RumpShaker Adventure 9/25-9/29

09/30/2012 12:35


Tuesday, 9/25

Weather forecast is for rain.  Oh well, we’ve done rain before so no big deal, right?  We take the dogs for their morning walk and hear from other boaters that we are in for 60MPH wind and hail.  Oh.  Now that is something we haven’t done before and on this leg of the trip, we will be “on the hook” instead of snug in a marina.  We may stay another day.

Kayak Dude, aka Paul comes over and visits for a bit and Ben phones. 

Ben is in a LOT of pain with the peritoneal dialysis. He describes it like having a vacuum hose inside your stomach and every once in a while, the hose sucks up the stomach wall causing excruciating pain.  He’s been sick in the morning and because of the pain is not sleeping well at night.  Some good news is that he’s finally getting that molar pulled.  I know that will be such a relief for him.  One more week of peritoneal training and he will only have to make the trip down the mountain once a month for checkups.

The weather forecast is not good and we hope that Fern will have room for us one more night.  She does and so we decide to walk the mile or so to Kimmswick, a small town of little shops that open at 9:00AM and close between 3-5PM.  They have a restaurant called “The Blue Owl” that is famous for their pies.  Kayak Dude, aka Paul comes with us and we have lunch together.  Then he heads back to the marina while I force Rob to check out some of the little shops. 

There was a “stamping” shop where I was able to buy some cardstock so now I can make some proper cards to exchange with other Loopers.  We also bought some pretzel bread to use for sandwiches since there isn’t a grocery store in the  town.

Once back at Hoppie’s, we joined the other boaters that are here for Fern’s briefing of how to navigate the next 270 miles.  We took copious notes and now have the best places to anchor out, instructions on the best way to approach tows on the curvy river portions and to broadcast our position when we anchor at night so the tow captains know where we are.  We know where we can tie up to walk and get more gas which we WILL need. 

Once through the Ohio river portion of the trip, we are going to motor on to the Cumberland River rather than take a right on to the Tennessee River right away.  This will mean less barge traffic for us and it’s only an additional 20 miles added to the trip with plenty of marinas and gas docks along the way. 

Here’s some of Fern’s advice:

1.        Stay in the channel.  Water levels are so low that it is unwise not to.

2.       MMs 130, 84, and 4 are very turbulent, so be aware and motor accordingly.

3.       When you meet or pass a tow on a turn, ALWAYS take the inside.  Otherwise, we may get pushed up to shore by their wake.

4.       When we get close to Kaskaskia River, phone the lockmaster – CHANNEL 13 – and ask if it’s okay to tie up on the Federal Lock wall.  This is a safe place to tie up with permission.

5.       We can try to phone ahead to “Kid River City Fuel” at MM 52 and we may be able to have some gas delivered or at least get permission to tie up the boat while we walk up and fill our gas containers.

6.       DO NOT anchor at Little River entrance because it’s not safe.

7.       Can maybe get gas at MM1, “Angelo’s Towhead”.  We can also anchor there.  Go under the bridge, LDB and stay on the tip to avoid deadheads and sandbar.

8.       On the Ohio River, and behind the yet to be completed Ohmstead LD, there is a deep hole to anchor.  Do NOT tie up to white mooring cells unless it’s an emergency.  The Corp will ask you to move, even if in the middle of the night.

9.       When at anchor at Ohmstead, phone LD53 before pulling anchor.  LD53 is not a Federal Dam and does not have to follow their rules, so you may wait a long time to lock through if the lockmaster has decided to wait for a northbound tow – even if that tow is 10 miles away.  One couple reported having to wait 24 hours – so best to call.

10.   All LDs on Ohio use channel 13

11.   Once through LD53, look for 50’ dock on LDB.  This is Paducah and we should be able to walk and get gas there.

12.   Next go up the Ohio 20 miles to the Cumberland River.  On the LDB are 2 safe anchoring choices.  The 1st choice is Cumberland Tow Head Island and the 2nd choice is Cumberland River.

13.   The next stretch is 30 miles and ONLY should be done in the daylight.

14.   After Barclay LD, it is only 1 mile to Green Turtle Bay and paradise – the 270 mile stretch from hell is over!

Great advice and much appreciated.  Still  nervous, but more confident.

It’s 7PM and the promised storm rolls in.  We are SO glad we decided to stay.  We are getting tossed pretty good and can only imagine how much water PITA is taking on.  We are surprised we have TV reception, because we have no phone service or internet (not really surprised about that) and so we pop some corn and watch Dancing With The Stars.

Kayak Dude, aka Paul is planning to head out early in the morning – maybe he’ll catch up with the two cute Kayak girls that are about 1-2 days ahead of him – LOL!

Wednesday, 9/26

We’ve decided to hang out at Hoppie’s for another day.  The severe storms have dumped a LOT of debris into the river and it’s not worth the risk of hitting something.  There is also more severe weather forecasted for tonight. So we’ll let it float on past us and venture out on Thursday.

Today, we are in “wait” mode, so we are reading, watching movies, visiting with other boaters, and performing general maintenance on the boat.   These are the times that I really miss having phone service and internet.  I’m having technology withdrawals!  LOL

Thursday, 9/27                                                                                                                                                           DEP Hoppie’s @ 9:30AM                                                                                                                                                                                      Cloudy.  High 75° Winds S @ 5MPH                                                                                                                                     ARR Mouth of Kaskaskia River @3:00PM                                                                                                                                            41.2 Miles 5 ½ Hours

We wake up to heavy thick fog.  We are leaving as soon as it lifts.   Hopefully that won’t be too long.  We have a short 44 mile trip today to the Kaskaskia River where we will anchor for the night. It will be important to remain patient and do this leg safely – even if it’s tempting to go further.

It is a nice trip down river.   I phone ahead to the Kaskaskia River LD, where we are hoping to get permission to tie up to their Federal wall for the night.  It is the only safe place on the river recommended by Fern.  The lockmaster tells me they are not allowing tie ups because they are under construction.  We can lock through, but have to travel the additional 10.5 miles to Evansville Marina to tie up for the night.  I phone Evansville Marina to find they  are closed for the season, but we can tie up on their dock.  With the prospect of traveling 21 miles out of our way and going through a lock twice to do it on our limited fuel supply, we decide to try and find a safe place to throw anchor and spend the night on the hook instead.  We find that spot at MM116.  We are still in the current, but we are behind a rock wall that should protect us from any errant barges – yes they do break free from the tows on occasion!  Once secure, we begin the process of getting the dogs to shore so they can potty and stretch out a bit.  We tried to retrain them to potty on the cockpit of the boat, but they will not do it. 

Process for getting dogs to shore:

1.        We pull PITA up to the swim platform and secure as tightly as possible.

2.       Rob gets into PITA and starts the motor.

3.       Ann puts the lifejacket on one of the dogs

4.       Ann and Rob lift the dog over the transom and onto PITA

5.       Rob motors in to shore with the dog

6.       Repeat steps 1-5 for second dog – LOL

We spend a rocky night as tows with 15-18 barges go past us frequently.  Even though we are safely well outside the channel and have thrown a fore and aft anchor, the thought of an anchor letting go because of the swift current and the wakes that are tossing us around neither one of us sleep very well. 

 Friday, 9/28                                                                                                                                                                DEP MM116 @ 8:30AM                                                                                                                                                                                      Sunny.  High 75° Winds S @ 10-12MPH                                                                                                                                     ARR Angelo Towhead/Ohio River Mouth at Cairo, IL @9:00PM                                                                                                                                            116 Miles - 12 1/2 Hours

In the morning, we are surprised to see a tow with 15 barges coming out of the channel down river from us and heading straight in our direction!  We pulled anchor and got out of the way.  He probably was pulling over to wait for another tow and most certainly saw us and would not have hit us, but it was creepy to say the least anyway.

This stretch of our trip was both uneventful and interesting at the same time if that can possibly make any sense?  There is a LOT of tow traffic pushing an average of 15 barges.  Seems like we meet one or two around every turn and this stretch of the river has a lot of twists and turns!  The current is funny here too with what we are calling “swirlies” in the water that pull us off our course, so we are constantly correcting. 

Fellow Loopers, one on the sailboat, “Tango” and one in an 18 foot runabout, “MudDuck” are running this stretch of the river with us.  We are only about a mile ahead of them.  We can’t imagine how Tango is handling this crazy water AND all of the Tow traffic.  We figure that since he’s traveled over 3,000 miles already, this is not a big deal for him.  We wonder how Mike and Cindy on Aurora did.

Coming into Cape Girardo and Kidd River City Fuel Dock at 2:00PM seemed too early to stop and not a place we’d like to spend the night.  The dock is small and we can’t get fuel there anymore.  We’ve been averaging 2.5 MPG with the fast current, and have barely used ¼ tank of gas, so we feel confident we may be fine for fuel until we get to Green Turtle Bay Marina – even when we are boating against the Ohio River current.

About 2 hours out of Angelo Towhead, we lose daylight and we are in heavy barge traffic.  Our GPS showing the “sail” line, the depth finder, and our spot light are great tools that get us to Angelo Towhead safely.  We motor under the bridge up channel enough to get into a gentle current out of the eddie.  Wow – full moon – well out of the channel – and only a gentle current, so no tossing in the wake of the tow traffic…Woo Hoo!!! 

I go out and throw anchor.  What was that?  Did one of the dogs jump in the river?  Oh’s more Asian Carp.  They are attracted to our anchor light.  When Rob would turn on the anchor light for about 5 minutes and then shut it off, the water would boil with fish all around the boat.  They actually jump 4 feet out of the water – straight up and they are BIG! 

Two cocktails and 1 Unisom later, I am out for the night. 

Saturday, 9/29                                                                                                                                                           DEP Angelo Towhead @ 8:30AM                                                                                                                                                                                      Sunny.  High 75° Winds NE @ 5MPH                                                                                                                                     ARR Paducah, KY @7:00PM                                                                                                                                            2 LDs – 46.5 Miles 10 ½ Hours

OMG – what a difference going against the current makes.   Traveling down the Mississippi with the current at 1600 RPMs, we were traveling about 10 MPH.  Traveling up the Ohio against the current at 1600 RPMs, we are traveling about 5 MPH. 

I can’t believe the number of barges and tows at the mouth of the Ohio River!  It’s like rush hour on the river! 

We pass by Olmstead LD.  It is under construction, replacing locks 52 & 53 when completed.  I took plenty of photos, but I don’t think the photos will do justice to the magnitude of this project.

We are instructed to go right through LD53 – so no waiting – YAY!  BUT the river current is so strong here that we have to put the throttles down to get past this spot.  At 1600 RPMs, we were actually going “0” on the GPS readings – crazy!

LD 52 bounces us around quite a bit as we wait 45 minutes to lock through.  The lockmaster is a nice young guy and he tells us we will have no problem staying overnight in Paducah at their courtesy dock.  He tells us that Paducah is celebrating BBQ Cookoff days with live music and plenty of cold beer.  Sounds like a winner anchorage spot to us!

We get to the Paducah courtesy dock and tie up no problems.  We take the dogs up and get them fed and then head up to enjoy the festive atmosphere. We meet James Brewer on the courtesy dock and he gives us some of the history of Paducah and offers us a ride in the morning to refill our “just in case” 14 gallon gas container.

The food is great, the beer is cold, and the music is good too!  Paducah is a very historic town and it is obvious that the city planners have worked hard to keep it that way.  It would be nice to spend a couple of days here to really enjoy all this town has to offer, but we need to keep moving.  Will only be able to make 22 miles tomorrow and then another 30+ miles on Tuesday to make Green Turtle Bay safely.

In the meanwhile, having a cold beverage on the flybridge while listening to the last strains of the band as the festival comes to an end under a full moon makes for another memorable experience on our RumpShaker Adventure!