Pulled in to the Memphis Yacht Club mid afternoon yesterday. Good spot to get off the river for a couple of days.

Yesterday’s travels were reasonably uneventful. I’ve had to keep a careful watch for large tree trunks and other debris in the water. There’s lots that I’d rather not run into/over. Between that and meeting a big tow every half hour there’s not a lot of time to relax.

I had one uncomfortably close encounter with a northbound tow. Normally they stay on the inside of bends to avoid the strong current and I pass outside. This one looked like he was wide and I talked to him on the radio. I probably should have stopped until he was through but we agreed that I’d pass on the outside. I ended up getting tossed around pretty badly in his wake.

These towboats are running 10,000 hp on three props. The wake from the tow isn’t bad, but the prop wash is ferocious. They really leave a lot of turbulence directly behind them. I could have gotten a little closer to the bank but when traveling at 15 mph downstream that can be a bit disconcerting. Anyway, I survived. Only damage was that I broke my favourite coffee mug. Miles can get me a new one for Christmas 🙂

After fuelling up I did an oil change and pulled the capacitor on my generator. It’s dead, and the likely cause of failure. I’m hoping to find a local replacement.

Fuel consumption from Alton was 57 gallons for 39 hours on the motor and 19 hours on the generator, 374 miles traveled. At this rate I’m not constrained by fuel capacity, with about 600 miles to Morgan City.

I think I’ve finally escaped winter weather. I had 1000w of heat on last night, but didn’t really need it.

I’m feeling pretty relaxed about the remainder of this segment. I’m meeting my friend Mark in Louisiana Dec 7, and don’t feel under any pressure to make time between now and then. Think I may stay here for a couple of days then proceed downriver at a more leasurely pace.

The marina here is interesting, built to function through a big range of water levels. Will try to post more on that before I leave. For now it’s off to see the city, lay in a few supplies and a bit of cleaning and maintenance.

The Lower

Wow. I knew there was a reason I’ve always wanted to do this. But also Woah. I could make one mistake and disappear without a trace. It’s a big powerful empty river.

So I’m anchored here

It’s lovely by any standard. Very little current, well off the river. Nice evening. I was sitting in the cockpit for a while at dusk. Had a beaver swimming around aggressively slapping its tail.

This is at mile 819. So I covered 111 miles. Left at 0615 and got it here at 1600. So average 11+ mph. My throttle setting gives about 7 mph.

Last night’s choice of stopping point was not ideal. It’s easy to recognize that in hindsight. But essentially I was sitting in the full flow of the river. I won’t do that again. It was ok the night before on the Upper Mississippi but there’s a lot more stuff in the water here, and you’re a sitting duck. Lots of a clunks in the night.

I was listening to the prop freewheel last night. Funny thing was that it never stayed the same speed. Went from whisper to roar. It seems like the river is alive.

There’s a guy who works on a towboat who has been taking pictures of Loopers and sharing them on Facebook. He got this one of me last night

I thought I was way off the channel. But after spending today essentially doing switchbacks I have a much better understanding of the paths the tows take through the bends.

Biggest tow I saw today was 42 barges, but they were empty.

I should also say that the weather was glorious, comparatively. High teens C, and hasn’t cooled off much this evening. I switched my toque for my sun had midday

There is meaning that I don’t understand in these numbers. Here are today’s from Riverweather.

Lotsa big stuff in the water. I was at times dodging tree trunks

Tomorrow’s run to Memphis is less than 90 miles so I expect to be tied up tomorrow night.

Here are a few more shots from today

On the Lower Mississippi

Well, that’s it. Turned the corner at Cairo and continued downstream. I’m anchored here, at mile 930. The mile numbering is now distance to the mouth of the Mississippi.

Big news is that my generator stopped working last night as I was going to sleep. I checked a few things, then went back to bed. I looked at it again this afternoon and got some advice from the great folks on Trawler Forum. I’m not going to be able to fix it while underway.

This isn’t as dire a problem as it would have been earlier. It was a nice day today. All the snow and ice is gone. And tomorrow looks like a perfect day. I think I can do without heat.

Back to today’s travels. I got underway at 0600 and had a relaxed day. Bumped up my speed to 1200 because of the generator. I’m in a bit more of a rush to get to Memphis than I was.

I stopped and anchored at the fork of the river for 90 minutes to have a final look at the genset and think about options. Stopped for the day at about 4:30. Total distance traveled 106 miles.

So it’s two more days to Memphis at a similar pace.

A few pics from today

Anchored on the Mississippi

I just stopped for the day, anchored inside an island at mile 78. Nice spot.

I started to write a blog post last night but it turned out to be a long shaggy dog story about a floating tree. Maybe I’ll finish it, but for now the facts 🙂

I left the marina at Alton yesterday about 0700 and had an uneventful trip through the last two locks on the Mississippi and through St Louis.

No issues dodging tows, most of the traffic around there is local.

I stopped at Hoppie’s around 1:00. This is a well known jumping off place for Loopers as it’s the last place to dock for pleasure craft southbound for a couple of hundred miles. There were a couple of other boats there waiting for the weather to get better and/or the Ohio River levels to drop a bit. There was a winter storm watch in effect with snow forecast for the evening so it seemed sensible to stop.

I had lunch and dinner out in the nearby village. The snow held off until later that evening, and I woke up to a couple of inches.

But with the forecast for today calling for warmer and brighter I set off about 0800 and enjoyed a lovely ride downriver. Visibility was limited in the snow, but it gradually turned into a nice day.

The current seems to be consistently at 3.5 – 4.5 knots. I am loafing along at 1000 rpm which normally gives about 6 mph but I traveled 80 miles in 8 hours.

I like this. The commercial traffic is easy to deal with and sparse on this section. Biggest tow I saw had 25 barges.

The mileage markers used on this section are distance from the Ohio River, which demarcates the upper and lower Mississippi. So I’m 78 miles from the start of the lower Mississippi, and from the place where most pleasure boats turn off. Assuming that things go ok tomorrow I’m still keen on continuing down the big river.

Heat worked well last night and today. I’ll keep my generator on tonight as it’s still cold, but hopefully will be able to lessen usage as I get south. The forecast looks nice for tomorrow, sunny and a high of 10c.

Lay Day

I had some issues last week with the reverse cycle a/c that I’ve been using for heat. See my Peoria entry for the first incident. The system has been on basically for a week nonstop.

I woke up this morning at dawn and found the heat had failed. No water being pumped through. Is was cold last night, about -7c.

I worked on it until about 9:00 and got it working, sort of. The water loop through the unit was full of frozen goo. Should have taken a picture. After I thawed it out I blew it clear, and it was like a thick gray paste. I’m going to shut it down until I get to warm weather and warm water when I’ll flush it out properly.

At this point I decided to stay put for the day. Got a rental car for the day, with pickup and drop off at the marina, and bought a couple of 1500w heaters as well as a few groceries and sundries. Filled the water tanks and cleaned up. Comfy inside now with the new heaters, and silent.

Plan is to get underway early tomorrow. Weather looks cool but clear. It seems most Loopers go to Hoppies next. I don’t have plans to stop there. Playing it by ear. Two locks to get through early in the day.


I wandered into to town, as is my habit, to find dinner. Had an excellent Cobb Salad, three glasses of Diet Pepsi, and a slice of cheesecake at the Bluff City Grill. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

This is one of my favourite parts of this travel. In fact, I’m to thinking I should modify my mission statement to somehow include to this.

To eat out in every river town.

The marina is quite something. Everything floats. The office, fuel tanks supplying the pumps, even the swimming pool

And what I didn’t realize until I walked out is that the poles holding everything in place are like 50 feet high

And on the shoreward side is a giant berm. There’s a pedestrian walkway that crosses the over the old flood plain between the berm and the downtown on the steep bank, which is now railway, highway, and parkland.

I’m familiar with docks and marinas in tidal areas, but this is pretty remarkable. The river is at normal stage now. But there’s a lot of engineering to deal with high water.


On the Mississippi

I got into Alton Marina around 2:00. Since I didn’t have the internet to keep me up last night I was asleep by 10 and underway about 0645 today.

It’s been snowing since noon or so. There’s a winter warning here, with a couple of inches of snow expected this evening, then clear and around freezing Tuesday and Wednesday and a big snowstorm Thursday. Looks like good traveling weather for two days.

I didn’t see that much of the river today as the snow limited visibility to about 1/2 mile. Radar and AIS have been very useful. I’d be pretty nervous without them.

Filled up with fuel, results were good. Even with 77 hours of generator use my mileage was very good, 5.34 mpg and 1.32 gal/hr. I’ll likely get fuel in Memphis, but have enough to get to Morgan City if I have to. It’s about 960 miles but all down-current.

Here I am entering the Mississippi at Grafton

And a couple of other pics, one of a tow and one showing houses on stilts.

I have enough food and water to get to Memphis which is about 330 miles downstream. That will be my next stop ashore after leaving here. There are two dams to get through as well. So my plan is to get underway tomorrow early and get there in 4-5 days, weather permitting.

Mile 47

Left Havana at 0730. Smooth sailing all day. I went through the last lock on the Illinois Waterway with no delay. I stopped at 1600 at this lovely spot.

Am anchored in about 5 feet of water tucked in nicely at the top of Buckhorn Island.

Before I forget, Bob’s marina, the Tall Timbers, is a lovely little spot. I’ll make a point of stopping again if I’m going by in season. It’s pretty much shut down for the season now so I was alone there. And I had a nice dinner out. Havana is the county centre. Quite a different feel from upriver.

Weather was nice today. Sunny, light breeze but still not warm. Maybe 5C tops. But trending the right way!

I really like this down-current touring. It’s like driving the Prius with a tailwind :-). I’m looking forward to my mileage report for this segment, even with heavy generator use it’ll be good.

I’m writing this offline as I have no internet. I’m in the middle of nowhere. Might be a good sky tonight. I need to cook dinner for myself for the first time since leaving. Read a book and crash. Can I survive 24 more hours without internet?

Here’s the only other picture I took today.

When I checked last night the forecast was for very cold weather for the next couple of days. But I am going south :-). For now I keep the heat on 24/7. The last two days have been great.

Havana IL

Left Peoria at 0830, went down to the lock and waited a couple of hours for a tow in front of me to lock down. The tows in this section seem to be doing longer distance runs, and are maximum sized, 3×5 barges, which means the block of barges is 1000×105 feet. At the locks they need to push the first 3×3 block into the lock, then disconnect and back up a bit. The first block goes down, and is winched out of the lock to the wall. Then the lock goes back up and the towboat comes through with the remaining 2×3 block, drives up to the 3×3 block, reconnects and leaves the lock. It all happens in slow motion.

It didn’t get above freezing today but was sunny and clear all day. Overall a lovely day for a river cruise. We’re out of the congestion now, and most of today was spend cruising through empty land on a wide river. I met three oncoming tows, no drama.

I decided to stop for the day at Havana, mile 120. Not a high mileage day as I started at mile 162. But it gets dark at 5:00 and I’m not going fast.

My choice was a free town dock with no power or a nice little private marina that’s moderately priced. I opted for the marina and am now plugged in. Will likely walk into town and explore dinner or opportunities. It’s not far, a few blocks.

The cruising has been very relaxed. I’ve been playing more with the radar and MFD. There are some very useful features like split screen displays. I mounted the new MFD on the flybridge and the tablet connected as a repeater works very well for the lower helm. Today I would go outside for a while, then back inside to get warmed up. Overall very pleasant. I kept the generator running all day.

River conditions on the Illinois and Mississippi seem to be benign right now. I’ve stopped worrying about major debris in the water, really haven’t seen any.

A few pics from today.


Woke up at about 9:00 to this

The reverse cycle heat is working OK, but is at its limits with falling air and presumably falling water temps. Inside air temp was 65f. I dug out the ceramic heater I carry and plugged that in. Now back up to a comfy 72.

The forecast doesn’t look great, with an overnight low tonight forecast for -7c and strong northwest winds and a high tomorrow of 0 (but sunny!). It doesn’t get much better for the next few days, and even St Louis has sub freezing temps forecast into next week

There aren’t a lot of spots to stop between here and Grafton at the entrance to the Mississippi 160 miles away. I’m planning to be self sufficient for a couple of days and anchor out for this segment of the trip. Planning an easy three days but can probably do it in two if I don’t hit delays at the two remaining locks.

My generator is in fine shape, so I’ll be keeping it on continuously for the next couple of days after I leave here. I’m thinking of getting a second electric heater in case the a/c system quits or stops working as water temps drop. I’ve got lots of fuel to get to Grafton or Alton and run the genset. Current plan is to hang here today and set out down the river tomorrow morning.

It’s been reported that Verizon service is very spotty between here and Grafton so I may be offline for a couple of days after I leave here.

Wish me luck!