Kold Kentucky Lake

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Welcome aboard to Greg & Doreen, thanks for taking the time to follow the adventures of Still Waters II. It was also a blast cruising down the Mississippi River to Green Turtle Bay with you.  Have a great winter in Marathon, Florida!

The Birds, was one of the more colorful quilts in the National Quilt Museum.  If you look closely, each triangle has a bird sewn into the shape.

20 Birds (2)

Summary of week:

Kentucky Lake

The theme for this week has been falling temperatures.  The cool weather has chased the crew south.  For example, on Friday, St Louis had 3 inches of snow, the earliest snow accumulation on record.  The crew woke to frost on the ground in Clifton that morning with overnight lows in the 20’s.

St Louis on November 9th, photo courtesy of Mike Fuller

snow in St Louis

The crew left Paducah on Monday with Gammel Dansk and cruised the flooded Ohio River to the Cumberland River.  They navigated the Barkley Lock and ended the day in the dark at Green Turtle Bay (1).

The crew then buddy boated with two Nordic Tugs, the green hulled Gammel Dansk and the red hulled Chip Ahoy.  The three boat flotilla made four additional stops during the week to travel the length of Kentucky Lake, mostly in cold rainy conditions.

2.  Paris Island State Park on Wednesday

3.  Pebble Isle Marina on Thursday

4.  Clifton Marina on Friday

5.  Pickwick State Park on Saturday

4 Gammel Dansk and Chip Ahoy

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II cruise along the Cumberland River as she makes way to the Barkley Lock. At the lock she joins a large tow in the lock for an interesting ride in the lock.  Enjoy!

Barkley Lock from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, November 4th

The crew decided to go visit the National Quilt Museum today.  At first glance you might think this would be a total waste of time.  And if you have that thought, you would not be alone.  The skipper and Admiral both pondered the decision long and hard.  Matter of fact, in 2016, they skipped the Museum all together; however, they kept hearing good things about the Museum so they decided to take a look for themselves.  They were not disappointed.

For starters, it is hard to call the material hanging on the walls quilts.  The people behind the quilt making have taken the art to a whole new level.  In fact the quilts look more like art than quilts.  The museum has a permanent collection of 601 quilts with only about 60 on display at any given time.  They rotate the quilts every 2-3 months.  Then there are two traveling exhibits on display also.

The Lemur’s Tale

The quilter took two years to complete this quilt.  The quilter commented, “To me this quilt represents not only the endangered species of this beautiful planet, but also how we all endanger our relationships with each other, this earth, and our creator.  Beauty results when we work through life’s challenges and don’t give up on it.”


The Wrath of Poseidon

The quilter visited several body-building sites to get the physique just right.  The chest is from a wrestler, the legs are Michelangelo’s, and the flap at the end of the banner is sewn down – no peeking.


Spring of Desire

This was inspired from the wedding tissue of the quilter’s great-great-grandmother.  She was married on April 16, 1829.


The Hobbit

Can you find all the items in the quilt below?



One of the travelling displays was a collection of quilts made from patterns that were printed in the Kansas City Star newspaper from 1928-1961.  One of these quilts had multiple squares with each square made by a different woman.  Each woman signed her particular square.  And look what the skipper found, a Margaret Fuller participated in the project.


Monday, November 5th

After sitting for a few days on the dock, it was time to leave the safe confines of Paducah and strike out for Green Turtle Bay on Lake Barkley.  To get there, the crew would need to continue up the Ohio River for another 12 miles, then take the Cumberland River for 30 miles to the Barkley Lock.

The mystery of the day would be how the lockage would go at the Barkley Lock.  A good experience and the crew would dock in daylight hours. A poor experience and they would be docking in the dark.  Unfortunately, the Kentucky Lock is currently closed, so all commercial tow traffic was also taking the Cumberland River route.  This would shrink the odds of a good lock experience.

Once they got off the dock and headed up stream , it was obvious that the river was running harder due to the flooding.  They had the throttles set the same as when they arrived a few days ago, but now were only making 4.5 mph for a loss of 0.5 mph from Friday.

The skipper began to wonder how the Ohio River flood of 2018 compared to other historical floods.  The Ohio River crested Sunday in Cincinnati at 60.53 feet.  However, this high level does not even make the top ten worst floods for the Ohio River.  The worst ever flooding you ask?  1937 with a crest in Cincinnati at 80 feet.

The Admiral found a historical marker in Paducah that discussed the Ohio River flood of 1884. Turns out the 1884 flood was the second worst Ohio River flood with a crest of 71.1 feet in Cincinnati.  But more interesting than that was that Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, led a flood recovery effort in 1884 from Pittsburgh to Cairo.  She was in Paducah on March 13, 1884 as part of the relief effort which turned out to be the first flood relief effort of the young  Red Cross.

The crew arrived on the Cumberland River at 0930 and headed for the Barkley Lock, 30 miles up stream.  Along the way they were met with  picturesque Cumberland color and numerous Bald Eagles resting in trees.


8 Cumberland Color



As the crew approached within three miles of the Barkley Lock, they met a down bound tow pushing several barges.  This was not a good sign.  Twenty-five minutes later, when the crew arrived at the Barkley Lock they were told to move over to the port side of the river and monitor channel 12.  The lock master said he would get them thru as quick as he could.  An hour and a half later (1637), a tow entered the lock and the lock master directed the pleasure craft to enter the lock behind the tow.

This will be a new experience for the crew.  They have never locked thru with a fully loaded tow before.

11 Barlkley Lock


The gates behind Still Waters II closed at 1641 and it was a quick ten minute ride up in the lock.  The front gates began to swing open at 1651.  The skipper looked at the weather site and noticed that sunset was at 1652.  With 30 minutes of dusk before the darkness set in, it did not look good for docking with some light.

Gammel Dansk floating up in Barkley Lock


Still Waters II in Barkley Lock


It took the big tow 10 minutes before she cleared the gate so the crew shoved of the lock wall and headed the last mile to the Green Turtle Bay Resort with Gammel Dansk following closely behind.


By the time they overtook the tow and arrived at the channel entrance to the marina, it was pitch black.  The entrance is a narrow tricky channel that requires an exact line to take from the main channel to the marina channel.  Then almost a 90 degree turn, and then thread a needle between a gap of land to enter the marina basin.

18 GTB (2)

Once in the basin, the crew had to snake around a few docks and past the fuel dock to land in their designated slip.  Did I mention it was pitch dark, and raining.  It was a harrowing 45 minutes before both Gammel Dansk and Still Waters II were docked.  Capt’n Dan of course took all this docking in the dark in stride and it did not seem to phase him one bit.  In fact, he told the skipper, “Welcome to my world.”

In that 45 minutes, Still Waters II got out of the channel twice and found three feet of water, sounding the water level low alarm.  Then the skipper ran over something that rocked the boat pretty good as they tried to thread that needle between the gap in the land.  After thinking about it for a day or two, the skipper thinks he may have run up on the buoy marking the  channel entrance.  Luckily there appears to be no boat damage at this time.

After getting thru the gap, the skipper positioned himself in the middle of the gap so that Gammel Dansk could aim at the boat and pass thru the gap with no issues.  Once both boats were in the marina basin they found the fuel dock and then eventually found their respective slips.

Blurred Lines were waiting for them on the dock and helped get them both safely docked.  Then Blurred Lines invited both crews over for hot soup and cherry pies.  Thanks for making a crazy day end on a positive note.  Doreen and Greg are todays Great Loop heroes.

I did over hear the Admiral tell the skipper she never wants to do that again.

Tuesday, November 6th

After that day yesterday, it was time to take a day to relax, catch up on a few boat projects, and get the laundry caught up.  Unfortunately for the Admiral, she had to use the marina laundry services.  The washing machine on board has died and is no longer serviceable.  The skipper has found a washing machine in Mobile that is small enough to fit thru the salon doors (23 inches) but large enough to be useful.  The skipper is really looking forward to that little project in a few weeks.

Speaking of projects though, there are several Looper boats here at Green Turtle Bay getting some serious work done.  One boater is having to replace his engine because it can no longer build compression.

Another boater has been here for a month replacing an engine due to catastrophic failure.  The first new engine was installed last week, but when tested it turned the wrong direction for a port main engine.  They started removing the new engine this week so he will likely be here another month.

Then there is Bill, on a tug like Gammel Dansk who experienced transmission troubles.  His new transmission came from Turkey and finally got installed over the weekend.  He has been here for 56 days.

Lastly, a boat left today that had engine problems that took 55 days to repair.

After hearing all the war stories about blown engines, transmissions, and other repairs, the skipper is counting his lucky stars that he only has to swap out a washing machine.

Wednesday, November 7th

The crew took time to eat breakfast at the café before setting out down Kentucky Lake.  When they left the marina he confirmed his hunch about running over a buoy, only it was a No Wake buoy rather than a channel marker.  That was good because those No Wake buoys are made of plastic rather than metal.  Hmmm, looks like the buoy is on its side rather than standing up.  I wonder what caused that?

No Wake buoy that the skipper probably hit coming in Friday night in the dark

1 Leaving GTB_LI

While leaving the marina, a second Nordic Tug, Chip Ahoy, decided to join the crew for the run down to Paris Landing State Park.  Capt’n Dan made a comment that the two tugs needed to make sure they were on the proper side of the channel while they traveled so nobody miss took them for navigation aids since their boats are red and green.  Funny Dan.

The Tennessee River continued to dazzle with a full display of fall colors.

3 Tennessee Shore

The crew especially likes when a rock bluff is covered in color.


It was a fairly straight forward run down to the State Park.  Once docked, the crew took a stroll to see what they could discover in the park.  They headed towards the entrance to see if there was some sort of visitor center.  The crew discovered some cages, and upon further investigation found several  owls perched on limbs.

Oscar was found on the ground as a baby and has been raised by humans his whole life.  


These Barred Owls were each missing an eye so would not survive in the wild.


Thursday, November 8th

The crew left with an escort of two Nordic Tugs again.  There are not many marinas along this route so the crew will take what the river has to offer, and today the offer was a short run to Pebble Isle Marina near Paris, Tennessee.

Just outside of town is a 70 foot replica of the Eiffel Tower.  
21 Paris Eifel Tower

Another discovery about Paris has to do with the skipper’s county of birth, Tarrant County.

22 Edward_H._TarrantThe county was named after Edward H. Tarrant who fought in the War of 1812, was a member of the Militia’s of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas at various times.  He also gained fame as an Indian fighter in Texas.  In fact he led a battle in Arlington, Texas just a few miles from the skipper’s childhood home.  The battle has been commemorated with a Texas Historical Marker #5654:





‘Archeological excavations along the course of this Trinity River tributary have unearthed evidence of several prehistoric villages. Artifacts from the area date back almost 9,000 years and represent a culture of food-gatherers and hunters. In the 1830s the Creek served as a sanctuary for several Indian tribes who made frequent raids on frontier settlements. The conflict grew worse in 1841 when major attacks were reported in Fannin and Red River Counties. Brigadier General Edward H. Tarrant (1796-1858) of the Republic of Texas Militia led a company of volunteers in a punitive expedition against Indian villages in this area. On May 24, 1841, following brief skirmishes at several encampments, two scouting patrols were attacked near the mouth of the Creek and retreated to the main camp. Reportedly twelve Indians and one soldier, Captain John B. Denton, were killed. As result of the Battle of Village Creek, many tribes began moving west. Others were later removed under terms of the 1843 Treaty signed at Bird’s Fort (10 mi. NE) which opened the area to colonization. Much of the battle site is now located beneath the waters of Lake Arlington.’

Like many before him, Tarrant was not born in Texas, but he got there just as soon as he could.  But before Texas, he lived in Paris, Tennessee.  Just one last odd observation and connection with this story, the skipper’s Dad was born on May 24th.

Friday, November 9th

It was early to rise and time to shove off the dock at first light.  The crew has a long day ahead to make the next marina which is 62 miles up stream.  The crew is marina hopping because the nighttime temperatures are too cold for overnight on the anchor.

And yes, you read that correctly, up stream.   The Tennessee River forms on the east side of Knoxville and flows southwest into Alabama, where it then turns and heads northwest and becomes the largest tributary for the Ohio River.  The section that the crew is currently cruising is the section that runs northwest.  So even though the crew is mostly travelling south, they are travelling up bound on the Tennessee River.

The cruise today was sprinkled with rain for the first several hours.  Then it was sprinkled with some interesting rock formations, Bald Eagle sightings, and homes.

The Rocks



Bald Eagles

15 Bald Eagle



17 Lighthouse

20 Home

The crew stopped for the night at Clifton Marina.  While there, the skipper observed Tori work with Capt’n Dan and continues to be impressed by the dog.  Once landed, Tori led Dan ashore so she could relieve herself.  Upon their return, she took the same path back to Gammel Dansk, though alternate paths were available.  Later in the evening, the two crews shared a burger dinner in the café, and once again, Tori took Dan the same route and in the back door of the café.  When dinner was over, Dan headed for the front door.  Tori was having none of that and stood her ground.  When Dan reached the end of the leash he felt the tension.  Dan gave Tori a command but she ignored the command and responded by giving the taught leash a couple of tugs signaling Dan, “we are not going that way.”  Dan then headed back over towards Tori and she led them out the back door they had entered by and returned to the boat.  Makes the skipper wonder who really is on the leash, the dog or Dan?

Saturday, November 10th

The crew had one more long run to make today so it was up and out at first light again.  The first step on the dock for the skipper was a bit slick as he discovered a frost build up due to the overnight low temperatures.

Prepping to leave at 0600

23 Early Start from Cliifton

The two Nordic Tugs would be challenged today to motor against the head current.  When the boats got back in the main channel it was obvious that the river was running harder than yesterday, speed over ground was down to 5.5 mph.  As the day progressed the speed just continued to drop while maintaining the same throttle speed.  As they approached the lock and dam at Pickwick the current really accelerated which caused the boats to move at a snails pace.  At one point the skipper commented that he could walk faster than they were moving over the water, to wit:

  1. Mile 203, speed 4.5 mph
  2. Mile 204, speed 3.3 mph
  3. Mile 205, speed 2.7 mph
  4. Mile 206, speed 2.3 mph………. arrive at Lock at mile 206.5

The water being released at the Pickwick Dam, 91,000 standard cubic feet per second (scfs) 

33 Pickwick Dam

The skipper later learned that the water level behind the dam had continued to rise all day Friday while releasing water at 71,000 scfs, hence the increased flow rate that they saw on Saturday.  The skipper checked the lake level on Sunday and it continues to rise, so they have again raised the release rate to 94,000 scfs.  With all the rain, the lake authority has there hands full trying to reach the winter pool levels.

Eventually, all three boats made it inside the lock where they got floated up on a bollard 43 feet.  When they came out of the lock it was too late to make Aqua Yacht Harbor in daylight, so they pulled into the Pickwick Landing State Park and called it a day.

However, along the route today the crew did pass some interesting rock formations and historic sights.

Swallow Bluff

24 Swallow Bluff.JPG

Chalk Bluff, that clay must be the inspiration for the orange color for the Tennessee Volunteers

27 Chalk Bluff

House above the Chalk Bluff


At mile 189, the crew passed by a home built in 1830, Cherry Mansion.  The home was originally built and presented as a wedding present to Sarah and her husband, W.H. Cherry.  The home was also General Grant’s Headquarters on April 6, 1862 when the southern forces attacked the union forces 10 mile upstream to begin the bloody battle of Shiloh.  It was estimated that 23,000 men lost their lives in the two day battle.

Cherry Mansion



The Shiloh National Military Park runs along the banks of the Tennessee River for a little over a mile where some of the most deadly fighting took place on April 6 and 7, 1862.  The union forces fell back during the first day’s fighting to the area known as Pittsburgh Landing.  The confederates took a break from the fighting overnight which allowed the union troops to re-enforce their troops and launch a counter attack the next morning.  By the end of the second day of fighting both sides were exhausted.  The confederate troops retreated during the second night and the union troops choose not to pursue them, thus ending the battle.

Pittsburgh Landing

31 Pittsburgh Landing

Boat Name of the Week

Pat’s Summer Cottage is way too far north in cold weather to be a summer cottage.  These are Looper’s on their way to warmer weather in Florida.

28 Pat's Summer Cottage

Next Week –

The crew will spend a few days at Aqua Yacht Harbor completing a few boat projects while they wait for some very cold weather to pass.  Cruising in 20 degree weather is not much fun so they will wait till Wednesday to set out down the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

They will then travel three days down to Columbus where they hope to share turkey with the locals at the Columbus Marina.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

3 Comments on “Kold Kentucky Lake

  1. It has been a pleasure cruising with you. We truly hope you catch up to us eventually. Hopefully we will spend time together relaxing in the Keys over the winter!


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