Hello all: This morning (Sunday, Oct 14th) as the sun was peeking over the edge of the world, we got underway from the Florence Harbor Marina to head further up the Tennessee River. It was not a long days run, but we had in mind to get thru the Wilson Lock (link) before it was tied up with commercial traffic. This plan succeeded and we are now docked with about 50-60 boats full of other Great Loop cruisers, plus some folks who came by land who have recently finished the Loop or are contemplating the trip.
Our boat is usually the slowest whenever we travel with others, and this photo shows our Looper friends ahead of us who *held* the second lock (Wheeler Lock) until we could get there; this was really kind of them, because there was a 3x4 barge that would have had to be locked through in pieces and we would have waited 3 hours for the next upbound lockage.
On a chilly morning, the water steams. On Saturday, we were awakened to strains of a patriotic song in country-western style. Kathie jumped out of bed to get this photo which shows a bass tournament about to get underway, in fact these 10 guys are the final round competitors; amazingly, the weights of their total catch ranged from 38 to 41+ pounds, with the top two pros only 13 ounces apart! The prize is $100,000!
The restaurant at the marina had a unique pool where you can look down at the fish in the harbor. At the upper right you can see a huge needle-nose gar... looks like an alligator without the legs...
Over the past week, we drove a rental car from northern Alabama to North Carolina and back. We attended a wedding, had appointments with doctors & dentists, met with a few old friends. The car ride was about 150 miles less than the Winnie W. has traveled so far; and totaled about 4+ days highway driving versus 5 months cruising by water, about 2 miles less than 3,000 in the rental car!
Wilson Lock is worth some mention- it is the highest lock on the Great Loop with a lift of 93.5 feet at normal water levels; it is the sixth tallest lift in the US, behind 5 locks on the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific NW. It is named after President Woodrow Wilson, and was originally intended to provide both power & transportation for a munitions plant in World War 1 (link). Now it has the largest generating capacity of any TVA dam. The lower gates swing open but the upper gate opens vertically. This lock chamber was so tall that it cut off GPS and radio signals!
Here is the view from Wilson Lake, just above (upriver, heading east) the lock & dam. You can see the arches across the top of the dam, an old-fashioned architectural flourish; also the Renaissance Tower in Florence AL overlooking the lake & the dam... awesome view and a popular restaurant.
A happy reunion with Bob & Sue from Tom-Kat, who met us at the dock along with our friends Bob & Lyn from Legrace. One of the biggest joys of cruising is the camaraderie & friendships. It is also nice to have extra help so as to not ram the dock!
We rounded The Silver Foxes (boat on the right of the photo) and saw there was a whole gang to greet us and help us! It really felt good that all these Loopers would turn out to say hello when we arrived.
Best wishes to all
Doug & Kathie