Is that a barge blocking the Bear Creek entrance? No, just passing by!
Its an overcast morning; the clouds are gathering as we motor from our anchorage at Little Bear Creek past the Florence Marina. Hoping to beat the threat of rain, we called the Wilson lockmaster and she said we could lock through in about 1.5 hours.
At the Florence bridge, the traffic leaves the main channel and is diverted into a manmade canal that leads to the Wilson Lock.
The trawlers were lined up at the dock in the Florence marina as we passed; it confirmed that this had been the destination for several of the boats we had followed the day before.
Just as we passed by; they all filed out of the marina and lined up behind us. I guessed that they had also contacted the lockmaster and been scheduled for the next lock through.
WILSON LOCK AND DAM
We are heading up stream on the Tennessee River, and will be locking UP. The lock will lift us about 92 feet. The lockmaster instructed us to tie up on the auxiliary wall on the land side. We looked at each other and said what is an auxiliary wall, and where is land side- we are on the river?
I called back for further clarification and by then the other boats had arrived- one tied to the wall, then boats rafted off to the side to make room the 7 boats assembled at the lock. We were waiting for a tow and barge to finish locking down so we could enter and get lifted up. Continuous traffic up and down at these locks!
Of course it is now raining and we all have donned rain gear as we tie a boat to each side with us in the middle. Boat cards and introductions are exchanged- we have the boat CJ on one side and FINS on the other side. We wave to Summer Time who we met in Chicago, and give a nod to Dr’s Orders in front of us.
Just hoping that there are no delays- there is construction going on here too, and some days it is unexpectedly closed for a few hours to move a crane or move materials into place.
Move forward to along the wall; toss the line mid ship line around the floating bollard and loosely tie off on the cleat. Several Fenders are ready to keep us off the wall. And we each have a mini baseball bat in hand. Why you ask? It is our fending tool- light pressure against the lock wall to keep us from excessive rubbing on the wall without having to touch the slimy walls.
Some boaters use the boat hook, but we heard one story of the wrong end poking out the boat window while trying to fend off the wall. Someone suggested baseball bats, and we found the perfect solution at a goodwill!
Wilson Lock has and unusual lock gate- it lowers into the water and we drive out over the top.
End Result at Wilson Lock: We arrived at 9:45 and exited at 11:45
On To WHEELER LOCK AND DAM
One more lock before our destination. We are passing several nice anchorages. If the delays had occurred we anticipated stopping along this stretch for the night.
Arrangements were made with the lockmaster, and there is no commercial traffic. We are informed that the doors will be open and we can all file right into the lock chamber. 45 minutes later we are all filing out; having lifted 52 feet!!
JOE WHEELER MARINA
Always a challenge for the marinas to handle 8 boats arriving at the same town. It must be a common occurrence for marinas near a lock- they handle it like pros. Lots of radio contact and each boat gets a slip assignment. In this case we were once again greeted and lines were handled by several other loopers so felt welcome and right at home in no time! We will be here almost a week as this the location of the AGLCA Rondevzous with speakers and presentations on each upcoming section of the loop. We will join about 60 boats that are in process of doing the loop and are at this point of the loop, about 250 people will attend- combination of people on the loop, completed the loop or people in the planning stage that are driving in from all parts of the country to learn about the Great Loop.
Should be an interesting week. Stay tuned.