Day 1 - getting to Chattanooga - 600 miles from Palm Harbor (Tampa) to Chattanooga and our first marina of the trip at TN-471.5

5AM - leave Palm Harbor FL. 

6AM - stop to check trailer brakes which feel like they are grabbing.  We find that one hub got so hot that the grease melted and sprayed all over the wheel.  After visiting 2 repair facilities, replaced a sticky brake cylinder, and finally get on the road at 3PM.

And now on to our destination...

  The marina is at "D" (lower right) on chart 68.

TN-471.5, 3AM the next morning - we arrive at the boat ramp, launch and cruise to the marina.  We arrive at the marina at 4AM, get settled for a few hours of sleep.  It's still dark so we don't have a good idea what the place really looks like yet.  This is really part of day 2, but it doesn't feel like it until we get through the lock.

7AM - we awake to a gorgeous cove surrounded by open grassy areas and pine trees.  Birds are chirping and that's all you hear. 

Now that we are in the water, all goes well for the rest of the trip!  All issues were minor and the weather cooperated the whole way.  The thunderstorms teased us a bit but always stayed away.  Truly amazing for the peak of the Summer.

Chickamauga marina (AKA Erwin Marine) is truly a first class place.  The grounds (apparently owned and maintained by the Army Corps) are immaculate with lots of huge grassy areas for Scooby to run and play.  The people we dealt with would go to great lengths to make sure all went well for you, even for a one-night transient boater. 

The transient dock was in perfect condition and lined with some of the friendliest people on the river - and it's obvious why - they have some of the nicest boats on the river.  Actually, it's the other way around - their fun-loving approach to life shows in the boats (like the one above).  Our 29' houseboat looked like a dinghy compared to the 45-56'+ boats next door. 

The maintenance at this marina set the high standard by which all others were judged and none were better (although some did match it).

Right next door is a first-class ramp (see marina in background).  It's open to the lake, so there could be some chop on a windy day.

Here's what I mean by open lake.  On this day there was only a light breeze. 

This is the first of many beautiful open water sights on the 650 mile trip and photographs of different open areas would probably look the same so you I'll try to put in just the unique-looking pictures. 

On our way to the Chickamauga lock, we saw the beginnings of a rafting party sponsored by Erwin/Chickamauga Marina.

Chickamauga lock and dam.  Like the pictures of open waters, additional pictures of the 9 locks we went through will look very similar so we'll leave them out. 

After you're inside the lock and the water lowers, it reveals how short the upstream doors are and sometimes guests pop in for a gawk at the humans who need boats to get around on the water.

Next: Day 2 Downtown Chattanooga, Mile TN-464

All photos and text Copyright 2007 Paul Kempter, except for the charts which are Army Corps and Google Earth pictures.  They contain watermarks.  Please give credit if you copy to your personal non-profit web site.  High resolution copies of the photos are available for licensing (usually free to non-profit organizations).