This week starts with some backtracking and more engine challenges. We retrace our route from Nashville, TN to Grand Rivers, KY by going down the Cumberland River. Having the current with us is a nice change and we make good time, clearing the one lock with no delays or drama, YAY! Being back at Green Turtle Bay Marina sort of feels like a homecoming even though all the boats we know are long gone.
More than 200 hours have elapsed since our last oil change and so we borrow the marina’s courtesy car and make a run to Walmart where we re-provision and buy all the oil and other junk for optimal engine care and feeding.
On the way home, we comment to each other about how well the engines have been running and about how we have come in well below budget for two months running since we have had to make no repairs. BIG MISTAKE!!! The karma gods strike quickly!
Jerry warms up the starboard engine and changes the oil and filters in record time. He is getting to be quite the diesel mechanic (he brags that he can even spell diesel now!). When he goes to warm up the port engine – nothing – nada- zilch! He tries everything he can possibly think of, fearing that it may be a bad solenoid or starter in which case we might be stuck here for days waiting on parts to be delivered.
He goes to the Boat Works part of the marina and the guy there takes one look at him and says, “Don’t even sit down, I’m telling you right now that I can’t help you! You guys (meaning Loopers) have been nothing but trouble this year…busted shafts, nicked props a record number of tows off groundings out in the lake. I am way behind in winterizing boats and I can’t spare any of my mechanics. If we don’t get these boats finished, I’m liable for the damage a freeze might do. I gotta tell you, I am Loopered-out!”
Jerry explains that he is pretty sure the problem is not mechanical but is electrical and the guy softens, saying that he CAN help with that and get an electrician to us first thing in the morning.
Jerry watches YouTube videos and the next morning we work together and are successful in literally hotwiring our boat, starting it by bypassing the solenoid! We are very proud of ourselves but don’t tell anyone that we are now in possession of the kind of know-how that would allow us to actually steal a boat! To us, the fact that we are able to do this means the solenoid and starter should be okay.
The electrician actually shows up when promised and confirms that our parts are fine but we have a broken wire between the starter switch and the solenoid. He rewires it and off he goes after the engine starts up with a roar, YAY!!! And the best news is the bill doesn’t break the bank. Jerry changes the remaining filters and oil on that engine while I use the first really sunny, warm day in an eternity to super clean the decks and polish the stainless rails and stanchions. The boat looks better inside and out by the time we are done.
The time has changed now and it gets dark early but we throw a dinner party anyway since the weather is nice. We have our friends from Sadaya II (a powercat on a three-year, world tour that began in France) and from Moon Dance (a fellow Florida Looper) over for a candle-lit dinner on the flying bridge. We laugh for hours, really enjoying each other’s company and it is sad when we all decide we’d better get to sleep since we plan on an early morning departure to get onto the Tennessee River.
It is hard to believe that we are now really and truly on our way home. The Tennessee river is very wide but our channel hugs the eastern shore where the trees wear their glorious fall foliage. It is unfortunate that we have a gloomy gray day here but thankfully it isn’t raining, which was forecast.
We are traveling upriver but there is little to no current, thankfully. We have an uneventful 73 mile run to Pebble Isle Marina in New Johnsonville, TN, where we pick our way carefully in through a VERY narrow channel and dock.
It turns out that the reason the channel is so narrow and twisty is because we are actually driving through/over the main streets of the old town of Johnsonville, which was literally flooded when the Tennessee Valley Authority built the Kentucky Dam in 1944. Some of you might recall the George Clooney movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” that was set in this area at about that time.
The forecast is for a low of 27 in a couple of nights and I am now ready to get moving further south. We are more than ever confirmed Floridians – hating the cold that makes our hands not work well and the constant gloomy skies. We need lots of light for optimal functioning apparently!
We cruise most of the day with no locks and arrive in Clinton where we reunite with 2 sailboats we have been with off and on and our whole crew of 9 enjoys a fabulous treat of homemade French cuisine aboard Sadaya II. Thank you, Cat and Gilles!!!!
Photo Credit: our new friend, Jackie (second from left) who is doing the Loop with her dad and 2 kids who are “boat-schooling” this year!
The morning dawns really COLD AGAIN! UGH! We actually have ICE crystals on the strata-glass!
We are SO happy to have brought our heating pads which work well as seat heaters, foot warmers and which draw so little voltage that we can actually use them any time. Have I mentioned how much I HATE winter clothes!!!?!?!? The constant layering of socks and sweaters and having to wear leggins under my jeans! UGH!! I HATE THIS!!!
This is us trying to hover in the current near the lock!
Photo credit: Catherine Szpirglas Toulo
We made it through the Pickwick Lock, after jockeying against a 5 mph current for over 2 hours (the hydro electric plant was really cranking to provide heat for the coming frosty temperatures) waiting for a tug that couldn’t get his barges in or out of the lock – sheesh – I think he had his learner’s permit! The delay there after a 7 hour ride caused us to have to come into Aqua Yacht Marina in Luka, Mississippi in the dark, which we are not big fans of but all went well and after today, we will have fewer than a dozen locks left to get to the Gulf and hopefully some warmer weather! Sorry for the whining 🙂