Chicago to Grand Rivers, Kentucky
With relatively narrow waterways, heavy commercial traffic, often restricted vistas, and a more industrial feel, cruising the inland rivers of the U.S. has been an interesting experience. This was particularly true for the 218 mile section we traveled on the Mississippi River. Highly influenced by human intervention through dams, locks and weirs to control the channel, home to many industrial sites such as quarries, loading terminals, barging depots, power plants, etc., and very busy with tows, this is the king of inland maritime highways. We’re glad we had the opportunity to do it, but for most this would not be a preferred cruising destination.
On the rivers our average daily distance turned out to be considerably longer than for other sections, partly because of our timetable, but also because good stops are not frequently available. Very hot weather also played a role – when the temperature and humidity are both approaching 100, plans to drop anchor at 2 pm are quickly overtaken by the desire to maintain a 14 knot breeze! On the hottest days we often cruised until late afternoon.
In contrast with the rivers, Barkley and Kentucky Lakes – formed by damming the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers – and the land between them are popular recreational areas for cruisers, fishers and campers. Green Turtle Bay Marina, located on Barkley Lake and our final destination for this year, was a perfect base to explore the area. And explore we did, first with a cruise up the lake and Cumberland River to Clarksville (as in the Monkees’ song ‘Last Train to Clarksville’), and then on to Nashville. Music City, as it is called, certainly lived up to its name. This was followed by a road trip through the backroads of Kentucky and Tennessee. While on the road we made stops in Bowling Green (for the Corvette Museum), Chattanooga (where we happened upon the 3 Sisters Bluegrass festival – live, free and the best bluegrass we’ve ever heard), and Memphis.
Cruising large, industrial rivers is quite different from the coastal cruising we are used to. We hope our pictures have captured the right flavour of this experience.
End of Season Statistics and Other Items of Interest
- Statute miles traveled (Kingston, Ont to Grand Rivers, KY) – 2285
- Hours of motoring – 231
- Diesel fuel used (not including generator) – 2633 litres (579 imperial gallons)
- Average MPG – 3.94
- Average fuel cost – $1.15/litre
- Average fuel cost per mile – $1.32
- Average daily moorage cost – $29.10 (over 119 days)
- Provinces & States visited – Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee.
Plans for Next Year
Our plan for cruising in 2014 is to head south on the Tennessee and Tombigbee waterways beginning in early March and reach the Gulf Coast at Mobile, Alabama about 3 weeks later. From there we will cruise the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway until we reach Ft. Myers on the west coast of Florida, and then traverse central Florida via the Okeechobee Waterway to Stuart. This will complete the Great Loop for us.
From Stuart we head for Miami to join a flotilla of PDQ’s departing in late April for the Exumas (Bahamas). We expect to cruise there during May and June before returning to Florida to store His Idea on the hard for hurricane season.
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Thanks for following along. We hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with us aboard His Idea.
John & Ria