Our journey began with a 700 mile trip down the river from Sale Creek, Tennessee to Mobile, Alabama. The first 270 miles were on the Tennessee River, followed by 400 miles on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Completed in 1985, the Tenn-Tom was a massive federal project--more earth is said to have been moved here than in digging the Panama Canal--to connect the Tennessee to the Tombigbee so that commercial traffic would no longer have to go north on the Tennessee, then up to the Ohio, then down the Mississippi to reach the Gulf of Mexico. For recreational boaters who no longer have to fight the extreme currents and river traffic on the Mississippi, the TennTom is a great thing. From Chattanooga to the Gulf, we went through 17 locks, dropping us almost 700 feet to sea level.
From Mobile we hopped down the Florida panhandle, mostly out in the Gulf, to Appalachicola, then did an overnight 140 mile crossing to Tarpon Springs. It took us more than a month to sightsee our way down the west coast of Florida, most of it again in the Gulf, to Boot Key Harbor in the Keys.
Perhaps that's more than you wanted to know, but we've been asked many times how we got the boat from Tennessee out to the open waters. Let's get started already with the cruise!
The map is a screen capture from Google Earth, a most amazing program.