Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!
La Salle here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day – to – day travel log.
The week was spent making the 300 mile run down the upper Mighty Muddy Mississippi River, from Alton, Illinois to Cairo. From here the crew travelled up the Ohio River to the Cumberland River and eventually landed at Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, Kentucky.
Monday, September, 26, 2016
The crew was informed at docktails on Saturday night that both Hoppies Marine Services and Green Turtle Bay Marina transient docks were full of Looper boats and that a 48 hour advanced reservation was required to get dock space.
The skipper called Hoppies and sure enough the 300 foot of available dock space was full for Monday night. The skipper made reservations for Tuesday. To shorten the run on Tuesday, the crew decided to move 15 miles down river to Alton.
This is mile 0 on the Illinois River and mile 218 on the upper Mississippi River. The boat got an extra 1 knot push after entering these waters.
Almost immediately after entering the upper Mississippi River these limestone cliffs appeared. During the Marquette-Joliet Expedition in 1673, to determine if the Mississippi River actually made it to the Gulf of Mexico, the native Indians warned the explorers that there were dragons that guarded the path south. When the expedition saw these cliffs, they also saw a dragon painted onto the cliff walls. Marquette actually made a sketch of the dragon in his journal and wrote:
“While Skirting some rocks, which by Their height and length inspired awe, We saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made Us afraid, and upon Which the boldest savages dare not Long rest their eyes. They are as large As a calf; they have Horns on their heads Like those of a deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard Like a tiger’s, a face somewhat like a man’s, a body Covered with scales, and so Long A tail that it winds all around the Body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a Fish’s tail. Green, red, and black are the three Colors composing the Picture. We have learned that the great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather of Miss Jessica Beetner smote this monster. Moreover, these 2 monsters are so well painted that we cannot believe that any savage is their author; for good painters in France would find it difficult to reach that place Conveniently to paint them. Here is approximately The shape of these monsters, As we have faithfully Copied It.”
But with the rain of time the dragon has washed away. However, the cliffs remain standing guard over the river.
In 1951 the town of Portage des Sioux was threatened for the very first time in its history with flooding. Father Edward B. Schlattmann called upon his parish to start praying for protection from the flooding. While other river communities indeed were swept up under the flood, the town of Portage remained mostly high and dry. In gratitude, the parish erected this statue overlooking the river. The 25 foot statue stands on a 20 foot pedestal.
As the crew continued down bound they encountered this large tow moving up bound. The tow has three barges across and is 5 barges long (3×5) for a total of 15 barges. The skipper hailed the tow to determine which side to pass down. The tow captain said on the ‘One” so the skipper steered to starboard and passed the tow port – to – port.
After passing the tow the crew could see the Clark Bridge 5 miles down river. The Alton marina is just on the other side of this bridge at mile 203.
After docking, the crew walked around Alton to see what the town was all about. What they learned was that flooding is a major problem and threat here. There have been three major floods, 1844, 1973, and 1993. The 1993 was the worst with the flood waters 23 feet above the flood level of the river.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The crew got off to a good start today by making the Mel Price Lock with a minimal wait. Once the crew secured the boat to the bollard the lock master informed the crew that they would wait for two other boats who were just passing under the bridge two miles upstream.
Just a few miles down stream the crew encountered the Missouri River pouring into the Mississippi River.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, started up this spot in May 1804 to explore the Missouri River all the way to its head waters and then onto the Pacific Ocean. Many know the story of the expedition, but have you ever wondered what happened to them after the expedition was over?
Clark went on to become the first governor of the newly created Missouri Territory in 1813, and held the position until the time that Missouri became a state in 1821. He also held the position of Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the west. He died in September 1838.
However, his story is not near as interesting as the mystery of Lewis. Following the expedition, Lewis fell into depression that then led him to heavy drinking. In the midst of his depression, he was on his way to Washington to collect some debts the government still owed him from the expedition. On the Natchez Trail, he stopped at Grinder’s Stand, about 70 miles from Nashville. He was found the next day, October 11, 1809, with two pistol shots, one to the chest and one to the head. His money and horses were missing. The officials ruled suicide brought on by depression. Others believe it was murder so the government would not have to pay the legitimate travel expenses that Lewis was trying to collect. So, did someone get away with murder?
The next thing encountered by our crew was this large sign telling them to go to the left down the canal rather than the right down the rapids caused by the ‘Chain of Rocks.’
When the crew arrived at the end of the canal at Lock 27, they found a large tow in the lock and four boats waiting to lock through.
After the tow exited the Lock, six pleasure craft entered the lock to get dropped down 12 feet. The lock master allowed the Living Life sailboat to just float in the lock while all others tied off.
Five miles downstream the crew drifted by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
The river traffic along the St. Louis banks was busy with barges and tows all around. In fact, it was nearly 8 miles of barges on both banks before the crew finally broke free of the view and saw the trees again.
But before the crew left the city of St. Louis, they did see some interesting yard art along the houses overlooking the river.
The crew continued down river dodging water hazards. With the river running at a couple of knots, these water hazards can do some serious damage to the boat. Luckily for the crew, there are less hazards this week than last.
The crew arrived at Hoppies Marine Services in good time due to the current. After docking the crew walked around town and had lunch at The Blue Owl. The town was a pleasant surprise but the Blue Owl was a great surprise. Excellent food at reasonable prices. Fern, the owner of Hoppies, had recommended their apple pie.
The apple pie is named Levee High Apple Pie. The name comes from the famous 1993 flood. The town would have been under water except the temporary sandbag levee held and protected the town.
The Blue Owl commemorated the near miss with the Levee High Apple Pie. Here is one slice of pie.
The crew needed to get back to the dock so they could attend the briefing that Fern does for the boaters. She discusses the down stream hazards, anchorages, and safety precautions to be used for the next 200 miles.
Yes, that green hose is the fuel line for the diesel. Court is held on the fuel dock. And yes there are signs posted that say No Smoking.
The briefing was excellent and the information was priceless. The crew is ready to anchor out the next three nights as they make their way to the next marina at Green Turtle Bay on Barkley Lake.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The crew shoved off the dock a little after daybreak this morning because they plan to have a long cruise today, 110 miles on the Mississippi River. There are no locks in this section of river so running with the current the crew should make these miles easily.
The scenery did not change much all day. The Missouri side of the river continued to have high limestone bluffs standing guard over the river. While the Illinois side was mostly flat tree lined shore.
The big news today was the big tows that were passed. One tow was six barges wide and seven barges deep, a new record for our crew. The tow was pushing up river and the prop wash from behind the boat was huge. Water was churning up over five feet from behind the tug. This caused five foot waves which then bounced off Kthe shore and back into the river. Then the waves collided with each other out in the middle and caused confused seas. It took almost four miles before the waves calmed down and the river returned to normal flow.
Another new hazard was introduced today also. There are underwater dikes and /or wing dams that have been built along the shore of the river. These funnel the water from the shore out into the center of the channel to prevent shore erosion. At some locations where the bend in the river is narrow, these dikes cause small to large whirlpools. Some underpowered boats like a sailboat can get caught in the swirling water and not have enough force to get out.
Still Waters II has enough horsepower not to get caught, but the swirling action of the water can spin the boat around if you are not careful. The crew had to pass two of the more dangerous whirlpool areas on the run today. It was very impressive to see the water funnel clouds spinning around in the water as the crew passed safely by.
Then the last surprise is the number of navigational aids that are missing or are off station. Fern warned of this yesterday in her briefing. The skipper estimates that at least 25 % of the aids are missing. To counter this, the crew is piloting the boat down the sailing line drawn on the electronic chart plotter.
But interesting enough, the crew did pass a cache of new navigational aides stacked over on the left descending bank today. Maybe the Corps of Engineers is staging for a work party to put some of the markers back in place.
The crew made the 110 miles down river in 9 hours and anchored in the Little River Diversion channel off the main River about 1700. They found Maravillas and LeryLynn also anchored in the area.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
The crew got another early start and left the anchorage at day break with Maravillas and LeryLynn to make a three boat flotilla for this next section of river. This next section is famous for long delays at two separate locks.
The flotilla made good time making the Cairo Point Junction 50 miles down river by 1045. Cairo is mile 0 of the upper Mississippi, mile 953 of the lower Mississippi, and mile 981 of the Ohio River.
The run on the Ohio River slowed the flotilla as the boats were going against the current. It took a little over two hours to make the 17 miles to the Olmstead Lock. This lock is under construction and is scheduled for operation in 2020. For now, boats are escorted thru the lock chamber that is completed. Because of the escort, it not uncommon for boats to wait several hours to get thru the lock.
Our flotilla arrived just as a tow was beginning to make the passage thru the lock. The lock master told the flotilla to fall in behind the tow and go thru the lock. The flotilla took less than an hour to clear the lock.
From here it was another 23 miles to the infamous Lock 52. This Lock is old and in need of retirement. The Olmstead Lock is being built to replace Lock 52. The flotilla arrived at Lock 52 to find five pleasure craft anchored and waiting to go thru the lock. There were 11 tows below the lock and 14 tows above the lock waiting their turn to pass thru the lock. It takes a tow about an hour to enter, lock, and exit the area to allow the next tow into the lock.
When the flotilla arrived at 1700, there was a down bound tow in the lock. The lock master radioed the pleasure craft and informed the boaters that he was going to allow them passage thru the lock when the tow exited.
After exiting the Lock, the flotilla had eight miles to go to the nearest spot to anchor. The crew arrived in the dark and got the anchor down to complete a very successful 97 mile day with few delays.
Friday, September 30, 2016
With only 44 miles needed to go and one lock to Green Turtle Bay Marina, the flotilla decided to weigh anchor at 0800. After an hour and half of cruising on the Ohio River, the flotilla entered the Cumberland River.
The Bald Eagles were plentiful during the day. The crew saw 14 eagles, many were soaring along the shoreline looking for breakfast.
The flotilla arrived at the Barkley Lock about 1330. As they approached the lock the lock master was lowering the water level in the lock and opening the gates to allow the boats to enter.
After the 57 feet rise in the lock, the flotilla entered Barkley Lake and headed to the Green Turtle Bay Marina.
The last challenge would be finding dockage. Because the run south went so much better than anticipated, the boats arrived a day ahead of their reservations. The marina told the boats to come to the fuel dock and they would find a place to put the boats.
Still Waters II was docked at the end of pier 5. After a short shower, a rainbow appeared in the sky just above the boat. A gentle reminder of God’s promise of protection while on this adventure of a lifetime.
Saturday, October 1, 2016
The morning started out as a day of recuperation for the crew as they rested after a few long days cruising the inland rivers.
However, Al and Ruth Darelius keep their boat in Green Turtle Bay and also just happen to be spending a long weekend on their boat this wekend.
They called our crew and invited them out to see and experience some of the local sites. The crew happily accepted the invitation and set out on a fun afternoon of exploration.
The first stop was the Kentucky Lake Lock and Dam. After spending a few minutes marveling at the size of the dam and contemplating the flood waters that the dam protects from, the couples headed to Paducah, Kentucky.
Paducah is located at the junction of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, near where the crew anchored out on Thursday night. The town was actually laid out by none other than William Clark in 1827.
As with most of the towns along these rivers, flooding is a constant danger. The worst flooding in Paducah occurred back in 1937. The Ohio River rose 10.8 feet above flood level, which is 50 feet above normal pool level. The earth levees did not prevent the town from flooding so the town spent three weeks under water waiting for the water to recede back into its banks.
The Corps of Engineers has since built a flood wall to protect the town. The flood wall has been painted with murals to highlight the history of the town. A few samples of the murals:
After admiring the murals the group took a trip over to the Ice Cream Factory to sample the local cream. The skipper tried the peanut butter ice cream. It was amazingly good. It had a texture and taste of creamy peanut butter fudge.
The Admiral tried the banana, Ruth tried the pumpkin, and Al sampled the coffee ice cream. All reported that their ice cream flavor was good so it was time to cleanse the palette with a little homegrown Kentucky Moonshine.
The best moonshine in these parts can be found at The Moonshine Company. Cousin Billy, the master distiller, has ben perfecting his craft for 54 years. He actually started running moonshine when he was 12. He learned the craft from Uncle Mosey who supported the family through the Great Depression and prohibition by running moonshine. It is even said that the gangster Al Capone sold Uncle Mosey’s moonshine back in the day.
The group sampled some 80, 90, and 102 proof moonshine and then tried some flavored mixed spirits. All seemed to agree that the Sweet Apple Pie was the best. The skipper bought a bottle of Lewis & Clark Ardent Spirits (the 102 proof stuff) and a bottle of Apple Pie Moonshine Mixer.
The next stop was at the Dry Ground Brewing Company.
The Brewery gets its name from the 1937 flood. The town Coca-Cola bottling plant was submerged during the flood. A Mr. Carson used an empty syrup keg to float out the second floor window of the bottling plant to reach a rescue boat. Mr. Carson was heard saying, “If I ever reach DRY GROUND, it is there that I will build my new bottling plant.”
Mr. Carson did open a new bottling plant back in 1939 on that DRY GROUND. Now the DRY GROUND Brewing Company proudly occupies the building.
Even though loopers all basically travel the same 6,000 miles around the great loop, each boater has a completely different and unique experience. The uniqueness truly makes this an adventure of a lifetime. The people who were about to unexpectedly cross the crews path will forever make the trip to Paducah forever memorable.
Upon entry into the Brewery, Al directed the crew to take a seat at the bar. As he was talking with the bar tender a man came up to Al and said hi. The man works in Atlanta and recognized Al from his time working in Atlanta. Turns out he just happened to be visiting family in Paducah. He just happened to be in the Brewery with his wife when our crew arrived. It just so happened that the skipper was on a three week work trip with this same man back in 2012. What are the chances that these three would all end up at the same place, at the same time, in Paducah, Kentucky?
The three couples sat down and chatted for a while. Debbie and Russ have been contemplating buying a boat and doing some cruising of their own. It was great fun for the Admiral and skipper to share their stories and encourage the new potential boat buyers. Debbie and Russ swung by the marina on Sunday morning to tour Still Waters II as they were headed out of town to Nashville. This gave them a chance to look around and start their ‘must have’ list for a boat.
After this little party broke up it was time to go find some food. The Admiral had been wanting a good rib eye and the skipper had a hankering for a chicken fried steak. Turns out there was a Texas Roadhouse nearby that could fulfill both cravings.
After supper, it was time to head back to the marina, but Al had one more surprise. Metropolis was nearby and since we were this close, we just HAD to go see Superman. And yes, in downtown Demopolis, there is a huge statue honoring the home town boy who has turned into America’s Hero fighting for “Truth, Justice, and the American way.”
It was a great day of shore excursions in and around Paducah, Kentucky. Thanks to Al & Ruth for their hospitality. And what a bonus to unexpectedly run into Debbie & Russ.
Next Week – The crew plans a side trip on the Cumberland River to Nashville, Tennessee and return to Green Turtle Bay.
Loop on – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.