The Grafton Town Ambassador

Early today we said goodbye to our hosts at the St. Louis Coast Guard station and headed up river on the Mississippi.We passed the St. Louis Arch on the water (amazing!), went through the Chain of Rocks Canal and the Mel Price lock, then on to Alton Harbor to refill the fuel tanks.  I later learned that shortly after we left the fuel dock floodwaters caused Alton Harbor to lose all electric power and that restoration of power is not expected for two to three weeks!

After fueling, unfortunately the starboard engine would not start.  Sediment from a near-empty fuel tank had clogged the fuel filter.  Fortunately, Captain Danny identified the problem, replaced the fuel filter with a spare that I had aboard for such a time as this, and pumped the air out of the fuel line from filter to engine.  The engine fired, and we were off again.

We ended the day early at Grafton, Illinois, where the Illinois River enters the Mississippi, and near where the Missouri enter the Mississippi. Meaning high floodwaters everywhere. Only 38 travel miles today, but lots of stoppage time fueling, unclogging the fuel filter and line, and locking through. And we need a break after yesterday’s excitement.

When we checked in to the Grafton Harbor marina the manager promised us water taxi service to the town restaurants.  Interpreted, that means a trip on a marina boat over its flooded parking lot to the sidewalk.  Unfortunately, when we were ready to head to dinner all marina staff had left for home.  Fortunately, they inadvertently left the keys in a pontoon boat that we “borrowed” to get to terra firma and back.  Self-service water taxi!

We enjoyed the dinner special (fried chicken) at a local pub where Mike Kohlmiller introduced himself as the official Grafton Town Ambassador, bought us a drink, and then offered us a tour of the town in his Polaris four-wheeler.  We drove to the top of the high town bluff, where the almost-finished gondola will take visitors to a winery restaurant.   

We saw a beautiful panorama of Grafton, the heavily flooded Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, and St. Louis in the distance.

Northbound on the Illinois River tomorrow starting at 5:00 a.m.  We heard tonight that some of the river locks are being left open to release high flood waters, reducing lock waits. We may make the 150ish miles to Peoria!