2006 Adventure UPDATES


UPDATE #28 10/22 thru 10/31

  Howdy Everybody,

    We are very interested in hearing from ya’all.  If you have missed out on any of the previous emails and would like us to re-send them, please let us know.

Please let me know if these emails containing pictures are too large and we will send you a version with text only.

The period 4/1 thru 10/21 has been covered in Updates 1 through 27.

 UPDATE #28   10/22/06 through 10/31/06.

     As you may remember, we have been traveling and exploring along the Cumberland River in Kentucky and Tennessee.  At the last UPDATE, we had spent the night at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, KY.  We now continue our adventure from the Cumberland River.



      After a very enjoyable evening in Grand Rivers, Kentucky at the Green Turtle Bay Marina, we were underway again.  The marina, located on the Cumberland River in Lake Barkley, is one of the most enjoyable stops along the “Loop” route.  Exiting the marina channel at Mile 31.7, we would only travel this river for less than a mile before entering the Barkley Canal.  This one and a half mile canal connects Lake Barkley with Kentucky Lake.  As you may remember, the huge dam just three miles downriver from there formed Kentucky Lake.  At Mile 25.4, we started upriver on the Tennessee.  This river is only one of four that flows “backward”.  In other words, you are traveling upstream when heading south.  Kentucky Lake is very wide and has an unspoiled, rural feeling to it.  All of the land to the east is conservation property established by President Kennedy.  No private development will be allowed.  There are numerous “gunkholes” and serene anchorages located in little bays.  I can remember very well the enjoyable times that my kids and the family sailed and cruised in these secluded spots.

     We transited the state line at mile 60.3 thus entering the State of Tennessee.

     Our departure time had been 10:30 am under overcast skies and 40 degrees temperatures.  We operated three hours from the upper helm station and two hours at the lower helm.  At 3:15 pm, we were pulling into Paris Landing State Park in Tennessee. 




      It was another very chilly night.  Judy prepared one of my favorite dinners.  It is comprised of boneless Chicken breast sautéed in a mushroom gravy sauce.  It is always so tender and scrumptious.  Tonight she served it steaming hot with herb stuffing and corn niblets.  She sure knows the way to a man’s heart.



     After dinner, Fred worked on catching up with the log UPDATES while Judy watched video episodes of “Married With Children”.  The new TV sure is nice.




     The night had been clear and cold.  Although it was forecasted to be below freezing, it only got into the high 30’s.  It sure is nice to have heaters on board.  We have use the two small, ceramic heaters for the most part.  We also use the main heat pump when we want to warm up the whole boat quickly.

     At 8:55 am, we were underway from this tranquil spot.  Just as we cleared the harbor, four small deer were spotted at the waters edge.  All along the banks, we are treated to a parade of beautiful colors as the foliage displays its fall wardrobe.



     By 3:15 pm, we had woven our way into the channel for Pebble Isle Marina.  This place has drawn accolades from nearly every “Looper” for their charm and hospitality.  Already at the transient dock, “Trinity”, “Triton’s Trumpet”, “Gold Watch”, and others were secured.  Some of these folks had already been here two weeks.



       Gold Watch liked it so much that they have decided to keep the boat here all winter and resume the trip early next year. 

     Our dear friends from Rockport, Texas, Sam and Donna Jansma, liked it here too.  They now keep their boat here permanently and commute the 16-hour trip by car.  Hopefully, we will get to visit with them in early November when they travel this way. 

     The marina offers transients the use of a courtesy car for errands.  We borrowed it for an hour or so to make a Wally World run (Wal-Mart).

         Also here permanently are Al and Linda Fronczak, from “Adventure II”.  As you may remember, we had the pleasure of meeting them on the Illinois River and again in St. Charles, MO.  We kind of heard a rumor that they may get the urge to visit Florida later this year.  We had a lovely evening aboard AMARSE just chatting with Al and Linda.





     Last night has been the coldest one yet.  The forecast freeze warning was accurate this time.  With temperatures below freezing, a low “sea fog” had developed over the warmer water.  With the colorful foliage backdrop, it is a truly beautiful sight.  A coating of frost and ice covered the boats and the docks making conditions very slippery.



    Our planned departure for 7 am had to be delayed until 8:40 am.  Ten minutes later, we rejoined the channel at Mile 96.1 under nearly clear skies.




     About 11 am, the boat started to wander off course erratically.  I disconnected the autopilot to find that we had no steering.  I tried the lower helm to no avail.  The autopilot was inoperative too.

We were very near to Cuba Landing, TN.  Using differential thrust from AMARSE’s twin engines, I maneuvered her through the narrow channel and up to the dock.



  The helpful folks from the marina were on hand to help.  Their mechanic, Billy Baugas, was there and jumped right in on the problem.  He quickly diagnosed the difficulty by finding a massive leak in the autopilot hydraulic pump.  The leak had allowed all the fluid to drain out.  It appears that an allen-head screw had come loose and then the pressure had rolled an o-ring.  With a couple of attempts, we were able to re-seat the o-ring. Here is a picture of the culprit.



 The arduous task of filling, bleeding, and restoring the system followed.  We used what special fluid we had and then resorted to using an alternatively approved ATF DEXTRON/MERCON III.  Within a couple of hours, the situation was resolved and we were back in shape for travel.  It was now afternoon and, after a little test run, we returned at 2:15pm to stay the night.




Judy discovered that the missing two quarts of fluid had run down into her food locker and had made quite a mess of things.  We spent the next couple hours cleaning up the spill mess.  It was better to have found it now rather than later.



  The extremely helpful folks at the Cuba Landing Marina lent us the courtesy car for the evening.  They recommended “The Log Cabin Restaurant” located 10 or 12 miles away.  It specialized in country cooking and was very enjoyable.  Judy’s choice of catfish and my choice of country-fried steak were excellent.  It only took a quick glance into the dessert case to convince us to order the pecan pie.  Let me tell you, my friends, that is how to make real southern style pecan pie.  The filling was rich, dark, and loaded with pecans.  I could not have made it better myself.

 POSITION:   MILE 115.5 Tennessee River in Blue Creek at Cuba Landing Marina.




      I was up early at 6:15 am to turn up the heat and put on the coffee.  I must admit that I snuck back under the covers for another fifteen minutes until the cabin warmed a little.  I consulted the equipment manuals and followed the directions to reset the auto pilot settings and calibrations.  At 8:05 am when we cast off the dock, it was still a cold 40 degrees with a high overcast and calm wind.  It only warmed to 55 degrees but it felt much colder in the dampness.  Judy’s recipe for hot chicken soup was a welcome lunch treat.

















      At 3:15 pm, AMARSE had lines holding her to the fuel dock at Clifton Marina.  This location has a relatively low price for fuel so we filled up with 226.2 gallons.  The marina had us move to the over-night spot and then lent us a car to pick up some items at the local market.

      Fresh salad, spinach & cheese ravioli in butter sauce with parmesan cheese, and meatballs were a delicious dinner combination.

      Both “Trinity” and “Triton’s Trumpet” were already there at the marina.





      The inclement weather arrived just as forecasted.  When they are committed enough to say that the chance for rain is 100%, you can begin to believe that maybe they mean it.  Judy prepared a fabulous breakfast of French Toast.  We would not be traveling today so we worked on boat stuff inside and I continued my work on the logs in an attempt to catch up.  The rainy, cold weather required a special menu to stave off the dismal conditions.  I made a big pot of my special recipe “Chili”.  It was meaty and it was great.  Judy baked up a batch of corn muffins.  Yummie!

     The rain continued steadily throughout the night.  The forecast was for more of the same.  This is a good place to be.

     We set up the new TV in the main salon and slid in a DVD disc entitled “Crimson Tide”.  This movie, starring Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, may well be one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.  Full of action and suspense, you find yourself on the edge of your seat more than once.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you watch it as soon as you can.




     Yep, the forecast was right on again.  Rain and more rain.  I had enjoyed the French Toast breakfast so much yesterday that Judy thought that an encore performance would be fully appreciated and it was.  Again, I worked on the logs.  It is the wonderful comments that so many of you have given that fuels my desire to continue writing these updates.  We borrowed the courtesy car for a Wal-Mart run to the city of Savannah about 20 miles away.

     Friday night is a special evening here at the Clifton Marina.  Tammy, the main operations person here, prepares a “Fish Fry” event.  Local people from miles around mosey in to satisfy the irresistible urge for “catfish”, hush puppies, and cole slaw.  Judy said it was great.  I made a meal out of the ice-cold beers from the cooler.





     At 6 am, we heard the first of the fishing boats signaling the beginning of the weekend fishing tournament.  By 6:30 am, the tiny harbor was abuzz with the unique sounds of many, many outboard motors on several dozen bass boats.  At the precise time of the official start, they all roared off in quest of those illusive finned creatures.  I hope they all had good luck.  The weather was clear, calm, and temperatures hovered around 40 degrees.  At 6:55 am, we were off to rejoin the Tennessee River at Mile 158.5.




      As we passed Mile 197.8, we could see a bit of the National Cemetery at Shiloh National Military Park.  It is a solemn reminder of that horrendous two-day battle that took place in April, 1862.  In this early engagement of the Civil War, 13,000 Union soldiers and 10,500 Confederate troops paid the supreme sacrifice in these fields and woods nearby.  The reality of a long, harsh, and devastating war was now evident.



     The current continued to increase as the river narrowed and we neared the end of Kentucky Lake.



  At Mile 206.7, the Pickwick Lock and Dam stands to create another lake above.  We arrived at the lower gate at 1 pm.  Within 55 minutes, in the company of “Rascal”, a vintage Chris Craft motor yacht, we entered the upper pool known as “Pickwick Lake”.  It received its name from the Charles Dickens’ classic “The Pickwick Papers”.




     Within a few miles, we had reached the intersection of the “Tenn-Tom” waterway and the Tennessee River.  After a delightful phone call from our dear friends, Phil and Rose Stewart on “Wingz”, we had agreed to meet them today at Aqua Yacht Harbor Marina just a few miles down the Tenn-Tom.  They have completed their journey up the Tennessee and will be heading south toward their Florida home now.  At 3:15 pm, we arrived to find them already in their slip and waiting for us.  We had a wonderful afternoon chatting and catching up on all the news since our last get together in Canada.

     We dined together at the St. Clair Café at the marina property.  What could be better than good friends and good food?



POSITION: N34 59.409 W088 14.881   YELLOW CREEK near TENN-TOM MILE 448.7.





     The fall time change took place overnight making the sunrise time an hour earlier.  UGH!!  At 6:05 Central Standard Time, we were underway in the early dawn.  At 6:30 am, we had rejoined the Tennessee River at Mile 215.3.  Beautiful patches of sea fog emerged from numerous embayments along the shores of Pickwick Lake heightening the magnificence of this Sunday sunrise.  The placid morning was highlighted by the colorful foliage changes of the deciduous trees decked out in fiery reds, vivid yellows, and deepening golden hues.



     We passed under the Natchez Trace Bridge.  It known for its unique style of design that served as the original pattern for later bridges.  Judy and I had ridden across the top of the span on one of our motorcycle trips last year.  This is a completely different perspective of the same bridge.



     Our first lock for the day was the Wilson Lock at Mile 259.4.  The main chamber lock, completed in 1950’s, is the highest, single-lift lock east of the Mississippi River.  Unfortunately, the gates of this mammoth were severely damaged in a barge collision some months ago.  Fortunately, the original, small, two-chamber lock is still operational.  Because of its size, only one single barge can pass through with each locking.  This has created a huge backlog for over 100 barges currently awaiting sequence.  With the lower priority for pleasure craft, very long waits are not uncommon.  With a few phone calls, we learned that we could possibly be lucky enough to lock through with only an hour or so wait.  We jumped at the opportunity by arriving at the lower wall at 11:40 am.  Miraculously, we entered the first lock at 12:15 pm and exited the second lock stage at 1:25 pm.  A 60-foot Jefferson Motor Yacht, “Rebel Yell”, had joined us for the lifts.



     These huge gate doors form the back lock wall of the upper lock.  The first stage in this lower lock will lift us above the concrete sill, the doors will open to allow us to enter the second chamber then close to allow the water to fill the lock and lift us up through the second stage.



     The turbulence within the older locks was quite intense.  It surpasses any that we have seen so far.  Thanks to Judy’s great techniques, we managed to have a relatively comfortable and safe locking.  (Notice the swirling water in this next picture.)



     To complicate matters even more, the lockmaster has staged the next barge right up at the gate.  We will maneuver around it and the barge will be pushed into the awaiting lock as we motor out into Wilson Lake.



      Our next lock at Mile 274.9 was the Wheeler Lock and Dam.  Being fully operational, we experienced no delay and the cooperative lockmaster had the gates open for our arrival.  After entering the chamber at 3 pm, we were on our way on Wheeler Lake about 48 feet above our entrance only twenty minutes later.



     The scenic beauty of Wheeler Lake is spectacular.



      At 3:50 pm, we backed into slip #4 at the Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama.  It is a very lovely place tucked into a fabulous creek area that is very protected and tranquil.



     When “Liberty Belle”, a 34-foot American Tug, entered the harbor boasting the AGLCA burgee, Judy and I walked over to assist with their dock lines.  During our introductions, we realized that we were in the distinguished company of Fred and Joyce Myers.  As many of you know, Fred Myers is the author of several of the guidebooks that we reference on a daily basis.  It is through his exceptional work that we have been able to enjoy this trip so fully.  His comprehensive guides provide the technical and logistical suggestions for anchorages and marina facilities for travel along the Cumberland River, Tennessee River, and the Tenn-Tom Waterway.  Perhaps even more importantly, he includes extensive historical commentary that brings the waterway to life.  I thoroughly enjoy reading about the origins of this varied topography, the highlights of the Civil War military expeditions, and the development of the navigation systems that have made this delightful cruise possible.  THANKS, Fred!!!!!!!!!!

     Judy and I were thrilled at the Myers’ invitation to join them for dinner at the Lodge.  I could not have enjoyed the evening more.  Fred and Joyce are a wonderful couple whose attitude toward life and living is both joyful and adventuresome. Fred’s efforts  and insight have made all the difference to maximize our appreciation of these natural wonders.





     The clock showed 5:55 am as we slipped away from the dock.  Ten minutes later, we had rejoined the main channel in Wheeler Lake of the Tennessee River at Mile 277.0.  With sunrise a full hour earlier now because of the changeover to Standard Time, we had both found it somewhat difficult to “rise and shine”.  Somehow, we did and soon we were happily enjoying this glorious morning.



     A little after 9 am, we called for the railroad bridge in Decatur, AL to open.



     Decatur, AL is the home of this famous name product.



     The scenery is spectacular wherever you look.  The camera is extremely limited in its ability to capture even a small fraction of the color and beauty.  The place is truly a feast for the senses.





  All around us were the buzzing sounds of the outboard powered bass boats zipping around.  It must be tournament time as many boats were covered with the advertising of their corporate sponsors.

     At 2:30 pm, we were loitering at the lower gate of the Guntersville Lock.  We had called and radioed in advance, however, the lockmaster was not willing to do anything until we were in sight at his arrival point.  We had to wait 20 minutes while the operator prepared the lock for us.  Oh, well, at 3:07 pm, we eased out into Guntersville Lake at Mile 349.0.




  By 4 pm, we had turned left off the river at Mile 359.4 for the jaunt back into the creek for Alred Marina.  We were met by Russ, the dock manager, and treated quite well.  We didn’t need much and were content to just relax on the boat for the night.



     Judy prepared a nice Meatloaf dinner with mashed herb potatoes and gravy.  Pecan pie topped with whipped cream, along with a cold glass of milk, was served for dessert.




     With only a relatively short distance to travel today, we waited until 7:45 am to depart the dock at Alred Marina.  AMARSE returned to the channel at Mile 357.4.  The shoreline in this area has been developed more than some lower sections.  There are many lovely, expensive homes and some areas with only modest homes.  All of them seem to have a fantastic view.







     At just 10:30 am, the staff of Goose Pond Colony Marina and a couple of our dearest friends greeted us.  Milton and Jimmie Neitsch are a couple of the greatest folks we’ve ever known.  They have been very long time friends of Judy.  She was closely associated with them in Victoria, Texas where they all were in the restaurant business.  They worked together to make their businesses stronger through the Texas Restaurant Association.  The close friendship resulted not because of what they were, but who they were.  These folks are some of the most caring and loving people of all time.  Milt and Jimmie have an inside warmth that reaches out and embraces you.  We sure do love them.

     We have anxiously awaited this moment for many months.  We both departed from Houston, Texas, around the same time.  They were delayed about a month.  We kept in touch, however, we never could quite connect at the same place.  We passed somewhere in Canada without knowing and thy managed to run just ahead of us.  Now, as they are headed downriver and we are headed upriver on the Tennessee, the time has come.  How wonderful it is to see them again!



     Their boat, an Eagle 40 named “Our Way”, now rests here at these docks while we visit.



     AMARSE is looking good too as she rests at Goose Pond Marina.



     Let me introduce you to Tim and Jane Macierowski.  They have been running along with Milt and Jimmie on this section.  Their boat, “Janie O” is a SeaRay cruiser hailing from Connecticut.  The six of us enjoyed a dinner at “The Dock” restaurant here at the marina.  It is highly regarded by boaters that frequent these waters.  After the enjoyable experience of sharing the evening and a meal, the tired cruisers all returned to their vessels for some well deserved rest.  The rain had begun and would continue throughout the night.




       The next installment UPDATE will continue with our voyage into Guntersville Lake, Nickajack Lake, and Chickamauga Lake along the Tennessee River.

      As you see, I have finally caught up with the dates on the UPDATE emails.  Just imagine, you are now reading current events.  Hopefully, I will not get so far behind again. Thanks for your patience.



       My Verizon AirCard that operates my computer internet still operates slowly and sporadically.  The coverage areas are not as good as we had hoped.  We will be sending out updates when we can.

     Judy has Cingular Wireless cell phone service.  It seems to work even better than the Verizon Wireless.  Judy can be reached at 361-550-5353 and Fred can be reached at 210-296-4933.  We can be reached at either number.  Please call us if you like, we’d really like to hear from you.


"AMARSE".  is pronounced "AM-ARE-SAY".  Our website is:   www.amarse.net   .

Check it out while we will attempt to keep you informed via email

  We would like to hear more about what is happening in your lives.  Let us know as we very interested in what’s going on with our friends and family.  Please call or email us with your thoughts and comments and ideas too.  Thanks


Lot of Love,

Fred Reed and Judy Law