I’m tied up for a while.  Booked a slip for two weeks at Alton Marina. Plugged in for the first time since leaving Lunenburg.

I’ve been here before, when I was downbound in Mazurka. It’s a good spot.

The two week stay assumes I’m going to continue on upriver to Minneapolis. I’m very keen on that right now. It wasn’t part of the original plan, but I’m ahead of schedule. It’s about 1300 miles return. That trip has been on my wish list forever, and I like shoulder season cruising. High water might stop me, but I’m assuming I can turn around and head for Chicago any time if the going gets tough.

In the meantime, some shore side activities and boat cleaning and maintenance!

Missouri River

St Louis Arch

I’m anchored here where the Missouri flows into the Mississippi. Between wing dams it’s quite pleasant.

The river opened today at 4 pm, and I got here at dusk. The river was flowing fast through St Louis. I was making 10.5 mph through the water and at times ground speed was below 5.

Alton Marina is just a few miles away on the other side of the Mel Price Lock. I can sleep in tomorrow.

St Louis

Yesterday was fun, but required all my attention.  The current was stronger, 4-5 mph in the center of the river.  I was on the banks most of the time, trying to stay in slacker current.  Made 56 miles in ten hours, and anchored here at mile 170 for the night between wing dams.

As it turns out, I should have gone a bit farther before stopping, as there is work happening at mile 172 with daily closure of the river from 0800 to 1530. I heard about it yesterday, but didn’t realize it is in effect today as well. So I’m sitting waiting until it opens.

My destination is Alton Marina, about 30 miles and two locks upstream of here.  Samantha and Sarah are joining me there tomorrow night for a biking holiday.  I won’t be there today as planned, but should make it tomorrow.

I’m thinking of heading north on the upper Mississippi after that, rather than heading for Chicago. I think I’ll stop in Alton for a week or two and then decide.

Day Two

I anchored at mile 114 just above Chester, IL between two dikes. Nice spot. There are many places to anchor around the dikes and dams.

Progress today was 60 miles in about 10 hours of travel. I’m traveling at about 9 mph through the water, so an average of 3 mph current against me. I’m able to get out of the current a bit on bends by hugging the inside. In deep water the current is about 4 mph.

I’m enjoying this, though it requires a high degree of vigilance when outside the marked channel. Today was a bit more relaxed as I got into the rhythm of things. Not much debris, though there is the odd big tree.

Mile 54

I’m back on somewhat familiar waters. I came south through here on Mazurka a few years ago. The Mighty Mississippi. It still impresses.

I anchored here at dusk. Was underway for about 11 hours – 18 miles down the Ohio and 54 miles up the Mississippi. Heavily overcast and grey, with gusty SW winds. This isn’t very sheltered, but is well outside the channel.

The pics show my interests. Lots to see today – tows, wing dams, industry and a massive ongoing effort to keep the river under control.

Ohio River

I finally got through the Kentucky Dam around noon, and had a fast ride down to where I anchored here on the Ohio River about 6:30. I’m between two wing dams in relatively quiet waters. Nice spot, protected from the southerly winds expected tonight. The last two pics are looking forward and aft from my anchored position.

The Ohio is high, but has been dropping for a while, so there isn’t any major debris. Smooth sailing. Lots of barge traffic, and I expect lots more down to Cairo.

I’m getting excited about climbing the Mississippi. I like going upstream as there is an incentive to get in close to shore to avoid the current, and far less risk in doing so. Downstream is comparatively less interesting and the appropriate route is in the deep water channel.

Rain has stopped and the weather looks pretty good for the next few days. Water level is forecast to go up about 8 feet on the Mississippi this week, but will still be pretty low. Minor flood stage is about 30 feet, and a year ago it was at 36 feet. Right now it’s at 17 and going to crest at 25 on the weekend. I can work with that. When I came down a few years ago it was at about 30.

Kentucky Lock

I’m sitting next to Kentucky Lock waiting for a slot to get down. Busy spot

The trip down from Pickwick was pleasant and uneventful. Lots of current on my tail. I burned 24 gallons of fuel going 160 miles.

It’s now pouring rain, and the area is due for 2-3 inches over the next 24 hours or so.

From this lock it’ll be a quick trip down the 20 miles remaining on the Tennessee, then onto the Ohio River and through one lock on the Ohio to get to Cairo, where I turn right to go up the Mississippi. Water levels are high on the Ohio but low on the Mississippi, but the rain will bring the water up as I’m traveling. It looks manageable. It’s 200 miles against the current from Cairo to Alton, without any fuel stops. I’m planning on five days from here to Alton.

Wish me luck!

Sprint Time

Well, it’s all relative… I’ve been really loafing since I left Knoxville, on the assumption that I’m meeting guests in Kentucky Lake. But I’ve also been watching river levels. The Mississippi is low. That’s good. Not that I’ve been terribly concerned, but a good spring flood there could stop or hinder my ability to get to Chicago.

In consultation with Samantha and Sarah I’ve rebooked our biking and boating rendezvous to downstate Illinois, and am headed there now. Get up the Mississippi while the going is good.

So I have eight travel days to go down the Tennessee, about 360 miles, then down the Ohio about 50 miles, then about 240 miles upstream on the Mississippi to get to the bottom of the Illinois River. I’ll have to use my alarm clock to get started early each day.

Today I stayed put. I’m on the town dock in Guntersville. I picked up a few things, did an oil change and disassembled and cleaned my fuel separators. They were pretty gunked up. I hope that resolves my persistent air leak.

A friend suggested after seeing snow in my last post that I shouldn’t be in a rush to head north. But I like this weather. Today was about 20C and sunny. Any warmer and it would be uncomfortably hot 🙂

So Long Tennessee

I’m anchored here, just into Alabama, and a change to CDT. That’s three time changes in two weeks.

Going downstream is different. Faster with less fuel, which is nice. But I’m not in a big rush, and generally don’t mind going slow upstream.

I’ve taken a few pics, including the Racoon Mountain stored energy reservoir, which was completed in 1978. Pretty cool.

I stopped for the weekend in Kingston TN to wait out a snowstorm and record low temperatures. Weather is back to pleasant now.

The Upper Tennessee is nice. Very little commercial traffic, and lots of marinas and anchorages. Lots of people fishing from small boats.

Next stop is Guntersville for a few supplies. Then on down to Kentucky Lake.