Our stay in Grand Rivers at Green Turtle Bay Marina (GTB) was familiar as we had spent a month there last year getting Heartbeat ready. It was nice to be in a place that was familiar. We stayed an extra day to be sure we got in a visit with our favorite canvas guy Mark (Creative Canvas) and his wife Susan. It was fun to catch up with them and hear what had been going on in Grand Rivers since we left.
While our stop at GTB was a celebratory one the boat projects never end. Kent sold our old electronics (yeah!), changed the oil and installed a new heater (in anticipation for cooler temps). I got some serious laundry/grocery shopping done and officially completed cleaning and waxing the boat (minus the hull). It often can feel that as you cross one project off the list you add two more.
Our next “chunk” of The Great Loop consisted of more rivers but less commercial traffic than we had seen on the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers. By the time we get to Mobile, AL we will have traveled ~655 miles, pass through 12 locks and several rivers/waterways: Tennessee River > Ten Tom Waterway > Black Warrior – Tombigbee River > Mobile River.
I’ll admit it – this section of The Great Loop is not my favorite. In fact it is my least favorite portion. There are of course some lovely remote anchorages but limited shoreline for the dog and people to stretch their legs. We wake up, spend 8-10 hrs driving, stop for the night and then repeat it all over again. As this was our second time through we stopped at some old places and also found some new ones. Buddy boating with Scaliwag (Parker & Leslie) kept the long days at bit more interesting and it was nice to switch off leading and following.
Our route through Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Alabama looked one night at each of the following places:
Green Turtle Bay > Dry Fork Bay anchorage > Pebble Isle Marina > Eagle Nest anchorage > Dry Creek anchorage > Aqua Yacht Marina > Fulton Recreation Area anchorage > Columbus Marina > Lower Cooks Bend > Kingfisher/Demopolis Marina > Bashi Creek anchorage > Sunflower Cut Off anchorage > Mobile Convention Center wall (a few nights here due to weather).
Pebble Isle Marina is 37 miles down the Tennessee River from Dry Creek. They had the best diesel prices last year and also again this year. We filled up the tanks, watched Sunday football with Parker & Leslie and even got in a little history at the local Johnsonville State Park nearby (where we learned about the civil war battle at Johnsonville).
Our stop at Eagle Nest anchorage for a night was interesting.We thought this was a great location protected by an island and away from the main channel where the commercial tows travel. Kent even called a tow nearby and asked the captain if he thought there would be any concerns anchoring there. The response – no issues tows should not be traveling through there. Well, a few hours later when it was dark Leslie looked out the window to see a tow going by between us and the nearby shore. Keep in mind that these tows are huge, longer than a football field and several barges wide. As we were not anchored in the channel it did not make sense to us what we were seeing. And of course it was dark so the tow looked like it was passing a few feet away. Kent called the tow on the VHF radio and asked if we were safe to stay the night as we were not expecting commercial traffic where we had anchored. The captain relayed that we should be safe but we still have no clue why he was not in the channel where he belongs.
We have now been through 100+ locks but there is always something new to see or learn.
Video – Whitten Lock is 84' and the tallest lock on the river system that we went through. It is like pulling the plug in a bathtub and riding the water level down.
While at Aqua Yacht Marina, MO we rented a car with Parker & Leslie and drove out to see Shiloh National Military Park. This would be our second visit, having visited last year. The battle of Shiloh took place on April 6 and April 7, 1862 and resulted in 23,746 killed/wounded/missing.
There is not much else to do around Aqua Yacht Marina but we made the most of it –
The main reason we stopped at Aqua Yacht Marina was to see Jay & Barb (The Blessing). After meeting them a year ago and traveling on/off with them it was hard to believe they were putting their boat up for sale here and heading home to Canada for the winter as Gold Loopers.
Columbus Marina which was a great stop for us last year when we spent a few days there. We had picked up Glenn who joined us for a few weeks, we walked through the neighborhoods admiring the Antebellum homes, we wandered the Friendship Cemetery and we toured the birthplace home of Tennessee Williams (pics and commentary are found in an entry from October last year). The town offers quite a bit of history despite it's size of just around 24,000 residents. This time through we opted to just spend a single night and visit one of our favorite restaurants on The Loop (Hucks).
Video – Last 10 or so miles of the rivers. It is a long video but look for the tows along the waterway and for the scenery change from lush greenery to the busy working port of Mobile.
With the rivers behind us (yeah!) we will spend a few days hunkered down in Mobile while a windy and wet weather system passes through. We will then make our way across Mobile Bay and over to Florida.
As always a lot more occurs and a lot more pictures were taken. This post especially feels like it just scrapes the surface. Thanks for following and a big thank you to those who we have traveled with who continue to provide us with some great pictures of Heartbeat along the way.