A few weeks ago one of my best friends bought a sailboat from an individual who lived on Watts Bar Lake near Ten Mile, TN. For those of you who don’t have a clue where Ten Mile is, we were told it is about 60 miles by water to Concord Yacht Club (CYC) on Fort Loudon Lake near Knoxville. First problem, but not really for us experienced motor boaters, is this is a fairly large sailboat at 34 feet long and trailering it home to CYC is not an option. So, an opportunity for an adventure (and we do love an adventure) lies ahead for us. So, we will just pilot it up the Tennessee River to its new home.
A few days before we are scheduled to meet the previous owner to pick up the boat, we do what any other experienced boaters would do; we make a list. This list included questions for the previous owner, a list of food supplies and refreshments for the long voyage, and any other necessities like maps, life jackets, flashlights, and fuel. You may be wandering about the fuel need, because after all this is a sailboat. The sails are all new, but not rigged up yet for sailing. Fortunately for us, as we do not have a lot of sailing experience, the boat can be motored via a small diesel inboard motor. Now we are talking, this baby has a motor. This motor will push the boat along at a crisp 5 to 7 miles per hour. At 60 miles going against the current and wind, it’s going to be a long day. But what could be better than 4 seasoned boating friends spending an entire sunny day together in a boat on the water like we had done so many times before.
We have now picked up all of our supplies and after much anticipation, the day finally arrives. We decided to set out early (about 7:00 am) for Ten Mile since we are estimating about 11 to 12 hours for the trip, which includes some time to pass through the lock at Fort Loudon Dam. Now after spending some time going through our initial pre-boating check, we were ready for departure to go get fuel and fresh water at a marina very near where we picked the boat up. After filling the boat up with fuel and fresh water and loading all our gear, we headed out about 10:00 am, a little later than planned, but hey, we were on our way.
Being the experienced boater that I am, and given the fact that I am not real familiar with Watts Bar Lake or that portion of the TN River, I mapped out our route on the lake map that my wife had encouraged me to pick up. Now I assumed that the Watts Bar Lake map ended where the Fort Loudon Lake map begins at the Fort Loudon Dam and Lock, but it was several hours into our journey before I realized that wasn’t the case. Well actually, it was right before we got to the end of our map, and I figured we had about 17 miles of unmapped river before we would get to Fort Loudon Dam. No worries, we will just stay in the main channel and keep the boat between the channel markers. Oh, I forgot to mention that the previous owner didn’t really know how big the fuel tank was, but he believes the fuel gauge works. He thinks a full tank will make the trip, or worst case we can fill up again at the Fort Loudon Dam Marina. Want to know how it ends? Read Part Two to find out!