Great Loop – Week 18 Tennessee River

The last time we stopped for more than two weeks was probably in Simon’s Town in South Africa. That was nine months ago! To stop for a while to get a few things done and ‘smell the roses’ is really worthwhile.

The forest surrounding the marina has changed in just three weeks. Leaves of bright golds, vivid reds and warm oranges changing with the season. The mercury dipped close to zero Celsius last weekend and fortunatel Blue Heeler has 110v as well as 240v wiring so connected to shore power we could run our small heater rather than our more powerful Webasto heater. It doesn’t take long to heat inside and before long we’re warm and cosy. This is the coldest we’ve experienced so far on our travels so far and I don’t mind it at all quite frankly. It’s perfect weather for working around the boat without having pools of sweat running off your brow and down your back. The water temperature is surprisingly warm, around 20degC.

Scott, Wayne and Jeff at KDM

Scott, Wayne and Jeff at KDM

Many of the boaters at the marina have winterised their vessels and returned to warm homes. During the winter to avoid the ice forming on the hull they install ‘bubblers’ which keeps the water around the boat from freezing. Although the marina is virtually empty of people, our last weekend we were fortunate to meet some of them before they left. Before the sun dipped too low to bring cold conditions, Jeff, Herb and Cathy, Ken and Jan from nearby boats treated us to hearty soups, corn bread, cookies and a delicious key-lime pie for us all to enjoy. I took a dish of Aussie beef chilli which was probably different to local chilli beans. It was a great night spent with friendly people.

Despite the cooler weather each day the sky is blue and the sun is warm, with little rain at all during our stay. Before leaving the marina I enjoyed a bike-ride to Grand River’s village market to buy some last minute groceries and post a birthday gift to our niece in Australia. As I was riding back to the boat, a large wolfish dog rushed out from nowhere growling and gnashing his teeth at my legs as I sped down a hill. Yikes! I kept riding fast as I had a pannier full of chicken, mince meat and hickory smoked pork sausages in my bags – it would have looked quite comical if the dog had have grabbed and run off with a chain of my sausages!

The radar was finally lifted into place on Tuesday after Wayne received the stainless steel mounting plate. On Wednesday with new mates Jeff and Scott waving us off from the dock, we motored out of the KDM to begin our journey south along the Tennessee River.


 Our journey south now takes us through the Bible Belt of the U.S. From mile 23 on the Tennessee River to mile 206 at Pickwick Lake then a little further on at mile 215 we leave the lake and enter the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The Tenn-Tom as it’s known begins at mile 450 and ends at Mobile, Alabama at mile 0. (Note that the miles are statutory, not nautical, as has been the case throughout all the inland waters).

Along the way and before we reach the ocean, we need to learn how to use and be confident in our new Multi Function Device. All our gadgets need to ‘talk’ to each other and Wayne’s done a great job as usual connecting it up. The MFD will have to earn its stripes though. Until we are entirely comfortable with it and certain it’s working as intended, we’ll continue using our previous navigation equipment. By the end of the second day though we’d tweaked a few of the bells and whistles and it seemed to be working as intended.

Once we get to Mobile we’ll need to do more work on the boat – haul out and paint the hull before entering the Gulf. But that’s a few weeks away so we’ll just enjoy our trip down the Tennessee River for now.



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Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
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