We had decided to leave soon after 0800 so I could buy some ice for the YETI before we headed out. It had been hot and was going to be hot for the next few days. We were going to tie to a lock wall and then anchor out for the next few days so needed as much fresh ice as possible to make it to our next opportunity to get some ice.
At 0805 there was no sign of any Hoppie’s employees so I just took the ice I needed from their open ice storage and left the money on top of the machine weighted down with something that was lying there.
We were able to get off the Hoppie’s barge mooring at 0815 pulling out into a three mph current. It was a very nice, sunny day but soon was hot. It was great going down the river making over 12 mph at times when we were moving through the water at only about 7.5 mph. We enjoyed the strong current and really made good time.
We met several tows that were three barges wide and six barges long. This made the compiled tow over 100 feet wide and nearly a quarter of a mile long with the towboat included. We could see them coming toward us on the AIS before we could see them visually so always had lots of warning they were coming. This gave us the chance to get out of the way. We had learned on the Illinois River to call them on the vhf as soon as we knew where in the river we would be passing them. After letting them know we were coming we would find out from them what would be the most appropriate side of them on which to pass. Port to port is called passing on the “one” and starboard to starboard is called passing on the “two”. Since they knew which half of the channel they would likely be utilizing to maintain their course they knew which side would be the safest. Because they were pushing this incredible load against the current they increased their propeller thrust to combat the current. They left a huge amount of turbulence behind them so even though we stayed to the side of the channel for quite awhile after passing them we still had to deal with the fact that they stirred up the entire river and it remained churned up for the next half mile or so.
Even though we were traveling faster than the tows through the water they were also making good time when traveling down river. It took us a long time to catch up to these tows but when we did and established which side we would be passing on it took forever to get by them.
We had been warned by Fern of Hoppie’s that we should watch out for the turbulence in the narrow channel at mile 130 and that we should avoid meeting or passing tows in that stretch of water. We made sure we had the river to ourselves via AIS before heading into and rounding the bend in the river. Fern was right. There was significant turbulence, upwelling, whirlpools in that stretch of the river such that the boat was thrown of course constantly.
We average such a good speed that in four hours and 10 minutes we rounded he corner to head up the Kaskaskia River. Just a short way up the river is the Kaskaskia Lock and Dam and here pleasure boats are allowed to tie up along the outside wall of the lock. There was no one else on the wall when we arrived and the lockmaster said we could moor anywhere we liked on the wall, that we could get off our boats and walk on the our side of the lock wall but that we could not climb the ladders to get off of the wall. That was fine with us as it was no different than anchoring.
Namaste came in right behind us and before too long Reunion, Gemini and Blue Haven were there as well. We got in early so had time to relax, read, and nap. Soon it was time for Chart Hour aboard Namaste and then dinner on our own before an early to bed. It was still hot so we used the fan running off of the inverter most of the night with the forward hatch wide open.