, where we spent the night at a free municipal dock.

The next day, as we were heading up river, a boat passed us heading downstream called Domestic Squall. The captain radios to ask if we’re Loopers. I respond by saying, “This is Kismet. We're doing the Loop and currently heading to Chattanooga.” He comes back and says, “You’re from Traverse City, Michigan! I’ve been following your logs, and Traverse City is also our hometown.” After sharing our respective Loop experiences on the VHF radio, we continue on our separate ways. It truly can be a small world when you’re on the water 800 miles from home and you cross paths with someone from your hometown.

People on the river were so friendly, kayaking up to greet us, and sometimes to invite us home with them.

As we head out on the third day toward Goose Pond Marina we begin to see the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains start to materialize. These are the beginnings of the hills that will ultimately bring us into the Tennessee River Gorge. Our caravan today is down to five boats, Going There and Freedom’s Turn had to remain behind for repairs. The majestic beauty of this unspoiled, undeveloped, hardwood-filled territory, which rises from the banks of the river west of Guntersville, made me remember that this is one of the reasons Lisa and I decided to do the Loop a second time, to explore new territory we’ve never experienced before. The best part is that we haven’t even gotten to the Gorge yet, the expected highlight of the trip.

While in Chattanooga we visited the Tennessee Aquarium, one of the finest attractions we’ve ever visited.

Our fourth day of travel brings us to and through the Nickajack Lock where our caravan of boats anchor at the base of Little Cedar Mountain a couple of miles upstream from the lock, and a short distance from the start of the Gorge. The Tennessee River Gorge consists of 27,000 acres of land, mostly unspoiled wilderness that’s often referred to as Tennessee’s Grand Canyon. The Gorge carves its way 26 miles through the southern Cumberland Mountain range along the Tennessee River and is the fourth largest river gorge east of the Mississippi River.

We’re socked in by another heavy bank of fog the morning we start our Gorge adventure, and leave shortly after the sun warms things up enough to burn the fog off. As we head back into the river, the foothills start to build into larger mountains and the river starts to narrow. It seems as if the views become more spectacular around every new curve in the river. The mountains are filled with trees and rock cliffs that reach up 2,300 feet, a sight enhanced by the crimson red, gold, and yellow colors of the fall season. In the deep valleys of the Gorge our boats look more like a string of tiny toy boats following each other through mountains of exploding colors. Lisa and I sit in silence as we absorb the sights engulfing us, and contemplate another goal met.

This is a typical sight as we travel through the Tennessee River Gorge on our Kismet. If you cannot make the trip on your boat there are excursion boats that leave out of Chattanooga. Many mountains including Raccoon, Signal, Lookout, Hicks, and Walden Ridge surround the Tennessee River Gorge.

For me to describe the splendor of what we’ve seen on the Tennessee River, especially the Gorge area, is difficult. But if you close your eyes and think of that one place that is so very special to you, the place that’s memorable because it captures the visual aspects of life that makes you say… WOW! This is how we felt as we traversed the waters of the Tennessee River Gorge. Pictures and words can only begin to do justice to the magnificence of the river valley’s alluring and captivating pull. You need to experience the trip firsthand in order to get the full affect, much like you experienced your own favorite place when you closed your eyes to recall your own precious, visual, memories.

We were in Chattanooga for Halloween so naturally we all had to have a party.

During our three-night stay in Chattanooga we were docked within a short walk of downtown. Chattanooga has developed a wonderful waterfront with the Tennessee Aquarium its focal point. Lisa and I spent four hours at the Aquarium savoring every single one of its displays. They have both salt and freshwater exhibit buildings with every imaginable water creature you could think of. A surprise at the museum was a large, temperature controlled, butterfly room where we had fun trying to locate these beautiful creatures in their man-made habitat. We also spent time walking along Chattanooga’s riverfront boardwalk up to the Museum district and into town several times. It was a treat to be docked within such a short distance from all these attractions where we could easily walk and get exercise, go out to eat and provision while at the same time getting to know Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The view from just beyond the Sculpture Park overlooking the Tennessee River.

Because we came by boat we had the added benefit of heading back downriver into the Gorge to revisit its beauty. In the three days we were in Chattanooga the fall colors changed dramatically, making the visual aspect of our return trip even more memorable. We’re looking forward to more trips, like this one, which will expand our boating knowledge while enriching our boating adventures.