Start: Alton Marin, Alton, IL, 0640
End: Hoppies Marina, Kimmswick, MO, 1240
Total Distance: 37.2 nm
Average Speed: 6.2 kts! OVER SIX KNOTS!!! Including two locks!
Number of locks: 2
Our six days in Alton/St. Louis has come to an end with the alarm going off at 0545 this morning. When it went off, I was already out walking Lucky having gotten up at 5am. Apparently I was NOT as quiet as I thought I was when I left the cabin and I woke Jan. She thought it was time to get up so she got out of bed, did her morning routine and then looked at the time and (I quote her here) ‘had a cow.’ Glad I wasn’t there when she found out it wasn’t yet 6 am. Good news for me–when Lucky and I got back to the boat, there was coffee waiting for us!
Our boat was ready to rumble by 615 and we waiting a couple more minutes to make sure it was light enough for us to see and at 0630 I called the lock master at the Mel Price Lock and he told us to come on down, the lock would be ready. And at 0640 we puttered out and went the short two miles down to the lock. We made it about 10’ down the river when we began pulling out all our cold weather (aka ‘snivel’) gear. Our complaints about the heat had been answered. We were in 50 degree weather and the wind from the water was cold.
The lock door was indeed open, or rather dropped for us. This had doors at the back (from our perspective) that drop down and lift up. Pretty snazzy. They were down and we went into the lock. On the way in I asked what side they wanted us to tie to and was told that we could float if we wanted. Oooo. A first! Endeavor Don told us about this but we had yet to experience floating in the lock, or not tying to either wall, but just keeping you boat centered (hopefully) in the middle of the lock while you go down. What made this ridiculously easy was the fact that the locks are ENORMOUS! Gargantuan. Huge. So we entered the lock, the door came up behind us and we bobbed around the middle of the lock while the water left. It certainly was much more interesting than being tied to the lock wall. 23 feet later, doors opened and we were out.
Just after the lock the Mississippi meets the Missouri river and the whole mess goes right but the boat channel goes left. This is announced by a sign on an island that says “ALL BOATS LEFT” with a helpful arrow. Because if you go right, you run down rapids, which is bad.
We went right, passed a tow and got to our second lock. Call to the lock master, 10 minute wait while they drained the lock, in we go, float, drop 10 feet and out. And into a nice three knot current. Our speed in the canal was 5.1 knots, now we were pushing 8-8.4 knots. Heady stuff for our slow mover.
After exiting the canal we spent the next hour or so motoring along St. Louis the city. The arch, which we visited on Wednesday, was now on our right hand side and we had a spectacular view. The river was filled with barges, tows and other exotic marine wildlife; we were glad it was Saturday and the traffic was down to merely crazy levels.
Made it to Hoppies Marina just after 1230, averaging over six knots for the entire trip even with two locks! Marina is a bit of a misnomer. It is three barges tied together and held to a bluff by cables. It has fuel, ice, power and you can walk to the throbbing metropolis of Kimmswick, MO. Fern, one of the owners, provides a 1630 briefing on the trip down the Mississippi to the gulf. We, being peckish from lack of food, decided to walk the quarter mile down to Kimmswick and then come back of the briefing.
Kimmswick is the second oldest town in Missouri and is tiny. Like seven blocks and maybe 40 buildings total in the town. But the place is crammed with tiny shops and restaurants and the town was hopping with people. We headed to the Blue Owl and got our name on the list. It was a 45 minute wait so we went out to explore the town. We weren’t the only ones who had the bright idea–there were a ton of people wandering the street (not streets, mind you) on a nice summer/fall day. At 2pm we went back to the restaurant, were seated and served big plates of high fat, great tasting food. Except Jan who had a strawberry salad… We topped the meal off with two pieces of pie. Not the ‘levee high apple pie’ which was an enormous sized pie–about a foot tall of apple goodness.
We walked the lunch off on the way back to the boat. WE got the 1630 brief and now have a decision to make come tomorrow. There are three stops between here and the Ohio River. A lock 45 miles away, a river 110 miles away and an anchorage 150 miles away. Given the current it is possible for us to get 110 miles under the belt, but it will require the planets to align and the sun to stay out longer than the 12 hours forecasted for tomorrow. So we will leave early and see how fast we get down stream…
Rest of the night was spent playing Munchkin (Jan continues her winning streak) and preparing for tomorrow…