Wednesday, October 19, 2016


     We are leaving the "IVY" Club this Saturday morning. We prep the boat, fill the water tank, and head to the bath house for a good civilized bath before heading out. We put 95.5 gallons in the tank, and 2.3 gallons in diesel container to mix biocide for diesel algae in. We are away from the docks at 9:50. We pass through Peoria, and head for the lock. The lockmaster when contacted on the radio says what Barbara wants to hear: " just pass by the lock". Peoria is a wicker dam, and when the Army Corps of Engineers want, they can lower the dam, and let traffic pass over. We are only traveling a short ways today. We are going to meet Mike and Kathy on "Easy Pace" at an anchorage and share it for the night. 33miles from "IVY" Club we are at Duck Island. We motor alongside "Easy Pace", and tie alongside them. The entertainment was getting Millie the dog (80#) to the shore. Millie must have thought we tried to humiliate her by making her get off in the mud to go do her dog business on shore. When she returned to the boats, she did the wet dog shake, and slung muddy water over 4 adults.
       I also put our inflatable dinghy in. And I put the motor on it for the first time since going to dinner in Detroit. It ran good at high speed, but when I returned to SummerTime, it would not idle, and died. It had to cool before I could get it re-started. Between starting, I decided to put the bow anchor out. I tried to row the anchor out in the dinghy. I could get out in front of SummerTime with a lot of effort, but the current would have me back at the bow before I could get the anchor out after I stopped rowing. Mike got on board at the third attempt. I rowed, and he heaved the anchor over when I thought we were far enough away. This worked. And after we tied the dinghy back up to SummerTime's stern, it started. And idled, for a few minutes. Then it shut down again. We pulled it back aboard.
       Sunday morning we got up, showered, and headed to Havana, Il. No biscuits for Rodney this Sunday morning as we did not wish to run the generator to cook and disturb our neighbors. We are going ashore in Havana to go to church. We walk only a short distance to the Havana "Southern Baptist" Church. The Pastor finds out what we are doing, and tells us about Cairo, Il where he is from. He also tells us the name of a good BBQ joint. After church we go to "Babes" restaurant, where Barbara and Mike get fried chicken for lunch. I see it as fitting that there is "fried chicken" after being in a "Southern Baptist" church. Stereotypes in my head from when I was a kid. We go to the hardware store for two items, and then to Dollar General for Barb to get something for her allergies. Mike and Kathy stay at the marina in Havana, but they have no slip for us, so we motor downriver a few more miles and anchor at Grape Tow Head just below Beardstown, IL. The "Guides" say to put out a stern anchor in this channel between the island and the mainland. Not sure why, as there is plenty of swing room, and we are the only boat in the anchorage. We put out a stern anchor for the first time with the bow anchor. A decision we will regret on Monday morning.
        We awake Monday morning to find we are where we anchored ourselves. Important as the current is probably still at 2knots, and the wind is blowing harder than when we went to bed. I think it may be pretty consistent at 12kt, with gusts to 20 knots. We pay out the front anchor rode, and drift back on the current (against the wind) towards the rear anchor so that we can retrieve it first. Not quite so easy. We get back there, but way to the side. We can only get about half the rear rode length in. The thruster will not move us that far against the wind and current. The main engine can not move us sideways. One of those times when twin engines are great. We try again. No luck. I rig the block and tackle for raising the dinghy on board to the rear anchor rode. I get the rear rode in far enough to tie a float on the end of the rode. We untie the rear rode, and toss it over with the float attached. We can now get the front anchor up, which went smooth as it normally does. We motor back to pick up the float and get in the rear anchor we had untied from. It takes two attempts, but we get the rear anchor retrieved also. We head down the Illinois River at a faster rate than normal as we are to meet friends in Grafton, IL at the marina there. We have an unusual wildlife sighting today. A deer is swimming across the river in front of us. Initially from a distance, it's head looks like a piece of log drifting crossways on the river. As we get closer, I can see that there are branches (antlers) on the log.

We follow at a distance towards the shore, and watch the buck climb the steep bank and dash off. We get to Grafton a little after 5:30. We get a quick shower after docking the boat, and meet our friends for dinner. It was a wonderful evening talking over old times and work acquaintances. A lovely end to what had started as a hectic day.
       We awake on Tuesday to lovely weather. We are set to head to Hoppies down the Mississippi. But it is not to be. Chuck comes by from "Somewhere in Time" to tell us that Hoppies has no room for us this evening at their limited dock. We make a decision to go to Alton, Il so as to save 20 miles, or 2-1/2hr on Wednesday. The marina for Alton is right past a main bridge crossing the Mississippi. And the entrance to the harbor is between the bridge pier and the mainline. The current is ferocious, and requires carrying a good bit of power to maintain steerage and get into the harbor, Power is cut the minute you get past the pier as you are out of the strong currents. We dock, and the harbor personnel are extremely pleasant. We have lunch, chicken lasagna, at the harbor grill. It was unusual, but great. The marina manager drops the women at a pet supply store while she runs errands, and picks them back up and drops them at a local grocer. The manager goes into the grocer to tell the owner that Sue and Barbara are marina guests, and to drive them and their groceries to the marina when they are through shopping. I walk downtown to a bakery specializing in homemade pies. The Alton downtown is full of antique stores. At the bakery, most of the whole pies are gone. I walk out with four slices of peach pie. Dessert for later.
We get going early on Wednesday morning. We have to pass through two locks before commencing the long run to Hoppies. The first one is time arranged, as they are just beyond the marina. We are to be there at 9am. There are two other boats in there with us. We all four get out okay and power on down towards the "Chain of Rocks" lock. There is a man made canal for several miles to this lock to avoid the rapids going down to Saint Louis. The lock is waiting for us, and we go on down. We are starting to see signs of St. Louis. What impresses me is the number of floating dry docks just above St Louis to service tugs and the barges they push. Here you can see the underside of one of those big tugs that push multiple barges up the Mississippi against that 2kt plus current. I guess I did not pay as much attention in geography as I should have. I am disappointed at the St. Louis arch. I envisioned going under/through it. I did not realize it spanned across the land area. St. Louis is very industrialized along the river. And there are barges parked everywhere, waiting to be combined, or split into rafts for a final destination. After St. Louis, the river side starts to become barren of dwellings. There are quarries, some industrial plants, and some cement plants. We get to Hoppies about 3:30 in the afternoon.

A pretty good run thanks to river current. There are other boats already there besides the four of us. I fuel up here, along with the others as we are about to make the longest run of  the trip, 250mi, without a fueling stop. We attend the mandatory river briefing with "Fern" at 4:30.  She is a wealth of knowledge on traveling the Mississippi River to our next stop. The briefing takes nearly an hour.

      Early Thursday morning we get going. We have a full fuel tank and a full water tank, which should carry us over the 250 plus miles to the next marina. We are traveling with the current on the river, and we make good time. We are getting over a 2mph add out of the current for a given rpm on our engine. There is not much along the river here. No big towns, but some quarries and other things like that along the route. We meet a lot of tows, and pass some tows also. The tows are much bigger. It is not unusual to see tows of over 30 barges as we travel. Just below Cape Girardeaux in Missouri, we come to an anchorage that Fern had told us about. We think that we will be the first boats in there, but there are 4 other boats in there when we pull in. It is called the "Diversion Canal", and we go all the way to a RR bridge with 20' of water under our keel. "Somewhere In Time" and "SummerTime" are rafted together to save space in case other boats show up.
       Friday we get up and get started to the Ohio River. One of the cruisers has contacted the Olmsted Lock and has been told if we are there before 4, we can probably get locked through. But if not this pm, it could be as late as 4am Saturday morning. The Mississippi is very crooked through here. The passing of slow tows has to be well calculated as there are not long straights to pass on. The passing has to be coordinated to keep from getting run over by a barge in a turn. We get to the Ohio River Junction at Cairo, IL about noon. There is no where to dock to go look for a BarBQ joint. We make the turn upstream into the Ohio River. We are now bucking a current and our speed is slower. We get to the Olmsted dam before 4. And we fall into a line waiting to go through the lock. There are two tows waiting to go up also. And they will get first priority. After several calls to the lockmaster inquiring as to when, we give up. Darkness is near at hand, and none of us will be able to find an anchorage after dark. There are no marinas through here to go to. We move behind the cells from the channel, and anchor between the cells and the shore. Cells are a "Corps" structure about 15' in diameter, constructed of sheet piles, and filled with concrete. They are at least 25' above the water level it seems. They are for the tugs and tows to moor to while waiting on a lock. We are not too far from the shore, and put out a stern anchor to keep from swinging beyond the cells and into the channel during the night.


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