Our first let was from Grand Harbor Marina to Midway Marina, MM394 (662) 862-7306, This was a long 56 miles because we caught up with the other 14 or so loopers that were making their way to the gulf from the last big rendezvous. We had 3 locks on this leg Witten, Montgomery, and Rankin. Having this many boats we had to wait for all the vessels to make it into the lock to lower us all at once. Everyone travels at different speeds so this part takes a while to get everyone to lock through at the same time. Arriving at a marina with 14 other boats is quite the exercise of patience as well. We noticed one boat with the bilge pump running non stop, they realized they had a raw water leak on the engine and the boat was taking on water. Scary to think about loosing a boat in this dark river water. That’s why you have to keep on top of all your hoses as soon as they get brittle they can split or burst at anytime.
Beautiful morning before we caught up with the flotilla
There are only 10 bollards in each lock, some boats had to raft off to one another to accommodate everyone in the lock. This is the biggest lock on the system at a 84′ drop
From Midway Marina we went to Columbus Marina MM335 (662) 327-8450 this leg is 59Miles with 4 locks Fulton, Wilkins, Amory and Aberdeen. Columbus is a great marina, they have a store, fuel and courtesy car. Owner T Caldwell ordered some BBQ for all the loopers and we all had a great dinner celebration. KC and Steve were here from “Jetstream” they are going to be Platinum loopers once they make it to Jacksonville. And Cynthia and Byron from “Bright Angel” were at Columbus relaxing after crossing their wake and becoming gold loopers! We celebrated with all the other cruisers this evening and some good stories were told.
leaving at 0700 from Midway Marina, first wake of the day
The last leg was from Columbus to Sumter Recreation area in Aliceville, AL. MM270 this was a 65 mile day with 2 locks Stennis and Bevill. Sumter Rec area is a good anchorage and there is a launching ramp here too. I chose to do a Mediterranean Moore where you use your bow anchor and then secure the stern to the land to limit the boats ability to swing. Our good friend Rusty and Frances invited my mom and I over for dinner at their home in Aliceville. Rusty came and picked us up at the launching ramp. We had a great time visiting with them and they are such great cooks and hosts!
Alton Illinois to Green Turtle Bay Lake Barkley, Grand Rivers Kentucky
Our First leg was from Alton Marina MM202 to Hoppies MM158. We have 2 locks on this leg, leaving Alton we went directly into Mel Price Lock. Mel Price lock was interesting, after an hour of waiting they finally allowed us inside the lock. Our suspicions were correct and the lock was full of trees, Full size full-length trees lol. Inspiration was first in and they pushed some logs out of the way for us. This lock only lowered us 4’ because they have the dams’ wide open on the Mississippi to keep the water as low as possible because of all the flooding in the Midwest. They want to keep ahead of the floodwaters to prevent it from backing up on the Mississippi and flooding any towns. So the river is being kept as low as possible. We arrived at Hoppies and Fern Hopkins the Legend aka Hoppies wife made sure we were tied up secure in the 4kt Current. Fern has a Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee River seminar every day at 1600. She started with how to disembark from her floating docks in the heavy current. This was a good refresher for everyone. She told us about all the good safe spots on this 270mile trek from Hoppies to Green Turtle Marina. There are no marinas in between. Fern keeps up with all the river news every day, she has been doing this forever. Hoppies has been around since 1934, this is a must stop while traveling south on the Mississippi. Fern is a doll and we are all so thankful to know her and carry her wisdom south with us. They don’t make them like this anymore yall. We stayed there with 6 other loop boats. We all went out for BBQ it was a great time! It was great to catch up with my friends Patty and Randy on their way down the river. I originally met them in Apalachicola when I had first started the loop and we crossed the Gulf at the same time. It was so great to see them and know things are going well. They switched from a beautiful sailboat to a really cool Ranger Tug ½ way through their loop! Life is so grand; don’t ever take a second of it for granted. Thank you for all these amazing people that come into my life every day.
From Hoppies to Kaskaskia mm118 it was another smooth run with no locks. We were tied up to the lock wall by 1330. We convoyed with “Inspiration” and “Sandy Gal” our new Canadian looper friends Rachel and Nick. Kaskaskia is a lock up a river .4miles from the Mississippi, with usually no current. They allow you to tie to the lock wall after you get permission from the lockmaster on VHF ch14. This is one of Ferns recommended stops. She keeps in good standing with the locations so they continue to let you use the locations as overnight stops.
Kaskaskia lock to Boston Bar MM7.7 we departed Kaskaskia at 0730 it was cold and overcast but a beautiful morning sky. Today was a long run 112 miles; we passed many barges on this leg. Pura Vida was the lead boat so we made all the radio contact with the barges all day and worked out the passing schemes. There are hundreds of blind turns on the Mississippi so watching the AIS and having AIS is so important. We made 12.5kts the whole way. Boston Bar is a great anchorage, we went in first and Clotilde dropped the anchor once we were happy with where we were located. Good 1kt current that keeps the boats in a straight line, and the bar that extends across offers great protection. It also insures no down bound boats will interfere with our anchorage. 8’-10’ depths inside the cove use anchor alarm! We had dock tales on “Sandy Gal” and talked about the next leg of the excursion. We are now only 7 miles from where the Mississippi meets the Ohio River.
Boston Bar just under the surface
Boston Bar to Cumberland Towhead Island anchorage, MM0 Cumberland River. We hit the Ohio River 7 miles past our Boston Bar anchorage. Its 58 miles from where you enter the Ohio to where you get onto the Cumberland. The current was now against us, we went from 14kts to 8.5 once we hit the Ohio. The first lock is lock 53 Olmstead Lock. We had a government boat escort us through this lock because its still under construction. The escort lead us for probably 2 miles and also made sure we made it through the old lock 52 which is taken apart but still presents a hazard to navigation. We arrived at the newly named lock 52, its about 18 miles past the old decommissioned 52. We waited here two hours. We made it to Towhead Island Anchorage MM0 Cumberland River right at sunset. This is a great anchorage. Latitude: 37*06’.587N Longitude: 088*25’.759W Make sure you enter this anchorage from the south side, as under water walls extend out on the north end. Come in from the bottom of the island and leave the same way you entered. There is plenty of water and very protected, we slept great all night.
Cumberland MM0 to Green Turtle Bay resort marina MM32. We only have one lock this leg at MM30 Barkley Lock and dam. Barkley dam was put in to form Lake Barkley and also use the lake water to make electricity with the hydro generation facility inside the dam. The Cumberland River has been smooth and the tows have been very friendly to us. The current is running 1.5kts against us. We had to wait about 90 minutes to get through Barkley because there was a tow going up “Nashville Hunter” there is plenty of room to anchor up in the dam area, we rafted together with “Sandy Gal” and “Inspiration”. Green Turtle is right at the topside of Barkley Lock in Barkley Lake. This is a great marina with tons to do and see. There are hundreds and hundreds of boat slips and 90% of them are covered. Great food here and the whole town is golf cart friendly so renting one for 20$ a day is a great way to see the town. They have a spa gym and anything else you could think of. Green Turtle Bay 1-800-498-0428 Latitude: N 37* 00.457’ Longitude: W 088* 13.538’
It’s been a great three days of cruzin. First leg we did one lock. Peoria Lock, distance today 77miles. The day was great slightly over cast and windy out. Beardstown was our first stop; Pura Vida and Inspiration spent the night on the side of a barge. This is a great overnight spot for people passing through and wanting to check out a great small town. This is the only transient space in this town, N40-01.05 W90-26.30 Contact Logston Tug Service for space (217) 323-1290 MM88.4 There is a small fee for overnight dockage and no services are offered. If you phone ahead a deck hand can assist in catching your lines.
Barge headed up the river at night, spotlights blazing a path
Second leg is from Beardstown to Harden with 1 lock Lagrange lock. Distance today, 69 miles with lots of open stretches. Hilly terrain and plenty of water depth. The current is helping our speed around ½ a knot on this part of the Illinois. There are lots of cool homes built on stilts, keep an eye out for logs. Many buoys are broken off and lying on shore. It’s amazing how many abandoned barges line the riverbank. This night we are spending the night at Illinois Riverdock Restaurant, formally Mel’s (618) 576-2363. It’s a 250’ face dock on the river, no services but only 25$ a night at MM21 Illinois River.
Third leg is from Beardstown to Alton Marina in St. Louis, distance today 36 miles. Rain in the AM before we left, the river is very wide in these parts. Deep water 15-25’ the Illinois joins the Mississippi at Mississippi MM218. Debris is heavy on Illinois and even more so on the Mississippi. The current was pushing us an extra 3 knots, this really helps speed and fuel economy. Tons of logs trees and buoys litter the water, some buoys are sitting right under the surface from the crazy current. Harbor Master Greg will be happy to have you at Alton Mariana MM202 (618) 462-9860 A bunch of my looper friends are here and we have been having a great ole time. Watching the Mississippi from the marina is great. all the goods and materials being moved by barge, and all the debris floating by from the flooding a week ago is a site to see.
Alton Marina covered slips, buy 3 nights get 3 free. 1$ a foot covered, hot tubs, pools, nice deli and ship store. Many businesses offer free rides to and from the marina.
Started out mid morning today, rolling with “Inspiration” & “Let It Ride”. It was windy today and cold, but it was a beautiful day. Our first lock was Brandon lock, the guy cutting the grass didn’t seem to notice all the boats and did a good job of covering the boats with grass and dirt. The lock master realized this and said sorry lol. The day went great otherwise. The last lock before Ottawa held us up for 3 hours. This is a known often delayed lock because the lock master dislikes pleasure boats. The Harbor master was nice enough to come in after dark and help us get settled at Heritage Harbor. We had dinner with Phil, Pam, Tim and Karen, the on site restaurant is great. Today took almost 9 hours and only covered 46 miles, total locks today = 3. My friend Tiffany has been great help on board I really appreciate it.
this barge had been idle for a while and blew some smoke when it put fuel to the big EMD’s
10 out 10 more in, Marsalis lock
arrived at Heritage Harbor (815) 433-5000
Fuel, reverse osmosis water, cable, wifi “actually works”, 240volt, restaurant/bar on site.