Post Rendezvous and on to Aqua Yacht

October 24

Loop Group Photo

This is a group photo of all (but Debbie) who attended the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association Rendezvous. Whisky Business is the 3rd boat from the left and yours truly, not to be lost in the crowd, is in the back row with arms extended and fingers raised in peace signs ala Richard Nixon departing the White House.  Unfortunately, on the second morning of the event our daughter Haley called with news that our dog Jake had a night of vomiting and the resulting visit to the vet revealed he had a number of masses inside him that will probably prove fatal. Finding a rental car in Rogersville, Alabama was impossible. Closest rental car was in Florence, about 30 minutes away. A very fine gentleman in the employ of the park was gracious enough to drive Debbie there to pick up a car and drive home. Turns out this wonderful fellow is the beverage manager at Joe Wheeler Park, a fan of “dirty water” and also a Maker’s Mark Ambassador. His kindness earned him (other than financial) a hefty dose of Rip Van Winkle 12 year. IMHO, the finest of the Van Winkle family of bourbons.

The many seminars were concerned with different sections of the journey. Once we get to Mobile, Al, we will follow the Intracoastal Waterway past Michael ravaged Panama City to Carrabelle, Florida, a trip of about 90 miles by water. At this point we will make a crossing of the Gulf of Mexico to Tarpon Springs, Florida. The “armpit” of Florida, where the panhandle ends and the land turns south is a boaters nightmare. Very shallow waters and a brazzillion crab pots make this area off limits to deep draft boats. Leaving around 2PM we will cross open water making land around 10AM the next morning in Tarpon Springs. Timing is important as we will be traveling in a eastern direction and mariners want to arrive when the sun is a bit high on the horizon so there is no blinding glare that might cause you to miss those pesky crab pots which are everywhere. An overnite trip of 160 miles which will take us somewhere around 20 hours. The ideal crossing would involve fellow boaters with the same destination on a cloudless, moonless night so the stars and Milky Way will show themselves. One just has to wait for the proper weather window.

Which brings me to Eddy’s Weather Wag. A fellow looper has taken it upon himself to research possible weather windows for the aforementioned Gulf crossing. Eddy Johnsen aboard “Spiritus” reviews NOAA weather sites late at night and sends out a report around 1AM. Captains at that time will make their plans for departure.

Since Debbie had to come home to nurse Jake, I needed a deck hand to help me get WB from Joe Wheeler Park in Alabama, thru 2 locks and 60 miles to Iuka, Mississippi on the Tom Bigsbee Waterway which starts on Yellow Creek just off the Tennessee River. The second lock we encountered is the Wilson lock that, in this direction, is a whopping 94′ drop. Interesting feature of this lock is the upstream end of the lock has no doors that swing open. The “door” actually drops down about 10 feet allowing boats to pass over it. A little unnerving when you have big propellers hanging beneath your boat.

An sonar image of the gate as we pass over it.

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At the top of the photo you can see the top of the gate that we drove over to enter the chamber.

I attached an iPad to the windscreen of WB and made a time lapse video entering, dropping and leaving the 94′ Wilson Lock. The entry and lock through probably lasted 40 minutes or better but the video is only 30 seconds long. Notice how Deck Hand Dave dances during the video.

Couple of photo’s leaving the Wilson Lock.

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There is also a mount for my GoPro but it seems to have recorded its last video.

When entering a lock I have to aim the boat to a bollard which resides in the chamber wall. These bollards are placed along each side of the lock so that multiple boats can tie up at the same time or in the case of a tow array, there are multiple places to tie to. This image shows the bollard and the Lock Loop used to grab the bollard and pull the boat to the wall. We have large fenders to protect the boat from the wall. By placing line through the plastic hose it makes it really easy for Debbie to grab that sucker.

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After leaving the Wilson Lock we had quite a push from the downriver current and we were FLYING!

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In water with no current we would probably be going about 9mph.

After traveling around 60 miles we came upon Yellow Creek which is the beginning of the Tom Bigsbee Waterway which will take us to Mobile, Al. avoiding the Mississippi River.

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The Tennessee River was certainly the most scenic portion of our trip thus far. We hate to leave it, but new adventures await as we make our way south to Mobile Bay. Back to Louisville while we have a new prop shaft made and installed on WB. Looking forward to long showers, sleeping in a REAL bed and seeing friends that we miss so much.

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