We got up at 0500 in anticipation of being able to lock through early. Dennis from Reunion was going to call the Melvin Price Lock and Dam #26 that was two miles downriver to see when we could lock through. He found that they could lock us at 0700 so we were off the dock at 0640. Other boats in the flotilla were Namaste, Blue Heron and Gemini.
We pulled into the lock, at mile 200.8, on schedule with a green light blinking at us to proceed. This lock had floating bollards (bollards that go up and down with the water and are in indentations in the lock wall) on the east wall enough for all five boats to tie off. This lock is 600 feet long. In no time we had dropped the 23’ and were off down the Mississippi toward Saint Louis.
At mile 195.5 the Missouri River empties into the Mississippi River. If anything the Missouri makes the Mississippi River even more muddy. I now have a better understanding of how the delta at the mouth of the Mississippi is built. All along this stretch of river is the waterfront of St. Louis, Missouri.
The St. Louis riverfront, surprisingly, has no overnight marina. We did see stern wheeler river boats and passed right by the iconic Arch. The river is flowing through this area to about three miles per hour.
At mile 194.1 we entered the Chain of Rocks Canal taking us to the Chain of Rocks Locks at mile 185. This bypasses a section of river with rapids in it just south of St. Louis. The locks were open and waiting for all five boats to go directly in and take a floating bollard. We felt so fortunate to have made these two locks today without any waiting. This gave us plenty of time to make our destination for the day at Kimmswick, mile 158.
When we exited the locks the canal blended with the Mississippi and there was significant turbulence where the waters met. This portion of the river had tows all over the place. Some moving for us to meet and pass and others stationary along the riverbanks or anchored in the river. Making our way through this maze keeps you on your toes. Additionally, the river has wing dams along the banks but particularly on the inside of corners. Wing dams divert the water along the bank to the main channel preserving the banks but also increasing the water flow in the main channel which scourers the bottom and keeps it from silting in.
As we were making 11 to 12 mph over the ground our trip to Hoppie’s at Kimmswick took about an hour less time than it would have at our normal cruising speed. In no time we arrived, met the famous Fern who runs the place and were moored along with five other looper boats. Hoppies is right on the river, no breakwater and is just a string of old barges anchored there. Fern does sell fuel, has electricity but that is the end of the services available. It is really the only place to stop after Alton and then it is another 42 miles to the next reasonable stop so a stop at Hoppie’s is almost mandatory.
Crews from five looper boats all walked into the town of Kimmswick together to have lunch at the Blue Owl. This is a highly touted restaurant that pretty much makes the town of Kimmswick. The food ordered by everyone was delicious and so was the dessert. This restaurants reputation is well deserved.
We wiled away the afternoon and then had chart hour aboard Reunion and dinner on our own. Thus ended a very satisfying and enjoyable day.