It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you to what we are doing and the places we’ve been to and seen. I’m going to start to correct that now. We are now in Green Turtle Bay Marina located in Great Rivers Kentucky. It’s located on Barkley Lake and we are very close to the Kentucky Lakes region. But first let me tell you how we got here.
Last time I wrote of our travels we were in Illinois at Tall Timber Marina. Tall Timber Marina is in the town of Havana IL, still on the Illinois river. We have traveled on three additional rivers since that time. The Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Cumberland rivers and when we leave Green Turtle Bay we will be entering the Tennessee river.
Every day of travel is new and different. The Illinois river was running quite fast due to runoff generated by rain. Traveling down river with the current we were able to get great fuel mileage and speed From Tall Timber Marina we made a long day and set our destination as Grafton, IL a distance of 120 miles. We did this because there were no marinas in between and with the current flowing as fast as it was I did not feel comfortable with anchoring for the night.
On our big push to Grafton we saw flooding and some debris. The one thing that we didn’t see a lot of are the Asian Carp. We know they are around but we did not encounter the jumping and crashing into the boat that we had heard so much about. I was a little disappointed. We did hear stories from others that had encounters with the fish. Like one sail boating couple were pulling their dinghy behind the boat and at the end of the day found over 30 fish in the bottom of the dinghy.
We had become accustomed to the tow traffic and thought we had the meeting and passing pretty well down pat. At least until we got to the Mississippi river. The Mississippi tows are much bigger than the other rivers. The largest we saw on the Illinois were three barge wide and three long, approximately 600 feet. On the Mississippi the barges were bigger and the tows were 4 and 5 wide and up to six long. Some over a 1000 feet long. We were glad that the Mississippi is as wide as they say.
As we traveled south toward St. Louis MO. We passed the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, which without it being on our charts would have been easy to miss. There are no great signs or landmarks to advertise it existence. St. Louis has no pleasure craft marinas and we were warned by other travelers and by all our travel books that it could be very busy and congested with working boat traffic. However, when we passed St. Louis about noonish traffic was light and we had no problems. We ended our day at a Looper destination Hoppie’s Marina in the town of Kimmswick MO.
Kimmswick is the second oldest town in MO. It was suggested that the explorers Lewis and Clark used Kimmswick as a gathering spot before their great adventure. Just up river from Hoppie’s there is a tall tree that is said to have been a land mark during the Lewis and Clark time. That would make the tree over 300 years old.
Hoppie’s is owned by Fern and Charles Hopkins, the two have lived on the river their entire lives. Now in their late seventy’s Charles “Hoppie” Hopkins has some health issues that don’t allow him to tie and pull boats against a strong current. But is seen from the river walking off the distance and calling to the boat captain to “Just bring it in here”. (I never had to parallel park a 46′ boat before.)
In the evening Fern gathers river travelers under an awning with well-worn but comfortable chairs and shares her knowledge of anchorages and river conditions. Fern’s knowledge is gratefully accepted because from their marina it is a trip of almost 250 miles until the next fuel stop or marina. That means a trip of 2 to 4 days and nights at anchor, depending on the cruising speeds of the various boats. Fern provides the travelers with locations of safe anchorages and a suggestion to travel a little farther up the Ohio river to the Cumberland river to by-pass the first lock and dam on the Tennessee River. She said the lock master at Kentucky Lock and Dam does not like pleasure boaters and is known to hold them for up to eight hours to make sure an oncoming tow will be able to pass through the lock first.
“Hoppie” has been a river-man his entire life and assisted his father in “lamp-lighting” while growing up. Lamp-lighting is the lighting of the night-time aids to navigation along the shores of the river. It is suggested that Hoppie could be the last living “lamplighter” in the United States. I found this information in some of the literature we have gathered, not from either of the Hopkins, who were down to earth and quick to smile people, glad to share their accumulated knowledge and stories about the river to the travelers.
Leaving Hoppie’s and continuing our run down the Mississippi we decided to pass the first anchorage and proceed further to Little Diversion Anchorage just south of Cape Girardeau MO. Entering Little Diversion the current pulls the boat past and we needed to power up river and into the small river inlet. We found it without much current and we were not affected by the big river traffic. We anchored with about 6 other boats and had plenty of room.
This was our first night at anchor and Toots’ first night of having to go ashore by way of the dinghy. We were still learning the best way to get Toots from the back of the boat down and into the dinghy. On our second sortie to shore Toots and I tried the other side of our anchorage river, less rocks, but a lot more mud. Dearest was not happy with the Mississippi mud that we brought back to the boat with us. We were able to wash most of the mud off Toots, but my socks and shoes were a different story. I spent quite a while on the swim platform scrubbing and trying to get mud out of the soles of my shoes. The dinghy was also full and until I had time to really clean it we carried mud out of the little boat on our clothes and fur. I guess that’s part of the adventure also.
Our second day from Hoppies we left the Mississippi and entered the Ohio river. It is amazing the difference between the two rivers. There is a line of sand and silt at the confluence of the rivers. Also there was almost no debris in the Ohio. After a week of dodging logs, stumps, and entire trees on the Illinois and Mississippi the clear traveling of the Ohio was appreciated.
Now we are traveling up river and against the current. No more just idling and making speeds of 8 and 9 mph. Now we are running at our factory suggested 75% throttle and making 8 to 9 mph.
We found a lot of tow traffic on the Ohio but for the most part not the huge 1000 foot tows we grew accustomed to on the Mississippi. Up river we passed the new and under construction Olmsted lock and dam. When I hailed the dam to get instructions on passing the construction zone we were advised that the lock and dam 53 was open and we could pass through without waiting. We proceeded north to lock 52 and locked through with three other boats. This was our first lock with the water going up.
We had planned on our anchorage to be just a short ways north of the lock and found our spot. We snuggled up behind a Corps of Engineers set of barges and tugs and set our anchor.
This is enough for now, until next time we are enjoying the adventure and meeting many people and making some new friends.
Up next the Cumberland River and Barkley Dam.