Day 182, October 24, 2012 (Joe Wheeler and Rogersville, AL): This is all about our rendezvous organized by America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association. Some 120 boats and 40 wannabee cruisers converged on Joe Wheeler last Sunday. Joe Wheeler is a side trip up the Tennessee River through two locks, Wilson Lock (left), the third highest in the world at 93 feet, and the Wheeler Lock. The scenery, dressed in autumn colors, is worth the trip but the stops along the way make the trip. In the end it isn’t about the vistas. Rather it is about the people whether in the marina towns (in this segment Grand Harbor and Florence marinas, and Rogersville) or hanging out in a raft in a quiet cove  with friends we have made along the way. (Florence City Marina loaded with 144 bass tournament boats, right.)

The rendezvous featured folks who have looped giving talks about the waterways, most hospitable marina stops, anchorages, local rules and regs, the low-price fuel stops, and particularly difficult passages. We came away with something new at each instance. The Q&A sessions afterward included insightful critique, too, such as clarifying changed channels with hazards or defining modern autopilot functions.

Above is our anchorage in Second Creek in Wheeler Pool. We arrived too  late in the day to come into Joe Wheeler on the weekend. Five other boats rafted in a cove – morning temperature, 35 degrees – and went into Joe Wheeler four miles away in the morning. Rusty, the Good Karma Labrador, and master, Kermit, head to shore for morning ablutions.

Joe Wheeler is hospitable. Pool deck  with marina beyond is illustrated above. As a state-run facility the organization gets a little sketchy but looper volunteers took over the dockmaster functions with first-rate coordination of boat movements. Fuel is expensive and not many use the fuel at Joe Wheeler because there are more competitive prices upstream and downstream. The food left much to be desired; most of it was beige. The service was good.

Rogersville is a pleasant little town, a farming community where cotton is king in northwest Alabama. Above is a display of antique autos, included especially for friend Samuel, on the main street in Rogersville. We went to a hootenanny last night. We have a new appreciation for classic country music, bluegrass, and high-stepping, which is not unlike clogging.

Tomorrow, many of us will leave at first light, some upriver to Chattanooga and others downriver to the Tenn-Tom, destination Mobile. We will head downriver. At left is a part of the looper crew milling around in front of Joe Wheeler Lodge waiting for somebody to organize a group picture.