Posted by: tvasailor | 2020-04-29

George Brown: 2020 Corona-free TN river cruise update

As from a previous post, my Seaward 32RK left CYC marina in Knoxville on 4/1, with goal of making it to Walker Lake in AL and return. Rob Remme and I completed that half on 4/15, 2 days sooner than expected due to how fast we could move the 5 Ton boat with a month of provisions with 3 to 5 knot downriver currents pushing us at 7knots. We had never sailed this boat before, and we had some epic lake sailing, hitting more than 7 knots a couple times. We even had several 4 mile runs without a single tack on Guntersville Lake.

Marinas have been either closed or offer only limited items. We got diesel and water where we could,  and carried lots of extras lashes to the topside, including 2 solar showers. 
Joan changed out with Rob in Decatur, AL, for the upriver “half” of the 726 mile trip.  We knew it would be harder, but we had no idea. The worst was going through the gorge in Nickajack due to the epic rains in the TVA system this month. With my 30hp Yanmar maxed, we were doing 1.3 knots in a 9 mile stretch.  We got the coast guard warning about 4 miles into that. We were stranded in the Chattanooga area for nearly 4 days, as there is a fixed railroad brigade that was too short until the water dropped 2 feet,  which it eventually did.

We are now hunkered down in 30 knt winds anchored in 6 feet, having crossed a 2.8 foot sandbar to get back here. We have fully utilized the raising keel feature of this boat,  where it drops to 6.5 feet and raises to about 26 inches by pushing a button.

We have seen one daysailor and not another sailboat on the water in nearly a month. Not a single “looper”. In 8 locks, only once did another boat lock thru with us. The two marinas we stayed at (all the other nights on the 35 pound mantis hook) were flooded and otherwise deserted. One didn’t even charge us.

We hope to lock thru to Watts bar tomorrow afternoon and enjoy some sailing, and get back to Corona-land in several days.

Lots of lessons learned.  It beats sitting at home and watching bad news on TV. 
Hope all of you are well and safe, and if anyone wants to know anything else about what worked and what didn’t,  we would be happy to share.

All the best,
George R. Brown 
Joan Koelbel

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