Pilgrimage to Watts Bar

Thirty-five miles upriver from Sale Creek Marina is Watts Bar Dam, and beyond that Watts Bar Lake, a reputed sailing paradise.

We left Sale Creek around 5:30 PM and motored upstream until shortly past midnight. The darkness mandated constant viligence as occasional snags appearing in our spotlights. Finally we anchored in a wide spot of the river with dubious holding.

When two-year-old Laura woke up in the morning, she had no idea where would find herself. The ghostly fog made the anchorage look like another world.

Laura in the Morning
Morning Fog
We raced upriver towards the stacks of Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. When we got to to the lock, it simply swallowed our small boats.

Laura looked dubious about the entire idea but was very interested. "Somebody open the gate for Laura's boat," she said.

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant
Watts Bar Lock

On the lake at last, everyone wasted no time in raising their sails. But where was the wind? We made good only two to three miles up the lake over the course of several hours.


From right to left: Banana Split (San Juan 24) flaunts its spinnaker early in the trip. Dutchess (Trintella 33) motorsails ahead. Enchantress (Hunter 25) runs in the light breeze. Not shown: Our own Possible Mallard (Hunter 25.5), sitting immobile as we wait for the slightest movement of air.

Euchee Marina Euchee Marina had excellent facilities, including a shower and lots of cold Heinekens in the restaurant. Never before had the Possible Mallard had actual paid dockhands to assist in tying up. A boat could get used to such treatment.

Towards sunset we pulled out for an anchorage a couple of miles downriver.

Morning Sky

The fog lifting over the river with the blazing sun behind it made for a spectacular start home. Dutchess and Banana Split attempted to motorsail, then sail, but again there was no real wind to be found.

Annie at the HelmWatching TV
Heading Home

The 45 mile trip home through the lock and downstream was interesting but uneventful. Aboard Possible Mallard, Laura watched videos and read books. Mom took a turn at the helm. We detoured over to the bluffs of the river to get out of the sun and enjoy the view. We were back at Sale Creek by around 6:00 PM.

Andre Chris David

From left: Fearless Leader Andre, Chris, and David.

Copyright © 2001 by Rodger Ling.
All rights reserved.