Day 13; Hoppie’s Marina to Cape Girardeau

Previous Day

Miles Covered:  106 river miles, um 158.5- to um 52

Closest towns or landmark (chart): Hoppie’s Marina (Kimmswick, Mo,) to Cape Girardeau, Mo. (Storm World)

Original Post date: June 11

100_2313small dredge in operation

It was an early start from Hoppie’s Marina; 6 am coffee then a wide swing past the wing-dam (memories that last) just below the ‘marina’ and ‘bac into the main channel.  Once on the main channel we floated – and once the fog lifted the day in front of us became pretty doggone nice…..



After ‘Hoppies’ we notice miles of picturesque river frontage.  The bluffs along the shore became smaller and less frequent while in places along water’s edge appeared a number of ‘natural’ industries (rock, stone quarry’s, etc).  There were a home or two, and along with that “Kennett’s Castle” (Selma Hall) rose out of the trees on river right.


As we crossed under the bridge at Chester, Il. it was possible to catch a quick glimpse of the bronze statue of Popeye. Chester is where the cartoon and his crew were created by Elzie Segar; you just have to look hard immediately after the bridge on the east side.


It was another day of the simplest river travel and just ‘going with the flow’….. from the neatest of observation posts.


A mealtime routine,….


and a “where do bears stop” stop….




We did stop and chat with others along the way even tying along side the ‘African Queen’ to drift a few miles – sharing cold-beverages.  Beverages always seemed a good ‘ice-breaker’ when coming across others ‘on’ the river.  With these folks we drifted up to and around ‘Tower Rock,‘ the one Mark Twain once wrote about. 

On this date our easy-idle pace made a hundred miles.


Tower Rock

We have not pushed this river at all; we only ride her current – now since the additional volume of the Missouri above St Louis we have surpassed our mileage expectations 3 fold – from thirty expected to more than a hundred a day – for two Carolina drifters, its interesting.



Harold B. Dodd


With traffic showing from both directions we stop to ‘stretch’ and let things ‘settle down.’ The sand-bars clearly show the ravages of flooding waters – on this particular sandbar the sand was just ‘like the beach.’ In addition I found a large rope like the one used to connect the barges – so I ‘tied ‘er on the ‘bird.’


Again, the flow of the river is now more apparent, on the occasions that we have worked against the current – our little 40 hp motor can pretty much hold it’s own with a small gain – that’s where in Mark Twain’s books the river Captains would find/utilize the river’s ‘eddy’s’ to their favor – just off of the main channel.

The surface water can also play tricks to your eyes, especially at night – like day 11 when we got ‘flushed’ through St Louis.  At night the reflections of the current from the surface can appear to be flowing backwards, maybe you have to witness it in travel and circumstance to fully understand.  For us its simply been a matter of maintaining idle power for control and holding on to the few senses that we have.

The ‘wing-dams’ (rock formations) along the way are strategically placed by the US Corp of Engineers to utilize the hydraulic power of the river itself to reduce sediment in the channels depth.  Wing-dams may or may not be visible depending on the river’s water level.


Wing dam breaking surface

For boaters it is important to use the channel as much as possible to avoid these, scraping a hole in your hull or pontoon could ruin the whole trip for you – the spring rains seem to heighten the river over these structures, we barely noticed them – late summer when the river is lower they are distinct.  Sometimes the ‘whirlpools’ they create can also play tricks with your vessels direction, there are several areas where these extend into the channel – the worse were in the areas of um 130 to 133 and around um 70 – 71, these create simple challenges for the pilot when two vessels share the same area of channel.



As evening fell we met our goal of Cape Girardeau – just before town at the Red Star landing we found fuel, it was a short walk (less than 1/2 mile). We had our hopes up for some real food too, but hopes were soon dashed as we found there was a large barge blocking the only wall at the riverfront.  It did not seem like a craft friendly stop.  With this we crossed the river and found a beach under the hwy 74/146 bridge.  Carl pulled his tent out and settled down for the night.  I battened down the hatches and all started peacefully – that is until two am when the ‘Wicked witch of the west’ thunderstorm rolled through.  Carl retreated to the boat after his tent collapsed and we rode the wind and waves out as the ships bell rang like an unanswered telephone.  It all passed in a few hours and the morning sun is now starting to show.

It all remains very awesome and neat in its own river way, and as with anything like this venture there are challenges that the wind, the rain, and the current can trow at you


we’re just going with the flow….

Noted ‘Towboats’ for the Day;

The Frank Stegbaur

The Judi

The WT Toutant

The Cooperative Agent

The Ms Bobbie Fugit

The William Crum

The Joe B Wyatt

The Harold B Dodd

Next post, Day 14 to Cairo and onto the Lower Mississippi

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