09-27-09 – Grand Harbor to Florence, AL

Betsy Speaks: OK, we know we missed doing a blog yesterday, but there really wasn’t much to tell. Being a weekend, we stayed at Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, TN, an extra day so as not to fight with the weekend crazies. We woke up Saturday morning to pouring rain, which continued throughout the morning. The sun finally came out early afternoon for the first time in several days and it was hot and muggy. Saturday night we joined a couple of other boats and took the courtesy car to Pickwick State Park for their very good buffet dinner. So that would have been the extend of a blog yesterday.

We left Grand Harbor this morning, but before going on I want to share an interesting discussion I had with the marina manager. There are several “Slow/No Wake” signs both on the marina as well as in the waters surrounding the marina. This is a full service marina with lots of gas tanks. Still, the bass boats, which are very popular around here, would go flying by without slowing down. We asked the marina manager exactly what constituted “no wake” around here, and he said he had discussed this at length with the local commandant of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard’s response was that they would not enforce “Slow/No Wake” zones in a navigable channel because every boater is responsible for their wake, so they would only respond if actual damage occurred. This seemed very strange to us, and I don’t recall ever being at a place where no wake zone signs in front of a marina were totally ignored.

Anyway, as I mentioned, this is bass boat heaven and they are everywhere and they slow down for nothing. They fly by us, totally air born as they cross our wake. I asked someone about their speed and was told that they can easily top 70 miles per hour. Seems strange to me that we usually slow down for them if we see them anchored with a fisherman standing up in them…maybe we should rethink our safety standards!

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and hot. We had a very leisurely run up the Tennessee River to Florence, Alabama, about 42 miles. No locks. Rick drove most of the way while I played the part of hood ornament. The scenery along this route was just beautiful. We arrived at Florence Harbor Marina early afternoon.

We were just here last year on the River Barge, so it is familiar to us. Just across the river is Tuscumbia, AL, childhood home of Helen Keller which we visited last year. Yes, there really is a well pump where she learned the word “water”, as seen in the movie “The Miracle Worker." This picture if from our trip last year, as we will probably not go back there...we spent a half day there before.

Florence is the birthplace of W.C. Handy, “Father of the Blues” and composer of such hits as St. Louis Blues, Beale Street Blues and Memphis Blues.


Tonight we ate dinner right here at the marina, where they proudly advertise all you can eat catfish. (We both had hamburger steak). The restaurant is a floating structure, as are many of the marina structures here on the river. Just inside the front door, there is a hole through the floor with a light shining into the water below. Here catfish come right up to the surface, attracted by the light, and also by the food that is thrown to them through the hole. These fish are huge! The restaurant says they don’t get their catfish through this hole, but it sure would be easy to do that! Just throw in a cracker and they come to the surface with mouths wide open…quite a sight! Some even seem to be smiling at you!
This is simply beautiful country. It makes me wonder why we want to go home to salt water and hurricanes! We plan to stay here in Florence two nights and do some sightseeing tomorrow.

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