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  1. #1
    Girls just wanna have fun! awarrick's Avatar
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    TN River basic info?

    Probably an easy question for you regulars on the TN river. We're planning a long w-end trip from just north of Chattanooga down to the MS/AL border. The first leg is roughly 120 miles (going by mile markers). The second leg is 134 miles. I've been riding for years but when you ride in one area and know it well, you don't pay attention to stuff like how far something is. So, my question is, taking into consideration, going through the locks and stopping here and there to snoop around, getting gas and eating...is 120 miles for day 1 and 134 miles for day 2 realistic at a reasonable cruising speed? I don't want to head out at 11am, fly down the river and be done with our first leg at 2pm. Want this to go all day. Say 6-8 hours. Or do you think we might be able to go a little further? or not? I figured 30mph on average (maybe 35) divided by 120 miles is 3-4hrs but again, want to check stuff out and go for a dip maybe.
    Thanks in advance!


  2. #2
    Formerly Ultra250 TN Aquaholic6801's Avatar
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    We have done a 220 mile trip in a day 8-10hrs...and have done 150 mile trips in a LONG day 12+ getting stuck at lock for 3+hrs.......it just depends on how fast you ride and how often you take breaks and if you run into a barge locking thru....on the last 150 mile trip we took, we were hammer down for the last 60 or so miles trying to to the last gas stop before the owner left...they hung around for about 2 hours for us....alot of variables can arise so.......weve been pretty lucky on our trips....only pulled up after dark a few times....

  3. #3

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    Me and a Friend just did 205 miles on the TN river this past Saturday. Have done the entire TN river both ways. Pretty much most of the rides I plan on the TN river are between 150-200miles a day. Usally cruise between 32-40mph.

    One thing important to consider is conditions. Wind, storms, fog, etc.. all play a big factor. I have done legs where in the morning or afternoon I was averaging 32-40mph, then conditions change and those averages can drop to 10-15mph. If your pushing mileage over 100+ miles you need to make sure the conditions are good to maintain your needed speed to get to your destination on time.

    For fuel I usually call ahead when planning the ride the week prior. Then also call again the day before to double check the hours and make sure their pumps are operational. If your planning the ride on a weekday this is especially important as operating hours change and some places are not open at all.

    If your going to be locking through dams another thing you will want to consider is lockage. This can ruin your day in a hurry if you are locking through multiple dams. Its not uncommon to have a 1-3hr delay if you run into commercial traffic.

    Bottom line just try and plan ahead for things ahead of time and make sure you have a contingency plan in place if you run into anything unexpected.

  4. #4

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    Also here are the sources I start out with in planning a TN river ride: www.tnriver.com, garmin mapsource with US inland lakes and/or bluechart inland rivers, also google maps / google earth.

    Make sure you verify information (especially tnriver.com) as I continually find information outdated from most all of those sources.

  5. #5
    Quinton Robbins's Avatar
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    Subscribed. :thumbup:

  6. #6
    Girls just wanna have fun! awarrick's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info! I bought a book called, TN River Guidebook. It has charts and maps, which is handy. We're planning to go on July 5-9. Hoping since the 4th is on a Weds that commercial traffic will be at a minimum. We have a garmin Montana 600 and I am planning to buy the SD card that has the inland lakes, rivers on it. We have reservations for hotels and cabins along the way. We even have arranged to park our truck and trailer at a private marina to avoid having anything stolen. We also ride some off shore off Georgia's coast and we are playing with the idea of getting a couple Marine VHF handheld radios but they're not cheap and not sure they'd be worth it. However, calling lock operators and each other when we find something neat to look at. Cell signals can be weak in the hills and off the shore so we're considering it. As far as a backup plan goes, not sure we can do anything but take some camping gear with us in case we are delayed and it starts to get dark and we're several miles from our scheduled stopping place. However, strapping camping equipment sounds like a pain in the butt. But I see your point about a backup plan so we might do it anyway.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by awarrick View Post
    Thanks for all the info! I bought a book called, TN River Guidebook. It has charts and maps, which is handy. We're planning to go on July 5-9. Hoping since the 4th is on a Weds that commercial traffic will be at a minimum. We have a garmin Montana 600 and I am planning to buy the SD card that has the inland lakes, rivers on it. We have reservations for hotels and cabins along the way. We even have arranged to park our truck and trailer at a private marina to avoid having anything stolen. We also ride some off shore off Georgia's coast and we are playing with the idea of getting a couple Marine VHF handheld radios but they're not cheap and not sure they'd be worth it. However, calling lock operators and each other when we find something neat to look at. Cell signals can be weak in the hills and off the shore so we're considering it. As far as a backup plan goes, not sure we can do anything but take some camping gear with us in case we are delayed and it starts to get dark and we're several miles from our scheduled stopping place. However, strapping camping equipment sounds like a pain in the butt. But I see your point about a backup plan so we might do it anyway.
    The GPS with inland waterway maps are a must in my opinion. Even with the GPS finding some of the marina's sometimes can be a chore. Most places are off the channel up a small cove or up something smaller like a creek.

    I carry a marine radio, but havent pulled it out the dry bag other than to charge it in years. Each lock has a telephone number. Just get those numbers ahead of time. I usually try and give them a call about 20-30 minutes out and let them know which way I'm locking in hopes that no one is inline and that they can get the chamber prepared ahead of arrival. If you can do that you can save time and lock through in 30 min max.

  8. #8
    83Gator's Avatar
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    Ditto on all the above, but when I crossed SoLA last year (225 mile single day trip) our USACE lock attendants communicated by VHF. This site also helped me somewhat: http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/navigation.htm You may have to dig through the info, but somewhere in the site is a page that reflects operational status/traffic for each lock. We too brought camping equipment in preparation of a worse case scenario. Plan for the worse, hope for the best...

    BTW, I'd like to get any trails you guys are logging to add to my website. See my sig. below.

    EDIT: Agreed to US Inland/MapSource, but in conjunction w/that, I always put up Google Earth in a side by side screen. Be sure to have "places, gallery, photos, roads, and borders" turned on in GE.

  9. #9

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    I assume you will be putting in a Chickamauga, locking through to Nickajack, then traveling on to Guntersville?

    Nickajack will end up being the best ride you will have on the trip. Very scenic. The river is more narrow and protected by the hills and mountains from wind. Guntersville is a smooth ride after the dam but as you get further into Alabama the water opens up and can get a little rough depending on conditions and the amount of recreational traffic. Same with Chickamauga, the tail water from Watt’s bar can be smooth for many miles, however once you get closer to Chattanooga the lake opens up and there are plenty of marina’s and access points to feed the beast in terms of recreational traffic.

    Sounds like a good trip. I hope to be down on Nickajack lake for a ride in the next few weeks. We usually put in near Nickajack Dam and travel up to downtown Chattanooga, tie up, and walk around downtown and get something to eat. Sticky fingers or Sugars is a good stop for ribs and we rarely miss eating at one of them while we are there. Once finished we hit the self service gas pump right there at downtown Chattanooga and head back and enjoy the scenery.

  10. #10
    Girls just wanna have fun! awarrick's Avatar
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    We're actually dropping in just up the river from Chattanooga. We are stopping in guntersville for the night. The next day we're heading for Luka , MS where we rented a cabin at a local Marina. Day 3 we're going further up the river about 50miles for lunch, turning around and heading back to Luka for the night and then back the guntersville, etc.
    Living in the south myself, I know you can get those "pop-up" thunderstorms. How does one address that? Can't exactly kill our trip. If there are no marinas around, what would you do to shelter from a storm?

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