Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Mary took this picture with three Looper boats on the dock at Quincy Boat Club. (left to right: Gammel Dansk, Still Waters II, Blurred Lines)
After the Locks re-opened on Wednesday, the crew set out to chase the dream of warmer weather further south. They traveled three days making the following stops:
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:
No new video this week as the weather was not cooperating for video production.
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 crew discovered that there are two other Looper boats in Sunset Marina waiting for the locks to open. The crew of Blurred Lines, Greg & Doreen, actually have their homeport at Sunset Marina. They plan to launch south to Marathon, Florida for the winter.
Greg & Doreen allowed the crew to borrow their vehicle and drive into town to run some errands. Later in the evening the crews spent some time getting to know each other on the sundeck of Still Waters II. Greg gave the skipper a great lead on a new drone that is out on the market. There just might be a drone in the skipper’s future.
Greg and Doreen onboard Still Waters II, their good hearts are as big as their smiles
Greg & Doreen also know of another boat in the area that will also head south once the locks open. The makeup of the crew of that boat is certainly different. The Captain is the grandfather of two young kids (girl 7 and boy 9) who will be aboard. The kids mother, and grandfathers daughter, will ‘boat school’ the kids as the four navigate the Loop. The grown daughter’s goal is to help her dad realize his dream of completing the Great Loop. The skipper thinks this brings the count of the number of kids on the Loop up to an even dozen. What a childhood experience!
The second boat here at Sunset also has a unique situation. The real life Captain Dan is a Vietnam Vet who is legally blind. While ‘looking’ for a new adventure to embark upon, Dan suggested Mary get a pilots license so she could take off and land their plane and he could continue to fly. For some reason, Mary shot down that idea. He then suggested a motorcycle with a side car. Mary was a nurse and vetoed the motorcycle idea based on the trauma she had observed following motorcycle accidents. Reminds the skipper of his mother.
Years ago, he once was going to get a dirt bike for Christmas; however, his dad was in the hospital recovering from some surgery. Two young boys came into the emergency room following a dirt bike accident. They were in pretty bad shape and the skipper’s dream of a dirt bike died in the emergency waiting room as his mom talked with the mother of the two young boys. Looking back on it with some years of experience, it probably was a good decision, though not popular at the time.
Somewhere along the search for adventure, Mary and Dan learned of the Loop, bought a 26 foot tugboat, and launched their Loop adventure from Red Wing, Minnesota. Capt’n Dan works the helm while Mary is the Lookout and Navigator. After travelling with Mary and Dan for three days later in the week, the skipper has observed that Dan handles the boat better than many of the Loopers with full vision. Mary and Dan are an interesting, joy filled, energized couple to be around, and are a true inspiration in life. The world needs more Mary and Dan’s.
Meet Capt’n Dan
For those that personally know the skipper, you know he has the gift of gab. Well, Dan has the gift also. While talking with Dan, the skipper learned that Mary’s mother has an interesting story. Isabel Lewis Agrell, was a college student at Columbia College, NY back in 1935. She and a few of her friends decided to tour Germany during the summer of ’35.
Also in 1935, a young German artist, Arthur Kaufmann, was being expelled from Germany. Back in 1933, Kaufmann was identified as “non-Aryan” and dismissed from his position at Dusseldorf School of Applied Arts.
In his memoir, Kaufmann claimed that he was out on the town one day when his friends warned him that the authorities (brown shirts) were at his home to arrest him in the summer of 1935. He did not return home that day, but managed to find a sponsor in George Gershwin and safe passage on a ship to the United States.
His safe passage just so happened to also be the same ship that Miss Agrell was returning to the states on. The two met during the voyage and struck up a lifelong friendship. In 1936, Kaufmann painted a portrait of his young friend. She purchased the painting for $150, that would be a boat load of money back in 1936, just saying. Mary now has possession of the portrait of her mother.
Portrait of Isabell Lewis Agrell by Arthur Kaufmann
Kaufmann went on to become a professional portrait painter. He painted a portrait of his sponsor George Gershwin in 1936. This portrait is now housed in the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute.
George Gershwin by Arthur Kaufmann
As anticipated, the Locks opened today. The bad news though, there are 24 tows waiting to Lock thru at Lock 17. The other Locks seem to only have a few tows in the que. The crew will get an early start in the morning and hope for the best and see how far they can get down river.
As expected, the crew set off in a three boat flotilla, hoping that they would have favor with the lockmasters. While they were down bound, they began to notice tows and their associated barges staged along the shore line waiting to get thru Lock 16.
Tow with 15 barges, 12 miles north of Lock 16, lying on shore
The three boats arrived at Lock 16 just as one tow was pushing out of the lock. The lockmaster directed the three recreational boaters into the lock while the next tow was directed to move forward along the wall to prepare to enter the lock. Now that is what we call FOG (Favor of God.)
Blurred Lines in Lock 16, note the water level is at the top of the gate
Gammel Dansk (Old Dane) in Lock 16, Mary out handling the lines
The good fortune continued into Lock 17. There were 24 tows who had been waiting (up to two weeks) along the banks of the Mississippi River for Lock 17 to re-open. Most all these tows were still there when the three boat flotilla once again got to go right into the lock upon arrival. Also once again, the lockmaster directed the next tow in line to move up to the gate and stage while the recreational vessels were locked thru.
When the boats left lock 17 the next tow was greeting them just outside the open gate. In the distance the crew could see another tow along the shore waiting in the que line.
Exiting Lock 17
All good things have to come to an end, and the flotilla’s good fortune came to an end at Lock 18. This time when the group arrived, there was a 3×5 (15 barge tow) working thru the lock. The locks are sized to only accept 9 barges, so the deck hands have to break the barges down and lock 9 barges in the first pass. Then the tow and 6 barges lock thru in the second pass. Then the deck hands couple all the barges back together again. Once all the barges are secured to the tow, they push out of the lock area. For a 15 barge tow and the current water levels this is a 2 hour evolution. Unfortunately, the flotilla arrived just as the tow was entering with nine barges on the first pass. This meant a two hour wait before the flotilla could lock down.
Waited for two hours for this big tow to leave the lock
While waiting, a fourth recreational vessel showed up and joined the party. The name of the boat is Fire Spray 2. As you might guess, the captain worked in the fire protection industry. This turned out to be the boat Doreen had mentioned with the two kids aboard.
Captain Phil being assisted by 7 year old crew member Aubrey. Daughter/mom handling the bow line.
After floating around for two hours, the boats finally got the green light to enter the lock. Once again there was little to no elevation change in the lock so it took longer to load the boats in the lock than it did to close the upstream gate and open the down stream gate. Then there was a massive tow waiting at the gate to get in when the boats pushed out of the lock. When Fire Spray II exited the lock, she put the hammer down and left the other three boats in her wake. She can cruise up to 40 mph and put some water under the keel.
Not much room to leave Lock 18
After exiting Lock 18, it was just a few short miles to the marina. The boats all got secured and walked down to Big Muddy’s to celebrate the river crest and lock re-openings.
Celebration dinner ( left to right; Doreen, skipper, Grandpa Phil, Capt’n Dan, Mary, Aubrey, Carlson, Jacklyn, Greg) The Admiral is conveniently behind the camera and out of the pic.
Toast for river crest and locks re-opening, wait staff took the pic so you notice the smiling Admiral
The goal for our crew was to knock out another 70 miles today and successfully clear two more locks. To achieve success, the crew left with Blurred Lines at 0730. It would be 40 miles down river before the first lock. The crew of Fire Spray II had set their goal to make it all the way down to the Illinois River. At the speed they travel, if they have good fortune with the locks they should be able to make the 180 miles in one day. They are trying to catch two other boats with kids aboard.
Jacklyn snapped this pic of Still Waters II as they passed by
When the crew arrived at Lock 19, the two boats found the gates wide open with a green light to enter. After getting secured in the lock, they learned that they would be waiting for a third boat. The boat turned out to be Gammel Dansk.
Gammel Dansk arrival at Lock 19
Lock 19 is the largest step down at 38 feet of the 25 Locks in this stretch of the river
After pushing out of Lock 19 the three boats traveled down to Lock 20 together. The boats only had to wait 10 minutes before entering the Lock. The lockmaster allowed the boats to float thru the lock. After the upstream gate was closed the down stream gate began to open. In less than 5 minutes the three boat flotilla was back underway.
Capt’n Dan waiting on gate to open
An hour and half later the crew arrived at Quincy and found the dock to bring the cruise to a close.
On a side note, the skipper observed today that there were many piles of coal that lined the shores. In addition to the coal on shore, he observed a number of barges piled high with coal and heading north along the river. The skipper talked with one of the tow Captain’s to inquire on where all the coal was to be delivered. The Captain reported that Santa had put in a larger than normal order for coal this year. He claimed that Santa will be delivering much coal due the lack of civility in the U.S. this year.
Black mountain of coal waiting to be delivered to Santa
It was too many miles to travel all the way to the junction of the Illinois River in one run for the three slower boats, and there are not many choices of marinas either. With the flooding and current, anchoring is a poor choice also. Therefore, they made it a short day and only ran 44 miles to 2 Rivers Marina which will set up an 80 mile run to the junction of the Illinois River. For todays run though, they would pass thru two more locks and one RR Lift Bridge.
They were delayed 30 minutes while they waited for a tow to recouple with their barges and move out of Lock 21. After the tow left the lock, the three boats floated thru the lock and only were stepped down about a foot.
Waiting on tow to exit
Upon exiting Lock 21, the flotilla set their sites on catching and overtaking the tow that had left before them before the RR Bridge at Hannibal. They overtook the tow just north of the RR Bridge, but there was a train crossing the bridge so they had to wait for an opening. Once the train was off the bridge, the tender raised the bridge and allowed the three boats and tow to pass under.
Waiting on train to clear bridge
As the crew passed by Hannibal, they noticed that the town flood gates were positioned and that there was no access from the marina into town. The fall color around Hannibal and south to Lock 22 was spectacular though.
The gates were open when the flotilla arrived at Lock 22, they entered the lock and floated for five minutes as the lockmaster swung the down stream gate open. The crew ended the cruise as they pulled into 2 Rivers Marina.
Mary was celebrating her birthday, so the flotilla used the marina courtesy car and headed across the river to eat a Fat Boys.
Left to right: Mary, Greg, Doreen, Claudia, Dave, Sally, Clay, Dan
Sally and Clay are unofficial Harbor Hosts for the 2 Rivers Marina. Clay came down and met the flotilla at the dock to see if anybody needed anything and welcome the boaters to town. He and his wife then joined the group at Fat Boys for the evening. Sally and Clay completed their Loop in September 2016 aboard SaSea Sally.
As predicted, the winds on Sunday are in the 20’s and the crew elected to sit that out and stay at 2 Rivers Marina. The weather for the remainder of the week looks promising for travel each and every day.
So the crew will continue down stream on Monday and arrive at the junction of the Illinois River. They will then pass by St Louis and make way to Hoppie’s Marina on Tuesday. Thursday they should pass by the junction of the Ohio River with the upper and lower Mississippi River at Cairo, make a right turn and begin the journey down the lower Mississippi River. If all goes well, they should arrive in Memphis on Sunday.