Smokin’

Our Cobb Grill has become an integral part of our cooking routine.  This little beauty takes 4-8 charcoal briquettes and does a fine job as a grill or roaster.  We save the LP grill for quick jobs like brats.   For those times when we can wait a while, the Cobb does credible job on our favorites: baked potatoes, steaks, chicken, salmon, etc.  We may have to actually get creative with our diet!

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Baked potatoes are cooked wrapped in aluminum foil in the space under the grill top.

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The unit is stable, has no open flame, and the only hot part is the dome.  Rubber feet keep it off the deck.  The grill surface is Teflon and it also has a roasting rack.

Sunk Cost

Some have asked about the cost of a one-year trip like ours.  As I collect data I will post the important bits and pieces.  Six Sigma habits die hard.  *clicks save spreadsheet*

The largest up-front investment is obviously a loop-worthy boat.  Already on this trip we’ve met boats ranging in cost from maybe $12k on the low end to the low millions on the high.  All are happily doing the loop in their own fashion.  Endeavor is toward the lower end of the spectrum.

Maintenance on a boat tends to increase exponentially with the size of the boat.  Boats like ours with outboard motors tend to be inexpensive to maintain.  If I ding the propeller I’ll take 10 minutes and put on our spare $59 prop, right on the water.  We’ve heard stories of large boats incurring $8,000+ boatyard bills to have damaged props replaced.  The cost of 3 of our main engines!  Small boat systems tend to be simpler and easier for a layman to maintain.  For example, our airhead potty has one moving part.  Some large boats have been delayed days in port waiting for the marina to service or replace electric or vacuum heads.

If it sounds like I am down on large boats I am not.  I’m talking about the spectrum of purchase and maintenance costs.  Boating is as personal a thing as home purchase, with each person determining what is of value to them.  The Admiral and I have overactive frugal genes.  As a trade-off Endeavor has speed and comfort limitations.  We occasionally drool over the elegance in neighbor’s boats.

We are almost to the end of our inland waterway segment and our MPG data looks like this:

Total Miles

1308

Total Fuel Cost

$297.97

Cost/Mile

$0.23

Average Cost/Gallon (Marina Pricing)

$3.15

Gallons

95

Average MPG

13.8

Note: 1308 miles is almost 1/5 of the total trip miles.

I consider this performance a win.  We were boosted on the Mississippi and hurt on the Ohio.  Eight sailing days helped our average.  We are expecting once we hit the Gulf the percent of sailing days will increase.  On Lake Superior we boated an average of 60 days per season and typically used about 25 gallons of fuel. A high percentage of sailing days helped. I am expecting the Florida/Bahamas segment to be similar.  We’ll see.

Staying at a marina in this part of the country usually runs $1/foot, so $34/night for Endeavor.  Most marinas have some sort of special offer for longer stays, the best so far being Alton’s buy 3-get 3 free deal.  We have stayed in marinas more than planned because the humidity down here is so thick you could make statues from it.  However, I planned on $1.50-$2.00/foot in my plans, so the lower cost is a pleasant surprise.  Once we reach the East Coast we hear $2.00 will be the low end.  Here again, styles vary:  some motor from marina to marina, while others mix it up in varying percentages.

Our food bills have been lower, mainly because eating out is more of a chore.  Dining out has become more of a treat, perhaps as it should be.

Hopefully this gives some idea of the basic costs.  Overall, the operating costs have been lower than when we were living at home.

And, of course, sunsets like the one Peg caught tonight are free!

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SUP Dude?

“They’re eating my toes!”, screamed Peg from the swim ladder.  My mind flashed an image involving an alligator gar and Peg on Tiny-Tim crutches the rest of her life.

A pleasant surprise is our stand up paddle board is getting a lot of use.  Sit down and it is a fast, if somewhat wet, kayak.  Stand up and it provides a nice workout.  Either way it make a great way to sight-see or visit other boats in the anchorage.

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And the best part is it rolls into compact duffel bag when we don’t want it underfoot.

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Our anchorage, Dry Creek, is on the southern border of Tennessee (red star below).  We will be cutting through the corner of Mississippi on our way to the Northeast corner of Alabama.  We’ll visit Mississippi again as we go east along the gulf coast.

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We did more touring of Dry Creek today and sighted these two:

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Oh, and Peg discovered, as befits my queen, Perch will kiss her toes if she dangles them in the water.  No harm, no foul.

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Lastly, Dry Creek is almost a mirror tonight.

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Point of View

Last night the wind was shifty, causing Endeavor to spin around her anchor a few times.  She ended up with her anchor trip line wrapped around one rudder, holding her stern to the wind.  (A trip line is a floating line tied through a hole at the forward part of the anchor to assist in releasing the anchor should it get buried too deep in the mud or caught under something.)

After weeks on a boat one immediately gets a sense when something is wrong, and we both woke up thinking the wind direction did not agree with the point of view out our front window.  A few minutes work with a dive knife cleared the snag and she swung around to the correct position.

A northeast breeze filled in mid-morning and we used the opportunity to sail down Lake Pickwick to a long dogleg cove named Dry Creek.  The landscape is stunning and we feel blessed to have such scenery outside the window.

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We still had some brown Mississippi Mustache around the waterline so I donned swim trunks, rash guard (sun protection), dive boots and swim fins.  Using a sponge I swam around the boat and scrubbed off much of the remaining brown stain.  I do fear Endeavor will not be truly clean again until we reach Lake Superior in 2017.

We spotted a bright blue object on the shore and I paddled the SUP over to investigate.  It was an abandoned air mattress and we have added it to our small fleet.  She is a comfortable craft, perfect for contemplating the passing clouds.

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The water is warm and inviting so we took some time to chill out aquatically.  Peg took a turn exploring the cove on the SUP.  From my point of view she was definitely styling.

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Monday night we spent an enjoyable evening having docktails with Will, Rose and Gary aboard their cruiser, Sea Lord.  They are from Lacrosse, WI and started the loop a couple weeks before us.  We stopped at their home marina, Pettibone, on our way through. They have been stuck at Pickwick for two weeks awaiting a replacement transmission for one of their engines.  Peg had her first Moscow Mule and Will whipped up some tasty grilled chicken Pizza.  I do admit I am jealous of the clear point of view a helmsman has on their yacht.

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We sign off with another peaceful sunset.

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Such a Deal!

For Sale:  Pickwick Lake Build-able Lot, 360 Degree Lake View, Rustic Setting and Style, Mature Trees, Yacht Tie-Up, Unlimited Water (Bucket and Rope), Nearest neighbors 3/4 mile. Not recommended for persons suffering vertigo or sleepwalking, Suitable for Multi-Level Home – NOT Rambler.  Asking $980k, Motivated Seller.

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Limited Promotion:  Free with purchase – Companion island suitable for bird sanctuary or remote helipad (but not simultaneously).

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Lighten Up Will Ya

We put Endeavor on a diet today and continued packing unneeded stuff to bring home.  We’ve got a sizeable stack of heavy boxes to bring home so the rental car will be packed tight. Losing some weight will make our moving home faster because she won’t be pushing as much water out of the way.

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It’s sad, but there are a number of sailboats here at the marina never moving at all.  The story we heard is a large number of sailboats here are essentially abandoned, but the marina is part of the state park system and has no process to deal with them.  Private marinas put a lien on a boat for unpaid bills and eventually own the boat.  As it is, the craft here become floating derelicts.

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The boat Peg photographed above is a Catalina 25, same as one we bought and refurbished last year.  Here is buddy Rob McGlade at the helm during a trip he and I made last summer from Bayport to Lake Pepin.

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We have moved to a quiet cove near the park.  Tomorrow we will begin exploring a number of other anchorages on Lake Pickwick as we prepare to park Endeavor and drive home.

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Pickwick

Last night, while paddling the trash over to the fuel dock on my paddle board, I met several members of the Nina and Pinta crews.  One young man was excited to hear were from Hudson… he is from Osceola (a town north of Hudson).  He is on the ship for a year and will be going with them down around Florida and eventually up to Boston.  He is thoroughly enjoying the voyage.   You can see these two ships take up much of the Clifton Marina harbor.

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Heading south we were once again passed by Sweet T and then later on by Molly B, the hand-built 43′ trawler I mentioned earlier.  Molly B has a classic look I like.

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We rolled on past more lovely Tennessee scenery…

and met more tows…

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and even some Tennessee cows.

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Once again we executed plan C. The anchorages we charted had sketchy water levels or appeared too early in the day to make stopping worthwhile.

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Thus we ended up going through the Pickwick Landing Lock and settling in at the nearby Pickwick Landing State Park Marina.

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Joining us going through the 57′ high lock was Rafe Williams on Cat Daddy.

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Rafe is from Houston and will cross his wake (finish the trip) when he reaches Mobile.  He has been doing most of the trip solo on a 34′ PDQ power catamaran.  His wife flies out to join him for some segments of the trip in between working and minding grandchildren.

Peg is becoming an expert in minding the bollard as we do these hi-lift locks.

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A heron watched out departure from the lock.

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Pickwick Lake is another widening of the Tennessee River.  In a few miles we will pass into Mississippi and onto the Tenn-Tom to Mobile, Alabama.  As of today we are some 1125 miles into the trip, roughly a sixth of the total mileage.

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Said Wife

The rain collector works.

My wife did a nice job sewing it and together we devised a simple drain.

Discovery 1: It makes a great sunshade to cover the portion between the Bimini top and solar panel

Discovery 2:  There is a small gap between rear edge of the collector and the front edge of the solar panel.

Discovery 3:  Not all rain collected flows out through the drain (seen over left shoulder).

Discovery 4:  Never make adjustments while someone is settled on the hammock seat.  Doing so may cause said water to reroute through said gap onto lap of said wife.

Luckily she laughed and said she still loves me.

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Plan C

I hope inserting my face on HRC yesterday did not damage anyone’s psyche TOO much.  Son Chris described it as “nightmare fuel” and I can’t disagree with him.   Shows what you can do with downtime and an iPad app (Face Swap Live).  I did versions of Abraham Lincoln, Justin Bieber and the Donald, but HRC came out the most scary.

Leaving Pebble Isle Marina this morning we had 3 float plans: A, B, and C.  We always try to have a bail-out plan or two in case the first choice does not work out.  Plan A was to motor/sail 32 miles to an anchorage named Lick Creek.

Kentucky Lake has ended and we are now back on the Tennessee River.  The river reminds us of the St. Croix between Afton and Prescott:  rocky ledges along the shore, nice homes, and great natural beauty.

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Fellow loopers MikeeLikesIt and Sweet T passed us mid-morning.  We are slower than trawlers by a couple of knots, but we kick their butts on miles per gallon!  We did get some sailing in when the wind picked up to 14 knots.

With the narrowing of the river again, barge traffic has become more intimate.  When the river was 8 miles wide we could ignore them.

This dredge was scraping the river bottom and their barge followed us for miles until it pulled into an unloading dock.  With low freeboard (height of the side) from the load of sand, it looked like a wake from a large cruiser could swamp the barge.

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Like those on the Mississippi, Tennessee River tow pilots are courteous and happy we call to plan passing maneuvers, in contrast to the jerks on the Ohio.  We still can’t figure what was going on there.

Plan A petered out because the day was hot and sticky and the anchorage looked like the surrounding trees would stifle the breeze.  So, on to Plan B: another 20 miles to a secondary channel behind Double Island

During this section the terrain varied from tall hills and cliffs to low levee areas.  These houses look prepared for serious flooding.

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Plan B, died when we took a look at the Double Island Anchorage.  The reports we had on the anchorage were more than a year old. When we arrived I was not comfortable with the shallow water.  The authorities can vary the river level by a few feet depending on demand and I did not want us to wake up high and dry on land.  So on to Plan C.

Plan C meant going another 10 miles to the Clifton, Tennessee Municipal Marina.  We called ahead and they reserved a spot for us.  Turns out we’d be parking behind Mike and Joell on MikeeLikesIt.  They have the most adorable dog, Elwood.  Check out their blog today to see a shot of Endeavor and meet Elwood.

An extra 10 miles meant arriving after dark, just before 8 pm.  Not a big deal but always a situation needing additional caution.  While it was still light Peg whipped up a tasty dinner of Grilled chicken and onion fajitas, chips and salsa, and cabbage.  Meals like this are easy to eat at the helm when on the move.

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Approaching the marina we were treated to the harvest moon, which Peg captured on her iPhone.

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With Peg on the bow and Mike catching our lines we landed safely.

Sure enough, the Nina and Pinta are in town, a recurring theme in our adventure.

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Rain and thunderstorms are expected tomorrow so we will probably stay here tomorrow night as well.