September 30, 2015 – Wednesday – Pebble Isle Marin to Mermaid Marina – 46.6 statute miles traveled

Overcast but not rain! We went to the marina office and muffins instead of cinnamon rolls were there along with good coffee. We confirmed our plans for the day with Jim and Jo and were off to our boats for the days sojourn.

Pebble Isle Marina Office where Billie works and cinnamon rolls are served!

Pebble Isle Marina Office where Billie works and cinnamon rolls are served!

Looper boats lined up on the transient dock at Pebble Isle Marina. Note the overcast sky. It rained here as hard as I have ever seen.

Looper boats lined up on the transient dock at Pebble Isle Marina. Note the overcast sky. It rained here as hard as I have ever seen.

We were off the dock at 0900 hours and headed out of channel to the Kentucky Lake/Tennessee River at mile marker 96. During the first 20 miles we passed two oncoming tows but the channel was wide so it was not necessary to coordinate passage with them on the radio. We just stayed well to the side of the channel.

Typical river shot with bays, inlets, tributaries, etc. from the Raymarine C120W Chart plotter with Navionics cartography

Typical river shot with bays, inlets, tributaries, etc. from the Raymarine C120W Chart plotter with Navionics cartography

We realized we had forgotten to get ice before leaving Pebble Isle so decided we should stop at Cuba Landing Marina as we were intending to anchor out for the next two nights. Namaste slowed down over the last couple of miles giving us a chance to quickly poke into the marina, get ice and come back out before they arrived. When we pulled back into the river they were at dead slow but had not been there long and we were both off again.

Our original goal for anchoring was Tom’s Creek at mile marker 124.5. We poked our way in first and all seemed doable though it was fairly shallow. After going in about a quarter mile we called Namaste to tell them we were finding enough water. We continued and then it got too shallow to proceed. It is always difficult to know whether the depth is fine just a few feet to one side or the other but we decided it was marginal at best so called Namaste to let them know we were turning around. They turned around immediately and we both proceeded back to the river and were off to our next opportunity. By looking at the water marks on shore and with our experience trying to pull into the anchorage we began to realize that the water was significantly below normal so anchorages may not be as readily available.

Dredging operation mid river.  It looks like they actually separate the sand, gravel and larger rocks onto different barges.

Dredging operation mid river. It looks like they actually separate the sand, gravel and larger rocks onto different barges.

Our next thought was to anchor behind Denson Island at mile marker 125.   There was plenty of room and almost too much depth but there was very little protection from the significant wind blowing from the north. After going through the channel behind the island we decided that was not the anchorage for us.

Onward toward our next opportunity. This would be Lick Creek North at MM 127.7. We didn’t even have to enter to determine that this one would not do. Next we would try Cub Creek at MM 128.5. When we arrived Namaste, which draws a foot more than Sea To See, held off while we went in to explore. The channel was barely deep enough for us and then there was plenty of water and then a repeat of this several more times. We entered an inner basin that was very nice but after exploring it a bit decided that while we might be able to stay there it would be very marginal for Namaste and the entry channel was almost prohibitive. We decided to get back out to the river and continue on.

A river bank shot along this portion of the river.  Very beautiful even if it was totally overcast.

A river bank shot along this portion of the river. Very beautiful even if it was totally overcast.

As we approached MM 131 and Lick Creek South we ran into two fishing boats. I slowed down and yelled across to see if they had local knowledge of this possible anchorage. They did and said the channel was 20 feet wide and if we went astray we would be on the bottom. They didn’t think there was an anchorage spot deep enough for us. Now what to do?

JoAnn, aboard Namaste, called ahead to the Mermaid Marina at MM 140 and they said there was enough depth for us to get in. This became our goal as we had been on the river for over six hours and were ready for a break. We arrived at Mermaid Marina and Namaste called for instructions as to how to enter the channel. With these instructions they headed in but apparently were to close to the shore on their starboard as they went solidly aground. We layed off while they called the marina to see if help might be available to get them into deeper water. A marina person came out in a pontoon boat and hauled on them in two different directions with no success. The pontoon boat then went back into the marina to get a second person on board for easier line handling and then tried again. Eventually they were able to pull a line on Namaste’s port bow enough to get Namaste turned into the channel. They then pulled them off the shallow spot. We then went in first to test the channel depth and then Namaste followed with enough depth to make it to the moorage.

This is a minimal marina without any real services other than electricity. The bathrooms are closed at 8:00 PM and don’t open again until 8:00 AM. The showers are so far away the dockmaster offered his Gator 4 wheel ATV to get to them. The wifi was nonexistent. Still we were glad we had a spot off the river for the night.

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