CHAPTER 9 SEP 19, 2007
The WESTERN RIVERS:
MISSISSIPPI RIVER, OHIO RIVER, CUMBERLAND RIVER, & TENNESSEE RIVER
Sep 19th, we’re now on the MISSISSIPPI RIVER, and yes, it’s muddy! It’s also in the 90’s, hot and humid, and will stay this way through the rest of the month (I love it!). We’ll cruise 217 miles of the Mississippi River in four days, enjoying the extra speed that the 3 to 4 knot current gives us! There are beautiful rock cliffs on the IL side of MS River (see picture). We passed by St Louis (see picture), but there is no place to stop by boat. There’s lots of wing dams (see picture) - piles of rocks that come out into the river to help divert the fast flowing water into the middle of the channel to keep it from silting. Mining, grain, gravel and coal are big industries on MS River (see picture). Hoppie’s Marina in Kimmswick MS at mile 158.5 (see picture) is a must stop. Hoppie and Fern know all about the rivers all the way down to Mobile Alabama. Fern holds a little conference with us looper cruisers (see picture) each afternoon explaining the highlights, as well as dangerous areas of the waters ahead. Fern is like the "Queen of the Mississippi", and dispenses her considerable knowledge with regal dignity. We all sit spellbound and write notes on our charts and cruising guides. Hoppie’s Marina is in Kimmswick, Missouri – a lovely little town with quaint shops (see picture) and the wonderful Blue Owl restaurant (see picture), where we had a memorable meal, and sampled a couple of fabulous (they are known for) desserts! After leaving Hoppie’s we had to anchor a few times, which is tricky because the water levels are currently very low. We only had a short wait before going through Mel Price Lock (at mile 200.8), but had to wait 4 ˝ hours before entering Chain of Rocks Lock (at mile 185) because tows (tugs and barges) have priority. When approaching a tow on the river, you call them on VHF radio and say something like: "Northbound tow, this is the southbound pleasure craft at Little Diversion Channel. Do you want us on the one whistle or two?" They will respond with either "one" or "two", which tells you to pass on either the starboard or port side. An interesting note – a single fully loaded barge with 1500 tons is equivalent to taking 58 trucks off the highways. We have great admiration for the skill and finesse with which these captains handle their tows. We’ve seen (see picture) tugs handling 6x6 (six barges across and 6 barges long) and larger!!! It’s pitch dark by 7:30 pm now, and I’m not liking that. Some mornings we wake up and find the boat littered with ash. The farmers are burning their fields at this time of year, and the ash settles on everything.
On Sep 23rd while cruising the OHIO RIVER a bald eagle landed right in front of the boat, nailed a fish, and off he flew – what a sight! We only need to do 60 miles of this river. IL is on our port side and KY is on our starboard side. We passed by the town of Metropolis IL – home of superman. Their water tower has the big Superman S painted on it! That night we anchored off Cumberland Island (mile 923.5) with the same 5 boats we’ve been traveling with for several days. We rafted with another Krogen boat called "Tanuki", and had a delightful happy hour with Rich and Marcie.
We started the CUMBERLAND RIVER in Kentucky on Sep 24th, only have to do 33 miles of this river. We’ve seen 2 to 3 foot paddlefish here. They are a once endangered, ancient fish from the sturgeon family, have a long paddle-like snout, no scales or bones, just cartilage, and they can grow to 6 feet. They are supposed to taste like ham, not a flaky fish! Arrived at Green Turtle Bay Marina (see picture) in Grand Rivers KY on Sep 24th, and yes, there are lots of green turtles here! We went to a great restaurant in town called "Patti’s 1880’s Settlement" (see picture) with Rich and Marcie on "Tanuki". Ray had their famous 2 inch thick pork chop and loved it! This part of KY, and lots of TN is dry, so you have to stock up on your booze before you get here! During our two plus weeks here, we drove back to CT to get my van and bring it down to FL for the winter, took care of some last bits of business in CT, and visited both fathers (see pictures). We also drove to Memphis TN and visited Graceland (see pictures), home of Elvis (loved it!), as well as the National Historic Landmark Sun Studio (see picture), where Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Ike Turner, BB King, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash recorded. There’s a burn mark on the piano where Jerry Lee Lewis used to put his cigar.
Next, we turned onto the TENNESSEE RIVER (we’ll cruise almost 200 miles of it) on Oct 10th, spending the first night anchoring out at Fort Heiman Cove (at mile 62.6), an absolutely beautiful and serene spot. Next day we arrived at Pebble Isle Marina at mile 96. We borrowed their courtesy car and did some shopping. This was one of our favorite marinas, absolutely delightful, with a very nice little BYOB restaurant, free wi-fi and satellite TV! Of course, we ran into many of the boats we had previously traveled with, as well as made many new friends. We left on Oct 13th with Rolf and Cathy on "Norske", arriving at Cuba Landing Marina in time for happy hour on our boat. We saw bald eagles flying today, flocks of white pelicans (see picture) migrating from the NW to FL, cows grazing and walking down to the water, a gray squirrel swimming across the TN River (never saw that before!), and breath-taking scenery. TN is really beautiful. The river is lined with layered limestone and lovely green rolling hills (see pictures). I can understand why many people who travel through here end up staying. Temperature is still in the upper 80’s, and we are still blessed with beautiful sunny days. On Oct 15th, "Norske" and "Summertime" traveled to Grand Harbor Marina in Counce, TN for a few days to catch up on paperwork, cleaning, and bills. Seven of us from the marina called a nearby restaurant to send a car to pick us up. Virgle picked us up, and we arrived in style in a huge white stretch limo, and all he wanted was a tip! What a fun night! We have now completed the TN River, and are turning onto the TENN-TOM WATERWAY tomorrow, Oct 17th. We’ll travel the TTW 450 miles down to the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile, AL.
We’ve continued to enjoy many parties and dinners with fellow "loopers", as well as lively discussions of our travels as we cruise from port to port. Great friendships are being formed, and good times are being had by all.
So far we have traveled 2557 nautical miles on this trip, plus the previous 1000 miles when we brought SUMMERTIME up the Intracoastal Waterway from Charleston SC to Old Saybrook CT in 2005. We look forward to hearing from friends and family. Please keep the calls and emails coming!