As if bringing a $20 million yacht from Florida to a Tennessee football game wasn't enough, the scheduled month-long voyage was extended even longer when the Chickamauga Lock unexpectedly shut down last week.
But the 7-person crew on the luxury vessel dubbed "Freedom" isn't complaining about their extended autumn visit through East Tennessee.
"We got to see some snow last week and stopping here at Chattanooga's waterfront is one of the best places anywhere," Dan Corcoran, the captain of the Freedom, said Monday while the board was docked in Chattanooga Wednesday on its way back to Florida.
The owner of the 6-year-old yacht, who Corcoran declined to identify, brought his yacht to Knoxville two weeks ago for the Tennessee-Alabama football game. The owner did the same thing two years ago when the Vols and the Crimson Tide last played football at Neyland Stadium on the banks of the Tennessee River in Knoxville.
In 2012, the owner rode along with the crew for part of the voyage. But this time, his schedule dictated that he and his guests were on the boat for just the weekend of the Oct. 25 game when Alabama beat Tennessee 34-20.
The 151-foot-long boat, which includes five staterooms and a crew of operators, chefs and stewards, was the biggest parked on the river as part of the Vol Navy on the Tennessee River at the Alabama game.
After hosting its owner and guests Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the big game, Freedom began heading downstream last week only to encounter the unplanned shut down of the Chickamauga Lock on Oct. 25.
A routine lock inspection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Oct. 27 found a crack in one of the anchors to the upper gate. The Corps immediately shut down the lock, idling barge, yacht and recreational boat traffic through Chattanooga until the lock could be repaired.
The lock outage originally projected to last three weeks was repaired instead in only eight days. But the idled crew of the Freedom, which docked at at a marina in Lenoir City on Fort Loudon Lake, was able to take advantage of the shut down to see some of the snow last week in nearby mountains.
The Chickamauga Lock reopened Tuesday and the Freedom passed through the lock and came to Chattanooga's waterfront on Wednesday. The trip back to the boat's regular mooring in Fort Lauderdale is expected to take about two weeks.
The boat was built by Northern Marine Co. in 2008 and has had only two owners.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or 757-6340.