Middle Tennessee Personal Watercraft Club celebrated its 5th anniversary this year, first formed in 2010 to provide a fun, safe, responsible way for families and friends to enjoy riding personal watercraft together and share the beautiful waters that the Middle Tennessee Area has to offer. In celebration, the Middle Tennessee Personal Watercraft Club held its monthly ride on Saturday the 13th of June to ride from Old Hickory Lake To Cordell Hull Lake, a route distance of 103-miles, or a total 253 miles round trip.
Eight PWC and ten people made it this past weekend, We set out from Shute’s Branch Recreation Area at 9am Saturday morning heading NE 30 miles up the Cumberland River to our only fuel stop at Shady Cove Marina. We topped off all the machines and had a cold drink before proceeding to Cordell Hull Lock & Dam another 73 miles upriver.
Club member Rollie Pierson told The Watercraft Journal, “I met the group at Shady Cover Marina because I live in Kentucky at 10 am where they had to stop to top off with fuel to make the remaining 73 miles of the trip up the Cumberland. At 10:30 we were on our way with 9 skis.”
Fellow club member Pam Tidwell explained, “This ride upriver is my all-time favorites. It starts in my back yard and ends where my father grew up. The ride starts with a quick look at a country music star’s house on the lake. Then we pass the first set of cliffs. It is sad to ride past Johnny Cash’s house the burned to the ground. Then there’s The Church on The Lake, and the new 109 Bridge.”
Due to the distance, we set our pace around 40mph to get maximum fuel mileage. We took breaks about every 25 miles to enjoy the river and have a water; it was an extremely warm day with temperatures in the 90’s. Tidwell noted, “There [was] very little traffic on this stretch of the Cumberland River. We waved at the fishermen on the sides of the river. Most waved back. We travel through shady patches where the air [was] much cooler than normal.”
We arrived at Cordell Hull Dam at 1:30pm just in time for a brief rain shower – enough to get everyone soaked. “About 1 mile before we got to the dam we experienced a brief 10 minute rain shower but it ended as quickly as it started and we had great sunny weather the rest of the day,” Pierson recounted. Drying quickly, we passed through the lock at 2:15pm.
“Locking through the dam was a little nervous for me,” stated newcomer another club member, Tonya. “I was being teased by the gang about finding a dead fish and having to kiss it for luck. This, I was told, is the initiation of newcomers. I prayed I didn’t see one. I also was told that the lock would be like a washing machine churning us and spitting us to the other side when the gates opened. Of course, none was true but it add for great laughs and fun.”
Running low on fuel, we headed to our destination 5 miles further upriver to Defeated Creek Marina that served as homebase for the night. They are very PWC friendly and the staff is always helpful. Tonya joked, “I ran up to the restaurant and got us a table for a late lunch. As I looked out over the deck and saw all the skis tied to the dock, the thought came to mind that it resembled a throwback to horses being tied around a corral as the gunslingers headed into the saloon.”
Pierson continued, “Three of us stayed at the cabin at Defeated Creek and the other 6 stayed at the rental house a couple of miles away. On of the riders brought their truck there the day earlier so we would have transportation to and from the rental house.”
The cabin was a short walk from the marina where enjoyed a late afternoon lunch at the nearby restaurant. A bluegrass festival was going on nearby, so we walked the vendors and enjoyed the pickin’ before calling it a day.
Sunday morning, we woke early and had breakfast at the marina before we mounted our skis for a 10-mile ride up Cordell Hull to Granville, a historic river town along the Cumberland. There is no docking there, so we tied our trusted steeds to trees along the bank and walked into town. “We tied up by the shore and walked the town. It was a small town that you felt like you were living in 1950 with all the historical building and museums,” Pierson noted.
“We walked around for a while and then a few of us headed about 5 miles up the lake to Salt Lick campground where we stopped for a swim before heading back to Defeated Creek,” Pierson continued.
Its highly recommend that you ride Cordell Hull, the lake is stunning with the rolling hills in all directions and the water is clean and clear. We had a lock through time scheduled for 1pm, so we headed back to Defeated Creek Marina to top off the fuel and proceeded to the dam. The lockmaster was ready for us, and entered the lock 15 minutes early. The ride was once again paced back to Shady Cove and then Shute’s Branch.
“The water was smooth, air was warm and it was a great ride with a great group of ski lovers,” Pierson concluded, but Tonya said it best, “Spending time with this group of friends can never be replaced. We look out for each other. We laughed and joked. We talked about the sites we saw. Pulling off the rides takes planning. I learned how maps and GPS are crucial. You definitely just don’t jump on a jet ski and ride a total of 253 miles without planning. I might have started out as a novice but I’m hooked now.”