Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dangerous Turns!!

After being docked by the barge in St. Louis for 2 night we sailed down to Kimmswick, MO. We docked at  Hoppies Marina in Kimmswick. This marina is run by an older couple, Hoppie & Fern. They have been running this place for over 30 years. Fern kindly went over the charts with me and another docked boater, pointing out dangerous turns where there is a lot of turbulence and current. She also pointed out few good anchorage locations, but there are no marinas for the next 230 miles. 
There is so much commercial traffic on the river. When we were docked at Hoppie's, barges passed by and created wakes that would make me nervous! Few times the mast moved slightly forward and backward and the stands the mast is laying on would make noises.I was not comfortable with that!
On Thursday evening, Rachael took the train back to Chicago, Jesse and Jessica gave me ride back to Earthling from the train station, and on Friday morning I was all by myself ready to sail Mississippi southbound!
The Friday passage went well. I have been so lucky with the weather, sunny every day since we left Chicago. I made 41 miles in 4.5hrs. The current adds up to 5kt to the boat speed. I keep the RPM down so it doesn't put much pressure on the engine and also save fuel. Fuel was topped in Grafton and the gauge is just below full right now & I made 170 miles!
Last night I docked on a wall in Kaskaskia river by Kaskaskia Dam & Lock. First night by myself on Earthling. For the first time I watched a movie aboard. I have a 4TB external drive with lots of movies, shows and documentaries.
The passage today was 70 miles down the river. In the morning I made breakfast and lunch ready for the 7.5 hr passage. When you are solo on the river, you can't really take your hands off the wheel, so you have to make sure you have everything ready and handy. I got the charts, log book, radio, phone, life vest, and camera always handy on deck! Yesterday I passed one of the dangerous points at mile 130 (crook light) and it went smooth. There are under water vents at these turns, the depth drops to 60-70ft and you see whirlpools & lots of turbulence. The lady (Fern) at Hoppies Marina advised us to radio ahead and see if there are any barges going through at those points and if there are any, we should wait till they pass. It would not be safe to pass barges around these turns. 
Today, at mile 84 (fountain bluff bar), I called ahead and nobody replied, repeated and no reply. I motor closer and didn't see any other traffic so I proceeded through. The whirlpools at this turn were really strong. I was scared it would suck down the dinghy. I passed through without any problems. Few miles after I passed a barge that was going northbound, which created big waves and the wind helped building up the waves, the waves were 4'-5' and there were few of them. I hit the first one and the mast moved more than ever before, as the second was coming through I put my hand on the mast I was hoping it's going to be ok, NOT!!
The mast moved backward, forward and all the four stands broke and the mast landed on deck.
The bow pulpit bend & held the mast from falling off. Two of the reserve fuel tanks were hanging on the side and almost fell off. So I put the wheel on lock, grabbed a knife, cut the lines attached to the tanks, took the tanks to the cockpit, grabbed couple dock lines & secured the mast down on either side. I was so lucky the damage wasn't bad. It could been worse!
I am currently anchored on Little River Diversion. I worked on the mast as soon as anchored before it got dark. I will secure it more tomorrow morning before the next passage. I just hope I can make it safe to Green Turtle Marina in Kentucky lake. Over there most likely the mast will be rigged. It would feel so much better if the mast was up, maybe I could sail down Kentucky lake! Thanks for reading!   


  1. Hi George, Wow! What a scare. Glad it turned out ok and glad you didn't lose the jerry cans.

    I just met on line a couple who also left from Chicago in Sept and are heading round the world on their Halbery Rasey 35 called Rasmus. They are heading out the Great Lakes to Erie canal and are currently stuck in Buffalo with a blown out transmission. Anyway, I gave them your blog and here is theirs:
    They are a young couple and so maybe you'll hook up with each other down island.

    Take care,

  2. That's great. I will go on their blog and keep in touch with them.