At first we were excited to enter the Mississippi River, learn its ways, start a new chapter, become one with Ol’ Man River. I even sang the song “Old Man River” to the XO in my finest baritone. We soon got over that romantic crap. After two days we couldn’t wait to get off it. Why, you ask?
First of all, the current is swift, roiling, unpredictable, and dangerous. Just put the boat in gear and you’re careening along at faster than normal speeds, which actually turned out to be a blessing because we got through it in just 3 days.
Then there’s the tows. I don’t know why they call then “tows.” They’re tug boats pushing as many as 42 huge barges in front of them. These guys are everywhere, they take up the whole channel, and they’re slower than us. Since they have very little maneuverability we always call them on the radio and ask how they want us to pass.
Wing-dams are everywhere as well. These are piles of rock put on the sides of the river to channel the current into the middle. Sometimes you can see them, sometimes not. They could be submerged just under the surface and they’re not marked.
Finally, there are no docks, fuel, or services of any kind for pleasure craft, except for one just south of St. Louis.
Hoppies Marine Service is a few barges strung together on the side of the river. It’s the last fuel stop for well over two hundred miles.
After Hoppies we tied up to a lock wall on the Kaskaskia River. It was off the Mississippi and very calm.
The next night we anchored in a small inlet called The Little Diversion River. Also off the Mississippi, and very calm as well.
After that we anchored behind Boston Bar. It was our last night on the perilous Mississippi River. We both breathed a sigh of relief when we made that left turn onto the Ohio River. It was like sanity had returned to our lives. SOCOBO 11/17/17