The second day we were off to much better weather. Slightly cool but no rain. Right after leaving Wheeler is the Joe Wheeler Lock. Jan was at the wheel. It was open and waiting. Like an elevator ride down 40 feet and we were in Wilson Lake. In 15 more miles we entered Wilson Lock. Now this is a big lock. A 93 foot ride down. Like falling in a well.
A tiny turtle had gotten caught inside the lock and swam up to the boat. It climbed up the wall a few inches and fell back into the water. Twice this happened before it got a good clawhold and hung there. then the lock started emptying leaving him on the wall. As it faded out of sight I thought if it falls off from 93 feet it will be killed unless that shell is like a crash helmet. if he can hold on long enough for an upbound vessel to enter the lock then the water will rise back up to meet him. A perilous existence for one so small. If I had been able to reach him I would have rescued him and released him at Green Turtle Bay where he probably has family.
This is a beautiful part of the Tennessee and we enjoyed the ride. We stopped in Florence, AL for Trixie to step ashore. A motorcycle group was in the park taking a break and got a kick out of two big boats stopping for a little dog to pee.
Our destination today is Grand Harbor Marina just inside the Tennessee Tom Bigbee Cutoff. Older readers might remember we stayed here twice on the Loop and visited the Shiloh Battlefield. This is where we hoisted our Gold Looper Burgee upon crossing our wake on the return journey. And this is where we spent our last night with our dear friends Rich and Merry K Womack before we parted for what would be the last time. They were both killed in a tragic plane crash after taking off from their private airstrip in Central Florida in August, 2015. A great loss for their family and friends.
I told their daughter that there was a positive side to every event. They were 79 years old. They had been together since becoming high school sweethearts. They loved to fly. They never had to watch each other grow sick or feeble or have dementia. They went out on top of their game. And they were going to pick up their grandson Matthew, who we met on Lake Michigan. He was the boy who loved to fish. If this catastrophic failure had occurred on the return leg he would have been aboard and lost his life. Thankfully he will now have a long and properous life.
When we arrived at Grand Harbor it was a three ring circus. Boats flying everywhere and a dangerous situation at the fuel dock and the entrance to the marina. Somehow we managed to get to the fuel dock and take on 80 gallons. Not bad considering we ran up on plane several times today.
And did I mention that we hit a time warp of some kind and found ourselves docked next to the Nina and Pinta? We have the pictures to prove it. These are a touring exhibit and are making their way back to Illinois. All day long groups of schoolchildren were taking tours aboard. A real zoo. Jan and Steve said they were never staying here again. I quite enjoed it.
I spent the afternoon washing down the cockpit and then I discovered a serious oil leak under the starboard engine! A little oil can spread a long ways especially with absorbent pads under the engines, but still it was a good bit. These engines hold 16 quarts so they can lose a few quarts with no ill effects. I diagnosed that the high oil pressure from running on plane forced it out a seal or gasket. Not something I can fix on the fly. I think we will just have to cut the high speed runs and check the oil often to manage things for now.
Dinner was at Freddy T’s. A swinging place for sure and loud as the devil. We used the courtesy van and even took Trixie. A grocery stop on the way back and Jan and Steve were ready to retire. Not me. I decided to improve my odds on the oil leak and headed for the engine room. I poured bilge cleaner into the oil to break it down for later cleanup. Then I tightened all the oilpan bolts, over 40, and put more absorbent pads to help monitor future leaks.
Finally a second shower and in bed by 0115.