Monday, November 8, 2010

Days 73       Bay Springs Marina, New Site, Mississippi, MM 412 Yellow Creek
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Easy boating on the Divide Cut

           Cruising down the Divide Cut

Entering the Divide Cut with "Lady Royal" in the distance

Frost warnings last night, so we waited for the sea fog to clear before heading out.  We left Aqua at the same time as a boat called “Lady Royal” and headed down Yellow Creek.  At mile 443 we entered the 24-mile long “Divide Cut”.  Without the Divide Cut there would be no Tenn-Tom.  Instead, we would have to travel down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.    
According to one of our guide books:
·       the first known recommendation to build a canal linking the Tennessee and the Tombigbee rivers was made by a French explorer about 1760 or 1770;
·       In 1810, Knox County , TN, petitioned Congress to build a waterway;
·        In 1819, Alabama hired an engineer to survey its rivers for the waterway;
·       In 1874 the first federal survey was done;
·       In 1913 another study was conducted, but found the project to be too costly;
·       In 1971 the project was finally authorized and construction began in 1972;
·       12 years and $2 billion dollars later, the Tennessee-Tombigbee was completed and opened in January 1985. 
·       This was the largest civil works project ever undertaken by the Corps of Engineers and is five time longer and has a total lift 3.5 times greater than the Panama Canal.   
It was a beautiful day and the water was as smooth as glass.  We put the boat on autopilot and glided through the fall colors of Yellow Creek.
We arrived at Bay Springs Marina about 3:00.  This marina was built in 1982, three years before the Tenn-Tom officially opened (that’s B.W. – before water).   Imagine building a marina when there is no water in sight and waiting 3 years for the water to come.    

Days 72       Aqua Yacht Harbor, Iuka, Mississippi, MM 448.7 Yellow Creek
Friday, November 5, 2010
It was a breezy, cool fall day with up to 2-foot waves on the Tennessee River.  When we made the turn onto Yellow Creek, we ended our side trip on the Tennessee River and resumed the Great Loop.  Mile marker 215.2 on the Tennessee River equals mile marker 450.7 on the Tennessee-Tombigbee.  It is 450.7 miles (and 12 locks) down the Tennessee-Tombigbee to Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.
We arrived at Aqua Yacht Harbor and met up with friends Pat and Dick Danly on “Gypsea” who have been here for a week “on the hard” getting repaired.   After a cocktail on Gypsea, we enjoyed dinner together at “Jon’s Pier”. 
Days 71       Florence, Alabama, MM 256.1 Tennessee River
Thursday, November 4, 2010

     Wilson Lock gate and retaining wall

"Lazy Dolphin" and "Negotiator" leaving Wilson Lock

      Tied to the upper bollard

Wilson Lock bollard chamber

Near the entrance to Florence Harbor Marina

Looking up at the Renaissance Tower (360 Grille)

     Jim and Cody, our waiter at 360 Grille

Our departure day!  We left Joe Wheeler about 7:30 with “Lazy Dolphin” and “Negotiator”, made it through Wheeler Lock and Wilson Lock, and arrived at Florence Harbor Marina about 11:00.  We were warmly welcomed back by Eva, the marina manager.  She had a great idea to post the boat cards of all the transient boaters, number them, and then mark their home port on a map of the United States with the corresponding number.  It was fun to see all of the locations across the country of boaters who have stayed at Florence.  And the very first boat card is “Dream Catcher”!  Thanks, Eva! 
We borrowed the courtesy car and shopped ‘til we dropped at Office Depot, Best Buy, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart. 
In the evening we enjoyed wine and cheese at the “360 Grille” – a 360-degree revolving restaurant on the top of the 26-story Renaissance Tower operated by the Marriott Hotel.   The view of Florence is spectacular – including Wilson Dam.  Great service by our waiter Cody. 

Days 70       Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, Alabama, M 277 Tennessee River
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
We spent the day working on plans for continuing the loop. 
Our last docktail party at Joe Wheeler.  The weather was crisp, but it was fun to toast to a great rendezvous and new friends. 

Days 69        Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, Alabama,  MM 277 Tennessee River
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
“Looper Crawls” at 11:00 am for those of us loopers left on our dock.  We toured “Next Endeavour”, “Bade Boomer”, and “More $tuff”, while they toured “Dream Catcher”.   As always, it’s fun to look at boats.
At 5:00 we all gathered for docktails on “Next Endeavour”.    Thanks to Colleen and Stan for the hospitality.    

Days 64 – 68        Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, Alabama,  MM 277 Tennessee River
Thursday, October 28 through Monday, November 1, 2010

 Our pier

 Our pier at Wheeler

 Carlton and Becky Moore "Seamoore" start the Great Loop


Gary Kramer from the magazine "Hearland Boating" stopped by to interview us.

Pat Danly waves from "Gypsea"

This plane pulled into a slip across from us
Back to working on the boat and preparing for our next leg of the journey – down the Tenn-Tom Waterway to Mobile, Alabama.  Numerous boats left Joe Wheeler after the rendezvous, headed in the same direction, so we decided to give them a head start.   In a few days the locks, anchorages, and marinas will not be so busy.  We have taken advantage of spectacular fall weather to enjoy walks on the park trails.  
On Monday evening we enjoyed dinner at Daniella’s on the Park with fellow loopers Leslie and Greg Marsh (“Amalia”), Barb and Skip Moor (“Moor $tuff”), and Chris and Bruce Bade (“Bade Boomer”).

Days 60 - 63        Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville, Alabama,  MM 277 Tennessee River       

Sunday, October 24 through Wednesday, October 27, 2010

James Wade Hampton standing next to a monument to Joe Wheeler who served in the Confederate Army under Wade Hampton 

Scenic view from end of dock.

Halloween pirates Ryann, Jaxon, and Morgan collect booty on "rrrrrr" pier.

Julaine and Fred Eddy who will start the loop in July 2011.

Jim with Fred Myers, author of numerous guide books for boating in this region.

Impromptu jam session after the rendezvous.  Instruments included several dulcimers, guitars, and harmonicas. 


         Bobbie & Keith  "Kim Jo III"

Joe Wheeler lodge from the laundry facility

Jim exploring the trails at Wheeler

One of the many cabins for rent at Joe Wheeler State Park

 "Dragonfly" a hybrid electric canal boat with solar panels

 Inside of "Dragonfly"

Joe Wheeler pool & marina

Joe Wheeler pool

The AGLCA Rendezvous included numerous speakers, a variety of topics, and valuable information about waterways from Pickwick, Alabama, to Norfolk, Virginia.  We enjoyed interesting stories and helpful tips from fellow loopers.  A large number of loopers opened their boats for tours during the “Looper Crawls” which allowed us to see a wide variety of boats.  We were also able to purchase books, charts, and other items at the AGLCA ship store.   Very productive 4 days. 

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