Friday, August 16, 2013

The goofy 200 miles August 9-13, 2013


Before leaving Green Turtle Bay, we had consulted with experienced River boaters---Captain Gordon at our end and (Hoppies) Fern and Charles Hopkins at the one fuel stop 158 miles upstream. Both agreed that the flood season had passed, and the River was low and slow.  Should be no problem, right?    Go!  Said they both!

So off we went, and, as I wrote in the last episode of the Blog, we happily anchored at the mouth of the Ohio.  On our second day of what was expected to be a four day trip, we reached the Diversion Channel, 50 miles upstream.  Friday morning we blithely set out at dawn. And then came the Rain.  The current against us increased from 2 to 4 miles per hour, and slowed our progress enough that it was clear that we wouldn't be able to reach our expected stop (the Kaskaskia River Lock) before dark, so we were forced to find a safe place to anchor.

Fortunately, we were traveling with Mark and Diana Doyle’s "Managing the Waterway" Guidebook, and in it  we found what they call a ‘varsity anchorage' at mile 90. Not for the faint of heart’, said they.  It was our best—actually, our only-- shot.   A U shaped wing dam (Chevron) which provided a break in the current.
The u shaped rock pile was 4-6 feet above the surface of the water
 And so we anchored.   A second anchor off the stern was needed to keep us from swinging into either the stone wall or the current, so we put that out. Because of the current, it took a lot of line for the stern anchor to grab., and we had a bit of a mishap, as our 200 feet of chain rolled right off the capstan (the part that keeps the links of the chain rolling.)  I hauled on the line (which thankfully did not break) and got the chain back in working mode, and  the stern anchor set. We had to move up until we had only 80' of line out behind us, and Knute was then taut with only 80' of chain  in 32' of water.  Not enough, but it had to do.   We phoned Hoppies to let them know where we were and what we were doing (a float plan), and to our dismay learned that because of big rain on the Missouri (and everywhere, it seemed), the Mississippi had risen 5 feet in its banks at mile 158!  We were 60 miles downstream and could expect that water to roll past us---raising the level of the river right over our little dam.  Goodbye protection, Hello current---and debris. 

There was naught to do but to watch, and so we did.  I stayed up till 2:30, playing solitaire and watching the water rise.  After that, Fred watched as the dam mostly disappeared. 
  What we were really looking for was increased current beside the boat.  If the current began to push us back toward our stern anchor, that anchor would have to be pulled in as the bow anchor (Knute) was let out.  (We tied the end-of-chain-securing line off so the chain cannot go out too far again!)   Otherwise there would be lines near the propellers and all sorts of mayhem possible.  We could see that Allstate guy  everywhere!

And lo, the water did rise, but miraculously, the current remained calm in our little circle.  Outside that, it was streaming!  Sticks and logs would ride the waterfall over the rocks of the Chevron and come to a stop, just lolling about in the water around us.  Unbelievable.


In the daylight (6 am) we pulled in the stern anchor, then released Knute and resumed the slog northward.  At about 3 pm we turned into the Kaskaskia River (yesterday’s intended destination) and gratefully tied up to the lock wall. 
Lock wall, with the stern anchor resting on the swim platform
Although we could only walk on the (newly improved since our last visit in 2009) lock wall itself, not into town or anywhere civilized, we were very grateful to be tied to a solid, floating surface for the night.  The River continued to rise another 3 feet overnight.

Naturally, the going was slower on Sunday.  Rarely did we move over the ground at 4 miles per hour, but by 5 pm, we were able to tie up to the barge at Hoppies’ Marina, 158 miles north (river miles that is) of Angelo’s towhead.  
Fern Hopkins wore her usual welcoming smile!   And we needed only 100 gal. of fuel to top off the tank.  Had nearly a full tank of water left, as well.


We departed early the next morning, and at 10 am were most happy to see the ‘Gateway to the West’ Arch of St. Louis rise out of the morning mist. 
There was a whole lot of barge traffic until we reached the center of the city, then we enjoyed calm waters with minimal traffic until we were through St. Louis.

As we moved north, we recognized that we were having problems with the props (running rough) and the port shaft seal (it had suddenly begun to drip and rapidly shred it’s carbon block).  For you non-boaters, that means  that water was leaking into the boat. There has to be a hole in the hull of the boat for the shaft. One end of the shaft is inside (connected to the engine), the other end out in the water, (connected to the prop). So a leak is not good.  
Entrance of the Muddy Missouri.  See the difference in the color of the water? It is mud. Probably coming down from Aberdeen SD where the Moccasin Creek runs into the Jim River and then to the MO.
 
We bypassed the usual stops at Alton, IL  or Grafton, IL  and trudged on to Pt. St. Charles, MO.  Turns out that this marina is owned and operated by Hoppie’s brother Paul.  He and his son are fine technicians, and Fred was very comfortable with their work.

On Tuesday morning, the boat was hauled, and several feet of plastic wrap were removed from the port prop.  I grocery shopped.

Thankfully the propeller shaft proved to be straight, and the seal was tighten-able.  Hallelujah!

Onward and upward. Tonght we are at the Two Rivers Marina in IL, across the River from Louisiana, MO where we enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner---with leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!  Louisiana, MO is the home of the author of the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery.  Locals are unhappy that he was overlooked in the movie "Lincoln", but a play will be forthcoming soon.

It is all good, as evidenced by this bird who dropped in for a feast.  There were at least a gazillion bugs on our deck!           We expect to have some easy days ahead (she said with trepidation) as we move on toward the Quad City area for a visit with my brother, Gene.
More about that, then. 

We have remembered to breathe.  Hope you have, as well!


Ed. note: I've no idea in the world why the type face changes size, and I have spent waaaay too much time trying to correct it.  If you know what to do, please fill me in!

2 comments:

Shingebiss said...

Wow, what an adventure !!! I remember when we were at Hoppies the river came up 10 feet over night, but of course we were going up stream. You should have clear sailing from here on up. Can't wait to see The lovely Young America and her crew in our home waters.

Shingebiss said...

Oops .... Meant to say " we were going DOWNstream".