Beginning Location: Alton, IL
Ending Location: Kaskaskia River
Miles Traveled: 85
Stayed at: Kaskaskia Lock Wall
On Friday October 4 we began the 300 mile trip from Alton, IL to Grand Rivers, KY. This stretch is particularly difficult because there is only one fuel stop and no real marinas. For a boat that travels at our speeds (6.5 to 7 mph without any current) this means at least 5 days away from civilization.
We talked with many people and read a lot of information about this leg. We stocked up on food, water and diesel. We were as ready as we were going to get, so it was time to go.
We woke up at 5:30 Friday morning and got ourselves prepped to leave. Another boat wanted to get going at first light, so we followed them to Mel Price Lock, just two miles from Alton Marina. After that, we were on our own, seeing only three other pleasure boats in the next 5 days.
The Mississippi River is deep and at times pretty narrow, which means we got an incredible speed burst by going downstream and with the current. At times our slow sailboat was traveling at 10 mph. We probably averaged 9 mph over our 200 miles downstream.
After Mel Price Lock, we got through the Chain of Rocks Canal, a skinny “ditch” where the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers come together. This canalized portion of the river avoids the rapids on the other side. At the end of the canal was the Chain of Rocks Lock. We had a minimal wait at the lock and then were is St. Louis Harbor.
St. Louis is a pretty big town, so you’d think there would be marinas, or at least day docks so boaters could visit the town. Not so much. The riverfront here is all industrial and very busy with barge traffic. We were passed by a small tow just as we were passing the St. Louis Arch and followed him through much of the traffic, so it all worked out pretty smoothly for us.
The rest of the day we just flew.
We were able to travel 85 miles is just over 10 hours, including our waiting time at two locks. We spent the night at the Kaskaskia River Lock. The lockmasters there allow pleasure boats to tie up to the lock wall, giving us a quiet and secure place to spend the night. We forgot to take pictures (!) but it was a really peaceful place after a busy day on the river.