Slow Go Down the Tenn-Tom

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

US snag boat the Montgomery

She was the last steam powered sternwheeler to ply the inland waterways of the south.  She was built in 1926.  As a snag boat, she removed trees, sunken logs, and other debris that obstructed river traffic.  Based on what the crew has seen this time down the Tenn-Tom Waterway, maybe they should bring her out of retirement and clear the waterway again.  It sure could use the help.  She was retired in 1982, and now resides at the Bevill Lock Visitor Center.

28 Snag Boat

Summary of week:


The area that the crew is currently cruising is very remote without many facilities. In fact, the 335 miles from Columbus to Mobile only has one marina, which is located in Demopolis at mile 216.

Because of the remoteness of the area and Thanksgiving on the horizon, the boaters at Demopolis have stayed put and the marina is now full. Based on that, the crew stayed at Columbus for Thanksgiving and only moved two days this week. They also cruised on Sunday to make way to Demopolis.

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:

  1. When was the Montgomery put in commission?
  2. What was her mission?
  3. What is the architectural style of the Visitor Center?
  4. What was the first project to be built under the new 1970 EPA regulations?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she cruises from Columbus to Demopolis.  Enjoy!

To Demopolis from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

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.

Thursday, November 22nd

Happy Thanksgiving to all the virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The Admiral spent Wednesday prepping food for the big meal. Thursday morning she was busy getting everything cooked and finished at just the right time. Harder than it should be when all you have is a small one rack oven and two burner cook top available. But she managed to serve up a great meal for the crew, Mary and Dan of Gammel Dansk, and Bill of Chip Ahoy.

Pre lunch gathering in Salon

Turkey Day 2

Bring on the desserts

Turkey Day 3

Friday, November 23rd

The crew left the dock and went the short distance over to the Stennis Lock at 0830. Four other boats joined Still Waters II in the lock. When they exited the lock, two of the boats were travelling at 9 mph and left the two Nordic Tugs and Still Waters II in their wake.
Later in the day, twenty-five miles later to be exact, the three boats arrived at the Bevill Lock to find the two boats waiting at the lock for a tow to exit. They had been waiting for over an hour.

The three boat flotilla did not plan to lock thru with the other boats, but made way over to the dock located at the Visitor Center for the Bevill Lock. The skipper landed first and then caught the lines of Chip Ahoy and Gammel Dansk.

Docked at the Visitor Center

26 Dock at Visitor Center
The group then headed to shore to go check out the Visitor Center. They entered stealthily, not on purpose but stealthily non the less, thru the back door.
The young man assigned to work the Visitor Center had strategically kept all the lights off in the Visitor Center and probably was hoping that no visitors would drop in during the day. He also was keeping a watch out the front window for any cars that might drive up while he played his war video game with headsets on covering his ears. To say that he did not see or hear the group come in the back door would be an understatement.

Entry via the back of Visitor Center from the dock

25 Bevill Visitor Center

Luckily, most of the group stopped near the back door to look at three pictures hanging on the wall. Bill had gone on in to the office area where the young man was totally engaged in his video game. He was loudly verbalizing his actions when he gave out an even louder explicative that would make a sailor blush when his aviator was killed in the game.

Hanging back at rear entrance

Rear entrance

It was about this time that he felt someone might be in the room with him while Bill was knocking and saying: “excuse me, excuse me.” The young man wheeled around and immediately began apologizing. He also went around and started turning on all the lights in the Visitor Center. None of the displays were on and working either, but with a little persistence the group got most things up and running.

The young man kept looking out the front window and over at the parking lot, it was obvious he was trying to figure out how the group had snuck up on him. Mary approached the young man and explained that we had arrived via boat, and he said: “Oh, that is why there is no vehicle in the parking lot.”

A look at the front of the ‘well guarded’ front entrance

The Visitor Center portrays an 1830-1860 Greek revival home.

Front VC

Mary then went on to ask if the group of three boats could stay overnight on the dock, even though the dock is posted ‘No Overnight Docking.’ The young man agreed to let the three boats stay if they left first thing in the morning. That was easy, because they planned to leave early anyway.

One interesting discovery at the Visitor Center was learning that the Tenn-Tom Waterway was the first construction project built under the 1970 EPA Regulations. Maybe that is one of the reasons for the 2 Billion dollar price tag.

After touring the Visitor Center, the group walked a mile to the old Pirate Cove Marina. The Corps of Engineers have closed the marina due to safety violations. The skipper had heard various reports about the shut down marina, but wanted to go check out the actual status with his own eyes.

Old docks at the closed Pirate Cove Marina

Pirates Cove

As expected, the rumors that the docks had all been removed turned out to be false. The docks were still there and some were still sinking. Looked the same as when the crew was here in 2016, except all but two of the derelict boats were gone. The Corps had also bull dozed the office and restroom facilities.

A few derelict boats left behind

Pirates Cove 2

Well, time to walk back to the boats and get ready for an early departure in the morning.

Saturday, 24th

The crew woke up to a light fog on the water and a bunch of White Pelicans swimming around the lock gate. Mary said she counted 60 Pelicans all waiting to lock down. About 0715, a tow pushed out of the lock and by 0800 all three boats were secured in the Bevill Lock.

Foggy Morning

27 Foggy morning
After pushing out of the lock, the crew had to maneuver thru the light fog for about an hour. Then it took the sun another hour and a half to finally break thru the clouds and warm things up. Turned out to be a beautiful day for a boat ride.

Fog lifting

31 Fog Lifting
There was more than a fair share of float sum and debris in the water though, which kept everybody on their toes playing dodge-a-log. The flotilla arrived at the Sumter Landing anchorage before 1300, so they decided to go the extra four miles, go thru the Heflin Lock, and anchor in the Ox Bow below the lock.

There was some interesting sites along the shore while they made way to the lock.

Cell service is so bad at this remote area, someone installed an old fashion telephone booth in their yard.

22 Why here

A totem pole was an unexpected surprise.

23 Totem Pole

Then someone used their artistic talents to spruce up this building

24 Nice Art

After dropping the hook, Gammel Dansk rafted to Still Waters II. This made it easier for the skipper to get Tori, the seeing eye dog, ashore so she could do her business.  To see how this transport transpired, watch this week’s video.

Rafted in the Ox Bow


With Tori taken care off, it was time to kick back and relax in the peaceful anchorage.

Tori on the return voyage


Sunday, November 25th

The crew woke to light fog again but the flotilla still managed to leave the anchorage by 0800.

Chip Ahoy leaving the anchor spot



After un-rafting Gammel Dansk, the crew weighed anchor and headed back towards the Tenn-Tom where they then overtook the two Nordic Tugs.

Passing Gammel Dansk on the blind side


After the fog lifted it was an enjoyable cruise down the waterway taking in the interesting bluffs that adorned the shores.





After a 50 mile cruise with no locks, the crew approached the Demopolis Yacht Basin just in time for the storm clouds to start to sprinkle.  Lucky for the crew, they managed to get secured to the dock before the deluge started.

During the day, the skipper learned that Bill was celebrating his birthday, so the three crews managed to get the courtesy car from the marina and have a celebration dinner.

Boat Name of the Week

Jim N I 2

Next Week –

If you watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you know that it was the coldest event in the history of the parade.  That artic air that caused the cold is due to arrive in Demopolis Sunday night dropping temps to below freezing.  These conditions are to remain until Thursday.  Based on that, the crew will remain in Demopolis connected to power heating the boat and shove off Thursday with the warming trend.

It will be four travel days down to Mobile in some very remote areas, similar to this past week.  The crew will try to keep the Travel Map updated as cell service is available, but not much expectation on any reliable service until Mobile.  The crew will update the blog as soon as they arrive in Mobile on Sunday, but it may be Monday before the post goes live.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Spirit of Courage

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The flow out of the Fulton Dam, mile 391 on the Tenn-Tom Waterway

8 Flow out Fulton Dam

xIncmedia has come aboard as our latest virtual crew member by following the blog.  Welcome Aboard! Hope you brought some warm clothes because it has been rather chilly lately.

Summary of week:


The crew made their way south to Columbus (5) where they enjoyed some deep fried Turkey on Saturday, provided by the marina staff.  To make Columbus, the crew made stops at Aqua Yacht Harbor (1), Bay Springs Lake (3), and Smithville Marina (4).  The crew also rented a car and visited the Helen Keller Birthplace in Tuscumbia (2).

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:

  1. When was the Tenn-Tom Waterway opened?
  2. How many feet does the Whiten Lock step down a south bound vessel?
  3. What three states meet at the beginning of the Tenn-Tom Waterway?
  4. What state quarter has braille on the tails side of coin, and what does it spell?
  5. What was Sarah Fuller’s contribution to Helen Keller’s life?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II working her way thru the largest lock on the Tenn-Tom Waterway at Whitten Lock and Dam.  She completes here day at the Fulton Lock and Dam. Enjoy!

Locking thru on the Tenn-Tom Waterway from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

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.

Sunday, November 11th

The three boat flotilla prepping to leave Pickwick Lake

36 Pickwick Lake SP

There were a dozen Blue Birds fluttering around the dock. But they are hard to capture on film.

35 Bluebird

The crew left Pickwick Lake State Park and made the 11 mile jump over to Aqua Yacht Harbor. Along the way, they saw many large homes and some colorful countryside.

Home on a hill


This house suffered a little roof damage when the tree fell over. Wonder if they have already completed the glass repair, or did they get lucky and only have the roof issue?

House with a view of Pickwick Lake

37 Shores along Pickwick Lake

When leaving the Tennessee River at mile 215, the crew entered the Tenn-Tom Waterway at mile 450. At this juncture, the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama all communicate with each other at one point.


What it looks like in real life, the land is Mississippi, the water on the starboard side of boat is Tennessee, and the water to the port of the boat is Alabama.


After only a mile on the Tenn-Tom Waterway, the skipper turned off and headed to Aqua Yacht Harbor where the crew will stay for a few days doing boat projects and exploring the Helen Keller Birthplace museum.

Monday, November 12th

Back in 2016 when the crew stopped at Aqua Yacht Harbor, they limped in on one engine and had the port engine water cooling pump replaced. The core charge for the pump left them with a $300 credit at the service department after they left. The skipper was on a mission to redeem the $300 credit; hence, a few boat projects.

On top of the list was replacing the genny battery which had died earlier. Moving down the Tenn-Tom Waterway will require anchoring out a few times and the Admiral has expressed her desire for some heaters after they stop and drop anchor. With the battery replaced, her wish can now materialize in heat and comfort. A happy, warm, comfortable crew will diminish the chance of a mutiny onboard.

The skipper then bought a few other items that he can install or use later such as oil filters and electrical adapters.

Tuesday, November 13th

The flotilla decided that they would take a land cruise over to Tuscumbia, Alabama and visit the birthplace of Helen Keller.

1 Helen Keller

Once parked, the group walked up to the big house where a knowledgeable volunteer gave them the low down on the property. The big house was built in 1820 by Helen Keller’s grandparents. The four rooms downstairs all have their own fireplace. There are an additional three rooms upstairs.

Main House, in good shape for an 1820 model

1.2 Main House 1820

However, Helen was not born in the main house, she was born in the cottage adjacent to the house on June 27, 1880. She was born a normal healthy baby girl. It was at age 19 months that she was struck by an illness that left her blind and deaf.

The cottage

1.3 Cottage
The cottage would one day become the school house where Helen would be taught.
One interesting story told was about the miracle that took place at the now famous well pump where Helen first connected the ‘finger games’ her teacher was playing with her palm and the cool liquid that was delivered at the pump. Helen later wrote that the cool liquid flowing over her hand connected with a pre-illness memory of cool liquid that she called “wa-wa.” It dawned on her that the teacher was not playing ‘finger games’ but was actually trying to connect the objects with names. This stunning revelation led her to learn 30 words by night fall.

The famous well pump, between the Main House and Cottage

1.12 The Well Pump

But just how did Anne Sullivan come to be the teacher of Helen Keller? Well, that all started because of her parents persistence in finding a cure for young Helen. That journey for a better life for their daughter eventually led them to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. (Yes, the same guy who invented the telephone, and much more.) You might not know it, but Dr. Bell’s wife suffered from hearing impairment. Much of his work and inventions were focused on ways to help his wife communicate.

But Dr. Bell did not offer a cure for Helen, instead, he challenged her parents to re-think their strategy. He suggested that they spend their time and effort in helping young Helen to cope and learn to live with her disabilities. He sent them to a school where they met and hired Anne Sullivan on March 3, 1887, for $25/month, with room and board. Helen would have been 7 years old, nearing her 8th birthday.

Alabama marble statue of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller at the well pump


Helen’s life and accomplishments are well documented so I will not bore you with repeating them here. But the skipper noticed a picture in the museum. The picture showed Helen sitting in a chair reading a Braille Bible. Behind her were the volumes that contained her Braille Bible.

1.5 Reading Braile Bible

But the skipper was focused on the volume in her lap. He wondered, what book, what chapter, and what verse was she running her fingers over in the picture? He wondered if it was possibly Romans 8:28, his favorite verse in the Bible?

He wondered what she thought the first time she felt the words pop up on her fingertips, “…..all things work together for good,…..” ?  Did she think, ‘no there is nothing good about being deaf and blind.’

Did God whisper back to her, “feel the words again Helen, that is not what it says.”

Did God teach her the same lessons he had taught the skipper about life? Did she go back and feel the words, this time noticing: “And we know that for those who love God…..” Did she realize that this verse is Confidential, and the promise is only for those who love God?

Did she feel the words, “all things” and realize that this verse was Comprehensive?

That when it said “all things,” did she understand that it meant even her blindness and deafness?

Did she feel the words a second time, “work together for good,” and realize that this verse was Constructive? That the verse was teaching her that things that start out bad can be built into something good?

Did she feel the words, “even to them that are called according to his purpose,” and realize that the verse is Conditional?

Did she accept the notion that if she would dedicate her time and energy to God’s purpose for her life that he would work the good into the bad and transform her life?

Well, based on what the skipper saw at the museum and what little he knows of her life, that yes she got the message. She dedicated her life to improving the conditions of the deaf and blind, not only here in the U.S., but also around the world. She blazed a path for others to follow, and showed others afflicted with blindness and deafness that if she could be successful, so could they. It is never easy being a trail blazer and that is why Helen is known as ‘America’s First Lady of Courage.’

And one last observation and interesting connection to the Fuller name, a Sarah Fuller applied methods that she learned and developed from Dr. Graham Bell to teach Helen Keller how to speak.

Did you ever notice that there is braille on the Alabama state quarter, and that it spells Helen Keller?

1.8 Coin

The land cruise ended with a fine dining experience at the local 5 Guys joint.

5 guys

Wednesday, November 14th

The flotilla continued their journey south and made way towards Bay Springs Marina.  This would turn out to be the coldest most miserable weather day the crew has had in their three years on the boat.  But if Helen Keller could lead a life of courage, surely the crew could put their Big Girl panties on for one day and make it down river in the freezing temps.  At least there will be no locks today.

Yep, pretty miserable out there running the Divide Cut


The rain decided  to arrive just in time to wet the skipper and Admiral as they shoved off the dock. (It was only 33 degrees when they left, with a high of 34)  The cold weather and rain stayed all the way down the 24 mile long Divide Cut to Bay Springs Lake. This section of the Loop was completed in June 1985, and moved 150 million cubic yards of earth. If the Divide Cut did not exist, the Great Loop route would have to take the lower Mississippi River down to New Orleans.

When the crew entered Bay Springs Lake, the skipper lost sight of the two Nordic Tugs trailing behind due to the fog. Then the rain turned into sleet. Seriously! It is not bad enough to have freezing rainy weather all day, but now we have to have sleet? Gimmie a break.

Arrival near sunset made an eerie color on the water

4 From Marina

They did catch a break though, their slip assignment would be under a covered dock so they could be out of the rain and sleet. Just about the time the skipper was backing the boat under the covered awning the rain stopped. Now that is funny.

The skipper hustled to get the electric cord plugged in so the Admiral could get the installed heaters running.  It might be near freezing outside, but the heaters will warm the boat up quickly.

4.2 Bay Spring Marina

At least the view is good from inside the warm boat.


Thursday, November 14th

Both the Nordic Tugs needed to get some work done before proceeding out this morning. Based on the timing of the completed work, it was decided to sit out this cold day and wait till morning to shove off. Nobody really wanted a repeat of the freezing cold day they had yesterday, especially with four locks to navigate.  The cold spell is supposed to snap tomorrow and provide some warmer weather and better cruising conditions.

Friday, November 15th

Well the crew left in 29 degree temps with a predicted high of 54 degrees.  The clouds have lifted and the sun is shinning brightly.  The sun should heat up the helm like a greenhouse and make conditions tolerable today.

Gammel Dansk at Whitten Lock

5 Gammel Dansk in Whitten Lock

The Whitten Lock steps south bound vessels down 84 feet, the largest drop on the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

Still Waters II on the wall in Whitten Lock, about half way down

5.2 In Whitten Lock

When the crew arrived at the Montgomery Lock, they had to wait for a tow to push out of the lock.  Once the tow cleared the lock, they got a green light and entered the lock.

Waiting on tow to leave lock


The next two locks were waiting with open gates when the crew arrived with their little Armada of five boats.  The lockage went smoothly and the boats headed to the Smithville Marina.  The skipper had warned Gammel Dansk and Chip Ahoy that the marina was not much.

The marina might not be much but the views getting there were spectacular


In fact he characterized the marina as the land of misfit toys from the Rudolph Christmas cartoon, except it is the marina of derelict boats instead of misfit toys.  The skipper had heard a rumor that the marina had sold and was in the process of being upgraded.  Well, when they arrived it was intuitively obvious to the most casual of observer that the place was in worse condition than back in 2016.

Derelict house boat with propane leak


While the skipper was returning from paying for the night’s dockage, he met two guys standing at the stern of the houseboat smoking cigarettes.  One of them mentioned that they could smell and hear a propane leak coming from the houseboat, as he took a drag on his cigarette.  That was a bit alarming for the skipper so he walked up to the bow of the boat and sure enough, there was a strong propane odor and loud hissing sound coming from the two ten gallon propane bottles sitting on deck.  The skipper knocked on the boat but nobody was home.  He boarded the boat and isolated the leak by closing the valves on the propane bottles.  The skipper will sleep better knowing there should not be any propane explosions or fires.  Bill of Chip Ahoy went back to the office and reported that there was a leak and that it had been secured.

On the up side though, Jim, the Marina Manager, was doing well.  The last time the crew saw Jim, he was down and out, and living on one of the derelict boats barely making ends meet.  He confirmed that the marina had had a contract to sell, but before the buyer could close the deal, the buyer was killed in a car crash.  Jim did say that the original owner was committed to try and upgrade the facility.  Hope they are successful.

As Capt’n Dan said, “that place just needs some TLC.”

Saturday, November 17th

The crew and flotilla got off the dock before eight and headed to the first lock of the day.  The flotilla was down to four boats today.  One boat had decided to anchor out rather than come on the dock.  When leaving, the skipper noticed the boat a few miles north of them, but it was not moving.  While the flotilla was being lowered down the lock, Chip Ahoy learned that the boat had gone aground leaving the anchor spot.  Not a good way to start your day.

Chip Ahoy leaving Smithville


Still Waters II leaving Smithville


The flotilla had exceptional timing at the locks today, with all locks waiting on the boats with open gates and green lights.  This allowed the flotilla to make excellent time down the waterway.  The no wind and smooth conditions also aided the speed of travel.

Glassy conditions again today


After leaving the third and final lock of the day, the crew set their sights on the Columbus Marina.  Columbus was celebrating an early Thanksgiving, and the staff had deep fried a couple of birds.  The crew was hoping to arrive in time to enjoy the good food and fellowship.

Making way to Columbus

19 mile 337 approach to Columbus

As hoped, the crew arrived in time to find plenty of good food available.  The crew also ran into the crew of Miss Utah enjoying the turkey dinner.  The crews last crossed paths in May 2016 at Havre de Grace on the upper Chesapeake Bay.

Boat Name of the Week

Owner must of had a baseball scholarship


Next Week –

The crew is still trying to determine where they will be on Thanksgiving.  There is only one marina in the 335 miles between Columbus and Mobile.  That marina is 120 miles south in Demopolis.  With few options people have begun to slow and stop for Thanksgiving.  Demopolis is full with no vacancy.  If some boats leave Demopolis and the crew can get a reservation they will move south to Demopolis for Thanksgiving.

If not, they will be thankful that they have a good spot right here in Columbus and enjoy where they are.  Then begin moving south once Demopolis opens up.

Hope all the virtual crew members have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!

If you have made it this far in the blog this week, how about leaving a comment about one thing you are thankful for this year.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Kold Kentucky Lake

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Welcome aboard to Greg & Doreen, thanks for taking the time to follow the adventures of Still Waters II. It was also a blast cruising down the Mississippi River to Green Turtle Bay with you.  Have a great winter in Marathon, Florida!

The Birds, was one of the more colorful quilts in the National Quilt Museum.  If you look closely, each triangle has a bird sewn into the shape.

20 Birds (2)

Summary of week:

Kentucky Lake

The theme for this week has been falling temperatures.  The cool weather has chased the crew south.  For example, on Friday, St Louis had 3 inches of snow, the earliest snow accumulation on record.  The crew woke to frost on the ground in Clifton that morning with overnight lows in the 20’s.

St Louis on November 9th, photo courtesy of Mike Fuller

snow in St Louis

The crew left Paducah on Monday with Gammel Dansk and cruised the flooded Ohio River to the Cumberland River.  They navigated the Barkley Lock and ended the day in the dark at Green Turtle Bay (1).

The crew then buddy boated with two Nordic Tugs, the green hulled Gammel Dansk and the red hulled Chip Ahoy.  The three boat flotilla made four additional stops during the week to travel the length of Kentucky Lake, mostly in cold rainy conditions.

2.  Paris Island State Park on Wednesday

3.  Pebble Isle Marina on Thursday

4.  Clifton Marina on Friday

5.  Pickwick State Park on Saturday

4 Gammel Dansk and Chip Ahoy

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:

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II cruise along the Cumberland River as she makes way to the Barkley Lock. At the lock she joins a large tow in the lock for an interesting ride in the lock.  Enjoy!

Barkley Lock from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

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.

Sunday, November 4th

The crew decided to go visit the National Quilt Museum today.  At first glance you might think this would be a total waste of time.  And if you have that thought, you would not be alone.  The skipper and Admiral both pondered the decision long and hard.  Matter of fact, in 2016, they skipped the Museum all together; however, they kept hearing good things about the Museum so they decided to take a look for themselves.  They were not disappointed.

For starters, it is hard to call the material hanging on the walls quilts.  The people behind the quilt making have taken the art to a whole new level.  In fact the quilts look more like art than quilts.  The museum has a permanent collection of 601 quilts with only about 60 on display at any given time.  They rotate the quilts every 2-3 months.  Then there are two traveling exhibits on display also.

The Lemur’s Tale

The quilter took two years to complete this quilt.  The quilter commented, “To me this quilt represents not only the endangered species of this beautiful planet, but also how we all endanger our relationships with each other, this earth, and our creator.  Beauty results when we work through life’s challenges and don’t give up on it.”


The Wrath of Poseidon

The quilter visited several body-building sites to get the physique just right.  The chest is from a wrestler, the legs are Michelangelo’s, and the flap at the end of the banner is sewn down – no peeking.


Spring of Desire

This was inspired from the wedding tissue of the quilter’s great-great-grandmother.  She was married on April 16, 1829.


The Hobbit

Can you find all the items in the quilt below?



One of the travelling displays was a collection of quilts made from patterns that were printed in the Kansas City Star newspaper from 1928-1961.  One of these quilts had multiple squares with each square made by a different woman.  Each woman signed her particular square.  And look what the skipper found, a Margaret Fuller participated in the project.


Monday, November 5th

After sitting for a few days on the dock, it was time to leave the safe confines of Paducah and strike out for Green Turtle Bay on Lake Barkley.  To get there, the crew would need to continue up the Ohio River for another 12 miles, then take the Cumberland River for 30 miles to the Barkley Lock.

The mystery of the day would be how the lockage would go at the Barkley Lock.  A good experience and the crew would dock in daylight hours. A poor experience and they would be docking in the dark.  Unfortunately, the Kentucky Lock is currently closed, so all commercial tow traffic was also taking the Cumberland River route.  This would shrink the odds of a good lock experience.

Once they got off the dock and headed up stream , it was obvious that the river was running harder due to the flooding.  They had the throttles set the same as when they arrived a few days ago, but now were only making 4.5 mph for a loss of 0.5 mph from Friday.

The skipper began to wonder how the Ohio River flood of 2018 compared to other historical floods.  The Ohio River crested Sunday in Cincinnati at 60.53 feet.  However, this high level does not even make the top ten worst floods for the Ohio River.  The worst ever flooding you ask?  1937 with a crest in Cincinnati at 80 feet.

The Admiral found a historical marker in Paducah that discussed the Ohio River flood of 1884. Turns out the 1884 flood was the second worst Ohio River flood with a crest of 71.1 feet in Cincinnati.  But more interesting than that was that Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, led a flood recovery effort in 1884 from Pittsburgh to Cairo.  She was in Paducah on March 13, 1884 as part of the relief effort which turned out to be the first flood relief effort of the young  Red Cross.

The crew arrived on the Cumberland River at 0930 and headed for the Barkley Lock, 30 miles up stream.  Along the way they were met with  picturesque Cumberland color and numerous Bald Eagles resting in trees.


8 Cumberland Color



As the crew approached within three miles of the Barkley Lock, they met a down bound tow pushing several barges.  This was not a good sign.  Twenty-five minutes later, when the crew arrived at the Barkley Lock they were told to move over to the port side of the river and monitor channel 12.  The lock master said he would get them thru as quick as he could.  An hour and a half later (1637), a tow entered the lock and the lock master directed the pleasure craft to enter the lock behind the tow.

This will be a new experience for the crew.  They have never locked thru with a fully loaded tow before.

11 Barlkley Lock


The gates behind Still Waters II closed at 1641 and it was a quick ten minute ride up in the lock.  The front gates began to swing open at 1651.  The skipper looked at the weather site and noticed that sunset was at 1652.  With 30 minutes of dusk before the darkness set in, it did not look good for docking with some light.

Gammel Dansk floating up in Barkley Lock


Still Waters II in Barkley Lock


It took the big tow 10 minutes before she cleared the gate so the crew shoved of the lock wall and headed the last mile to the Green Turtle Bay Resort with Gammel Dansk following closely behind.


By the time they overtook the tow and arrived at the channel entrance to the marina, it was pitch black.  The entrance is a narrow tricky channel that requires an exact line to take from the main channel to the marina channel.  Then almost a 90 degree turn, and then thread a needle between a gap of land to enter the marina basin.

18 GTB (2)

Once in the basin, the crew had to snake around a few docks and past the fuel dock to land in their designated slip.  Did I mention it was pitch dark, and raining.  It was a harrowing 45 minutes before both Gammel Dansk and Still Waters II were docked.  Capt’n Dan of course took all this docking in the dark in stride and it did not seem to phase him one bit.  In fact, he told the skipper, “Welcome to my world.”

In that 45 minutes, Still Waters II got out of the channel twice and found three feet of water, sounding the water level low alarm.  Then the skipper ran over something that rocked the boat pretty good as they tried to thread that needle between the gap in the land.  After thinking about it for a day or two, the skipper thinks he may have run up on the buoy marking the  channel entrance.  Luckily there appears to be no boat damage at this time.

After getting thru the gap, the skipper positioned himself in the middle of the gap so that Gammel Dansk could aim at the boat and pass thru the gap with no issues.  Once both boats were in the marina basin they found the fuel dock and then eventually found their respective slips.

Blurred Lines were waiting for them on the dock and helped get them both safely docked.  Then Blurred Lines invited both crews over for hot soup and cherry pies.  Thanks for making a crazy day end on a positive note.  Doreen and Greg are todays Great Loop heroes.

I did over hear the Admiral tell the skipper she never wants to do that again.

Tuesday, November 6th

After that day yesterday, it was time to take a day to relax, catch up on a few boat projects, and get the laundry caught up.  Unfortunately for the Admiral, she had to use the marina laundry services.  The washing machine on board has died and is no longer serviceable.  The skipper has found a washing machine in Mobile that is small enough to fit thru the salon doors (23 inches) but large enough to be useful.  The skipper is really looking forward to that little project in a few weeks.

Speaking of projects though, there are several Looper boats here at Green Turtle Bay getting some serious work done.  One boater is having to replace his engine because it can no longer build compression.

Another boater has been here for a month replacing an engine due to catastrophic failure.  The first new engine was installed last week, but when tested it turned the wrong direction for a port main engine.  They started removing the new engine this week so he will likely be here another month.

Then there is Bill, on a tug like Gammel Dansk who experienced transmission troubles.  His new transmission came from Turkey and finally got installed over the weekend.  He has been here for 56 days.

Lastly, a boat left today that had engine problems that took 55 days to repair.

After hearing all the war stories about blown engines, transmissions, and other repairs, the skipper is counting his lucky stars that he only has to swap out a washing machine.

Wednesday, November 7th

The crew took time to eat breakfast at the café before setting out down Kentucky Lake.  When they left the marina he confirmed his hunch about running over a buoy, only it was a No Wake buoy rather than a channel marker.  That was good because those No Wake buoys are made of plastic rather than metal.  Hmmm, looks like the buoy is on its side rather than standing up.  I wonder what caused that?

No Wake buoy that the skipper probably hit coming in Friday night in the dark

1 Leaving GTB_LI

While leaving the marina, a second Nordic Tug, Chip Ahoy, decided to join the crew for the run down to Paris Landing State Park.  Capt’n Dan made a comment that the two tugs needed to make sure they were on the proper side of the channel while they traveled so nobody miss took them for navigation aids since their boats are red and green.  Funny Dan.

The Tennessee River continued to dazzle with a full display of fall colors.

3 Tennessee Shore

The crew especially likes when a rock bluff is covered in color.


It was a fairly straight forward run down to the State Park.  Once docked, the crew took a stroll to see what they could discover in the park.  They headed towards the entrance to see if there was some sort of visitor center.  The crew discovered some cages, and upon further investigation found several  owls perched on limbs.

Oscar was found on the ground as a baby and has been raised by humans his whole life.  


These Barred Owls were each missing an eye so would not survive in the wild.


Thursday, November 8th

The crew left with an escort of two Nordic Tugs again.  There are not many marinas along this route so the crew will take what the river has to offer, and today the offer was a short run to Pebble Isle Marina near Paris, Tennessee.

Just outside of town is a 70 foot replica of the Eiffel Tower.  
21 Paris Eifel Tower

Another discovery about Paris has to do with the skipper’s county of birth, Tarrant County.

22 Edward_H._TarrantThe county was named after Edward H. Tarrant who fought in the War of 1812, was a member of the Militia’s of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas at various times.  He also gained fame as an Indian fighter in Texas.  In fact he led a battle in Arlington, Texas just a few miles from the skipper’s childhood home.  The battle has been commemorated with a Texas Historical Marker #5654:





‘Archeological excavations along the course of this Trinity River tributary have unearthed evidence of several prehistoric villages. Artifacts from the area date back almost 9,000 years and represent a culture of food-gatherers and hunters. In the 1830s the Creek served as a sanctuary for several Indian tribes who made frequent raids on frontier settlements. The conflict grew worse in 1841 when major attacks were reported in Fannin and Red River Counties. Brigadier General Edward H. Tarrant (1796-1858) of the Republic of Texas Militia led a company of volunteers in a punitive expedition against Indian villages in this area. On May 24, 1841, following brief skirmishes at several encampments, two scouting patrols were attacked near the mouth of the Creek and retreated to the main camp. Reportedly twelve Indians and one soldier, Captain John B. Denton, were killed. As result of the Battle of Village Creek, many tribes began moving west. Others were later removed under terms of the 1843 Treaty signed at Bird’s Fort (10 mi. NE) which opened the area to colonization. Much of the battle site is now located beneath the waters of Lake Arlington.’

Like many before him, Tarrant was not born in Texas, but he got there just as soon as he could.  But before Texas, he lived in Paris, Tennessee.  Just one last odd observation and connection with this story, the skipper’s Dad was born on May 24th.

Friday, November 9th

It was early to rise and time to shove off the dock at first light.  The crew has a long day ahead to make the next marina which is 62 miles up stream.  The crew is marina hopping because the nighttime temperatures are too cold for overnight on the anchor.

And yes, you read that correctly, up stream.   The Tennessee River forms on the east side of Knoxville and flows southwest into Alabama, where it then turns and heads northwest and becomes the largest tributary for the Ohio River.  The section that the crew is currently cruising is the section that runs northwest.  So even though the crew is mostly travelling south, they are travelling up bound on the Tennessee River.

The cruise today was sprinkled with rain for the first several hours.  Then it was sprinkled with some interesting rock formations, Bald Eagle sightings, and homes.

The Rocks



Bald Eagles

15 Bald Eagle



17 Lighthouse

20 Home

The crew stopped for the night at Clifton Marina.  While there, the skipper observed Tori work with Capt’n Dan and continues to be impressed by the dog.  Once landed, Tori led Dan ashore so she could relieve herself.  Upon their return, she took the same path back to Gammel Dansk, though alternate paths were available.  Later in the evening, the two crews shared a burger dinner in the café, and once again, Tori took Dan the same route and in the back door of the café.  When dinner was over, Dan headed for the front door.  Tori was having none of that and stood her ground.  When Dan reached the end of the leash he felt the tension.  Dan gave Tori a command but she ignored the command and responded by giving the taught leash a couple of tugs signaling Dan, “we are not going that way.”  Dan then headed back over towards Tori and she led them out the back door they had entered by and returned to the boat.  Makes the skipper wonder who really is on the leash, the dog or Dan?

Saturday, November 10th

The crew had one more long run to make today so it was up and out at first light again.  The first step on the dock for the skipper was a bit slick as he discovered a frost build up due to the overnight low temperatures.

Prepping to leave at 0600

23 Early Start from Cliifton

The two Nordic Tugs would be challenged today to motor against the head current.  When the boats got back in the main channel it was obvious that the river was running harder than yesterday, speed over ground was down to 5.5 mph.  As the day progressed the speed just continued to drop while maintaining the same throttle speed.  As they approached the lock and dam at Pickwick the current really accelerated which caused the boats to move at a snails pace.  At one point the skipper commented that he could walk faster than they were moving over the water, to wit:

  1. Mile 203, speed 4.5 mph
  2. Mile 204, speed 3.3 mph
  3. Mile 205, speed 2.7 mph
  4. Mile 206, speed 2.3 mph………. arrive at Lock at mile 206.5

The water being released at the Pickwick Dam, 91,000 standard cubic feet per second (scfs) 

33 Pickwick Dam

The skipper later learned that the water level behind the dam had continued to rise all day Friday while releasing water at 71,000 scfs, hence the increased flow rate that they saw on Saturday.  The skipper checked the lake level on Sunday and it continues to rise, so they have again raised the release rate to 94,000 scfs.  With all the rain, the lake authority has there hands full trying to reach the winter pool levels.

Eventually, all three boats made it inside the lock where they got floated up on a bollard 43 feet.  When they came out of the lock it was too late to make Aqua Yacht Harbor in daylight, so they pulled into the Pickwick Landing State Park and called it a day.

However, along the route today the crew did pass some interesting rock formations and historic sights.

Swallow Bluff

24 Swallow Bluff.JPG

Chalk Bluff, that clay must be the inspiration for the orange color for the Tennessee Volunteers

27 Chalk Bluff

House above the Chalk Bluff


At mile 189, the crew passed by a home built in 1830, Cherry Mansion.  The home was originally built and presented as a wedding present to Sarah and her husband, W.H. Cherry.  The home was also General Grant’s Headquarters on April 6, 1862 when the southern forces attacked the union forces 10 mile upstream to begin the bloody battle of Shiloh.  It was estimated that 23,000 men lost their lives in the two day battle.

Cherry Mansion



The Shiloh National Military Park runs along the banks of the Tennessee River for a little over a mile where some of the most deadly fighting took place on April 6 and 7, 1862.  The union forces fell back during the first day’s fighting to the area known as Pittsburgh Landing.  The confederates took a break from the fighting overnight which allowed the union troops to re-enforce their troops and launch a counter attack the next morning.  By the end of the second day of fighting both sides were exhausted.  The confederate troops retreated during the second night and the union troops choose not to pursue them, thus ending the battle.

Pittsburgh Landing

31 Pittsburgh Landing

Boat Name of the Week

Pat’s Summer Cottage is way too far north in cold weather to be a summer cottage.  These are Looper’s on their way to warmer weather in Florida.

28 Pat's Summer Cottage

Next Week –

The crew will spend a few days at Aqua Yacht Harbor completing a few boat projects while they wait for some very cold weather to pass.  Cruising in 20 degree weather is not much fun so they will wait till Wednesday to set out down the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

They will then travel three days down to Columbus where they hope to share turkey with the locals at the Columbus Marina.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

That Was Easy

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Self Made Man at the Henry Lay Sculpture Garden outside Louisiana, Missouri. Seems to be a good metaphor for doing the Loop.  Just chip away at it one day at a time, and about a year later you might just cross your wake.

71 Self Made Man

Mark Twain Quote

Our last Mark Twain quote will be dedicated to Mary and Dan, who the crew has met in the last few weeks.  They are truly writing their story from their heart, allowing their imagination to carry them thru this journey we call life.  They do not look at their current situation as limiting their life, but dream of what is possible and act to make it happen.  They are truly a remarkable and inspiring couple. Wish all the virtual crew members could meet them in person.

Mark twain best famous quotes images pics (10)

Summary of week:


Well it has been both a fun and challenging week as the crew made way from 2 Rivers Marina to Paducah.  This is hands down the most difficult section of the Loop, and it lived up to its reputation.  The crew made the following stops along the way:

  1. Monday they pulled into Port Charles
  2. A long day on Tuesday landed them at Hoppie’s
  3. A cold rain fog filled day delivered them to the Lock Wall at Kaskaskia Lock and Dam on Wednesday
  4. Then another long day to anchor in the Little River Diversion Canal on Thursday
  5. Then the grand finale loooong day to land in Paducah on Friday night

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:

  1. Who initially owned the property where the Henry Lay Sculpture Park now stands?
  2. Who was the first president of our country?
  3. How many presidents did we have before George Washington was the ‘first’ President?
  4. Where is the Piasa Bird?
  5. Who were the first Europeans to see the Piasa Bird?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II watch in amazement as Capt’n Dan lands Gammel Dansk at the Hoppie’s dock, one of the more challenging places to dock on the whole Loop.  Enjoy!

Docking at Hoppie’s from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

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.

Sunday, October 28th

One of the fun things about the Loop is finding the hidden gems that are hidden in plain site all across small town America.  Today, the crew ‘discovered’ a hidden gem in Louisiana, Missouri,  The Saint Louis University Lay Center for Education and the Arts.  The crew came to learn of this jewel thanks to some ‘local knowledge’ provided by the area Harbor Host, Clay.  Thanks for the suggestion to go visit this treasure!

Self Made Man at the entrance of the Sculpture Gardens


The property sits on a 300 acre natural refuge with lakes, streams, and wooded hills.  Within this property is the 20 acre Henry Lay Sculpture Park.  The property was initially settled in 1832 by John McElwee, a Revolutionary War Hero. He and 12 of his grandchildren are buried in a cemetery near the walking path in the Sculpture Gardens.

Henry Law acquired the property in 1996.  He fulfilled his lifelong dream of combining reading and art with the natural beauty of the out doors.  The park is first entered at Story Woods, Children’s Sculpture Garden.  The perimeter of the park has 6 sculpture books to read.  While near the center a man in a high chair, Meditation Over a Chair.

64 Meditation Over a Chair

The main path branches off and returns to the Children’s Garden.  Along the path are various sculptures.  Some of the more interesting ones:

Wandering Brute, the beast of burden is taking it easy while the man performs all the work.

65 Wandering Brute

To Dance as One, wagon train on the trail



More amazing than the sculptures though, was taking a 2 hour hike with a legally blind man, Dan.  The skipper may of learned more about life in that two hours than he has in the past several years.  Lets start with TRUST.  How much TRUST does it take for Dan to go hike with some people that in all reality he barely knows?  Well, more than the skipper has.  The path was very rocky, where the rock size was anywhere from pea size to walnut size.  Then the terrain was hilly making elevation changes from 6-10 feet up and down the whole path.  Then there was the bridge with a 2×6 broken plank that Dan could of stepped in and fallen thru.  Dan called this “country work” where he walks without sidewalks and roads.  He also said the trick to not falling was ‘toes up’.  The strategy was successful because he did not stumble or fall a single time.  Yes, Dan can certainly teach people about TRUST.



Then how about COMMUNICATION.  Many in this world can say many words but never COMMUNICATE a single intelligible idea.  The COMMUNICATION between Tori, the seeing eye dog, and Dan is all almost non-verbal, but volumes of information is shared between the two.

For instance, that bridge with the broken 2×6 plank also had started with about a three inch step up from ground level.  The skipper was not doing a very good job of COMMUNICATING the hazard to Dan, mostly because he was gabbing about something else.  However, Tori recognized the hazard and stopped.  Initially,  Dan noticed that Tori had stopped, but Dan tried to continue walking.  Tori was having none of that so Tori stepped in front of Dan to block Dan ‘s path.  Dan felt Tori on the front of his leg so he stopped walking.  He gave Tori a command, and Tori took her paw and tapped the top of Dan’s shoe.  This signaled Dan that there was a step up to get on the bridge.  Dan asked the skipper how high he needed to step up and the skipper finally clued into what was going on.  The skipper told Dan about three to four inches, and then added, “oh you probably want to stay to the left side of the bridge since there is a hand rail on that side.  On the right side there is no hand rail and you could step off and fall in the lake.”  Dan, “thanks for that little bit of info.”  Pretty sad when the dog is doing a better job of COMMUNICATING hazards than the skipper.


Dan also is a student of history like our skipper.  While out hiking, Dan asked “Who was the first president of our country?”  Well like most people, the group responded with George Washington.  Dan, “you would be wrong.”

Some of the natural beauty of the site, true golden treasure

70 True Gold

Dan then went on to explain that the Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776.  George Washington did not become president until April 1789.  There were actually 8 presidents before George Washington.  So the answer you ask?  None other than John Hanson, a man lost to history.

John Hanson, encyclopedia Britanica
John Hanson

While the crew was out walking with Dan and Doreen, Mary stayed back at the Story Woods to sketch some of the artwork.  When the group got back to where Mary was working, she had the Admiral sit down and Mary sketched out a drawing of the Admiral.  She added color to the sketch when they returned to the boat and offered the drawing to the Admiral.  Mary is a very talented artist.

Mary drawing the Admiral

90 Mary the Artist

And the finished masterpiece

90.1 Claudia

Monday, October 29th

Our three boat flotilla left the protected harbor of 2 Rivers Marina and made way down river.  The flotilla had two locks to navigate as they progressed south.  And the good news is the clouds cleared and the crew should be getting some sun today.  With the sun shining, it did make the fall colors vibrant.



The flotilla was joined by a fourth boat named Aurora in Lock 24.  The Captain announced that he was a Looper and requested to join the group.  This makes seven boats that the crew has seen that have launched their Loop Adventure from the upper Mississippi River.

The flotilla continued down stream and found a tow just leaving Lock 25 when they arrived.  With minimal delay, the tow pushed out of the Lock and the pleasure craft all entered the Lock on the green light.  Still Waters II was the first boat in the Lock, and was surprised to see a large 3×5 array of barges on the down stream side of the gate.

Not much room to squeeze out of Lock 25.



Squeezing out of the 30 foot opening, in a 15 foot wide boat


Blurred Lines making the escape


After all the boats were safely out of the Lock, the Captain of  Blurred Lines, Greg, came over the radio and announced that he thought about closing his eyes while shooting the gap coming out of the Lock.  Capt’n Dan countered with an “I didn’t need to.”  That caused a round of deep belly laughter from all the other boaters.

The crew enjoyed some fine scenery as they navigated down to Port Charles where they stayed for the night.


It was early to bed to rest up for what the skipper believes is the worst section of the Loop, 291 miles from Alton to Green Turtle Bay.

Tuesday, October 30th

From Port Charles it was only a few miles before the crew was back at the junction of the Mississippi River and Illinois River, signaling that they have completed their 660 mile side trip on the upper Mississippi River.  This also means that the crew is back on the normal Looper route.

Junction with Illinois River, Gammel Dansk coming down the Mississippi River left of the point, and a tow moving upbound on the Illinois River to the right of the point.

80 Mississippi & Illinois Rivers

As they passed between Grafton and Alton, the limestone bluffs were on fire with their fall color show,  Some of the best that the crew has seen this year.


Legend has it that there was a large dragon named Piasa Bird that ate people who tried to navigate these waters south.  The Native Americans painted the dragons on the limestone bluffs above the river.  When Joliet and Marquette plied these waters in 1673, they saw the dragons on the cliffs and captured this description:

“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. 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.”

The original paintings are long gone but a duplicate now has been painted above Alton based on written reports of early voyagers.

The modern reproduction of  Piasa Bird


To lighten the mood of the day, the skipper sent the flotilla a message about the myth of the dragons and cautioned everyone to keep a sharp lookout on the cliffs and report any sightings.  He also said that if a Piasa was spotted it would be every boater for themselves.  He then thanked Blurred Lines for leading the way today and mentioned that they might be the first attacked.

Blurred Lines responded that they were not afraid of dragons and in fact had evidence that the dragon had been captured and was presently being held in captivity.


The crew started to notice tows stacked along the shore 10 miles out from Lock 26, Mel Price Lock.  This is never a good sign.  About this same time, a Looper boat in the Alton Marina contacted the skipper and reported that the lock master had told the boat to join the flotilla for a 1000 opening in the Auxiliary Lock.

Tows above Mel Price


About the same time, Blurred Lines sent a text announcing that they had just talked to the lock master, and assigned the flotilla a 1000 opening.  What a deal! As the group passed the Alton Marina, the fifth boat, Kailani, came out of the inlet and joined the flotilla.  When they arrived at the lock, the gate was open and the boats entered and floated down about a foot.

Blurred Lines and Gammel Dansk in Mel Price Lock

84 Lock 26

When the small Armada left the lock, Gammel Dansk jumped out to lead the boats for awhile.  However, it did not take long before the little green turtle was back at the end of the line.  But hey, Capt’n Dan has lead the Armada.

Next obstacle was the Chain of Rocks Lock, # 27 and the last lock on the Mississippi River.  The lock tender was named Carol and made the lock experience memorable.  The humor and way she interacted with the tow boat captains was fun to listen to.

Just before the Armada entered the lock, a tow boat called and requested to go thru with the pleasure craft.  Carol asked him if his large tow was now considered a pleasure craft.  The tow boat responded that his peers all said it was a pleasure craft so it must be a pleasure craft.  Carol then said since you are a pleasure craft I guess you can enter with the pleasure craft.

Gammel Dansk and her big brother in the Chain of Rocks Lock


After pushing out of the lock it was time to start catching some more current and speed by the Arch at St Louis.

20- St Louis

The flood conditions have swept mounds of debris down river.  The crew have begun to talk about abandoning their plans to go all the way down the Mississippi River.  The conditions are worse than normal and may not be conducive to safe travel.

Debris lodged on the barge

89 Just a bit of debris

The crew was glad to finally see Hoppie’s and get safely tied to the barge that acts as the dock.  After all the boats had taken on fuel and safely docked, the crew met with the marina staff to get a safety brief on the conditions down river.  The brief only solidified what our crew was already thinking, it might not be a smart play to ply the lower Mississippi River.

Debbie providing a safety brief

95 Debbie Brief Hoppie's

Remember that boat, Kailani, that joined the group at Alton?  When the crew went thru the Mel Price Lock the Admiral made a comment that it sure looked like the boat our crew looked at back in 2015 when they were first thinking about buying a boat.



She went down and found the literature on the boat the crew had looked at back in Ft Myers.  They sure looked similar.  Once the boats were docked at Hoppie’s, the Admiral went over to the Kailani and confirmed her suspicions, yes it was the same boat.  Tracy gave the Admiral a tour of the new and improved 44 foot Tollycraft.

Mary also completed a sketch of the skipper and added some color to the sketch and presented the completed work to the skipper.  The skipper is honored to have the artwork.

Getting the final details just right


The completed piece of work


Wednesday, October 31st

With a chill back in the air, fog on the river, and rain falling, the flotilla did not shove off today until almost 1130.  They were only going some 40 miles and at 12 mph it was less than 4 hours to their designated stop at the Kaskaskia Lock wall just off the Mississippi River at mile 117.

Running in the rain

88 Running in fog and rain

After landing Dan and Mary tried walking Tori, the seeing eye dog, up and down the wall to encourage her to do her business.  She was a reluctant participant and has yet to learn to use the artificial grass as her designated spot.  The skipper volunteered, with Admiral nudging, to take Tori on a dinghy ride to shore to do her business.  The skipper dropped the dinghy in the water and with help from Greg and Mary they were able to place the 70 pound German Shepard in the dinghy.  She did not seem too thrilled at first, but she quickly settled down as the skipper rowed away.

Loading Tori





When he landed over on the shore near a boat ramp, she had no problems exiting the dinghy and jumped right out.  She made a bee line for the nearest grass and relieved herself.  She then wandered over to the woods and dropped a pile.  Pleased with herself, she headed straight back to the dinghy.  The skipper patted the seat in the dinghy and she loaded herself and took her place behind the middle sit.

Then the rain decided it was time for a little deluge action and soaked the skipper as he rowed back to the mother ship.  Once again proving, no good deed goes unpunished.


Thursday, November 1st

The day got off to some wonderful news.  Tori, the seeing eye dog, decided dinghy rides were not that exciting and in order to avoid another traumatic experience,  she decided to use the green artificial grass for the first time ever to do her business.  The skipper sure appreciated that news.  He was not looking forward to another rowing event in the rain.

The winds decided to pick up overnight and blow for most of the morning.  But around 1000 the winds started to drop and become tolerable for cruising.  With the wind out of the north, the 25 mph gusts would help push the boats down the river.  After consulting with the other boaters, it was decided to make the run down to the Little River Diversion Canal and anchor for the night.

At 1100, four of the boats shoved off the lock wall and proceeded down river.  It would be a 68 mile run, but with the current helping push the boats downstream it would take just over 6 hours to arrive and drop anchor in the canal.

Blurred Lines went into the Canal first and dropped their anchor.  Gammel Dansk went in second and rafted to the port side of Blurred LinesStill Waters II went in third and dropped an anchor and then backed up towards Blurred Lines on the starboard side.

Unfortunately, the skipper misjudged the distance and ran out of anchor chain about 20 feet above Blurred Lines.  They were able to get a stern line over to Blurred Lines so they could hold the stern secure.  Then it took a dozen or more throws before the crew successfully got a breast line over to Blurred Lines.  Once the line was over, Greg was able to pull Blurred Lines over to Still Waters II and then secure the two boats together.

Rafted three across for the night

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Later that evening the crews of Blurred Lines and Still Waters II strategized on how to make the 95 mile run to Paducah.  There was conflicting information about the two locks on the Ohio River.  Some information was reporting that the dams/wickets were up and all vessels would have to traverse thru the locks.  Other information claimed that the dams/wickets were down and that boaters could bypass the locks and motor over the dam due to the high water levels.

It was finally decided that the group would raise the anchors at first light and head out as close to 0700 as possible.  Then, Blurred Lines would set a speed to arrive at the locks as soon as possible to determine their actual status.  Then move on to the Paducah marina and wait for Still Waters II and Gammel Dansk and help them dock when they arrived in the dark.  This plan was selected because Blurred Lines would be able to set a speed to ensure a safe arrival in day light hours, and they do not have radar which would make night travel unsafe and difficult.  Still Waters II would run with Gammel Dansk and help ensure safety by running with the radar after dark.

Friday, November 2nd

Well the plan got off to a good start as the boats were all out of the canal and back on the Mississippi River by 0702.  The first 50 miles went by quickly as they cruised with the current.  By 1120, everyone had completed the turn onto the Ohio River.  Unfortunately, the Ohio River has also now reached flood stage and the current was ripping around 3-4 mph.  Not good!

Gammel Dansk up bound on the Ohio River

1 Gammel Dansk upbound on Ohio

When Still Waters II made the turn her speed dropped from 12.2 to 4.8 mph.  Gammel Dansk set the pace and made between 4.8 and 5.2 mph into the current on the Ohio River.  At this pace, the skipper calculated that they would not arrive in Paducah until around 2130.  There was some discussion of trying to find an anchorage somewhere along the Ohio River, but it was finally decided that three hours in the dark was better than overnight on the river in the present current.

During the conversation to decide to anchor or soldier on to Paducah, Capt’n Dan said he would TRY to make it to Paducah.  The skipper asked Capt’n Dan if he had seen the Star Wars movies.  Capt’n Dan responded in the affirmative.  So the skipper then asked if Dan was familiar with the character Yoda. Once again Capt’n Dan responded in the affirmative.  So the skipper said, “there is no try, just do!”  Dan said he was committed to do the Paducah run.  With that settled, it was time to endure the long grueling run to Paducah on the Ohio River.

Blurred Lines was able to confirm that the dams/wickets were still down and that the crew could motor over the dam and bypass the lock.  That was certainly good news.

The new Olmstead Lock and Dam


All that is left of old Lock 53

3 All that is left of 53

When the sun began to set, the Admiral set a lamp out on the sun deck and turned it on.  This would allow Gammel Dansk to come in closer and help them follow once it got dark.  The skipper also turned on their spot light so they could watch for debris in the water and help him play dodge-a-log in the dark.

Those last three hours in the dark were some trying times.  At one point a tow came up from behind and requested the skipper to move to the port so he could overtake them on the starboard.  Then another tow called that was a few miles ahead and requested that the skipper maintain course and speed and that he would go by on the port side.

The skipper mulled it over for a few seconds and decided it was not safe to stay on course and allow one tow to go by on the starboard side while the other tow went by on the port side, in the dark no less.  He called both tow Captains on the VHF radio and announce he would move way north of the sailing line and then come to an all stop to allow them to pass.  Then once both tows had passed by he would move back to the sailing line.

The next obstacle was to find the marked channel over the dam at Lock 52.  A down bound tow captain told the skipper that the reds were under water because of the flooding.  The tow captain said he only saw one of the green buoys.  The skipper asked the tow Captain about the sailing line and how it lined up with the marked channel for the dam.  The tow Captain responded that they were not the same but the sailing line would allow safe passage over the dam.  With that info in hand, the skipper just stayed on the sailing line on the chart plotter and cruised over the dam.  He only saw one green buoy as he navigated the channel.

Now it was time to get under the last bridge and turn towards the dock at Paducah two miles up river.  The new dock was well lit and easy to find.  The crew announced their pending arrival to Blurred Lines and they came out to catch lines and guide the two boats in.

Safely docked in Paducah after a 14 hour run

IMG_2438 (2)

These last few days were the most challenging sections of the whole Loop route.  The crew had plenty of challenges to overcome and navigate but were blessed to do this section with the crews of Blurred Lines and Gammel Dansk.  It was long and hard but the spirit of the crews was positive and fun, a true team effort.  Thanks for the memories!!

Saturday, November 3rd

After a long and harrowing day yesterday, the crew slept in and mostly relaxed.  In the late afternoon, Ruth and Al came over from Green Turtle Bay, and joined the crew, Dan, and Mary for dinner.  It was a wonderful way to end a long week on the water.

Boat Name of the Week

Inn-CaBoots, the crew met this boat at the Kaskaskia Lock wall. They plan to move down to the Panama Canal, transit the canal, and then make way to Alaska.

Next Week –

The crew has decided to abandon the plan for the lower Mississippi River.  Some of the spots that they would anchor in were already marginal anchor spots due to the depth.  Because of the flooding, these spots would be unsafe to stay out in, in these conditions.  For example, when the crew anchored in the Little River Diversion Canal back in 2016, the depths were 8-10 feet.  The other night the depth was 23-25 feet in the exact same locations.

With that decision made, the skipper is recalculating their moves south down to Mobile Bay via the Tenn-Tom Waterway.  So the goal for this next week is to make Green Turtle Bay at the north end of Kentucky Lake, make their way down the Lake, and then arrive at Aqua Yacht Harbor at the top of the Tenn-Tom for the weekend.


Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Set Sail from Sunset

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)

60 Quincy

Summary of week:

RockportAfter 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:

  1. 1 – 75 miles to Burlington on Thursday
  2. 2 – 77 miles to Quincy on Friday
  3. 3 – 44 miles to Rockport on Saturday.  The winds picked up Saturday night and are forecast for 20 mph with 40 mph gusts during the day on Sunday, so the crew opted to take a day off and rest up for the push south to Memphis.

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:

  1. When did Arthur Kaufmann migrate to the US?
  2. Who sponsored Arthur Kaufmann’s migration to the US?
  3. Where is the portrait of Arthur Kaufmann’s sponsor?


At the Box Office

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.

Monday, October 22

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!

Tuesday, October 23

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

40 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

Isabel Lewis Agrell (2)

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

George Gershwin


Wednesday, October 24th

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.

Thursday, October 25th

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

44 Tow waiting on Locks

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

42 Lock 16

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

46 Lock 18

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


Friday, October 26th

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


Saturday, October 27th

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

53 Lock 21

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

60 Mary b Day


Boat Name of the Week

SaSea Sally

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.

Next Week –

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.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Maybe Next Week

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The Fulton “De Immigrant” Windmill was manufactured in the Netherlands, shipped to Fulton, and then assembled by Dutch craftsman.  The windmill is fully functional and connected to a mill that can grind about 1 bushel of grain every 10 minutes.  Well, when the wind is blowing of course.

36 Fulton Windmill

Mark Twain Quote of the Week

One of the skipper’s all time favorite quotes:

Mark twain best famous quotes images pics (32)

Summary of week:


The crew managed to leave Marquette on Tuesday and travel three days making the following stops:

1 – Arrived back in Dubuque on Tuesday

2 – Sabula on Thursday

3 – Davenport on Friday

The crew has moved as far south as they possibly can at this time.  Locks 17, 18, 20, 21, and 22 are currently closed due to the flooding along the upper Mississippi River.

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:

  1. What is the name of the windmill in Fulton?
  2. How much grain can the windmill grind?
  3. Where is the oldest, wood hulled, steam driven paddlewheel towboat to work the Mississippi River?
  4. What is the name of this paddlewheel towboat?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II get a reminder that safe boating can turn on a dime and become dangerous in a matter of moments.  This accident took place at Lock & Dam 16, which is the next Lock the crew will pass through.  Enjoy!

Captain rescued after anchor breaks free, sending boat through Muscatine roller dam

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.

Tuesday, October 16th

With the worst of the cold days behind them and some good weather predicted ahead, the crew set off to make their way south.  They decided to head to Dubuque and spend Wednesday visiting the Mississippi River Museum.

When the skipper opened the hatch to the engine room though, he knew they would be having some delays getting started.  He noticed green water in the bilge, sign of a coolant leak somewhere.  Not the best way to get your day started.

He then noticed liquid along the starboard engine dripping into the bilge.  He traced the green liquid to a hose and found a loose hose clamp.  After tightening the clamp the leak stopped.  The skipper then cleaned the mess up and walked a half mile to a gas station to buy some more coolant.  It took two gallons to fill the system back up.  The skipper started the engine up and headed back down into the engine room to look for more leaks.  Finding none it was way past time to shove off the dock.

The crew made way to Dubuque, but the marina next to the museum was closed because the flood gate had been closed to prevent flooding of the town.  The crew had to take a marina a few miles north of the museum.  Finding the slip that they had been assigned turned out to be a bit of a challenge though.

The marina does not monitor the radio and the skipper could not get anyone to answer the phone either.  The crew finally landed on the gas dock and a young woman showed up to take their money.  However, she did not know where the boat was supposed to dock.  Finally a young man showed up and directed them to a slip.  Ah, the challenges of the boating life.

Sandy Beach looks inviting

29 Sand Beach

The Admiral had been fighting a head cold for the last several days.  On Wednesday, the skipper also came down with the cold.  Rather than walk in the cold wet weather two miles to the museum, they both passed on the museum, stayed onboard, nursed the illness, and rested up.

Ski Slope awaiting first snow

30 Ski Slope


Thursday, October 18th

This day turned out to be the nicest day in the last two weeks.  Blue sky and sunshine with very little wind.  The crew took advantage of the weather window and moved down river to Sabula, mile 535 on the upper Mississippi River.

Fish Camp along the shore

34 Fish Camp

One of the running jokes on the Loop is Looper Midnight.  After a long day of cruising  Loopers go to bed when it gets dark to rest up for the next days run.  So Looper Midnight just happens to be what ever time the crew turns the lights off and roll into the rack.  With the crew feeling tired from the days cruise and being a little under the weather, Looper Midnight came early.  They did not wait for the sun to set before they hit the sack.

Nice color along the shore


Friday, October 19th

The crew got up feeling much better than the last few days.  All that extra rest must have payed off.  Todays goal was to get through the last three operating locks, 13, 14, and 15.  Then dock before the winds got up too high later in the day.

RR Bridge at Lock 15

37 L&D 15 with RR Bridge



The crew bypassed Le Claire today and the Buffalo Bill Museum.  Housed in the museum is a wooden paddlewheel towboat named Lone Star.  She was built in 1890 and decommissioned in 1967.  She is also the only surviving example of a wooden hulled steamer that plowed the Mississippi River.

Lone Star


The locks went well with no delays.  However, the wind kicked up near 15 mph a little after the noon hour, making the last two locks more challenging than need be.  By the time the crew arrived at the marina, the winds had climbed up to 17 mph.  The crew was glad that the marina is inside a basin which is well protected from the wind.  The forecast is for the winds to continue to build during the night and blow 20-25 mph all day Saturday.

The view for the next week while waiting on Locks to open

38 Sunset Marina

One last bit of excitement to end the week.  While watching some TV last night, the crew began to hear some strange noise every so often in the helm.  Almost sounded as if someone was walking around up in the helm.  The skipper grabbed a flashlight and shown the light out the back door onto the sunporch.  While he was looking around a large coon ran down from the helm and jumped off the boat.  He came back a couple of more times before he decided to go explore on the boat two slips down.  In fact, he went to the Boat Name of the Week boat and crawled around awhile in their cockpit.

Boat name of the week

Fitting name while the crew sit and wait for the Locks to re-open.


Next Week –

Lock 16 was re-opened on Thursday but may reclose if water rises above 17 feet.  Currently the river level is projected to crest at Lock 16 on Sunday at 16.9 feet.  There are not marina facilities between Lock 16 and 17 so the crew will remain put until after both Locks 16 and 17 are open.

Looking at the river water levels downstream, it appears that the key lock to monitor is number 17 near New Boston, IL.  Water at Lock 17 needs to fall below 18 feet before it can re-open.  Currently the river level is 19.9.  The level is predicted to remain at that level through Tuesday, and then begin to recede.  The water does not fall below 18 feet until late Wednesday or early Thursday.


The other closed locks look as though they will return to service prior to October 25th.  So, maybe next week, once Locks 16 and 17 are open, the crew can resume their push south in search of warmer weather.

One, not so interesting note is that the marinas in this area, mile 480, all have end of season closing dates of October 31.  The marinas in Alton and Grafton, Mile 218, remain open year round.  So the crew will only have a few days to make the 260 miles south to find marina amenities along the route.

Another, not so interesting fact is that there was snow in Madison, Wisconsin during the Badger football game on Saturday.  Madison is only 175 miles north of the boat.  This might be cutting it just a little to close for the crew who are more used to the southern comforts of Texas autumns.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Patience? Are You Kidd’n Me?

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.

7.0 National Eagle Center

Mark Twain Quote of the Week


Summary of week:


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:

  1. Who is bigger, a Female or Male Bald Eagle?
  2. How many years does it take for a Bald Eagle to reach maturity and get a white head?
  3. How many pairs of Bald Eagles reside in the state of Texas?

At the Box Office

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!

National Eagle Center from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

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.

Monday, October 8th

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

4.2 Pam and Joe

Tuesday, October 9th

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

21 Dockside at Wabasha

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.


8 Bald Eagle


10 Columbia

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

19 Chimney Rock

Mile 733, Near Fountain City

20 mile 733

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.

Wednesday, October 10th

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.

Mile 716

23 mile 716

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?

24 mile 710

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.

26 La Cross Queen

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.

Mile 700


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.

Thursday, October 11th

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.

Friday, October 12th

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.

Saturday, October 13th

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!

27 Al and Ruth

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


Next Week –

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.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

End of Navigation

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We have passed the milestone of 50 virtual crew members aboard Still Waters II.  You might have to scoot over some to make room for: Susana S., blgOtaylor, Iayla R., Karl.  Welcome Aboard, and enjoy the ride as we head down the mighty Mississippi River.

The Stone Arch Bridge is a former railroad bridge completed in 1883.  The bridge is now used as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.  The bridge also now marks the end of navigation on the Mississippi River.  The river starts another 541 miles north at Lake Itasca, but the navigable waters start here at the Stone Arch Bridge.


Mark Twain Quote of the Week

For those demanding term limits for Washington Politicians, Mark Twain said it best.

Mark twain best famous quotes images pics (35)[1]

Summary of week:

End of Navigation

The crew had a good week of cruising, though it was much colder than they would have normally cruise in.  They left La Crosse on Monday and made way to Winona (1).  Their next stop was in a small town named Alma (2) on Tuesday.  Then Wednesday, it was on to Red Wing (3).  Thursday, the crew made it to St. Paul (4) where they stayed at the Watergate Marina.  Friday, the crew went another 15 miles upstream to the end of navigation (5) on the Mississippi River.  The crew returned to the Watergate Marina and then took a bus ride to the Mall of America to celebrate.  Because of the cool weather, the crew decided to head south in search of warmer temps and stopped back in at Red Wing (6) for the weekend.

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:

  1. Where was water skiing invented?
  2. Who was the first water skier?
  3. Where is the World’s Largest Boot?
  4. Who is Tugboat?
  5. Who holds the record for the longest homerun in Minnesota?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she reaches the end of navigation on the Mississippi River, turns around, and then starts the down bound journey to New Orleans.  Enjoy!

End of Navigation from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

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.

Monday, October 1

The weather has taken a turn for the worse with the highs in the 40’s and the lows in the 30’s.  Also, there has been heavy cloud cover with cool rain forecast for all week.  Based on these sudden changes, the crew has started talking about making it to St Paul and then turn around and begin the southward journey.

The crew waited to leave late on Monday to allow the rain to pass.  The crew then set out for the days run.  They had hoped to land on the courtesy dock in Winona, but the dock had already been removed for the season.  They found a dock at the north end of town and landed for the night.

Mile 710, low clouds make for an interesting view. Reminds the crew of the Smokey Mountains.


Mile 714, Saw this guy paddle out of Lock 6 in the rain with his dog.  He is the 5th paddler the crew has met hoping to make the Gulf.

160 Down Bound out of Lock 6

Tuesday, October 2

After not seeing a single Bald Eagle all day yesterday, the crew saw a record 18 today.  The crew continued in the rainy cold weather, but managed two Locks with no rain.  The crew stopped in a small town, Alma, where they stayed on the town rolly, shaky, courtesy dock.

Mile 730, Do you see the white pelicans or a creepy monster looking over the sand dune?

162 mile 730

Mile 760, Wabasha 

166 Wabash

Mile 760, National Eagle Center, crew plans to stop here on the way south

166.1 NationalEagle Center

Wednesday, October 3

Mile 770, Lake Pepin

167 mile 770 Lake Pepin

Lake Pepin happens to be the location where water skiing was invented.  The young inventor was Ralph Samuelson, and he used a pair of barrel staves for skis and clothesline for a towrope back in 1922.  He was already an accomplished at aquaplaning, standing on a board while being towed.  He wanted to create snow skiing on water, so he had his brother tow him while he learned to water ski on his home made skies.  He would strap the skies on and stand on the aquaplane.  He would then step off the aquaplane and try to maintain his balance on one ski.  Then completely step off the board with both skies in the water.  It took him a week to perfect his skill, but he is credited with being the first water skier.

After a good cruise up Lake Pepin to Red Wing and landing at the Ole Miss Marina, the crew took off on foot to find the world’s largest boot at the Red Wing Boot Factory. 

175 Red Wing

On the way back to the boat they stopped at the local grocery store to pick up a few provisions.  Cokes were on sale, 3 12 packs for $11.  The skipper decided he would go back to the boat, get his backpack, and walk back to the store to score the cokes.  With the Admiral back on the boat, the skipper headed back to the store.

Pollinator Park in Red Wing


While he was checking out a sudden storm blew in and was dumping bucket loads of water.  The winds were clocked at 50 mph and the wind was not falling but just blowing sideways.  The skipper waited about 10 minutes, and the storm stopped just as suddenly as it started.  He checked his weather radar and the sustained winds were down to 25 mph with gusts to 50.  He walked the mile back to the boat.  When he returned to the boat, he found both the Admiral and the boat in good condition.  A good reminder to always tie the boat up good for the weather you might get, not the weather you have.  Unfortunately, the wind blew hard until midnight, and did not really calm down until the next morning.  Such is life on a boat.

And yes, the crew found the world’s largest boot



World’s Largest Boot Facts


Thursday, October 4

The crew decided to make a long day out of it and go all the way to St Paul today.  But first they had to wait until 1000 to allow the temperatures to get above 40 degrees before shoving off.  Not much fun cruising in cloudy, wet, and cold weather all day.

The highlight of the day though was a conversation they had with one of the lock tenders at Lock 2, Tugboat.  He volunteers to go on hurricane relief trips with the Corps of Engineers.  He told a couple of shocking and horrific stories about his trip down to Houston for Hurricane Harvey relief.

One story had to do with a Vietnam Vet that they came across in his flooded home in Houston.  The Vet had lost his legs in Vietnam.  He lost his wife during the storm to a heart attack.  His dog had also died during the storm, and was still laying beside him with a bit of a bad smell to him.  The Vet said he had no idea how to go on with his life and was just going to sit there till he died.  Tugboat helped find a VA facility to move the Vet into where he could get the help he needed.

It is great Americans like Tugboat who make the crew proud to be Americans.

3 Tugboat at Lock 2.JPG

The skipper asked him how he got the name tugboat.  He answered and said that his mother always introduced him as Tugboat and never called him by his birth name.  The nickname stuck and now he is Tugboat.

After getting out of Lock 2, it would be another 5 hours before the crew got to the Watergate Marina in St Paul.  They arrived just at sunset and had to fight off these pirates guarding the marina entrance though.  The skipper tossed them a bottle of Bahama Rum and the Pirates quickly gave up the fight to warm their bones with the rum.

1 Pirate Ship at Watergate Marina

Friday, October 5

This turned out to be one of the best days on the boat since the crew started back in June 2015.  The plan was to take a short day cruise up to the end of navigation on the Mississippi River and return to the marina.

It took about 1.5 hours to get from the marina to Lock 1 in Minneapolis.  The river is lined with parks for the whole 8 miles.  After getting stepped up 38 feet in the Lock, they were greeted by some of the best fall color that they have seen anywhere.  The trees were yellow, burnt orange, and vibrant reds.



After passing thru the Lower Anthony Lock they only had 0.3 miles to go to reach the end of navigation at the upper Anthony Lock.  The upper lock is now permanently closed, so the crew took a few pics and turned around and headed back to the marina.

Iconic Stone Arch Bridge with Anthony Falls in the background, end of navigation


204 Southbound

The crew returned to the marina about 1430, so they decided to walk a mile up the road and catch a bus to the Mall of America.  The Mall actually sits where the old baseball stadium used to be in the days of Harmon Killebrew.  The skipper is familiar with the ‘Hammerin Harmon’ because he was one of the skipper’s dad’s favorite players.

Killebrew was a power hitter deluxe.  He hit the longest homerun at Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium, a 520 foot shot that broke a red seat in the outfield stands.  They retired the seat, and no fan ever sat in it after that blast.  He also holds the record at the old Baltimore Memorial Stadium for the longest homerun with a 471 foot shot.  He was also the first of four batters to hit a ball over the left field roof at Detroit Tigers Stadium.

Inside the Mall, they actually have a replica of the red seat hanging on a wall in the approximate position it would have been in the stadium.  Then 520 feet away, there is a home plate in the floor.

205 (2)

The crew topped the day off by ‘Flying Over America.’  This is a ride inside the Mall where you soar about in an IMax style theatre over some of America’s most iconic sites.  It was a great way to end a great day.

Saturday, October 6

The crew decided to start south in search of warmer weather rather than sit in St Paul for the weekend.  The forecast for the next week does not look promising, but the further south the crew can get the better.

With that strategy in mind, the crew again waited for the weather to warm up a bit before taking off.  The good news is that with the current in their favor, the crew was making about 10 mph running downstream.  The 53 miles took 9 hours on the way north, but the crew made it in 6.5 hours on the way south.

Interesting yellow tree with red trunk

2 Yellow with red trunk

The cooling towers at the Prairie Island Nuc Plant

4.1 Cooling Towers

Boat name of the week

Sell-Fish Decision


Next Week –

The weather will be cold and rainy for the next week.  The skipper is not sure how far south they will actually get, but will play it day-by-day depending on the weather.  For example Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be rain days with storms.  If that turns out to be true they may stay in Red Wing for a few more days.  If they can safely travel, they will shove off and try to make about 60 miles each travel day.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Das Beste! Oktoberfest

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Grandad Bluff overlooking La Crosse


Mark Twain Quote of the Week

In honor of our elected officials in Washington, DC.

1-140 mile 630

Summary of week:

La Crosse

This past week the crew made way from Le Claire to La Crosse making the following stops:

  1. Monday they pulled into Sabula
  2. Tuesday found the crew in Dubuque.  They arrived just as the marina was closing.  They walked along the Riverwalk and have put Dubuque on the list of return stops to explore further.
  3. Wednesday, the crew decided to make La Crosse by Friday so they went all the way to Marquette and were fortunate to find a spot to dock for the night.
  4. Thursday, they pulled into Lansing, and again were fortunate to find a spot to stay when they learned the town courtesy dock does not allow overnight dockage.
  5. Friday, they made La Crosse to enjoy Wisconsin’s largest Oktoberfest.

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:

  1. Where is the world’s largest bicycle statue?
  2. What is the catchy name of the bicycle statue?
  3. Were is the first Euro-American village in Iowa?
  4. Where is Wisconsin’s largest Oktoberfest?

At the Box Office

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.

Monday, Sept 24th

Today was a day that boating was trying to teach lessons on patience.

When the crew arrived at the Clinton RR Swing Bridge (mile 514), there were three trucks and several people out on the tracks working.  The Bridge Tender said that there would be a 25 minute wait to open the bridge to allow a train to pass.  When the train cleared the bridge the bridge tender said that it would be a few more minutes because the work crew had to move a truck off the bridge before the bridge could open.  The bridge tender then started calling different tows in what seemed to be a delay effort in opening the bridge.  After it was confirmed that no other tows were in the area and would need the bridge to open, the horn finally sounded signaling the bridge was about to open.  Well that only took 40 minutes longer than it should have.

Then when the crew arrived at Lock 13 (mile 522), there was a tow just entering the Lock.  There were two down bound tows waiting to lock through, and one additional tow waiting to step up.  This looked as though it could be a long wait for the crew.

A little over an hour later when the tow in the Lock started to push out of the Lock, the lock master called the skipper on the radio and told him to move over to the lock because he was going to step Still Waters II up while the next down bound tow moved into position after the tow in the lock passed by.  Count the crews lucky stars that they only had to wait an hour to get in the lock.  It could have been much worse.

Along the river though, the crew did see a few interesting sights.  The first was at mile 117 in the town of Port Byron.  The skipper spotted a 30 foot tall bicycle statue.

Will B. Rollin

117 Will B. Rollin

Will B. Rollin has a cousin, Big Ben Biking in Sparta, Wisconsin, some 300 miles away.  Big Ben is 32 foot tall and is billed as the worlds largest bicycle statue.  A Will2Ben bicycle tour is organized annually to make the trip between the two statues, sounds like a fun ride.

Big Ben Biking

117.1 Big Ben Biking

Speaking of fun, how about a tug-of-war across the Mississippi River.  Yes, this is a thing.  Port Byron, Illinois and Le Clair, Iowa just completed the 32nd annual Tug Fest.  Port Byron won the 2018 Tug Fest 8 to 3.  They took home the Alabaster Eagle in Flight Trophy as well as another year of bragging rights.  Port Byron leads the series 21 to 11.

The line is 2,700 feet long and ways 680 pounds.  Twenty people (tuggers) are on each team on opposite sides of the Mississippi River.

A few Tug Fest Pics 

117.2 Tug Fest

117.3 Tug fest

Tuesday, Sept 25th

Today the crew set out for Dubuque, IA.  Along the way, they  saw two White Flagged Looper boats that were down bound.  That makes three Loopers that the crew has seen making way south to the normal looping route.

127 mile 554

Along the bank at mile 577 there was a large structure over looking the river.  The Gothic monument is in remembrance of Julien Dubuque, who in 1788 founded the first Euro-American settlement in Iowa.  Dubuque was a French-Canadian fur trader.  Dubuque learned from the local Mesquakie Indians that there were lead deposits in the bluffs along the river.  Dubuque began a lead mining operation in the area.  In 1796, the Spanish colonial governor granted the land to Dubuque. The governor also named the area the Mines of Spain.

Dubuque Monument

131 mile 578 mines of Spain

The availability of lead, led to the building of a shot tower in Dubuque in 1856.  The tower stands 120 feet above ground level.  To make shot, lead was melted at the base of the tower and then hoisted to the top.  The molten lead was then poured through screens of different gage wire.  The molten lead would pass through the screen and tumble down to a water vat below.  On its way to the water, the molten lead would solidify as a round ball.  The tower could produce 6-8 tons of shot per day.  Today, the Dubuque Shot Tower is the only existing shot tower west of the Mississippi River.

Dubuque Shot Tower

133 Shot Tower

Another interesting building in town is the Star Brewery.  The building was originally completed in 1899.  The main product of the brewery was Dubuque Star Beer.  However, because of prohibition, the brewery closed for many years.  After prohibition, the Star Brewery was the only surviving small scale brewery in the state of Iowa.  She reopened her doors in 1933.  Local legend is that the first keg of beer brewed following prohibition was shipped to the Governor’s office.

Dubuque Star Brewery

132 Star Brewery

Wednesday, Sept 26th

Two different sources have told the crew that this weekend is Oktoberfest in La Crosse.  The Fest starts on Thursday, so the crew has decided to try and make La Crosse on Friday and enjoy the full weekend.  To make that happen they would need to put in a long day today and have good favor at two locks.

Mile 580, first signs of Wisconsin on Left Descending Bank (LDB)

134 mile 580 Wisconsin

As it turned out the Locks were no issue.  There was a tow pushing out of each lock, down bound as the crew arrived.  As soon as the tow cleared the lock, Still Waters II was given the green light and entered the lock.  They spent just under 30 minutes waiting total time for both locks.

Mile 615, Waiting for tow to push out of Lock 10

138 Lock 10, mile 615

This allowed the crew to make good time and distance.  The only issue for the day was finding a place to dock.  The crew arrived in McGregor just before 1900.  The marina they planned to stay at had a cover that was too low for them to get under so they had to move on.  There were no other good options in McGregor so the skipper started to look for a place to drop the anchor before dark.  A few miles up river looked to be good for anchoring so they continued north.

Running out of daylight, McGregor in distance


Before they arrived at the anchor spot, another small town came into view.  There was 100 foot of face dock available so the crew moved over and did a port side tie on the dock to bring the day to a close.  To their surprise, the crew found a 50 amp power source that they could also plug into.  What a deal.  With the good run today, the crew should easily make La Crosse on Friday.

Thursday, Sept 27

After the skipper woke up and spent some time reading his Bible, he went down the dock to see if anyone was in the office.  He found two gentleman inside the office reading the morning paper.  The skipper asked about paying for the over night dockage, and one of the guys looked up, thought a moment, and then said he would charge $20 for the night.  Now that is a good deal.

Just north of McGregor as the crew left town

141 Just north of Mc Gregor

After taking care of the financial details, the crew slipped the lines and continued north up the Mississippi River.  The goal today was to reach Lansing so that they could easily make La Crosse on Friday.

The Quimby’s Cruising Guide states that Lansing has a courtesy dock but does not give much information on the location other than ‘below the gas docks.’  The description raises more questions than it answers. The obvious question is ‘What gas dock?’

On a bluff overlooking the river out in the middle of nowhere


After idling along the shore the entire length of Lansing, the crew neither spotted a gas dock or the town courtesy dock.  The municipal marina is situated about a mile north of town so the crew decided to head there for the night.  As they approached the marina they noticed a gas dock and a long dock extending south.  Could this be the town courtesy dock?

Darth Vader unloading a coal barge just south of Lansing

146.1 Darth Vader

The skipper held off from calling the marina to ask for a slip for the night.  When they arrived at the long dock south of the gas dock a mile north of town, they discovered that yes, this was the courtesy dock.  However, there was a sign that said No Overnight Dockage.  Guess the skipper will be calling the marina anyway.

Hershey Kiss along the banks of the Big Muddy

145 Hershey Kiss

The marina had a spot for the crew just north of the gas dock so they took the slip and landed the boat to bring an end to the day’s cruise.

Friday, Sept 28th

The crew set off to make the last push to La Crosse this morning.  The big news of the day was that someone turned down the thermostat.  Hi today was only 54 degrees.  The overnight low was 34.   These are not the temperatures that the crew likes to cruise in.  Hopefully this is only a short duration cold snap and fall like weather will return by Monday.

Mile 670 found these two Bald Eagles


The cruise was pleasant enough though with the Bald Eagle sightings keeping the skipper occupied.  He spotted 16 Bald Eagles today along the shore.

The trees continue to change colors from their dark greens to light green and yellows.  There are a few orange and reds but not many yet.  The locals say that the best color is usually October 8-15.  This will be when the crew is headed back south thru this area so they are looking forward to the fall spectacular.

Mile 690, Dredge Operation in progress

150 Dredge Operation mile 690

The crew made the Boat Club in La Crosse so they are set to take in the Oktoberfest in La Crosse for the weekend.

Saturday, Sept 28th

Sharon P. took time out of her busy schedule to drive over and visit the crew in La Crosse.  Sharon is one of the many good folks that belong to the OKC Softball Family.

Sharon and the skipper

156 Sharon (2)

Sharon took the crew on a tour of La Crosse and then up to the bluffs overlooking the valley and town below.  It was a spectacular view looking down into the valley.

Still Waters II is docked down by the blue bridge

153 Looking out at La Crosse

The group then took the river road to explore the river by car rather than by boat.  The group then returned to the Boat Club and had a late lunch at the Boat Club Restaurant.

Caught this big fish while out exploring

156.2 (2)

Overall a great visit with Sharon.  The best part of visits with Sharon is her generous heart and sharing her beloved Wisconsin.  Sharing in the form of apples, candid apples, Wisconsin cheese, apple spice donuts, and the caramel dip.  But most of sharing of her time to make another great memory for the crew as they cruise the Great Loop.


Boat name of the week

Recess Won

Next Week –

The crew will leave La Crosse on Monday and make their final push to the Twin Cities that are about 150 miles further up stream.  The crew will probably arrive on Thursday and hope to visit with the crew of Tasteful Traveler. 

The crew has also been extended a nice invitation to go up to Winnipeg and celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving on October 8th with the crew of On Business.  While that sounds like a boat load of fun, the crew is mulling over the weather ramifications of said road trip to Winnipeg.  Might make the trip back south a bit colder than the crew is comfortable with.  And do not forget, the skipper is cruising with the Admiral who he has nicknamed Miss Comfort.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Respect the Rust

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We had two more folks come aboard as virtual crew members and join the adventure by following the blog.  Welcome Aboard Patrick J. and Tom K.!!

The crew visited Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, Iowa


Mark Twain Quote of the Week

Composite photo from the Dave Thomson collection

70.1Get a bicycle.  You will not regret it.  If you live.

                             From “Taming the Bicycle”

Mark did not climb aboard a bicycle until 1884, which would have made him 49 at the time.  This might explain the quote above.  Those bones are a little more brittle at 49 than they are before 9 when most folks learn to ride a bike.

And when learning to ride a bike, you are going to fall.  As the skipper likes to say, “Gravity works 100% of the time, and never takes any time off.”

Summary of week:

le Claire

The crew continued their trek up bound on the Mississippi River with the following stops:

  1. Hannibal, MO, boyhood home of Mark Twain
  2. Keokuk Yacht Club for their first stop in Iowa by boat
  3. Burlington, IA for a great dinner at Big Muddy’s
  4. Rock Island, Illinois for a couple of nights at the Sunset Marina
  5. Le Claire, IA courtesy dock for the weekend

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:

  1. Who was the original Mark Twain?
  2. What does the term Mark Twain mean?
  3. Where did the Latter-day Saints cross the Mississippi River on their way to Salt Lake City?
  4. Who is billed as America’s First Super Star?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she meets a tow, floats thru a lock, and passes thru a swing bridge on her way to Quad Cities. 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 Great Loop.

Monday,  Sept 17

The river continues to run fast and furious as the flood waters recede.  The head current was anywhere from 3-4 mph depending on the width of the river and location.  The straight-a-ways have less current and the outside of the bends have the highest current.

The Mark Twain doing an afternoon tour


The crew had planned to bypass Hannibal, because in a strange twist of fate, the boyhood home of Mark Twain does not have a marina to accept larger boats.  The entrance to the marina has shoaled up and is reported to be less than 3 feet. Even with the high water levels, the crew only saw 5 feet of water below the props when they entered the marina.  Once inside, the depth dropped to 3-4 feet below the props.

Boyhood home of Mark Twain, notice the paint bucket by the white fence


The stop at Hannibal was necessitated because the Hannibal Lift Bridge was in the down position at 1330 when the crew arrived.  The bridge tender told the skipper the work would complete at 1600 and he would open the bridge then.  The skipper was also informed the bridge would be out of service all week from 0800-1600 for the rest of the week.

The skipper called the Hannibal Municipal Marina to determine if he might get in without churning up the mud.  The guy on the other end of the phone ‘thought’ the crew would be ok but would guarantee nothing.  With that bit of confidence the crew drifted down to the opening to the marina and took their good sweet time maneuvering into the fuel dock where they spent the night.

Huck Finn home


The Mark Twain Museum closed at 1700, so the crew made the boat safe and headed down Main Street to go explore.

The Museum complex is made up of an initial building where you get a timeline of Mark Twain’s history.  Then you are directed to Huck Finn’s home.  You are then directed to tour the home of Mark Twain, then the home of Becky Thatcher.  Then down the street was another museum that features Mark’s written word.  This museum was well curated with excerpts from his books.  Tom Sawyer had a cave you walked thru, Huck Finn had a raft that actually floated in water and was about as unstable as an actual raft.  You could sit and watch a film of Huck Finn.


In Roughing It, you sat in an old stage coach and watched excerpts from a movie about the book.  In Europe and Elsewhere, you were on a ship looking out over the ocean.  You looked thru different spyglasses to see the different towns and scenes described in the book.


Upstairs they had the original collection of Norman Rockwell sketches and finished works of his illustrations done for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. A few favorites:

The master’s arm performed until it was tired and the stock of switches notably diminished


“Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it.  Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”


The actual famous fence


Overall a great museum tour and overview of the life of Mark Twain.

Did you ever wonder where Samuel Clemens got the pen name Mark Twain?  He actually took it from another Captain, Isaiah Sellers.  Sellers was a riverboat pilot and would write status reports on the river and have them published in the New Orleans Picayune.  Sellers articles contained the pen name Mark Twain.

Samuel Clemens wrote some satire articles on the original Mark Twain reports that caused Sellers some embarrassment.  Sellers soon stopped publishing his river reports.  Samuel Clemens then confiscated the name and began using it on his own works.

And finally, have you ever wondered where the term ‘Mark Twain’ comes from and what it might mean?  Well, the term denotes safe passage based on the depth of water under the steamboat.  A fathom is six feet, so two fathoms would be 12 feet.  Twain is an archaic term for two.

A man would sound the depth of water at the bow of the steamboat and call out the ‘marks’ on the lead line in the water.  Mark One would be 6 feet deep, Mark Twain would be 12 feet deep, and denote safe passage.

When the crew returned to the boat, they met a couple of guys who are attempting to paddle down the Mississippi River to the Gulf.  One has a canoe with the supplies, and the other is in a kayak.


Tuesday, Sept 18

Because the crew needed to get under the Hannibal Lift Bridge before work started at 0800, the crew shoved off the dock and made way to the bridge early.  They could see that the bridge was open after they shoved off the dock.  They passed under the bridge a few minutes after 0700.

Over on the Left Descending Bank (LDB) above the bridge, there was a large Riverboat Cruise Ship.  The crew saw them yesterday when the crew turned around.  Because of the flooding, the Cruise Ship does not have enough clearance to get under the bridge and continue downstream.  They spent the night above the bridge tied up at a barge company dock.  The skipper heard the Captain talking with the bridge operator about the water level.  The bridge tender and Captain agreed that they should wait a few more hours before attempting to go under the bridge to allow the water level to drop some more.

Cruise Ship waiting for water level to drop


The crew decided to bypass Quincy and continue up river since they got an early start.  They eventually made it to Iowa and finally stopped at the Keokuk Yacht Club for the night.

While waiting to go in a Lock, they saw this kayak paddle downstream.  The crew last saw him back on the Erie Canal near Tonawanda.  He must have come down the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan and portaged over to the Mississippi River, similar to the route that Joliet and Marquette took.

84 Kayaker

Oh, and that big Cruise Ship, the skipper did hear on the radio that she finally made it under the bridge back in Hannibal.

Wednesday, Sept 19

At mile 375 on the river , the crew passed an area known as Nauvoo.  As they approached the area, a huge church like or university building dominated the landscape.  Curious to know what the building was, the skipper determined that it was the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple of the Later-day Saints.  From the temple, one can follow Parley Street down to the Mississippi River where  a statue of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith are looking westward.


The statue marks the spot of the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo in the 1830’s following Joseph Smith’s death.  This is where they crossed the Mississippi River during February 1835 on their way to Iowa and eventually establish their new home in present day Salt Lake City.
Exodus Memorial

The crew continued northbound and stopped at a dock in front of Big Muddy’s Restaurant.  The place had come highly recommended by some friends who said the fried catfish was the best on the river.  Hard to let a recommendation like that go untested.


After getting settled, the crew headed across the tracks to Big Muddy’s and were not disappointed.  The Admiral went with the Prime Rib and the skipper had a plate of catfish.  Then he took one for the team and tried the apple pie a la mode.  The food was all great, but the best thing about Big Muddy’s was a woman named Fergi who served the crew.

The Admiral and Fergi


She was a delight to visit with.  Her youngest child is about to graduate from Texas A&M University and also is on the schools Rodeo Team.  Dakotah is a barrel racer.  Who knew you could get a college scholarship for barrel racing.  You might recall that the crew’s daughter and family lives in Bryan/College Station where Texas A&M is located.  It amaze the crew how they continue to run into great people all around the Loop that they can meet and find connections with.  The crew has already marked Big Muddy’s as a must stop on the way south and are looking forward to seeing Fergi again.

Thursday, Sept 20 – Friday, Sept 21

Another day and more changed plans.  The Bible teaches that man makes his plans, but GOD directs his steps.  This week, those words have been very evident.  More so today than the rest of the week though.

Bald Eagle and White Pelicans on an exposed piece of mud


The crew shoved off the dock at Big Muddy’s and continued up bound on the river.  After lunch, the skipper called the marina to ensure that they had a spot to spend the night.  To his surprise he learned that the marina closed on Labor Day.  The skipper scrambled around and found a second marina that could accommodate Still Waters II. 

Unfortunately, the dock master reported that the flooding had damaged their docks and that he would not have the repairs complete for at least another week.  Bottom line, the crew would not be stopping here either.

Unique Swing Bridge, tain road runs on bottom level, the highway runs above the train track


To make matters worse, the winds decided to pick up and blow around 20 mph.  The winds were out of the south and actually caused wind blown waves that were moving upstream.  That was strange to observe.  The skipper checked the weather and discovered that these winds would hang around all night, but shift out of the north by the morning.  Then blow all day Friday 20-30mph.  That took anchoring out of the equation and also travelling on Friday.

The skipper scrambled around some more and finally found another marina that could take them for the night. The good news was that they got a reservation accepted.  The bad news was that the marina was another 20 miles up river.  A quick math calculation and a look at the time for sunset confirmed what the skipper suspected, they would be docking in the dark in high winds.  And for just a little humor, the name of the marina you ask, Sunset Marina.

Met another River Cruise Ship


The sun did set at 1900, and it was dark by 1930.  The moon was out though and provided some light as the crew docked at 1945.  A 13 hour day on the water and the crew was tired.  The good news with all this is that the marina is up in a well protected cove and mostly out of the wind.

Though the winds have been present all day Friday, and the boat was moving around a bit, the crew was much better off here at Sunset Marina than they would have been at either of the other two marinas that the skipper had planned to stop at for the night.  FOG!  (Favor of God for those just getting on board)

Saturday, Sept 22

The crew had planned for a short day on the water but the 18 miles turned into 4.5 hours due to the current and an hour delay at one lock.  Such is life on the Mighty Mississippi.

The crew docked at the courtesy dock in Le Claire, IA.  Those familiar with the History Channel might recall that Antique Archaeology hails from here. The crew walked the main drag thru town and up one block to find the Antique Archaeology store front.  As expected there were old bicycles and Indian Motorcycles on display in the shop.  There were more items tagged NFS (Not For Sale) than items with a price attached.  After Pick’n the Pickers, the crew took their new treasures back to the boat.

Interesting 2 Wheeler


On the way back, they stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum.  The skipper thought this was an odd place to site the museum.  A sign outside the front door explained that Buffalo Bill was born just outside of town.  They also ‘Bill’ Buffalo Bill as America’s first superstar.  Might have to come check that out tomorrow.

The Freedom Rock


The town was also a buzz with many young people coming down to the dock and taking pictures.  Still Waters II was the backdrop for many of these photos.  Turns out it is homecoming weekend for the local High School and the big dance is scheduled for tonight.

The skipper took a pic of the proud parents taking pics of their prodigy


My how things have changed though since the Admiral and skipper were in High School.  The girls back then wore long gowns for Homecoming.  These girls tonight, let’s just say that the high heels were longer than the skirts.

Boat name of the week

Happily Ever After, also aspiring Loopers


Next Week –

The crew is at mile 497 in Le Claire, IA and hope to put in another 200 mile week which would get them to La Crosse, WI by the weekend.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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