Thursday, December 23, 2010

Galveston Trip, Leaving The Arkansas River for the Mississippi River to Greenville Yacht Club

In case you are not good with math, this is Day 8 of our trip and we have not even gotten off of the Arkansas River yet! But the day was a good one with lots of changes ahead. The lower stretch of the AR River is mile after mile of sandy beaches.

For those unfamiliar with how the Arkansas River transitions to the Mississippi River, a man-made "ditch," the Arkansas Post Canal (below), was built to connect the Arkansas with the White River which then flows directly into the Mississippi.

The Mississippi River is a whole different animal than most rivers - it's called the "Mighty Mississippi" for a reason. When it's calm, it is a beautiful sight to see - you would be surprised at all the sandy beaches there also plus lots of farmland and pastures. But when it's rocking and rolling, it can be very unforgiving. The water levels can vary as much as fifty feet, the current can reach 5 to 7 miles per hour, and the water can get very rough, especially when the wind is opposing the direction of the water flow. The barges are huge and create large wakes. There are almost no marinas and little help for boats in trouble. It is definitely geared for commercial activity rather than recreational.

There are few good anchorages, so we have historically looked for protected "slack-water" harbors where the cuts off of the river run "upstream" and have no current through them. The barge companies use these harbors to sort out their loads and perform repairs and maintenance on their equipment. The first one available for us was at Rosedale Harbor. We had contacted them in advance and had approval to dock at one of their barges (below).

On Day 9, we continued down the Mississippi to the only marina and one of two fuel stops available in the stretch of the river we were traveling - Greenville, MS. It is actually a private yacht club, located next door to one of the many floating casinos on the river. Their dock fees for the night were exhorbitant, $3.25 per boat-foot per night (normal is 50 cents to $1 per foot). They offer almost no help and we complained a lot. They finally conceded that they charge those high prices to discourage boats from stopping there. That is certainly their option but they should tell you that up front so you are not expecting anything for that high price. Rhonda's notes in our daily log says "Marina does not want our business and they go out of their way to prove it!" Just as we had gotten settled and docked for the night, a 61-foot Hatteras arrived for fuel also. So, we had to move "Help Me Rhonda" for them to access the fuel dock. On a positive note, their fuel was the cheapest of the trip at $2.69/gallon, we were secure for the night, at a nice and quiet location, with shorepower, and had a great meal next door at the casino.

Don't forget that the hydraulics were still not working - Harold had joined us again to work on that problem utilizing the parts Clint had shipped to the yacht club. Tomorrow, Vicksburg, MS with hydraulic steering to boot!

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