Rescue at Sea

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.

Summary of week:  Based on some local knowledge that was shared with the crew at the Fort Loudon Marina, the crew decided to nix the trip to Knoxville and head to the Little Tennessee River and the Tellico River instead.  They spent three nights at the foot of the Smokey Mountains before heading back towards Chattanooga.


This week’s movements from Ft Loudon Marina, to Vonore, to Ball Play, to Tallassee, to Kingston, and then back to Dayton


Sunday, October 31, 2016

Saturday evening, the crew met the first of several local boaters from the Fort Loudon Marina.  Rand and Cheryl have a trawler that they cruise about in.  Rand was also the first to suggest cruising the Little Tennessee River rather than making the trip up to Knoxville.

Sunday afternoon, Claudia met another boater, Pam.  Pam and her husband are just about ready to launch their ‘Loop Adventure’ aboard Bye George.  Pam and George came by Still Waters II later in the day to pick our crew’s brains about doing the Loop.  Somewhere along this journey our crew has gone from novices to experienced loopers, more than happy to share their experiences with those just getting started.


Looking out from Fort Loudon Marina


The crew also had another enjoyable surprise.   Back in the 2015/2016 winter, you may recall that the crew stayed in the Ortega Landing Marina in Jacksonville, Florida.  Just down the dock from the crew was a sailboat named Journey, and she is crewed by Dana and Michael.  They have been ‘In Progress’ on the loop for about five years.  Turns out that Dana and Michael have put Journey up in heated storage on the Erie Canal.  Also, turns out that their homeport is Fort Loudon Marina.  Dana noticed Still Waters II and came over and said hello.  Later in the evening, our crew went over to visit with Dana and Michael aboard their houseboat, Irish Mist.  Great evening catching up on each other’s travels.


Monday, October 24, 2016

The Little Tennessee River started making the national news back in the late 1970’s.  If you were alive back then, do you remember the Snail Darter?

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Snail Darter

The Snail Darter was one of the first test cases for the new Environmental Protection Law.  The little unknown fish brought the Tellico Dam project to a screeching halt.

The Snail Darter was discovered in the shallow waters near the dam after the dam was approximately 80% complete.  The Snail Darter was added to the endangered species list and then environmentalist went to court to stop the building of the dam.  The Supreme Court upheld the lower courts positions that the dam could not be completed.  Basically, upholding the new Environmental Protection Law protecting endangered species.

The completed Tellico Dam

As you can see though the dam is complete and there is a Tellico Lake.  So how did that happen?

Well, after the Supreme Court decision, the Tennessee legislators snuck a rider into an unrelated bill that exempted the Tellico Dam project from the Environmental Protection Law.  Once the bill was signed into law the construction on the dam was completed.

You may be glad to know that biologist have found other snail darter populations in other waters.  Biologist also relocated the snail darter to other areas before the dam was complete.  In 1984 the snail darter was moved from endangered to threatened.

After cruising some more beautiful areas, the crew stopped at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum

The crew was not sure if they would be able to get to the dock because the water depth was not plotted on the charts.  The skipper eased the boat, ever so slowly, to the dock and found 12 feet of water all the way to the dock.  As the crew was securing the boat two other boats arrived and tied up on the dock.


Our crew left the dock and headed to the museum.  The museum discusses Sequoyah and how he developed the written Cherokee alphabet and written word.

He called the written word on paper ‘talking leaves.’

He was born in 1776 in Tuskeegee near the museum.  He joined General Andrew Jackson and fought for the US during the war of 1812.  During the war he observed the US soldiers writing letters back home.  After the war, he decided to  create a written system in Cherokee.  The system eventually contained 85 symbols.

The museum makes a point that never before, or since, in the history of the world has one man, not literate in any language, perfected a system for reading and writing a language.

After visiting the museum, the crew decided to walk the 1.5 miles to the Fort Loudoun State Park.  The park has a nice Visitor Center and a replica fort.  The fort is a replica because they had to raise the land 20 feet so that the location would not be flooded by the Tellico Dam.

Looking out from inside Fort Loudoun

The fort was the furthest west that the British ever built a garrison.  The fort was built in 1756 to provide security for the Cherokee Nation women and children as the men went west to help the British fight the French during the French and Indian War.

As the Cherokee were returning home from battles conducted further north in Pennsylvania they stole some horses to shorten their time on the trail.  Stealing horses was a time-honored tradition in the Indian Culture.  The white folks were none to pleased about the loss of their horses and killed 33 Cherokee in attempts to get the horses back.

The Cherokee Culture also had a Blood Law that they honored.  If you killed the Cherokee, they blood avenged their deaths with the blood of the same number of your deaths.  So, the Cherokee killed 33 white folks on their way home.  When they reached Fort Loudoun the British and Cherokee began to negotiate a treaty to stop the bloodshed.

The British held the Cherokee negotiators in the Brigg for several months.  The British finally released three of the Cherokee but kept 24.  The Cherokee decided to lay siege to the fort to get the return of their 24 brothers.  In August 1760, the British finally surrendered the Fort to the Cherokee.

Part of the treaty for the surrender of the fort was that the Cherokee would provide a safe escort for the British soldiers and their families out of Cherokee Nation held lands. The Cherokee escorted the British soldiers 15 miles from the fort the first day. However, during the night, all the Cherokee left the British.  The next morning the Cherokee attacked the British soldiers and took the women and children back as slaves.  The Cherokee later traded the women and children back to the British.

Another interpretation that the visitor center laid out was the importance of the French and Indian War on shaping the future of the American colonies.  The British finally won the war and in the Paris Treaty, the French surrendered all of Canada to the British.  The French had also given Spain all the lands west of the Mississippi, basically ending the French presence in the New World.


Map showing the British gains following the Treaty of Paris in pink.  Spanish gains are in yellow.


But the land mass changes were just the beginning of the end for both the British and the French.  The British began taxing the colonist to help pay for the large debt left following the war.  These taxes stirred the hearts and minds of the colonist and eventually lead to them fighting for their independence from British rule.  The French also had a huge war debt that weakened the French Monarchy and eventually lead to the French Revolution.

But all this may have you wondering, if Spain owns the land west of the Mississippi in 1760, how did the French sell this same land to the United States in the famous Louisiana Purchase of 1803? Well that is a story for another time and another place as we make our way south.


Sunset at Sequoyah Birthplace Museum


Tuesday, November 1, 2016 

The crew made a very short cruise this morning to mile 8 on the Tellico River.  There is a red buoy at mile 8 that the locals warned the crew not to pass.  The red buoy marks the end of the navigable waters of the Tellico River.  Small fishing boats can go further up the river, but Still Waters II will be happy to drop anchor here by the red buoy and take in the scenery for the rest of the day.  This may just be the best anchor spot on the whole loop thus far.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016     

The crew decided to move over to the end of the navigable waters on the Little Tennessee River and check out the mountain views from there.  The cruise took the crew past Fort Loudoun and the Tellico Blockhouse.



The Blockhouse was built in 1794 with its primary purpose to protect the Cherokee Nation from the white settler’s encroachment into the area.  The war department also built a trading post here to provide supplies to the Cherokee.  It took 35 deer hides to trade for a rifle and ammo.  Unfortunately for the deer population, as more Cherokee began hunting with rifles the deer population took a rapid decline.   Before the Cherokee left the area, hunting parties went from three days to three weeks because the number of deer nearby continued to decline.

As the crew went around a horseshoe bend, they noticed a set of markers standing near the water’s edge.  Each of the markers stand for one of the Cherokee Nation clans: Deer, Wild Potato, Wolf, Paint, Bird, Long Hair, and Blue.


There was also a marker indicating the town of Tanasi, the capital of the Cherokee Nation from 1721-1730.  It was during this time-period that the term Tanasi was also applied to the river.  In 1762, Lt. Henry Timberlake modified the spelling and assigned the name ‘Tennessee’ to the river on a map that he was preparing.  Then in 1796, the name was selected for the 16th state of the Union.

The views from the anchor on the Little Tennessee River.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

The crew weighed anchor and set off for Fort Loudon Marina.  The wind was unusually calm which made for excellent cruising.  The crew made good time getting back to the Tennessee River, so rather than head to the marina they locked down to Watts Bar Lake.  The lock dropped the crew 70 feet, and they were back under way.  The crew then cruised about another 25 miles and called it a day when they dropped anchor in the Painted Rock Cove.


Calm day on the water



Fort Loudoun from the water




Painted Rock Cove



Friday, November 4, 2016

Some days in life are strange, then some days are even stranger.  This was one of those kinda days for the crew.  The skipper awoke to the news that one of his aunts had passed on to the next life.  This was no surprise for she had been on hospice care for several days.  However, it is always a shock and sad when someone moves on to the next stage of life.  The crew decided that they would make a long run and try to get to a marina with a rental car agency nearby so they could arrange for a trip back to Texas to attend the funeral.


Saw these two early in the morning


Then the crew got a surprise when they arrived at the Watts Bar Lock to find that the lock was closed until 1600 because divers were in the water doing maintenance.  That will make the long day on the water even longer as the crew must wait three hours to clear the lock.


Interesting way to mark some shallow water


While the skipper was talking with the lockmaster, he slowed the boat down.  No since rushing to the lock to wait three hours.  The Admiral noticed a kayak that looked to be in distress.  The kayaker was about a half mile away from Still Waters II.  The Admiral used her man-over-board training to maintain constant visual contact on the kayak while the skipper talked with the Lockmaster.  It looked as though the kayak was sinking.  Sure, enough, the kayak finally turned over and dumped the young man into the drink.


Boats supporting work at the lock


The Admiral commented that they needed to go see if they could help the young man.  The wind was blowing the kayak away from the young man, and it appeared that he was swimming towards an Island that was 0.75 miles away.  The closest land to him at the time.

Red Kayak barely afloat

The skipper turned the boat around and headed to the young man.  By the time that the crew arrived, the young man was struggling to stay afloat even though he had on a life jacket.  He also had a backpack, fanny-pack, full camo gear, and boots.  He was trying to get the backpack off to unload some weight.  The young man could hold on to the swim platform and get his backpack and fanny-pack off his body and onto the swim platform.  He was then able to climb up the swim ladder and get safely aboard.

The skipper then turned the boat to see if they could also rescue the kayak.  The Admiral fetched the boat hook and gave it to the young man.  He could reach over and pull the kayak over to the boat once they got within six feet of the kayak.  He then managed to get the kayak up on the swim platform and eventually the dingy davits.


Jordan resting before getting on swim platform

With the excitement over, the crew learned that the young man’s name is Jordon.  He was out taking photos of wildlife.  He mentioned that he was sure glad that he had taken out a one year insurance plan on his new camera.  Jordon said that the drain plug had come out of the kayak.

As he was paddling, water began to enter through the drain plug opening.  After a while the water began to cause the kayak to sit lower in the water.  Then as he paddled up a wave the back end started going under water, taking in even more water.

Eventually the kayak was filled with water so he rolled it over to get out of the kayak and swim for safety.

Wrestling the kayak aboard

With the introductions done and some light conversation, the skipper asked Jordan where he needed to go to get back to his car.  Jordon said that he was over at the boat ramp near the lock.

When the skipper arrived near the lock some small TVA boats would not let him go to the boat ramp.  One of the little boats finally came over to tell the skipper to back out of the area.  The skipper explained what he was trying to do, so the little TVA boat guy said to load the kayak and Jordan on his boat and he would take him to shore.

Still smiling after transfer to TVA boat


With Jordan off loaded the crew headed for a little cove where there was an abandoned dock to wait for 1600.

Waiting on the lock at the dock

The lockmaster called the skipper at 1605 and reported that it was now safe to enter the lock.  The crew was clear of the lock at 1645 but still had about 30 miles to go to make the marina.  Based on the projected time for sunset, the crew would arrive about 30 minutes after dark.


Exiting lock at 1645


Still 6 miles to go, or about 40 minutes to marina

This is the fourth time the crew has navigated at dark.  Luckily, the crew was at this marina just last week so they are familiar with how to approach and land at the dock, even in the dark.  With the sunset at 1845, the crew made the last 45 minutes at dusk.  The last 15 minutes were sure enough in the dark.

Next Week – The crew will take a break from cruising to attend the funeral for Aunt Pat.  They are a day away from Chattanooga, so they may move there late next week..


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

La Salle

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