Cruising

Wow! It has been a long time.

It has been a long time since I’ve let my fingers walk on the keyboard. So long that I had to look up my last post to figure out where I left off.

Four Months!

July. It has been a long time.

Let’s get started. Here’s what I’m going to do. Give a brief review of our travels in the last 4 months then go back and expand on what I thought were significant.

Last time we were in Canada celebrating Canada Day with new friends. We still are in contact with them through Facebook.

While traveling the Trent-Severn waterway we had a situation with a recurring problem that required the boat to be lifted out of the water. With out a place to stay we rented a vehicle and drove to our home port of Grand Haven, Michigan. Friends and family were gracious enough to put up with us for almost 3 weeks.20160729_134614

 

Thanks again to everyone that helped out.

With the boat back in the water and August slipping away we pushed through the Georgian Bay in 2 days and back into the North Channel of Lake Huron. At the top of Georgian Bay is Killarney, Ontario. We were now in familiar waters, having travelled here in 2013. My thoughts were to push to Mackinac and down the coast of Michigan to Grand Haven. Silly Me

Lake Michigan is not a lake to mess with. We ended up in St. Ignace, MI waiting for weather and waves to become better. Waves again forced us into Beaver Island. Then with our sights set for Frankfort, we were forced into Charlevoix. Let me tell you this. If you are forced into a harbor Charlevoix is a great place to pushed into.

With an open window we moved from Charlevoix to Frankfort and from Frankfort to Manistee. Where again we had to wait for a weather window to move again. Then to Pentwater, Muskegon and finally on September 4 we reentered Grand Haven harbor and completed our Great Loop.

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We stayed at the municipal marina for 2 weeks, met with friends and family, went to Dr, appointments, and caught up with what needed to be caught up with. We were so busy that by the time we left we were ready to get back to the easy pace of cruising.

A salmon festival had us leaving Grand Haven in not the best of conditions. We traveled the Lake Michigan coast in 17 – 20 feet of water. Very close to shore. But any farther out and we were being banged around by 4-6′ waves. We made South Haven and stayed til better conditions arrived. Then New Buffalo MI and Hammond IN.

We arrived in Hammond on Cynthia’s birthday and went to the Casino next door to the marina. If we signed up for Player’s Cards we would get a free buffet. Whoo Hooo, free food and a birthday dinner to boot.

Now off the big lake and into the rivers again for smooth cruising. Our cruise down the Illinois River was uneventful. The upper Illinois River is highly commercial and is not the prettiest of scenery but in improves the closer you get to the Mississippi River Valley.

The Mississippi River has a great current that makes for easy travel at speeds unthinkable in slow-moving vessels. We would travel around 14 to 15 mph at engine speeds that would usually have us at 8 or 9 mph. Then we make the turn up the Ohio and speeds drop from 15 down to 6 in a boat length. But this is only for a couple of days and we enjoyed our nights at anchor on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

From there we entered the Cumberland River just north a Paducah, KY on a Sunday. The Kentucky Lock and Dam was closed for repair and barge and tow traffic had been re-routed onto the Cumberland. Where when we first traveled the Cumberland we saw 1 barge this time we saw and passed more than 12 moving tows. The Cumberland is much more narrow than the Tennessee and the Ohio and water levels were much shallower than the last time we were on it, making the passing just a little more nerve-wracking. But a great day and we were able to enter the Barkley Lock without waiting.

Now up the Tennessee and on to the Tom Bigbee River. We are currently in Columbus MS and what was supposed to be a short stay has become weeks. I turned and put out my back and have been here recuperating until we both feel comfortable in my moving capabilities.

Life goes on.

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Cruising

Cruising; Cumberland River and Kentucky Lake

Our last entry had us at anchor just up river from lock and dam 52 on the Ohio River. We started our evening ritual, dinghy down, then Toots into the dinghy. We’ve been working on how to get Toots off the back of the boat and down the 5′ to the dinghy.
We tried three different ways;
The pass between Dearest and myself, that didn’t work. Toots seemed to grow extra long toenails and hold on to everything.
The Life-jacket on and use it as a carrying strap with me trying to carry Toots one-handed and climb down the ladder, that didn’t work either. Toots wiggling around at the end of my arm and me swing around on the ladder.
Dearest suggested we use the dingy crane and hook the handle of the life-jacket and lower her down. This seems to be the best so far. Toots doesn’t really care for the idea, however with me below and Dearest above we try to keep hands on her at all times. I have to say it’s the best so far. Toots goes up easier than down but she is getting better and more used to flying and we seem to have solved the on/off problem for the mean time.

Sunset on the Ohio

Sunset on the Ohio

We spent a peaceful night anchored, had a beautiful sunset, that I posted on Facebook.

We found an anchor alarm app from Active Captain. (Anybody that does any cruising should check out the Active Captain web site, it will help.) The anchor alarm uses GPS to triangulate onto where you set the anchor. Just a hint try to start the alarm close to where the anchor is dropped, and give yourself some room to swing. Sometimes if the GPS signal is lost the alarm will sound. With our first attempt Dearest could walk around the boat and if she got to the back of the boat the alarm would sound. We reset the alarm from as close to the anchor as possible and had a quite night.

We were in a good spot tows coming south would be slowing for the lock and tows coming north would be still leaving the lock and moving under the nearby bridge. This gave us a night of very little rocking.

We left our anchor weaving between tows that were waiting for the lock and proceeded towards Paducah, Kentucky. After our lecture from Fern at Hoppie’s we decided to bypass the Tennessee river at first and head for the Cumberland River a little farther north. This would add a few extra miles but less tow traffic and a more pleasure craft friendly lockmaster.

Tow waiting for the lock

Tow waiting for the lock

Tow waiting for us to move and the lock to open

Tow waiting for us to move and the lock to open

The Cumberland River is much narrower and on a Sunday we only saw one tow boat working a staging area and just a few small pleasure craft.

Entrance to Cumberland River from Ohio River

Entrance to Cumberland River from Ohio River

Entrance of the Cumberland River from the Ohio River

Entrance of the Cumberland River from the Ohio River

The Cumberland is a scenic ride with many turns and a current that is surprisingly strong, and slowed us 2-3 miles per hour. Dearest helmed the boat for the first part of the day and I took over a little later. While taking my turn at the wheel I found myself playing riverboat captain, with visions of Mark Twain and old style steam boats with paddle wheels trying to find the part of the river with the least current. Constantly watching the depth and the banks of the river. It was a fun ride.

Steep banks and deep water

Steep banks and deep water

Looking for the best spot in the river to travel

Looking for the best spot in the river to travel

 

 

 

 

 

We came to the Barkley Lock and Dam, the highest lock we have seen so far on our adventure. The lock has a lift of 58 feet. From the pool waiting to enter we could see birds flying below the top of the dam. It reminded me of a scene from movies like “King Kong” or “Tarzan” with birds flying along the edge of the escarpment. I was impressed.

Once inside the lock the ride up was quite fast and we covered the 58 feet in a shorter time than the 12 feet in lock 52 the day before.

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We arrived at Green Turtle Bay Marina (GTB) and Resort shortly after leaving the dam and found our slip and were ready for a few days at the dock.

We found the people of GTB very helpful and accommodating. It was time for some routine maintenance on engines, so we scheduled the work to be done while we were there. Our stay went from 3 days to a week with special prices the longer we stayed. If it makes a difference if you have fuel enough for the additional trip up Kentucky lake it is worth the money to wait to fill your tanks at Pebble Isle Marina on the South end of Kentucky lake, Fifty cents a gallon less plus Boats US discounts.

Toots enjoys a wiggle after a dip

Toots enjoys a wiggle after a dip

Toots takes a cooling dip

Toots takes a cooling dip

Gazebo on grounds at GTB

gazebo on grounds at GTB

Yacht Club restaurant at GTB

Yacht Club restaurant at GTB

Upon leaving GTB we proceeded South on Kentucky Lake to Paris Landing State Park. Just a short distance, 40 miles. Wind was blowing right up the lake at between 15-20 and with a long distance gave the lake some pretty good chop. Nothing real bad but Dearest did mention that it was like being back on Lake Michigan and she would be happy to get back to river travel.

Another boater pushes through the waves

Another boater pushes through the waves

There was lots of room at Paris State Park, attendants didn’t assign spots but told you to pick a good one. It seemed that the attendants were more interested in the Football game on TV and the nice looking lady behind the desk. It happens. Our stay was not bad but we heard from others that had little of no help at all. It is a pretty place that could be handled better. However, we did have an attendant that was interested in fishing from the dock next to ours.

looking for fish

looking for fish

on patrol

on patrol

very close

very close

 

 

 

 

From Paris we went to Pebble Isle, as spot we had planned to skip but stopped for other reasons. I would now make it a primary stop. The owners were very helpful and with extra people coming in called for a cook to open the restaurant. We stayed an extra day due to weather and the owners put out free snacks for travelers that evening. A car was available to use, with stores close by, great fuel prices and less than a dollar a foot slip rental, makes Pebble Isle a great stopping point on the trip.

Pebble Isle  Satellite dishes look like mushrooms growing

Pebble Isle
Satellite dishes look like mushrooms growing

Pebble Isle That's us at the very end

Pebble Isle
That’s us at the very end

We have made a longer day today, 70 miles, with great weather and beautiful scenery the day went faster than we had expected. We are now in a nice small marina in Bath Springs, Tennessee.

Tomorrow, if the weather holds, we move south again. We are starting to realize that we are moving into the real south. We should pass the Shiloh Military Area. Even the charts are showing Civil War areas. We are following history now.

Until next time we are having a great time and hope to be able to do some more sight-seeing once we finish with the Looper rendezvous. Schedules can be so confining.

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Cruising

Cruising; Rolling down (or up) the river.

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.

In the slip at Green Turtle Bay Marina

In the slip at Green Turtle Bay Marina

GTB decorating for the season

Green Turtle Bay decorating for the season

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.

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Union electric Light & Power co.

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Compare the arches

St. Louis Archway to the West

St. Louis Archway to the West

Towboat traffic

Towboat traffic

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.

Hoppies w/ Fern's awning in background

Hoppie’s w/ Fern’s awning in background

Mississippi river from Hoppies

Mississippi river from Hoppie’s

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.

 

 

Lewis & Clark Landmark tree

Lewis & Clark Landmark tree

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.

Little Diversion looking toward the Mississippi

Little Diversion looking toward the Mississippi

Little diversion looking up stream

Little diversion looking up-stream

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.

Island of debris

Island of debris

log

log

tree

tree

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.

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam construction

Olmsted Dam construction

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.

Sunset at anchor

Sunset at 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.

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