Fall Foliage Spectacular

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures.

La Salle here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.

But first we have had a bunch of folks meet the crew on the pier and come aboard as virtual crew members.  So we need to pause and welcome aboard:

  • Shoaib R.
  • Matnobles
  • Ginasjoys
  • Russ B.

So a hearty Welcome Aboard!!!!  Glad you joined the adventure.

Sunday anchored near Clifton, Monday anchored near Savanah, Tuesday & Wednesday at Aqua Yacht Marina for repairs, Thursday anchored, Friday free dock in Decatur, and Saturday free dock in Guntersville

The crew did not make their goal of Chattanooga this week.  Still Waters II decided she wanted some rest and relaxation at the Aqua Yacht Marina.  The crew limped into the marina on one engine on Tuesday.  After getting repairs complete the crew commenced the side trip up the Tennessee River towards Chattanooga.

Sunday, October, 16, 2016

The crew left out of Pebble Isle Marina after stopping at the fuel dock and taking on 216 gallons of fuel.  The marina gives a 10 cent per gallon discount for both a AGLCA and Boat US memberships, for a total of 20 cents off each gallon.  That was just too good of a deal to pass up without topping off the tanks.  Then there was an added surprise at the fuel dock.  The guy helping fuel the boat brought out three large hot cinnamon rolls from the restaurant and gave them to the Admiral.  Now this is a good way to start the day and week.

Shoreline along Tennessee River


Unfortunately, the good start to the day and week would not last long, but such is the life of a live aboard cruiser.  The skipper noticed that the port engine temperature was acting erratic during the cruise, a harbinger of things to come.

Cypress Trees in the River – well sorta


After cruising about 20 miles the crew passed under the Interstate 40 bridge between Nashville and Memphis.  The skipper can remember crossing over this bridge at least a dozen times over the years, but this is the first time either crew member has passed under the bridge in a boat.

I-40 between Memphis and Nashville


Another 20 miles up-river, the crew passed Lady Finger Bluff.  The Bluff was so named after a woman jumped to her death from the bluff rather than be captured by Indians.

Lady Finger Bluff


Then 10 more miles found this little lady advertising for the Mermaid Marina.  The crew resisted the advertisement and went on up river to Double Island to anchor for the night.


Monday, October 17, 2016

This morning when the skipper started the engines to allow them to warm up, the port engine temperature again became erratic.  The temperature climbed up to about 200 degrees and then dropped down to 175 where the engine normally runs.  Then the temperature started to climb again.  This time the temperature kept going past 200.  When the temperature reached 210 and climbing the skipper turned the engine off.  The initial troubleshooting could not find anything wrong so the skipper decided to go on one engine for the day and look more in depth at the end of the day.

Shoreline Shot


Cruising on one engine developed a few new skills for the skipper.  The boat handles much differently and it took a while to get used to the new dynamics.  For example, trying to turn around on one engine is much more difficult.  And while at idle speed, steering with the wheel is tough because there is not much water passing by the rudder.  The skipper learned to increase the throttle a little to help steer while going slow.

More Shoreline


The crew passed by a small town on the river after they got going, Clifton, Tenn.  The town was almost the state capitol of Tennessee back in 1843.  The town lost by one vote to the eventual winner, Nashville.

Coming around a bend in the river the crew saw what the chart had plotted as Chalk Bluff, very scenic area.  As the crew approached the bluff, you can see that the bluff is actually clay and sand, no chalk.

Chalk Bluffs


Then just a little further up river, about five miles they came to Cherry Mansion.  The house was built in 1830 by David Robinson.  He gave the home to his daughter, Sarah, and her new husband, W.H. Cherry.

Cherry Mansion – Built in 1830


But the home was used by General Grant in April 1862.  Grant was actually eating breakfast in the home on Saturday morning, April 6, 1864 when the confederates attacked his soldiers about 8 miles up-river at Pittsburgh Landing.  The first day the Union forces took heavy losses and it looked to be a Confederate win in the making.  However, late in the day the confederates let up and stopped their attack.  This allowed the Union forces to bring in re-enforcements overnight and launch a counter attack on Sunday morning.

Pittsburgh Landing where Union troops re-enforced from the river


The confederates withdrew from the battlefield late Sunday and the Union troops did not pursue the Confederates.  When the fighting ended on Sunday, the Battle of Shiloh was the bloodiest battle to date with nearly 25,000 dead and wounded.  General Albert Sidney Johnston was one of the many casualties.  He is the highest ranking American ever killed in combat.

After skirting around the sacred battle ground, the crew  made another 5 miles and dropped anchor at Wolf Island for the day.

Water view from sundeck at Wolf Island


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The crew weighed anchor and set out for the Aqua Yacht Marina to get the port engine repaired.

To get to the marina though they would first have to make it through the Pickwick Lock, which was about two hours away.  The crew called the lock and learned that there was one tow about two miles in front of them.  The lockmaster agreed to lock the pleasure craft through the lock if they arrived more than 30 minutes ahead of the tow.  The skipper did some ciphering and figured they could catch the tow by mile 200.  Then due to the bends in the river and the slow speed that the tow would have to go to maneuver around the curves, that they could make the lock (mile 206.5) 30 minutes ahead of the tow.

Looking out the Pickwick Lock


When the crew was about two miles from the lock, the skipper called the lockmaster again. The lockmaster agreed to let Still Waters II and LeryLynn through the lock and he had the gate open when they arrived.  With only one engine, getting into the lock and safely secured was a bit of a challenge but the crew worked together and made it happen.

After clearing the lock, it was only another hour to the marina.  The little bit of Pickwick Lake that the crew saw was beautiful.  But the crew had to turn off the Lake and head into the Tenn-Tom Waterway to get to the marina.  The crew passed one point where Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi merge in the waterway.

In the water before the point, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi borders meet


The crew then made their way over to the transient dock at the marina and managed to safely land the boat.  No small accomplishment with the high winds blowing the boat off of the dock and maneuvering with only one engine.

The maintenance team came down and decided that the water pump needed to be replaced.  They will order the part and the part should arrive sometime Wednesday.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

The new water pump arrived as expected on Wednesday and the mechanic changed the pump out.  Post maintenance checks were sat so the crew shoved off from the dock to test the port main engine repairs under actual running conditions.  Glad to report that the engine ran well all day.  The folks at Aqua Yacht Harbor did a fine job.

Some Fall Foliage Color


With the engine running well, the crew set out to return to the Tennessee River and start their side trip to Chattanooga.  The first half of the trip was wonderful, but about 1300 a thunderstorm caught the crew.  They were in a heavy down pour for about 45 minutes and even had one lightning strike less than a quarter mile from the boat. After the storm passed the sun tried to break through but just couldn’t make it.

Been a while since the crew got drenched


The crew timed another lock well and got a lift of 93 feet at the Wilson Lock.  The lock is named for Woodrow Wilson, our 28th president.  After clearing the lock, the crew entered Wilson Lake and headed another six miles upriver to six-mile creek to anchor.

Waiting for the Wilson Lock gates to open


Friday, October 21, 2016

The crew weighed anchor and set out to the Joe Wheeler Lock.  This lock is named for Joseph Wheeler.  He was one of many West Point graduates that fought for the Confederate Army.  During his military career, he rose to the rank of General, fought in 127 battles, and had 16 horses shot out from underneath him.  After his military career, he served in Congress.  Upon his death, he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

The crew saw a small armada of 12 looper boats headed down bound leaving the fall looper rendezvous.  Because of the distance between the boats, the crew did not recognize any of the boats.

Part of the armada leaving Joe Wheeler


Upon arrival at the lock, there was a tow entering the lock.  The lockmaster said it would be two and a half hours before the crew could enter the lock.  The lockmaster did give the crew permission to tie up along the wall of the auxiliary lock to wait.  The LeryLynn arrived about an hour later, so they rafted off of Still Waters II and the two crews chatted while waiting on the lock.

Had to wait for this big guy to clear the lock


Finally, a little after noon the tow completed locking up and the crew was prepped to go in the lock.  When the lockmaster lowered the water level in the lock, the water came boiling up near the crew.

For a little perspective, the wall is about 5 foot tall


Three looper boats locked down and the crew saw Abaco Lady for the first time since Norfolk, Virginia, way back in May.  The two crews waved at each other as they passed by.

Abaco Lady and Crew


After clearing the lock, the crew made their way to the town of Decatur where there is a free dock to tie up on for the night.  There was a looper boat, Irish Lady Too already on the dock so the crew came over to catch our crew’s lines and help them dock.   Kurt and Susan crew Irish Lady Too.  They set out on the loop in May of 2015 from Baltimore, Maryland.

Sunset in Decatur


Saturday, October 22, 2016

After shoving off from the dock the crew dodged a near catastrophe.  Just another reminder that the crew has to be constantly diligent of their surroundings.  After getting past the break water wall for the dock the skipper ran the boat up on an underwater sand/mud bar.


The depth changed from 9-10 feet to less than 4 feet almost instantly.  The good news was that the skipper was only running at idle speed waiting for the engines to fully warm up.  The starboard engine shut off and the skipper turned off the port.  The Admiral ran below and checked all the bilges and made sure there was no water coming in the boat.  After a positive report from the Admiral, the skipper started the port engine and tried reverse.  The boat budged a little bit.  The skipper tried reverse again and the boat rocked back a little more.  The skipper then started the starboard engine and put both engines in reverse.  The boat slid backwards and off the sandbar.  Not a good way to start the morning.


After allowing the engines to warm up the skipper put the engines in forward and speed up.  The engines ran fine all day and all seems to be ok.

The run along the river was breath taking today.  The fall foliage continues to change more colorful by the day.  The cool weather, in the 40’s at night might be the reason for the color change.  The run after the Guntersville Lock and Dam was spectacular.  The cliffs surrounding the lake were just gorgeous.


The crew did pass one interesting area full of space history, Huntsville, Alabama.  This is the area where the US entered the space race thanks to the German engineering of Dr. Wernher von Braun.  Von Braun is credited for developing Germany’s V-2 rocket that was used to bomb the day lights out of the British.  With the war winding down and not wanting to be captured by the Russians, von Braun and his team headed towards American forces and surrendered to the Americans.  Following the war, von Braun and 100 members of his team agreed to come to the United States.

Cruising with LeryLynn


They initially were sent to Ft. Bliss, Texas.  In 1950, the von Braun rocket team was moved to Huntsville, Alabama.  On January 31, 1958 the US launched a Jupiter-C Rocket from Huntsville carrying Explorer 1, which became our first earth orbiting satellite.  Huntsville is the home of the Space & Rocket Center, the world’s largest space museum.  The crew plans to visit the museum on the return trip down the Tennessee River.



About two hours after cruising by Huntsville, the crew approached the Guntersville Lock.  The Lockmaster had the gate open for the crew and they cruised into the lock for the 40 foot lift up to Guntersville Lake.



After clearing the lock the crew headed for the town of Guntersville and found another free dock at a municipal park.  The crew tied up and grilled steaks on the dock with the crew of LeryLynn.

Next Week – The crew is still two days away from Chattanooga.  The plan is to arrive on Monday and spend three nights in town.  They will leave Chattanooga on Friday morning and start the four-day journey to Knoxville, Tennessee.


Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

La Salle

2 Comments on “Fall Foliage Spectacular

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