Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blue's Makeover

Upon our arrival to Green Turtle Bay, Anna and I were filled with excitement, two wonderful things were about to happen.  First Anna's parents Fred and Janet were flying in to spend a few days with us.  Green Turtle Bay is located in an area referred to as the land between the lakes.  A large peninsula separates Barkley and Kentucky Lake and is listed as one of the hundred places a person should see before they die.  I must say with the fall colors starting to appear, it is a wonderful sight.  The second thing that is to happen is Blue is scheduled to be hauled out of the water.  When she is on the hard, we will have her bottom taken down to the original gel coat. reapply a barrier coat and get new bottom paint.  She will also have her hull buffed and waxed and new zincs put on.  As far as Anna and I can tell, Blue had about 10 coats of bottom paint on her and the harsh sun had taken a toll on her blue hull.  We were hopeful that by compounding the hull guys would be able to bring back the shine we know she deserves.   Man it was nice to see Anna's parents, the last time we saw them was when we left Brandford CT about four months ago.  Anna was over the moon with excitement.  I could tell she had been missing them terribly.  One of the hardest things about doing this trip is experiencing so many wonderful things and constantly says man I wish our parents were here, they would love this.  Fred and Janet rented one of the condo's at the marina and had a great view of the lake from their room.  Our days till Blue was pulled from the water were filled with short boat trips, on one we ventured up to a small anchorage to see Bill and Laura from Monkey Girl.  I know it was loads of fun for Fred and Janet to finally meet the two of them, we have shared lots of memories with them and now they can put a true face with the names.  Far to soon after their arrival it was time for Fred and Janet to leave us, but not before they get to see Blue be lifted out of the water.  We all watched with baited breath as the travel lift pulled our home from the water and rolled her over to the stands she would sit on till her work was complete.  With temperatures reaching record highs, Anna and I decided to bite the bullet and rent a room to stay in while  Blue as our of the water.  Having stripped a hull or two in my day, I felt for the guys as they prepped Blues Bottom for its blasting.  I can think of few things less enjoyable than sanding the bottom of a boat.  These guys attacked it with vigor and soon all the old paint was removed. Over the next four days Anna and I watched as Blues hull was transformed from a dull oxidated blob to a bright shinning mirror.  I have to admit the outcome of the compounding far exceeded our expectations.  Blue now looks like she just came off the showroom floor.  With two coats of wax on her we hope that the Florida sun will not fade her like she was.  Time will tell, for now we are so excited to have Blue looking like she does.  There is not a day that goes by that Anna and I don't say how lucky we are to have her, to have her looking like we know she should is just awesome.  On the day we put her back in the water Anna and I attacked the deck and stainless steal.  It was a hell of a job but all the work is know done.  As we sat having a beer admiring our work, a couple walked by and said to themselves what a great looking boat.  Anna and I looked at each other and smiled, it is time to move on, the warm waters of the Gulf are calling and we have alot of water to pass under the hull till we get there plus a lot of sightseeing.

The entrance to Green Turtle Bay harbor.  It might not look like much but it has become known as an oasis to anyone doing the loop.   

Fred and Janet with us on the top deck of Blue.  It was great to have them on board.

When staying at GTB you get a temporary membership to their Yacht Club,  We had a few wonderful evenings up there.  On one night we celebrated the completion of Andrews and Sallyann's Loop on their boat Freedom.  We had traveled with them in Canada and we so happy to have been with them when they crossed their wake.  Congrats guys!

The big day is here, Blue is getting pulled out of the water.

In my old job I would have no problem putting a boat in a rack 30 feet in the air, but watching Blue come out of the water sure raised my blood pressure.  Please don't let anything go wrong.

Anna and I took a few moments to see how bad her paint really was.

When our trip first started Anna and I had my dad and Uncle on board for a run from NY to Highlands NJ when we hit something huge under the water in the harbor.  With no vibration or signs of damage Anna and I passed it off as a close call.  I can tell you I had been thinking about it for the past five months.  The guys in the yard and I inspected the prop, I had dove under the boat but until now was not able to put it to rest.  Thank god, reconditioning the prop would have put us out several hundred dollars and Blue's Hull compounding would have been out of the question.

This is Bud, He is the foreman of the yard.  He and his crew did an amazing job on Blue.  Thanks Guys!

It wasn't easy but after a few hours of blasting all the bottom paint was gone.

Since we were stuck on land we all decided to head out to the wildlife preserve and see if we could see some elk and Bison.  No elk, but I don't think you can get much closer to a Bison.

I wish I could say we were having Bison.  No we had to settle for whatever the market had.

Anna found her store.

Anna reminded me that since she agreed to live on a boat for a year I would have to let her finally have a pig for a pet.  I laughed...........nervously.

I finally found a tractor for my Mom.

Getting back to the yard, we were excited to see the progress.

Anna and I were in shock, you could comb your hair in the hull.

There are times when it is hard to tell who loves the boat more, me or Anna. 

Doesn't she look great!

New Zinc's on the running gear.

I never thought she would buff out this good.

With the temperature topping 98 deg's Anna and I rented this cart to get provisions in town and haul them back to Blue.  If it's a rental don't be gentle we joked.

First Chattanooga, then Gulf Coast here we come.   Please let there be no Oil!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New sayings I have learned -Shucks, I recken, and Y'all

What a crazy three weeks it has been!  As we left the Illinois and forged our way down the Mississippi, Anna and I were so happy to have the companionship of our new Friends on Bulldog Sally, Sassy and Monkey Girl.  As a group we made light of the long days at the wheel and made the most of the evening stops.  To tell you the truth a better group of people would be hard to find. As we left the city of Alton, the flotilla encountered the first of many hurdles which we would conquer.  From time to time on the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio Rivers the Core Of Engineers will close a lock for repairs or maintenance.  The result in such a close is a huge backup of commercial traffic waiting to make their way up and down the river. Many of these barges on the Rivers are made up of 25 barges all cabled together in one unit.  Each barge is 25 feet wide and 100 feet long.  A barge of 25 would be five wide by five long giving the unit an overall length of 500 feet by 125 feet not including the tug which could be an additional 75 feel long.  In order for a tow to lock through a lock, it is usually necessary to break the unit up into sections and then reassemble the unit on the other side of the lock.  One barge of this size can take up to three hours to lock through.  Ultimately this results in a two to three day wait at locks.  In our case, we found that if we played our cards right we could lock through in between sections.  On our first day we found ourselves right in this very situation.  As we waited to transit our first lock on the Mississippi we found ourselves facing what could be a 24 hour wait to get through.  With nowhere to anchor Paul on Bulldog Sally hailed one of the barge Captains and talked him into letting us tie to his load until our number came up. Thank God, we all thought, the prospect of having to return to Alton after getting this far down river was none to appealing.  As luck would have it a Coast Guard buoy tender arrived three hours later and was given first priority to go through the lock before the barges.  To our surprise the coast guard allowed the lock master to let our group enter the lock with him and lock down.  What could have been a full days wait was now only three hours.  As we entered the lock we were  accompanied by two classic reproduction clipper ships.  It seemed that the crews of these boats didn't want to share the lock with us and appeared to intentionally tie to the lock wall in such a way that not all of us would fit with the Cutter.  Anna was so mad she said she wished she smoked cigarettes so she could throw her lit butt on the deck and burn them to the ground.  The tension of the situation had brought all of us to the brink, the members of the boats looked at each other with laser beam eyes, if their had been concrete between us I think there would have been a brawl.  As the Lock gates opened we pushed on leaving the clipper ships behind us.  Arriving later that evening at Hoppies we all gathered on the docks to meet Fern, a woman with a legendary reputation among loopers for giving advice on the Mississippi.  Hoppies was the last dock we would see until we reached Barkley Lake on the Cumberland River. It would be four days till we reached this spot and Fern was to advise us on all the safe anchorages from here until that point.  Meeting Fern and talking to her was an experience, she advised in the ways of the river, all the while sitting under the tin roof over the fuel dock.  She must have smoked ten menthol cigarettes all the while sitting under the danger no smoking sign right next to the pumps.  After her talk, we all spoke of what a character she was, yet at the same time the service she provided was invaluable to us all. The next four days were long and hard, we stayed together called out dangers as we saw them and each took our turn in the lead as we made our way through the River. At one point we all decided that when we got to Kentucky we would all head to Nashville together and celebrate our success.  We contacted our old friends Bill and Carol on the Tennessee Rover and convinced them to join us.  Bill and Carol had charged ahead of us in Canada and had completed the loop with their return to Tennessee.  Great we thought, know we have two things to celebrate.  Soon the Mississippi was behind us and like a group of college students on spring break we took Nashville by storm.  For four days we visited the streets of Nashville and enjoyed all that it had to offer.  The music coming from the bars was fantastic and the history of the stars that got their break on the streets and at the Grand old Opry was seen on every corner.  Looking back Anna and I both agree it was one of the best stops we have made on the trip thus far.  With our departure came a bit of sadness.  Bill and Carol are finished with their trip and our group will now be splitting up as we all go our separate ways for a while.  Monkey Girl has pushed on to the the Tennessee River, Bulldog Sally has left for a visit home to NY for two weeks.  Jerry on Sassy still works and had to return home to check in on his business and Anna and I are heading to Green Turtle Bay to meet her parents whom have made arrangements to visit us.  While in Green Turtle Bay we plan on having Blue pulled from the water where she will have her bottom striped and repainted as well as having here topside compounded and waxed.  After delivering us down the waters of the Mississippi we felt she could use a week at the spa.  God knows the old girl earned it.

Just look at the trash in the water on the Mississippi.  Get me off this River!
We ran into these replica ships.  The boats looked really cool, but they were crewed by some of the most unfriendly people I have encountered thus far on our trip.  It must be the Tofu the cook serves them or the effects of to much patchouli oil. 

With nowhere to safely anchor on the river, sometimes the side of a barge is our only option.  This Barge Captain saved our butts by allowing us to raft on his cargo for a few hours till the lockmaster allowed us to pass through the commercial locks.  We asked the Captain how long he had waited, to find that he had been waiting for 35 hours.  Without discussion we all shut our mouths and felt pretty lucky to have only had to wait three.

The Arch in Saint Louis was a welcome sight.  We would have loved to have stopped but the city offers no recreational dockage.  I wonder why?
"Hoppies"  A loopers Oasis on the Mississippi.

It is good to know that Mobey has not been affected by the stressful waters of the Mississippi

Arriving at the Cumberland Towhead, a small cove safe from Barge traffic we all dropped anchor and gave out a huge sigh of relief, WE HAD MADE IT!

Once through the Barkley Lock and Dam we saw people fishing again.

It was nice to see Nature again.

Nature sometimes can be cruel.  Look at the size of these Flies.  We traded in the flyswatter for a 2x4.

We may be off the Mississippi but the Barge traffic is still moving. 

We had been told that the rivers had suffered a major flood this past spring.  This house boat stuck on the bank of the river made that all to clear.

Look at how the high waters washed out all the dirt form under the trees.  Soon this tree will fall in the river and float its way down river. 

As we arrived in Nashville we were greeted with what is referred to by the locals as the Bat Building.

Cowboy hats, big belt buckles and boots were everywhere.

If there is one thing they love in Nashville it has got to be the King.

The view of downtown Nashville from the water was out of sight.

Two weeks on the Mississippi river can make people do crazy thing.  This group is ready to Party.  Look out Nashville here we come!

First stop? THE BAR!

After a few drinks we all tried to get a record contract.

After a few more, we found ourselves walking down the world famous Printers Alley.

Soon we all found ourselves in Ryman Auditorium standing on the stage of the Grand Old Opry.  Just think of all the stars that have gotten their start right here.  Paul and Cindy couldn't resit.

Rambling Bill Peters

The Tennessee Rover Duo.

Ok Ok I'll do it too.

The next morning I awoke with a mission.  Buy scalper tickets and see a NFL Titans game.
If you want good tickets you have got to look like a local.
Oh Yea what a day for a game.

We were all relieved that our nights spent in Nashville didn't get us sent to this place.  Kentucky State Penitentiary .  We were told that the KSP holds the record for the most executions in one day.  Don't be bad in Kentucky this place looks like zero fun.
As we make way to Green Turtle Bay, Anna and I took the time to enjoy the scenery of the Tennessee and Kentucky hills as the Cumberland winds it's way through the landscape.