Jack Tumbleson, Riverboater column logo

Jack Tumbleson column logo

The boat’s in the water – has been for about a month – and the Coast Guard Auxiliary Station is getting under control, so I took the boat out for the first time Sunday.

What I really wanted to see was the dead line. After a record-breaking flood in both height and duration. I thought it really should be spectacular.

My wife Judy and I first noticed the effects of a flood where everything underwater during a flood is dead – the small brush and the leaves on the larger trees. In short, everything under water is missing and we named it the dead line.

A boater usually can spot it as soon as you turn south out of Sunset Marina. After you go under the I-280 bridge it gets really pronounced.

I did not see it all that pronounced below Sunset so I headed for the 280 bridge. I spotted a short patch about 25 feet long, then a couple more small patches, but no long leafless area that we had seen to the horizon after past floods. Strange.

More oddities: We saw a little bit of excitement Monday evening. I was just cleaning up the Coast Guard Auxiliary Station getting ready to leave about 6 p.m. when marina manager Denise Browning stuck her head in the door and told me to come out and see something strange.

Two barges were drifting downstream, right up against the Illinois shore. I had seen them earlier, but what I had not noticed was there was no towboat pushing them. They were runaways.

I used the VHF marine radio in the marina office to call the Coast Guard in St. Louis to report the wandering barges. They passed the information on to one of the harbor tows in this area which reported he was at mile 374.5, which put him up above the locks. It would take a while to get to the runaways.

I told a couple of friends on the dock about the barges and we discussed where he would go. We decided that it would continue down the Illinois shore, but when it got off the mouth of the Rock it would veer across the river when it hit that current.

I kept an eye out the entrance to see the tow head downstream, but never caught sight of him. When I headed home about 7 p.m. I went up to the lookout at 18th Avenue. A fisherman said he had not seen the small tow. Then, as I left about 7:30, there went the tow. I watched it go downstream to the I-280 bridge and it went in near the pier on the Iowa side of the river. A few minutes later the tow and two barges headed back upstream. Our guesses as to where the current would take it had been right on.

Riverboater columnist Jack Tumbleson is a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He can be reached at jackt2906@gmail.com or 309-786-5980


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