Monday, October 5, 2015

On down to the Tennessee

A bit more about Alton, IL---

We had a pleasant stay at the Alton Marina! Wayne, of course was working most of the time on the dinghy lift repair...

But we did take the last day to visit the farmers’ market. A bike/pedestrian trail runs near the marina and we walked along that to the market area. The city sits on a hill, and it was visible as we rounded the path.

It was a nice sized market with plenty of parking room and display area.

We bought some fresh veggies and some dish towels made from vintage table cloths. I had to take some pictures, of course...

Wayne then headed back to the boat while I walked on into town for a look-see. My first stop was the Tiffany Inn, a bed and breakfast upstairs and a stained glass workshop and store downstairs.

After finding a few things I couldn’t live without, all small in nature, of course, I was invited to tour their guest garden for the inn...

Neat idea for those used wine bottles...

It’s a bit hard to see with the morning sun…but the background is a wall mosaic.

 And...the city on a hill.

The Argosy Casino on the waterfront...

Kaskaskia Lock Wall, Mississippi River Mile 117.5

We called the Mel Price Lock and Dam before 6:30AM this morning and checked on locking through. They said they could “fit us in” around 7:30, so we left Alton Marina at 7 and eased our way on down. Another pleasure craft, Aunt Aggie, was leaving the marina at the same time and we locked through together. Aunt Aggie is doing the loop…and they are near home, too. Hailing from Atlanta,GA, with the boat kept at Chattanooga, TN, we will be on the same course going home.
A little ways down the river we entered the Chain of Rocks Canal to the same named lock and dam. The gates were open when we got there…and we were through with all the locks we need to do on the Mississippi by 9AM. ;-)

The day was cloudy and grey, but only a few sprinkles of rain. Otherwise, it was an easy day. We didn’t see many moving boats at all. We saw plenty of tows along the wayside, sitting still. The river seemed far less busy than what we remember from the last trip down.
Here are a few views we had along the way….

THE arch at St. Louis, MO.

Quite a colorful site on the otherwise gloomy looking Mississippi!

Love the symmetry in this...

And a beautiful home made from stone that seemed to match the stones by the river.

We tied up to the Kaskaskia Lock wall, mile 118, around 4PM. We were assisted with the docking by Chris and Gwen on the sailboat Davali.

We got the dinghy off (the popper upper worked fine!) and rode over to take Lucy to the park nearby. We approached the boat ramp only to get mired in mud before we could get near it. We then tried getting onto the bank at places where rocks were stacked instead of mud. No luck. Looks like Lucy will need to “walk” on the lock wall. Or…so we thought. Well, actually she did do part of her business later. It’s OK. We’ve lived through this before. Just like the vet said…we’ll feel worse than she will.

Anchorage on the Mississippi, Mile 18 - September 28, 2015

We were out at 6:45AM this morning hoping to make it all the way down to around mile 18 on the Mississippi. For all the hours and miles (102) it was an enjoyable day. We certainly averaged over 11 miles/hour with our high number coming in at 13.1mph.

Saw some great clouds...

 From a distance I thought this was a bridge.  It's pipelines.

Just at little tease from the Mississippi here...making us think we're back in Tennessee!

 Cape Girardeau, home of that well known radio talker..

This barge is so big, it makes that dump truck on the left end look like a Tonka toy!

What was different for us was the eddies we found ourselves in at times…usually when we were really speeding up! It was like someone had flushed the toilet…and we were goin’ down!

We passed many tows coming up stream…but didn’t have to pass anyone as we zoomed on down.

We had marked several places BEFORE the wing dams we’d picked out just in case one of the anchorages looked really good. They didn’t. We even samples a few. At last we got to the sections of wing dams on a big ox bow (so the tows are going slow) and way out of the channel. BINGO! We anchored in 32 ft. and put out 100 ft. There’s so little current back here tucked into the stone structure, we didn’t move much at all.

A "wing dam" is a barrier or structure built out from shore to deflect the river current...and prevent erosion of the shore.

Got the dinghy down and took Lucy to shore…though it wasn’t easy. The reviews of this area said there were “white sandy beaches” around. Not so much. The white beaches came further down on the river around mile 17. Wayne climbed up on the rock wing dam and carried Lucy to shore for relief. (She’d been 36 hrs. on hold for a complete “walk!”)

Anchorage above Lock 52, Ohio River - Wednesday, September 29, 2015

Rather than have Wayne scale the rock wing dam this morning to take Lucy, we decided to let her wait until we settled in this evening.

The skies were rainy looking today…and we had a few sprinkles…but nothing major.
We went on down the last miles for our Mississippi trek for this trip and turned up onto the Ohio River. Our speed fell from a high of 13.4…to 7.5. But! That’s better than we were thinking we’d have on the Ohio!

We had three locks to transit today…well, two and a half, actually. The first was Olmsted Lock which is still in the construction phase. Olmsted will replace the other two, Lock 53 and Lock 52, when it is completed. For now, to get through Olmsted a boat has to be guided through the open lock chamber by a guide boat. We went through with two other pleasure crafts.

Lock 53 is really, really old and rough. We had round rusted cells to hug up next to for the ride. We didn’t have floating bollards, but handed the lock attendant a line from both the bow and stern. The result, for us, is that we tetered bow to stern on the rounded cell. The dinghy seemed always to be near disaster on the rusted wall…and, you know, that dinghy has already had it’s fill of injury for the trip.

Lock 52, our last lock on the Ohio, was relatively easy going. We used a 50 ft. line on bow and on stern. The lines were connected to the boat on one end, curled around a fixed post on top of the wall, and passed back to us.

As we were leaving the lock the attendant asked where we were anchoring that evening and we told him Cuba Landing, first place we saw on the Tennessee River. He said there were lots of work tows down there and it would be better to lock up here on the Ohio between the lock and the next bridge. We were glad to call it a day and did just that.

The shore was a bit messy being mud and sand mixed, but it suited Lucy just fine.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - Kentucky Dam Marina, Gilbertsville, KY

On leaving the Ohio River boats returning to the Tennessee River have two options. First, you can take the Cumberland River to the Barkley Dam and Kentucky Lake, passing the Tennessee River junction, and cut over to the Tennessee further down. That route is about 69 miles from the Cumberland/Ohio junction. The second route is to leave the Ohio River immediately when you reach the Tennessee River and enter the Kentucky Lake at the Kentucky Lock and Dam. The last route is shorter by about 20 miles…but the Kentucky Lock and Dam is notoriously busy and will usually require a lot of waiting time to transit.

We’d done the Cumberland route the first time around so chose to do the Kentucky Dam this time. We called the lock the night before to see if anything major was going on to cause delays. The lock master was not encouraging and tried to steer us to Barkley…but we persisted.

On Wednesday morning we headed down the Tennessee River for Kentucky Dam. When we got there, the lock master was really nice and asked us to go to an area on our port side to wait for the lock to open. She was bringing down a tow and large number of barges so it would probably be at least an hour wait. We readily complied. ;-)

When the lock came down the tow then had to “connect” all the load and slowly move out of the lock area.

We were set to go in solo, as she defined, but a small tow with barge asked if he could go up with us. She said she really didn’t like doing that…but, what was he carrying? Corn. No chemicals? Nope.
So the tow entered the chamber first and tied to the starboard wall, forwardmost bollard, then we came in and tied to the port wall at the first bollard. After a total of waiting and traveling up…we exited the lock 2.5 hours later.

Fortunately for us, we had planned to stop at the Kentucky Dam Marina which is right beside the lock. The marina staff helped us in, we refueled, and we in our slip by 3PM.  (OK, we're on this dock...but we're little and don't show.)

They have a courtesy car at the marina so we signed up for that immediately and took off for supplies.

Three hours later we were unloading groceries and feeling like it was time for bed!

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - Anchorage at Richland Creek, Mile 87.7

Left Kentucky Dam Marina at 8:15 heading for an anchorage at Richland Creek. Windy today…and a following sea. Gloomy and chilly! Got to our anchorage around 4:30…long day.

We’d seen several commercial docks at this anchorage and thought we’d have an easy time taking Lucy to shore somewhere. Not so. Wayne took her in on the dinghy and aimed for a couple of boat ramps we saw…but they all looked like private ramps when he got up close. He ended up taking her to the side of the creek and walking her on shore. Lucy’s having some intestinal problems and we talked today about how we might be able to get her home to our vet for the remainder of the trip.

Friday, October 2, 2015 - Mermaid Marina, Decaturville, TN, mile 140

The next morning, as we took Lucy to shore, we decided to go further into the creek to what looked like a commercial dock. One of the reviews on AC had mentioned a floating store and restaurant and we were in hopes they would 1) let us dock the dinghy to walk Lucy and 2) have something good for breakfast.

Bingo! Dani’s was open and welcoming. While Wayne walked Lucy, I ordered sausage and biscuits and chatted with the owner. There’s a resort community right there on the river and an RV/trailer park. The store/restaurant stays open up until about mid-December and closes until around the first of March.

As we nibbled on the sausage biscuits we pondered our destination for the evening. We wanted to get as close to Pickwick Lock and Dam as we could so that we might have a chance to get all the way up on the next day. We decided to see how far we could go…and got to the Mermaid Marina at Decaturville, TN, by late afternoon.

It was cold today!! And the further along we went, the colder it got! We were helped onto our dock by two guys, one of whom turned out to be one of the owners. We plugged up and started the heat!

Friday nights are pizza nights, whenever possible…so our first question was, “who delivers pizza?” Turns out that even though their restaurant was closed for the season, the marina store sells pizza baked there. Good enough! We ordered one and enjoyed the best $10 pizza we’d had all week!

The marina store is packed with “stuff”: t-shirts, hats, and other clothing…like you’d expect. But they also have at least one of just about anything else you might need. There’s a small community there on the river, made up of some houses and some motor homes or trailers…and they drop in for the occasional item or to talk.

Here's our 360 view of the surrounds as we were tied to the dock...

That's the marina office in front of the boat...

Took this picture of the office the next morning...still aglow with the evening's lights.

And...ya gotta love their sign...

Saturday, October 3, 2015 - Wolf Island anchorage, mile 192

We left the marina early…and bundled up like Eskimos! It was cold and dreary all day. We were hoping to get to Pickwick Lock in time to get through and get to an anchorage (complete with taking Lucy to shore) before sunset at 6:30.

We held out hope all day that we could make it happen…but the current was taking our speed down with every mile we made. We started “playing the curves” on the river to get out of the heavy current, we upped our rpms…and, in the end, decided we’d be better off anchoring and making the run early the next morning.

We passed by Wolf Island thinking we’d anchor at one further up, Diamond Island at mile 195. When we got to Diamond Island and scoped out the anchorage. Way too much current for our taste…and turbulence. Back we went to Wolf Island (a pretty quick trip since we had the current WITH us on the river) and anchored at the southeast end in 8ft. We were out of the current and moved only with the wind, slightly. Took Lucy to the towhead nearby where we spied a sandy beach…

then back in the warm boat.

Sunday, October 4, 2015 - JOURNEY crosses our wake!
We were out of our anchorage and headed upstream by 7 AM this morning…right after taking Lucy to the nearby shore.

We had called the lock the night before to ask if they knew of any delays for Sunday morning. Wayne talked to Cory at length, and Cory ended by saying he’d see us in the morning.
It took us about an hour and 45 minutes to go the rest of the way to the lock. We were in contact with Cory as we went and he didn’t see any reason we would be delayed in going up.
We entered the auxillary lock at around 9 AM as the only pleasure craft around. As the lock doors were closing, a call came in from an upbound boat within sight of the lock. Cory opened the doors…and eventually had not one, but two other boats going upstream. We were not concerned about the time…just glad to be tied to the lock wall with the process started. ;-) left some stuff on this bollard.

Exiting the lock, we started watching for the Yellow Creek on our starboard side so we’d know when we were “crossing our wake.” This would mark the “official” end of our loop trip, even though we still have 400 or so miles to travel before we get home.

At 11 AM, Central Time, we crossed our wake! 6000 miles “under our belt” on this trip and only 400 more to go!! ;-)

In spite of the glow we were giving off with the event…it was still cold! We have had the generator running during the day to heat the bridge with a space heater…and the cabin for Lucy. This week is predicted to be much warmer, and we look forward to that!

We’re headed for Florence Harbor Marina, Florence, AL. We’ve decided to take Lucy back to our home vet for boarding while we finish the river trip, and so have rented a car for tomorrow to run her up to Farragut. We’ll return to the boat on Tuesday…and possibly leave the marina then to go through Wilson Lock the same day. We’ll see.