Friday, August 19, 2016

My Ol Kentucy Home Scene Two

My Ol Kentucky Home
Scene Two

  When my Aunt and I started discussing their stay she expressed interests in renting a pontoon boat from one of the local marinas and taking a day to hit the waters of Kentucky LakeI began researching rentals on the internet and asking around among friends. I honestly didn't want to rent from the resort closest to me because of cost. They have the newest pontoon boats on the lake but you pay a hefty price to rent them. Turns out Kentucky Dam Marina was pretty much the same way, $350 big ones for a full day rental, not including gas.....gas at the marina too which is always higher than at at any gas station. Finally after checking a few other resorts we settled on a rental from Big Bear Resort & Marina, just a few miles from my home and reasonably priced at $235 for 8 hours. We weren't trying to be cheap, we were just trying not to go broke in one adventure. 
    On a Monday morning, we opted for a weekday rental to avoid the weekend rush, we gathered up our gear, our floats, beach towels, coolers, and sunblock. A short drive landed us creeping into the resort fairly lost as to which way to go. A sign demanded everyone obtain a parking pass but we found no one in the main office to do so. We followed the signs down to the marina and marina store, along the way I was a bit surprised at how small the resort seemed compared to the one near my home but found it's overall appearance to be well kept and quite nice.
   Once parked we headed down the dock and into the marina store where we found a very nice female employee who assisted us not only with the boat rental but with fishing licenses as well. My Aunt forgot her driver's license so my Uncle had to use his which was apparently falling apart as it seems they aren't made very well. When the clerk handed it back, the state in the address portion fell off! When everyone had what they needed the guys brought the gear and coolers down to load onto the boat. We had brought along our best friend to captain the boat as he has a lot more experience and is more familiar with navigating Kentucky Lake.  
  The female employee began to go over a checklist of damage on the boat, noting some black electrical tape and metal band used to repair the arm of the canopy, damage to the upholstery on the captains chair and on one of the front bench seats.  There was also some issue with the depth/fish finder, it was in working order but not mounted properly on the dash. None of the issues were of any real concern to us and seemed merely cosmetic so with a tank full of gas we headed out of the bay and into the main waters of Kentucky Lake. 
  We cruised the shoreline closest to the marinas and houses, allowing my Aunt and Uncle to get look at the big expensive homes that line the bank on the West shore.  Sprawling estates with gentle slopes to the water and houses almost on top of each other with so many stairs down to the dock it made my knees ache to look at them. We ducked into a small uninhabited bay just south of Kentucky Dam and set the anchor. 

   My Aunt and I chilled in the shade of the canopy and visited while the guys tried their luck at fishing. The weather was absolutely sublime, especially for August in Kentucky. Highs were only forecast for the uppers 80's, a gentle breeze, mostly sunny and lower humidity all combined for epic boating weather.
   It seems the fish weren't in the biting mood as suddenly our friend decided to use bologna as bait, we had forgotten live bait. Low and behold he sets his pole down to grab a drink and his hook is stripped of bait. Meanwhile my Husband and Uncle weren't having any luck with the lures they were using. Fishing was quickly becoming a bust in the little bay we had chosen. 

   On the main water again we still hung to the West shoreline and began to pass Kentucky Dam Marina, it's blue and white sign with accompanying blue anchor sign sitting high atop the breaker wall. As we made our was past a flock of Loons decided to join us, flying between us and the shore as we headed toward the dam. We passed the free beach area of Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park and hooked toward the East. Keeping a safe distance we cruised by TVA Kentucky Dam.

     Once on the Eastern shoreline, clear of the locking area and of the barge tie offs we stayed just out of the Tennessee River channel making our way past Lighthouse Landing and towards the canal. The shoreline was now free of houses and resorts. The waters surface became much rougher crossing the main river channel until we were clear of it and headed into the canal itself. We passed another boat, anchored off, fishing and waived as we passed before crossing under the canal bridge.
   Lake Barkley is a bit more difficult to navigate especially at Winter pool when the lake is at its shallowest levels. The best practice is to stay within the buoys that mark the main channel of the Cumberland River. The Cumberland like the Tennessee River flow South to North in this portion of Kentucky eventually dumping into the Ohio River just a few miles apart.
   Taking the navigation struggles into account as well as being in a rented boat we opted to drop anchor just a few yards upstream from a barge tie off on the Western shore of Lake Barkley. It was now nearing noon and everyone was ready for a bite to eat so it turned into a lunch stop. We broke out the supplies and had a little picnic style lunch. Ham sandwiches, chips, and snack cakes for everyone!
   Our bellies full we headed back through the canal and back onto Kentucky Lake. Once again we headed south, or upstream, and towards the Rock Quarry. The Captain wanted to make his yearly jump into the from the cliffs of the Quarry.
   Navigating the entry can be tricky as a shallow rock wall, just under the water's surface, protrudes across three fourths of the water in the entry to the Quarry. There is also a small protrusion from the opposite side, leaving a clear narrow path approximately 25 yards across to pilot boats in/out. This danger is magnified when piloting larger boats but the pontoon we had rented was just 21' making it a breeze.
   The waters of the Quarry are deep once inside like most would expect. You can forget about dropping anchor in most areas unless you have over a 100' of rope with you. We pulled up just a few yards from the 50-65' exposed cliff faces that are covered in an array of graffiti from welcome signs, cartoon characters, to initials and dates.

My husband now minding the helm our Captain jumped into the lake and swam over to the cliffs where he then began climbing up the craggy almost step like face. There is a large tug rope in one spot to assist with an over sized "step". Can't say you'd find me relying it or climbing a 50' cliff face with out being anchored to it at least for that matter but to each his own. The nimble Captain didn't waste time once atop the cliffs and quickly jumped off a shear face without hesitation. His form was flawed but acceptable, there was to much splash upon entry but I'll give him a 8 for guts and effort alone!

Back on board our Captain navigated us back out of the Rock Quarry and just across the next inlet to a sandy beach near the popular weekend party spot called The Sands. There were but a few boats beached upon the actual Sands and the one we had chosen was completely void of other vessels.

  We slowly pulled up to the shore making sure to trim up the motor as the water became shallower and beached the pontoon on the soft sandy shore. I began to pull out the floats and realized I should have brought a hand pump or inflated them before setting out. Several of us set to blowing them up the old fashioned way before a couple gave out from being unable to get the technique down. I was left to solo huff and puff the plastic floats to life. Of course I had to purchase ones with more than one compartment to air up as well. Resilience paid off, in between allowing my cheeks to rest and I succeeded in inflating 3 of the 4 floats I had brought. I figured if anyone wanted the 4th one bad enough it was up to them to breath life into it. The next few hours were spent swimming and cooling off in the water in between slathering sunblock on.
  At days end when it was time to head back into the marina we were ready but at the same time saddened our little lake adventure was coming to an end. We had plenty of fun, laughter and relaxation but also sun as some of us were turning red despite all the sunblock. I would definitely recommend renting from Big Bear Resort and Marina if your looking for practicality without the price tag. For all our boating and touring around the lakes, our gas tally came to just over $30.00. You could expect to spend more if you tube, ski or travel further than we did. Yes, the boat wasn't perfect and had it's flaws but it was reliable and served our purpose well.

As always, till next time, Adventure Awaits!!

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