Alton, IL to St. Louis, MO to Grand Rivers, KY - No Fuel For Over 250 Miles!
Updated: Jun 4
We got up around 4:45am the day that we left Alton, IL. We wanted to get an early start because our next leg of the trip was about 250 miles, and since we both still work full time, we only have limited time to travel. We filled up both tanks in the boat along with 4 diesel cans and one gas can to bring with us. Aside from Hoppie's Marina in Kimmswick, MO there are not marinas or places to fuel up along this stretch of the trip. We were originally planning on stopping at Hoppie's for a night but after seeing photos of it, we decided to pass and just take extra fuel with us. Yesterday after seeing it in person, I believe we made the right decision! It was a little, er, "rustic" for us, but to each his own!
2 miles into our trip we reached our first lock on the Mississippi River. This area was very busy with commercial traffic since it was so close to St. Louis, MO. Commercial traffic has the right of way in navigating the rivers and in entering the locks. Luckily, the locks in St. Louis have 2 chambers so we didn't have to wait at all for either of them, even though there were barges locking down too. It was so nice not having to wait! These locks were different than the rest we had encountered because instead of the gates closing from behind, they rose up from under the water! It was extra important to go where instructed by the lockmasters with these so our back end didn't get clipped by the gates!
Several Loopers had warned us about the 2nd lock we would encounter on the Mississippi. They said eventually the river splits and one way is the way to the lock and one looks like the natural path of the river, but in fact is instead very treacherous, shallow, and full of rocks and fast current! Last year a boat followed the wrong side by accident, got stuck in the current and ended up hitting the rocks!! The ironic thing is that the same day this happened, Dustin and I were driving to go look at a boat in St. Charles, MO and actually saw this exact boat stuck on the rocks!! Once we arrived at the fork, it was actually really easy to spot where the river split, and there is a huge sign that has an arrow pointing to the left with the word "Lock" on it, so those people must not have been paying attention at all!
Shortly after getting through the Chain of Rocks Lock (Lock #27), we went through downtown St. Louis and right past the arch! We decided not to stop because we've already been up in the arch on a past trip, but it was so cool to see it from our own boat this time!
We ended up also passing a Vikings River Cruise ship (the ones that also do European River cruises). Very nice boat!
After traveling about 98 miles and 12 hours in one day in extreme heat (our boat was 91 inside even with windows open ), we decided to call it quits and found a spot to anchor for the evening before it got dark.
The Mississippi River consistently had about 3 knots of current, which actually helped tremendously with anchoring! Once that anchor grabbed hold, it abruptly stopped us and kept us going the same direction without swinging back and forth, which meant we did not have to worry about swinging into the river or barge traffic.
After anchoring, we took Bella to shore for a walk and Dustin built a stick statue on the beach so we could judge if we were still in the same spot or not once we got back to the boat. We grilled up some steaks and Brussels sprouts while enjoying another beautiful sunset.
After dark, the bugs came out in the masses! Dustin shined our spotlight off the back of the boat and it looked like it was snowing because there were so many!
After trying and failing to cool the boat (and ourselves) down, we headed to bed hoping our battery powered fans would hold out. After our last experience sleeping at anchor (when the anchored dragged), I set an alarm for 1230am to check on the boat and Dustin set one for 3am. All was good throughout the night this time and we both actually got some really good sleep!!
The next morning, we woke up to some very dense fog and since we had to take our radar down with the mast, we had no way of navigating through it.
We took Bella to shore for a walk while we waited for it to lift and ended up finding a Bald Eagle feather!
We left the anchorage around 830am the next morning on the next long leg of the weekend, hoping to end up in Paducah, KY by the following evening!
Below are some of the sights along the Mississippi throughout the second travel day of our trip from Alton to Paducah!
I tried getting photos of the current in the water but you can't tell at all by the photos just how much there was. We drove through some decent sized whirlpools at times! Normally the boat cruises around 7-7.5 knots and we were going 11 knots on the Mississippi!!
Since we were making such good time, we decided to cruise right on past Paducah, KY, which had been our planned stopping point, and went all the way to Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand Rivers, KY instead!