Around a bend at mile marker 461 and the skyline of my destination comes into sight and just three miles more has me pulling up to the Chattanooga municipal courtesy dock. It is very nice facility and affords boat access to the downtown area. Over night stays are not allowed but docking is free and on a first come basis.  (If an overnight slip is needed Ross Landing Marina is near by and the downtown area is still with in easy walking distance.) Beside the public dock is the staging area for a 500 passenger riverboat called the “Southern Belle” that offers dinner and sight seeing tours. Looking across the river is a floating restaurant.

Unlike many river cities Chattanooga’s business district is situated right on the rivers edge.  After securing my boat against the fairly strong current I walk off the dock and up a flight of stairs.  There I find myself standing at a traffic light and in full view of the focal point of the downtown area – the Tennessee Aquarium.  It is an unusual shaped building that houses the worlds largest fresh water aquarium featuring over 9,000 animals that swim, fly and crawl in natural habitats. 

Adjoining the aquarium is a commercial area that includes the city’s visitor center, a gift shop and several restaurants.  Across the street is an IMAX Theater and within a few blocks there are numerous restaurants and attractions.  If the immediate downtown area isn’t enough to entertain you there is a free shuttle that will take you about 15 blocks up to the famed Chattanooga Choo Choo.  A number of hotel are along the way and offer overnight accommodations to fit most budgets. 

Besides their down town areas most good size cities have a lot of interesting things to do but in my estimation Chattanooga as far more than the norm – Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, Rock City, Raccoon Mountain Caverns just to name a few.  But somehow this “boating” story has changed in to a travelogue.  Lets get back to the trip.

I spent a few hours walking around the downtown area and decide to sit down at a nice restaurant for dinner.  After enjoying a great New York Strip steak I waddled my way back to the boat.  Untying the mooring lines I swung the bow around so it was pointing down stream and eased on the throttle.  Because I was again unsure of the time that would be needed to run the locks I decided it was best that I head back and cover a few miles before sunset.

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