Sunday, October 10, 2010


The Cap'n just pointed out that today is Oct. 10, 2010, AND we are on the Tennessee River. That makes it 10/10/10 on the Tenn.

So romantic: a pickup in Paris
Tennessee? Or is it Paris? The small town of Paris, Tennessee ("Home of the World's Biggest Fish Fry") has its very own Eiffel Tower, which we visited earlier in the week. 

On Wednesday we said "good luck" to the bass boats at Paris Landing and, following in their rooster-tail wakes, we lumbered on south.  

We anchored out behind a little cluster of islands.  On Thursday, checking the maps, I was interested to see that we were approaching Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park. 

In case you don't remember your Civil War history (I didn't!) the following fun facts are cribbed from Wikipedia. Forrest is the intrepid Confederate cavalry leader who was the nemesis of the Union's William T. Sherman . . . the guy who gave Ulysses S. Grant fits.

Forrest was not only a gifted tactician (motto: "Get thar fust, with the most men,") but quite the colorful character.  

He had a rags-to-riches life--born to a poor family, 12th child of a blacksmith, died a plantation owner and millionaire.  At the start of the war he enlisted in the military as a private; he left a general and division commander.  He was the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Clan, and he was accused of the war crime of allowing his troops to massacre hundreds of Black Union prisoners of war.  During the course of his career he had 30 horses shot out from under him--and he's credited with killing 31 enemy soldiers with saber, pistol, or shotgun . . . leading him to remark that he was "one ahead."

The State Park that commemorates his life is not far from Johnsonville; in October 1964 Forrest led a raid on a Union supply depot there that caused millions of dollars in damage.

Foolishly, recklessly, the crew imagined the park might have a dock where we might land and roam about, learning more about this historical character.  So the Cap'n was convinced to change course and leave the main channel for the small boat channel, which led close to the shore and the park.
Another entry in our ongoing series, "Duck Blinds of America's Inland Waterways." This one made from a couple of dumpsters perched on plastic trash barrels. America, land of innovation!
The scenery was glorious, the trees starting to turn red, yellow, and green like a jumbo bowl of Trix.  Bass boats buzzed by, and at the park's waterfront, anglers in lawn chairs lined the shore. But not a dock (or a glorious marble monument to Forrest) was to be seen.

The charts showed that our route, on the narrow small-boat channel, led to the verge of a dam, where we would have to make a sharp left turn into a narrow channel that cut across the river, parallel to a bridge, back to the deep main channel.  We approached at the turn--a cut between two low, wooded islands--and slowed our (already slow) pace. 
Deus ex machina--amiable guy checks out the channel for us
That looks shallow!  

Yeah, it does!

What does the chart show?

More than nine feet.

And what does the depth finder show? 

Whoa, three feet!

NOW what?  

Deus ex bass-ina, a guy in a turquoise-and-glitter bass boat motored up. (ALL bass boats have a glitter paint job.  What's up with that?  Why IS it that stud-ly fisher-dudes motor around in boats tricked out to look like giant, floating My Little Ponies? But I digress.)

He allowed as how he aimed to use the cut through, and he would wave his hat if the water was deep enough, so we'd know it was safe to follow.
Negatory, Big Bird.  That's a no-go
Alas, the controlling depth was 8 inches.  We consulted the chart.  Shallow water and snags everywhere outside the designated channels. Dragonfly would have to retrace her steps to the point where she diverged from the main channel . . . six miles back.

It's not ALWAYS fun to be a SlowBoat.


  1. I love the "giant my little pony" digression! I almost dropped my laptop laughing! I can never look at another glittery bass boat the same way again!

  2. "Why IS it that stud-ly fisher-dudes motor around in boats tricked out to look like giant, floating My Little Ponies? But I digress)"

    - You have to ask?