Two To Nashville
Lake Barkley and the Cumberland River
It was a beautiful spring evening on the Nashville municipal boat dock. The sun had set a few hours earlier and we had just returned from a stroll across the Shelby Street Bridge. The bridge overlooks the downtown area as well as the dock and offers an exceptional view of the city lights at night.
Returning to Therapy we settled into our lawn chairs planning to sit on the dock and watch a movie on the DVD player. I noticed the piercing spotlight of a tow making its way up the narrow stream towards us knowing it would be passing in a few minutes. Our backs were to the bridge when we suddenly heard a loud splash. My first though was, "What did they throw off the bridge?" It had sort of a pop like a wide piece of wood hitting the water. We turned to look as the splash was subsiding and after a few seconds something slowly bobbed to the surface. It took a moment but then I realized it was a person. We had a jumper! I quickly looked downstream and the barge is still coming. "This is going to be interesting," I thought.
This had begun as another of my many cruises from Lake Barkley (sister to Kentucky Lake) near Paducah, KY to Nashville, TN by way of the Cumberland River. With a one-way distance of about 150 miles it is a fairly easy day run with only one lock impeding the progress. But this time it was going to be a little different as I had a passenger. My wife of 34 years had agreed to make the trip with me. Although Vickie has traveled quite a few miles in Therapy, she has limited it to day trips. For some reason the close quarters, lack of running water and using a somewhat exposed porta-potty seems to be a deterrent to her for overnight accommodations. Go figure. But this time she is going and I couldn't be happier. We had four days to burn and I was anxious to get the 2008 cruising season started.
On Friday morning we got away a little later than I had hoped but even with the three-hour tow to the lake we were on the lake by 1:00 pm. The wind was light and the water smooth. Therapy was running well even though heavily loaded. I knew because of the extra passenger and gear weight fuel economy would be affected so I had decided to take my extra 12 gallon tank putting my total fuel aboard at 37 gallon. As expected I found we were making about 7.9 mpg and cruising at about 20 mph (GPS) against about a 1 mph current. But I knew both numbers would improve as we burned our way lighter and had the flow of the river working with us on the return. All things considered, the 37 gallon should allow us to make the 300 mile round trip with out worrying about refueling.
We cruised through the afternoon enjoying the near perfect conditions. About 6 pm we found ourselves at Clarksville, TN. They have a beautifully developed waterfront and a couple years ago added a courtesy dock that allows river travelers to access the many restaurants in the area. We eased in and secured Therapy and walked up for our evening meal. Afterwards, we took a walk down through the business area and stopped by their River Center which is a nice compact museum citing the history of the river and the town. There we found a brochure that mapped a walking route visiting nearby historical points of interest. It was then too late in the day to complete the tour but we though it would be a great stop on the return.
With the sun getting close to the horizon we returned to Therapy and once again pointed the bow up stream. I knew we could not make the lock by dark so finding a nice spot for the night was next on the list. One of the advantages of traveling this river many times is on the GPS I have marked numerous suitable anchorages along the way. I picked one far enough up the river to exploit the remaining daylight and we idled into the narrow creek mouth as the sun was fading. Dropping an anchor off both the bow and the stern holds her in place and we settle in for a relaxing evening. Clouds are obscuring the stars but we sit out side for a while savoring the quiet.