Sept. 7, 2012

LaGrange, Missouri UM 336 to UM 290

This morning we woke to some very ominous clouds looming north of us. We walk up to Casey’s for some coffee and ice. Back at “the Belle” we load up our fuel tanks on the hand truck and back to Casey’s to fill up. Once done and loaded we pull out ahead of the looming clouds heading our way. We make a quick 9 miles to Quincy, Illinois where we pull over to the sea wall and tie off. Gator goes for some coffee across the way to “Kutters Bar and Grill” while I stay with the boat and blog……..oh boy how I love to blog. There is a good signal here and I catch up while Gator returns with the coffee and takes a few photos.

Quincy, Illinois

Gator pulls out a chair on the lawn next to the sea wall and catches up on his notes as he is my memory on this trip. For me, the locks, the towns, the boat ramps and all the other stops all run together and I don’t know whether I’m coming or going……pretty much how I am anyway. Gator reads me his notes and I type, that’s the system.

OK now, as we pull away from the sea wall we try to trim the motor back down and it won’t move. *&^%%$# . Luckily it’s down enough that it is sucking water so we continue on to lock 21. Two miles down we enter the lock still wondering about the trim problem. Once in the lock we discussed what could be wrong with the trim. For those of you who don’t know what the trim is, it is the ability to raise or lower the motor electrically. This enables us to raise the motor when we are in shallow waters, a necessity on this trip. Gator checks the battery connection and walla…..the trim works again.Easy fix as it must have vibrated loose.

As the lock spits us out on the lower side, I love that term, we sail on down for the next 14 miles without incident to Hannibal, Missouri, the birth place of Mark Twain. This is one of my favorite towns along the river. Back in 2009 when I made this trip with Tom Haney ( we pulled in to find a street party and barbeque cook-off. It was a blast, with live music, dancing and of course food. That was not happening this trip but we were able to visit a cool bar called “Rumor Has It” where we enjoyed a beer and some lunch. Tenneil was tending bar, the same as last year when we stopped in. She served us up some cool beer and some good eats and sent us on our way bak to “the Belle.”

Hannibal, Missouri

As we leave Hannibal behind we encounter 3 foot waves at our back. This seems like a good thing having the wind at our back for a change, but it turns horribly wrong in a matter of minutes. Now there is no way I can describe to you how vulnerable we are at this point, solely at the mercy of the river and mother nature. This river is so large that the wind creates enormous waves that will toss you around like a toy, just like what is happening to us. This is my third trip down this river and I have never experienced this. It’s amazing how conditions can change so quickly. The waves coming from our back are lifting “the Belle” up and surfing us down into the water and picking us back up again. It is taking all I have to keep her straight. If we get sideways for one second, we will go over. This is the first time in 3 trips that I have put on my PFD (personal floatation device). We dealt with these condintions for several hours as the rain and wind continued, a typical Mississippi River Valley storm.

Lock 22 came into view and a sense of relief was present as we thought, once inside the lock, the waves would subside. This was indeed not the case as it only got worse…….much worse! With no wait, the gates to our haven open and as we approach, the waves got even worse from the wind and now the turbulence entering into the lock. We were bounced like a top, the gates closing behind us. Now we are in a box with 3 foot waves crashing all around us. The lockmaster yells to stay off the walls as we would be smashed to pieces in this chop. For 10 minutes, while the water lowered in the lock, I did all I could to stay off the walls and keep “the Belle” in one piece.

The gates of hell finally opened and we spilled out to the same chop on the lower side of the lock. Ominous dark clouds followed us and rain and wind until darkness began to fall. Gator and I discussed our options of trying to make Louisianna, Missouri or take the first shelter we can find. We manuever between 2 islands to an inlet and hopefully a safe haven for the night. It turns out to be an awesome place to camp. We tie up to some logs in deep water and batten down the hatches to keep out the wind and rain. Once secured, I cook some supper, we break out the beverages and chill after an interesting day. As we sit, listening to the rain die down, we discuss our exit options and watch as the sky fills up with stars. Soon, we climb into our racks and fall out. Sometime, during the night, I get up for a brief look at the clear skies and I hear none other than cayotes howling in the night…..never did I think I would hear this on the river……such is the river.

Safe Haven


One Response to “Sept. 7, 2012”

  1. tcflykat Says:

    WOW! Pretty intense! Time can seem to drag on forever when doom and gloom are in the picture. So, Hannibal. That’s where I caught a bus to the airport when I left last year. Not sure how I got to Hannibal. Hmmm…

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