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Month: October 2020

Lake Whiskers

Lake Whiskers

31-OCT-2020 Saturday – Fulton Lock Anchorage, Fulton MS (~TTR mile 391)  to Columbus MI (~TTR mile 315)   68.2 nautical miles (78.5 statute miles)

33°19’01.2″N 88°19’07.3″W
33.317012, -88.318695
Elevation: 136 feet
Total Elevation Change: -133 feet

Locks (5):
Tenn-Tom Waterway Mile 391.0, Fulton Lock and Dam
Tenn-Tom Waterway Mile 376.3,  Glover Wilkins Lock
Tenn-Tom Waterway Mile 371.1,  Amory Lock
Tenn-Tom Waterway Mile 357.5, Aberdeen Lock
Tenn-Tom Waterway Mile 334.7, John Stennis Lock

States (1): Mississippi

Along the Way

Right up front. Real close… Suck in your ears!!
The lock doors barely cleared opening up.

Only 8 more locks to go!

Did you notice anything different?

It was still 41 degrees when I crawled out of bed this morning. Thank goodness Dale ‘mans up’ every morning and starts the generator, heat and coffee before I have to crawl out.

We are still running the Canal Section (a.k.a. Chain of Lakes Section). The river was rerouted between a dike and a natural hill, creating small lakes.

River Whiskers and 6 o’clock shadows on the natural side of the water

Water was so calm today we were truly pleasure boating.

We binge watched Queen’s Gambit on Netflix when we were at Aqua Marina. This can reminded me of a Rook.

Glover Wilkins Lock. I don’t intend to take pictures of every lock. IT just happens.

Still too far north for alligators but there is other wildlife.

The River Section starts at the bottom of the Amory Lock.

Just down river from the Amory Lock was the Maxx B. Guaranteed there wasn’t a good vibe on that boat today. Two of Maxx B’s barges sunk mid-channel two days ago and he’s waiting for equipment to get up here to clear them out. 

Barge traffic on the Tenn-Tom Waterways has ground to a halt. Pleasure boats have a short enough draft to clear the sunken barges.
The Maxx B is the same tow the Lock Master at Jamie Whitten Lock chewed out for not responding to our hailing a couple of days ago.

This section of the river had lots of catfish lines last Loop through. None this time. It did have a couple of fishermen.

Mulch plant

Mountains and mountains of mulch

The River Section uses portions of the river. Basically they took the river, and straightened it out by chopping off the ox bows.

Plants on the south side door of the Aberdeen Lock

John Stennis Lock


Our neighbors have palm trees!

We didn’t get any Trick or Treaters

Good Night

Halloween Blue Moon

Drolleries and Yuks

Why is a ghost such a messy eater?
-Because it’s always goblin!

Why do ghosts make good cheerleaders?
-Because they have a lot of spirit!

What’s a pumpkin’s favorite sport?

What’s a vampire’s least favorite meal?
-A steak!

Why do ghosts love to ride on elevators all the time when they are not out scaring people?
-It helps to RAISE their spirits!

Where do monsters buy the cookies each year when they crave sweets?
-From the GHOUL Scouts!

So what do you get when you cross a very strict school teacher and a vampire?
-Lots and lots of blood tests!



30-OCT-2020 Friday – Aqua Marina, Iuka MS (~TTR mile 449) to Fulton Lock Anchorage, Fulton MS (~TTR mile 391)    57.1 nautical miles (65.7 statute miles)

34°15’40.2″N 88°25’24.6″W
34.261171, -88.423485
Elevation: 269 feet
Total Elevation Change: -140 feet

Locks (3):
Tenn-Tom Waterway Mile 412.0, Jamie Whitten Lock
Tenn-Tom Waterway Mile 406.8, Montgomery Lock
Tenn-Tom Waterway Mile 398.4, John Rankin Lock

States (1): Mississippi

Along the Way

Today we started working our way down the 253 mile Tenn-Tom Waterway. The Tenn-Tom Waterway a.k.a. “The Ditch” is divided up into three sections. The first section is referred to as the “Divide Cut”, the middle is the “Canal Section” and the last section is the “River Section”.

The Divide Cut

Entering the Divide Cut. This section of the Tenn-Tom Waterway is man-made. One big long cutout canal. Twentyfive miles with no stops and no anchoring allowed.

Jamie Whitten Lock
The Jamie Whitten Lock is one of the tallest locks on the loop. It’s an 84 foot lift/drop. It takes a lot of time to drop the water. I got a little camera happy.

The Jamie Whitten lock master warned the oncoming tow to “look out for the 3 little boys coming out of the lock”.

The Divide Cut had a lot of interesting spillways feeding into it.

Essentially baffles slow down the speed of water entering the canal.

The old tried and true culvert

Water Slides or whatever they are really called.

Montgomery Lock

We completed the “Divide Cut” shortly after exiting the Jamie Whitten Lock and started the 44 mile Canal Section.

Canal Section (a.k.a. Chain of Lakes Section)

In the “Canal Section” the canal actually sits on the side of the hill with the hill acting as one side of the canal and the levee the other. This created a bunch of small, very shallow lakes. For cost savings in many areas they did not clear stumps they just cleared tree tops.  In some areas, the trees were left standing.

Failure of this levee would not only flood the adjacent land to the west, but also drain the canal. Sections of the river were by passed.

Good Night Neighbors

We anchored on the up river side of Fulton Lock. We’ll hit that first thing tomorrow.

For the Foodies

Mississippi does not have a state food but it does have a state drink. Milk.            

Barq’s Root Beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.

Drolleries and Yuks

Halloween is coming!

What is a ghost’s favourite meal?

What did the ghoul say to the vampire?
-You really suck!

What is a witch’s favourite lesson at school?

What did the My Little Pony wear as a Halloween fancy dress costume?
-She went as a Night Mare.

Why wouldn’t the skeleton go trick or treating?
– Because he didn’t have any guts!

Why didn’t the coffee bean go to the Halloween party?
– Because it was grounded

Golden Friends

Golden Friends

29-OCT-2020 Thursday – Aqua Marina, Iuka MS (~TTR mile 449)  0 nautical miles (0 statute miles)

34°59’30.3″N 88°14’58.4″W
34.991746, -88.249568
Elevation: 409 feet
Total Elevation Change: 0 feet

Locks (0):
States (1): Mississippi

Along the Way

I ran out between the rain drops to take a few pictures of the marina. They have a great boat yard where a lot of people haul out and have their bottom painted.

Aqua Marina is a very large marina.

Dock Life on Dock E, the dock we are on.

What a Great Night

What a great night with friends Robyn and Charlie McVey. They too are Gold Loopers. We met Robyn and Charlie on our last Loop. True southern hospitality. They invited us for supper and to watch the AGLCA sponsored presentation “Crossing the Gulf”.


Mississippi is “Where the Flowers Healed a Nation”
On April 25, 1866, about a year after the Civil War ended, the ladies in Columbus MS decorated the Confederate and Unions soldiers’ graves with flowers in Friendship Cemetery. As a direct result of this kind gesture, Americans celebrate what has come to be called Memorial Day each year, an annual observance of recognition of war dead.

Mississippi is a Shoe-In
In the year 1884, Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor, located in Vicksburg, was the first place ever to sell shoes in pairs and in boxes.

Still have your first teddy bear?
Thank Theodore Roosevelt. On a hunting expedition in 1902 in Sharkey County, President Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured bear, an act which resulted in the creation of the teddy bear.

Drolleries and Yuks

I told my teddy bear it was cute.
It plushed.

Why couldn’t the Teddy bear finish his birthday cake?
Because he was already stuffed…

How did the Space Teddy Bear cross the road?

What do teddy bears eat for Thanksgiving?

We are Super Glad we are Here

We are Super Glad we are Here

28-OCT-2020 Wednesday – Aqua Marina, Iuka MS (~TTR mile 449)  0 nautical miles (0 statute miles)

34°59’30.3″N 88°14’58.4″W
34.991746, -88.249568
Elevation: 409 feet
Total Elevation Change: 0 feet

Locks (0):
States (1): Mississippi

Feeling the Outer Bands of Hurricane Zeta

We are super glad we are here under covered slips.

1:300 pm The hose broke. We needed to go to town.

On our way to the fuel dock.

The culture here is to lease a dock longer than your boat and put in a patio.

There’s not much for amenities other than shelter and a shower and a courtesy car.

8:00 pm. It’s raining like crazy now.

Drolleries and Yuks

A Mississippi State trooper pulls over a pickup truck on I-75. He says to the driver, “Got any ID?”
The driver says, “Bout what?”

It’s All Down River From Here

It’s All Down River From Here

27-OCT-2020 Tuesday – Kelleys Island, Mount Caramel TN (~TR mile 143) to Aqua Marina, Iuka MS (~TTR mile 449)        64.4 nautical miles (74.1 statute miles)

34°59’30.3″N 88°14’58.4″W
34.991746, -88.249568
Elevation: 409 feet
Total Elevation Change: 50 feet

Locks (1): Tennessee River Mile 206.7, Pickwick Landing Lock and Dam
States (3):  Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama

Plans on a boat are as the fluid as the river

As it turns out we are not running from the weather. We are running into it.  There is a 100% chance of rain on Wednesday(tomorrow) and Thursday.

Tough choice do we skip Clifton Marina and head directly to Aqua Marina?  Clifton Marina was a great little marina in a great town. We stayed there for about two weeks on our last Loop while Dale recovered from a pulled rib. We met some great people and hoped to visit them again this Loop.

Plans on a boat are as the fluid as the river. We opted to head directly to Aqua Marina. With heavy rain in the near future dams often prepare for it by drawing down the water. If they draw down a lot of water quickly or if the heavy rains overflow the dam entrances to the locks become extremely dangerous and unnavigable.

We opted for Aqua Marina as it is on the crossed through side of the Pickwick Lock. If we stayed in Clifton we’d probably be stuck for a few days.

Good Morning!

Houses and River Banks

The Battle of Shiloh (aka Battle for Pittsburg) April 7, 1862 was a crucial success for the Union Army, led by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee. The Union had about 13,000 casualties and the Confederates had about 11,000. It allowed Grant to begin a massive operation in the Mississippi Valley later that year.

Pickwick Lock

As feared, the river current was strong. They’re letting out water. Only the nun’s hat is showing.

The Pickwick Lock and Dam

The Tennessee River goes up Pickwick Lake and on to Chattanooga and past for another ~200 miles.

House just outside of Pickwick Lock. There was a lot of other pretty impressive real estate too.

We hung a right at the Tenn-Tom. It’s all down river for us from here.

Aqua Marina

What a deal! The fuel dock was closing out all its beer for cost and IF we bought 4-6 packs we would get $.40 off per gallon. Easy math. 4-6 packs saved us $43.55 in fuel costs. Being Loopers we got 10% off our slip fees.

Damn. We forgot about antennas and covered docks.☹

We drank our beer and contemplated how dumb we were.

Dumb Laws

Tennessee Laws aren’t less weird than Kentucky Laws.

  • Hollow logs may not be sold.
  • More than 8 women may not live in the same house because that would constitute a brothel.
  • Ministers are to be dedicated to God and therefore are not eligible to hold a seat in either House of the Legislature.
  • Any person who participates in a duel may not hold any public office in the state.
  • No Christian parent may require their children to pick up trash from the highway on Easter day.
  • In Dyersburg – It is illegal for a woman to call a man for a date.
  • In Fayette County – You may not have more than five inoperable vehicles on a piece of property.
  • In Memphis – Illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag to warn approaching motorists and pedestrians.
  • In Memphis – Panhandlers must first obtain a $10 permit before begging on the streets of downtown Memphis.
  • In Nashville – Males may not be sexually aroused in public.
  • In Nashville – All persons riding scooters must ride in single file.
  • It is legal to gather and consume roadkill. According to Tennessee Code 70-4-115, if an animal killed by a motor vehicle is not a non-game or federally protected wildlife species, you may possess it for your personal use and consumption

Fun Facts

During Teddy Roosevelt’s 1907 visit to Tennessee, he was served Maxwell House coffee and coined the phrase, “Good ’til the last drop.”

Jack Daniel’s made his fortune in Lynchburg. He died after kicking a safe and allowing the wound to get infected. Ouch.


Running from the Weather

Running from the Weather

26-OCT-2020 Monday – Panther Bay, Dover TN (~TR mile 60.2)  to Kelleys Island, Mount Caramel TN (~TR mile 143)     35.3 nautical miles (40.6 statute miles)

35°31’31.9″N 87°58’41.7″W
35.525520, -87.978261
Elevation: 359 feet
Total Elevation Change: 7 feet

Locks (0)
States (2):  Kentucky, Tennessee

Good Morning!

Heading south. Running from the weather.

Along the Way

Remains of the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) railroad bridge and the Old Danville transfer elevator.

Before Looping, if anyone would have tried to convince me traveling around the USA at 10mph was fun I’d have looked at them like they were crazy.

Exactly where does the Kentucky Lake end???? At some point the Kentucky Lake becomes a river, though technically …. Technically we still have 93 statute miles to go to the Pickwick Dam where the charts say it ends.

I say the Kentucky Lake becomes a river here at mile 112, about 5 miles north of I-40. It starts looking like a river.

Fools. You should be looking across the river the other way.

This section reminded me of the upper St Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Locals

Good Night!

River Rats 107 – Anchor Bridle

Anchors and chains can put a lot of stress on the bow pulpit. To alleviate the stress a lot of boaters us use an anchor bridle. It moves the stress point from a single location at the bow to bow cleat locations that are better suited to handle the stress. An additional benefit is that there is more give in a rope anchor bridle than a chain.

Our anchor bridle is simply a rope with a shackle attached to hook.

Anchor bridle in the ready position tied to a cleat on each side the bow and looped above the bow pulpit.

Anchor has been dropped and the hook grasps a chain link. Extra chain is released between the hooked chain and the boat to help prevent the hook from releasing/bouncing loose in heavy waves.

One big tug and it’s set.

The orange marking on the chain in the picture above is a 20 foot marker. Our chain is marked every 20 feet so we can tell how much we let out each time we anchor. We typically anchor with a 5:1 scope.

length of anchor rode/chain = 5 x (depth up water + height above water to bow pulpit)

Shorts stops in nice weather we’ll toss a 3:1 scope and in bad weather a 7:1 scope.

For the Foodies

Cotton candy was invented in Nashville, TN in 1897 by candy makers William Morrison and John C. Wharton.

Mountain Dew was invented in Knoxville, Tennessee. The neon soft drink was originally developed by brothers Ally and Barney Hartman as a mixer, something to cut the acrid taste of homemade moonshine.

The Moon Pie was invented by the Chattanooga Bakery. It all began in 1917 when a KY coal miner asked a traveling salesman for a snack “as big as the moon”. The bakery delivered the moon. It was filling, fit in the lunch pail and the coal miners loved it.

Drolleries and Yuks

Did you hear about the new $5 million dollar Tennessee State Lottery?
The winner gets $5 for a million years.

Did you hear that they have raised the minimum drinking age in Tennessee to 32?
It seems they want to keep alcohol out of the high schools.

Smile 😊

What’s the most popular pick up line in Tennessee?
Nice tooth!

Where was the toothbrush invented?
Tennessee. If it had been invented anywhere else, it would have been called a teeth brush.

Why are there so many unsolved murders in Tennessee?
There are no dental records and everyone has the same DNA

What do they call reruns of “Hee Haw” in Tennessee?

Bye Bye Barkley

Bye Bye Barkley

25-OCT-2020 Sunday – Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers KY (~Cumberland River/Lake Barkley mile 372) to Panther Bay, Dover TN (~TR mile 60.2)     35.3 nautical miles (40.6 statute miles)

36°31’38.6″N 88°00’26.1″W
36.527400, -88.007240
Elevation: 352 feet
Total Elevation Change: 0 feet

Locks (0)
States (2):  Kentucky, Tennessee


July 12, 2020 fire in the early hours of morning destroyed Dock 11 at Green Turtle Bay Marina. We had to check it out before we left. More than 10 boats were destroyed by the fire. Fire fighters from two counties and boat owners tried to save boats on the dock by untying them and pushing them out, away from the dock. The energy of the fire sucked some of the boats back into the fire. Wind blew other others towards and hitting boats on other docks.

Along the Way

Bye Bye to Lake Barley.

One of those kind of days

I had really hoped to go down the Lake Kentucky / Tennessee River in sunny weather so we could spend some time exploring the fingers and bays. It was cold and rainy on the last Loop. It’s too hard to stay around and wait when it’s so cold and won’t be sunny for about a week.

The Quarry (~TR mile 30.1)

Limestone from this quarry was used to construct the Kentucky Dam in the 1930’s. When the Kentucky Lake is at it’s summer pool levels of 359 feet, a part of the quarry is 120 feet deep.

Now days, the Quarry is party central. Thirty foot cliff jumping is all the rage.

The City of Atlantis (~TR mile 31)

Actually, it’s Birmingham, KY. The village of Birmingham was flooded when the Kentucky Dam was constructed. All that remains of the village are the foundations.

Not only are the submerged buildings and streets marked on the chart the submerged bridges, old creeks and the original Tennessee River bed are too. The channel pretty much follows the original Tennessee River bed through the Kentucky Lake.

The guy in the pontoon is fishing amongst the houses. Good place to fish. Fish like to hang out in and around stuff.

Fingers and Bays

We’ve missed good weather on both Loops ☹ This is such a beautiful area on the water. It’s full of color and there are wonderful little anchorages to explore.

This tow boat and barges looks out of place on the lake.

Cemetery Island (~TR mile 48)

Newburg Cemetery can be seen when the Kentucky Lake is very low or at it’s winter pool level which is 5 feet below the summer pool level. It’s a thin strip of land with one and a half grave markers visible. The upright gravestone belongs to John Y. Whaley, who lived from October 7, 1862 to June 10, 1907. All 23 of the 28 graves at Newburg Cemetery were relocated before Kentucky Lake was filled. Five remain.

Small islands in the distance at ~TR mile 55. The southern end of the lake, narrows and has lots of small islands.

Good Night

Tonight’s anchorage is barely inside the northern tip of Tennessee. We’d planned to drop the dingy and play around but rain settled in first.


In 1938, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) began construction of Kentucky Dam in the Tennessee River.  On August 30, 1944, the dam officially opened.  The surface area of Kentucky Lake is 250.48 square miles with 2,064 miles of shoreline. It stretches 184 miles from Kentucky Dam at Gilbertsville, KY to Pickwick Dam in Tennessee.  Construction costs were $118 million, or more than $1.7 billion in today’s dollars.

Party On Kentucky!

The classic song “Happy Birthday to You” was created by two sisters from Louisville in 1893, Mildred Jane Hill and Patty Smith Hill.

Mother’s Day can trace its origins to Henderson. Back in the 1880s, a teacher named Mary Wilson is credited for recognizing her mother on that day. Mother’s Day became a national holiday in 1916.

Dumb Laws

Kentucky has a reputation of being a little off, a little redneck, and a little southern.

  • As a woman, you cannot be in a bathing suit on the highway unless you are either escorted by at least two police officers, armed with a club, or either lighter than 90s pounds or more than 200 pounds.
  • In Owensboro, you cannot receive anal sex. Receive only???
  • In Owensboro, A woman may not buy a hat without her husband’s permission. I guess it needs to look good on him too.
  • Ducklings cannot be dyed blue and legally sold unless that are six or more for sale at once.
  • If you display, handle, or use any kind of reptile in connections with any religious services or gatherings, you shall be fined not more than $50.00 nor more than $100.00.
  • Superintendent of sanitation “shall determine whether a person is small, medium, or large.”
  • In Franklin County, trading horses after dark is illegal. You have to wait until sunrise.
Not Even the Turtles are Out

Not Even the Turtles are Out

24-OCT-2020 Saturday – Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers KY (~Cumberland River/Lake Barkley mile 372)  0 nautical miles (~ statute miles)

37°00’27.0″N 88°13’35.8″W
37.007489, -88.226605
Elevation: 352 feet
Total Elevation Change: +50 feet

Locks (0)
States (1):  Kentucky

Good Morning

It’s a cold morning. Not even the turtles were out.

We decided to hang around another day.

Along the Way

It never hurts to pick up a few more groceries. We bought this..

Not this …….

As long as we were in town we decided to stay for lunch at Patti’s 1880’s Settlement. It was a 45 minute wait so we walked around.

You can tell a slow day when I post meal pictures.

My pork chop was awesome but I was too full for dessert.

Loopers! First contact! We helped Lucky Dog into the slip. Everyone stood around to way hi then we all went our separate ways. Too cold and too rainy. Antares Star is from Hudson, WI. Both Lucky Dog and Antares Star are staying here for five days. Us? We are heading south.

The heck with the cold and drizzle…..

We ventured out to the Thirsty Turtle for a night cap.

For the Foodies

• Kentucky Fried Chicken really does come from Kentucky too! The first KFC, owned and operated by the real Colonel Sanders, is still running in Corbin, Kentucky.
• Kentucky legend says that the very first cheeseburger was served at Kaolin’s restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky in 1934. (But a restaurant in Denver patented it a year later.)
• Beer cheese dip is a culinary delight that originated in Clark County, Kentucky. It was first served in the 1940s at a restaurant called Johnny Allman’s.
• Bibb lettuce was first cultivated in Kentucky by Jack Bibb in the late 19th century. It is also called limestone lettuce, from the limestone in the Kentucky soil where it was first grown.
• Bourbon whiskey is named for Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it was first made in the late 18th century.

and then there’s mint julips, bourbon balls, derby pie, hot brown, burgoo and so much more.

The state drink is milk and the state fruit is black berries.

Ride Round the Rivers

Ride Round the Rivers

23-OCT-2020 Friday – Paducah Transit Dock, Paducah, KY (~OR mile 935)  to Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers KY (~Cumberland River/Lake Barkley mile 372)  26.2 nautical miles (~30.2 statute miles)

37°00’27.0″N 88°13’35.8″W
37.007489, -88.226605
Elevation: 352 feet
Total Elevation Change: +50 feet

Locks (1)
Kentucky Lock and Dam

States (1):  Kentucky
First time we’ve been surrounded by one state, western Kentucky.

Looping a second time is like rereading a good book. There are parts of it you remember and parts you don’t. The exciting thing about Looping the second time is that the author has ripped out a few pages and inserted new.

Along the Way

Leaving Paducah up the Tennessee River.
We decided to take the path less traveled by Loopers. Almost all Loopers avoid the section of the Tennessee River we ran today. They travel the longer, farther up the Ohio River to the Cumberland River, Barkley Lock and into Lake Barkley route. We did that last time.

This Tennessee River to Kentucky Lake section is heavily commercial and known to be very busy with heavy barge traffic. We didn’t encounter any all day.

The first bridge is I-24, the second is US 62 and then the Kentucky Lock and Dam.

Setting the anchor to wait it out.
We got here at 10:30am and the lock was closed till 1:00pm, a 2.5 hour wait. We had hoped to be through the lock before the rain came. We weren’t.

1:00pm. The Kentucky Lock is a massive lock with a 57 foot lift. It was constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, is the longest dam in the TVA system at 8,422 feet. We only lifted 0 feet today as the Kentucky Lake level is lowered each Fall to prepare for heavy Winter/Spring precipitation and run off.

We could have continued on south but we wanted to go overnight at Green Turtle Bay Marina on Lake Barkley.

Green Turtle Bay

It’s in the details. The above picture might not mean a lot to non-boaters but look at the lines/ropes laid out along the port edge of the dock. This dock is staged and ready to catch and secure boats. Fuel docks like this and a great dock hand make it a breeze to come in and fuel. First class.
BTW Our slip is on the other side of the red and white American Tug.

We got settled just before the rain.

Being a Gold Looper is nothing here. There’s a Platinum Looper three doors down but no one is there. If you really zoom in to the lower right in the picture above you can see a Platinum Looper burgee.

Ride Round the Rivers

The green is our current route through this area. We took the blue section last year.

The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is between the Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Drolleries and Yuks

Why are school lunches so much better in Kentucky?
They are thoroughbred.

Why did Kentucky’s Murray State University disband its water polo team?
All the horses drowned.

Only one of us went to the Quilt Museum

Only one of us went to the Quilt Museum

22-OCT-2020 Thursday – Newtons Creek, Bandana, KY (~OR mile 955) to Paducah Transit Dock, Paducah, KY (~OR mile 935)    17.7 nautical miles (~20.4 statute miles)

37°05’35.2″N 88°35’52.9″W
37.093100, -88.598013
Elevation: 302 feet
Total Elevation Change: +10 feet

Locks (0)

States (2)
Illinois, Kentucky

Good Morning

Sécurité. Sécurité. Over the VHF radio we were informed that barges were grounded on the Upper Mississippi River between miles 20 to 25. All vessels were requested to stay clear unless they are part of the clearing effort.  Glad we passed through that section yesterday. (See the ox bows in yesterday’s blog.) I imagine its a horrendous back up and mess.

Along the Way

Tearing down the moorings. How did they get the the equipment on top? This will keep them busy for a while. There is about 10 moorings. We’ve heard they tear them down to a certain level then blow them up with dynamite.

Where do old barges go to die? Run them up the ramp and rip them apart.

Fort Massac

I’ll be dammed. Old Lock and Dam 52.

Paducah City Marina, Paducah, KY

We both bushed our teeth, put on deodorant and changed our clothes before hitting the town.

Paducah Dike Gate and Wall – Entrance to the city from the marina

Around town

National Quilt Museum

It’s not what you’d expect. It’s more like an art museum.

People who create miniatures are crazy. There is just as much effort in a miniature as there is in a full sized quilt!!!!

Human Rights Stories in Fabric

Me, I’m still a sucker for the more traditional quilts and some of the artsy.

(Dale actually did to the quilt museum with me:-)

Along the dike walls

Outside the dike walls walking back to the marina. The tops of the dock poles are in the back ground. A Paducah resident told me they have had to close the dike doors in the spring for the last 5 years.

Look how high the floating dock scrape line goes up the dock pole. Dale is the itty bitty green thing in the lower left corner of the picture. He’s 6 feet tall.

Yup. It’s still Illinois across the river. (We take a hard right turn into Kentucky tomorrow.)

New Neighbors

The Coast Guard came in.

The guy I was speaking with said there are over 600 buoys on the section of the Ohio River this boat supports. They lost 85% last winter because the water was so high.   Barges don’t see them because under water and just run them down.

Nauti Words

Sécurité – preface to a navigation safety message such as an approaching storm, a navigation light failure, a submerged log in a harbor entrance, military gunnery practice in the area or grounded barges blocking the channel.

Pan-Pan – preface to an international navigation urgency message that does not pose an immediate danger to anyone’s life or to the vessel itself such as a fouled propeller, engine failure or out of fuel; man overboard recovery; or medical assistance needed.

Mayday – preface to an international navigation distress message. It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency.


To this day, Kentucky’s governors must swear an oath before taking office that they have never fought a duel with deadly weapons.

The corner has turned for both weather and river

The corner has turned for both weather and river

21-OCT-2020 Wednesday – Little Diversion Channel, Cape Girardeau, MO (~UMR mile 49) to Newtons Creek, Bandana, KY (~OR mile 955)    68.5 nautical miles (~78.8 statute miles)

37°12’15.7″N 88°53’01.4″W
37.204371, -88.883719
Elevation: 292 feet
Total Elevation Change: -22 feet

Locks (1)
Ohio River Mile 962.6, Olmstead Lock & Dam (New lock that replaced Lock 52 and 53)

States (3)
Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky

Good Morning!

Here comes the sun.

Along the Way

We needed to run with radar for a while this morning.

The fog cleared to a beautiful sunny day. Time to put on our shorts and sandals.

Another boat load of rocks

I wonder how much a boat load of rocks is worth and how much the load weighs. The center barges are ridding low, a full 12 feet of barge in the water. Good thing it’s a calm day.
The two outer barges are filled with crushed rocks and the center two are filled with chunks. It’s interesting to see the crushed rocks only come up to the sides of the barge where as the chucks are mounded.

We ticked in at 12.0 kts going through the ox bows. With the water so low all the water drops into the deeper central channel.

You really hate to meet barges and tows on ox bows. We always seem to. I’m sure he appreciated us waiting it while he turned the corner.

Coming into the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Ohio River

UMR Mile 0 is at Cairo, IL where the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River mile 981. The corner has turned for both weather and river.

The ‘hard water’ of the Ohio River brought us screeching to a halt. The impact of the Ohio River’s current dropped our speed to 6.1 kts, almost cutting our Mississippi River speed in half. 

Tow delivery. It looks like a delivery of a brand new tow boat. The one in front still has coverings on its stacks.

There is a huge fleeting area that goes on for about 5 miles just after you round the corner in to the Ohio River. It must be quite the logistics software program to keep track of all of these barges.

One noticeable thing about the Ohio River was something that wasn’t noticeable. Wing dams and sand bars are actually under water. On the downside there are more logs in the water.

Omstead Lock did a really good job reminding us where a pleasure craft fits in the vessel priority hierarchy. Military craft have first priority, followed by commercial passenger vessels, commercial tows, commercial fishing vessels, and finally pleasure craft. We waited about 2.5 hours for a lift.

Good Night

Too late to make it to Paducah, KY. Another night on the hook. Pull over and drop and anchor.

Weird Kentucky Laws

  • It is illegal for a woman to appear in a bathing suit on a highway unless she is a)escorted by at least two police officers, b)armed with a club, c)or lighter than 90 pounds or more than 200 pounds.
  • It is illegal to remarry the same man four times.
  • Throwing eggs at a public speaker could result in up to one year in prison.
  • At least once a year, you must shower in Kentucky.
  • One may not dye a duckling blue and offer it for sale unless more than six are for sale at once.
  • It is illegal to fish with a bow and arrow in Kentucky.
  • In Fort Thomas – Dogs may not molest cars.
  • In Owensboro – One may not receive anal sex.
  • In Owensboro – A woman may not buy a hat without her husband’s permission.
A Little Diversion

A Little Diversion

20-OCT-2020 Tuesday – Hoppies Marina, Imperial, MO (~UMR mile 159) to Little Diversion Channel, Cape Girardeau, MO (~UMR mile 49)     98 nautical miles (~112.8 statute miles)

37°15’06.4″N 89°30’55.9″W
37.251790, -89.515535
Elevation: 314 feet
Total Elevation Change: 3 feet

Locks (0)
States (2)
Illinois, Missouri

We rocked and rolled all night long from the constant onslaught of tows passing by. I have no reason to complain about this. We knew this would be the case as Hoppies Marina has no protection around it.

Good Morning!

Dale kept saying “Come on Mary. It’s time to get up. It’s not as cold as yesterday.” Yeah, maybe two degrees. I’m not going to fall for that one again soon.

All was forgiven when Dale served me a warm breakfast on the helm. Home fries, omelet with salsa, fresh tomatoes and toast.

Thanks Dale!

Along the Way

No locks today. All we have to do is just go down the river, about 100 miles of it.

Selma Hall MO – A limestone castle with a four-story gun tower used during the Civil War sits among 2,300 wooded acres on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. The 18-room castle is said to be a replica of a castle on Lake Como in Italy. Most locals still call it Kennett’s castle for the wealthy family who built it more than 160 years ago.

Huge mining operation. Pulling out rock and sending it out.

It is kind of eerie looking at all the wing dams above water. The Core of Engineers has really put a significant effort into managing the Mississippi River.

Crazy turbulence. The auto pilot had its work cut out today keeping us on path. We twisted our way through multiple stretches of the river. On several occasions the turbulence spun us at least 90 degrees.

It started raining heavily mid-day. We moved to the lower helm.

What looms ahead

Good Night

Home Sweet Home tonight is in Little Diversion River. We ended up anchoring right inside the mouth of the river as it quickly became too shallow to navigate further upstream. Two years ago we were here with seven other Looper boats. The water was at the tree lines.


Illinois is a long long long long state.  To be exact, it’s 581 Mississippi River statue miles along the western Illinois border. We then turn up the Ohio River at Cairo and follow Illinois’ riverbanks for another 58 miles to the Cumberland River in Kentucky. By tomorrow night we will have traveled 639 Illinois border river miles.

River Rats 106 – Wing Dams

The Mississippi River has thousands of wing dams, manmade rockpiles extending out into the river from the shoreline, deflecting the current to the main navigation channel. These historical structures were built with federal funds under the supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some 1,900 wing dams and closing dams, both known as “river training structures” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, were built as part of the first attempts to control the depth of the Mississippi River and maintain a navigation channel.

Game On

Game On

19-OCT-2020 Monday – Harbor, Grafton IL (IL WW mile 0) to Hoppies Marina, Imperial, MO (~UMR mile 159)   51.7 nautical miles (~59.6 statute miles)

38°21’33.9″N 90°21’36.1″W
38.359403, -90.360022
Elevation: 317 feet
Total Elevation Change: 96 feet

Locks (2)
Mile 200.8, Mel Price Lock and Dam 26
Mile 185.0, Chain of Rocks Canal and Lock 27

States (2)
Illinois, Missouri

Good Morning!

39 degrees this morning. It was the kind of morning you tuck your shirt in your underwear and pull your socks over the bottom of your jeans.

Shriveled balls from the cold.

7:00am. Good bye Grafton. Game on. We are now Looping.

Along the Way

These massive cliffs were gleaming in the bright sunshine yesterday.

Too bad the sun is not out. It should be out. It’s 8:00 am.

Scalloped cliffs. I can understand why so many people were standing inline yesterday for river excursion tour tickets.

Our Lady of the Rivers Shrine

Alton Argosy Casino. I hope it looks better from the dock side.

Topping off at Alton Marina, the last fuel stop till Paducha, KY, about 250 statue miles and a 3 day anchor out run.

The floating swimming pools has been drained for the winter.

Looking back at Alton Marina

Mel Price Lock and Dam 26

Mel Price greet us with lock. A cacophony of metal on metal squealing floating bollards, sounding like the percussion section of a junior high orchestra warming up.

Mike’s Inc. He fixes the big stuff. He had 2 tows on dry docks.

Chemical barge. Thank goodness we haven’t encountered any of these at the locks yet. They take a looooooooong time to clear.

Mo River 

Mighty MO confluence with the Mississippi River.

Half a mile down from the confluence is the entry to the Chain of Rocks Canal and Lock 27. Lock 27 is the last and southmost lock on the Mississippi River. There is no dam. It’s a bypass for a rocky section of river.

Passing City of Caseville on ‘two bells’ in the Chain of Rocks Canal. Fingerling Asian Carp were jumping along the side of yes dear

Chain of Rocks Lock 27. We are entering the small ships locks on the right. The up river gate has been submerged for us to pass over. You can see the gate in lock on the left.

The Chain of Rocks Lock and Dam 27 was also not without music. It was much more melodic sounding like timpani, kettle drums.

St Louis, MO

Selfie attempts

Continuing on

Happy at Hoppies

Hoppies Marina is legendary, nostalgic stop on the Loop that has been in operation since 1934. It’s a no frills operation.

Tragedy struck Hoppies in 2018 when their gas barge and another sank, just before Dale and I started our first Loop. Tragedy struck yet again in Feburary 2019 when 2 additional barges sank. They are now down to very limited docking for transit boaters, no fuel options. Hoppies Marina is the knowledge of the river and everyone knows if they stop here they will obtain all the information they could possibly need or want.

The current water is 47 feet down from picture on Google Maps taken two years ago.

There is a definite need for Hoppies to continue to operate. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to support them getting their marina and fuel stop fully functional.

We are here on the worst day ever. It’s the worst weather of our trip (COLD and rainy) and the worst day of the week for the little community of Kimmswick.   ALL of Kimmswick is closed on Mondays. Bummer. The Blue Owl Restaurant is closed so I won’t get a slice of the famous Levee Hight Apple Pie I’ve been dreaming of.

On the bright side Hoppies had electricity (no other amenities). Dale watched football and I ran the heater.

We now have bragging rights for staying here.

The Neighbors

River Rats 105 – Two Bells

One Bell/One Whistle (one short blast ) – I’m going to pass you on my right (starboard).
Two Bells/Two Whistle (two short blast) – I’m going pass you on my left (port).
One Prolonged Blast – I’m leaving a dock or departing my slip.
Three Short Blasts – I’m backing up
Five Short Blasts – WTF or Danger.

What is America’s Great Loop?

There are different sounds for various movements on the water. Here’s the short explanation for a few common sounds:

The Great Loop is a 6,000+ mile continuous waterway that that includes part of the Atlantic, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. Loopers (recreational mariners) can enter the loop at any point at anytime. Most Loopers take a year, following the seasons, to circumnavigate it; Fall the west side, Winter the south, Spring the East and Summer the north.

We entered the Loop at Grafton, IL and will complete it there.

What’s the plan?

A few people have asked us “What’s the plan?”
Our immediate plan is to get to Key West by December 15. We have reservations at Stock Island Marina for a month and then at John Pennenkamp State Park for two weeks. After that we are not sure. Dale says the Bahamas.

Half the fun on Sunday is looking for the Vikings Game

Half the fun on Sunday is looking for the Vikings Game

18-OCT-2020 Sunday – Grafton Harbor, Grafton IL (IL WW mile 0)    0 nautical miles (0 statute miles)

38°58’04.7″N 90°26’19.7″W
38.967982, -90.438794
Elevation: 413 feet
Total Elevation Change: 0 feet

Good Morning!

First thing on today’s agenda was to install the new VHF radio Calvin, one of the houseboat guys, kindly picked up for us yesterday when he was in St Charles, MO.

Jeff helped us test the new radio out once Dale installed it.

The radio worked on first try. Dang, you are good Dale.

Half the fun on Sunday is looking for the Vikings Game

The first stop didn’t have the Vikings game. We still stayed for a beer and an hors devours because they tried so hard to find it on their cable TV.

Probably the most unhealthy green beans I’ve ever eaten, but they were good. A side benefit of sitting at the bar is that if the bartender accidently pours the wrong beer she gives it to a patron. Dale scored a beer.

Socially distanced slot machines at the bar. Clear plastic partitions between the stools.

We wandered on in search of the Vikings game.

None of these places looked like they would have the Vikings game.

We never found the Vikings game but my FitBit was happy.

Good Night

Planning for out next Loop.

River Rats 104 – At the Helm


‘True compass’ autopilot, depth finder, docking gloves, magnetic compass

Coffee and the radar controls

Now a new VHF radio! It’s about half the size of the old one.

And then there’s the gages like fuel gage, temperature gage, rpm tachometer, volt meter and oil pressure.

Saturday Night in Grafton, IL

Saturday Night in Grafton, IL

17-OCT-2020 Saturday – Sterling Island, Elsberry MO  (~UMR mile 251)  to  Grafton Harbor, Grafton IL (IL WW mile 0)    29.7 nautical miles (~34.2 statute miles)

*Illinois Waterwater (IL WW)

38°58’04.7″N 90°26’19.7″W
38.967982, -90.438794
Elevation: 413 feet
Total Elevation Change: 20 feet

Locks (1)
Lock 25 – mile 241, Winfield, MO

States (2)
Illinois, Missouri

Good Morning!

A “seaman’s eye” is one of the best navigational tools. We anchored where the depth marker is on the below chart. Chart read 0-1 feet and the depth finder briefly read 577 feet. The water depth was really about 8 feet.

It was a great little anchorage to escape the wind.

Along the Way

These would be normal houses in any Minnesota neighbor IF they didn’t have the legs.

Land owners. Not quite like cabins on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.

Fruitl, IL Golden Eagle Ferry. It carries a maximum of 15 cars, 3×5. Ferries are still used in places where bridges are needed and local traffic is not busy enough to cost justify it.

WOO WOO!! Grafton IL! This is where we enter America’s Great Loop.

Looking at the day use marina from our end cap dock slip. This marina is hopping stop.

It takes a lot of wind to fly this flag. It’s 21 mph again today.

OMG. They beat us here. How did that happen???

First on the agenda after checking in was clean the boat. Dale swabbed the decks and I worked on the inside and bright work.

Long walk to our slip at the waaaaaay end.

Cool floaties

Saturday night in Grafton IL

The Loading Dock Bar. This bar would have been a ‘COVID-19 super spreader’ if not for the 21 mph wind. There was a huge wedding reception going on, about 5 bachelorette parties and 2 or 3 birthday parties.

‘The Yacht Rockers’ band was awesome.

Definitely a younger person’s bar judging by the green drinks.

We love this town. Adding it to the ‘Best of the Best’ List.

Drolleries and Yuks

A weasel walks into a bar.
The bartenders says “Wow! I’ve never served a weasel. What can I get you?” “Pop,” goes the weasel.

So close but yet so far

So close but yet so far

16-OCT-2020 Friday – Kings Island (a.k.a. Tower Island), Hannibal, MO (~UMR mile 306) to Sterling Island, Elsberry MO  (~UMR mile 251)   50.7 nautical miles (~58.4 statute miles)

39°07’36.2″N 90°42’09.2″W
39.126717, -90.702550
Elevation: 433 feet
Total Elevation Change: 27 feet

Locks (2)
Lock 22 – mile 301, Saverton MO (no Lock 23)
Lock 24 – mile 273, Clarksville, MO

States (2)
Illinois, Missouri

Good Morning!

Hannibal, MO The Land of Mark Twain

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do that by the ones you did.  So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ Mark Twain

Along the Way

You always hear about someone going down the River in a pontoon….

Like minded individuals. They’ve got motorcycles. We’ve got scooters. We are both heading south.

Look who just showed up for Lock 22 as the doors were closing.

As we free floated through the lock we got to chat with them a little bit. Jeff and Calvin are from Colorado and left from Hudson, WI. They planned go all the way to New Orleans but are now thinking about stopping at Alton as they feel the Lower Mississippi River will be too much for their 1000 pounds of motorcycle and ?? pounds of lumber on their pontoon. It’s not even a tri-toon. 

Having fun. Sun is warm, engines purring as they should, we’ve even got a gentle tail wind.

Twin River Marina fuel stop. Yeah! We made it and still have just under half a tank. Thanks Clay Stark Logan for the recommendation to stop here. You were right. Great marina and really friendly people.

Threading the needle.  Helper tow on the left assisting the primary tow on the right through the swing bridge.

So close but so far away

We won’t make it to the Loop at Grafton today. ☹ A two hour wait for a tug to clear at Lock 24. There is lots of tow traffic especially now that the Illinois Waterway has reopened after being closed all summer. We can hear them calling the Locks jockeying for queue position. Great time to do the morning dishes and put air in a couple of fenders.

We set a short picnic scope (3:1) on the anchor while we waited it out. The below picture illustrates exactly why you need to be careful when you set a short anchor scope. We dragged about 140 feet due to the wind. (We could have reset it but were too lazy)

River Rats 103 – Locks and Dams

If your are going to travel on major rivers in a boat you need to know how to lock through a dam. Most locks have two chambers, the main chamber and a smaller auxiliary chamber. Their ends are always painted bright yellow, making it easy to see which side the river the lock is on from a distance.

If you don’t have a VHF radio to hail the lock, usually channel 14, you can pull the chain to let them know you need passage. Thank goodness for our hand held VHF radio.

There is a traffic light at the entrance to the lock. You need a green light for permission to enter the lock.

Locks with short lifts/drops use lines to secure vessels. Floating bollards are needed in locks with longer lifts/drops as they lift/drop with the water level.

Sometimes Lock Masters offer the option to free float and not tie off. Our preference is to tie off.

Leaving the lock. Lock door open to the up river side. The Lock Master will blow a horn for permission to exit the lock.

A helper tow is at the ready if a tow needs assistance getting in or out of the lock due to high winds or other issues.

As for the the dam part….

Dam maintenance

Up river view

The dam gates on the right and left are submersible Tainter gates which are used to control water flow. The ones in the center are non-submersible roller gates used to both control control the flow of water and manage erosion damage.

LOL Many of the locks on the Upper Mississippi River resemble the Corp of Engineers flag.

Drolleries and Yuks

What did the fish say when he ran into a wall?

A cold day on the water is better than a good day at work

A cold day on the water is better than a good day at work

15-OCT-2020 Thursday – Fort Madison Drawbridge, Fort Madison, IA (~UMR mile 386)  to Kings Island(a.k.a. Tower Island), Hannibal, MO (~UMR mile 306)    69.9 nautical miles (80.5 statute miles)

39°42’01.4″N 91°19’28.4″W
39.700390, -91.324558
Elevation: 460 feet
Total Elevation Change: -59 feet

Locks (3)
Mississippi River Lock 19 – mile 364, Keokuk, IA
Mississippi River Lock 20 – mile 343, Canton, MI
Mississippi River Lock 21 – mile 32,5 Quincy, IL

States (3)
Iowa, Illinois, Missouri

Good Morning!

Anchor pulled and were on our way at 7am for an early start. We really wanted to put miles on today. The Fort Madison Swing Bridge that was closed for high winds had reopened.

Along the Way

Our timing for the Fort Madison Swing Bridge was off. Trains were crossing from both directions at the same time.

Vehicles crossing on the top level have to stop to pay a toll at a booth in the center of the swing.

We hailed the bridge tender for a swing. He would neither reply to our hailing or open the bridge. One of those kinda guys…… After about 15 minutes later another train came through. 15 minutes later, another one. And then another one. And then another one. And then another one…….

The bridge appeared to be stuck. There were a bunch of guys standing around looking at something and pounding on it.

Every time another train came through the workers scrambled to clear the bridge.

We tried calling the local Coast Guard number to get the status on the bridge. No one answered any of the multiple times we tried calling. It was nearly impossible to find but, Dale finally found the Fort Madison non-emergency police phone number. The police connected us with the bridge. Apparently, the microphone on our helm VHF radio quit working. We were not transmitting. Ugh! It was ok yesterday. Fortunately, the lower helm VHF is working and our hand-held is too.

After two and a half hours we were on our way again just before 10am. So much for our early start.

When we check fuel this morning the tank was about 5/8 full. The next place we can get diesel is either the Keokuk Yacht Club 20 miles away or Two Rivers is at 283 approx 120 miles.

Keokuk is on the Mississippi River at the very southeastern edge of Iowa.

Lock 19 at Keokuk – 38 foot drop

For the most part the Mississippi River in areas we’ve traveled the past two days is not very scenic and frankly uninteresting, unless of course you like trains, tows and barges.

Houses between the levee and the river.

There is a large fleeting area in Quincy, IL

Hannibal, MO Railroad Lift Bridge. The train rails to the bridge come straight out of a tunnel. Rails also run north south along the river.

Good Night

You’re getting south if you’re in Hannibal, MO.  To me Hannibal is in the south.  It’s still cold.

Nauti Words

Levees protect land that is normally dry but that may be flooded when rain or melting snow raises the water level in a body of water, such as a river. Dike
Dikes protect land that would naturally be underwater most of the time.

Levees and dikes look alike, and sometimes the terms levee and dike are used interchangeably.

River Rat 102 – Nuns and Cans

Aids to Navigation System(ATONS) are buoys and other markers that guide vessels along waterways.

A pointy red buoy is called a nun. A green buoy is a can. Red nuns are even numbered and green cans are odd numbered. When looking at nuns and cans in distance it’s often hard to discern colors but you can generally tell shapes. The shapes must really help out color blind river pilots.
Daymarks are signs (red triangles and green squares) that are posted on structures that are on land or in the water and are typically used as channel or hazard markers. The same color rules apply to daymarks as to buoys.

Games people play

Kick the Can or Hugging the Nun.
When piloting long stretches of water we like to set the autopilot pointed at a distant buoy to see how close we can get to it with out making a course correction.  Sometimes we get pretty close.
Blow the Man Down

Blow the Man Down

14-OCT-2020 Wednesday – Rock River, Rock Island, IL (~UMR mile 479)  to just north of the Fort Madison Drawbridge, Fort Madison, IA (~UMR mile 386)      80.0 nautical miles (93.0 statute miles)

40°38’35.6″N 91°12’43.4″W
40.643209, -91.212046
Elevation: 519 feet
Total Elevation Change: -31 feet

Locks (3)
Mississippi River Lock 16 – mile 457, Muscatine, IA
Mississippi River Lock 17 – mile 347, New Boston, IL
Mississippi River 18 – mile 410, Gladstone,  IL and Burlington, IA

States (2)
Iowa, Illinois

Good Morning!

There’s a slight chance of snow in the Quad Cities cities for tomorrow. The anchor was pulled and we were putting water behind us before 7:00 am. Sunrise was 7:14am.

I-280 bridge

HUGE industrial section on the Iowa side just south of I-280. Trains, trucks and tows coming and going.

Tow and Barge Servicing

Poor planning. He should have moved his boat before the water dropped.

Coast Guard vessel checking on and replacing nun and can buoys.

Muscatine, IA – part of the Quad Cities

Unloading coal.
The scoop shovels drops it in the funnel looking then and the conveyor belt moves it up the hill.

Ugly town. Not your quaint little river town like in Minnesota. Check out the giant cement slabs on the bank. Wonder how he got them in there and where did he get them?

Duck blinds

Burlington, IA

Pretty significant Core of Engineers dredging at statute mile 389.

Here’s an odd one

Blow the man down

Wind predicted for today was 20 mph from the South with gusts to 40. We’d have stayed put any other day. It was so gusty almost knocked me down and nearly blew my glasses off my face a couple of times while we were locking.

There were 2-3 foot ways for most of the day with a couple of nearly 4s tossed in.

We would have continued further for another hour or so but the Coast Guard closed the Fort Madison Drawbridge to all river navigation due to high winds.  It’s a 13 foot bridge. We need it to swing.

Good Night

We are 140 nautical miles (168 statue miles) from the Illinois River Confluence where we will pick up America’s Great Loop at Grafton, IL. To date we’ve traveled 386.7 nautical miles (445 statue miles).

My FitBit step count is embarrassing. I’m used to getting around 10k steps a day.  It’s hard to get steps in when we are anchoring out and non-stop traveling. It’s too cold to swim. Dale’s using the free weights. I’m still thinking about using them. I’ll start tomorrow.

On the bright side both Dale and I are sleeping well from the invigorating fresh air.


The Mississippi River System is the 3rd largest river system on the world. It flows 2,348 miles from Lake Itasca, MN to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. It is divided into two sections: the Upper Mississippi River and the Lower Mississippi River. The navigable section of the Upper Mississippi River flows from Minneapolis, MN to the confluence of the Ohio River at Cairo, IL (statute mile ).

In the 1920s, the Corp of Engineers began building a series of locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River to better serve navigation over the 420 foot elevation drop between the first lock to the last lock. The Lower Mississippi River, starting at Ohio River at Cairo, IL free flows 954 feet to the Gulf of Mexico. There are no locks or dams on it.

Nauti Words

Blow the man down
Blow the Man Down is an English sea shanty. The lyric “Blow the man down” most likely refers to a common mishap at sea during the age of sail wherein a strong, sudden gale catches a ship with its topsails fully set – the force of the wind, depending upon the load and balance of the ship’s cargo, can actually “blow the man down”, or blow the man-o’-war down into the water, partially capsizing it.

A sea shanty is a work song closely connected to a form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song.

Better Days Ahead

Better Days Ahead

13-OCT-2020 Tuesday – Pleasant Creek Recreational Area, Belleve, IA (~UMR mile 553) to Rock River, Rock Island, IL (~UMR mile 479)       64.3 nautical miles (74.0 statute miles)

41°28’56.6″N 90°36’52.0″W
41.482390, -90.614445
Elevation: 550 feet
Total Elevation Change: -40 feet

Locks (3)
Mississippi River Lock 13 – mile 522, above Fulton, IL and Clinton, IA
Mississippi River Lock 14 – mile 493, LeClaire, IA
Mississippi River Lock 15 – mile 483, Rock Island, IL and Davenport, IA

States (2)
Iowa, Illinois

Good Morning!

Sometime during the night the wind died down and we awoke to beautiful calm, but nippy morning.

How did I miss it? Yesterday was Columbus Day (I prefer Indigenous People Day) and also known as Thanksgiving by our Canadian friends. Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Better Days Ahead

Beautiful sun rise but it was a tough morning. We awoke to a train and ate the last 2 pieces of the crack bread

Today was brutal. Straight into the sun all day long. All the wind blowing south yesterday turned around and blew north today. We had 2-3 foot wave coming at us for part of the day. The combination of wind and waves was strong enough to send spray into the upper helm. It’s a stinking river! Not a lake! Where did these waves come from! Dale got cranky. He hates the wind.

Mary got cranky. The last sound of the day was a train.

Along the Way

End of summer for acres of aquatic plants (water lilies?) at season end near Gomers Lake statue mile  527.

Now that the weekend is over we’ve pretty much had the river to ourselves except for the commercial traffic.

Judging from the houses along the river, Pool 13 must flood frequently. They are all on stilts.

Camanche, IA river scaping

Parts of today’s section of the Mississippi River was industrial. Too uninteresting for pictures. I did take one…

They are building a new bridge Moline, IA. They were working on the first span in 2019 when we came through  Wonder if they are working today due to the high winds. 

Davenport IA. Childhood home of our out good friend Red Gallagher

Good Night

LOL. We are coincidentally in the same anchorage we were when we returned to Minnesota from out Gold Loop (2018/2019) Aug 29, 2019 Thursday.

I’m thankful that the wind finally laid down around 8:00pm.


Wow. Davenport is a historically happening spot. Here’s a few ditties.

Between Davenport and Rock Island is Arsenal Island, which houses the Rock Island Arsenal, the largest government-owned weapons manufacturer in the entire United States.

Walt Disney applied for his first job in Davenport, IA… he was turned down.

Davenport is the birthplace of Chiropractic. B.J. Palmer, founder of Chiropractics, performed the first spinal adjustment on September 10, 1895.

Cigar manufacturing was the major industry to employ women workers at the turn-of-the-century in Davenport

Vermont born blacksmith, John Deere, began making his self- scouringsteel plows in Moline in 1847. He was soon producing 1,000 plows annually.

At least the boat got washed

At least the boat got washed

12-OCT-2020 Monday – Jack Oak Island, Cassville, WI (~UMR mile 606) to Pleasant Creek Recreational Area, Belleve, IA (~UMR mile 553)   71 nautical miles (81.7 statute)

42°12’52.5″N 90°22’45.3″W
42.214571, -90.379259
Elevation: 590 feet
Total Elevation Change: -18 feet

Locks (2)
Mississippi River Lock 11 – mile 583, Dubuque, IA
Mississippi River Lock 12 – mile 557, Bellevue, IA

States (3)
Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois

Good Morning!

Today was one of those lay around in bed days. Rain. At least the outside the boat is getting washed. If it was a touch warmer I’d be out there with boat soap and a brush.

At 8:30am I listened to the 4th train within 20 minutes. I only know this because I was making coffee and breakfast at the time. I should have counted all of the ones that woke me up last night. 

As far as trains go size doesn’t matter. The all blow their horns as they rumble thunder past. It must drive these people crazy!!!!!!!

Other neighbors

About 10:30am we pulled anchor. Enough of sitting around!

Along the Way

Over taking the Mississippi Princess, real paddle wheel propulsion.  She’s a privately owned boat.

We used all our locking skills today at Lock 11 in Dubuque IA.  

The Lock Master said the wind was at 25 mph sustaining with gust up to 35 mph.  He judged the wave height at the lock entrance at 2.5 to 3 feet.  As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, the lock’s working tug was in the lock with us. Rather than tying the tug to the wall like we do, the tug pushed its front into the wall and left its transmissions in forward gear. This add more churn and additional turbulence to our entry and descent.

Dale called the Port of Dubuque Marina a week ago and was told water level at the flood gate was one to two feet. Today when Dale called they said it was about 7 feet at gate.

We are getting to the end of the bluff country.

There are lots of barges along the shoreline. I can’t quite figure out how they are secured.

We free floated through Lock 12. Both Dale and I dislike free floating and prefer being tied off. The lock didn’t give us a choice. I think we either interrupted supper or a card game. I fendered both sides of the boat just incase they were also going to drop the water fast. There was also enough wind to really keep us on our toes.

New construction in Bellevue. It will be interesting to see how it turns out on our return trip.

But of course! Minutes after we set anchor the first of many trains rolled by.

Drolleries and Yuks

Why does the Mississippi River flow south out of Minnesota?
Because Iowa sucks!

Why does all the corn in Nebraska lean east?
Because Iowa sucks!

(Sorry Iowa. I know this isn’t true. I just had to do.)

What does IOWA stand for?

How do you know it’s Prom season in Iowa?
There are 10 tractors in every McDonalds parking lot

Did you hear about the Iowa farmer who only wore one boot in the winter?
He heard there was a 50% chance of snow!