Friday, August 12, 2016

The Volunteer State

We are anchored just upriver of Hales Bar, on Nickajack Lake (map). Yesterday we crossed into Tennessee, our 18th state in Vector, before locking up through Nickajack Lock. We are now at an elevation of 634' above sea level. Later today we will cross back into the Eastern Time Zone.

Our dinnertime view.

Yesterday morning found us anchored between Crow Creek Island and the right descending bank of the river, just downstream of the Snodgrass bridge (map). It was a lovely spot for our final night in Alabama on the upstream voyage. I took advantage of the warm water and an early stop to spend a half hour in the water removing the old swim ladder, which broke on our way to Florence.

Last night I finished the project, spending another half hour in the water installing the replacement ladder, which we had shipped to us in Decatur. It's definitely a swim-under-the-boat project, so I could not start it while we were in the marina. The new ladder is now installed and is even a bit nicer to use than the one it replaced, with four steps instead of three and a slightly easier deploy/stow process.

Tennessee River Gorge ahead of us.

We are now entering the Tennessee River Gorge, and the scenery is stunning. I expect a beautiful cruise from here to Chattanooga. It was a bit challenging to find an anchorage here; the lake bottom is steep and covered in submerged timber. We opted to anchor in an old river channel, but it's 40' deep here and we have 150' of chain out. Downriver from here the bottom is dotted with old road beds, submerged bridges, railroad tracks, and bits and pieces of the old Hales Bar Dam, flooded by the newer Nickajack Dam six miles downstream.

Approaching Nickajack Lock.

It's dark here, but not dark enough. I spent perhaps twenty minutes last night lying on the boat deck, but only saw two meteors, despite this year's Perseids reported to be above average. Tonight we'll be in Chattanooga, whose glow I could see in the distance, so it looks like we missed out.

Yesterday we spent a bit of time discussing our cruising plans for the coming months. We'd like to be in New Orleans at the end of November, perhaps for Thanksgiving, which gives us a bit over three months. With stops it's a little over a month from Chattanooga to New Orleans on the direct route, which leaves us two months for side trips. We've decided to skip Knoxville, another 360 miles and eight days, round trip, on the Tennessee, in favor of a side trip up the Cumberland to Nashville. With whatever time is left, we'll see how far we can get up the Ohio.

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