Saturday, 12 September 2015

Mississippi River to Ohio River

We left Alton.....I loved Alton.  That's just it...every little town you visit is so different.  You think...I love it here and then you move on and you love it there...where ever you go.  The next part of our journey takes us down the Mississippi River for 200 miles where there are no provisions.  No fuel, which is no problem we have a good range, no food but we stocked up in Alton so all is good.  Off we go down the Mississippi with no provisions until Green Turtle Bay in Grand Rivers, Kentucky.  Since this is a river there is no waiting for wind but you do have to stay alert because there is lots of debris. The current is very fuel friendly.  We picked up almost 3 knots and gave our diesels a rest.
We travelled through the city of St Louis Missouri where the current really picked up.  It was tough to stay focused on the water and make sure we didn't hit any debris when there was so much to see around us.

 Our destination first night was a place called Hoppies.  There are no provisions, just fuel,(the 200 mile thing actually starts here) basically a steel barge to tie to.  This has been owned for years by a family and we actually wondered how they ever got the permits to pump gas and diesel from a steel barge.
 Fern the owner came down to the docks at about 5pm to give us a little lesson on what we should expect while travelling the Mississippi.  She loves boaters and loves Loopers. We all sat....feet from the gas pumps as Fern smoked her cigarette and gave us advice on how to be safe as we travelled the Mississippi River....mmmm??
We all took notes on where to anchor and where not to anchor as there are not many places to tie for the next 200 miles.  Fern had some great advice and it was well worth the stop just to meet this very interesting lady.   
 While we were at Hoppies a new Looper friend we met from "First Snow" invited us on board his boat....oh what a boat.  It was over 50ft in length and absolutely gorgeous.  You could eat off the engine room floor. 
We sat comfortably...all 8 of us in their salon for drinks and appetizers.
....and then I  asked the captain if I could go for a walk and take pictures.  What a beautiful boat!

When this boat pulled in to Hoppies Steve jumped up to help them in as the current is very strong here.  There were a few staff on the barges to help as well.  When they came in the first mate (wife) handed off the breast line, which is the centre line.  The staff said no we want your bow line first.  The first mate replied....the captain wants the breast line....the crew, the bow line otherwise this current will pull your bow out and we can't hold you.  The first mate stuck her head in the cabin door and asked her husband if that was ok.  He said yes.  She then handed the bow line to the crew and told them she just had to ask her Captain first.  Steve looked at the dock crew and said "I've got some training to do".  Oh dear...ever heard the saying can't teach an old dog new tricks.  Well call me an old dog.  This gorgeous boat parked right behind us so I took a picture from our stern to give an idea of the size of this boat.  I also took one as we exited Hoppies.  The owners actually told us that this is not really a good boat to do this trip because the draft is too large.  The Trent Severn Waterway would not let them pass so they had to skip that part and travel up through the great lakes.

The next day we were up and headed for a lock where we could tie for the night.  It was a good day of travel.  We arrived early afternoon.  You are tied to a concrete wall so not great for Dexter although he did run up and down the concrete for some exercise.
The next day we anchored at the Diversion River.  It is called the Diversion River because it takes the overflow of water when there is heavy rain fall from nearby towns. We anchored there with 3 other boats and they all came to our boat for drinks as soon as we were settled.  It was an early night as we all wanted to get an early start because we were headed for a few locks where timing could be challenging.  We have heard the wait times are anywhere from immediate to 36 hours.  We were all up and ready to go at 6:30.  One of the boats that was with us didn't come out immediately but that wasn't unusual for them so we didn't worry.....until they didn't answer their phone or answer the radio or answer texts. Finally we heard from them and they had so much debris on their anchor it took them 2 hours to take everything off.  Another boat, that wasn't travelling with us, but anchored in the same place actually cut his anchor lose and lost it because there was so much debris he couldn't get it all off.

We are now off the Mississippi.  As soon as we hit the Ohio River you could see the change in colour of the water.
We headed for our first of 3 locks.  We called ahead, as advised but really, it didn't matter.  When you get to the lock it is what it is.  When you phone to ask all they say is we will get you through as soon as possible, radio us on channel 14 when you get close.  Just as we approached the lock, at 12pm, we heard an announcement on our vhf radio that the lock would be close until 1800 hours....ugh??...we got out of bed at 5:30am this morning for this...oh well it is what it is, nothing we can do but wait.  We were with 3 other boats.  Our Canadian friends, John and Lee from Loukethia, Mike and Gail from Time Out and Robert and Corrine from Aerial.  Steve stopped to chat with John and Lee after taking Dexter to shore.
We are central time now so an hour behind home and it gets dark here at about 7:30 now.  We told the lock master we weren't sure we wanted to go through at 6pm because we weren't sure of anchorages on the other side and weren't all that keen about travelling in the dark.  He told us that if we didn't take this window we would lose priority and he would put commercial traffic ahead of us the next day.  He also told us we were not really anchored in a safe place for overnight due to the commercial traffic.  We really had no choice but to go when ever he said go. 

Knowing that we would be late getting settled I decided I would make dinner.  Something that we could just pop in the microwave when we were settled and be done.  I thought tuna casserole but it was way too hot to cook in the boat and although the water looked much better than the Mississippi....still didn't want to swim in it. Sooo I asked Steve to break out the Coleman stove.  Tuna casserole/dinner was done!!
I also cleaned out my fridge of some veggies that needed to be eaten so they went in there as well. 

The lock that we were waiting on was under construction so we had to have an escort through once they were ready for us. 

 We were locked through at 5:30 but still had one more lock to go and then 10 miles to our anchorage.  We arrived at about 8pm in the dark.  Dinner was was cold.  Ate and went to bed.

 Early morning again next day as we have two more locks to go through until we reach civilization tomorrow.  Green Turtle Bay!! 

Looking at our America's Great Loop Map.  The pink marker at the top is where we started in Bobcaygeon, Ontario.  The pink marker at the bottom is where we are today.....not tomorrow....somewhere on the Ohio River.....on a boat..."One Bay at a Time."

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