The most current log is at the bottom. Just scroll down to see later logs.

 

Log dated September 9, 2007:

This is the beginning of the log for Samana’s trip down the Upper Mississippi River to Cairo, Illinois, and the down the Lower Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. Why not use the Tenn-Tom waterway? I have traveled that water way three times, so I am looking for a new adventure.

The planned departure window is from Monday, October 15 to Monday, November 5, 2007. The actual day of the departure is dependent on the following:

Links to logs:

Captain's Log October 16 to October 29, 2007

Captain's Log October 30 to November 7, 2007

Captain's Log November 8 to November 12, 2007

Captain's Log November 13 to November 19, 2007

Captain's Log November 20 to November 30, 2007

 

Captains Log started on October 16, 2007 and ending on October 29, 2007

 

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We departed the Lake City Marina, slip 936, at 1608 hours after saying goodbye to Rod Terbeest and Gail Quittem. Rod took video of the departure and Gail took some still pictures. We did not get very far as Art had some items for Pepin Area Schools Science. Samana anchored off the Pickle Factory and we took the dinghy ashore for supper at the Pickle Factory. It was a pleasant evening.


I think Art means that it was a pleasant evening at the Pickle Factory.  It rained all day.  Jean

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We got a late start and weighed anchor at 0920 hours. At 1050 hours we docked at the public docks in Wabasha and walked to the post office to deposit mail. We then took a short walk around town before departing at 1130 hours. We did our first lock at Lock and Dam 4 at Alma, WI. Later at 1645 we locked through Lock and Dam 5 at Minnesota City. We docked at Fountain City, WI shortly after 5 PM, visited friends, had supper, and called it a day.

Thanks John and Judy for the tour of your classic cars and the pizza.  Fountain City is a beautiful little river town.  Again, it rained all day.  Jean

 

Thursday, October 18, 2007

At 0718 hours we started the diesel and cast off the dock lines for another day on the river. We were through Lock 5A by 0822 hours. The wind and rain picked up for the rest of the day. At 850 hours we docked at the public docks, Winona, MN, to empty water from the dinghy so it would trail better and not have so much drag. We were underway again by 0857 hours. We locked through 6, 7, and 8 before setting anchor about 1820 hours. The wind was gusting hard from the south, making anchoring a real challenge. Two anchors were set, one from the bow and one from the stern, to keep the sail boat from swinging completely around the bow anchor. It was nice to get inside the cabin where it was warm and dry. Supper sure was good! Then we checked the cell phones for messages and discovered there was no cell service at Upper Mississippi River Mile 675.8 Right Descending Bank below Genoa, Wisconsin.

Rain, wind, and more rain.  I didn’t mind the galley duties today.  At least it was warm and dry in the cabin!  Jean

 

Friday, October 19, 2007

The two anchor set was easy to remove. The stern anchor came up on the second try. The first try failed since the wind and current took the boat sideways and put high pressure on the stern rode. The bow anchor was easy to weigh since the wind was now in the west instead of the south against the current.


We observed many flocks of waterfowl sitting on the water, sand bars, rock outcroppings, and downed trees while traveling across Lake Winneshiek south of Lansing, Iowa. There were no ducks where the duck hunters had set up decoys and blinds. It seems the waterfowl know how to spot hunters!


The rain finally stopped in the afternoon but the wind remained high and from the west. There were only two locks today with no waits. I radioed them and they were ready for us when we arrived. This certainly helped our speed today, which averaged 6.4 miles per hour for the day, including locking time. The best speed observed was 7.8 miles per hour with the current and wind favoring us. The average speed over the last three days, including lock delays, was 5.4 miles per hour. This is averaged over the time we weigh anchor until we anchor again and the total number of miles we traveled for the day.


We docked at the public docks in Guttenberg, Iowa, and were invited to socialize with a couple that had parked their motor home on the parking lot by the docks. They had cruised on a sailboat for three years and were interested in what we were doing. It was a very nice visit.

 

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just a hang out day working on stowing the stuff that got wet in Lake City while loading the boat. We are only stowing the stuff that has finally dried out! Also put 25 gallons of diesel from deck cans into boat fuel tank.


Art offered to buy dinner in town.  What a treat – a reprieve from the galley!  We ended up at a bar & grill where I made the poor choice of ordering Chinese.  Jean

 

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Worked on boat systems, clean raw water filter and removed debris. We continue to stowing more things while waiting for Jean’s mom to arrive in the afternoon. We had a nice visit at supper at the Mississippi River Restaurant over looking the river, but we did not see the river since it gets dark so early!


Art needs to clarify that HE had a nice dinner with my mother and her friends, Paul and Jan Fynskov, who came to visit for a couple days and see us off.  I spent the day recovering from my earlier meal and couldn’t keep any food down all day.  Jean

 

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just a nice day visiting and enjoying Guttenberg, IA. There is a pizza and ice-cream shop that has really good ice-cream cones with large scoops for a very reasonable price. We left the dock late in the day and anchored out on the river.

The temperature kept rising on the engine, so took ends off of heat exchanger and cleaned out impeller parts!
I recovered and felt great today!  Had a good visit with my Mom and the Fynskovs.  Guttenberg is a beautiful, historic, small German town.  The river, bluffs and fall colors were beautiful in this area.  Thanks for coming over to see us, Mom!  Jean

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We were underway by 7:30 am and started overheating again. We stopped at the public dock above the Ice Harbor in Dubuque, IA, and visited the museum. The exhibits were outstanding with several large aquariums filled with fish native to the Mississippi river. The only part that was not authentic was the water in the aquariums which was very clear so you could see the fish. Where was the muddy Mississippi River water? There were several species of turtle including a soft shell which I did not know existed! There were examples of old river boats, history items, and a tow simulator with a very large viewing screen for steering a barge up river. This is a must see if you are traveling the Upper Mississippi River past Dubuque, Iowa. After the museum, we went back to the boat and I found the overheating problem. There was debris at the inlet to the pump and after removing it, all was OK.

 

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This was another nice day on the river. There are a lot of water fowl which are a joy to watch. Pelicans, Mud ducks, Cormorants, Canada geese, etc.

 

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The current is strong at the anchor spot. This must come from the Minnesota and Iowa rains of the past several weeks. I had to take a small branch and a small log from the anchor rode before the anchor could be weighed (raised) and stowed on the deck.

 

Friday, October 26, 2007

No shore time today, just motoring on the river towards New Orleans.

 

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The cabin stays warm with the diesel furnace and is a nice place to step into to warm up and sit and eat a hot meal. It is chilly on deck so we wear layers of clothing and thick gloves to stay comfortably warm. The sun is nice when it shines.

 

Sunday, October 28, 2007

We get to leave the boat today for shore time in Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain’s home town. We spent the afternoon touring the museums, boy hood home, Becky Thatcher’s house, drug store, and other memorabilia of the era. It was a good stop.

 

Monday, October 29, 2007

There was frost on the docks at Hannibal, Missouri this morning. We saw a deer along the river today. It was far enough away that I could not see the size of the antlers but I am sure it was a nice large buck. We also saw the American Pelicans soaring above the river. This is the first time I have seen them soar. The usual observation has the American Pelican (white) flying just above the water with just an occasional flap of their wings to stay in flight.


It was a beautiful day on the River today.  I’m also getting the hang of this galley cooking.  By throwing together a few vegetables, a little meat and rice or potatoes together in one pot and into the oven, dinner is simple and quick.  Change the spices each time and include any leftovers, and dinner is always a surprise.  There are no fussy eaters on this boat!  Jean

Back to Links to Logs

 

Captains Log started on October 30, 2007 and ending on November 7, 2007

Captains Log

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We reached a major milestone today when we locked through Lock 27 in the Chain of Rocks Canal above St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to getting through Lock 27, we went through the Melvin Price Lock 26, Alton, IL. The lock had most of its gates up as did earlier locks because of the heavy rains in Minnesota and Iowa. This in effect allows the Mississippi water to run free. This effect was really noticeable at the Melvin Price Lock 26 which normally has a lift or drop of 23 feet. It seems we went down only about 12 feet or less. The result was a lot of fast moving water below the lock.


When we reached the Missouri River mouth the speed of the water picked up again. It was nice to get into the Chain of Rocks Canal where the water was hardly moving. There were many tows in the canal that were waiting to lock through. It appeared the Melvin Price Lock 26 was only using one chamber to lock through tows when they have two chambers. I suspect the fast moving water was causing problems for tows to enter and exit from the lock.


After leaving the canal we went a short ways down the river and then anchored outside the navigation channel behind the green buoy line in very fast moving water. We set the hook and retired for the night.

 

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Jean spent a very sleepless night listening to the water gurgle by the boat hull and the sounds of debris hitting the hull and knocking along the sides. I slept very soundly and awoke first. I put on the water to make coffee and settled into a slow wake-up. When Jean awoke we started breakfast. We had just started eating when I noticed a barge parked along the wall to our port and wondered when it had arrived. I looked again and realized it was the same barge that was tied to the wall much farther down the river from where we anchored. I checked again and then called “all hands on deck!” Our anchor that had held all night while we were sleeping and early morning while I fixed coffee was dragging!


The diesel was started and put into gear. Jean took the helm and I ran forward to weighed (retrieved) the anchor. I expected to pull up just the rode (rope) for the anchor but the anchor also came up. This was a CQR which has always held well. I now suspect that the strong current may have changed the topography of the bottom and exposed the anchor by removing the sand and dirt around the anchor where it had been set. The Mississippi River is constantly adding and removing sandbars and was probably just doing its thing where my anchor had been set. It certainly was a scare!


Jean and I finished breakfast underway, since the anchor was now on board. Our next stop was Hoppie’s Marine Service, Kimmswick, MO. There were many barges with their tows parked along the river bank on both sides waiting to lock through at Lock 27.  Several times I saw two entire tows pushed into the bank right next to each other and I observed individuals walking between the tows. I suspect they were visiting while waiting to move up to a new position for locking through.


We put on fuel, water, and supplies for the extended trip down the Lower Mississippi River. Jean was offered a ride to the grocery store for supplies or otherwise we would not have put on any more supplies.


For any one contemplating a trip down the Mississippi River even just to Cairo, IL, and then the Ten-Tom, the following information is for you. We have kept the diesel at about 1800 RPM to conserve fuel. The burn rate from the Lake City Marina to Hoppie’s was 0.64 gallons per engine hour. We put on 73.9 gallons of diesel to refill the tank and cans on deck. This was the first fuel stop since leaving Lake City Marina on Tuesday, October 16, 2007. We have traveled 614 river miles since leaving the Lake City Marina. Our average speed has been 5.8 mph which includes locking delays. The actual speed of the boat when traveling has been between 7 and 8 mph. For planning purposes I planned a lower speed which includes locking delays and planned the first fuel stop for Hoppie’s, which has worked out well. We had lock delays from none to some over two hours. So for planning purposes, keep in mind that the speed on the knot meter is not the actual speed of river travel when accounting for start up time in the morning to shut down time in the evening. Keep in mind that using a lower speed will probably give you a better idea of where you will be stopping for the next night, depending on locking delays.


The next excitement of the day was a 33 foot sailboat out of Chicago that attempted to dock at Hoppie’s and hit our boat! The damage was just a few scratches on our bow railing and partially knocked loose the spare anchor on the bow. Their boat hit the dock very hard on the port bow and then they sped away from the dock for another try.  This time I was helping direct them into the dock along with the owner of Hoppie’s. It seems that as lake sailors they had no concept of current and how to approach a dock in a river current. They are learning and still have more to learn. They are traveling to Key West, Florida.


While Art was busy changing engine oil while docked at Hoppie’s, I spent a nice afternoon snooping around Kimmswick, an old river town.  We have met some very nice people here, especially Claudia, who took me to a grocery store in the next town to pick up some fresh items since Kimmswick has no grocery store.


PS – the dragging anchor was a “piece of cake”.  Just part of the adventure.  No harm done.  The out-of-control 33’ sailboat attempting to dock was more exciting since I was on Samana while it was tied to the gas dock.  This boat approached extremely fast, tried to turn up to approach the dock ahead of Samana when the current caught it.  I thought we were going to be T-boned.  It’s all quite exciting! Jean

 

Thursday, November 1, 2007


This was just another nice day on the river. The current has picked up and we saw 10 miles per hour on the GPS several times. The average speed for the day was 8.4 mph. This was our longest mileage day also at 84.4 miles from Hoppie’s to the anchorage at Upper Mississippi River Mile 74.1 Left Descending Bank. We are behind a wing dam to anchor in less current than there was at St. Louis and the anchor drag problem. Jean made a nice supper of spaghetti with a special sauce of tomatoes, mushrooms, and ham. I enjoyed a Leinenkugel’s Amber Light beer with supper. The stars are bright tonight with no lights around us at the anchorage.

 

Friday, November 2, 2007

This morning we awoke to fog on the river. As it burned off the view was spectacular. Several barges went by first coming out of the fog and then disappearing again. We decided to stay anchored until the fog lifted so we would not become a statistic with a barge hitting us.


We made mile 1.6 on the Upper Mississippi River today and anchored just above the bridge into Cairo, IL. This is our last night on the Upper Mississippi River. Tomorrow starts a new adventure on the Lower Mississippi River. I have now traveled the Upper Mississippi River twice up and twice down. The new adventure is once down the Lower Mississippi River. What are the unknowns?

 

Saturday, November 3, 2007

We moved a short way on the LMR (Lower Mississippi River) to Columbus, Kentucky and visited with Kristy, my daughter, and Keith, her husband. They drove over from Clarksville, Tennessee, where they live. It was a nice time. We went to the Columbus- Belmont State Park where there was a lot of information on the Civil War battles between the Union Army and the Confederate Army. The location on the Mississippi River was strategic for both sides. We ate at a local place called Jen’s in Columbus. The food was southern and was a really “down south” place. It was interesting to say the least, but the food was good.


The LMR is a lot like the Ohio! The current is running slower than on the section of the river between St. Louis and Cairo. We saw 10 mph but now the maximum current is above 8 mph and most of the time in the 7 plus mph. The turbulence is also a lot less. So far the LMR is behaving as though it was the Ohio River. What a nice change of events.

 

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Today started with a little excitement. The wind picked up from the south and it looked like the anchor dragged again so I started the diesel. However, the south wind was just pushing us against the current causing the boat to move forward of the anchor and lay across the current. I set the transmission in reverse after determining the rode (anchor rope) was not in the prop area. This is holding the boat firm against the anchor and the south wind cannot move the boat against the current anymore. After breakfast and the dawn breaks, we continue on the journey south to New Orleans.
The GPS gave a maximum reading of 9.4 mph which is less than the 10 mph on the upper. It looks like the average may turn out to be around 7.5 mph based on the data collected so far on the lower.

 

Monday, November 5, 2007

We left the anchorage and shortly afterwards the wind came up strong out of the south. In the long fetches of the river (where the wind blows directly in the channel) the waves became high. The gusts were to 30 mph with waves occasionally in the 3 to 4 foot range. Jean was challenged to control the boat. It took a lot of concentration on my part when the waves were high, gusts high, and meeting the large barges. Then we saw a spot along the shore off the channel where the south wind was blocked by the trees.


We went off channel and anchored near the shore with the boat pointing up stream into the current. How pleasant to be out of the wind and waves! The temperature was in the high 70s Fahrenheit. We took off the warm clothing. Swim suit and shorts were seen on Samana until the clouds moved in later in the afternoon. We spent the afternoon performing boat chores, took a shampoo and shower, stored some stuff away, and relaxed.


Then the wind came up strong from the North West directly on the bow. The lightening was flashing and then it rained. In the evening the wind came up again as the cold front moved away. The anchor was well set so all was in order for a comfortable nights sleep.

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When we got up the wind was still blowing hard from the North West. One of the barges reported 30 mile per hour wind gusts! The outside temperature was in the middle 40’s Fahrenheit. We decided to stay inside where the cabin temperature was a “balmy” 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This was a weather day! We did boat chores, did some inventory, e-mail, paying bills, etc. It was a nice relaxing day while waiting for the weather to improve.

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

There was frost on the boat this morning when I got up. The wind is down so it is time to go again. The fastest speed seen today was 10.3 mph. The average speed today was 8.0 mph from the time the anchor was up to docking at the Mud Island Marina, Memphis, Tennessee. Tomorrow we put on water and fuel. Jean plans to do laundry. Tonight it is showers! All the fresh water we want for a hot shower! Yea!!!


The largest barge today was a 6 by 7 or 42 barges plus the tow pushing the whole thing. They take up a lot of room when maneuvering around a tight bend. The Marine VHF Channel used in the Lower Mississippi River is 13. If it is not obvious what is happening, then I call them on VHF Channel 13 and ask if they want one whistle or two whistle passage. Most of the Tow Captains are very friendly and helpful.

Back to Links to Logs

 

Captains Log started on November 8, 2007 and ending on November 12, 2007

Captains Log

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We left Memphis, Tennessee, late in the afternoon to resume traveling down the Mississippi River. We saw two sailboats in the Mud Island Marina. One of them had a young couple with a five month old baby. They had been to New Zealand in a different boat. This boat they brought up the Tenn-Tom and were starting down the Mississippi River. They stopped in Memphis for the summer to work on the boat. They plan to leave Memphis the end of November and continue to the Gulf of Mexico. It would have been nice to spend more time in Memphis, but I am interested in getting to warmer weather. I hear there have been snow flurries in Minnesota!


From Jean – co-captain, chef, and observer of navigational buoys and mile markers:
The stop at Mud Island Marina, home of the Memphis Yacht Club, was terrific.  A real hot shower with all the water I wanted!  I was also able to get all the laundry washed. A big thanks to Jim Whittington at Mud Island Marina for the hospitality, good humor and great stories.  We certainly felt welcomed.  This is a stop that I would recommend to anyone traveling the lower Mississippi.  After anchoring in remote locations along the river for most of the time, it felt very odd spending the night at a dock right in a large city with a highway overpass nearby.

 
Friday, November 9, 2007

This was a nice day on the river. The deepest depth was 99.8 feet in a bend! There is plenty of barge traffic with some as big as 42 barges. Many barges are 9 long by 3 or 4 wide. The low water on the Lower Mississippi River is probably keeping the barges smaller. Some of the turns and bends in the river are like up in Minnesota where only one barge can navigate through. We see them parked along the side banks waiting for other barges to pass or meet before they continue on.


There was one real friendly tow Captain today. He left the pilot house to wave at us and then when he returned into the pilot house, he gave a short toot on the whistle.


The winds were light today and calm tonight in the anchorage. The temperature is a balmy 64 degrees this evening after a high in the low 70’s this afternoon. I think we saw two or three houses along the banks of the river today. It is really a wilderness area. There were no commercial fishermen on the river today although we did see several areas with set lines. We did see three canoes today, one on the river and two camped on the sand along the shore. Again, there is no cell service where we have anchored. I used the HF SSB (High Frequency Single Side Band) radio to provide the position report and send out some e-mail.


From Jean – co-captain:
We have calculated our water consumption so far.  It appears that we have used over 2 gallons each per day for a total of 4.5gallons/day, which is high.  Tomorrow we will try monitoring our usage and reduce this to 3 gallons per day for both of us.  This includes all washing, cooking, cleaning and drinking.  I think we can do it but it means that I can’t put that second pot of coffee on!!

 

Saturday, November 10, 2007


We observed what looked like an eight point buck swimming across the Mississippi River today. There was an object off starboard and I asked Jean what it was. She stated it was a log or tree. It seemed to be moving faster than the current across my bow, so I changed direction slightly to starboard towards an on coming barge. The object then kept moving and was now on the port side when it suddenly changed direction! We now observed that it was a buck swimming across the river and as we had approached, it turned around. It was about at least two thirds of the way across when it turned around. We were concerned for its safety, since it was crossing in front of an on coming barge coming up river. However, it made it safely across in front of the barge and continued until it was safely on the bank it had left from.

 

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We observed many flocks of white pelicans landing on the same area on a sand bar. There were literally hundreds of white pelicans. It was quite a sight!


Again today, there were very few signs of people. We had cell service when we passed Greenville, Mississippi, so we both checked e-mail. This afternoon we anchored on the river near Chatham, Mississippi. The river is probably a mile or two from the town, but we have cell service again. That means we can do e-mail again!


We anchored at LMR (Lower Mississippi River) Mile 515.0 LDB (Left Descending Bank) behind the red buoy line near a wing dam in the current. Jean wanted to know what the current was so I said we could drop stale crackers off the bow and I would time how long it would take them to reach the stern. We took several measurements and then calculated the current. The current is 2.7 miles per hour. If the knot meter on Samana was working, we would not have to measure the current in this fashion. We would just read the current speed off the knot meter when we are at anchor.


From Jean:  Whoever heard of a sailboat with all the electronics but no knot meter!  Water consumption is improving.  I am now filling and using water from a gallon jug so we can measure the total consumption each day.  We are presently averaging about 1 gallon each.  It takes some thinking to recycle water for more than one purpose to keep the consumption low.

 

Monday, November 12, 2007

We found at least two buoys that were off station. When this happens, one has to look closely and determine what is correct. Are the buoy’s correct or are they lying about the channel location? Knowing something about how bends form on the river, location of sandbars on the inside of the turn, and just looking at the water flow gives clues needed to make the correct decision. Of course, if the decision is wrong and the water not deep enough, you will run aground! Best to slow down if you are not sure. We also found one day mark that was incorrectly marked. The map gave the miles correctly but the day mark had the wrong mileage on it. In this case, the terrain shown on the river map helped with the decision making.  Again, use multiple sources of information so you can be ready to tell if some indicator is telling you the wrong information. Your experience and the clues of your surroundings are important for river travel.
It was a great day for travel on the river. The barge traffic was not as frequent today. We did see a 6 wide by 7 long for a total of 42 barges plus the tow pushing the whole thing. On tight bends and narrow spots on the river, the barge Captains talk to each other on Channel 13 on the Lower Mississippi River. The south bound tow has the right-of-way, so the North bound tow will wait until the down bound clears the tight spot. There is also a lot of “one whistle” and “two whistle” talk to determine the passing information. “One whistle” means meeting port to port and “two whistle” means meeting starboard to starboard. Sometimes the Captains say “one whistle” and “stay on the green line.” I am sure they just want to make sure that a “rec” (recreation) boat has the correct information. The sometimes call me a “rec” boat, “sail” boat, and occasionally use “Samana.” When a passing tow gives a “one whistle” or “two whistle” indication it means they are leaving you to their port or starboard, respectively.


From Co-captain Jean:  More time was spent at the helm today and I practiced staying on the buoy line.  Dealing with both wind and current conditions which pushes me off the intended course is so much different than maintaining a heading on the lake.  Practice, practice, but it is improving.


The area along the river remains very remote, however we are now seeing a few herd of cattle along the banks at times.  I found that I can get their full attention when I blow the Orion blaster horn (sounds like a sick or lonely cow).    I am easily entertained out here!

Back to Links to Logs

 

 

Captains Log started on November 13, 2007 and ending on November 19, 2007

Captains Log

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We awoke this morning to a foggy river. There were two tows holding across the river from us waiting for the visibility to improve. Since we had a delayed start, I cooked a breakfast of bacon and pancakes. Nice! When the visibility improved the two barges continued and we weighed anchor and were underway again.


We had another pleasant day on the river. It was cloudy at first and then the clouds gradually disappeared and the temperature rose into the 70’s Fahrenheit. The winds were light. This was the second day that we did not have to turn on the heater in the boat.


We have seen some deep water in the bends of the river. Today the depth meter indicated 114 feet at LMR (Lower Mississippi River) mile 414 RDB (Right Descending Bank) between Togo Island light and Palmyra Lake. The river runs faster when there are deep depths on the narrow bends. Our speed picked up to almost 9 miles per hour (mph) and then fell back in the high 7 mph range once past the bend.

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When we got up the wind was increasing from the south with the boat being pushed upstream, causing the rode (anchor rope) to be pushed against the hull. This would make a noise when the wind let up and the rode slipped against the hull. I started the diesel and put the boat in reverse to pull tight against the anchor and rode. This kept the boat positioned better.


There was a haze on the river again this morning but we started on time towards Natchez, Mississippi. When we arrived the challenge was to find a place to anchor, since there are no marinas in Natchez. We anchored above the bridge and downstream of the Isle of Capri gambling boat, off the channel in shallow water. The river was running about 50 to 60 feet and then we were on a shelf of about 9 feet of water. I took several tries to set the anchor in the clay bottom. Then we set a stern anchor to keep the boat from going around the anchor since it was being pushed by the south wind. I though the stern anchor was set properly until we saw the boat being pushed upstream again. I pulled on the stern anchor and this time it came up fouled. The chain had wrapped around the flukes on the Danforth. So I took the anchor out again with the dinghy set it with more care. Back on Samana, I tightened up on the stern anchor and it held! Now both anchors were tight and the boat stayed into the current with the south wind trying to push the boat upstream against the stern anchor.


We felt comfortable taking the dinghy to shore. We had to travel upstream past the gambling boat and the Delta Queen River Boat to a boat ramp. Then we walked to the post office to get our mail for the first mail drop since leaving Lake City on Tuesday, October 16, 2007. We walked around for awhile admiring this city that was started by the French in the early 1700’s. It was a good day with shore time, an ice cream cone, and getting mail.

 

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This was a weather day. We were on the boat all day until evening when the winds subsided from about 30 mph to calm in the evening. We went ashore and stopped at the Under-the-Hill Saloon on Silver Street along the river. While at the saloon, the saloon phone rang and the bar tender asked if we were ok with an interview from the Natchez Democrat paper. We said ok and then two reporters came to the saloon. Then it was outside for a picture with the bridge and our boat in the background. Tomorrow we will look for a picture in the local paper! Then it was off to mail letters at the post office, dinner at the Pig-Out Inn” of pulled pork BQ (a southern favorite), and then back to the boat for the night.


I have started daily check-ins with the Waterway Net. “The Waterway Net, which is sponsored by the Waterway Radio and Cruising Club, meets on the air every morning of the year for about an hour starting at 0745 ET on a frequency of 7.268 MHz LSB. The main purpose of the Waterway Net is to encourage amateur radio communications to and from boats with an emphasis on safety and weather information. Position Reports help keep live-aboards and cruising boats in touch with families and friends and Float Plans provide a strong measure of safety for off-shore passage makers.” (This is from their home page.)


The Waterway Net is just another way for us to stay in contact with people on the shore. It is nice to have a way to communicate each day when we are out of reach of cell phones, Wi-Fi, and internet.
 

Friday, November 16, 2007

It was cold out this morning. On the river the temperature was 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The Natchez Airport had 30 degrees Fahrenheit at 6:35 am this morning. Today the wind is from the south between 5 and 10 mph. I took the dinghy to shore again and picked up more fresh water!


We went for a walk around Natchez today. There are sure a lot of old homes here. Natchez is the oldest town on the Mississippi River. We went by a paper box and picked up a copy of the local paper called “The Democrat” and found our picture on the front page. The web site of the paper is www.natchezdemocrat.com. I have not looked at the website to see if they posted the picture on there.


We were at a grocery store when the owner of the Under-the-Hill Saloon spotted us and offered to give us a ride back to the saloon. We accepted! When we left the saloon to go back to the boat, another Natchez resident and local businessman was waiting at the dinghy. Cappy Stahlman gave us a ride around Natchez so we could see all the magnificent plantations and mansions. Cappy then took us out for dinner at the Magnolia Restaurant, which is very close to the Under-the-Hill Saloon. We sure were honored in Natchez. They do not see sailboats or many pleasure craft since the Tenn-Tom Waterway opened in 1985. Most boats traveling to the Gulf of Mexico go via the Tenn-Tom these days.


Co-captain comments:   Looking into the history of Natchez was really interesting.  There are so many antebellum homes and other early structures.  The history goes back to the 1700’s.  The town was not destroyed during the Civil War so much is still preserved.  The food is also great!  Broiled catfish, sweet potato fries, pulled pork, and other southern goodies.  I bought collards and thought I’d give that a try.


It looked quite strange to see Samana anchored on the river just below the casino boat and above the highway bridge.  It looked like a little speck out there.  No wonder it drew so much attention!  We had a great tour of the town.  I enjoyed the shore time and sightseeing, but I’m ready now to continue down river.

 

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We left Natchez at 6:20 am after weighing two anchors. There was very little wind so it was easy to bring up the stern anchor first by paying our rode for the bow anchor, weigh the stern anchor and then weighing the bow anchor. I was concerned the anchors would be hard to retrieve since we had set in a strong current with lots of wind for over 24 hours. The anchors held well but did not set deep in the clay bottom. While we were at anchor over the clay bottom in 9 feet of water, the river dropped 2 ½ feet! We never hit bottom with the keel, but it was close. The drop was not unexpected as I had listened to the dialing broadcast from the Coast Guard. They had given daily river stages and the forecast stage for the Lower Mississippi River


We made 78 miles today, one of our better days. It is raining this evening. After supper I made popcorn and settled in for the evening.


Co-captain comments:  I did not settle in for the night.  I knew that we had little depth and the river was dropping.  I tossed around most of the night waiting for the keel to go bump in the night!  Very un-nerving!

 

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This was a wet day with rain and drizzle most of the day. We made Baton Rouge, Louisiana, today and saw our first ship. The channel depth varied between 30 feet and 50 feet most of the day. Once we reached Baton Rouge, the channel depth was usually 45 feet or greater.

 

Monday, November 19, 2007

Today we observed many ships. We meet two that were moving north on the river. Others were anchored in the anchorage areas. Others were at docks either loading or unloading. The character of the river has also changed. The current is running slower. The depth is now running between 45 and 60 feet in the main channel and there are fewer places for anchoring overnight.


At LMR Mile 187.9 we had to check in with Vessel Traffic Services for New Orleans. I called and told them we were Sailing Vessel Samana south bound for Venice, Louisiana. He acknowledged my call and then came back and asked how many barges I had. I replied “none” and he said “Oh yea, you are a sailboat.” Then he came back and told me to monitor Vessel Traffic Services on Channel 63 and also Channel 67 for bridge to bridge for the Captains. I was also told to check back in when passing the “Sunshine Bridge, mile 167.5.” The radio channels are different than from Cairo to Baton Rouge where the bridge to bridge frequency is channel 13.


We hear the tows talk about the sailboat and tell each other about our location.  The ships know there is a sailboat on the river. We are certainly a curiosity here on the lower river between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We had one captain say that there was a two masted sail boat with “rusty sticks.” Then he corrected himself and said the “sticks” had primer on them. He apparently did not recognize that the canvas on the sail boat was also the same rusty (Maroon) color.


Tonight when we anchored, I called Vessel Traffic Services and told them I was anchored for the night at mile 156.5, LDB (Left Descending Bank) just above College Point. His response was, “Thank you” and that was the end of that. There is no need for me to check in with them, except I thought it would be good, since I had taken a spot along the busy banks of the Mississippi River. There are docks, staging areas, anchorages, moorings, etc on both sides of the river now. When I look at the maps and river charts, it just gets more crowed.


Co-captain, Jean--Samana is a bug, a floating cork among a sea of tows, barges and freighters!  No larger than a rust spot on the side of a tanker.  We are safely anchored for the night now and close to shore.  The mosquitoes have discovered us.  We hear the engine of the tow that pulled to shore just ahead of us.  It looks like he will stay for the night with engines running.  All is well.  Showers would be nice.  Art smells, but I don’t.

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Captains Log started on November 20, 2007 and ending on November 30, 2007

Captains Log

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The boat speed on the river is slowing down. Since we left Baton Rouge, the river has become deeper, with depths in the 45 to 100 foot range. The shape of the channel has gradually become very U shaped. I can go very close to shore and still see 15 to 20 feet of depth. The banks are about ½ mile wide and wider in many places so plenty of water is flowing even though the current speed is also slower. I picked up the engine rpm to try and get through this section so we could make the anchorage. When we reached the anchorage selected it was full of ships! We ended up traveling in the dark until I found a shallow spot close to the bank. We hoped the wind would stay calm all night and not blow us against the bank. The tows and ships came quit close during the night. We left the running lights on, anchor light on, one cabin light, and had our anchor ball in the port upper rigging. Several times we had quick flashes of spot lights until the captains were sure we were an anchored boat off the main channel.


Co-captain Jean:  With the lack of quiet anchorages and heavy shipping traffic, I spent most of the night awake listening to the traffic, watching for spot lights and rocking with the heavy wakes.  This “anchor watch” is very exhausting.

 

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We arrived at anchor after spending a long day on the river meeting and being passed by ships, barges, ocean going barges (tow is set into the stern of the barge), hawser tows (the tow is pulling the ocean barge on a long cable), push boats, tugs for pushing ships, crew exchange boats, etc. It is really a busy river through New Orleans. The banks on both sides are full of loading and unloading docks, wharfs on the east side of the river, staging areas in the middle of the river, ship anchorages, passenger boats, and believe or not, ferries for moving cars with people across the river. There are few bridges across the Mississippi River.

 

Thursday, November 22, 2007

We spent the day at anchor waiting out the cold front. The winds gusted to over 30 mph this evening. Our Thanksgiving dinner was canned ham, canned string beans, one can of mushrooms for garnish, and fresh baked yams. We ate Stollen, German sweet bread, for desert. A burning candle, set in a shot glass since we could not find any candle holders, enhanced the setting!


I spent most of the day working on navigation, reviewing the heading from South Pass (Louisiana), to Longboat Pass (Florida), GPS points, ocean charts, river charts, distance, and looking at the long range weather forecast for the Gulf of Mexico. This cold front, and associated lows, is causing 8 to 12 foot seas for the next several days. We are just sitting tight for the weather to improve.


The temperature has been dropping all day. This evening it is was 50 degrees Fahrenheit and dropping to the low 40’s overnight. I turned on the diesel hot water furnace, set the thermostat to 68 degrees, and the boat is staying comfortable this evening.


Co-captain Jean:  It has been enjoyable just sitting at anchor while waiting for more favorable weather.  Thanksgiving dinner was pretty simple, but it worked.   I forgot to add cranberries to the provision list and I did miss them.  We spent this down time to continue with sorting and boat storage.  This has been a slow process.  Sorting and disposing of items is difficult for the captain.

 

Friday, November 23, 2007

I spent the day working on boat stuff, route planning with the ocean maps, checking weather, and listening to the wind blow through the rigging. It was a very windy day.

 

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This was another wait day for the weather to improve. After the morning “run the diesel to charge the batteries,” I changed oil. It looks like the weather will improve on Sunday.

 

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Yes! The weather has improved. The strong wind died. We motored to Cypress Cove Marina, Venice, Louisiana, to pick up diesel, fresh water, and much needed showers. The marina is about 1 and ½ miles off the Mississippi River, through the Jump, and then to Tiger Pass. We left the marina, left Tiger Pass, and were on the Jump when a small sport fishing boat came by us. We waved at the two people in the boat and after they passed I heard something behind us. I turned around to see them coming toward us. They asked us where we were from and where we were going. We told them we were form Minnesota and were going to Florida. Then they asked us if we wanted some fresh fish they had caught. We said yes, and passed them our bucket. They put four small fish and one large fish in the bucket and passed the bucket back to us. We thanked them and continued on our way.


Tonight for supper there was fresh cooked fish, canned peas with mushrooms, yams, ice cold water, and wine. We removed the ice cubes from the refrigerator freezer so we could freeze the rest of the fish filets. We used the ice cubes in our drinking glasses so as not to waste them. It was great to have ice cold water in the 72 degree Fahrenheit weather. Actually, the cabin was a balmy 76! We certainly enjoyed our fresh caught fish dinner.


We are now anchored on the Lower Mississippi River Mile 2.0, just above Head of Passes. If the weather is good on Monday, we will go out South Pass and set a heading of 103 degrees magnetic to cross the Gulf of Mexico to Longboat Pass, enter Sarasota Bay, and anchor near Bradenton, Florida. It is raining hard this evening with lots of lightening and thunder. A warm front is the cause of this weather tonight.

 

*****
Warning! This section has a lot of statistics. If you do not want to read all this stuff, then just pass over this to the next set of asterisks.


Wow! That sure was a lot of data.
*****

Co-captain Jean:  After arriving at Cyprus Cove Marina in Venice, LA, Art disposed of a few empty diesel cans in preparation for the Gulf crossing by handing them out to the dock boy, his friend and possibly the harbormaster.  We then asked where we might take a SHOWER.  The marina has a newly built motel but the building for the dock side facilities is still under construction from Katrina.  The dock boy spoke to the motel housekeeper and arranged for us to use one of the motel guest rooms at no charge.  Our first barter experience!  Diesel cans for hot showers!  I visited with the dock boy for a while and learned that he also lost everything in the hurricane and has started over.  We have seen some evidence of new construction for river facilities and also support structures along the river banks that remain damaged.

Monday, November 26, 2007

This is the big day! We started the engine, weighed anchor, and finished the last two miles above Head of Passes and went out South Pass into the Gulf of Mexico. The cold front had passed over us and the seas were still confused. I looked across the bow and into the trough and said to myself, wow. These are six to eight foot seas! We raised the sails and had a problem with the sheave for the main halyard. I think the main halyard jumped the sheave, which make it hard to raise and lower the main sail. Jean got seasick and recovered after a few hours. By mid afternoon, I was seasick! Bummer! Samana took the sea very well. Never once did any water come over the bow, even in the confused seas. There was spray and a fair amount of white caps for the rest of the day and night.


Co-captain Jean:  I can’t say that I was mentally prepared for this Gulf crossing.  When I saw the sea condition upon leaving South Pass, my heart was in my throat.  Huge rollers, whitecaps and a lot of chop!  Not enough time was spent securing everything below deck.  The interior looked like the boat was tipped upside down and thoroughly shaken!  I needed both hands on the boat just to move around!

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I was miserable all day! Jean was the only well person on board. Samana held her own, making her way to Florida. The full mizzen was up and the full jib.


Co-captain Jean:  Alone on the pitching sea all day and night.  Art was too sick to function at all.  It didn’t help that I had just recently finished reading Jack London’s “Sea Wolf.”  With the increased winds at night, I crawled on hands and knees into the cockpit, while wearing a harness, in order to periodically check the horizon for any traffic or oil platforms.

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I joined the living today! Oh how good if feels to be alive, at sea, and not seasick! The seas are much better today. We have been sailing, motoring when there is not wind, and motor sailing. Florida keeps getting closer.

 

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We were overrun by a weak cold front today. The seas picked up again, the main was doubled reefed, full mizzen, and partial roller furling on the jib. We made good time! Today we saw our first dolphins! How nice to have company at sea! Another wonderful day to be alive! Life is so good when you are not seasick!


The two hour watches at night are getting easier. We have settled into a good daily shipboard routine. The quarter berth is the “hot berth” for both of us, since one is on watch while the other sleeps. Actually, it is rather chilly on deck, so I poke my head up, scan the entire horizon for lights, and then settle back in for about 15 minutes before taking another check of the horizon. We have seen several ships at night and there are more boat lights as we get closer to Florida. None have passed very close to us.


Co-captain Jean:  Life is much better when the Captain has rejoined the living! The night watches are still difficult for me but I’m getting used to sleeping 2 hours and then taking over watch for two hours.  The nights, however, do get long.

 

Friday, November 30, 2007

The morning dawned cool and misty from the cold front that went over us on Thursday. The wind was still blowing from the North and North East, giving us a nice sail towards Florida. Again, we saw dolphins. There are seagulls now and pelicans. We are getting close to land.


We arrived at 12 noon in Sarasota Bay, and set anchor off the marked channel to where Jean’s niece and family live. Later in the early evening we went up the marked channel and found Jean’s niece and had dinner. Showers were offered which were truly enjoyed. We ended staying the night, just enjoying each other company and some time on land again!

This is just a short summary. We left the Lake City Marina on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 and arrived in Florida, Friday, November 30, 2007. This was a total of 46 days sleeping and living aboard Samana. We had three showers in that time, were able to wash clothes once in Memphis, three fuel stops, and a crossing of the Gulf of Mexico from the South Pass of the Mississippi River to Sarasota Bay in Florida. This journey was completed without any major problems other that the replacement of the impeller in the raw water pump and the inconvenience of the main halyard sheave. We had plenty of fuel, water, and food aboard. We never wanted for good “boat” meal.


Now the big question is “Would I do it again?” No I would not do it again. Am I glad I did it? Yes! I have traveled the Tenn-Tom Waterway three times and have now completed the navigable portion of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The lack of services on the Lower Mississippi River requires intensive planning. The Tenn-Tom Waterway is a much easier route which I whole heartedly recommend for anyone traveling from the Lake City Marina to Florida. There are more marinas, places to see, laundry and shower facilities, access to supplies, less large barge and ship traffic, and slower river currents when traveling the Tenn-Tom Waterway route. However, if you are looking for new challenges…

This is the last update to the Captains Log from Samana until we weigh the anchor again in approximately one week, depending on weather windows. Stay tuned for the adventures of Samana and crew.


Co-captain Jean:  We arrived!  I survived the Gulf crossing!  This was a bigger physical and mental challenge than I anticipated and the Gulf crossing was much rougher than I anticipated.  I am both glad that I accomplished this and also glad that this part of the journey is completed.

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Revised: 08 January 2008

© 2007, 2008 Arthur L. Howard