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The Home Stretch- Seventy Miles to Paducah

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Captain Bob's Tennessee River journey ends in Paducah, KY

The final day's travel plan will be taking Captain Bob and crew through Kentucky Dam and home to Paducah, Kentucky. River traffic and COVID 19 disrupts those plans and the travelers must make alternate plans to complete their trip.

The Home Stretch- Seventy Miles to Paducah
Reported by Susan Jones
Planned Dam: Kentucky

The final day of the journey was sunny and picture perfect to the average boater. But if you were traveling almost 70 miles home to Paducah, it was a hard pull from Buchanan Resort area where the wind was high, which made for choppy, white-capping water and a rough, wet, slow ride. Capt. Bob smoothed it out as much as possible by traveling near the shore. This was the home stretch for a journey that began eight days and 585 miles ago.

The 170,000 acre and undeveloped, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) was our constant companion on the eastern side, while beautiful homes dotted the shores on the west. A rock quarry at LBL was hopping with boats and daredevils as we passed by. We searched the shorelines for wildlife and birds as Captain Bob entertained us with stories about working as a young man in LBL.

At mm 42.1 KenLake Marina at the state resort park proved to be another great fuel stop with friendly staff and very welcoming of boaters. The new marina owner, Tim came out to meet us and share his story of moving from California to owning a marina on the beautiful Tennessee River. This is a story that was repeated at many of the marinas along the waterway.

Well, not everything on the water goes as planned. Captain Bob radioed the Kentucky Dam lock master and learned that the wait would be over three hours due to commercial barge traffic. As we pulled up to Kentucky Dam Marina (mm23), a decision needed to be made. The Land Between Lakes forms a peninsula between the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River. On the west side of LBL is Kentucky Lake and on the right side of LBL is Lake Barkley. A canal at mm 24.5 provides a 1.5 mile connector between the lakes which are both below the dams. Considering the time of day, a decision was made to travel over to Barkley Lakes so that the boat and crew would be at their final destination by 5 pm. The pontoon pulled up to Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers to allow me to disembark.

Bob and Sterling continued their journey to their final destination of the Paducah Transient Boat Dock located in downtown Paducah, KY. Radioing ahead, they learned that the dock was closed due to COVID 19. Bob later quipped that the river technically ends at Kentucky Lake. “We made it to the dam, just not through the dam.” Captain Bob was very familiar with the heavy barge traffic at Kentucky Dam and often travels through the lesser used Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River. This route is more popular with pleasure boaters because of the heavier commercial traffic near Kentucky Dam

As they trailered their boat to head home, Sterling was already urging Bob to plan their next trip, maybe on the Cumberland River. These intrepid travelers had certainly “explored more” on the Tennessee River.

Next-up: Travel tips for planning your own “Any Man’s Journey”