October 24 – 27, 2019 That Water is Moving Now!

We left Alton on a cold and cloudy morning.  Along with Alcyone, and Curti-Sea, we went and circled around in front of The Arch to get pictures.  Too bad it wasn’t a prettier day.  The current of the Mississippi moved us right along, giving us about a 3 mph push – a little relief for the fuel bills!  But the morning was cold – starting out at about 38 degrees! Gee, just yesterday it was about 70.  

There was lots of commercial traffic moving in both directions and that gave us a rocky ride – lots of wakes hitting us.  About 11 am, a light rain started.  Hate riding in the rain because the only way to get a clear view is for one of us to poke our hand out of the zippered windows and clear the plastic with a squeegee.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a hard rain, so we continued to our destination – the Kaskaskia Lock Wall.  This lock is off to the east side of the Mississippi and leads to the Kaskaskia River.  It doesn’t have a high volume of traffic, and boats are allowed to tie overnight to an approach wall. Ten of us pulled in there – ahh, another free night!  We were able to get off the boat and just walk on the wall – really no where to go, but it always feels good to stretch the legs.

Next day everyone headed out – we were going to some different anchorages as most anchorage locations have space for just a few boats.  Together with Alcyone and Curti-Sea, we headed to our intended location.  Again, lots of commercial traffic on the river.  Approached a BIG, BIG tow – 5 barges across and 6 barges long! Glad we met up in a wide part of the river.

We had noticed that there were several missing navigational aids on the river – probably due to the high water level, strong current, and the fact that we saw some tows ride OVER those steel green and red markers.  I think we found them when we turned around one of the bends!

We reached Boston Bar, an anchorage behind an island on the east side of the river, near a bridge and also near where we would be turning onto the Ohio River.  We had to go past the island and then make a U turn to get into our intended area.  Not so easy a task when you have a fast current on the river, but we made it. About a hundred yards ahead of us, we saw a sailboat that was already anchored.  Ted, on Curti-Sea, had been cooking chili during the day for us all to enjoy, so our three boats decided to raft together in order to board their boat.  In the current, the dinghy wasn’t a good option. Ted anchored first, getting a good hold in the muddy bottom.  We came along side and dropped our anchor, also getting a good hold. With the two larger boats securely anchored and tied together, we told Alcyone that they didn’t need to set their anchor, just drop it to give added weight.

We had a great dinner and watched one of the World Series Games.  While we were sitting there, Robin showed me how they used one of their Navigation Apps to check on the stability of the anchor – making sure we weren’t dragging anchors and moving.  The anchors had a solid hold the whole time we were enjoying the evening.  By the time we were ready to head back to our boat, a rain had started.  We all agreed to keep our radios “on” overnight as a precaution.

At 3 AM, a voice came over the radio – “Ed, get up.  The anchors are dragging.”  Pitch dark, raining like crazy, and we’re up top putting on our foul weather gear.  We had to untie the boats from each other; then we agreed to anchor separately.  Alcyone moved first – moving up closer towards the sailboat.  Using a spot light and flashlight, they moved as best as they could to find a secure spot to anchor.  Once they were set, we moved up, found a spot and dropped the anchor.  Prayers were answered when the anchor took hold on the first try.   Then Curti-Sea reset their anchor.  After all this, we tried to go back to sleep. We were now using our Nav app to check for any movement.  Ed probably woke up every 30 minutes to check it.

Daylight came and everyone was still in place.  Forecast was for rain on and off all day.  Alcyone decided they wanted to move on, as Patty was soon going home for a visit, and needed to get close to Nashville.  Curti-Sea and we decided to stay put for the day.  About mid-morning we looked out at the sailboat in front of us.  We saw a man stabbing a pole in and out of the water behind the boat.  Then we saw him climb out of the boat and seemed to be standing on something. WHAT was he doing?  We finally figured that there was a log caught on his anchor line.  We looked at Ted, but there wasn’t anything we could do.  Our electric motor on the dinghy wasn’t going to carry us against the strong current to go help the guy.  All we could do is watch.  He was soon successful at dislodging the log, and then we gazed at it floating towards us!  It was 45-50 ft in length and we watched as it picked up speed.  By a stroke of luck, the log turned and went BETWEEN our boats!  Whew!  We didn’t know the sailboat captain’s name, but we started calling him Woody!

The anchors held for the whole day and thru the night.  We woke up to sunny skies.  We headed back into the Mississippi for about .7 miles and then made a left turn onto the Ohio River.  It was like hitting the brakes!  The current was now AGAINST us.  There went the better fuel mileage.

We went 31 miles and two locks to Paducah, KY.   The city dock was new – the old one had been destroyed in a flood. This was a floating dock. While talking with the dock master, he told us that the dock could float all the way to the top of the VERY high pilings.  Then he pointed out a water line on the rocks on the hillside of the shore.  Hard to believe how high these waters could get!

There was a Halloween 5K Run going on in town – got to see lots of costumed runners.  Paducah is known for murals that have been painted on the flood walls.  They are an extraordinary depiction of the history of the city.  The more than 50 murals are painted by Robert Dafford and the Dafford Murals Team.

In the evening, the Loopers headed out to dinner at Shanties for some fun and fellowship – best way to end the day!