Log # 6a The Mississippi River

November 6, 1998 in Log Series 02 - 07, Series 06 Mississippi - Ten Tom to Mobile Bay, The Logs

Log # 6a The Mississippi River
Nov. 6, 1998
Tombigbee River, Alabama
on board Veleda IV

Hi Folks,
We are motoring through southern Alabama as I key this E‑mail in. It was cold this morning, but most of the days it has been warm and sunny in the 25 to 30 C. range. I have heard from several who received our E‑mail, thank you. I understand from Franz at our THSC that one of the E‑mail I tried to send as an attachment did not come through. I will work on it as I have it saved, but can not copy and paste it on my E‑mail, yet. Here is another log on our experience on the Mississippi and our one week off Veleda to visit friends and family.
All is well with us. We look forward to getting E‑mail from our friends when we are at various marinas. Because of time pressure on some one else’s phone line, we cannot reply immediately to the E‑mails we pick up, and thus replies will have to wait until our next stop.

Here is Log #6a
Take care,

Nov.6, 1998
Tombigbee River, Alabama
Log #6a
Mississppi River

Our first night at anchor in the Mississippi was safe, but we had some anxiety about the thumps and bumps as the logs and debris hit our anchor rode and clunked down the side of the boat. The colour of the river was even dirtier than the Illinois River. Here it was a sandy dark brown with lines of sediment visible in addition to the logs, branches, sticks and other garbage floating by. We were off the main channel and had little wake caused by the tow traffic.

Our task this first day on the Mississippi was to locate a marina where we could leave Veleda for a week, as I had tickets to fly out to Salt Lake City on the 9th of Oct. and today was the 8th. We had originally planned to leave Veleda at anchor in Pere Marquette Park just before the Illinois River joined the Mississippi, but the entrance was too shallow for us. I thought it would be a more precarious operation launching the dinghy from our Dinghy Tow system in a four knot current, but I was able to release it from the towing arms from the cockpit, and just pulled it alongside the boarding gate to enter it. The outboard started O.K. and off we went to check out a coulple of the marinas by dinghy, rather than taking Veleda and risk grounding in shallow openings.

The first marina we entered was Venetian Harbour. There was an old paddlewheel steamer at the outer breakwater, and a narow entrance into their harbour, lined on both sides with covered docks. No one was around. We wound our way in through the zig zag maze of docks to try to find the main office. We finally came alongside a dock with a gangway going up to shore and some old buildings that may have been workshops. We saw a 36 foot sailboat on the hard with mast alongside getting ready to be stepped. and fresh paintwork in evidence. We finally found the office and asked about weekly rates. The price was satisfactory, ( about $150 for a week), and the secretary was very helpful and would also give us a ride into the airport the next day. We thanked her and said we would get back later. On our way out, we sounded the entrance, from the dinghy, and found no more than four feet depth and we draw four and a half. So, that settled that.

As we motored on down to the next big marina, I noticed a narrow, seemingly deserted channel going back to some sailboats about 100 yards off river. Judy thought it might be an abandoned or secondary entrance for the next marina. However, I wanted to explore it, first sounding the opening, which was between four to six feet, then going up the channel to see where it came out. As we got to the end of the channel, we saw some covered docks, so we continued. At the end of the 100 yards of covered docks we noticed open docks with sailboats. The we saw a Canadian flag among the sailboats, and here we found Rod Brown and Ino, who we had not seen since Detour Passage, and whom we had heard had difficulty in stepping his mast at the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago.

We had a good long chat with him and some local sailors who invited us to bring Veleda in. This turned out to be Sioux Harbour “Yacht Club”. The price was right ($50.00 U.S. = $75.00 Canadian) for the week, and they would also be able to use their crane to step our mast back on deck for another $50.00. We went out and brought Veleda in, and settled in for the next ten days (included in the $50.00). The next day, Nov. 9, we stepped the mast with the help of Rod, a couple of workers at the club, and a couple of other  boaters in the morning; then Casey, the Harbourmaster, gave us a ride into the airport.

I caught my flight to Salt Lake City, and Judy went in to St Louis and arranged to catch a bus to Buffalo where her sister lives, then later home to Toronto to visit her parents.

The flight out west was spectacular. I had a window seat, and the weather was clear. I saw the Missouri River snaking its way and the smaller tributaries meandering through the midwest. The farm lands of Kansas were interesting as many of the farm fields had circular contours. They reminded me of that TV ad for chocolates making circular indentations in the farm fields. Apparently this feature is related to a central irrigation system that rotates around the central water supply. The foothills and the mountains in Colorado were fascinating  The shadows of the valleys, and then the snow that was visible on some of the ranges, and what appeared to be a forest fire, all held my interest for the rest of the trip through to the mountains and landing in Salt Lake City.

I had a most enjoyable week out there with my friends Richard and Sherrie Austin, whom I met over in Japan four years ago. They took me all around the area of Salt Lake City, and up to where the Winter Olympics will be held in 2002. We went south to Bryce National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park Fantastic geological features! I liked Zion best as it was a canyon that we could see from the top entrance, then motor and hike through the bottom of it. The cliffs were spectacular. We saw several “masochistic” mountain climbers half way up a 1000 foot sheer rock wall in two separate sections. The minarettes and castles of Bryce National Park were stunning in their extent, colours and depths. I wished we could have camped there for a few days and explored the areas more thoroughly. The weather was warm and clear. Over at the Grand Canyon we could see a mountain that was 64 miles away. The visibility was limitless. The trees were turning and their colours highlighted and accentuated the vibrant colours of the rocks, cliffs, canyons, and summits. We were on the north rim of the Canyon. To try to drive around over to the south rim would have been over 200 miles around. We didn’t drive around or go down into the canyon. We were there at sunset Spectacular!

The Austins have a lovely home about 45 miles from Salt Lake City in Springville, nestled beside the mountains. I love mountainous country. We went horseback riding one day, right from their home where they keep three riding horses in small pastures behind their house. We went up and along a ridge overlooking Springville. A lovely sight. Later we took the horses up Hobble Creek Canyon and went for a longer ride through the canyon up into the upper fields above it and back. This experience of horseback riding was my first since I was a kid on the small circular rides we used to have in the Dundas Driving Park in my home town.

Richard and Sherrie are Mormons and I had the pleasure of attending their chuch and touring the Temple Square in Salt Lake City with them. I find the history and story of their chuch quite intriguing. The treck west under Brigham Young reminded me of the Exodus in the Old Testament. When we were up in Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan, we learned about another persecution of the Mormons there where they were attacked by mobs and forced off the island, which they  had developed in the 1850’s.

Another small awareness I developed while with them ‑‑ I am addicted to caffeine! The Mormons value taking good care of the body and do not put any drugs into their bodies, including alcohol, tea and coffee. No problem. However after a day or so with them, I was developing headaches. I took some ibuprofen that eased them, thinking it was the high altitude that caused them.

However, when they persisted each day, I realized that it was from not having any caffeine. So I found a Coke would ease them. When we were touring Brigham Young University, I had a headache, and in the bookstore tried to buy a Coke. However Richard let me know that on campus there was no alcohol, cigarettes, coffee or tea. Any pop was caffeine free or diet pop. I had to wait until we were off campus to buy a Coke. As this addiction to caffeine is a rather benign addiction, I did not feel like going cold turkey to kick the habit and suffer the headaches while on such a visit. Richard of course was very understanding and got a chuckle out of my addiction.

Also that weekend was their “Homecoming ” at BYU, and Richard and I went to see the BYU Cougars defeat Nevada State in grand style before a cheering crowd of over 60,000 fans.

In returning to St Louis, I was to rendezvous with Judy who was flying in from Toronto at the same time. Before leaving Salt Lake City, I phoned Mike Bartlow a fellow boater we met before leaving Veleda, and he and his wife agreed to meet us at the airport. This was greatly appreciated as there was no bus or limousine service to the community of Portage Des Souix where the marina was. Mike wouldn’t accept even any gas money, so we took them out to the local pub for their Friday night special, all you can eat catfish fry. Veleda was fine in our absence. The next day Judy went up to St. Charles with Carole, Mike’s wife,for grocery shopping.We greatly appreciated the help Mike and Carole and several other boaters there gave us.

We were going to leave around noon, but we found the local St. Louis Power and Sail Squadron was having a Chili competeion in the shelter ashoreand we were invited to participate. They were a friendly group and came down to see our boat and to see us off. Before leaving we exchanged Toronto and St. Louis Power Squadron pennants.

We got off about 1500 with the plan to go five miles down river to Alton Marine to refuel water and have what we thought would be a final pump out. We had been told by several people that there were few pump out facilities on the Mississippi, and we were going to reconnect our Y‑valve. However, when we attempted to open the through hull we found it was cracked, and we had to shut it off again. The next day as I was at the marina office sending out E‑mail and seeing if a mechanic could instal a new through hull, we met Jim White, one of the boaters from the St. Louis Power Squadron we had met the day before, who then offered to drive us up to the local West Marine to buy the through hull. To install the through hull would be a bit complicated and might necessitate hauling Veleda to do it. SO, we decided to try to tough it out until we got into warmer, clearer water where we will do it ourselves, as then we can swim overboard to put an outside patch on while we change it. Thank you Jim for the lift to West Marine.

Now we start on our trip down the fabled Mississippi River to be continued in Log #6b.