Log #6d Cumberland River to Kentucky Lakes

December 17, 1998 in Log Series 02 - 07, Logs by Series, Series 06 Mississippi - Ten Tom to Mobile Bay, The Logs

Rod & Gun Club

Everglades City, Florida

Dec. 17, 1998

Log #6d Cumberland River to Kentucky Lakes

Hi Folks,

I’ve been playing around with the laptop and think I have found a way to copy and paste those last few logs that I sent as attached files, but several of you were not able to download. I have at the bottom of this note Log# 6d from Paducah into the Cumberland River. I think many of you missed Log # 6c and I will send it on a separate message when I get it copied and pasted onto E‑ mail.

Right now Judy and I are alongside the Rod and Gun Club of Everglades City. Some city! It has had its heyday with several presidents and movie stars vacationing here, and featured in the Travis McGee stories of John D. MacDonald, but times have passed it by. No big condominium developments here, or even large hotels. We are the only boat at the 300foot long dock in front of the club. It is in good condition, and reeks of the memories of a bygone era. The community does provide good access to the Everglades, and we will be using our dinghy Northern Sprite to explore the mangrove swamps tomorrow.

Incidentally, we call our dinghy Northern Sprite as we had it with our last boat Northern Spirit.

This place reminds me of Killarney up on Lake Huron, at the end of a road going nowhere, in a lovely national park, with a major waterway winding through it, and with a lot of fishermen, both sports and commercial around.

We came over from Marco Island today through the mangrove keys and narrow shallow waterways. We grounded twice having to us Northern Sprite to push or tow us off. We are happy with the Dinghy Tow system as it allows us to launch Sprite very rapidly with the motor on and as a result starte towing operations before being pushed onto the shoal more by the tidal current or what would be worse, before the tide starts to drop. We calculated our transit today on a rising tide situation, so if we were really stuck, after a while the rising tide would float us off anyway. However, we got off O.K. both times after about 5 minutes of manouevering. On at least three other occasions today we also plowed a furrow through the sand bars that had developed in the channels. Lots of fun. However, if necessary, we have free boat insurance through Boat U.S. which we joined last month. Hopefully we will not have to use it.

So, I will close this for now and hopefully send it out at the Rod and Gun Club tomorrow, Dec. 18.

I will make a New Years Resolution to put all my logs directly on the E‑mail, no more attached files.

Take care, Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

All the best,
Aubrey Millard



Log #6d
Cumberland River – Kentucky Lake
Dec. 12, 1998

Englewood Beach, Florida

In my last log, we got to Paducah where we were met by a large number of tows. Also at Paducah we had to make a decision as to whether to take the Tennessee River, a shorter route (by about 25 miles) to Kentucky Lake, but heavily industrial with a potentially longer wait at the lock of several hours, or take the more scenic Cumberland River to the Barkley Lock and a shorter wait because of lesser traffic. Both routes led into Kentucky Lake which is basically a widening of the Tennessee River, and the beginning of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, known as the Ten-Tom. We took the Cumberland River route as we did not need the industrial hassle. That is also one of the reasons we took this system instead of staying on the Mississippi all the way down to New Orleans. The Mississippi below the Ohio River becomes wide, winding, heavily travelled by barges, and did not sound pleasure boat friendly at all.

The Tennessee River goes for hundreds of miles, but a cutoff to the Tombigbee River provides access to that river, which eventually joins the Alabama River, after which it is called the Mobile River. This in turn flows into Mobile Bay, past the city of Mobile, Alabama, and that then leads to the Gulf Intra Coastal Waterway heading west to New Orleans, Louisiana (about 100 miles along the GICW), or east to Pensacola, Panama City, Destin, Apalachicola and Carabelle up in the northwest corner of Florida at the beginning of the Florida panhandle. The river system throughout the U.S. is quite impressive, and is steeped in the history of American western migration and the Civil War, as well as being a major industrial transportation system.The Ten-Tom however is very pleasure-boat friendly. We have no reservations in recommending it to other boaters.

So, we went over to the Cumberland River. It was a quieter river, still muddy brown, but more pastoral. Very little civilization was evident and only three small tows were encountered in the 30 miles to Barkley Lock. There we had to wait only a half hour as one tow was just entering ahead of us. It was a new large lock with a lift of about 85 feet . By the time we got through it was dusk, and we had to feel our way into the first cove just outside the lock, called Engineers Cove. This cove had three bays, two of which were indicated as being good anchorages. We started to the port hand bay as it seemed deeper according to our guide book. By the time we entered, it was totally dark as we slowly crept along. However, I did not like the shadows we saw across this bit of bay, and so we backed off and went to the starboard hand bay where there was a launch ramp. We settled in for the night, but were awakened early in the morning by boats being launched for fishing. No problem. When we looked across the cove to the other bay we were going to go into first, we saw a line of floats at water level strung across the opening sectioning off a houseboat rental bay. It was a good thing we backed off when we saw those shadows, otherwise we would have run into wires strung between the floats.

There was an information centre in a park beside the lock, so we dinghied over to shore and walked the mile or so to it, as there was still heavy fog on the water. When we got to it, it was closed. Oh well, we needed the exercise. We went to the lock we came up last night and watched a tow go through, then back to Veleda, and out around the corner of the cove into Green Turtle Bay Marina. We didn’t stay overnight there, but were allowed to refuel, water, and spend a few hours alongside.

This was the first civilized marina stop for us since Alton at the junction of the Illinois and Mississippi River, ten days and over 280 nautical miles earlier. We had used up the fuel in our tank and had emptied both jerry cans as well. However, we still took only 22 gallons of diesel as the Mississippi section had been all downstream. The showers and laundry were wonderful! We also came across Odyssey and Christina whom we met at Angelo Towhead before starting up the Ohio River. Poor Christina was up on the hard as she had to be hauled out; she had hit something submerged causing a heavy vibration and seizing up of one shaft. They fixed the problem and were off in a couple of days. We were to meet her again down in Demopolis two weeks later.

The people on Odyssey had a courtesy car and took us into Grand Rivers, a popular tourist town. We had a lovely buffet at Miss Patty’s and enjoyed Tennessee cooking. We bought a few things at the local grocery store and walked the two miles back to the Marina and left at 1630, going down to Star Lime Cove, a lovely secluded anchorage in Kentucky Lake.

Kentucky Lake was a lovely lake district for boating, sailing and fishing. We had not been in any area as nice since we were in the Great Lakes. It was basically an enlargement of the Tennessee River, created by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a mega dam reservoir and hydro-electric project. The fishing was good, at least by the number of bass boats and fishermen in the area. There were low hills, plenty of bays for anchoring, and at that time, the trees were just starting their fall colours. The mornings were heavy with dew or often foggy or misty. It was a lovely tranquil passage, but because of our direction of travel, we had no oppotunity to sail.

The lower end of Kentucky Lake narrowed into the Tennessee River for a pleasant motor upstream into a slight half to one knot.current. During this part of the route we noticed our bilge pump coming on two or three times per day. So we knew we would have to tighten up the packing gland shortly. In addition, we would occasionally lose power and we would drop 500 revs for a minute or so, then spontaneously pick up again. We cleaned the Racor filter and the water filter, but the problem continued periodically. Then another evening at anchor we changed the fuel filter. It was very dirty. This cured the problem. It was more than time to do so as we now had over 450 hours on our new engine, and we should have inspected and changed it at 300 hours. It has been fine since. We are keeping a maintenance log, and close track of our engine hours. we have been motoring continuously since leaving Chicago almost a month ago. We have not sailed since and have only had our genoa up a couple of times motor sailing. We are more like a power boat with a big stick.

In my next log, we will continue down the Tennessee River stopping at the Civil War battlefield of Shilo.