A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Chattanooga and its Choo Choo

I had bought some more stuff from Amazon, and it had all arrived by the time we got to Aqua Yacht Harbor, so they knew we were coming. There was quite a contingent of folk that knew of us and the first couple of days we met all sorts of people who had been following our blog, from other loopers, to one of the brokers I met during the boat buying trip. To try and improve the DC system performance while at anchor, I had bought some LED festoon bulbs for the achor light which will reduce the power consumption for that by about 90%. I also decided that we could be having a problem with the way the batteries were being recharged while under way as the start batteries could be regulating the charge rate down before the house batteries were fully recharged. To overcome this, I have rewired the DC system so that one engine (Pete) charges the start batteries and the other (Stan) charges the house. We'll see if this improves the system capability if we anchor out two successive nights or more.

Loopers we had been cruising along with left early in the week and for a day we were alone again. Then the next lot started arriving, most of them bound for the AGLCA rendez-vous at Joe Wheeler State Park, another 65 mile or so diversion up the Tennessee river. This included Bert and Hilary who stayed one night and left for Florence marina 50 miles further up, and we decided we would go with them and do our trip to Chattanooga from there. However since a lot of Loopers were heading that way, we thought it prudent to ring and make a booking at the marina, as there not a lot of options if it was full. I began ringing at 9.15 and rang 16 times by 11.00, at which time I gave up as I was sick of hearing a sourthern female voice message tell me "you have reached Florence Harbor marina" (when I quite clearly had NOT) or an engaged signal. I decided it was too late to leave by then for the 5 hour trip upstream, so we reverted to plan A. We found out later that the sole-charge manager of the marina had gone shopping at Walmart for 3 hours that morning, hence no answer!

We picked up the car from Corinth MS on tuesday night and got an early start for the 4 hour drive to Chatanooga on wednesday. To get there we drove through Mississippi, crossed into Alabama, then Tennessee, into Georgia for about 10 miles, then back into Tennessee. Some of the country, particularly around Alabama, is quite like parts of New Zealand and I could easily imagine that we were driving down the Napier-Taupo road, or parts of the Wairerapa - other than the 4 lane highways and being on the wrong side of the road. And the road kill is somewhat different. We saw a fox, a coyote, a skunk, a deer, several squirrels and lots of armadillos lying beside the road. Only one cat, though and no possums, rabbits or Pukekoes! We also crossed into the Eastern time zone as we went through the Georgia part, so we lost an hour, arriving at 3.00pm.

Chattanooga is surrounded by high hills and is quite different topography from what we have seen so far. We drove around the city, and took in the highlights before returning to our motel out toward the SE, after a little shopping (Walmart - of course). After weeks of it getting dark at 6.00pm, it was strange still having daylight at almost 8.00.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo, which is a hotel, now
Even wierder was it not getting light until after 8.00am the next day. We headed back down the hills to Huntsville, Alabama, where the Redstone rocket arsenal lives, and where a lot of the hardware for the US space program was developed. There is a large space museum and space camp there and in many ways, it rivals or betters, its equivalents at Kennedy and Johnson - which I have also visited. The Saturn V rocket display is awesome and I think they have the only one that stands upright. Like most things, you really need to be there to appreciate the feel of the place, but here are a few pix to try, anyway.

The last pic shows a Chinook chopper flying by which had some mean looking appendages. There must have been an airbase close by as we also saw a Starlifter doing circuits and bumps as we drove west. We returned to the marina to find the transient slip full although with no-one we knew. Some of our previous travel companions were at another marina a few miles away and are leaving today for the rendez-vous as well. I will get a few more jobs done -.the aluminium handle on the sliding window in the salon came off this morning when I tried to open it. It wasn't held on very well....
that's all the silicone that was on it so its a wonder it stayed on as long as it did. Maybe Silverton were running out of silicone that day, or it had gotten too expensive. So I've got to glue that back on and also glue a patch over a hole in the shower wall where I took the bath spout out.

On the subject of aluminium, you all know that here it is pronounced aloominum. I was told it was because it is too hard to say it with the "i" in it. Well now its official, and the US has rewritten the periodic table of elements, because it is now spelt aluminum over here. Really..it is written on beer cans that way and even on a sign for an aluminium plant on the way to Chattanooga. So wait for the rest of the changes....helum, radum, iridum, uranum and all the other "iums" will have to go as well. I guess soon they'll be calling the grouped together housing units apartments and condoominums.

Well, there's the update. Its a nice clear sunny day today but nice and cool as well. We'll probably head off down the Tenn-Tom waterway in the next few days to keep ahead of the rush from the rendez-vous, who all have to come back this way

1 comment:

  1. Can't remember if I mentioned it before, but we also replaced all most of our interior and exterior incandescent bulbs (except for those on dimmers) with bi-pin G4 LEDs (overheads), T10 LEDs (courtesy) and T13 LEDs (engine room). We found the key to comfortable interior lighting to be the "warm white" color temperature.

    I've never seen it spelled any way other than "aluminum" here... as far back as my high school chemistry class, several decades ago :) Never saw it actually spelled "your way" until I lived in England during the mid-'70s, at which point it became more obvious why you Commonwealth guys pronounce it "funny." :)

    If you haven't seen it, you might be interested in this older 'blog, especially the specific link: http://maryeadventures.blogspot.com/2009/07/terror-on-high-seas_09.html

    Cheers, -Chris