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
It was an early start from Hoppie’s, 6 am – coffee, then a wide swing past the wing-dam just below the ‘marina’ then ‘bac into the main channel. Once on the main current, we floated – and once the fog lifted the day in front of us became simply beautius…..
After ‘Hoppies Marina’ 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, “Kennett’s Castle” (Selma Hall) and then a wildlife preserve along river right.
As we crossed under the bridge at Chester, Il. it was barely possible to catch a glimpse of the bronze statue of Popeye (its where the cartoon and his crew were created by Elzie Segar), you had to look hard just after the bridge on the east side.
The day was another day of the simplest river travel, just ‘going with the flow’….. and observing.
We did stop and chat with other boaters along the way, at one time tieing along side the African Queen and drifting a few miles with cold-beverages. Beverages always seemed a good subject and ‘ice-breaker’ when coming across others ‘on’ the river. With these folks we drifted right up to and around ‘Tower Rock,‘ the one Mark Twain once wrote about. On this date and still at our easy-idle pace we made a hundred miles.
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 to more than a hundred. For two Carolina drifters, it all continues to be so interesting.
With traffic coming from both directions we stop to ‘stretch’ and let things ‘settle down.’ The sand-bars clearly show the ravages of fluctuating 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 understand, but perceptionally tricky – for that ride we simply maintained power for control and held on to the few senses we had left.
The ‘wing-dams’ (rock formations) along the way are strategically placed by contractors to utilize the hydraulic power of the river itself in maintaining the channels depth, they may or may not be visible depending on the river’s water level.
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, a short walk (less than 1/2 mile). We had our hopes up for some real food too, but they were soon dashed as we found the Cape had no accessible dockage – there was a large barge blocking the only wall and the riverfront just did not seem craft friendly. With this we crossed the river and found a beach near/under the bridge where 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 mother of all thunderstorms rolled through – and she was the ‘Wicked witch of the west.’ Carl hastily retreated to the boat with his tent in a bundle and we rode the wind and waves out once again 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.
I do have pictures and will try to get back and put them in later – it all remains very awesome and neat in its own river way, and as with anything like this venture there are challenges – like the wind and the rain and the current.
Noted ‘Towboats’ for the Day;
The Frank Stegbaur
The WT Toutant
The Cooperative Agent
The Ms Bobbie Fugit
The William Crum
The Joe B Wyatt