Port and Starboard learn a little history

The past few days we have filled our time with activities on land. Land is nice. It does not rock back and forth. The first “Loopers” we ever met, Bill and Bonnie Sweeney, treated us to a day at Shiloh battle field, a civil war museum and national park. They rented a car for the day and invited us to come along. Cars are fast. Much faster than Louise. Not being much of a history buff, I was still fascinated to stand on this historical land. It gave us a new perspective of where we are, and the history of the rivers we are travelling. We later explored the town of Savannah, where we were awed by victorian homes from the 1800’s, and stuffed after an awesome southern barbeque meal.

Spending several evenings in marinas has been more fun than expected. Although we enjoy anchoring out, you just can’t beat the company of fellow loopers. For a while we were traveling daily with other boats. Since Kentucky Lake, everyone scattered to separate areas, and took their own side trips. Katie and I have been on our own for a while, and are happy to be in a marina surrounded by friends and “families” we have accumulated along the way. It’s been a month and a half and I am still constantly caught off guard by how hospitable and loving people can be. A stranger one moment, and a great friend the next.

Katie and I laugh at how different we are socially. I am the one to immediately shake a hand, introduce myself, give boat tours, take photos, ask/answer questions etc. I seem to be the “talker” in the beginning. Katie later comes along, gathers contact information, and does everything she can to make sure we keep in touch. Whether that means slowing our pace, speeding up, or staying put, she does a great job getting everyone together. In the end she actually does much more talking than I do. We jokingly say “I make the friends, and you keep the friends.”

We never know what day it is. For some reason I am always asking the time. I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s either time for coffee, or time for wine. When I think it’s Saturday it is Tuesday. When I think it’s noon, it’s five. We go to sleep earlier than all of our retired friends, and mostly enjoy the “retired” life. Both of us, though, are getting a little stir-crazy with out a schedule and without work. We are heading south slowly to miss the hurricane season. But no work, no money, no schedule is starting to lose its romance. By the time we reach Florida we will be so excited to work, get 7 jobs apiece and never sleep!


The Tennessee river and Pickwick Lake have been delightful. We are always happy to be back on a lake again after many miles of narrow river. There are no negative words to be said of either, but I’d say our preference is the open lake. We enjoyed several anchorages on Pickwick, and have spent almost a week here. Between the southern hospitality, landscapes that look like paintings, bass tournaments, old western bars, trees of broccoli, prime time real estate, and fishing success, we have not covered much ground. For the first time we have no desire to get any farther. Four hundred and fifty miles till the gulf will go by quickly. This mellow river, “motor-boatin” stuff is kind of nice….

Katie caught a fish!!! Finally. It only took a month and a half. She is now on a roll… and has caught 3 more since. This one went back into Pickwick lake, and did not become supper. I am personally determined to catch a catfish. I will kill it, and gut it, and cook it, and eat it, and it will be delicious, and you will hear about it. Just give me another month.

A bird that swims, and can not fly

Today Bird experienced swimming for the first time. It all happened right before my eyes – like a mother watching her child by the deep end of the swimming pool. Except in this case, it was hilarious. I was sitting on the dock writing, while Bird was skipping around exploring other boats. She was curious about the sailboat docked in front of us, getting steps closer to hopping on. Little did she know there happened to be a dog “Farley” on the boat who was of course protective of his land. Farley came barking and charging at Bird, scaring the hell out of her. Bird reacted stupidly trying to jump aboard the vessel. In the midst of horror she did not get a good enough grip, tumbling to the rivers below in-between the boat and the dock. I immediately ran over and started cracking up after witnessing her being able to swim with no previous lessons. I fetched bird out of the water, soaking, terrified, and awfully unattractive. It was inevitable, and a moment we were waiting for. Thank you Farley for helping us get it over with.

Fun Facts

There are some things that I know Y’ALL are wondering. Such things as… What do we eat? Or, what do we do for heat? Or what mistakes have we made and learned from lately?

We have accidentally become vegan. Not seriously. But kind of. Very early in the trip we realized that buying food that has to stay cold is pointless. We have nothing but an icebox, and an icebox that is located right next to a hot engine is not helpful. Both of us being daily meat and dairy eaters, we had to get used to this life. The only things we care to keep cold at this point are beer and fresh vegetables.  Everything else can be kept at outside temperature. So, what do we eat? We eat lots of granola, tortillas, peanut butter/honey/jelly/nutella, soup, trail mix, cookies, turkey jerky, canned chile, canned chicken, and tuna. You get the point. Fresh meats and cheese are out the window. Fishing is almost a daily activity. It has not worked yet. But it will.

Unlike some of today’s boats, our 1979 Cal does not offer an in-house heating system. We have our own system called the “petting zoo.” Yes, although we are technically in the south, it still gets down in the 30’s at night. When we left on the trip, just Katie and I were sleeping in the v-berth. As temperatures have dropped, suddenly there have been 4 bodies radiating heat in the v-berth – Reggie, Bird, Katie and I. The animals have both decided that our bed is their bed as well. The “petting zoo” got it’s name because of the animals’ insistence for affection while we are trying to sleep. Like clock work, every single morning at 7am, the animals are awake and make sure that we are too. Bird runs back and forth faster than we can focus, attacking our faces and Reggie’s tail. Reggie lays still trying to play it cool, but eventually he gets pissed off and tries to bite Bird’s face. Long story short, amidst all the ruckus in the v-berth, there is no need for additional heating.

Silly mistakes. We make a lot of them. I personally have made many more than Katie so far. I seem to like to do things backwards? My most classic move to date was turning the oil drain bolt the wrong way. I spent at least 20 minutes, using every ounce of body strength, turning the bolt in the direction that I knew was positively loosening it. But no, I had tightened it tighter than you can imagine. Eventually I kicked myself in the head realizing that I had it all backwards in my mind. Is it because I am a female trying to change oil on a diesel engine? Either way, we got her done!

Another great mistake – Just the other day we went to anchor about half a mile off the Tennessee river in a creek. Our guidebook specifically said “be aware of a 2 foot depth drop overnight because of nearby dam.” Katie and I both thought that 2 feet sounded too drastic…what are the chances of it actually dropping 2 feet?! The creek was narrow, with 10 feet of water all the way in, and 5 feet at it’s shallowest. We dropped the hook in 9 feet, and had enough room to swing in all directions without hitting bottom. When we awoke in the morning, sure enough, we were surrounded by land that was not there when we came in the night before. Turned on the depth sounder… 7 ft. Knowing we would run aground trying to leave the creek, we waited hour after hour watching the water rise. Guess the book was right : (

During this time we’ve come to realize how ADD we both are. We struggle to sit in one place, and enjoy moving to new places. I can only read and drink coffee for so long… and Katie can only go “birding” for so long. Katie did find a beautiful hawk with a broken wing and tried to save it. Unfortunately the wild life rescue in the area was not so helpful, and neither were we. It’s the thought that counts.

The last fun fact is that we are unintentionally creating our own language. Who needs to know boating lingo? One example being – there is no “port” and “starboard” on Louise. There is “my side” and there is “your side” All of my things are located on the starboard side, while Katie’s are located on the port side. From day one we have referred to the sides of the boat as “my side” or “your side”

Any other questions?


Over endless hours of steering from the cockpit, we invented a way to steer sitting on the cabin top. Rigging a line from the tiller, around the winches, we both hold a line and steer a direction. It is actually easiest for one person to do this task, but it’s more fun with both of us. A group effort.

Honkey Tonk Central

Ellen, Maggie, and Michael drove down from Michigan for a long weekend to visit Us. It took them 9 hours to drive to Cuba landing TN, while it took us just over a month, a hard concept to grasp. We parked Louise at Cuba Landing marina, and left her alone for the first time while we explored Nashville. We had so much fun in Nashville being tourists on Broadway street, eating too much food, buying things that never should have been bought, listening to live music, and of course having one drink to many. I even ran into someone I knew who I met at a wedding in Jamaica, small world. Another place we were tempted to stay…. why not find jobs in Nashville and live there?

The day began with good ole Loretta Lynn’s buffet for breakfast! The impressive gift shop made up for the not so impressive buffet. A hilarious experience! We love you Loretta.Outside Loretta Lynn’s kitchen, a real live bull awaiting our arrival.

If any of you have spent 3 days with Ellen, Katie, and Maggie all at once, you know there is an abundant mix of sarcasm, mocking, arguing, ridiculous conversation, and lots of laughs. There was no lack of entertainment here. Love you guys, and so happy you took the trip down.

Buy 1 pair, get 2 free. Seriously?

We approached the pedal tavern intoxicated hoping we could pedal around the block for free or something. The southern California employee did not fall for our persuasive sales tactic, so we sat there and pretended for a while. We ended up on a horse and buggy ride later in the evening of course.

Today we live in Tennesse

It was such a relief to spend time in Kentucky Lake. It is an enormous lake that the Tennessee River runs through. There are hundreds of turn offs and inlets offering beautiful places to anchor. Unfortunately most of the time we spent on Kentucky Lake we were socked in with low clouds and rain. Sometimes weather makes things more memorable, and often for Katie and I – more enjoyable.


Our gages… kind of work, and kind of do not?

Hmmmm. Questionable smoke.

and a dead cat.

The state of Kentucky shortly turned to Tennessee. I think we will live here. We love Tennessee. It is tempting.  The river glitters, the hills are rolling, the leaves are changing color, and the people talk funny. We have been nothing but smiles along the Tennessee River, and are not rushing to leave. We also came across our favorite anchorage yet, Harmon Creek. We spent the evening exploring the island, avoiding a snake, unsuccessfully fishing, cooking a delicious dinner, drinking rum, and laying in the cockpit looking at the stars – it seemed like we were in a planetarium as Louise slowly swung around the anchor. Finally out of the midwest, everything is suddenly very relaxed.

Harmon Creek Anchorage

Katie girl. Being a sunbum.

One of the best sunsets yet…


Claire comes to Kentucky

Pretty Claire flew all the way from Seattle, to Paducah Kentucky to come visit us for a long weekend. She landed at the airport at the exact time we tied up at Green Turtle Bay marina in Grand River, KY. Momma Claire was our first privileged guest aboard Louise. If you want to call it a privilege. We relaxed at Green Turtle Bay for two nights, took advantage of the courteousy car to stock up at Walmart, drank rum and dined out for the first time in a while. Thank you mother for your weekend contributions!! It was a lovely couple days and we are happy you got to experience our life on Louise.

Jessie checking the stuffing box because it likes to leak more than it should! Claire relaxing with her glass of wine, questioning what her daughter could possibly be doing?

Jessie and Bird, enjoying a morning cup of joe in her nap-sack. The perfect thing to be wearing on a chilly morning. Polerstuff.com

Good-morning Katie and Reggie.

So sad. Oil spill in Kentucky Lake as we topped off the oil on the outboard motor, that does not like to run when we need it to run.

We found a private little cove to anchor out at in Pisgah Bay, which is located on the north end of Kentucky Lake.  The evening brought upon us whiskey, rum, a fishing pole, and of course the guitar. There was no fish caught for dinner so we drank instead.

I also realized I have not yet posted a photo showing the name of the boat. Isn’t she lovely?

People are Good

By far the most amazing part of this trip has been the people we have come across. Only a couple of weeks have gone by, and honestly I don’t know if we would have been able to cover so much ground if it weren’t for these people. Since day one, there has been someone there at the right time and at the right place. Between experiencing our first lock, dropping our first anchor, running aground time and time again, there have been people to help and to give advice in every situation. Every single boater has been in a sticky situation, or in the exact same situation you are currently in and is happy to lend a helping hand. At one point, we had to cross over a dam where the current on the Ohio river was so strong, even if we were full throttle, we would have been going backwards. Bob & Madeline on a trawler with a much larger engine waited for us to catch up, threw us a line and towed us through this current. With both of our engines full throttle, we just barely cleared this dam. Thanks to another sailboat who had experienced this earlier in the day and relayed the info to Bob & Madeline, suggesting we would need a tow.This is just one example of people helping people. We have both been amazed at how wonderful the boating community is, and look forward to being able to help others in return.

All of our friends! This is the famous “Hoppies” marina where all the “loopers” gathered around for strict instructions from the owner, Fern. Fern discussed with us what to plan for the next couple days on the Mississippi, and Ohio rivers. I don’t know if she purposely tried to freak everyone out, but the info she fed us was more negative than positive. We discussed anchoring and barge traffic on the Mississippi, what to do, and what not to do.

Tucked behind a “wingdam” anchored out for a night on the Mississippi River. When you anchor on the Mississippi, it is extremely important you find a place out of the channel and completely out of the way of barge traffic. There are hundreds of wingdams on the Mississippi, which control the flow and current of the river. If you pull up directly downriver of these dams, it is typically deep and calm enough to stay put for a night.

The 3rd night anchored out on the Mississippi, we took Reggie into shore and when we stepped out, sank to our knees in mud. We now know what real Mississippi mud is. We got our mud bath in for the day, and Katie probably spent an hour cleaning up the aftermath when we got back to Louise.

The highlight of our Ohio river experience was anchoring literally in the middle of the river. The Ohio river is enormous and has an extremely strong current! We were not expecting this when we turned off of the Mississippi. After Bob & Madeline towed us through that crazy dam that I mentioned above, we began to run out of daylight and had no other option but to find a spot to drop the hook. Once both boats had anchors set, we rafted up for the night. After a very long, hot and sweaty day we bathed in the river off of our ladder without letting go. The current was so strong if we had let go of the ladder we would have been swept away! Not even our dinghy with an outboard motor would have been strong enough to retrieve anything.