Flatwater folks enjoy BBQ and Sunset Paddle on Tennessee River


Photo and Story by Eric Fleming.


At 4 p.m. on July 1st, we had a wild thunderstorm which brought over an inch of rain before it ended at 5 pm and the sun came out again.


The flatwater group met at 5.30 pm for our BBQ and pot luck dinner, ran shuttle, and put on a bit after 8 p.m., about a half hour later than planned due to the delays with loading and driving caused by the earlier rain. No problem as more rain wasn’t expected till after 10 and we’d be done by then!!


It was till light and we were still in sight of the put in ramp when a Jon boat with three young guys fishing didn’t see Mark and sideswiped his boat. The driver was sitting in the back steering with the motor and the other two guys were facing the back and had their lines in the water. This blocked the drivers view. They were just at trolling speed and luckily Mark is an experienced paddler so no harm done, but it’s the first time I’ve seen contact like that in the 22 years I’ve been paddling. And I’d told everyone to stay along the left bank and not be all over the river due to boat traffic and it still happened.


This morning I brought the Sunday paper in and there on the front page with a color photo of paddlers with Nancy Packard in the picture and the headline “Dangers Are Growing with The Increase In Paddle Sports”. The paddling community has just exploded over the past few years so more incidents are bound to occur.


Be vigilant, wear your PFD, carry a whistle, wave your paddle if you think a boat may not have seen you, give way to all bigger boats, group up when crossing a channel (channel traffic has the right of way), know the boating rules and regulations, stay away from all obstructions like bridge supports that cause turbulence, and be prepared for the unexpected.  Learn and practice this and more at the annual TVCC Rescue Rodeo on July 29th.  For more information, go to https://tvccpaddler.com/register-event/?event=2409177


Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, so half way down our two-hour paddle the rain started and rained off and on for the rest of the way, but then stopped so we didn’t have to load up in the rain. Hey, it’s a water sport!!


Eric B and Peter turned around and paddled back up to the put in as one way just isn’t enough for them. Eric sent me a text at 12.05 that they were done.


Thanks to everyone who brought food, especially to Ruthie who made the BBQ pork and chicken, and to everyone who helped lug boats etc., and again to Ruthie who was the guiding light and head counter at the take out. Sure didn’t want anyone missing the take out and landing up in New Orleans!!


Happy paddling,