August 4 - August 17
Cumberland River * Barkley Lake/Lock * Kentucky Lake * Tennessee River * Caribbean Party * Prizes * Fans! * Tarp * Mast UP! * Sailing Again! * Dry County? * Quarry * Crew Member Disabled Back to Home Page
Day 38 - Friday, August 4
On the Cumberland River in Kentucky
We turned into the Cumberland River shortly after taking off this morning. We are still going upstream. The Cumberland is a very narrow and very deep river. It twists and turns thru woods, bluffs and pastures. The first few miles had barge traffic. There is a BIG gravel pit on the banks of the river up there. We saw them loading one barge and we saw other barges sitting in the river waiting to be taken away. One low barge only had little piles of gravel. I was wondering why they didn't make the piles a little higher when I saw the sign on the barge that said "13 ft. deep". Once the barges are filled, they sink down into the river so they look flat. The little piles of gravel that I saw were actually the tips of big piles that went ten feet under the water. When a barge is empty, it sticks up out of the water about ten feet.
After we passed the gravel pit, we didn't meet many more barges. We did see some cows along the shore occasionally. Most of the shore is 15-foot high dirt bluffs covered with trees. There is lots of erosion, and most of the trees along the shore have half of their roots exposed. We occasionally pass a power boat, or see a small house along the shore, but for the most part it is secluded countryside. There are lots of blue herons flying across the river, and another big black bird that looks like a buzzard. Lots of butterflies, too, and some kind of big, white flower along the shore that's too far away to identify.
At one long stretch of the river, we each got a turn to get pulled thru the water on a rope behind the boat. It was fun, but you couldn't do it for too long because your arms would get tired, even when the rope was tied to your life jacket. It was a great way to cool off, though. Dan and the kids did some cannonballs off the side of the boat, too, because the water was twenty feet deep.
After the swimming, we continued down the Cumberland. About 2:00
the river started getting slower and shallower (15 feet deep) because we
were getting near a big lock. When the lock opened and let out water,
you could feel it go by in the current. Once the lock was in sight,
it took us an hour to get there because the current against us was so strong.
The lock was Barkley Lock. It was the biggest one yet - over 50
feet. Once we got thru it, the narrow little Cumberland River would
turn into huge Barkley Lake. The Tennessee River runs parallel to
the Cumberland here. Both of them are running in a north-south direction
thru the western side of Kentucky. The Tennessee River has a similar
lock and dam, called Kentucky
Lock, which creates another, even bigger, lake called (guess what?)
Kentucky Lake. There is a long, narrow strip of land between Barkley
Lake and Kentucky Lake. This area is called the Land Between the
Lakes. It is a big recreation area. Lots of vacationers come
here. It's like a mix of Door County, Northern Wisconsin and Wisconsin
Dells. There are marinas everywhere.
We stopped at the marina nearest to Barkley Lock. It's called Green Turtle Bay Marina. The name made us feel right at home, and so did the marina crew. They are very friendly and helpful people. The kids and I made a bee-line for the Marina Store to get cold soda and ice cream, while Dan took care of gas and a pump-out. We had spent a whole week on our boat since the last marina, and I'm happy to report that only one of our two water tanks was empty and our holding tank still had room for more. Our frequent stops during the last few days had been only for gas, which we used a lot of going upstream in the Ohio and the Cumberland. The lakes we're on now don't have a current, just lots of little ripples going every which way from all of the small boats.
Green Turtle Bay is actually a resort. The marina is large. It is mostly power boats, but there are some sailboat docks, too. Lots of houseboats are docked around here. Many people live on their boats all year round. In addition to the little marina store on the gas dock, there are also a laundromat, showers, free ice water, a book exchange, a courtesy car that we can use to go shopping, a large boating store called the Chandlery, a boat works that can put up our mast, a Yacht Club restaurant, a Dockers Grill, an outdoor pool, bike and golfcart rentals, motel rooms and cottages, a conference center, a yacht sales office, houseboat, kayak, paddleboat and pontoon rentals, and a dry stack. A dry stack is a big building that holds boats. There are four levels, so some boats are sitting up very high. The wall facing the water is missing, and tractors with big lift bars can reach up and get the boats, then take them to the water's edge and set them down in. You pay a monthly fee to store your boat there, and anytime you want to use it you tell the office and someone puts it in the water for you. When you're done, they put it back. And all of these things are just in the resort.
We finished the day by going swimming in the pool and taking a nice shower.
Day 39 - Saturday, August 5
Green Turtle Bay Marina, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
In the morning there was a long, hard thunderstorm. We collected two inches of water in our bowl. It kind of put a damper on everyone else's weekend, but I liked the rain because it cooled everything off. But then, we don't have to go back to work on Monday . . .
After the rain, Dan, Zion and I walked to town. There were lots of small shops and restaurants, and a big place called Patti's 1880's Town. It was a huge outdoor garden area surrounded by small shops. The flowers were gorgeous. There was water flowing everywhere, including a 10-foot high waterwheel on the side of a building. There were fountains and gazebos of all sizes tucked around in all of the corners. There was also a petting zoo, including the famous cola- swigging hogs. Zion spotted a pregnant cat wandering around the grounds, and we knew we had to bring Tricia here sometime. There was even a little chapel on the grounds for weddings. I'm sure the gardens made a perfect spot for wedding photos.
We passed a grocery store and couldn't resist stopping for a few items, like fresh fruit and vegetables and milk. Each of the three of us was carrying a big grocery sack back to the marina, but now it was noon and it was starting to get hot again. A very nice gentleman in a Cadillac with white leather interior stopped to give us a ride. He was out giving his poodle, Crystal Ann, her daily "walk" (on her pillow in the car). She was supposed to be on her pillow, but she was actually in his lap looking out the window. He was wearing more gold and diamonds than I've ever seen before. When he heard we were from Wisconsin, he said he used to ship watermelon to the Red Owl stores up there. Now he is retired. He showed us his boat in the dry stack and explained how the stacks worked. He drove us right to the edge of our dock and we were very grateful for his kindness.
In the afternoon, I did the laundry while Dan and the kids went swimming. Some of the chores of daily life are impossible to escape completely. So, while other people were out recreating on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I spent my time in the hot laundry rooms.
The kids started feeding the ducks some bread crumbs and learned that sunfish like to eat breadcrumbs, too. Then, to their surprise, a big turtle came up to grab a bite We've actually seen several turtles since then, so now we know how the marina got its name.
We learned that the marina was having a big island party that night, so we decided to stay in the slip for two more nights. That way we would be here on Monday when the boat works opened again.
The island party was wonderful. At the end of the docks they picked up people on a bench wagon pulled by a pick-up, then they drove us to the dry stack docks. Over there, a pontoon ferried us out to a wooded island with a clearing in the middle. There were lighted tiki lights along the path up from the dock. We felt like we were on the Survivor show! The sun was just setting and the water was sparkling from the lights of boats and marinas. It was all very beautiful. We all got our leis and listened to the steel drum band that was playing Caribbean music. And to top it off, there was food, soda and beer for everyone.
At the break, one of the band members showed us his steel drum. We had seen a PBS special on how they are made. They are all actually made from old steel drums. The craft started on the island of Trinidad. Each one is pounded by hand so that different parts of the drum will play different notes. He had the "soprano" drum, so he just had one drum with many different notes in it. It was amazing to watch him play the scales, because the notes are not in order. He said that it's like learning to type; the keys aren't in order but eventually you learn where they all are and you get used to it. But each drum is different because they are all individually made, so the notes are not always in the same place on each set of drums. There was also a set of two drums to hold all of the notes for the "alto" part, and a set of four drums for the "tenor" part. As the notes get lower, the surfaces on the drum have to get larger, so you need more drums to hold all of the notes you need. He said that their band used a guitar for the "bass" notes because you would need a set of six drums to play those. As the notes get lower, the drums also get deeper. The "soprano" drum is less than a foot deep, while the "tenor" drums are over two feet and they actually look like old oil drums. The drum surfaces are chrome-plated, though, to make them look a little classier.
To top off a great evening, our family exceeded our luck quotient and won two door prizes! The kids each won a $50 gift certificate to Shop-o-rama, the local equivalent of Fleet Farm.
The kids each met a friend at the party. Their friends were from a boat that had come down from St. Louis for the weekend. It was captained by two dads, and they had six kids on board Tricia's age and up. They were a fun bunch. The kids learned that we weren't really on an island; it was a peninsula and they could walk back. So they did that while we waited for the pontoon and the bench wagon. There were so many people on the wagon that one of its tires went flat. Back at the marina there was still lots of music and dancing on the backs of people's houseboats. We even went for a late-night swim in the pool.
Day 40 - Sunday, August 6
Green Turtle Bay Marina, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
In the afternoon we got to use the marina's courtesy van and headed off to Shop-o-rama. The kids were in heaven. They had never had so much money to spend on whatever they wanted. Well, not quite whatever. Zion is careful with his money and can be trusted to buy things that everyone considers valuable, but Tricia would spend all of her money on porcelain cats and gifts for her friends if there weren't any guidelines. Since she has grown four inches in the last few months, I told her she had to spend some of it on clothes. She bought some shorts and some oversize T-shirts that make good good swimsuit cover-ups in this hot weather. She also bought a Digimon card game and spent the rest on porcelain cats and candy. Zion bought a boom box which made the whole family very happy. He and Tricia had been sharing the one working radio to listen to in their beds at night. It was actually Tricia's radio, and she very nicely agreed to let Zion use it every other night. But, of course, life is never as smooth as the plan and we seemed to have nightly fights right before bedtime over whose turn it was to have the radio. So, everyone is now pleased that we are a two radio family.
I'm learning something about adolescents on this trip. They complain regularly. At first, I took their complaints seriously and tried to make things better. It didn't work. There is always something else to complain about. I've now reached a higher plateau of understanding where I realize that compaints are just their current method of communication, not the beginning of a list of action items for me. I am often thankful on this trip that the kids aren't little. They take care of themselves for the most part, and they don't need to be watched every minute. I actually have lots of time to myself, which is a real treat. When they are in good moods, I'm learning that they are thoroughly delightful people to be with. The price I pay for all of this freedom and companionship is an ear willing to listen to them practice expressing their newly-forming opinions on the details of how things should be in this world.
I'm learning about working together as a family, too. At first I thought I could keep myself from getting unreasonably upset over little irritations. I was wrong. I've learned that when I'm really hot and sweaty, or tired, my patience vanishes. So I do get upset sometimes and yell more than I should, but I've also learned that that's OK. The key is not to avoid getting upset, but to be willing to forgive and forget at the end of the day. And that we are all good at in this family. Tricia is always ready with a smile and a joke when we need one, Zion is always ready to give a hug and some emotional support, and Dan and I are still sleeping together every night!
Talking about sleeping, the nights have been very hot. I don't think it gets below 70 degrees ever. And being in a slip, we're not always getting a breeze through our windows. I feel like I'm sleeping in an oven. So, tonight we put our mattress up on top of the boat. The breeze up there was wonderful. It was the best sleep I've had in a while.
Day 41 - Monday, August 7
Green Turtle Bay Marina, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
OUR MAST IS UP AGAIN!! Jimmy and his crew at the boat works helped us get our mast back up on our boat. It was another beastly hot morning and we were all sweating buckets while working on it. We teased them that we thought southern boys didn't sweat, but they said that on days like today they do. Their T- shirts were soaked through. Jimmy liked Zion's name and wanted to know if all our kids had Bible names. We said "no", Tricia is named after her grandmother so Zion is the only Bible name we have. Then he reminded us that Mary and Daniel are in the Bible, too. I had never realized that before.
We took the boat back to the dock and decided to take a last swim before leaving the marina. As we were getting ready, storm clouds came in with sheets of rain and plenty of thunder and lightening. We went into the marina store for shelter. We still hadn't had time to tighten all of the stays on our mast and we weren't sure how stable it would be.
After the storm, things were considerably cooler. The kids learned their new Digimon card game. It's amazingly complex and it took them a long time to figure it out. I'm impressed if kids all over the country are playing this. It looks like a real work-out for the brain. Dan finished tightening up the mast and putting on the boom. It's such a pleasure being able to work in weather that's comfortable.
We've all learned that when we're really hot we're not hungry. This is good news for the cook. We haven't been eating much lately. And I have decided to buy some ice every day so we can have cold drinks and cold food for meals. But as soon as the weather cools off, the appetites kick in big-time. No wonder we eat so good in Wisconsin!
Day 42 - Tuesday, August 8
Nickell Branch Cove, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
Things started heating up again this morning. We decided we needed to do a few things to our boat to live in this heat. First, I decided to get a bag of ice everyday and keep it in the cooler so we can have cold drinks during the day. Living without a refrigerator in Lake Michigan is easy, but doing it here is a different story. Second, we ordered a 10' x 12' tarp to lay over our boom and keep the sun off of the cockpit when we are motoring or anchored. All of the sailboats down here have a covered cockpit. Most have custom-made contraptions made out of aluminum bars with lots of special little holes for ropes to come thru. These probably cost hundreds of dollars. Some just have tarps, which only cost $5. Up north, when we occasionally saw a covered cockpit, I always assumed it was to keep the rain off. Why would anyone want to block the sun on its rare occurrences? Down here, I've learned that keeping the sun off is a necessity. Our third adaptation was to order five small oscillating fans to put inside our cabin. With these installed we should be able to sleep inside at night.
At noon we left the marina and motored out onto Barkley Lake. We went to a nearby cove near Nickell Branch. The cove is a beautiful little arm of the lake that is surrounded by trees and gravel beaches. It's very secluded. We anchored our boat in the middle and went swimming for the rest of the afternoon. Zion said "This feels like a vacation." In his book, any day that includes swimming is a vacation day. If we don't get a chance to go swimming, then he would just as soon be at home.
The kids found some interesting things on the beach. They found lots of a new kind of shell. It's a narrow cone shape about two inches long with a sharp point. Tricia has started a shell collection. We also found some funny- looking fruit on a tree. When they are green, they kind of look like a green cherry tomato, with a four-point leaf cap on top. We cut it open and found two pits, off-center, that look like lima beans. We found some ripe ones on the grounds. It was bright red with white dots all over it. It's the funniest-looking fruit I've ever seen.
In the evening, when things cooled down a bit, we went out for our first sail since Chicago. There were gentle breezes and no waves. It was very nice to cruise in silence without the engine rumbling. When we were done with our sail, we went back to our cove to anchor for the night (and have another swim to cool down).
Our boat gets lots of attention down here. Sailing catamarans are very rare. Most people who pass us by stare at us for quite awhile. Some even stop just to tell us it's a nice boat. One tugboat captain that we passed by on the lake gave us a toot, then came out and waved at us and studied us with his binoculars.
I'm learning first hand about the charm of Southern manners. People who walk by you, or pass by you slowly in their boat, almost always call out a friendly greeting. And it's not just "Hi". It's usually something more like "Good morning" or "Great day, isn't it?". They always have time to pay attention to the people around them and what's going on at the moment. I think we northerners learn to rush around alot just to stay warm during our nine months of winter, then we don't have time to break the habit during our three months of summer.
Day 43 - Wednesday, August 9
Nickell Branch Cove, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
It's 8:15 a.m. and I'm already sweating. Tricia and I slept up on the net on top of the boat last night. It was about 70 degrees with a nice breeze, so it was very comfortable. In the middle of the night, she decided she was too cramped sharing the net with me so she went back into her bunk. A little while later she came out and told me that a bug had stung her face three times. I went in with her and we found and destroyed the bug. I don't know if it was a bee or not. It had stripes, but it was very skinny and shiny. It wasn't any kind of bee I had ever seen before. She said the stings hurt a lot at first, but they didn't hurt for long. I gave her a piece of ice to put on the red spots on her face, but that made them hurt again, so she sucked on the ice instead. We checked our insect book in the morning and we think it was a sweat bee.
We've had a two inch wasp flying in and out of our cabin for the last few days. He doesn't seem to want to leave for good. Since he buzzes enough that we always know where he is, and he never seems to want to come close to any people, we've decided to just live with him for the time being.
Dan spent the morning hand-sewing some stitching that had come undone on the clew of the sail. It was so hot today that we didn't do much but swim. Tricia and Zion spent a lot of time jumping off the boat doing cannonballs, speeding bullets and 360's. A houseboat came to join us in the cove. It had a slide down the back and lots of kids in the water. When Dan was done sewing we went over to visit. They were two families from Chicago that were renting the houseboat for a week. The moms, Sheila and Colleen, were gone on an errand. Sheila had lost one of the lenses from her glasses and they had gone to Paducah to a vision center to get them repaired. The family was hanging out in the cove, which was near the marina, letting the kids swim while they waited for the moms to come back. Tricia made friends with Joanna, and Zion had fun playing with Tim and Sam. Tim and Sam were younger than Zion, but Zion said they were a lot like his cousin, Derek. I spent my time being entertained by an utterly delightful pair of 4-year-old twins, Kelly and Sean. The kids tried out their slide, then jumped off the top of their houseboat which is even higher than our boat. We had a great time swimming together until the moms came back. Then we headed out of the cove.
We went out onto Kentucky Lake for the first time. We wanted to try out our spinnaker. Kentucky Lake is much wider and deeper than Barkley Lake. Our spinnaker worked fine, but the wind was light and gusty. The spinnaker kept floating from one side to the other.
We decided to spend the night back in Nickell Branch Cove because we liked it so much. We all pulled our mattresses up on top of the boat for sleeping so we could catch some cool breezes. There was a bright half-moon out that shone a path of brilliant ripples on the water. Just as we were falling asleep, another houseboat in the cove gave us a fireworks display off of their roof.
Day 44 - Thursday, August 10
Nickell Branch Cove, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
Another scorcher of a day. We decided it was a good day to try
out some of the swimming beaches on Kentucky Lake. Our first anchoring
spot turned out to be a gravel beach. There were piles of empty mayfly
exoskeletons in the water. Up on shore, Zion touched a branch and
hundreds of mayflies came pouring out. That was a fun game for a
while. Our second anchoring spot was a perfect, gently-sloping pure
sand beach. Our third anchoring spot was The Quarry.
The Quarry is an old quarry that is now full of water. It's famous
as a spring break hang-out for the college crowd. The water is over
one hundred feet deep, and the edges of the cove are straight, vertical
walls of rock. Most of the rock is covered with "artwork". People
bring in lots of paint in every color and leave their names or drawings
on the rocks. Old ones are covered with new ones. And some
of the cliffs are perfect for jumping off. We anchored our boat by pulling
up to one of the cliffs and tying off to some of the rocks. Dan,
Zion and Tricia joined a group of girls that were jumping off one of the
medium-sized rocks. I didn't feel any compelling reason to join them.
Zion had to jump four times before we got a good picture of him
going down. Everyone said that climbing up the rocks to get to
the top was a lot harder than jumping off. There was an even higher
cliff that you could only get to by climbing up a rope. Some teenagers
were jumping off of that one. We watched, but let them enjoy it on
The walls of the Quarry were so high that they blocked the late afternoon sun and we were in the shade. We actually started feeling cool, for the first time in at least a week.
We went back to Nickell's Cove to spend the night because our friends in the houseboat said they would be back there on Thursday night. Tricia was feeling bad because she had been making lots of new friends over the last few weeks, but she rarely saw each of them more than once. She was really hoping that she could see Joanna again. Well, things worked out and they were in the cove, too, for the night. They needed to return their houseboat to the marina by 9:00 the next morning and this cove is very near the marina.
We tied up our boat to the side of theirs so we could easily walk back
and forth. I got the chance to see the inside of the houseboat.
There is a big dining/living room/kitchen, and two big bedrooms.
Underneath there are two four-foot high rooms which each have big mattresses.
Including the pull-out couch, there are five double beds on the boat.
The kitchen is full-size and includes a stove, oven, microwave, coffee-maker,
toaster and blender. We all hung-out with our own age groups and
had a fun late-night together. It turns out that there was also a
14-year-old, Kate, onboard so Zion had some company, too. About midnight
we finally left and had to say good-bye to our new friends. They
kindly gave us some of the food they didn't want to take back with them,
and we came home with spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, pancake mix and the kids'
favorite -bottled water. Thanks again!
Day 45 - Friday, August 11
Demumbers Bay, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
We woke up to a glorious day. The humidity was gone and we were comfortable again. It was the first day that I could do breakfast dishes without sweating continuously. We did some more sailing lessons on the lake while the wind was a brisk ten knots.
We went to the marina and found that our fans and our mail from home had arrived. What a treat! We all enjoyed the new issue of MAD Magazine. Thank you Isaac, and Isaac's mother, for sending the mail to us. We were disappointed to learn that Reed wouldn't have time to come down and join us for a few days on Kentucky Lake. We were looking forward to his visit. Maybe some other time.
We anchored for the night in a new cove, Demumbers Bay, which was just a bit south of our old favorite. It was nice, but not as small and cozy.
Day 46 - Saturday, August 12
Nickell Branch Cove, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
Today we had a date to meet a new friend, Rich, and go sailing together for the day. Rich was very interested in trying out a multihull (catamaran) like ours. He had already restored a small monohull (regular sailboat) that he is living on and he wants to build or restore a larger multihull next. He says that with a can of epoxy he could fix the world. He sounds like Dan. That epoxy is powerful stuff.
Dan decided to get up on his own at 8:30, pull up the anchor and get the boat moving to meet Rich. The kids like to sleep late on Saturdays (and other days, too). We've gotten real good at anchoring and pulling up anchor. It's all getting routine now and Dan knew he could handle it on his own. Well, as luck would have it, the anchor rope was twisted around a big tree or branch that was hidden deep under the water. When Zion heard the engine start, he automatically got up and got dressed. I went to the wheel. Between the three of us, we got it untangled without having to send someone in the water for an early morning dip. They used the safety line (an extra line tied to the back of the anchor with a floatee on top) to pull up the anchor from the back. Then twisted and turned and went forward and backward until the long anchor line came loose. We left Demumbers Bay with no desire to ever come back.
We met Rich at his boat on a mooring in Green Turtle Bay Marina. He joined us with his dog, Buster Brown. Buster was an old hand on boats. He knew just how to find the shade under the sails for resting in. The kids enjoyed having a pet again. We spent the day sailing on Kentucky Lake and stopping at a swimming beach. Buster even came onto the beach with us. Tricia and I took advantage of the eager three-man sailing crew and spent most of the day indoors out of the sun. We did lots of reading and writing together. Right now we're reading The Black Stallion by Walter Farley.
After taking Rich back to his boat we went back to our favorite spot, Nickell Branch Cove, to anchor for the night. Because is was a Saturday night, we were sharing the cove with about ten other boats. But most of them were power boats that anchored close to shore. We had the middle all to ourselves. It was a nice, cool night, just right for sleeping.
Day 47 - Sunday, August 13
Nickell Branch Cove, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
We knew better than to try to go anywhere today. The lake was full of boaters. The cove filled up pretty well, too. There were several chains of boats in our cove, along with lots of singles. A chain of boats is when a group of power boats line up side-by-side and tie themselves together and anchor. Then the party starts. They crank up the music, pull out the beers, and sunbathe, swim and dance on their boats. These boats usually have "bow babes" on board. That's our name for them because they are usually sitting adorning the bow of the boats as the boats race through the water. Bow babes usually have deeply tanned skin, blond hair, sunglasses and thong bikinis.
The kids went swimming during the day. Dan was working on painting the cockpit some more. The captain of a neighboring boat came over to talk with Dan, and Dan ended up visiting his boat, too. He had a pair of fourteen-year-old boys along with him. Zion joined them for the afternoon and got a chance to drive their motorized dinghy, along with other adventures.
About five o'clock everyone started leaving and we were left alone in
our cove for the night. About seven o'clock every
evening the blue herons start getting very active. They fly along
the shores around the cove. I love watching them fly. They are such
a distinctive-looking bird and their flight seems so powerful with their
large wings. Some nights we even see deer come for a drink around
Day 48 - Monday, August 14
Green Turtle Bay Marina, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
Well, we need to get water, take showers, do laundry and buy groceries, so it's time for a stay in a marina again. The people at Green Turtle Bay have been wonderful to us all week, so we decided to go back there.
We met several interesting people during this stay. One retired couple was on a large houseboat with a paddle wheel in the back that they had built themselves. They gave us a tour of the Okeechobee Queen and we were impressed with how spacious and comfortable it was inside. They were from Jeffersonville, Indiana, the city with the second largest clock in the world. It is also the biggest inland shipyard, making - guess what - barges and tugs.
We also met a couple that had spent a year visiting the various Caribbean Islands, getting all of the way to Trinidad.
It seems that most of the people we meet have, or plan to, make the Circle of America. Many have gone to the Gulf. Our plans don't sound at all crazy to them. They give us lots of helpful hints and information.
There's a big sign in the marina that says "Do You Like the Boating Life?" I've been trying to figure out exactly what the boating life is. I've concluded that there are several different varieties, and you can usually identify them by the type of boat they have.
Small power boaters have their boating life on the weekend. They like speed and jet skis and beer and boat babes.
Large, live aboard power boats are usually retired couples going on an adventure together in relative comfort. They like to try out the local restaurants and shops.
Then there are sailors. Most people who have sailboats are more of the "commune with nature" types. They go sailing in search of peace and solitude. They are not looking for speed or comfort, but enjoy participating in a sport that has been an integral part of mankind's history for centuries.
And, of course, there are always the fisherman who commune with nature in their own way.
The marinas and lakes are full of people who love the boating life for these reasons. I know that Dan loves sailing because of it's simplicity, it's link to the past, and it's closeness to nature. (Also because is lets him play with epoxy a lot.) But I'm not here because I love the boating life. What I love is my family, and this gives me a chance to be with them more before the kids head out on their own paths thru life. And I really enjoy travelling and seeing new places. This is the cheapest and easiest way to do those things. And even though I've never spent much time daydreaming about the boating life, I am having a great time.
And our boating life is getting even better. Tonight Dan installed
one of the fans in our bedroom. It's starting to get hot and sticky
again and there isn't much breeze in the marina.
Day 49 - Tuesday, August 15
Nickell Branch Cove, Barkley Lake, Kentucky
Dan finished putting an undercoat of white on everything in the cockpit while the kids and I went swimming in the pool. One of the kids' favorite games in the pool is Lockmaster. One person is the lockmaster who controls the locks on the rope that stretches across the pool. The other person is the tugboat. Sometimes I get to be the barge and they push me thru. The tug captain has to say "Lockmaster, lockmaster, let me thru the lock". More often than not, the lockmaster responds by saying "There will be a twenty minute waiting period. Please pull up along the side of the pool to wait." Of course, bribing the lockmaster often helps to get thru more quickly. That, or brute force.
In the afternoon we all went grocery shopping in town. First we stopped at a home that was selling fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and squash from their garden. They even had some okra, but we didn't try it. I really enjoy seeing how the foods change in the grocery stores as we travel. These southern stores have BBQ sauce by the gallon, multiple shelves of large tubs of lard and Crisco (for deep- frying), big selections of pork sausage, bacon, ham, salt park, smoked pork hocks and other pork products, and cans of turnip greens, kale, collard greens and mustard greens.
We went back to our cove for the night now that we were all loaded up
on supplies. Having a white floor in the cockpit now is wonderful.
It's amazing how much cooler white is than the gray that was there before.
The gray floor would get so hot in the sun that you couldn't step on it
without burning your feet.
Day 50 - Wednesday, August 16
Turkey Bay, Kentucky Lake, Kentucky
Mile 45 Tennessee River
Today was our day to start travelling again. We're heading south again, on our way to Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico in Atlanta. We expect to get there in about two weeks. Once we arrive there, we will rent a car and take one last trip home. We need to pack up our house and rent it out. We're all ready to sign-on for the full year of travel as long as we stay away from the REALLY BIG WAVES.
It was very hot again, so we stopped for a swim on a sandy beach in Pisgah Bay. We put our spinnaker up because the wind was pushing us south, but it was so light that we only travelled at 2 knots. We pulled the kids behind the boat on a rope so they could stay cool. We ended up spending the night anchored in Turkey Bay. There was a long spit of sand extending out one side of the bay with a solitary tree at the end. Zion rowed the dinghy out to investigate it.
The bad news is that I pulled my back. This happens to me about once a year. It doesn't hurt as long as I rest and keep my back supported. That means the kids have to pick-up some of my chores. What a shame!
Believe it or not, the kids were ready to start school today. We only
spent an hour at it because it was so hot. We started looking thru
our books and planning our curriculum.
Day 51 - Thursday, August 17
New Johnsonville, Tennessee
Mile 99 Tennessee River
Today we really put on the miles. Fifty-six, to be exact. We did a combination of motoring and sailing.
In the morning we stopped at Paris Landing State Park Marina. We got some gas and some ice. A man in a small trimaran pulled up by the dock. He was on his way back to his home in Minnesota. He had spent the summer down in the Carribean. He gave us lots of good info about the islands. He works as a tax man during the tax season, then travels the rest of the year.
We travelled to Standing Rock Creek to go swimming and cool off. It was another hot one. (We learned a few days later that it had reached 105 degrees today. Even the locals thought it was a hot one.)
In the evening we anchored in a large shallow section of the river, right before a railroad bridge that would have to raise for us to go through. There were several fishermen out there in the twilight, and we could see big bird nests on top of the daymarks. The daymarks were at the top of big poles that were set in the water to mark the channels. They had small solar panels on top to power the signal lights. Along the shore was a HUGE power plant covered with lights. It looked like a small city.
The kids hit the books hard today. They each put in their five
hours of study time. And the best part was, they did lots of it on
their own (after we had talked about what they should do). They also
took their turns piloting the boat. Tricia was in charge of all KP
duties for the day so I could rest my back. She made sandwiches for
lunch and bean burritos for supper. She even
did all the dishes herself, and there were lots of them, especially
cups. I think we used every cup we had along because we were drinking
to keep up with our sweating all day.