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Captain Bob's "Any Man's" Journey


Captan Bob Cherry and his crewmates, Sherman Jones and Stewart Edwards began their "any man's" Tennessee River cruise. Launching from Volunteer Landing in Knoxville, the group would be cruising on Loudoun Lake through the first of 9 locks to Watts Bar Lake and their first overnight stop.

Miles Traveled: 102.2
Launch time: 8 am EST
Arrival time at Terrace View marina: 4 pm EST

Day one is in the books. Captain Bob and his crew- Sterling and Sherman launched from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville on a foggy, overcast morning. Navigation through the city’s river line was on smooth water, but recent heavy rains in the area had washed large debris into the waterway. The crew was on high alert for log hazards which can ruin a prop or a trip. While the Tennessee River main stem runs 652 miles from Knoxville to Paducah, KY, the major tributaries of the Tennessee actually begin over 350 miles east of Knoxville, bringing water and wash down from the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina.

Launching just upriver at mile marker (mm) 625, Kathleen Gibi, executive director of Keep Tennessee River Beautiful traveled alongside of Captain Bob’s pontoon to Fort Loudon Marina on this first stretch of their long journey. Bob, Sterling, and Sherman are avid river stewards and have participated for many years with the Ohio River Sweep project. Kathleen enjoyed swapping stories about the KTRB river clean-ups conducted yearly on the Tennessee River with the Bob’s experiences with the clean-ups on the Ohio River. There is an undeniable esprit de corps between stewards of these amazing rivers.

The first planned fuel stop for Captain Bob and crew was at Fort Loudon Marina (mm 602). Friendly marina dock staff helped the group tie up the boat at the courtesy dock to refuel. By now the skies had cleared and sun was shining brightly. The marina was busy with pleasure boaters heading out for a day on the water. Early diners were already were seated at Calhoun’s outdoor Tiki Hut restaurant and families fished together along banks. Who could resist the lure of this warm, sunny day on the lake?

On hand to greet the intrepid travelers were Shera, Visit Knoxville, Rachel, Visit Loudon County, and Julie, ExploreTRV. Bob and crew were complimentary of the views, along the first leg of their journey, remarking on UT Stadium and the lovely homes that dot the shoreline. After a short break for coffee courtesy of Visit Knoxville, a travel treat bag featuring local products courtesy of Visit Loudon County, and picture taking, the first dam and lock was up. Rachel briefed the crew on the process of traveling through the Fort Loudon lock. Each of the nine locks and dams on their journey will require the voyagers to plan for the time needed to navigate the lock and build that time into their daily itinerary.

Fort Loudon Lock- mm 602: The sun was now high in the sky as the pontoon entered the lock. The process for this lock is straight forward. Travelers alert the lockmaster either by radio or by pulling the rope. Experience has made Bob a fan of radioing since water can damage rope pulls. While in the lock, boats tie up to be secure as the water is lowered. The pontoon entered the lock from Loudon Lake and would be exiting to Watts Bar Lake. This author waited below the dam to watch the boat and crew exit the lock on their final forty plus miles downriver to their first planned overnight at Terrace View marina.

Terrace View marina- The pontoon pulled into the marina at 4 pm EST. As so often happens in the Tennessee River Valley, clouds were building for possible afternoon thunderstorms. Traveling the river is a dance between the water, boat, and weather. A tip for travelers is to plan each of the stops needed to include fuels stops, arrangements for overnight docking, and for emergency stops. Each marina offers amenities that range from transient parking to full service lodging. At this stop, Bob was able to secure a room for the night to provide shelter from potential inclement weather. Due to COVID 19, the marina restaurant was closed, but the marina staff provided information for local restaurants providing delivery take out.

Overall, the crew enjoyed a pleasant first day and extended appreciation for the Tennessee hospitality.

Coming up- Day two- Watts Bar and stories of the river.