We spent two nights at Alton Marina, just upstream from the confluence with the Missouri River. We made great use of the facilities: laundry and pool time! A quick provisioning run was made to a local supermarket which sent out a driver to collect us and then return us after our purchases.
We, girls, multi-tasked playing Scrabble by the pool, seeking relief from the heat at the end of each game. Whilst we were playing, the boys did boy stuff: washing boats, disappearing in their man caves and other boat-related activities.
This morning we left Alton Marina at 6.15am and entered the first of two locks for the day – Mel Price. These locks are for the large tows and have floating bollards which fall and rise with the water. No problems for the first lock.
We then sailed down the Chain of Rocks canal passing a few of the big boys before heading into the Chain of Rocks Lock.
We had a problem. The floating bollard was missing on our wall. With drops of 22 feet, we could not secure to the top of the wall as our lines were not long enough. We moved to the front bollard which did not allow enough room for the lock gates to swing open. We were told to move. The only thing to do was raft to another vessel. Inked Mermaid allowed us to raft up. Manoeuvring in the lock was interesting, as we are a boat with a single engine and no thrusters.
Not far from this lock we encountered the first of many bridges on a very industrial section of the Mississippi River. The section of the river known as St Louis Harbor is heavy with tows and barges, smelly and very unattractive.
Where the city meets the water is the St Louis Gateway Arch, which commemorates the settlers pushing westwards in the 19th century. Unfortunately, there are no marinas or facilities to allow for a stop – just a photo opportunity provided by our buddy boats.
Onwards, sailing south, the current picked up to allow us speeds of in excess of 11 mph. We thought we were flying until a barge and tow overtook us – so humiliating!
At mile 158.5 we reached Hoppies Marina – a gem of a place! It is a barge with a shed that provides a safe harbour on the Mississippi. We were given an informative talk about the river and what to expect, where to expect it and areas to avoid.
I can now say I have set foot in the great state of Missouri. Whilst the boys once again did boat work, we stepped ashore and went for a walk.
So, we are settled here at Hoppies, hoping we are not waked too badly from the many tows that ply their trade.
And having lots of fun with our buddies from Stay Cool and My Time Too!
Someone has to do it!
Such is Life!