Saturday —- Mississippi River, Alton IL to Hoppie’s

September 11th, 2010 john Posted in The Loop Part II | No Comments »

Day: 452   Miles Today: 44   Locks Today:  02   Total Miles:  5136   Total Locks: 143

We left at sunrise for our start down the Mississippi.  This is where the trip starts to get dicey. We were traveling fast again and at one point we reached 13.7 mph for a few minutes. I think that may be a speed record for the Emery El.

We immediately came upon our first lock and I had called ahead to see how busy it was.  The lock master said come on down and I will have it open for you.  That sure was nice, right in we went and were able to float in the middle of the lock as it went down.  There were piles and piles of debris in the lock so when we exited we had to be careful not to get anything stuck in our props.

About 15 miles later we came to our second lock.  Again, the lockmaster was good to us and left the lock open for us to immediately enter.  When the lock opened after the drop, there was an up-bound tow waiting just outside of the lock with another one coming up behind it.  We were extremely lucky to have gotten through both locks so quickly.

South of the second lock we entered the St Louis area.  Talk about towboats!  They were all over the place.  We passed through the downtown St Louis area and got pictures of the famous St Louis Arch.  But would you believe that there is not one marina in St Louis.  Not one gas dock.  Simply put no recreational boating is done there.

South of St Louis the river becomes very rural.  Then at MM 158.5 we hit the last spot to stop, spend the night, and get fuel.  The name of this place is called Hoppie’s.  It is written up in all the books.  The place is run by a lady named Fern and she is THE travel authority for this part of the river.

Hoppie’s has 600 feet of barges chained to the side of the river and you can stop here for a fee.  The current is something fierce so you must go downstream and then turn and come back up against the current.  The boat won’t make it upstream at idle so you have to power up to the dock.  The approach is a bit scary.  Here you are revving each engine pointing the boat one way and then having it slip sideways to the dock.  We made it.  It sure was a good feeling to have made it without incident and to be safely tied.  You should see the logs and trees floating downstream past us.

At 2:00 p.m. Fern held court.  She gathered all the boat captains and spoke about the rest of the trip down the Mississippi and up the Ohio.  There are no marinas so you have to find yourself a place to anchor.  At her suggestion tomorrow will be a 110 mile day down the Mississippi.  This river has been engineered with wing dams that jut out into the sides of the river about a foot underwater to help control the flow of the river. They also have a different kind of dam that is about 10 foot under the water.  These help the tow traffic but cause big whirlpools of current.  Oh, what fun!

It looks like we will be anchoring for the next three nights.  Wish us luck, trying to find a safe place, out of the way of the barges, and with enough space for several boats.

If any of you are counting, it looks like we will arrive back at Aqua Harbor on Pickwick and will “cross our wake” on Sunday, Sept 19th.  Of course that could change with unplanned stops or weather interruptions. I will start trying to keep you posted as we get closer.

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