The crew left the comfort of the Columbus Marina and made way north on the Tenn-Tom Waterway to begin to stage for their Ohio River Adventure. After one night at anchor, near the Wilkins Lock, the crew pulled into Bay Springs Marina to discover 30 gallons of fuel in the engine room bilge. It took two days to clean that mess up, and correct the cause. After the cleanup was complete, the crew next ventured to Aqua Yacht Harbor where they ‘discovered’ The Outpost. They next moved to Clifton where they enjoyed conversing with Susan, one of the new owners of the marina, while they had a sumptuous hamburger. They concluded this week by navigating up to Pebble Island Marina and dodging some 300 plus pontoon boats plying the Tennessee River.
As a reminder to the virtual crew members, the skipper posts the history of the areas they travel through on this blog each Sunday afternoon. In addition, he also maintains a Travel Map that is updated at the end of each day’s cruise. The Travel Map has a short summary of the day’s journey, pictures, and the Captain’s Log. Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see the daily updates.
The crew has been asked to speak and facilitate various sessions for America’s Great Loop Cruising Association Spring Rendezvous. This has necessitated that the crew have a good internet signal on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Not an easy task to find in this remote area of the US. As such, they have been Marina hopping slowly north as they simultaneously wait for the Marinas along the Ohio River to place their docks back in the water prior to Memorial Day weekend.
In his spare time, the skipper decided to go back and calculate the total miles they have cruised to date:
This provides for a grand total of 30,719 miles before the start of the Ohio River Adventure for the 2021 cruising season. Which then begs the question, Why travel to Pittsburgh via the Ohio River? Answer, so that Still Waters II can float in waters of Indiana and West Virginia. These are the last two states east of the Mississippi River she has never visited.
Speaking of states, how many states west of the Mississippi River has she visited? You might recall that the crew took her to the end of navigation on the Mississippi River in 2018. Along the way, she visited Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota west of the Mississippi River.
The day started like most days on the Loop with the skipper in the engine room performing fluid checks and general look around for anything unusual. With the checks complete with no abnormalities noticed, the skipper fired up the engines and disconnected shore power and lines. The crew only made about 38 miles over seven hours because they spent two hours negotiating four locks. After the 84 foot ride up the Whitten Lock, the crew docked at Bay Springs Marina. The skipper hooked back to shore power and went to the office to check-in.
Upon his return, the Admiral asked him what he had sprayed in the cabin because it really smelled bad. (First clue that something was amiss.) The skipper denied any wrong doing and returned to the helm to close out the day’s cruise. Part of this activity is determining how much fuel they burned. He calculated the fuel burn and then went to the fuel gages to verify the result. (Second clue that something was amiss.) With a dumbfounded look on his face, he was trying to figure out how the port engine appeared to have burned 30 gallons more fuel than starboard. He quickly added clue 1 (bad smell) with clue 2 (missing 30 gallons of fuel) and guessed he had a fuel leak. Unfortunately, this was immediately confirmed when he opened the engine room hatch and noticed the fuel several inches above the floor covering the bilge.
All the skipper could imagine in that moment was how large the fine would be if that 30 gallons of fuel found its way to the lake via a bilge pump. He immediately removed power to the engine room bilge pump, then went and checked the bilges forward and aft of the engine room. Good news, no fuel in the bilges with installed automatic float switch activated pumps.
The next step in this miserable nightmare was to deliver the bad news about fuel in the bilge to the office and ask for help to recover the fuel. The owner assigned a mechanic the chore of bailing fuel for the last three hours of his shift. After the fuel was removed and a general look around to locate the leak was unsuccessful, the skipper noticed the return valve to the generator fuel tank was cracked open. Further investigation uncovered a fuel overflow trail to the bilge. So it now appeared that the port engine was returning fuel to the generator fuel tank and back pressuring the carburetor causing the generator to leak fuel to the bilge.
The skipper closed the valve and fired up the engines and no leak was found. Nice when there is an easy fix to a seemingly complex problem. Thank you God. The skipper has now locked that valve closed and then spent the majority of the next day cleaning the engine room bilge. The crew has run another 100 miles and no more fuel has appeared in the bilge. A huge thank you to Bay Springs Marina.
Normally, large projects such as the Pickwick Lock & Dam are named after historical figures famous in the area in which the construction project is being built. Previously, the skipper had tried to determine who the Pickwick Lake, Lock, and Dam were named after. The search ended with little satisfaction as the locals could only recall that is was named for the local community, Pickwick Landing, back in 1934 when the Dam was under construction.
The answer to the mystery was revealed at an eatery named The Outpost. The crew went to test the venue’s world class reputation for banana pudding and other culinary delights. The banana pudding must be good because they were sold out at 1400, so the skipper settled for key lime pie while the Admiral tried the coconut cream pie. Both were excellent and did not disappoint. But back to naming Pickwick.
On the back of the menu, the skipper found the answer to the question he had been seeking. The Lake, Lock, and Dam were indeed named after the local community. Pickwick Landing took its name from the local post office. The area’s first postmaster was fond of the works of Charles Dickens and had named the post office Pickwick in honor of the author’s first novel, “The Pickwick Papers.” Nothing but the dam facts found here.
The crew would need to be in a location with good internet connection on Thursday evening for a Q&A session with the AGLCA Spring Rendezvous. They picked the Clifton Marina largely on the memory of the skipper, not that he remembered a good internet connection, but that the on-site restaurant served a very good hamburger. Upon arrival, he went to check-in at the office and quickly took note that things had changed for the better. He discovered that the marina had new ownership and there was a new sheriff in town, named Susan. She assured the skipper that her chef would produce a burger much better than last visit. But, he had better arrive before 1800 because “last order” was at 1815, not 1816, but 1815. Did I mention there was a new sheriff in town.
As directed, the crew got their orders in before 1815 and were greeted by a magnificent burger presented by Chef Jeremy. He tried to persuade the crew to try his bread pudding and cheese cake, but surprisingly the crew turned him down. Well, till the next day when they went back and had an afternoon snack. Oh, and one last thing about Chef Jeremy, he also is the marina maintenance man. Now that is an amazing set of diverse skills.
The skipper engaged Susan in conversation and asked how she came to own the marina. The story was fascinating and I will share a few of the high points.
The new owners delayed the purchase until the water receded, inspections of the property were made, and necessary repairs were completed. In addition to the repairs, the new owners have made wonderful additions to the marina and are working hard to provide excellent customer service. The crew wishes them well in pursuing their Clifton Marina dream.
When the crew arrived at Pickwick Lock, there was a strange looking pirate ship circling and waiting on a tow to leave the lock. There was also a tow in the que waiting for its turn to lock through. The skipper called the Lock Master and was pleasantly surprised that they would get to lock through with the pirate ship as soon as the tow left the lock. The crew followed the pirate ship into the lock and learned that looks can be deceiving, the pirate ship turned out to be a replica of the Pinta, one of Christopher Columbus’ three ships on his maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
The crew will continue to the north end of Kentucky Lake early in the week, and then sit still till after the Memorial Day Weekend. No reason to be out on the water with all the crazy weekend warriors on the water for a three day celebration.