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Section 12

The Tennessee River

(Photos taken October 10 - 24, 1999)

First of all, let us say that the Tennessee River is simply spectacular.  We've had almost endless vistas like the one that follows.  With the first hints of fall colors, it is provided a source of continual enjoyment.  I just love this photo!

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Our first stop is Kentucky Dam Marina.  This marina is filled with large houseboats--huge houseboats!  Note the stern of the ones below.  Visible are a waterslide, satellite TV, Jacuzzi tub, big gas BBQ, etc.  These things are up to 100' long and have EVERYTHING.

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This marina is so big many of the boats have their own golf cart on the finger piers waiting to run them where-ever.

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This one is huge--and there is a full deck above.  Power is typically two inboard engines of the 300 hp type.

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While at Kentucky Dam Marina we saw a sister Hatteras with what appears to be a solution to the 208V problem.  This "box" has two auto-transformers which convert 208V to 240V.  We have the manufacturer's name and will check it out.

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Further down on the Tennessee, we passed an old landing building that was submerged when the dams were added to the Tennessee by the TVA.

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Wheeler Lake is enormous--deep, clean water for almost as far as the eye can see.

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At Cuba Landing, we turned into this small creek which was hardly visible from the main channel of the river.  There were no signs marking it, only the location noted.

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Once inside the lagoon, the marina was another huge facility with anything you could want.

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Further up the Tennessee, we encountered these big cliffs with homes perched right at the edge.  Not a place for sleep walkers.

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In the Pickwick Lock, the sailboat ahead of us (as well as a big Hatteras beside us) got loose in the lock because they lost their tether lines.  (Note the woman in the bow trying to keep the bow pulpit off the lock wall.)  The turbulence in these big locks is great and lines must be secured.

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Pickwick Tenn-Tom Marina was the next stop, and it is still another first class marina.   Fred Meyers, author of the wonderful river cruising books makes this home port and we can see why.  We missed Fred while we were here but hope to catch up with him when we return down the Tennessee.

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The Niņa (a replica) also docked at the marina the evening we were there.  This is quite a ship, but we could hardly imagine crossing an ocean in it.  Makes you appreciate the courage of the early explorers. They were ready to depart a short time before us, so we helped slip the lines and get them underway.

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Just before we entered the Wilson Lock we encountered a "temporary bridge".   The bridge is a series of barges laced together.  When you want to pass, you call the bridge and they send a driver out to the small tug which stands by.

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The tug pushes the bridge out of the way.  It is "pinned" to one shore by a huge hinge so it pivots out of the way.

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This view is taken just after we pass the "bridge"--not the tug pushing it out of the way.  It works.

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Then, almost immediately, we encounter the Wilson Lock--for a while this was the biggest lift lock in the world (now there are two others slightly larger).  From a distance, here two miles, it is still  huge.  The bridge in the background is a four-lane interstate highway bridge.  The doors are beginning to open.  this thing is scary, it's huge!

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We enter the lock alone.  It will lift us almost as high as a 10 story building (93 feet, to be exact!).  Bill calculated that it takes more than 50,000,000 gallons of water to fill the chamber.

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The doors begin to close behind us.  The doors appear to be tilted because of distortion due to the distance from the camera to the doors.  The doors are easily eight feet thick.  The hydraulic cylinder that pushes the door closed appeared to be more than five feet in diameter.   The chamber is strangely dark when you're closed inside.  The GPS ceased to work since it could acquire signal from only one satellite (instead of 7 or more spread across the sky).

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Here Bill watches the line lashed to a floating bollard.  The Interlude is tied with a small loop of line to the bollard.  Then the bollard and the boat float up together. For all the height and size, it is amazingly easy for the two of us to manage the boat in these locks.

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Here we exit the lock.  Note the highway bridge ahead of us.

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Back to the Tennessee River and endless beauty.

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Occasionally we see cottages.  This one has a beautiful boathouse and is quite a spread.

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Just before we entered the Nickajack Lock, we passed this gorgeous ancient yacht.   We don't have the specifics, but this boat could easily date from the 30's or 40's, and was in immaculate condition.  They took pictures of us as we took pictures of them.  Mutual admiration, I guess.

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From Nickajack Lake to Chatanooga is an area called "the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee", and this is typical of the vistas--foothills in the foreground,   becoming mountains in the distance. Spectacular.

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We have been most priviledged to have Bill's mother and her husband, Ed, on board for most of a week.  Mom, who lives in San Diego, quickly discovered the helm seat, and from that time there was no stopping her.  By Sunday, it was "admiral mom" and her aide de camp.  We're glad they got to see some of this beautiful river with us.

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The bluffs on the river banks rise almost 2000 feet.  Combined with early fall color, it is about as good as cruising can get.

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We passed one of the hydraulic tugs--these tugs lower their pilot houses when bridges are low, then raise them for visiibility when they can.  They are raised above the barges using a system of hydraulic cylinders.  Pretty clever.

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We tied-up at the municipal dock in Chattanooga and visted the aquarium, had lunch, did some sight seeing.  A very pleasant town.  In the photo Interlude waits patiently for us to return.  The photo was taken from the aquarium.

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This is the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.  It's worth a trip out of your way to see it.  It is the first aquarium that features fresh water fish as well as salt water specimins.  The design of the aquarium is noteworthy, and we enjoyed a couple of hours touring it.

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