Tenn-Tom Waterway on to Columbus MS, and a few days on land

We had a great easy passage through the 4 locks planned for today.   We just pulled up to the locks and drove right into the waiting pool.  One of the other loopers commented it looked like we were driving into a swimming pool, which it did since it was a very calm day.

One of the locks had a special visitor named “George.”  When the locks water level drops, sometimes fish get trapped on the gate.   A local Blue Heron often flies in when the water drops to select a meal from the gate.  The lock master explained the heron has been a resident for a long time.   He also told us how sometimes even raccoons climb down the ladder for a chance at fresh trapped fish.

We have already traveled over 1,000 nautical miles on this journey.  The man-made canal ended and we began traveling on the Tombigbee River.  The scenery opened up and the route begins to meander more with curves along the river.

The goal was to get to Columbus Marina, where we had planned to meet my sister.   When we arrived at Columbus, Alabama, they asked if we wanted a covered slip. Since we were planning to leave the boat for a few days, we said YES!  Sanctuary has not been under a covered slip like this before and might get a little spoiled. A number of other looper boats came to the marina throughout the day.

The marina has a courtesy car which we used twice; once to go to dinner at Huck’s Place, a Cajun-Creole cafe in a historic building downtown Columbus with Patty, Rayno, and Paul from Oh … Kay. We feasted on shrimp bisque, shrimp & grits, salad, and catfish with white beans and rice.

The second time, we took the opportunity to go on a remarkable tour of the Waverly Mansion with Wally and Darcy from Summertime.  Waverly was originally a cotton plantation with over 200 field workers/slaves.  When the civil war was over, the slaves became share croppers.  The house eventually was left abandoned for many years after the original owner died and the family could not agree on what to do with it.   It is amazing the house was not destroyed when it sat open and uninhabited.  Even some of the original mirrors and chandeliers were not broken.  After many years, the Snow family bought the house and began restoration of the building and grounds.  Mr. Snow, a nonagenarian,  still lives in the house and can be seen quietly working around the grounds.  Jimmy was our knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guide.

The marina owner “T” decided to provide a generous barbecue dinner for all the loopers creating a time of re-connecting. We had a great time which was much appreciated by the loopers.

The next day my sister picked us up so we could visit her family in Birmingham.  We left Sanctuary behind for the first time in two months and plan to sleep on land (aka Dirt Dwellers).  Thursday night was the final home game for our nephew’s high school, so we got to see his marching band.   They performed great pregame and half-time shows.  The band was great, and it was fun to see him with his sousaphone–the marching band version of a tuba.

After a few days here in Birmingham, we will be back on the boat and continue traveling south.  Next month Amanda, our daughter, plans to meet us for Thanksgiving … so we need to get moving again.



Teresa and Froggy in the lock




George the Blue Heron that visits the lock when the water level is lowered looking for a fresh fish meal.



Fall colors along the river



Froggy and 1000 miles


Tombigbee Waterway


Waterway canal

Scenes along the Tombigbee Waterway



Dinner at Hucks with crew from Oh….Kay



Steve, Teresa, Darcy, and Wally visiting the Waverly Mansion


Slide show of the Waverly Mansion




Thompson High School Marching Band Pregame Show


sam-in-uniform group-with-sam























Sanctuary in covered slip

From Joe Wheeler back to Pickwick Lake and on to the Tenn-Tom Waterway

After the rendezvous, we retraced our steps back down stream to Pickwick Lake.  We anchored in Panther Creek on the way back for one night.  While staying at Grand Harbor Marina, we visited Shiloh National Military Park, Museum, Cemetery and Battlefield–the site of a major Civil War battle.   Oh, and they also have a bookstore on site (SCORE for Teresa!) The bookstore clerk appeared to be rather dry at first. But then he started conversing and turned out to be quite the hoot. He shared the book he was currently reading: “Mark Twain” which included 4 of his writings, “Life on the Mississippi” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” If you are ever in the area, you should take the time to visit Shiloh. It was very interesting and humbling to see the grave sites of so many brave soldiers.

One of the poems on a bronze plaque in the cemetery read:

“The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat

The soldier’s last tattoo.

No more on life’s parade shall meet

That brave and fallen few.”


Near Shiloh is Hagy’s Catfish Hotel where we ate lunch: excellent catfish dinners, hush puppies, amazing coleslaw, and lemon pie.  From the back of Hagy’s Catfish Hotel, you can see the Tennessee River which is the route Sanctuary just passed through a couple weeks ago.



Anchored at Panther Creek Bay/Pickwick Lake on a foggy morning



Sanctuary at Grand Harbor Marina (the one with the 2 large flags)


Scenes from Shiloh National Military Park





Guardian of the waterway


A large group of water birds takes off as we approach




Teresa pilots Sanctuary past a barge in the narrow canal, while Steve tries to make a reservation for the Spring AGLCA Rendezvous.




Tenn-Tom Waterway narrow canal



Wild Pigs on banks of the canal




Canal opened up to more swampy areas



Canal opened up to more swampy area



Sunset at Midway Marina



Sanctuary at sunset at Midway Marina


Tomorrow we plan to continue south on the Tenn-Tom Waterway, and hopefully reach Columbus MS.





Wilson Lake, Big Locks and on to Joe Wheeler for the AGLCA Rendezvous

We traveled on to complete the journey to Joe Wheeler State Park.   To get here requires passing through two very large locks: the Wilson and the Joe Wheeler.  The Wilson Lock is the second largest in the US which raises the boat over 94’. While inside the lock, it feels like being inside a tomb with the sky VERY high above. Think of the telephone poles you see along the highway, they average about 40’.   It would take 2 ½ times that height to equal the lift of the Wilson Lock.   The largest is out west and measures 110’ of lift which from the bottom will not look much different.

Bob and Vicki, our good friends from home, planned to stop at the camp ground with their motor home and meet us here at Joe Wheeler State Park.  We enjoyed seeing them again and touring some of the area with them by car.   What we did not expect was to see my sister, niece and nephew.  In the distance, I saw a young boy wearing a Michigan State sweat shirt, and was going to say hello.   As he got closer, suddenly I realized it was my sister Rachel and kids.  That was a giant shock! We planned to see them later next week after the rendezvous, but she came early to surprise us.  Bob and Vicki graciously hosted a cook out at the camp ground with my sister Chel and Kianna (niece) and Jace (nephew).

We have been attending classes and getting information on the next segments of the loop.  The seminars are filled with speakers with many possible choices of great places to dock and anchor—it will be difficult to choose from the enormous suggestions. Between a harbor full of Looper boats, seminars, and Looper chats: this is proving to be quite a rewarding experience.



Natchez Trace Parkway




Wilson Lock – The highest lock east of the Rocky Mountains lifts between 93 and 100 feet. Entry doors closing.



Wilson Lock



Approaching the Wilson Lock



Anchored on Wilson Lake



Fall colors at Joe Wheeler State Park




Fall colors at Joe Wheeler State Park



Fall colors at Joe Wheeler State Park



Fall colors at Joe Wheeler State Park



Our Surprise Visitors



Bob and Vicki visited us while camping at Joe Wheeler State Park



Our Surprise Visitors




Scott Karen Vicki Bob Steve Teresa



Sanctuary at Joe Wheeler State Park Marina



Sanctuary at Joe Wheeler State Park Marina for the AGLCA Rendezvous


Soon we will complete the AGLCA Rendezvous, retrace our steps back to the Tennessee River and then start heading south toward the Gulf.  We will follow the Tenn-Tom Waterway south and find our way to the Gulf at Mobile Alabama.



Kentucky Lake ends, we are now on the Tennessee River/ Pickwick Lake

We reached the end of Kentucky Lake and are continuing south on the Tennessee River.  There was not a dramatic change just a gradual narrowing because Kentucky Lake is really just the backed up Tennessee River due to the dams built near Grand Rivers, Kentucky.

At Double Island anchorage, one of the other loopers saw armadillos on the shore. We continue to hear owls calling back and forth and coyotes bickering along the shore. Blue Heron get exasperated with us if we come near their spot and squawk as they ascend from their comfy perches on the water.

After anchoring for almost a week, it was nice to arrive at Pebble Isle Marina.   It was also time to celebrate Teresa’s Birthday.   She’s so appreciative of singing birthday greetings, texts, and FB notes wishing her the best. The staff at the marina also helped make it a special day for her.   Billy saved back cinnamon rolls for her.   The most special thing was that she got a call announcing a delivery for her.   Not long after that Tammy came down the dock with a BEAUTIFUL bouquet of flowers.    Our daughter, Amanda, got the information from Teresa of where we were going to be and called to have a local florist deliver the bouquet.   She also had a special dinner at the restaurant “Grey Heron Grill” at the marina.   Scott and Mary from “Jaycie Lynn” treated us to a great birthday meal there.   She felt the love even miles away from family and friends!

Sunday morning we went to a local church where Teresa gave the pastor a copy of her book.   The pastor’s family was part of the music worship team–his wife led singing, his son played guitar and daughter in-law sang.  It was a great worship time.   After church, we picked up groceries. When we returned to the marina, there stood the pastor at the top of the ramp overlooking the marina.   He and his family sometimes ate at the “Grey Heron Grill” sometimes.  Pastor Carlton got a boat tour and he introduced the rest of the family.

The staff (family-run) and harbor master (Billy) really work hard to make the marina a fun place.  The fuel is also low priced.  If you are in the area, we’d highly recommend a stay at Pebble Isle!   Before leaving the marina, Teresa presented Billy with a copy of her book to share with marina staff.

The river is getting more curved and there are more hills along the shore.  We had to wait behind one of the curves for a tow and barge group to pass.  There have been a lot of impressive houses on the hills along this section of the river.   All the ones near the river are built on stilts, due to potential flooding.

From there we stayed at a few anchorages, and last night “Last Call” caught up with us.    We enjoyed seeing them again around the camp fire and toasted s’mores on the small island here in the anchorage.  They will be going on to a marina while we will continue on to an anchorage nearer to Joe Wheeler State park where the AGLCA Rendezvous is planned.

We went through the Pickwick Lock today which was the largest lift so far.  It lifted the boat 55’.   Once through the lock, we were on Pickwick Lake and enjoyed the wide open spaces instead of the narrow river.

Tonight we are anchored in small harbor called Rock Pile.   The entrance is marked by three piles of rocks–hence the name.  Nice secluded anchorage.



Teresa Driving past barges


Old RR Bridge abandoned when area was flooded by the creation of the lake when the dam was built.


Old RR Bridge abandoned when area was flooded by the creation of the lake when the dam was built.


Old Grain elevator abandoned when area was flooded by the creation of the lake when the dam was built.


Scenes along he River


Houses along the rivers


Eagle we saw in Panther Bay



Building on cliff – Maybe that was a bad idea…..



Building on cliff – Maybe that was a bad idea…..

Pebble Isle our favorite marina so far.

The cinnamon rolls are fantastic



Teresa Birthday Flowers – delivery to marina


Teresa Birthday Flowers – delivery to marina

House used by Grant during Civil War


Shores of the anchorage at Wolf island

The Pickwick Lock a large lift of 55′ the largest so far.


Anchored tonight on Pickwick Lake, tomorrow we keep moving toward Joe Wheeler State Parkhouse-along-the-tennesse-river-boat-ramp-garage-3


Kentucky Lake – Another day another bay……….

There are so many interesting bays all along the “Land Between the Lakes” that create good anchorages.  We left Pisgah Bay and went to Sugar Bay followed by Panther Bay.   Leaving Sugar Bay, the wind was blowing quite strong from the south and we saw the first waves and white caps since leaving Lake Michigan.  While they were only 2’ or so, it was a change from the recent rivers.  Kentucky Lake is a few miles wide at this point so the waves have a distance to build.

After a couple nights in Panther Bay, we plan to move to Richardson Bay and then on to Pebble Isle Marina.  Both Sugar and Panther have simple rustic campgrounds where we took the dinghy to shore and explored.   In Panther Bay, we have been watching Eagles, Blue Heron and Great White Egrets.  We also fished some and caught small striped bass.  At sunset, we tossed our lines in the water and surprisingly caught striped bass one after another! The bays and anchorages are so peaceful and quiet making them a good place to relax and just chill.

Panther Bay is the most remote and quiet of all the bays so far. After the star constellations appeared, we sat on the bow of the boat marveling at their individuality and brightness. With no other buildings, people, or outside artificial lighting, the sky lights up with spectacular brilliance! The virgin sky view reminds us of fond times anchored outside of South Manitou Island in Upper Michigan.


Leaving Pisgah Bay hitting waves on Kentucky Lake


Steve and Teresa on the Great Loop 2016



Steve and Teresa on the Great Loop 2016

Celebrating Mary’s (from Jaycie Lynn) Birthday on Sanctuary



Sanctuary anchored in Sugar Bay



Small Stripped Bass in Panther Bay

Some of the Birds along the shore

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Sunsets and Sunrises so beautiful on the bays

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Green Turtle Bay Marina Resort to Kentucky Lake

We finally escaped Green Turtle Bay and after 8 days, it was agreed: time to move on.  We enjoyed our time there and took in a number of local activities.  One was the local play house, Badgett Playhouse, which was playing   “The Sounds of Memphis – the rhythm, the blues, the king.”   We enjoyed the musical very much and has been held over for a number of weeks.   They played tributes to Johnny Cash, Otis Redding, Elvis, and many, many more.  The players and audience really get into their music–talk about enthusiastic, get-down, and get excited. What a lively bunch! Teresa decided she lives in the wrong part of the country—this is her type of music. Says she could live on a steady diet of the music and good ole Southern cooking! Especially touching, was their ending tribute to veterans and those serving in service for our country.

We toured town on a golf cart.   Visited the “Pink Tractor”–a ladies clothing store and Teresa just had to climb aboard the pink tractor out front.   Visiting the local bait shop was an experience which included, pet lizards, huge frogs, and lots of unique stuff.  The area outside around Patti’s 1800’s Settlement had many old buildings, shops, and unique bird houses.

On Sunday, we went to a local Missionary Baptist Church. The congregation was very friendly, and the pastor started out by saying   ”Good mornin’ and how are y’all today?”  Singing from an actual hymnal felts like we went back in time a number of years.  Our home church mainly sings praise songs, choruses or has the words for the hymns on the screen.   Teresa gave the pastor a copy of her book “Life is: Good, Fragile, Precious—Loving yourself so you can love others” for the church library, and he was excited to read it.

Once out of Green Turtle Bay, we traveled through the channel, from Lake Barkley to Kentucky Lake.  The two “lakes” which are really dammed up rivers (the Cumberland and the Tennessee) surround the area called “Land Between The Lakes,”   which is a National Recreation Area.   All along the “Land Between The Lakes” are a number of small bays and inlets that make good anchorages.   We traveled to Pisgah Bay and plan to spend a couple nights anchored here. When we leave, we will keep moving south from one anchorage area to another.

The anchorage is very quiet and secluded.  There is a camp ground at either end of the bay.   Teresa and I tried our hand at fishing and caught some striped bass. Even though they weren’t terribly big, they were fighters! Once the clouds cleared last night, it was great to see all the stars.  They are much more vivid away from all the lights of a city area.




Bird Houses at Patti’s 1800’s Settlement


Bird Houses at Patti’s 1800’s Settlement



Steve and Teresa at GTB


The Sounds Of Memphis Musical at Badgett Playhouse


Sights around Grand Rivers




Leaving GTB



Leaving GTB


Rocky Shore of Pisgah Bay


The Quarry in Pisgah Bay







Starry Night in Pisgah Bay


Fishing in Pisgah Bay



Sanctuary in Pisgah Bay on Kentucky Lake part of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area


Sanctuary in Pisgah Bay on Kentucky Lake part of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area


We plan to stay here another night and then move south to another bay and spend a night or two there and then repeat.  There are many bays to check out on the Lake.