Thursday, October 17, 2019

Damage report

We are underway southbound on the Tennessee River, just about to cross out of Kentucky for the final time this trip. We had a pleasant and productive three night stay in Grand Rivers.

Monday evening we made our way back over to Kentucky Lake via the canal and dropped the hook in the exact spot we had used after coming through Kentucky Lock a week ago (map). While that meant an extra eight mile round trip back to Green Turtle later, it also meant we could dinghy ashore at Lighthouse Landing for a very pleasant walk to town. We had a nice birthday dinner at T. Lawton's.

Sunset over Kentucky Lake.

After losing our nice Mantus chain hook, now discontinued, in the Cheatham Dam tailwater, I had ordered, based on online recommendations, a Kong climbing carabiner on Amazon Prime, having it sent to General Delivery in Grand Rivers. It was due to arrive Tuesday, and since the post office opens at 10, we left the tender in the water overnight. That let me spend a half hour in the morning installing the spare snubber line on the bow eye, and we tendered back ashore just before 10. Louise headed to the store for some groceries while I picked up my package.

I also called the spa over at Green Turtle first thing in the morning and booked their last two massage appointments, at 1:45 and 3:00. So as soon as we got back to Vector from the grocery/post office run, we decked the tender and got under way for the 45-minute cruise. After a brief stop at the pumpout dock we were docked in our slip, just a couple down from our last visit, by 12:30, in plenty of time to make that first appointment.

Positioned in the slings. Photo: Stacey Guth

Sadly, the Commonwealth Yacht Club on premise is dark on Mondays, so we walked over to the Thirsty Turtle Tavern instead for draft beers and dinner. At least we had a coupon from the marina for free chips and salsa. The sandwiches were fine and the beer was cold. Before dinner I also made a stop at the marina store, which had the shackle I needed for attaching the carabiner to the end of the spare snubber.

The lift ways was literally immediately across the basin from our slip, and so we dropped lines at 8:50 for our 9:00 haul-out. The surveyor assigned by our insurance company, Bill, met us at the lift dock. This yard has you shut down outside the ways and they line the boat in; they had us in the slings and out of the water by 9:45.

No damage at all to prop or rudder. Skeg appears straight. Reddish color is due to the layer of black paint wearing away (it's supposed to) exposing the layer of red paint underneath. Even the zinc paint on the prop is in good shape.

Even though the yard has a 70-ton lift and billed itself as being able to haul us, once Vector was up in the air, the tires on the lift were so compressed that the yard manager deemed it too dangerous to roll the lift off the ways and back to solid ground. Instead, Bill and I boarded a small skiff and drove underneath to conduct the inspection. We had to forgo the power wash.

Underside of keel is scraped up. That's ~1/2" steel plate.

I was very relieved to find virtually no damage at all. Bill characterized it as "cosmetic only." Naturally we ground all the paint off down to bare steel along sections of the heavy keel. There is also a clear impact scar on the leading edge of the keel near the aft end of the thruster bay, just forward of the integral water tank, and the weld bead that had been run along the keel edge is worn away there. But there are no compromised welds and no dents or even dings in the hull plating.

Point of impact. Grey material is spalled concrete. Weld bead is worn down. Hull-to-keel joints are undamaged.

The propeller was untouched, and even my fear of dinging the rudder was unfounded as it appeared untouched. The skeg did not appear to be bent. We did grind off the very inside edge of the port stabilizer fin, through the paint and into the fiberglass, but it was a clean line and it, too, is cosmetic.

Scrape on inside edge of port fin.

Oddly, we also found that both line diverters ahead of the stabilizers had been bent back and were impacting the leading edges of the fins, wearing holes in them. We both agreed that this was prior damage, likely caused by numerous log strikes on the Mississippi. I had wanted triangular plates for diverters, and the yard that made them used pins instead; this is just one more reason to be miffed at that yard, which bungled quite a few things. We'll replace them with plates when we fix the paint. In the meantime, Bill and I borrowed a crowbar and a sledge from the yard and pried/bashed them back out of the way.

Line diverter bent toward fin, digging into it. Same both sides. Not from this episode.

We were back in the water by 10:30, our wallet a bit lighter, but with an enormous weight also lifted from our shoulders. We can continue our cruise with complete peace of mind, and we don't really even need to worry about the bare steel until we get back to salt water in Mobile. I'll be talking to the insurance company to see if we can cancel our claim, as we're not likely to even hit our deductible.

While we were back in the water in plenty of time to make some progress upriver, we decided we'd had enough excitement for the day, and we'd just anchor locally for the night. We pulled around the peninsula to a familiar anchorage in the next bay (map) for the night. That put us immediately adjacent to the Thirsty Turtle, which did not exist on our last visit here. We decided to tender over and try their pizza for dinner.

The snubber which parted during the storm at the dam. Louise remembers hearing three loud bangs, corresponding to each of the three strands parting.

At dinner we met up with Dave and Stacey from Stinkpot, whom I have been following online since our paths crossed back at Marseilles Lock. We had only met them "across the water," so to speak, and it was nice to finally be able to sit down and enjoy some conversation together. Good conversation was an excellent distraction from mediocre pizza, a reminder that it was high time to leave Grand Rivers.

Tonight we should be at Paris Landing. The state park lodge where we had dinner last time has been bulldozed to make way for a newer facility, but in the interim they've opened a restaurant right at the marina. I'm hoping to also find a place to pick up some milk as well.

Update: We are docked at Paris Landing State Park (map), more or less the same place we docked three years ago. We had planned to anchor, but with another night of very low temperatures and a very reasonable dock rate of $0.85/', after we added some fuel we decided to take a slip for the night. That let me ride the bike over to a nearby c-store for milk and beer.

We arrived just before a horde of bass boats arrived for their tournament weigh-in. It's been bass boats akimbo since we tied up; we sat on deck with a beer watching the action for a while. In the morning we will shove off and continue upriver.


  1. I wonder if the tires on the lift had simply not been inflated properly?

    1. That's almost guaranteed. But honestly we think the "lift can't do it" excuse was just that. It looked to us like the liftways were in very bad shape (timber with a thin steel plate), and I think they decided moving the lift on their shaky ways was not a good idea. I don't disagree, but they should have cut us a break on the haul-and-launch for not doing a complete job.

  2. Wow Sean. 70 ton lift couldn't handle a 50 ton Vector??? Just how many quilting supplies does Louise have onboard that ship??? :)

    1. Louise chooses to exercise her rights under the Fifth Amendment.

  3. Pretty amazing to come out relatively unscathed after such an impact. Good construction and a bit of luck is a great thing!


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