Posted by: wrmcnutt | July 1, 2011

Douglas Lake, Tennessee: Day One


Douglas Lake

Day one,

Actually, I should say day one-half.  Or even day one-quarter.  It’s Friday, the day before Independence Day weekend, and Charleston Lady rides quietly at anchor at Douglas Lake, near Sevierville, TN.  The voyage began with my typical chaos, having failed to prepare for the trip in advance, I had to do all of it at the last minute.   Clothes, at least, are easy to pack.  Two pair of “travel underwear,” three pair of socks, two t-shirts, one sport shirt, one pair of shorts, and one pair of jeans.  Nothing with sleeves this time of year in East Tennessee.  My First Mate was kind enough to do my provisioning, so I didn’t have to hit Kroger.  Yes, I did.  I’d left beer off of my list.  But once I was provisioned and clothed, I could hit the high seas, right?  Well, no.  I had to fuel the Silver Beast, my epic hauling vehicle, and, of course, the boat fuel tanks needed to be topped off.  And the water tank hasn’t been refreshed since the start of the season.  (Well, since early Spring.  After all, for me there is no “season;” I sail all winter long.

With all of that done, surely I can get on the road now, right?  Well, almost.  I’m afraid that the poor boat needs a bath.  You see, I’ve just gotten back to her after a two week hiatus, wherein I went to the Lilies War, leaving her in my slip at the Concord Yacht Club.  Alas, the CYC is on Loudon Lake, a wide spot in the Tennessee River positively legendary  for the incredibly nasty water thereabouts.  In fact, the local SCUBA divers have T-shirts reading “Dive Fort Loudon,” and picturing a diver with his head in a toilet.  While it’s not quite that bad, a boat moored in that water collects a layer of East Tennessee “Ewwwwww .  .  . “ faster than you can imagine.  And, um, I didn’t wash her the week before I went to Lilies.  The week before that, she was in Lake Lanier, down in Georgia.  And I didn’t wash her before that.  So really, she’s been in the water for six weeks without a bath, five of them in some incredibly nasty water.  (Lake Lanier is part of the Atlanta Georgia water supply.  They keep it clean.  She came out of Lake Lanier cleaner than when she went in.)  So – off to the car wash and the pressure washer.  I know, I know:  it’s bad for the gelcoat.  Hand wash only.

Bzzzzt!!!!!  I have a quarter in of East Tennessee Ewwwww to get off of this boat, by myself, and in no more than an hour.

I managed to get the worst of the ETE off of her without blasting the gelcoat off and, finally, we headed up the road.  In spite of my kind boss letting me off at noon, I wasn’t able to head toward Douglass until five O’clock.

Traffic wasn’t nearly as obnoxious as I had been lead to believe.  I had no stoppages, and only one slowdown the whole way.  I didn’t take the most direct route, which would have taken me through Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.  On a holiday weekend.  I don’t think so.  I continued up the interstate and took Deep Springs Road instead.

I had selected for this voyage the Mountain Cove Marina for my Port of Embarkation.  Unlike previous voyages, I will be anchoring out all weekend, and so do not need a slip, just a ramp and a place to park the Silver Beast and trailer.  A fuller review of Mountain Cover is for another post, but the short version is:  I got all that for $5, and was happy to pay it.

There was a little oddness, though.  There was a power line going over the boat ramp.  Clearly this marina does not see many Trailer Sailors come through.   Charleston Lady is a game lady, though, and generally up for anything.  I can rig the boat while afloat.  It just goes faster on the hard.  So I set up the motor, took off the tie downs, and got her launched, still almost fully rigged for the highway.  I motored over to the courtesy dock and, once I cleared the trailer and van off of the ramp, started rigging her.  It takes almost twice as long to rig her afloat as on the hard, so it was almost 7:00 PM when I finally was able to fire up the stinkpot and motor out onto the lake.

Now, we’re still in East Tennessee, so what do you suppose the weather’s like.  Barely a cloud in the sky, and not a breath of wind to be had.  Not a big shock, really.  Especially at sunset, which was rapidly approaching.  I had about two hours until twilight, and three until full dark.  I needed to find an acceptable anchorage, and quick.   Now, I don’t have any charts for the lakes here in Tennessee.  They’re a little hard to find, and kind of expensive.  My boat doesn’t draw much water, nor is it very fast.  So I generally depend on my depth finder and the GPS on my phone to tell me where the edge of the lake is, and how much water I’ve got under my keel.  So with those two pieces of equipment, I’ve got a pretty good idea where to start looking for an anchorage.

There are several islands out on Douglas Lake: former mountain tops that became isolated when the Tennessee Valley Authority flooded the valley and made the lake. As I kicked around the islands I discovered many an isolated cove, with either a bass fisherman busily stalking the deadly widemouth, a ski-boat with a couple of teenagers sunning, or a family in a pontoon boat grilling hot dogs.  To add to the variety, many of the coves also had tents pitched on or near the beach.  Well, it is a holiday weekend.  I should have done this in the winter, like I originally planned.  I eventually found what I was looking for, though.  There was a deep cove on one of the bigger islands, screened from the lake proper by a smaller island.  On the west side of the island, it would provide me with shade for a while after sunrise, so I won’t broil while I’m making my breakfast.  The morning fishermen and skiers shouldn’t disturb me, because of the screening island.

My one worry is that lane of markers at the head of the cover.  I suspect that I am camped near a jet ski slalom course.  But it was getting dark and I needed to get the anchor set.

Supper tonight was a Boy Scout classic – Campbell’s Chunky Sirloin Burger Soup over Minute Rice.  As I washed dishes, I found myself tossing the clean dishes out into the cockpit to air-dry over night.  There’s just no room inside the boat for them.

Well, that’s about it for tonight.  After I upload this, it’ll be time for one more beer, and hitting the sack.

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