Monday, February 27, 2012

ANOTHER LAKE DANGER

click to enlarge


I have been dwelling on the Scona Lodge project for a long while and I guess its time to pull away from it.   I'll update the entry on Scona if any new data is learned, however.  The story of Scona is extremely important as it, in reality, is a history pertinent to East Tennessee that has not ever been written.  I still am in amazement at to why not.

As I said before many times:  these flood control lakes over here are very different than any lakes I've been previously associated with and they have their own set of dangers unique to them.
Many times I grit my teeth and become nervous when I see the sonar indicating an immediate change in depth from 40 feet to 5 feet.  It happens in a heart beat.  To casually cruise down the lake ignoring the instruments is inviting trouble.  Lakes west of here lean to normalcy and the constant vigil isn't necessary or as critical. Flood control lakes vary in depth, sometimes over night and water traversed yesterday can not be  traveled over today.
Common Loon in Winter plumage.  Most difficult bird in the world to photograph.
I was following a bass boat down the lake toward the boat ramp located at the Douglas Dam access area when the boat made an instant hard right bank.  He was going about 30 miles per hour.  His hard right turn put his boat clear on its edge.  I got a little tight spot in my throat watching this.  I throttled back and scanned the water for an obstacle.  A huge circular object was floating that did not project out of the water.  It floated even with the surface.   Being the good public servant that I am,  I thought I'd just hook a line on it and pull it to shore.  I attached a line to it, and a cleat on my boat and off I went----to nowhere.  That thing was heavy.  It was the end of a huge wooden spool that copper cable is wrapped around for purposes of stringing electric cables from tower to tower for power plants.  This thing obviously still had the copper cable wrapped around it beneath the surface.  Its amazing the thing would float.

It barely moved.  Its weight was such that the boat reacted as if it were anchored to a post and revolved around it.  I was determined to get it to shore somehow.   If a fishing boat were to hit this thing at speed it would explode into a million pieces.  Those boats travel at up to almost 70 mph at times.  This object was an immovable object.  I moved it a yard or two and reattached the line to the other side of my boat and moved it another yard or two.  This process was repeated over and over until I got it about 50 feet from shore.



Finally, a point in the operation was reached where the bow of the boat was approaching the dock and I had to turn away or run out of room.  I had to release the object and turn back out to deep water.  I tried to push the heavy object but the bow of the boat simply ran on top of it.  Again I attached the rope and pulled it as horizontally along the shore as I could.
I finally got it close enough to the shoreline where I could get out of the boat and pull the rope from shore.  No way could I budge this thing.  I tied my end of the rope to a boulder and called TWRA dispatch and reported the situation and requested help be sent to remove this thing.  Its a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) issue and a TVA officer arrived on scene.  I left.  This issue wasn't my responsibility but, someone had to get it off the lake and I just happened to be there.  This monstrous obstacle would have made boating very dangerous in late evening or night.
Ring Billed Gulls - Note the circle around the beak

Gull on left is a Bonapart's Gull.  Gull on right is a Ring Billed Gull.  Note the black beak on the Bonapart's.


Combination of Bonapart's and Ring Billed Gulls








The nice thing about my job is never knowing what will materialize during the day that will need attention.  Things just happen.  I love it!
The day before, I was looking for fishermen to interview when I spotted a boat along the shoreline that didn't look like it belonged there.  It just looked odd.  I went over and discovered an old hulk floating free and high against the shore.  I had seen this boat high up on the shoreline weeks previous to this day.  It normally is under water when the lakes are full.  Evidently the winds have righted the vessel, the water in it drained out and it slid down the embankment and into the water. Either that or someone tried to take it and emptied the water out.  It was floating now and a hazard to navigation if it floated to the center of the lake.




Can you imagine cruising down the lake late evening or at night and running into this guy?  It was free to float wherever the wind would blow it.  No lights and no indication of its presence could spell disaster to any boat on the lake.
This old girl is a TWRA responsibility as TWRA is the regulating body on these lakes.  I called it in to dispatch with the GPS coordinates and a Wildlife boating officer would respond to handle it.
Sometimes these boats prove to be stolen vessels or worse - a skeleton may be found in there. Well - stranger things have happened.  Where's Jimmy Hoffa?  Ya never know what you'll find.
Its just another thing to deal with on the lake.  I love my job.  Oh, I already said that.  Check out this house below:
Its "For Sale."  I looked at the sign with the cost on it and figured, "heck - even I can afford that."  Then I looked closer.  I'm not used to messing with those long numbers.  I had to read it twice.  Seems like a lot for a house on the lake that really isn't on the lake.  Well, it is on the lake three or four months out of the year, I guess.
I just wanted to throw an entry on the blog that varied from the usual fare.  I thought it would be a little bit interesting to show you some of the things I run into every day.
Below is an old foundation that is submerged when the lake is at full pool.  Who can guess what it used to be.  These old homes and foundations have been under water for many, many years.




Tomorrow is a day off and I'll be out there somewhere on a motorcycle, for a change.  I just have the urge to be on two wheels.  I'll dig up something to post on the blog, I'm sure.  I'm planning on canoeing on Calderwood Lake March 2nd.  That should be a great day, if the wind stays down.  Hope you enjoyed the day on Douglas Lake.  Oh - Shade says hello: