Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Low water

We are anchored in a ravine known as Carter Branch, off Wilson Lake on the Tennessee River (map). On one side of us is a steep forested hill and the other a bit less steep with some houses. It was so narrow I could not really capture it in a photo. Houses notwithstanding, it was dark, quiet, and dead calm in the cove overnight.

Sunset from our quiet anchorage on Lake Guntersville Saturday night.

Sunday we locked down through Guntersville Dam into General Joe Wheeler Lake. Up to this point, the lakes have been just a foot or so below full pool, but Wheeler is down four feet, and just a bit more than a foot over the minimum pool for navigation. The level has dropped nearly three feet since we came through the lake on the upbound leg.

When we passed in the other direction, this pocket tug was afloat.

Not really a big problem for us under way, as the minimum navigation channel on the sailing line is nine feet. But going off-channel to anchor, particularly in some of the smaller bays and coves, can be a challenge. We stayed in the main river. Yesterday  morning found us anchored just upriver of the I-65 bridge in Decatur, Alabama (map).

We were actually ready to stop a bit sooner than that, but there are no buoys for the 20 miles leading down to this bridge, and we were not comfortable anchoring for the night without clearly delineated channel to keep the tows well away. The bridge, while navigable for almost the entire span, afforded some protection because the tows only use the two marked navigation spans.

It turned out to be a great spot, with just a bit of shimmering light from Decatur in the distance. We were far enough from the bridge that the Interstate noise was not an issue. And in the morning, the river was so calm we could see reflections in it.

Leaving our very calm anchorage Monday morning, with the I-65 bridge reflected in the river. Decatur beyond.

We had a beautiful cruise yesterday, and an uneventful down-lockage through the Joe Wheeler dam. We've been passing a lot of "looper" boats over the past week, as they just wrapped up their rendezvous at the Joe Wheeler State Park.

We might easily have traversed the entire length of Wilson Lake yesterday and locked down through Wilson Lock to Florence -- we're making much better time than I had anticipated, in part because we're having to stretch a bit to find anchorages. Since we'd already made plans in Florence for Wednesday and Friday, arriving Monday seemed a bit premature, and we opted to stop here in the lake instead.

Cliffs on Joe Wheeler Lake.

This morning we will lock through at the enormous Wilson Lock, and we should be anchored in Florence by mid-day. We're looking forward to a nice stop there before continuing downriver into new territory.


  1. Give us a shout when you start down river. Were only 20 mins from the river @ Camden, TN here at our new place on US 70 in Huntingdon, TN where we moved to in 2010 when the I-69 project displaced from our leased land in Union City.

    1. Hi Bryce, thanks for posting.

      We'll go right by you, and we may well end our day tomorrow (Monday) somewhere around New Johnsonville. However, there's really no way for us to get ashore.

      Our next planned stop, probably Tuesday sometime, is Paris Landing State Park, where we hope to take on fuel. I'm not sure if we'll also spend the night there.

      After that, we'll probably stop somewhere in Grand Rivers before locking down to the Ohio.

      I'm not sure if Paris Landing or Grand Rivers is closer to y'all, with the bridges and such.


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