Day 21, Oldtown Dikes to Catfish Point

Previous Day

Miles Covered:  70 river miles, lm 645 to lm 570   Arkansas City, ark

Closest towns or landmark (chart): Old-town Dikes to Catfish Point

Original Post date: June 18


When I woke this morning the river was more than a foot higher; in it – there was ordinary stuff floating by (trees, wood, etc).  The Mississippi is the drainage basin for 40% of our country -I could only speculate that the debris is the result of some heavy rain upriver – anyway something to speculate about as I prepare eggs for breakfast.

Then it was time for my ‘one with the river’ thing.  Taking a bath in the Mississippi may not be something to actually make a person cleaner – its just an exercise to make the person feel better – and it works to that degree.  I am finding a routine with this too; an empty coffee container (about 1/2 gallon) of river water to wet shoulders down, then ‘soap.’  After soaping I wet my head and face with clean tap water and then a total rinse with two more containers of stored water – a Mississippi ‘birdbath.’  The world seems a little clearer, and along with a cup of coffee- there’s one more happy spot on this planet.  no better start to the day.

Old Town Dikes area

This morning a little maintenance on the motor; cleaned the fuel filter. With no stops before Greenville, Ms – the need to conserve fuel is important.  If absolutely necessary a person could locate fuel along the way with a walk, but along with that is the concern in finding a good place to tie-off.  Without really knowing the waters that’s the most challenging part on the lower Miss for recreational craft – fuel.  Also having someone on the bow providing a ‘mark’  is a big ‘plus.’

Wilson and Patrick have yet to respond to get the “Give me a mark!” thing like Carl was so good at.  A ‘Mark” for the steamboats of Mark Twain’s time was utilizing a long rod dropped over the front corners of the steamboat by a deck-hand (s) prodding to locate the bottom.  They would ‘sound-off’ to the Pilot the approximate depth as the steamship crept forward – with an ever shoaling bottom this was a necessary part of traveling the Mississippi without grounding.  Measurements included a ‘Twain’ which relayed a depth of about three yards (near bouts) – hence the “Mark Twain” name coined by Sam Clemmons. The ‘Mark’s’ of today’s river includes a a daymark (nautical post), a visible numerical mile post, or landmark noted on the river chart for basic orientation or ‘bearings.’


The Mary Lynn

The weather of the lower Mississippi has definitely taken a turn towards HOT!, the thermometer in the boat shows high 90’s, that means 8 to ten degrees hotter on land – doesn’t take but a moments stop to feel the difference.  Even with the heat I can’t complain at all with the weather – the cool breeze was at our back early, and we skirted three good storms – then made it to Memphis as more summer storms passed above us – I think someone is wanting Patrick (crew) to make it this time.

Internet and phone service is spotty to weak in this area, really no big deal – its even kind of nice to be ‘unplugged’; I don’t expect any service until Greenville – maybe tomorrow.


I did pass several more groups of white pelicans hanging out on different sandbars, lots of those up the river – think whats in the water turns them white? (I’m used to the brown species from S Florida).  There is always something to look at, on, in, or along the river – never boring as I make my way Southward.

Ergonot Contract Buoy Tender

USCG at work

I even ran by another USCG Buoy-tender earlier, the Potoka – talked to them a short bit – they had stopped for a ‘swim-break,’ seeing this made me feel a little better about cooling off with/in the Mississippi.

Coasties swimming

The channel markers (buoys) are referred to as “Nuns” (red), or ‘Cans” (green) and are placed to define the channel, headed downriver (South) the ‘cans’ are on your right (as pictured) – ‘Nuns’ on your left of the channel.  The markers are constantly displaced by the frequent and ever changing water level, along with the trees , wood, and other heavy objects (even ‘tow’s) that the current carries downriver and into them.  The markers are constructed of heavy steel and anchored using large concrete weights from a boom on the front of the CG ‘tenders.’   The USCG keep a busy schedule maintaining these markers in their correct positions relative to the channel.

The Bill Tullier

The Mississippi River moves alot of commerce and the channel markers make this movement safer for those traveling her waters.

Examples of buoys

So really nothing out of the ordinary today except ‘Duck’ the parrot was ‘lost-to-the-sea’ while anchoring down for the night – once anchored, all’s I could do was watch as ‘Duck’ went to the gators.


I’m just stretching my fuel, taking it all in.  Being on the river is all so interesting that I dread climbing into bed at night….I just want to stay up and absorb everything about the river…..


Noted ‘towboats’ for the day;

The Dru Lirette

The Samuel J

The Chandy N

The Dennis C Bottorf

The Robt D Byrd

The Alice I Hooker

The Laurie S Johnston

The James Ermer

The Shelby Jean

The Mary Lynn

The Andrew Eckstein

The Argonot

The Miss Kris

The Cowboy Carl

Next day, Day 22 to Greenville, Miss

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Bird Bath Heaters
    Dec 16, 2009 @ 18:48:14

    Those are great photos of scenery. The funny part was that you used bird bath as water container. LOL

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