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Monday, October 21, 2013


All river runs cannot be good runs.  However, the up river portion of this journey has been without incident and enjoyable to captain and crew.  The next planned port is a stop in Decatur, AL for a reunion with Adm. Denise and a change in crew.  After all, it is stressful, cruising at 7 mph, eating all day, drinking various adult beverages and meeting new pirates along the way.  A change in crew is planned. 

Decatur, Al is an old, river town with an industrial base. The river here is 1 mile wide with several bridges permitting access east to Huntsville and I-65.  The ONLY marina for public use is Riverwalk Marina. 

I would like to report this marina is up to par with others along the Tennessee River, alas that is not the fact.  We cruised into the harbor in late afternoon, not having visited before, nor knowing where the transient docks were located. A call to the marina was answered by the Hard Dock Café/Bar and we were instructed to enter the harbor and pick a slip.  We entered and cruised around till finally deciding to dock at slip with power pedestal. No dockhands were here to help in a 15-20 mph wind with our dockage.  Wind can be an enemy in a single screw boat which just pushed us to port with a little hard landing. No damage was done to boat or crew.  Welcome to Riverwalk.  Things only deteriated from here.  

The pictures here show the Southern Railroad bridge at the lower level and raised to upper level for our passage. I radioed the bridge master identifying our boat and addressing the person as "bridge master" for Southern Railroad asking for raising of the bridge.  He answered "railroad".  He was helpful indicating he was awaiting an approaching train and would give us a raise in a few minutes. 
Bridges remain an interesting part of river travel with a history of their own. 

Upon hard docking in Riverwalk, we walked across parking lot to "check in" at the bar.  Really!  We paid our docking fee, had a beer and planned an evening meal at the Hard Dock.  Needing water on the boat, we checked for available water and found none. Seems the water line ruptured 2 years ago and the owner had not completed repairs.  "No water". Really?  No showers, restrooms and get this NO FUEL.  Two additional boats arrived late in the afternoon, pulling into the fuel dock. I helped in docking, the dockhands tend the bar.  The newcomers found no water or fuel at the fuel dock.  Welcome to Riverwalk Marina.  The docks are adequate and the location is perfect for a stop along the river, however, do not plan on any assistance, water or fuel.  Seems the Hard Dock Café is the profit center and the owner does NOT maintain the slips or marina.  I would suggest any boaters in the area plan to bypass Riverwalk Marina and continue another 30 miles to Ditto Landing in Huntsville.  Ditto Landing has staff, 24 hr. fuel available and all the amenities Riverwalk does not want to offer.  Shame on the owner of Riverwalk Marina.

The evening continued with a meal at the Hard Dock Café with good food.  Then, then, finally Adm. Denise arrived after a stressful drive in traffic and construction.  Lloyd had departed earlier due to his "schedule" returning to home port in Madisonville, KY. 

The happy crew will continue this journey with new leadership aboard.  New management team continues to support the deckhands with treats and occasional walks in real grass. 
We will begin our quest to cruise the Tennessee River Gorge from Decatur, AL to Goose Pond Marina and then the final push up river to Chattanooga, TN.  A good Admiral always provides additional provisions. Adm. Denise provided a couple cases of "grog" for the remainder of the cruise and all hands were provided a ration of their daily "grog".  The crew slept better that evening.

Happy Sailing,
Adm. Denise, Capt. Barry, deckhands Bailey and Bella

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