We are tied up tonight at the legendary Hoppies’ Marina at Kinnswick, Missouri, getting bounced around by passing barges after an eventful 44-mile day. It started with a wake-up call at 0530, our earliest yet. We sure “woke up” from our six leisurely days in port!
This marina (if you can call it that) was created from metal barges, tied together to create a dock. Like our last marina, the entire structure floats. Unlike our last one, we have no protection from the wakes of passing barges. We have electricity and water here, but no WiFi or restrooms. Still, we’re glad to pay for a secure tie-up, since we know they will be hard to find in coming days as we approach another period of anchorages.
This place may be rough but it has its charms. It’s been a family business since 1934 and is a standard stop for Loopers. The founder’s grand-daughter came to brief us about our next few hundred miles, warning us about low water levels and probable long days ahead before we reach our next secure harbor at Padukah, Kentucky.
It wasn’t really what we wanted to hear, but we are in “the same boat” – pun intended — as our Looping companions tied up nearby, and it helps to compare notes and plans.
It does help sometimes to have travel companions, but it was odd to leave before dawn this morning in a group of ten boats. The early departure was timed to get through the Mel Price Lock, just past our marina, before barges filled it up. In spite of that planning, we had to mill about for nearly an hour before getting into the lock. The Mississippi pushes harder here, and the wind was stiff. Imagine ten boats, getting pushed downriver and making circles around each other with navigation lights still on in the pre-dawn, as we work to avoid the lock and each other. Fun!
Not as much “fun” as the lock itself, though! The wind and current both pushed us around inside the lock, and I failed at my first attempt to get a line around a bollard. I then tried to use our long pole with a big hook, fashioned by Jeff weeks ago, to grab hold of the metal ladder next to the bollard and pull us in. I did get the hook around the ladder, but the wind pushed the boat away from the lock wall as I tried mightily to hang on. It got a little dicey, and I had to let go of the pole to avoid falling. Jeff circled the boat around – inside the lock, mind you, with nine other boats inside with us — so that I could retrieve our precious pole. (To be fair, it was a big lock.) He then went to the opposite lock wall, where the wind was more favorable, and we successfully tied up on our third attempt.
I was glad to get out of that lock, I can tell you. Jeff might say that I’m over-dramatizing, but not by much. I was a bit upset with him for removing the pieces of rubber around our lock lines, which give them weight and help me throw them where they need to go. I guess they were in the way at our last marina, and he forgot to put them back on. I didn’t think to check.
The fact is, there’s so many details on a boat, it’s hard to remember all of them. And he did some amazing boat-handing in that lock. He even laughed about it. (I didn’t. 😉 )
That was our toughest lock so far on the trip, but our second lock of the day–aptly named Chain of Rocks Lock–was also somewhat challenging, since the bollards were high and hard to reach. We found out later that two of our shipmates incurred muscle strain or injury in that lock, holding on to their lines while being buffeted by wind.
After the eventful lockings, we felt the big push-to-the-left that we were told to expect as the Missouri converges with the Mississippi, then passed by the actual Chain of Rocks (we heard of a few who missed or ignored the signs and crashed on those rocks), then relaxed into our “Looper Parade of Boats” in a long and somewhat boring canal that ended in our long passage by St. Louis.
And…the Arch. Pictures, everyone!!
After St. Louis, the winds at our stern picked up to 20 mph and we experienced some of the roughest water since Lake Michigan. (I’ve forgotten what rough water feels like after weeks on the river.) We got a big push from both the wind and the increasing current, racing along at nearly 12 mph. That’s a push of at least 3 mph. Wowee!!
We had enough time here today for me to experiment more with Jeff’s air fryer: roasted pecans and a chicken casserole. Yum. Boo got a walk on the creaky docks tonight–on a leash, of course. She’s adjusting to it pretty well. Photos and captions follow …