A Different Kind of Tow Boat

maria | October 8, 2013 | COMMENTS:2 Comments »

On Tuesday morning we woke up and assessed our situation. The Ohio had risen about a foot overnight. During the night we started hearing sticks hitting the underside of our boat. Debris from up river could now get to us because the damn had been down for nearly 24 hours.

Bruce called the lock master and was told “conditions have improved dramatically” so we decided to make another run over the dam. We got about 5 feet farther than yesterday, but still couldn’t quite get over the hump. Frustrated and tired, we went back to our spot and anchored.

At this point Maria called Bill Gary, the TowBoatUS captain from Green Turtle Bay Marina. Bill agreed to come tow us over the dam and said he would be here by 11:30 am.

All morning, we sat on the boat watching the tows struggle to get over the dam. Some of them were revving their engines so much, it seemed they were using every one of their 12,000 horses to fight the current.

At the same time, the debris in the river was getting worse. What started out as sticks turned into logs. Soon the logs turned into trees with roots and all still attached. We felt very good about our choice to call for help.

Bill arrived right at 11:30 and assessed the situation with us. We tied Improbable to the side of his boat. After talking it through, the three of us decided the best course of action would be to put the cats in their box, hand them to Bill and for Bruce and I to ride over the dam in Bill’s boat. The situation was so precarious we left our boat in the interest of safety.

The next 15 minutes were very tense. Bill handled his boat expertly, but had to work very hard to get over the dam. The tension on the lines between our boats was tremendous. It’s amazing none of them snapped, or pulled a cleat right off one of our bows. We got over the hump, past the lock and Maria finally asked, “Can I breathe now, Bill?”

The worst was over and everyone was safe and sound. However, because the Ohio current was so strong and debris was so high and it was starting to get late in the day, Bill towed us up the Tennessee River all the way to Green Turtle Bay Marina.

Tuesday was far too stressful and busy to take any pictures, but there is one scene we would like to describe for you. Twenty two miles up the Tennessee River is the Kentucky lock. It is a monster lock, raising the water level over 50 feet to bring boats up into Kentucky Lake. For 5 days straight we had been on busy, dirty rivers navigating around barges and looking at the industrial core of America.

We rode the lock up and the doors opened to an entirely new world. Kentucky Lake is wide, deep and breathtakingly beautiful. We arrived just as the sun was setting to tree lined shores, calm water and a nature lovers paradise.

Bill is not only an expert boat handler, he is also one of the owners of Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. He and his family have built an incredible resort facility. After 5 days on a boat, there is no place better to come home to. We had dinner with Bill at the yacht club restaurant where he told us some of the history of the resort. After long, very hot showers, we passed out and slept very well for the first time since Little Diversion.

Category: On the Move

2 Responses

  1. Peggy Vd Meulen says:

    Every adventure needs a harrowing experience to make it a true adventure, glad you survived yours!

    • maria says:

      We had a tough few hours waiting for the tow boat, and getting towed over the dam. Fortunately, there is a cavalry to call and everyone got through it okay. The upside is we got a chance to know Bill, who is a truly extraordinary human being.