Miles Covered: um 580- to um 546 (74 miles) Hampton, Il.
Closest towns or landmark (chart): Dubuque, Ia Yacht Club to Savanna, Il riverside (Storm World 1)
Original Post date: June 1
‘Transient’ dockage at the Dubuque Yacht Club and the sleep ‘dockside was pretty good stuff. Early in the day we met ‘Duck’ (short for Duckett) whom has a house-boat docked there. Duck showed us his ‘new set of twins’ (new motors) on his older but nice steel hull houseboat – alot of pride there. It seems the boat allows him to spend plenty of ‘free time’ on the river – it’s the perfect excuse and a nice vessel.
‘Duck’ had met Bill and Max the year before and asked of their adventure; how it went and whether they had made it to New Orleans – we gave him their website and filled him in on all that we could..
Then after a high-class start to the day (a ‘bird bath’) we had breakfast buffet at the Yacht Club. So far along the upper river we have been able to find two ‘land-meals’ a day – we’ll continue to take advantage of this as long as it’s available.
Dubuque Yacht Club is a beautiful place, nice atmosphere and fine food – then we learned that they have a new shower facility (for boaters) out back, so of course I took advantage of that one too. These were a couple of kayakers that we met dockside – the area looked perfect for paddling so I took traveller out for a paddle too.
From there we motored over to the nearby Mississippi River Museum where we found lots of neat wildlife exhibits for the kids and plenty of the big stuff (old river boats that you can walk through) for the adults.
– so we spent a couple of hours there – they also have dockage for those arriving in boats – you just have to look hard for it.
When we finally returned to the river we encountered the crowd of Sunday boaters, their myriad of wakes were worse than what we had encountered from the tows so far – the water was rough. Towboats in the area were ‘beached’ (idling with their front barge to the shore) and remaining stationary in the river, we thought maybe to keep from squashing someone (a nice thing) with so many pleasure-craft about – maybe they take Sunday off.
In one of the conversations with river-rats Bill and Max, the issue they stressed was a perpetually wet floor! Water from wakes soaked their vessel and kept their feet wet – with this in mind the front of our boat has a splash guard in place. This small effort to thwart the constant wave action reduced but didn’t eliminated the water washing over the bow. When water does come in great quantities – I installed a hole in the floor (heater ‘register’) to help speed the water out. Still the floor has remained wet – a carpet ‘runner’ in the cabin has helped to alleviate wet-feet when getting in and out of bed and/or changing – a wet floor is just ‘part-of-it’…
Below Dubuque the Sunday boaters were frolicking on the beaches while having their weekend beverages of choice – too inviting. After the third bunch we moseyed on into what some called “Chestnut beach.”
Again good folks and great conversation; many asked questions and a few climbed onto the ‘bird’ to scribble on the walls with a marker – fun time and neat place for folks to let their kids run – volley ball was going on too. Thanks for the moment you guys, it was one of the best….
(even if I did back out onto the submerged log as repeatedly instructed not to….)
Lock 12 was the easiest yet, its like they opened it just for us and let us through, again – smooth communication with the lockmaster as the water quickly dropped about 5 feet…
Just after the lock came Bellevue Iowa, time for another walk. We found a burger at the local gas station and grille and enjoyed pleasant conversation with Jerry and Joyce, travelers also stopping for a meal…
In returning to the boat two more gentlemen approached and talked a while – they had checked out our boat while we were at the store and remained to chat. Folks sure love to talk about ‘going down the river.’
With evening approaching these two provided directions to a place about 7 miles downriver for us to anchor for the night. Evidently most of the area just below Bellevue is restricted, a military area – so we needed to make it through to the red tower-light before stopping.
This was one of the most beautiful areas that we passed, it was easy to imagine the same setting a thousand years ago. With the sun at our back the clarity of the shorelines were crystal clear, the water was gentle and everything was peaceful as we were surrounded in this naturally scenic area.
The seven miles were simply beautiful and soon we spotted the red beacon-light piercing the darkening sky.
Darkness was falling and we tied to an uprooted tree along the channel shore, here we walked the beach and began settling in for another night on this awesome river.
In the late evening a storm came rolling in from the West – that’s when you begin scrutinizing your ‘mooring’ place. Now would it have been better on the West Bank? (where the lightning has all those trees to strike first) or on the East bank? It would be easy to get lost in the ‘what-if’s.’
Instead we dropped the curtains around the ‘bird’ and ran a rope around the ‘waistline,” kinda like wrapping a present – this further secured the tarps from flapping in the increasing gusts, this basic protection from the changing elements began our “battened down the hatches” routine for the nights and weather ahead.
On this our third night we were introduced to ‘Storm world,’ the boat shook and lightning lit up the sky like a tow boats search beam (they are extremely ‘vivid!). This too is simply a part of the trip that just has to be. It boils down to feeling apprehensive with a storms approach, accepting it’s presence, and then listen to it fade away – as this one did.
It was probably good that we had chosen the east bank too, because somewhere in the night a tow held to the shore on the west bank (across from us) as another made its way around a lower bend and then Northward past us. From there and somewhere else within the night and Carl’s snoring the lightning and the river traffic moved on. For me sleep was light again as I feel so completely enthralled with this trek – on many nights of the trip not even wanting to go to bed. This experience was ‘for me’ and I wanted to absorb every minute of it.
I did get up at first daylight and tried the laptop some – writing has been impossible during the day with conversation going on plus all that is being observed – so I’m still searching for the right time delve into my scribbled notes.
I kept a steno pad near the chart for notes (and on the chart), with better power (my solar system was falling short) it could be easier, but then again I also wanted to absorb and digest it all.
So day four is here and it is June – a “Happy birthday” to my daughter Jessica as another tow approaches in the background.
…. using this ‘blog’ format was new to me too, for the most part a rough ‘log-type’ of journal would do and I could return later to elaborate.
This trip was about enjoying the scenic ride of the Mississippi river……so I did.
Noted ‘Towboats’ for the day;
The Pebble Beach
The Angela K
The Andrea Leigh