Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Rob@quincy has come aboard as our latest virtual crew member. You can join Rob and the others by following the blog. Welcome Aboard Rob!
Still Waters II at the dock while the crew visits the National Eagle Center.
The crew managed to make some good miles south, but were only able to cruise two days:
They took a weather delay in Red Wing on Monday, but managed 66 miles in the rain to make Winona (1) on Tuesday. Wednesday, they put in a monster day and made 92 miles to Marquette (2).
But the trek south hit a snag on Thursday when they learned that several Locks south of them are closed because of flooding along the banks of the Mississippi River. They also learned that the flood gate in Dubuque has been closed which prevents access into the marina which is the next stop south. The river level rise is due to the run off from the water shed in Iowa due to all the rain over the last week.
Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:
This week’s video shows Still Waters II take a stop at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN to explore the wonderful life of Bald Eagles. Enjoy!
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
The skipper woke to thunder, lightening, and heavy down pours of rain. A quick check of the weather forecast showed that these conditions would persist for most of the day. It was an easy decision to sit still for another day. This also allowed the crew of Tasteful Traveler, Pam and Joe, to drive down and spend the evening in Red Wing with our crew.
For new comers to the blog, Pam and Joe started their Loop Adventure back in 2015 about a month ahead of Still Waters II. The two crews did not cross paths though until the Spring Rendezvous in 2016 at Waterside Marina in Norfolk. This did not prevent the skipper from trolling the Tasteful Traveler blog though to mine great places to stop and explore.
It was a great time swapping Looper stories and reliving great experiences around the Loop. Thanks for visiting Pam and Joe! Also, good luck on that Looper presentation on Thursday. Hope to see you both again in Ft Myers later this year.
Crew of Tasteful Traveler, Pam and Joe
The cold dreary, rain would hang with the crew all day today, but at least there was no lightening. Visibility was poor much of the day so not much to report along the route today. However, the crew did stop in Wabasha to visit the National Eagle Center.
Dockside in Wabasha to visit National Eagle Center
The Center houses some Bald Eagles that are not able to be released back into the wild. The crew saw one male Bald Eagle, Was’aka; two female Bald Eagles, Angel and Columbia; one juvenile Bald Eagle, Latsch; and one Golden Eagle, Donald. Meet the eagles for yourself by clicking on this link, Meet Our Eagles.
The crew spent about two hours exploring the Center and learning about the Bald Eagles. For instance, did you know Female Bald Eagles are actually larger than their male partners.
The crew got to watch the staff feed Latsch, the juvenile Bald Eagle. The FAQ page provides the answer to the Question, “How long dos it take a Bald Eagle to get a white head?”
Answer: Juvenile bald eagles in their first year of life are dark brown over their body wings, head and tail. Their beak and eyes are dark. As they age, juveniles may show white feathers anywhere on the body, especially the breast and under the wings. At three to four years of age they begin to develop the white head and tail of the adult. Their beak and eyes lighten in color as they reach adulthood. A complete white head and tail usually takes until age five or six to develop.
And finally, the Center keeps track of how many breeding pairs of Bald Eagles are in each state. Alaska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin lead the nation in breeding pairs by a large margin. But did you know that Texas has 166 breeding pairs of Bald Eagles.
After exploring the National Eagle Center, the crew shoved off the dock and continued down river to Winona.
Chimney Rock in the foggy clouds
Mile 733, Near Fountain City
After an 8.5 hour day on the water, the Eagle Center, and 3 Locks, the crew pulled into Dick’s Marine in Winona for a peaceful night.
With the weather continuing to deteriorate, more rain and cold, the crew decided they would try to get as far south as they possibly could today. They had a few obstacles impeding their southward migration though, namely a RR Bridge and several Locks.
If delays mounted up they could pull into Lansing and call it a day; however, if they had FOG (Favor of God) with the bridge and Locks, they might be able to make it all the way down to Marquette.
The overnight cloud cover was the first good sign of the day, the temperature was 64 at 0800, much warmer than the last few days. A look at the weather radar showed the predicted rains to be well east of the crew also. One area of concern though was a cold front dumping snow in its wake, and headed towards Minnesota.
Mile 710, can you make out a face in the rocky ledge?
The crew managed to get right in and float down the first two locks. The river is running high again due to the rain so the step down in the locks are less than 2 feet, rather than the normal 8-10 feet.
Here, let me help you…..
When they arrived at the RR Bridge, a tour boat driven with a paddle wheel was coming upstream thru the bridge. Commercial Operators have priority, so the tour boat made the bridge opening. A train was also coming so the bridge tender closed the bridge after the tour boat went through. The bridge tender radioed and said the train would go by in ten minutes and he would reopen the bridge. The train passed by in the 10 minute timeframe, but it would be another twenty minutes before the bridge swung open and the crew could continue down bound.
The FOG continued with the locks though. At Lock 8, the operator had the gate open and the green light on so the crew went straight into the lock. The crew also got to float thru the lock rather than tie to the wall.
Based on the time, it looked as though the crew could make Marquette before dark so they cruised by Lansing and continued south. As they continued down bound the winds kicked up around 17 mph and the temperature started dropping. Looks like the cold front has arrived.
The last challenge of the day was Lock 9. The FOG continued and the crew was greeted with open gates and a green light. They also got to float thru the lock. However, the step down was less than 6 inches. The skipper looked over at the dam and noticed that the water was flowing over the gates. That would be a harbinger of things to come.
After pushing out of Lock 9 the crew had a little over an hour to go before docking in Marquette just before dark. Turned out to be a good day on the water with minimal delays. Once docked the skipper got the power cord plugged in and the Admiral took charge of flipping on the breakers and turning on the heaters.
The wind howled all night long making for a sleepless night. When the skipper climbed out of bed and checked the weather it was an easy decision to stay put today. The winds are 17 mph with gust to 28. It looks as though the gusts are blowing most of the time though. With the temperature at 37 at 0700 and the high only 41, this would NOT be a good day to be out on the water, especially since there would be at least 2 locks to manage.
While the skipper was checking the weather though he tripped over this notice from the Corps of Engineers: “As of this morning, Locks 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 22 on the Mississippi River were closed due to flooding. Water levels at these sites have become high enough that water is starting to flow over and through the lock structures.”
Well that certainly messes up the plans for the path south. Kind of reminds the skipper of an ole song though …….. snow to the north of me, closed locks to the south, here I am stuck in Iowa with you.
Well, well, well, things seem to be getting worse down stream. The crew had made reservations to go on down to the transient dock in Dubuque to spend the weekend and wait for the locks to open. The marina is behind a flood gate and the flood gate is closed. On the bright side, at least the crew is not stuck behind the flood gate.
Rumors have started that it might be two weeks before the water crests and the Locks reopen. The skipper has reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers to try and get the scoop on reopening, but has not heard back from the Corps yet.
Scratch that, the skipper got a non-response response back from the Corps. Verbatim response, “Hello David. Each lock does have a level that it has to reach before it can reopen. Those levels are not published anywhere but we will be posting updates as water levels fall and the locks reopen.”
But on the bright side again, Al and Ruth of the Tortuga called and graciously volunteered to come and visit the crew on Saturday. They also volunteered to take the crew on a Walmart run to re-provision. The ships stores would get mighty low if they end up stuck here in Marquette for two weeks.
Al and Ruth arrived late morning and came aboard for a little bit. The crews last met on Mackinac Island, and since then Al and Ruth have crossed their wake and earned that coveted Gold Flag. Consequently, there were many stories to share before re-provisioning.
Thanks Al and Ruth for your kind offer of a provisioning run!
Under the category of: “No good deed goes unpunished”..…….
As Al and Ruth went to back their car out of the marina parking lot, an extremely long train that had been parked for a crew transfer decided to also leave town. Because the train was just getting started, it was moving at a snails pace. But fast enough to block the roadway so that Al and Ruth could not leave.
After the crew got the new supplies loaded on the boat, Al and Ruth were still waiting for the train to pass. So the skipper could not resist this next shot of Al and Ruth waiting for the train after helping the crew.
Nope, no end in sight
The skipper talked with the marina in Dubuque and moved their reservation to October 21 and 22. He will check back with the marina late next week to see if they have the flood gate back open or not. Once they open the flood gate to the marina, the crew will drift south.
He will also be monitoring the flood levels at the Locks to determine when the Locks open back up for business. It looks to be at least a week away.
Lastly he will keep an eagle eye on the weather. The long range forecast continues with the lows near freezing and the highs approaching 50. Not the best weather to be boating in, but it is manageable.
Once the Locks open, the crew will make a bee line south travelling as far as they can each day chasing warmer temperatures.
Tune in next week to see what happens.