Cruising on Last Dance

This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tennessee River - Observations

Boats on the Rivers

Houseboats are big on the Tennessee River -- big in popularity and big in size.  Marinas have covered docks with rows of houseboats.  The one in the photo above has close to 20 feet of length hiding behind Last Dance. An ad described one that was for sale as being 130 feet long with helicopter landing pads on the second and third levels of the boat.  Big, big party barges.

The rivers inspire riverboats-of-old designs for travel on these calm waters.  This steel-hulled riverboat is actually driven by the paddle wheel, with 4 rudders behind the paddle wheel and 3 in front.  Power is transmitted from the engine, mounted just in front of the wheel, through a drive shaft to a 90 degree gearbox, to another drive shaft connected to another 90 degree gearbox, then a chain drive to the paddle wheel.  If you want to spend time on the rivers, this boat is for sale.

Not a riverboat; this is a boat we met along the Tennessee River that is cruising the Loop.  Craig Erickson, traveling with his dog, Bear, left upstate New York on W. R. Keenan, a 1951 steel-hulled boat that he completely rebuilt.  Craig departed too late to travel through the Great Lakes, so he portaged the boat by trailer to Pittsburgh to begin his journey down the Ohio River.  Sharing conversation and a few anchorages with Craig was an educational and enjoyable experience.

Big Locks

Spirit Dancer, Bob and Kemba DeGroot's 49 DeFever, exits the Wilson Lock.  Locks are big, as in very high lifts, on the Te nnessee.  Wilson Lock has a 97 foot lift, the tallest in the eastern United States.  The doors and machinery are massive.  One drives their boat into this large chamber, the doors close, then water rushes and boils in to fill the chamber and raise the boat.  Quite an experience.  Blue Herons have learned that small fish get dazed when caught in the channels that feed raging water into the lock.  They stand watch as the lock is filled to find an easy meal.

Power Plants

The TVA was organized to provide hydro-electricity, and the dams by the locks on the Tennessee still provide water-generated power.  However, the region's demand for electricity far exceeds the power that can be produced by water traveling down the river.  Many power plants line the river, using the river water for cooling.  Most of them use coal as an energy source, but one was nuclear powered.  They are not one of the attractive features of the river, so the photographer attempted to use the setting sun to add a bit of interest to one of the power plants.

Houses Along the River

A large portion of the river banks is naturally forested due to ownership by the National Parks or the TVA.  Even so, the Tennessee River has more constructed buildings on its banks than the Cumberland.  Some of the homes are an attractive view themselves, adding to the interesting sights as one cruises the rivers.

One of Glen's favorites was in Clifton, Tennessee.  Although not architecturally elaborate, the 8 car garage and the location high on a bluff overlooking the river placed it high on his list.

Someone wanted to live in a lighthouse on the water and in woods.  The trees seem a bit out of place around a lighthouse, but it is unique in design.  This is one of three lighthouses in Tennessee.  It functioned for many years as a lighthouse, guiding ships and barges along the river.  After it was decommissioned, it was purchased and converted to a private residence.

Some homes built in the traditional, old, southern style add a touch of class to the river banks.

Then, there were multiple developments along the Tennessee where all the trees were leveled and the river banks were covered with rock rip-rap.  These housing developments were of two types: recreational vehicle lots and cottages all built from the same plans.  The crew found these so ugly and boring that no photographic evidence was recorded.  With one exception; and this image might have been captured more for the hypocritical political statement.

High Water

Spring brings rain and high waters to the Tennessee River.  Above is one evidence of the height water can reach.  The floating docks and floating restaurant/office ride along the blue pilings as the water levels change.  Last spring the docks were near the top of the pilings and the water was over the top of the breakwater on the left.

Florence, Alabama

Dressed for a Night on the Town

The attraction of the Tennessee River to cruisers is the natural beauty that has been preserved.  But, there is a need to reprovision and gain access to services that are only found in cities and towns.  A marina stop near a city can also provide opportunities to interact with other cruisers. One good stop along the Tennessee River that proved fun was the Florence Marina.

The stay in Florence coincided with the first Friday of the month and the downtown celebration that occurs each month.

A Successful Shopping Adventure

Looper Dinner - Steve and Beth (Gemini),  Dale and Jim (Sweet Pea), the Last Dance Crew, Lynda and Bob (Erika Lin)

Entertainment was wide ranging, from music groups performing on the streets to a young lady that twirled hula-hoops that were on fire.  Oh, and there were two live tigers, mascots from the local college.

Experiences on the Tennessee . . .

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