CROSSING THE MASON/DIXON LINE

To catch up from my last blog posting, we left Little River Diversion Canal off the Mississippi River and continued our journey South.

11:57AM ON 10/24/16 AT MILE MARKER 944 WE CROSSED OVER INTO THE OHIO RIVER!  Amazingly there was this clearly visible  LINE IN THE WATER where the water color changed from the muddy Mississippi to a more clear, Bluish-mud color of the Ohio.  Having lived near the Ohio River for many years while in Cincinnati, I never realized how wide this river was near its end where it connects with the mighty Mississippi!   The barge/tow traffic also increased big time.   We were in the area of Cairo, pronounced KARO – like the syrup – Illinois.   OH, and besides this water color change, we were also now going against the current, so the boat almost came to a stand still.  Actually, it really wasn’t that bad.   7MPH    We had just been spoiled for those few days whizzing along the Big Muddy with a speed of 13-14 miles/hour!!

There are two dams and locks once on the Ohio River that we needed to pass thru.  From other  Loopers who had gone before us, there were reports of  waits, up to 3 hours, to be able to lock thru.   The first dam , Olmsted, is a new lock and dam that is being built.   It is replacing  OLD lock #53 that is no longer operational, but does have these things called wickets which are below the level of the water and you can just cross over them when they are “down” at the bottom of the river.   In order to go thru this Olmsted dam, you MUST be escorted thru by a lead tug boat.  And at this point one just follows the tug right thru the lock, which is open at both ends.

The protocol was to hail the lock master who then passed you over to the tug captain when you got close.   This guy was a hoot and a bit of a feisty one.   Said he was going to lead us thru the lock and then once we got past the wickets at the old lock #53, he was going to “drop us off like a bunch of red headed step kids!”    So that is what he did and we followed with “Bonnie Jean” on our stern.

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ESCORT BOAT AT OLMSTEAD LOCK AND DAM

As we crossed over the wickets and were “dropped”, we noted around 10 or so huge barges waiting for this tug captain to escort them thru this lock heading down river.   They will be at this ALL night long!

We anchored long the Ohio River at LITTLE CHAIN BAR.   Buddy boat, Bonnie Jean, and eventually North Star, anchored in the same spot.   When we awoke early the next morning, ALL of those barges were gone!!

TUESDAY  OCTOBER 25, 2016            As we headed out into the blinding sun (see below)

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OHIO RIVER 

SIDE NOTE — cataracts being ripened on the fast track having to deal with this every AM!!    It is a killer……even with those expensive sunglasses.    Prep the day surgery op-suite, here I come….

Sorry, moving on.   We cruised for another 26 miles on this day as we headed to the next lock #52 ( also notorious for long waits) and  afterwards the mouth of the Cumberland River.

9:17 AM               WHOOP WHOOP  – FAST  RED ZODIAC APPROACHING, RED AND BLUE LIGHTS FLASHING, WHOOP WHOOP….. HERE COME THE COAST GUARD!!    The  Coast Guard eases on up to the port side of the boat and sure enough, they wish to board us.   I stay at the helm to hold the boat while Hank greets them on the lower deck.   First things first……”We do not have any firearms on board.”   Hank felt they were relieved to know that.   We maintain a documentation notebook that we can quickly pull out, just for this purpose.   There we keep the updated Coast Guard Documentation and Registration for Salt Lick, the insurance information, etc..   They also wanted to check our ID’s.   SURPRISINGLY, they did not check our safety equipment — i.e., flares, radios, life jackets, etc..    After about  15-20 minutes hand shakes and farewells were said and off they went and so did we.

Our travel buddy boat, just eased on by us and waved as we sat there in the channel with these guys on board.   OK —- they were really cute, looked about 12 years old and I wanted to give them cookies!!   BUT —- my duty was to maintain a straight position and keep the boat from floating down stream from which we had just come.   🙂

Lock #52  – what great luck we had with this one too!!    The wickets were “down” so we just cruised right on over the dam bucking the swirling waters, but hey — beats waiting for hours to do a lock thru.    SOON we were entering the Cumberland River.

Here we noted another big change……..the water is more clear yet , the river is smaller, there is much less debris, and we know for sure we are in the hills of KY!

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CUMBERLAND RIVER – THE HILLS OF KENTUCKY

MAN, those birds were fat — oh wait a minute……THOSE were TURKEYS!!    Two turkeys flew right across our bow shortly after turning up the Cumberland River.   FUN!!   The Cumberland River is more winding with sharper bends in the river.  It is also much more narrow than either the Mississippi or Ohio.   We elected to travel to the Cumberland vrs. the Tennessee River, as literature and others we talked to said that the Teen. River is extremely busy with barges and the wait at the KY DAM can be long.   Buddy boat Bonnie Jean elected to go that route…..they had a two hour wait.   But arrived at Green Turtle Bay, where we are, at about the same time.   Choices….. we are glad to have taken the “road” that we did.   BARLEY dam is a 52 foot rise from Cumberland River into Barkley Lake.  We were the only boat to go into this lock.  Thankfully , there was no wait for us to lock thru.  Green Turtle Bay Marina is about 1 mile from the Barkley Dam.  After almost 8 1/2 hours of cruising, it was good to be docking!!

TODAY IS THURS. OCTOBER 27, 2016           As I write this, we cruised for 5 straight LONG days down the Mississippi, up the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers to get to Green Turtle Bay Marina, here along Barkley Lake in a place called Grand Rivers, KY.

We have met “again” several other Loopers, plus a few others too.   No one seems to be in a hurry to leave this place.   Nice place, good boat store, and boat works, restaurant, and even a spa.    A good place to re-stage for the next part of the adventure.   One of Hank’s friends is coming tomorrow to visit.  We have been conducting the usual boat chores and any minor repairs that need to be done.   The local yacht club opens its doors to the transient boaters, so that is where we have watched the Cubs in the World Series.   Plan to leave in a day or two.

We are South of the Mason – Dixon line and feeling warmer already.   Actually enjoying temperatures in the 70’s & 80’s for this weekend, with cool nights.   PIRATE BUC tried to escape and stay back at HOPPIES MARINA WITH the lovely MS> FERN…..but we grabbed him just in time to continue on this adventure.    Tonight he bitched around about not having any rum.   So guess I will add that to the shopping list for tomorrow………..

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BOAT MATES –PIRATE BUC AND HANK!     ( A MOTLEY CREW FOR SURE)

 

 

WOOPEE – CUBBIES WIN AND OTHER THOUGHTS

READY FOR THE WORLD SERIES!!   HEAVEN IS JUMPING WITH JOY.  AND AS COUSIN KEN SAID, “HELL JUST FROZE OVER”!          GO CUBS!!!!!!!!!!

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FISH BARRIER   –   Went cruising thru that without any issue or incident. This is an electrical barrier installed on the Illinois River and Sanitary Canal to keep the Asian Carp from getting into Lake Michigan.

FLYING CARP   –   Rather disappointed that we haven’t even seen any of these Asian carp flying out of the water.    😦

FOUL WEATHER GEAR AND DIVE GLOVES  –   Thank goodness for excellent foul weather jackets and trousers and newly purchased dive gloves.  It has been cold ( early AM temperatures in the 50’s) and these articles of warmth have saved the day.   Thankfully we are traveling in the right direction.   The trees have not yet turned color, but are on the verge of doing so.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER – THE BIG MUDDY:    We had expected the travel on the Mississippi River to be more difficult than what we have experienced.   This river is very wide, very muddy,  and filled with debris – mostly logs and stumps.   We keep a constant watch for floating objects and by the end of the day the EYES are tired.  The tow boat captains have been friendly for the most part and helpful in letting you know which side to pass them on.   There is a “language of the rivers” , such as passing on the #1 or the #2 whistle.   Those terms go way back to earlier times on the rivers before there were VHF radios, radar and now AIS.   The tows would toot one blast of their horn if they wanted you to pass on their port side, or left side.   And , it goes without saying, that the two “toots” of their horns or bells , means that you would pass them on their starboard, or right side.   Sometimes they will say 1 bell or 2 bells , other times it is “on the one” or “two” and they leave off the term whistle or bell or horn!!    As we travel along the Ohio, Cumberland, and the Tom BigBee waterway, we will hear the same language.

TOM AND HUCK — we have NOT found them.   OH WAIT!!   THERE was this guy from Warsaw, IN who pulled into Grafton Harbor, where we were last week, on a pontoon boat he had made in his back yard.   It was top heavy with some structure built on the top level, and the pontoon part, boxed, enclosed in.  This little boat was only about 20 feet long.   Eric, was his name.   He was out for an adventure, with plans to go to Mobile, AL.   HE QUIT!!   After a day of almost flipping this thing over in the Illinois river,,,,,he docked her, called his buddy to come help him trailer it back to Indiana, and said he was selling it.   “What was I thinking, ???  I have a wife and 3 kids and I could have killed myself or my family.  I am done.   It was a dream,,,now I don’t know what…….”       Yeah, he might have been a bit nuts to do this, but he did try, and he did have an adventure from Chicago to Grafton, IL.   Next plans need to be a little more thought out on the safety side.   A true Huck Finn!!    Gotta give ‘ol Eric credit for even attempting to do this.

ANCHORAGE – TONIGHT ON THE” LITTLE RIVER DIVERSION CANAL”, JUST OFF THE MISSISSIPPI NEAR CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO.      OCT. 23, 2016

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LOOKING OUT ONTO THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER FROM THE STERN OF SALT LICK!

 

 

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, LOUIS……..

Wednesday night Hank returned from performing post hurricane Matthew work at the office/warehouse.   He was rather exhausted from everything he did on the Island followed by his LONG day of driving somewhere close to 900 miles back to Salt Lick.   We decided to explore St. Louis and conduct a few errands on Thurs..

Haven’t you always wanted to go up into the ARCH along the Mississippi in St. Louis??   THIS is exactly what we did yesterday.   The ARCH was built in the late 60’s with the exterior completed in 1966, and final construction ending  in 1969.

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The river front area near the ARCH is being totally re-worked.  It is a large park area where you can take a helicopter ride or go on a river cruise.  There is this great bronze statue in honor of Lewis and Clark commemorating their 2 plus years of exploration of the West.  Did you know that they had a dog with them??    His name was SEAMAN.   Amazingly, this expedition only had one death and that was one of natural causes.  These early discoverers of our country were very tough and brave souls.

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LEWIS AND CLARK ALONG WITH SEAMAN THE DOG!!

The ride up to the top of the ARCH is accomplished by getting into your assigned capsule which holds 5 people.  You are sitting almost knee to knee with your capsule mates.  There is limited head room, which for me is not an issue, but for someone rather tall, could be!!   The glass door closes, the outer metal door closes and off you go.   It does not go fast.  The mechanism is a combined engineering design of an elevator, a ferris wheel, and a train!!!!   The trip takes about 4 minutes.  Once out of the capsule, you walk up several steps to the observation area of small rectangular windows on both sides.   The North half of the arch was the only one open this day.   I guess during high tourist visits in the Summer, both sides are open.   There is no time limit to your stay at the top.

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THE HEIGHT AT THE TOP   630 FEET
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VIEW OF BUSCH STADIUM FROM THE TOP OF THE ARCH
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STAINLESS STEEL EXTERIOR

FRIDAY OCTOBER 21, 2016

REPORTING FROM HOPPIES MARINA, KIMMSWICK, MO.          We left Grafton, IL this AM and are glad to be heading South once again.  We cruised about 60 miles today with leaving  the Illinois River where it ends/connects  with the Mississippi.   We traveled 327 miles along the Illinois River.   We are now on what is called the Upper Mississippi.   The current moves along adding to our overall speed of today up to 13 MPH!!   I don’t think Salt Lick has EVER moved along that fast!!     The Mississippi River phase of this trip is 219 miles long.  So after today we have 159 miles to go before turning up the Ohio River.

We locked thru two locks today with a wait at one for an hour.  The Mississippi River has a large volume of barge traffic.   In the areas we have recently come thru, ADM seems to own the rivers.   A testament to this being the bread basket of our country – the movement of these grains and other food and fuel products is BIG business.  The tow / tug boats are moving these barges day and night.   The locks also operate 24/7.

The next 3-4 days will be made without “tourist” type stops —- there are none!   HA  Anchoring out will be the name of the game until we get to a place called Green Turtle Bay in KY.   The older lady who runs this marina, Fern Hopkins, gives a briefing every day to the transient boaters who tie up here.   OH __ did I mention that Hoppies Marina is made from about 5 or 6 barges connected together in a long row where you dock for the night??   Ms. Fern tells you where to dock and HOW.   Love this lady.   This family run marina has been in existence since 1934.

So — if I am not able to pull a wifi from anywhere, there might not be any blogs.   We will be on high alert for river debris, tows North and South bound, fishermen and other vessels.   OH — and we’re keeping an eye out for Tom and Huck!

COUSINS*******

YESTERDAY – SUNDAY   OCTOBER 16,2016

There are cousins and MORE cousins……   Barbara Compton Beck, my first cousin on my Mom’s side of the family, lives not far from where Salt Lick is presently docked.  So she, one of her sons, Matt, his wife Chele, their two children, Colin and Olivia and another grandson of Barb’s, Hayden, came to visit for the day.   This was a nice treat and  the two young boys really had fun being on the boat.

For those of you who knew my Mom, you can definitely see the prominence of Compton DNA in this group!!

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COLIN, OLIVIA, HAYDEN, ME, COUSIN BARB, AND HER YOUNGEST SON MATT     photo courtesy of CHELLE BECK  (MATT’S WIFE)
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DEMONSTRATING THE CHART PLOTTER TO FUTURE BOAT CAPTAINS
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BOAT BABES      COUSIN BARB AND JANET

We all had a fun and filling lunch at Fish Finns before the group headed back to Southern Illinois.   Thanks cousin, second cousin, and those twice removed cousins too!!!!!!  And a special shout out to  Chelle for taking all of these photos.   ooopppss   we didn’t get one of you!!!!!

HILTON HEAD ISLAND UPDATE              Things back  home seem to be slowly returning to some form of normal.   A big shrimp boat was re-floated off the pluff mud banks of Skull Creek today, most of the first responders have checked out of the Holiday Inn so they can now begin renting rooms to the general public, slowly trees are being removed along with  debris from yards and businesses, school was back in session today, drying out wet things and repairing damaged homes and vehicles are in the works.   This recovery work is slow and tedious and there is much left to be done.  With all of this being said, it looks like my crew member for Salt Lick will be able to return in a couple of days.   woo hoo

OUR VIEW

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OUR VIEW , post hurricane Matthew, from the condo balcony!!!

At least there is not a boat sitting next to the piano, or as Hank mentioned, “not a piano by the boats”!

I was not called for clean up at the office/warehouse.   There was water in the office space, but not the 8 inches that were initially reported.   Hank estimates around 6 inches of water was there.   Carpet and low lying items are being dried and/or removed.   It will be OK,,,,,just a mess to deal with.   Hank hopes to have everything “under control” by Tues. or so.

Hank Barrett — you are the best!   Thank you for all that you do.

For now, the lower hull of the boat is calling me for a wash down.   Have a good weekend everyone.

While waiting…..will blog

Hank arrived on Hilton Head late last night, after his marathon drive from the banks of the Illinois River.  I am holding forth on Salt Lick and in a standby mode to fly back if needed for manual labor and schlepping.

SO —- FOR NOW, I WISH TO “CATCH UP” WITH THE GREAT LOOP BLOG AND LEAVE THE ANGST OF MATTHEW ALONE FOR A MOMENT.

SATURDAY — OCTOBER 8, 2016      While Hurricane Matthew was “visiting” Hilton Head and the South East coastal areas we were cruising along the Illinois river.  This is a wide river, but very muddy.   Will be interesting to see what the BIG MUDDY looks like.  We note that this area of the river is lined with large grain silos – some very old and on down a way, others that are huge and more modern.  Grain  is the primary product being shipped.

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QUAINT OLD GRAIN SILO – ABANDONED
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MODERN GRAIN SILO OPERATION

We arrived in Henry, Illinois at a rather suspect dockage site – an abandoned OLD LOCK wall.

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HENRY HARBOR AT OLD LOCK

We do have a lot of crazy friends – who perhaps think we are a bit on the crazy side too!!  SO —– here they are, showing up in a four wheel auto versus that winged aircraft which is their usual mode of transportation….Hal and Sandy Shevers!!!   They made the drive from Cincinnati, OH to Henry, IL to meet up with us and have dinner.   What a fun evening we spent at the worst marina we have stayed in and the saddest little town ever!!  Dinner was at “Grandma’s” where I should have ordered the friend chicken instead of the catfish that was not catfish??   BUT — we didn’t care,,,,good friends, an adult beverage or two and all is right with the world.

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SANDY AND HAL !!!!!!

The Shevers spent the night at the marina lodge where they were told they could find the key to their room near a sign!!     No bottle of wine or basket of fruit and cheese were in their room, but they said it was clean and just fine.

The early next morning found us on the river for almost 8 hours as we traveled with our buddy boat, Moondance, to Tall Timbers marina in Havana, IL.  We passed Peoria along the way where we tried to “see” if Bird of Prey was docked anywhere.   Did not site her.  We also saw two bald eagles along with several flocks of white pelicans.

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WHITE PELICANS – THEY MIGRATE SOUTH FOR THE WINTER
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PEORIA, ILLINOIS

We passed under US HWY #36 —- hello Rockville, Indiana and home of the infamous “36 Saloon”!

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US #36

From Henry we cruised to Havana, IL , Tall Tiimbers Marina.  These few days are long cruising days – 70-80 miles – as we are attempting to make time.  Hank did spot several turtles up on a log catching some sun rays.   From Tall Timbers we had our first night of anchoring out since departing last April.   Moondance rafted up with us and burgers on the grill were enjoyed that evening by all, including Lilly the dog.   The next day, Tues. 10/11/16,  we arrived in Grafton, Illinois and are docked at Grafton Harbor Marina.   This is a good spot where we are at the end of the Illinois River and once we depart here and within less than 1/2 a mile we will be on the mighty MISSISSIPPI!!   Travel buddy boat is here and later on in the afternoon, Bird of Prey, with Steve and Vivian also arrived.   Wonderful fun to see them again since way back on the Hudson River.  All 6 of us enjoyed dinner at the Oyster Bar located here at the marina.  Yummy food….  The following evening the six of us, along with the crew (Rich and Tom) of Star Dust ( a sail boat) met again for dinner.   It was around this time of the day when the Salt Lick crew were trying to figure out what to do about Matthew aftermath at the office/warehouse.    Even so, the evening was good and we said our goodbyes to those that were departing the following morning.

Rainbow at Buckhorn Island Anchorage,

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MIKE AND DEBY SAGE — MOONDANCE
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STEVE AND VIVAN WRIGHT – BIRD OF PREY
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TOM (TRAVELING GUEST) AND RICH —–STAR DUST
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UNDER THE BLUE LIGHTS — HANK AND STEVE

OCTOBER 13, 2016   THURSDAY     After getting Hank sent off in the rental vehicle, I made a supply run and then went with the Sages to lunch at the “Old Bakery Beer Co.”.

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This was originally the Colonial Bread company bakery where the bread was made and shipped.  Now it is a fun medium sized micro-brewery and restaurant.  The lunch was very good,  As we were ready to leave, we realized we would be there for a while as there was a funeral procession down the main road. SO SO sad — this young officer,Blake Snyder, in St. Louis County which is just across the river from where we are, was shot in the line of duty when he made a domestic violence call.   He leaves a small 2 year old boy and his wife, along with his parents and other siblings.  HUNDREDS and I mean hundreds of motor cycles and police cars and vans and fire trucks and ambulances went by the restaurant.  There were blue ribbons everywhere, large flags suspended from cranes and buildings and many people standing along the funeral route to wave flags and pay respects.   He was being buried in Godfrey,IL, his home town.

THIS was quite emotional to observe.   This  useless death of one of our officials struck Mike, Deby and I deeply.   Our drive back to the marina was very quiet.   We waved and watched for an hour.   Police showed up from Chicago, Canada, all over Illinois and Missouri,,,,,,even from other states.  We heard that local DEA, FBI, ATF, etc. all volunteered to cover St. Louis County police department so that the officers could attend this funeral.   WHY oh WHY is there such chaos , anger and hate in this World???     God bless and keep safe his family and all those in uniform that serve us.

OK — I think y’all are with Salt Lick now at almost MILE ZERO – the end of the Illinois River and the beginning of the Mississippi!

Matthew update

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OUR CONDO BUILDING WITH DESTROYED MARINA!!!

We have news that the condo is standing, no broken windows, just power that is off.   We are not sure about status of vehicles, but hopefully they did not have salt water intrusion.

Received word late this afternoon that there is 8 inches of water in the office/warehouse.  SO — at this point in time we are re-grouping and will make a trip back home to assess and clean up.

“Thank you ”  to many who have sent words of concern.    All in all it will be OK.   We are more fortunate than others who have experienced greater losses.

LIFE —  like these rivers we are traveling on,  always has its twists and turns.   Not always knowing what is around the corner CAN be a good thing!