The Amazing...


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One day I sat shivering in the cabin of Dreamweaver trying to figure out a financial problem. I wanted to fulfil a dream of sailing one day but I could not as long as I had financial burdens. Responsibilities are not for others to handle, they are ours and they can go anywhere with us, but financial burdens are the ones that make us capable of handling responsibilities in the conventional and expected manner. I had a house to upkeep that took both our incomes, two cars to maintain…and that is when it hit me, I was being conventional. I rushed home and told Wm of my plan.

“Let’s sell everything and move onto Dreamweaver!” I exclaimed. Wm raised his eyebrows and looked at me very surprised, then came the serious, down the nose calculating look, “Hmm, are you sure?” he asked. “Course I’m sure, I thought about it. If we go rid of everything we could pay off nearly everything, throw into that selling the vehicles and the property, we have enough to live on for several months and travel the near islands. Dreamweaver is perfect for the Bahamas and the Keys, she only drafts two and a half feet!”

So that was it, three years later we made it. The deadline was made, a time clock counted down the days and hours until we left the dock.











After hectic provisioning, I drove Bruce’s Jeep back to his house. He then dropped me off at Harrison Bay Marina where our boat has been docked since 2002. Wm was trying unsuccessfully to empty the holding tank, no one was around so we just said our goodbyes and left our dock for the last time. The boat was weighted down with too much stuff, but hey! This is the BEGINNING of our big adventure.

At Chickamauga Lock we chatted with the Lock Keeper for a while about using locks and how to use them safely. That was very helpful. The river was beautiful but that changed once we were at Ross’s Landing by the Chattanooga Aquarium, we had booked a dock there but there was a huge regatta going on! Hundreds of people watched as Capt. Barstard’s hard work flew out of the head flue and Wm smacked into the dock, and made a hole in the bow. I grabbed the tiller from him and swung the boat back into the current and came smoothly up. Snaps and whips frosted the air between us for a while as the control freak factor came into play. That night we went to our Chattanooga Grottoes 50th anniversary party and Wm was honored for all his hard work by being given a state of the art Garmin Chart Plotter.

Bruce letting our ropes go. Lookout Mountain after passing through Chickamauga Lock.
Under Veterans Bridge The Aquarium
Week One




Hale's Bar refueling


Bridgeport CSX Railroad Bridge













The next day we were moved on by the Regatta people, so at 7.45 we were motoring off with coffee and bagels down to Nickerjack Dam. Myrna followed and met us at Hale’s Bar. We did some excellent docking and some clever maneuvering as we waited for a rail bridge to raise. We had a close encounter with a barge as we went through, he left a whirlpool that poor old Dreamweaver got caught in which almost beached her but Wms slight of hand saved the day and our home.
After a day of quiet waterways we found Crow Creek Wildlife Refuge and anchored for the night after having the mast almost whipped off by a tree, oops forgot we had a mast!

I kept waking up and looking out of the porthole, disturbed by the strange noises and the drifting of the boat. “Go to sleep Carolina!” Wm mumbled, “We have three anchors down, we are not going anywhere!”

We decided to motor to Ditto Landing in Huntsville, AL today so Wm could repair the holding tank and all the plumbing because he realized he had done it all wrong! The weather was pretty stormy today with a wind that blew us along, the current was getting quiet wild too.  Wm lost his Atts & Latts hat and a fender when we passed through Guntersville Lock. He decided he needs a net and I decided to avoid ever falling overboard. We arrived at Ditto Landing at 5:30 and it was dark. Wm shone his light all over the place until we eventually found a way in up a very narrow channel with no channel markers. We made a sharp turn into a side wind and into the current but with a little motor manipulation, we glided in with ease and moored gently at a dock. The only bad thing about it is that no one saw us do it, bloody hell, it was good!

The Barge that tried to take us out.

(Right) Getting clouted by a tree.














Week Two


We started out again in the foulest weather possible on the 16th November. Just what were we thinking? Maybe it has been the wish of mine to experience the roller coaster ride of 4 ft waves. I will say, Wm and I laughed the whole 50 miles we ploughed today!

Crikey! Are we insane? We just missed a week of fab-u-lous weather just to freeze our stupid butts off because we want to bounce. Never mind, we both earned our pennies over the week. Me sewing and creating and Wm doing his computer stuff, now at least we can eat for a week!

Wm and Carolina enjoying the weather.


I spent most of the day, between Wm's bathroom visits, in the cabin being churned about like in a washing machine and inventing stuff that would hold the teapot down. Now I am glad the boat is small. I was able to wedge myself between the head and the sink (thank God for my big butt!) and feel quite comfortable and wrote a letter to my son. I ate a tuna sandwich that smelt like dogfood and swigged back a lot of Earl Grey. I now know EXACTLY what type of foulies to get. I thought about it A LOT today.

Creative tea making
Creative weather


The following day could not have been more different. We had pulled into Bay Hill Marina the stormy night before, it had been badly damaged by a previous storm and there was no one there. So we were greeted by someone who asked us what we were doing there....err trying to avoid the storm? We were shown to a dock behind a screen that was the most awkward spot I had ever experienced, it was 5 ft deep with areas where we just grounded our shallow draft. We tied up and plugged into the electric then walked half a mile to a shower block that, thankfully, was very nice. We woke to a misty, still dawn. The water was like a mirror as we motored at 8 knots off to our next stop. We smoothly slipped through the lock and travelled on to Wilson Lock. There we had to wait 3 hours for a tug to pull its load through this two level lock and raised bridge.

Leaving Bay Hill Marina, Nr Athens, AL    

Another close encounter with "Edwin L. Kennedy"

Wilson Lock Gate

We met the tug that almost wiped us off the charts and thanked them for keeping their engine off this time. They may have right of way but when they are parked off, and told about a small vessel that has been given right of way before they can go, they should hold off starting those engines until we have passed in a narrow channel. As you can see, they get up real close and personal!

Because it took such a long time to get through the Lock, we pulled into the next Marina. We were warmly greeted and were moored right by the shower and toilet and electric. We also had a restaurant there so we ate out! Too expensive. The next day the weather was still great, so we left early and knew we would get to Grand Harbor Marina at the mouth of the Tombigbee early afternoon.

A typical Tennessee River view.       Butt steering.

It was very, very cold. But the sun was nice. At midday the weather got colder and very choppy. Winter has definitely arrived here, we are so looking forward to getting south.

We decided I need to make a dodger to keep the wind off. My sinuses are really suffering the battering even though I use nose drops, 48spf cream and aloe vera and cover up, my face is burned and my sinuses and eyes burn...particularly bad at night. While I was at the helm, Wm fixed stuff around the boat. One of the most useful things he did was mount the Garmin Chart Plotter that members of the Chattanooga Grotto of the NSS gave us. He turned it on just 15 mins before we got to our destination! Wm did not know what a MFD (in the instructions) was. He decided it must refer to someones decision to call it exactly what they thought of it while installing it.

We arrived at Grand Harbor Marina and met up with Mo and Honey whom I met at a marina last month in Harrison Bay. She had been caught out in a bad hurricane and now has a trawler and is now working her way to warmer climes with her friend Joe on her boat "M0tu". Both have been sailors for many years, so we are looking forward to hearing more about their experiences.

Wm realising the dingy has rubbed off the varnish on the rails.
Mounting the Garmin Chart Plotter the Grotto gave us.


Week Three

The weather was cold and overcast, so we set about boat fixing. I started to feel rather sick, my face hot and my sinuses painful. I went to the lobby and watched the news. That made me feel worse, so I got a Sprite and headed back to the boat. Wm had created the most awful mess I got depressed and retired to the laundry room with my sewing project. I cooked a great stew, felt tons better and phoned my son and my sister. How different life is like this. I am still not sure whether or not it is reality. People behave differently and the focus is weather, what one is eating next, and what time we leave.

Nestled in Grand Harbor Marina and ready for Tombigbee.
Wm making a mess fixing leaks.

We set off on a glorious morning of totally clear skies and it was warmer. Because of my nose I spent more time in the cabin working on the sewing project...below is how far I have got with that. Can you guess what it is yet? It ain't nothing to do with sailing!

Two pairs of sunglasses cuts the glare.
The"sewing project" progress

We had three locks to pass during the trip down a very unexciting canal. The first lock was rough as hell, I had a lot of problems with the current that kept swinging the boat around the wrong way, the waves were very rocky and everything slammed around in the cabin. Eventually we crawled in and caught in the port wall slamming the bow pulpit into a crevise after a wave pushed us unexpectedly against the wall. Now we have another leak probably, though it would have been worse if the pulpit was not there...(don't even dare imagine)

We now check the wind direction before entering the locks and pull in on the side away from the wind...err, something about avoiding a lee shore came to mind in this exercise. The next two locks were no problem. We were the last boat to arrive just as the sun set. We filled our petrol tanks and met up with Murphy and Franklin, a couple of guys from Texarse (oops! Texas) PLEASE, no smirky quips about towns in a certain fine state. We went to Huddle House and had some good hearty American fare, then a quick stroll around Walmart. So, Elvis was born here, where a fine figure of a woman is at least 60" round and a man ain't a man unless he is wearing fatigues and a peaked cap. You see no-one for miles because they are all on cellphones or hiding in the cake aisles hanging around Walmart. Every 30 seconds someone opens the toilet door and walks out again because whatever they are looking for is not there...or is it...

Surrealism at its finest.

Industry along the banks.
Rankin Lock.

Now the adventure begins!

Midway Marina
View from our boat

Today was frightening, exciting and a bit sad. Our rudder was torn off by a "hit and run" powerboat.

We followed the Texas guys out at dawn and caught up with them at the second lock of the day. They were moored up with Whale Rider waiting for a tug to go through. Half hour later we were in the lock with them and waited some more for Motu, Peacemaker (the cat we followed yesterday) and a towboat and another powerboat "It's All That" that came in last.

We know we are slow and had already directed the others to take over and get on to the next lock so they could make Waveley Marina before dark. The channel was very narrow on the other side and we pulled over for Whale Rider to pass. There were no problems as we jumped the slight wake as they passed. "It's All That" took off after them and passed really close as a tug pulled out on the other side. They were going much faster so the wake was coming very fast as was the tug whirlpool. I got Wm to take helm as I could not reach the secondary steerage we have on the outboard when the rudder was broken off by the incredible wake caused by It's All That as they sped by us. I got on the radio to warn the others, who were coming up fast on our tail now, that we had reduced steerage, the rudder was gone and to pass us wide. Mo was going crazy and yelling at the boat to stop and return but he just zipped off. Everyone else gathered around us, Whale Rider returned and threw us a tow rope and took us to Aberdeen Marina by the next lock where we all met up and had a few beers.

The damage
Being towed by Whale Rider
Coming into Aberdeen Marina

The coastguard was there of course and had monitored the whole event and got the offending boater at another marina downstream. Wm got in touch with him and sorted out the damages.

Looking Upstream
Whale Rider and Billy Thunder bringing up rear

We could never have met such a wonderful bunch of people as we did that day. As a diehard Brit, I can assure the rest of the world that 99% of Americans are the salt of this earth. Every country has arseholes and they are the ones that a good old southern boy would say... should be "taken out". The bunch of folk we met today, especially Capt. Kirk of Whale Rider, are the pride of humanity. Their mothers would be proud. The people of Aberdeen Marina have been incredibly helpful and very kind, and we are going to enjoy our stranded week here with them. They are like family already... the biscuits are INCREDIBLE!

The owners of Peacekeeper, the Catamaran, showed us around their boat. Yep, I STILL live in a shed. This boat is a "pussy boat". No woman would ever decline an offer to go to sea in that! The only thing that put me off was it had no sail, so I think I will stick with me "shed on water".

Nobody can deny, the scenery down stream is spectacular:

(Right) River ghosts.


(Left) Eden?

(Left) Upstream Tombigbee




(Right) Missisippi Snowman



Week Four

Over the last two weeks here, we have met a few "Circler's", these are folk who are boating he great circle; The Great Lakes, Ohio, Misissippi, Tennessee, Tombigbee, around Florida and up the Intracoastal. They are some of the niceset people in the world, friendly and very helpful to first-timers like us. They remind me of cavers, we are all into something in common. Sometimes there are difficulties and we act like a family. One of the nicest things I have found with being amongst a group like this, where one is not confined by the daily duties of the job, is the true individual is revealed. People become real, they all become worth something. There is no judgement because there is no performance to judge by. There are no unhappy people. Satisfaction builds great character.

One of the happiest characters at Aberdeen Marina has to be Kelly. He comes in to cook breakfast every morning. One of the highlights of the day is first thing in the morning because he always has a smile and a cheery welcome ready.
I know this is a terrible photo but it was humid. Every day, hundreds of cans of beer are sold here!
Our Dreamweaver is tucked in on the right. This is the pond beyond the pumps that will one day have more docks and hopefully a bath house! See how tranquil it is! You would never imagine you were right by a lock and one of the busiest waterways in America! We had a storm last night and we felt really safe in our harbor.

Aberdeen has the bureacracy nailed!

Aberdeen has some of the finest Antibellum houses to visit.

So we are still here almost two weeks. The weather has been great, but after the storm last night it is getting bitterly cold and we are eager to get to Florida. Our rudder is taking it's time to dry but we are hopeful for a Tuesday departure to Columbus. I am looking forward to Aberdeen Marina having better facilities so that I can return and enjoy being here again on another trip.