Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Alton Marina to Hoppies … Fern & Hoppies Place

Day 159 … Tuesday, Sept 26, 2017 … 43 miles, 5:45 hours

Alton Marina to Hoppies Barge Marina

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Decision made at docktails, we are heading on down to Hoppies. We aren’t waiting, but trying to get ahead.

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8 Boats left at 8am and headed for the lock. Lock master was basically ready for us, having been alerted earlier by our spokesperson & a delivery captain (who joined into our merry band of boats) and specifying 8am would work in his schedule.

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For the first time we rafted off a boat while locking. We were beside the delivery captain, who was moving a boat for an owner. We did the same thing at the 2nd lock.

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The lock master warned us of all the debris in the lock … OMG … a lot of stuff to maneuver around

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The approach to the second lock is through a canal … All Boats Enter HereHoppies S26 (55)

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After the 2nd lock, we passed by St Louis … we all took pics of other boats and had our pics taken by the famous arch.

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Unfortunately, St Louis is one of the few water front towns WITHOUT a water front presence for boaters. No town walls or town marina … no way to stop by boat and spend time or money in town. Such a shame, I bet most of our group would have stopped.

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Scenes along the way to Hoppies …

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Couple pics of the WING DAMNS … rock piles that stretch from shore out into the Mississippi. They are built to reduce sediment in the navigable channel.

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In years of normal or high water, these wing damns are under water and not visible. I like that we can see them, even if they are outside the buoy marked channel.

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On to Hoppies, quite the institution. Fern & Hoppie own and run the marina (now in their mid 80’s), which is a series of barges tied together by a small town. Fern is famous for her 4:30pm “briefing” on the water conditions we will see further down the Mississippi and onto the Ohio, where we can anchor, where not to go and basic local education on traversing the Mississippi. The town is popular for the Blue Owl Restaurant with Mile High Apple Pie.

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Upon arrival the 7 of us had to wait our turns in the hot heat … Hoppies was clearly going to be packed. Each boat had to come in when called, boats had to be moved to squeeze the next boat in … but, we all made it! no one had to raft and Cally could get to shore. The barge we were on was red hot on top; I thought I would have to put Cally’s non skid booties on her to run across. I waited just a bit for the sun to go behind a cloud and then ran her across the short section of the hot barge onto the rest of the barges which were white and not hot.

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Hoppies S26 (2)Did I mention it was hot?? Our AC wouldn’t stay on … not enough juice from the power pedestal. A dock hand checked and the local electric company had less than full electric flowing into Hoppies. A dock hand said we could split onto different phases and that should work. It did!! This meant stop using our big expensive splitter cord. No problem, right? Well, it is if you forget to take it with you when you leave. Yep. that’s what we did; without knowing it.

With the dog dooty and the AC issue, we did not roll into town for the late lunch with everyone else. Fern even had to call the restaurant to “tell” them to stay open until our group got up the hill to them. Everyone knows Fern and everyone listens to Fern! However, Mike on Gettin Looped called and asked if we wanted him to bring us back the Mile High Apple Pie … YES!!!

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Fern’s briefing was full of info with mile markers of places to be careful, names of places that we could anchor (lots of usual anchorages are not available as water is too low for us to get in). She also warned the river can drop 2’ in a day, so pay attention to depths when anchoring to allow for this drop. AND??? In the morning, the river was down almost 2’. Still plenty of depth at Hoppies.

Early to bed … it will be an early morning departure again. This stretch is the most dreaded on the Loop. You just basically have to get it over with. Having buddy boats makes it much more doable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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