Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cape Girardeau or Bust!


Cape Girardeau is a well known location for loopers. Oh, not for any great marinas (none) or wonderful ambiance (college town). It is known as the location of the only fuel stop, Kidds Fuel,  on the Mississippi River between Hoppies and Green Turtle Bay marina in Kentucky…and then its only diesel. But for me “Cape” as we Missourians call it is the home of Southeast Missouri State University, otherwise known as SEMO. This is where my two sons, Bryan and Kevin, attended school. So I have some familiarity with it. And to see it from the river was an interesting experience. Not the rock show in my mind experience of cruising past downtown St. Louis but it was kind of fun.

Trivial Self Indulgent Side Note – Cape Girardeau was also the sight of a messy little occurrence several years ago. There is now a beautiful bridge across the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau. There used to be an ugly, decrepit old span that the new bridge replaced. After the new bridge was finished and opened it was decided to blow the old one up, or down as the case was. Funny thing happened – the old bridge decided to save taxpayers a bunch of money and just fell into the river on its own. Like I said, trivial, but weird.

We left Hoppies just after 6:30am because this leg was 106 miles long, the longest leg that we have cruised anytime on the loop. It was cloudy again but a tad warmer and no rain. Even with the cloud cover the visibility was excellent. The first third of the cruise was very uneventful…nary a tow or hazard anywhere. The middle third got a bit more interesting. There were numerous tows to negotiate around and some very sharp corners where barge traffic would be challenging. Fern at Hoppies warned us about this. With the water being so low (and it IS very low) some of these tight corners were narrow and harrowing both for us and I am sure the tows. The last third was back to a routine with wider and straighter waters. The current varied from location to location but we ended up with an officially calculated and logged average speed of 11.3 mph, which is fast for Why Knot. There was even a point that she got up to 14.6 mph, which was like warp speed. There were also some pools of turbulence that would sashay the boat around.

Midway through the afternoon we called Kidds and gently reminded them that we had politely called the day before to ask if we could dock there. Charlie (I guess Charlie Kidd himself) told us that it was still ok but there would be a fifty foot cruiser there and we would have to raft. That was ok with us but we hadn’t seen a fifty foot cruiser anywhere. So, like, where is the boat that we would raft up to? As these things seem to work out a few minutes later we were hailed by the fifty footer as she was going to overtake us. They told us that they knew who we were and that it would be fine to raft. We arrived in Cape Girardeau about 4:00pm and the crew of Pampered III was waiting to tie us on with them. They are a delivery crew. We asked what time they wanted to cast off on Thursday and they told us about 5:30am. We have gotten into a rut of going to sleep around 7:30pm and waking up at 3:30am so this was fine with us.

This did discombobulate our Thursday cruise plan a bit. Originally we were going to cruise 59 miles to an anchorage called Angelo Towhead which is just up river on the Mississippi from the confluence with the Ohio River. Then the next day we would cruise up the Ohio, albeit slowly due to its downriver current, to the mouth of the Cumberland River to anchor, where the next day we would cruise into Lake Barkley and Green Turtle Bay Marina. The challenge is that if we leave at 5:30 am we would arrive at Angelo Towhead about 10:30am. That would be a very early day and kind of a waste of good predicted boating weather. (NWS, where is that sunshine you have been promising? Oh,Thursday? Great!) So what we will probably do is continue up the Ohio to a mooring field 17 miles up near where a new super-lock at Olmstead, IL is being built. Doable. But the current of the Ohio is very strong with the runoff from Hurricane Sandy. Hmmm. We’ll see.  

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