We move onto the southbound portion of our trip from Kentucky Lakes to Mobile, Alabama. In this edition of the Blog, we visit Kentucky and Tennessee, touch Alabama, and then stop in Mississippi. We arrive at Aqua Yacht Harbor in Iuka, MS, for a reunion with our friends Charlie and Robin from our first Loop. We also finally caught back up with our buddy boat, Indigo, at least for a few days. We wait two days in Iuka for our friends on Brand New Day to get repairs, then continue down the Tenn-Tom Waterway to New Site, Mississippi.

Day 168 – Thu, 11/09 – From Grand Rivers, KY to New Johnsonville, TN – 73 miles, Travel Time: 7hrs 40min

Grand Rivers, KY to New Johnsonville, TN

We started south again after a nice break at Green Turtle Bay and a prop swap. From Green Turtle Bay, we headed back through the Barkley Canal and back into Kentucky Lake.

Kentucky Lake is actually the Tennessee River that has been dammed up with the Kentucky Dam to create the lake. There is a large Hydropower plant at the dam and the lock we came up in.

When Kentucky Lake was flooded, several towns, roads, and railroads were flooded in the process. As you cruise, the chartplotter shows some of the artifacts such as “submerged bridge,” “submerged railroad,” and “submerged structure.” They are all deep enough (at least 30 feet down) that they don’t present any hazard.

A few artifacts are still visible, including an old railroad bridge. It used to be a drawbridge, but they have removed the central section, and someone has built a house on the bridge! I guess they think that it won’t ever get used again. Just beyond the bridge is an old Grain Silo from the 1930s. They never tore it down before the lake flooded, and it sits partially submerged at the side of the channel.

Aside from some wind in the afternoon, it was a nice trip down. Neither Brenda nor I remembered Pebble Isle Marina from our last trip. We stayed here, but we couldn’t recall what it looked like. As we approached and saw the narrow, winding channel to get in, we both said, “Oh Yes! That one!”

We got tied up and settled in for the evening. The restaurant at the marina was closed for the season, but we did sign up for the freshly baked Cinnamon Rolls in the morning!

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Day 169 – Fri, 11/10 – From New Johnsonville, TN to Clifton, TN – 63 miles, Travel Time: 6hrs 0min

On Friday morning, we waited until 8:30 for the Cinnamon Rolls to be ready. Once we got them, we headed south. It was a nice sunny day, and we cruised through lots of interesting stone outcroppings.

We have been looking forward to returning to Clifton Marina. It was one of our favorite marinas on our first loop. A mother-and-daughter team (Susan and Stacy) runs the marina. We got stuck here for a few days on our last visit due to the weather. They put on a family-style dinner each night; the food was great, and we had a great time!

When we radioed in that we had arrived, they said, “You are in the same slip as last time.” They remembered us! As we backed into the slip, they were waiting to catch our lines, and they had the rubber frog we had given them on our last visit in their hand to greet us! We had a great reunion! They pulled out their guest book, and we reminisced about our last visit in 2019.

In the evening, all the Loopers (Journey, Rykher, Slow Dance, Loose-Moose, At-Last-2, Bandit, Dos Gatos Locos, and us) got together at the restaurant and had an excellent steak dinner!

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Day 170 – Sat, 11/11 – From Clifton, TN to Iuka, MS – 58 miles, Travel Time: 8hrs 0min, Locks:1

Clifton, TN to Iuka, MS

Saturday, we continued our trip down the Ten-Tom. Our destination for the day was Aqua Yacht Harbor in Iuka, Mississippi. Again, this was a stop on our first loop and is the home of our traveling friends Charlie and Robin on “The Lower Place.” Charlie and Robin are the Harbor Hosts at Aqua Yacht.

We left Clifton (wishing we could stay another day) with Dos Gatos Locos and cruised down the Ten-Tom Waterway. The east side of the river is fairly flat, while the west side has large bluffs, sometimes of stone cliffs and sometimes of soil bluffs.

In August, a series of heavy rains and tornados came through this area, and the devastation was visible along the river. Side-by-side houses had extensive damage to one and nothing to the other. All along the banks, there were areas where 90% of the trees were uprooted. You could see where the tornados went back and forth across the river, with damage on one bank and no damage on the other, then a swath of devastation on both banks. The power of nature.

We passed an area where a hillside, probably a 1/4 mile wide, slid into the river. There were the remains of one house among the dirt and rubble, and another was half hanging over the precipice a couple of hundred feet over the river.

Many of the houses along this section are raised to deal with the rivers’ seasonal floods. Some were up 20 feet or more!

In the late afternoon, we reached Pickwick Lock & Dam. There was a large towboat coming down. Some of the boaters there had been waiting several hours as they had to split the tow and bring it down in two sections, then re-assemble it. Fortunately, We got there just before they were ready to head downriver. After only a 30-minute wait, we got into the lock and went up the 80 feet to Pickwick Lake. This was our last “Up” lock on the trip. From here on, we go down all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s only about 5 miles from the lock to Aqua Yacht Harbor, and we arrived at 3:30. We were with a pack of 10 boats, so we skipped going to the fuel dock as several boats were already waiting and went straight to our slip. We planned to stay at Aqua Yacht for a few days, so we figured we would go during a quiet time tomorrow.

As we pulled up to our slip, Charley McVey, our old friend from our first loop in 2019, awaited us! It was great to see him and his wife, Robin, and have a quick catch-up.

After settling in, we walked to the restaurant at the marina for dinner.

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Day 171 – Sun, 11/12 – In Iuka, MS

Sunday was cool and cloudy. The temps were between 58 and 60 degrees, and it was mostly cloudy. Brenda went on a Walmart run with Edie from Brand New Day, and I spent most of the day working on the Blog.

We did take the boat over to the fuel dock to fill up with diesel and get a pump-out, but that was the most excitement of the day.

In the evening, we got together with Steve and Edie on Brand New Day and Des and Mike from Mad Cruzin for dinner. Steve and Edie were having their boat hauled out to fix their props on Monday, and Edie didn’t know if they would get back in the water or have the power to run their refrigerator. She cleaned it out and made an amazing Shrimp Boil!

Day 172 – Mon, 11/13 – In Iuka, MS

Monday morning was quite foggy. In the morning, I got the courtesy truck and dropped off our propellers at a shop in Iuka to have them straightened.

I changed the oil on the generator. This time I got it at 147 hours to make sure that I didn’t go over 150 and get crap from my mechanic Michael who watches the blog to make sure that I’m on time doing the maintenance on “his engines,” as he calls them.

Brenda got together with Edie on Brand New Day and played Scrabble. When Brand New Day was in Canada, they hit a rock (in almost the exact location we did on our first loop!) and had some repairs done (new prop shaft, props straightened, engine aligned) ever since they had a vibration in the starboard engine. While at Aqua Yacht, they decided to have the boat hauled out of the water to fix this.

On the front of our boat, we have speakers under the brow above the windshield installed by the prior owner. In rough water, waves splash over the bow and onto the windshield. The speakers are not quite the right size and were never sealed correctly, so water leaks into the boat and drips out of the inside speakers and through screws along the roof. I’ve been planning to fix them and have had the parts for several months; I just have not had a warm day or the motivation to take on the task.

Today was the day! I removed the old speakers, covered the old holes with Starboard, and sealed around them. I then installed new waterproof external speakers. It cleaned up the look and sealed the holes, so we hopefully have no more leaks.

In the evening, we just had the leftover steak from Clifton and some shrimp boil from last night.

Day 173 – Tue, 11/14 – In Iuka, MS

We didn’t do much on Tuesday. I did some accounting and caught up on some YouTube videos. Brenda played Scrabble with Edie while their boat was hauled out.

Brand New Day’s props and shafts were pulled. The shafts looked fine, and they sent the props to the Prop Shop to be tuned. I spent some time watching the mechanics. “I love work! I could watch it all day!”

In the evening, we went to Robin and Charlie’s party barge at the end of our pier for docktails with a bunch of Loopers and some boaters from the marina.

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Day 174 – Wed, 11/15 – In Iuka, MS

Wednesday was another relaxing day. It was gloomy and spitting rain on and off. I took care of a few small boat projects. Brenda and Edie played Scrabble while their boat was being worked on.

In the afternoon, Charlie McVey picked us up, and we went to their home just across the border in Tennessee to visit for a while. Then, we went to a local Chicken Wing restaurant for dinner.

Day 175 – Thu, 11/16 – In Iuka, MS

On Thursday, I had planned to get the loaner car to go and pick up our propellers from the prop shop. As I walked toward the office, Charlie McVey called and said that he was there picking up some props for another boater, and mine were ready, so he offered to bring them back to the marina for me. What a guy!

Brenda and Edie’s last grocery run to the local grocery store in Iuka was disappointing. They didn’t have half of the items they were looking for. So, today, they got the loaner car and went to the town across the lake with a Super Walmart and a Kroger grocery store.

I walked around the docks, visited with some of the other loopers, and watched the mechanics installing Brand New Day’s props.

In the evening, Brenda cooked Spaghetti, and Steve and Edie came to our boat for dinner. They were very frustrated with the delays in getting their boat fixed. We had planned to leave on Friday morning. However, we enjoyed traveling with them and decided to wait until Saturday to see if their boat got fixed.

Day 176 – Fri, 11/17 – In Iuka, MS

Friday, we were waiting while Brand New Day had their engines aligned. This took several hours, and when they went out for a test run, the boat was vibrating worse than when they arrived! Steve was justifiably frustrated! They hauled out the boat again and, while inspecting the props, noticed that the starboard propeller was not fully seated on the shaft. This was the newly replaced prop shaft. When putting on new props, especially on new shafts, there is a process called “Lapping,” where an abrasive paste is applied to the prop shaft and inside the propeller, and the propeller is spun on the shaft to grind down the shaft and prop so that they have a very tight mating surface. Apparently, this had never been done, and there was a noticeable play in the prop, even with the nuts fully tightened.

The mechanics spent an hour lapping the props and re-installing them, and they took the boat out for a test run. While not perfect, there was a noticeable improvement! They decided to get more aggressive abrasive and try again on Saturday morning. (They wanted to try again on Monday, but Steve talked them into working on Saturday!)

In the afternoon, we got an Amazon delivery with presents for our daughter Bethanny. We packed them up, and I took the loaner car to the local post office. The local office closed at 4:00. I got there at 3:59, and the clerk had already closed out their computer, so they told me I’d have to go to the next town over where the post office didn’t close until 5:00. So… I drove to the next town to drop them off.

When I returned, we went to the marina restaurant for dinner with Steve and Edie.

Day 177 – Sat, 11/18 – From Iuka, MS to New Site, MS – 39 miles, Travel Time: 3hrs 55min

Iuka, MS to New Site, MS

Bright and early Saturday morning, the mechanics pulled Brand New Day back out of the water and did another round of lapping on the prop and shaft. They put it back in the water at 10:00 and went for a test drive. We kept waiting for them to come back. Finally, we got a call from Steve. The vibration was gone, and he was getting diesel and a pump out at the fuel dock. They were “MORE” than ready to go!

We got the Frog ready and cruised to the fuel dock, waiting for Brand New Day to finish fueling. Then, at high noon, we both bid Aqua Yacht farewell and headed south to Bay Springs. A small marina about a half-mile from our next lock.

The trip to Bay Springs was great. Both boats were running great, and it was bright and sunny. As we passed the lock on the way into the marina, we called the Lockmaster and arranged for an 8:00 am lock-through the next day. By 4:00, we were all settled in Bay Springs for the night.

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Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda

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