Sunday, September 28, 2008

Havana, IL, to Metropolis, IL (Superman, where are you???)

On Monday, September 29 they lifted the restrictions on the Illinois River from mile marker 101 to 80. It was afternoon that day when the announcement came so we decided to stay at Tall Timbers until the next morning to leave.

We'd had time over the past couple of days to check out the town. A cute place with some gorgeous homes. I walked most of Plum Avenue one day and took pictures of some of the houses. We breakfasted on Monday morning at the Lunch Box Cafe, then I visited the Havana Public Library for a quick pass through their book sale.

Tuesday, September 30 - Six boats left at O'dark:30 that morning (well, it was really more like 6:45 AM): Mistress, Grettatude, Marbles, Segue, Our Turn, and Blue Max. We set out for our 120 mile trip to Grafton Marina, mile marker zero on the upper Mississippi. We had one lock to be concerned with, but it was another wicket dam and we were able to move straight through.

The trip was long, but fairly uneventful. Well, let me think about that. Blue Max would beg to differ. They were the last of 5 boats going under a railway lift bridge when the bridge started lowering! What a feeling!! Fortunately, they had time to clear the bridge, but I'm sure they'll never forget THAT bridge!

Then there was the (n)ice pass Our Turn made to Danny's Fault. Danny's Fault, with Judy and Rob, had been anchored out a couple of nights waiting out the lifting of restrictions. During that time they'd run out of ice...and had suggested it might be nice if someone from Tall Timbers bring them some ice on the way down. Ellen and Roy on Our Turn fixed up a bag of ice when we saw Danny's Fault ahead of us that day and Ellen tossed the ice to them in this close pass.

There was less debris than on our trip to Tall Timbers on Saturday, but it was harder to spot. This is what the water looked like for much of the trip. Can you find the debris???

One of the day's highlights was seeing a flock of white pelicans. Susan on Marbles had radioed back their location so I was ready with the camera... Can you believe what cute creatures these are??? And they have such attitude...

We arrived at Grafton Marina at around 5:30 PM...120 miles later. We all gathered up in the restaurant for supper and plans for the next day. This was our last night traveling with Marbles since Sue was going to a college reunion and Tom was staying at Grafton for a week until she came back to resume the trip. We'll sure miss their guiding of the "fleet" as we make our way down the Mississippi...and look forward to catching up with them at sometime in the future.

Wednesday, October 1- October 1st!!?? Gads, we're ready to be on the Tennessee River!

Today we made it down to Hoppies at mile 158. Our Turn, Grettatude, Mistress and Kismet left at around 7 AM, while Blue Max and Segue waited until around 8:15 AM. We all congregated at Hoppies that afternoon after a beautiful day on the water.

We passed by Alton, IL, birthplace of our friend Dana. They have a big riverboat casino on the waterfront.

We saw some of the biggest tow boats and loads that we've ever seen. These tows throw a wake that goes on forever and makes us think of Lake Michigan!

The clouds today were really neat...

Locking through the two locks was quick and painless. (Well, again Blue Max was the adventurous one in the group. When we got to the Chain of Rocks Lock we were instructed to enter the larger chamber. We entered first and went about half way in on the starboard side, aiming at what we assumed was a bollard. When we got to the opening we realized it was a ladder instead...and headed on up to the next spot. We radioed Blue Max but they had already passed the available bollards on our side of the lock so they ended up floating out free in the lock while we went down the 12 ft.! The lock master said it was another "first" for Blue Max!)

After the locks we went through the busy St. Louis, MO, waterfront area...

And saw the arch...

Hoppies is quite the place...Here are some of my favorite shots from there...

Barges strung along beside the Mississippi River...

and Fern, the legend, to meet with all the new folk and tell them how to manage as they go down the river. Here we are taking it all in...

We met the nicest guy at Hoppies. Jim has been a biking enthusiast for years and has recently decided to take up boating. He made this boat by buying a houseboat hull and topping it off on his own. He has a solar panel, head, galley...all the basics. He's come over 700 miles already from his home in South Dakota by way of the Missouri River and is headed down the Mississippi to New Orleans. What an adventure! Here's Jim's boat...

Thursday, October 2 - All six boats left out soon after 7:30 AM and headed downriver for the anchorage 110 miles down called Little River Diversion Channel. Another good day on the water. We pulled in around 4:30 PM. We let the dinghy down and took Lucy to a nearby shore...very loose rocks, but Lucy managed just fine. Tomorrow we'll look for a better spot. Looks like a lot of mud around here...

Today we passed by Chester, Missouri...home of Popeye the Sailorman, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri, home of Rush Limbaugh. We saw neither. :-)

We also saw a lot more of the white pelicans....

Friday, October 3 - Mistress, Grettatude, Our Turn and Kismet left as soon as the fog lifted (around 8:45 AM) while Blue Max waited for us to take Lucy in and pull up the dinghy.

The trip to shore this morning wasn't pretty. Mississippi mud! I came back with my shoes caked in mud. I got that while "auditioning" a spot for the LuLu. As it turns out, we ended up dropping her off the boat at a likely spot, letting her do her thing, then pulling her back into the boat. The dinghy was filthy! I was filthy! Lucy had filthy feet!

Today we traveled 48 miles down the Mississippi to the intersection of the Ohio River, where we turned up and traveled almost 40 miles on it before we stopped across from the Fort Massac State Park, IL. (Actually only 5 of us went up the Ohio. Mistress headed on down the Mississippi for New Orleans.)

The current on the Mississippi was awesome, again. We were doing over 16 mph at what would normally have been a 10 mph speed. Turning onto the Ohio the mph dropped to 8.5 since now we were going UPSTREAM.

As we neared our destination we spotted a tow boat trolling for Asian carp. They had a net out and were catching the fish as they jumped out of the water. See the fish jumping off the back of the boat!?

Earlier in the day we saw an eagle soaring ...

Our anchorage is near the town of Metropolis, IL. Yes, it is the home of Superman!!! OK, I'm due a sighting. I'll let you know how it goes...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Peoria, IL, to Havana (IL)

Saturday, September 27 - We left the IVY Club this morning at around 9 AM with Marbles, Our Turn, and Blue Max. The IVY Club is still dealing with flood waters, as you can see in these pictures, and there are large logs floating all through the marina area. It's a nice place, though, and we'd stop here again sometime.

Only one lock to contend with today just below Peoria...and due to high waters we actually went around the lock and over the dam!

It's a wicket dam that can be lowered when waters are now. (

We saw more debris...more flooded buildings..

We passed a couple of tows going our way...

And we were wondering what exactly was submerged here...

All in all, it was another good day on the water. We're at Tall Timbers Marina in Havana, IL, and will stay here until the restrictions on the river are lifted...probably early next week. We walked into town today and located the grocery store. We're fine now. :-)

Moving on the Illinois!

Saturday, September 27 - Yesterday morning we woke up thinking we were staying in Ottawa until Monday. We understood from contact with the Coast Guard that they were thinking of opening up a large portion of the river soon, but we were still concerned about having a good place to ride out a couple of days should the openings be delayed.

All that said, when boats started pulling out yesterday morning we decided we couldn't stand to stay still any longer! We talked with the folks there with us and several of us decided to just go on down to Peoria, knowing we'd have at least one more day of travel beyond that before we reached the "forbidden" zone of the flooded river. (Yesterday the Illinois was closed to recreational vehicles from around mile 80 to mile 101. We were at mile 242 at Heritage Harbor and decided to travel down to mile 168 at Peoria...then we could go down another day's travel to mile 120 and the Tall Timbers Marina.)

We went from a ho-hum morning to a zippity-do-dah morning!! As Segue and Our Turn pulled out of Heritage Harbor Ellen and I were literally dancing around on the deck! Thirteen days of forced immobility had us ready to go the 70+ miles to Peoria even if we were leaving at 9:45 AM and looking at an arrival time of after 6 PM.

We had talked a number of times to the Illinois Valley Yacht Club (IVY Club, it's called) about staying with them when we were able to travel to Peoria. Trouble was, we knew they were having their annual Lobster Fest (???) this weekend and were booked up Sat. and Sun. nights. As we were traveling down the river that morning, though, they called to say that they could take us, Our Turn and Marbles for one night. That was great news since our alternatives were either still flooded (read: dinghy to land) or a place described by those in the know as "very rustic."

We had only one lock to go through, Starved Rock Lock, just below Ottawa. After a short wait for a tow coming upstream through the lock we locked through with about 6 other pleasure craft and started the trip down to Peoria.

The river has just opened a few days ago to commercial traffic and we saw a LOT of tows during the first 2/3 of the trip. We were the lead boat and spent a lot of time arranging passes and spotting debris. And there was a good bit of debris around. Some of those duck blinds we'd been seeing are in deep water now...

The areas below Ottawa on the river are still flooded so there were a lot of areas where we had to travel at no-wake speed in order not to slosh water into someones home!

One of the day's highlights was seeing two eagles fly around and light it a dead tree...

I thought I was going to get a shot of the illusive (to us at least) flying Asian carp. What you see below is the flying carp entering the water with a splash! They apparently get all worked up over the propellers vibrating the water and jump out (and sometimes jump into boats!). Their skin is paper thin and we've been told if they land in your boat they will immediately begin bleeding up a storm and cause a real mess. Yuk!

We got into IVY Club, along with Marbles and Our Turn, at around 6:30PM. Already there were Kismet, Stargazer, and Blue Max. The people at the club were so helpful and friendly! We joined our friends for a short time in the club house then headed back to the boat for a light dinner.

And we have TV channels again!! We saw part of the Obama/McCain debate! The only channels we were able to get at Ottawa were cartoon or religious. :-)

Today we're heading out for Tall Timbers Marina. We'll see what the waterway openings look like for today before we plan out tomorrow's run. We may just keep on keepin' on 'til we're back on the Tennessee before taking a break!

It's so good to be on the move again. I'm not sure how we're going to do this winter in Knoxville.....Oh, well, we'll think of something.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Life on the flooded Illinois, continued...

Sunday, September 21 -

Hooray! Yesterday morning we woke to find the water down enough that we can now walk to shore instead of boat to shore! No need to coordinate trips in the taxi boat. Now we need to clean that boat because we've seen a lotta mud over the past week and much of it has ended up on the taxi!

Things have changed a lot here at the marina over the past few days. Friday four more boats came in, then one yesterday, making a total of twelve transients now at Heritage Harbor. Then the weekend hit and (hey!) we're in a marina! Folks who keep their boats here came out for the beautiful weather yesterday and by 5 PM the place was jumping! We've practically had the marina to ourselves over the past week, but as Susan on Marbles said, we're learning to share.

We can't believe, either, how quickly this marina staff has controlled the mess involved with the flooding. They've been out every day spray washing the sidewalks, grass, you name it...They even scraped down the gravel driveway to even out the surface and clean up the look.

And, of course, Heritage Harbor continues to amaze us with their customer oriented service. If the courtesy van is in use it's not at all unusual to have one of the staff take a marina vehicle to shuttle someone to town. Thursday they gave a luncheon for marina staff, corporate officers, and the River Refugees, as we now call ourselves.

We keep threatening to do some work on the boat while we're stuck here, but the days pass by and we still haven't jumped into it. Friday several of us took the van to Starved Rock Lock to check out the conditions there. Starved Rock Lock is just south of Ottawa and will be our next lock to go through. They are still not open and were working with lots of heavy machinery around trying to clean up debris and get the lock back to functioning. They think they'll be able to open on Monday...but then they'll need to deal with debris for a few more days. We can't leave Ottawa until we can be assured of a place to land in Peoria, IL...and they are still about a week from being back to even somewhat near normal. (Places further down on the Illinois and Mississippi got more water than we did here.)

Yesterday a group of us went to the farmers' market and picked up some fresh produce. Here are Nat and Ellen loading up on veggies...

Wayne and I then walked back into town for lunch and a movie. Ottawa has some lovely park areas and a lot of beautiful old churches.

We have a jigsaw puzzle going in the boater's lounge boat...we've learned to make spring rolls, courtesy of Nat and Ellen...swapped books and read a lot...and, of course, socialized. :-) Some have gone home for the time and left their boats here. We're trying to just enjoy this time. We'll be home soon enough and back into old routines. More later....

Tuesday, September 23 - Sunday afternoon several of us borrowed Captain Moe's truck and went to the Illinois Wine Festival at a nearby park. There was quite a crowd out that afternoon and everyone had brought chairs so we could sit around and enjoy the mingling and music. Pictured below are Judy and Rob from Danny's Fault...and the rest (Nat, Roy and Ellen) sitting on the back row.

Last night we had a "community" supper with a ham we purchased yesterday. Tonight there's talk of a split pea soup from the ham bone and Mexican corn bread...We'd better do some more walking into town and back soon!!

It's still looking like this Friday might be the earliest day for travel to Peoria, IL. More later...

Oh, I almost forgot. We saw this birdhouse as we came down to Ottawa at one of the locks. The lockmaster gave me the blueprints if anyone out there wants to take on a little project...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Life on the flooded Illinois..., Ottawa, IL

Just a short note to share this experience with you. We've lived on the Tennessee River for years and have never been in a flood situation before. Our hearts go out to these communities who are dealing with the record setting high waters. La Salle County, Ottawa's area, had 33.7 ft. of water on the Illinois River at its crest, according to the National Weather Service, and 20 ft. is flood stage. This county and several others here have been declared disaster areas.

Here are a few pictures of the flooding. Even if you haven't seen the area before you can tell by the scenes that this is a big flood...

The Illinois River (background) as seen from Heritage Harbor Marina's "party boaters' lounge" roof---

Looking from the marina grounds to our boats...and the "taxi" boat up on land---

Ellen from Our Turn looking at the area where the Ottawa town docks and wall were situated (in the middle of the photo, to right of the floating docks you'll see the globes on the street lamps that are positioned on the river walkway). Several of the boats in our group here at Heritage Harbor were originally tied up to the town wall and moved back upstream to the marina when the water started rising on Saturday--

Views of the Fox River in downtown Ottawa near the Illinois junction---

Part of the funds from disaster assistance goes to pay for sand and materials with which to build water barriers. This wall was put up almost overnight to protect the Ottawa High School and the neighborhood nearby---

This is my favorite picture, though, taken by Beth on the sailboat Grace. They were one of the boats that had been tied up to the Ottawa wall before the waters started rising---

As to how we're spending our time...about six of us went to the laundromat on Monday and took care of that chore. We've had a daily get together of some sort...from collaborating to take the dogs in (there are 3 on A Dock) to shuttling people back and forth to town, to drinks or dinner together. The roads are open to town so we're not really cut off from civilization...just inconvenienced by the fact that we can't walk to land from our boats.

Today Ellen, Nat, and I walked the Illinois Michigan Canal Trail into town, had lunch and walked most of the way back. Yesterday we spent about 4 hours down there looking around at the shops, library, visitor's center, etc.

We're thinking it might be the first of next week before we'd be able to leave, and then we need to kind of coordinate the move since those higher up on the Illinois will probably have safe waters before those down on the lower end. Might not be a problem on the Illinois, but could be a problem if we all enter the Mississippi at the same time there's a real shortage of dockage there already.

More to come....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Racine, WI, to Ottawa, IL

Wednesday, September 10 - After a nice, long stay in Racine we were ready to hit the waters again. During our eleven days here we took care of a lot of "household" chores and Wayne changed the oil (major deal!). We rented a car and did some provisioning. Then Wayne drove me to O'Hare Airport in Chicago on Sept. 4 and I flew over to Raleigh to visit with Dave, Heather and Alex.

(One of the cute things Alex did while I was there: He has several "blankies" now that the pacifier is gone. Some are baby blanket size and some are really small, hand-held size. One day he picked up my eyeglasses case and found the little slick, microfiber cleaning cloth inside. "Grandma's blankie!" he beamed!)

Racine was a nice place to relax for a while. Reef Point is a large marina and attracts a lot of boaters from Illinois for the summer months. Things really died down after Labor Day weekend and we had the marina laundromat all to ourselves!

The downtown area is nicely done and seems to be making a go of it, unlike some. Nice public library, right near the water.

One day we took our dinghy out and down the Root River through town. It was one of the many beautiful weather days we had there and perfect for seeing the city from the water.

On another day we drove up to Milwaukee and took in the sights. Looks like a place we'd like to visit some day. Bob Kanuth had told us about the art museum there beside the lake that has a wing-like structure on the roof that shifts slowly around during the day to shade the building and collection.

As we left on Wednesday, September 10, the wind was blowing on the higher end of the forecasted 10-15 mph. We were hoping to go all the way down to Chicago today, about 57 miles from Racine harbor. If we needed to bail out we'd stop at a large park marina located mid-way.

Well, as has been the case with many of our days on Lake Michigan...this was an uncomfortable day on the water. Not threatening in any way, just long, low waves of about 2-3 ft. (during the first part of the trip) then 1-2 ft. later. They kept us wobbling side to side most all the way. We "wollered" down the lake today for our last outing on Lake Michigan!

We spotted the Chicago skyline 40 miles out...and as we got closer, this was the view...unaltered.

As we approached DuSable Harbor, where we'd be staying for the next couple of nights, the view was spectacular...

We've planned a short, 2 night stay in Chicago...long enough to see something we haven't seen here before and to visit with Jay and Carla's son, J.J., who lives here (at least for the next few weeks!) We've called J.J. and arranged to meet him for dinner tomorrow night and I've decided to take an architectural tour on the river tomorrow morning as was suggested by our friend Cheryl. As for this evening...we're water weary and in need of rest!

Thursday, September 11 - DuSable Harbor is a great location for visiting Chicago. This morning we walked over to Michigan Avenue at the river and I queued up for the tour. I'd selected the tour led by a docent from the Chicago Architectural Foundation and found a seat on the back of the upper open air deck. It was a perfect morning for the tour, weather wise. Since we'll be traveling down this river tomorrow morning as we leave Chicago, I wanted to get an idea of what we would see. It was time well spent!

My favorite building on the tour was the building at 333 W. Wacker Drive, an office building designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. We caught the reflections from several angles on the trip and each time it was a little different...

Wayne, meantime, took off to find some of his old haunts up here from IBM days. We met back at Michigan Avenue after the tour and set off to find lunch. Wayne had spotted a few likely places, though most of the ones he'd remembered were no longer around. As we were walking along we passed by an interesting looking place serving Armenian food, Sayat-Nova. One look at the menu and we were hooked! When we got inside we were sure we'd made a good choice. The decor was cozy and exotic with walls that were rounded like a cave. I surreptitiously took a couple of photos...but their website has better pics, Below is detail of the wall behind our little piece of the cave...

After a nice lunch and walk back along the river we relaxed on the back deck with the view of Chicago competing with our books.

Speaking of books...this is the first time we've visited Chicago since we read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Our friend Jeff loaned us his copy for the trip. For those who haven't read it, it's about the Chicago 1893 World's Fair (the World Columbian Exposition, as it was also called), Daniel Burnham (who directed the fair and worked on the plan for the city of Chicago) and the serial killer who was loose in the city during the time of the fair.

When I saw the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier as we pulled into DeSable...I thought of the book. The first Ferris wheel, engineered by George Ferris, a bridge builder, was built for the 1893 Chicago fair. Of course the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier now is about half the size of the wheel designed for the fair!

That evening J.J. biked over to the boat and we enjoyed catching up with his bustling life. J.J. has been promoted to a VP position with Bank of America and will be leaving Chicago around the first week in October to take up residence in Manhattan! He's been looking around at housing there and still hasn't decided on a choice...though he knows it will be more money and less "house" than here in Chicago.

J.J.'s friend, Jessica, joined us at the boat before we took off to see his Chicago apartment and have supper out. What a view he has from his apartment! He's located in the part of Chicago they call "old town" and has views both of the city and the lake. It was already dark by the time we got up to his place and even at night it was beautiful.

From there we strolled through the neighborhood (an area with stand-alone houses and pedestrian friendly streets) to an old Chicago restaurant called Twin Anchors. (J.J. thought the nautical reference appropriate...and he guessed, correctly, that we might be missing the taste of barbecued ribs.) A neat, neighborhood tavern atmosphere...and, to our surprise, a location that was used during the filming of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. (See the restaurant's website for a clip of the scene,

We said our goodbyes to J.J. and Jessica and wound up a perfect day in Chicago.

Tomorrow, we're back to the rivers...

Friday, September 12 - It was cloudy and threatening rain as we left DuSable Harbor this morning. We were going down 40-some miles to the city wall at Joliet, IL, for tonight. But first...a cruise down the Chicago River right through the city! Granted, the weather was a little rainy...but it was still exciting. Passing under low bridges with people walking to work...priceless! I tried to do a mini-architectural tour for Wayne as we went along, but his attention was a little diverted by the number of low, low bridges.

We had taken down the davit so we could fit under a 17 ft. fixed bridge along this route. But just when we were almost out of the city area we came upon a 10.5 ft. Amtrak bridge that is usually up when a train isn't passing...and the bridge was down.

We hovered a few minutes thinking a train must be coming...and a train did come. But the bridge still didn't raise. We hailed the bridge on the reply. We tried several different channels in case our information was reply. We decided to tie up to the wall along the left descending bank at a nearby park while we decided what to do. Time passed. Nothing happened. We finally started making phone calls...and finally got the Coast Guard on the phone. They didn't know of a reason the bridge wouldn't be lifting, but said they would call the bridge to try and find out something. We were called back in just a few minutes. Apparently the bridge hadn't heard our calls. ???? The bridge lifted and we went through. One hour lost.

The landscape begins to change now. We're out of the bustling city and into the industrial area of the river...

We saw a new variety of tow boat, for us, with an hydraulic lift for the pilot house so they can get down low enough to go under the low Chicago bridges....

Another interesting site along this waterway was the electronic fish barrier we passed through. In looking for information about it I came across an article by Deborah J. Siegelbaum from the Medill Report that explains the problem and the solution as of October 2007:

It’s not Jaws, but this dangerous fish could take a big bite of the Illinois economy. The Asian carp, a non-native species imported from China and
Siberia, is eating its way up the Mississippi River toward the Great Lakes, conquering water ecosystems in its path.

With an estimated $4 billion a year in commercial and sport fishing in the Great Lakes, it’s vital to both the environment and economy that the Asian
carp keep out. But it doesn’t just threaten the economy; this giant fish has also injured sport fishers and water skiers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has constructed an electronic fish barrier along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the only defense against
the invasive species that feeds on plankton and decimates the fish food chain. ......

Federal and state agencies joined to tackle the threat of invasive species in 1996, when representatives of the U.S. Army Corps, the EPA, Fish and
Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and environmental academics met to discuss options for a barrier. Possible solutions
included chemical treatment, heat, sound, dense bubbles and de-oxygenation of the water.

It was vital that the barrier not interfere with the large flow of commercial barge traffic through the ship canal, or with the flow of wastewater away<br>from Lake Michigan. In the end, the electronic “barrier was selected because it was a proven technology and there was a practical way to
implement it,” Shea said. ...

A demonstration barrier was constructed in early 2002 at a cost of nearly $4 million in federal funding. Intended as a research tool rather than a
permanent solution, the barrier uses 12 electrodes strung 54 feet along the canal bottom through steel cables. One volt per inch is emitted into the
water, a level studies indicate deters the majority of fish.

Shea explains that the barrier “puts an electrical field into the water, strongest in the middle of the canal, so a fish coming in from either side starts
to get a shock. [The fish] realizes that if it continues moving forward, it will get an even bigger shock, so they turn away.”

Activated in April 2002, the barrier is continuously operated. It is the largest of its kind in the world, and the first of its type to be used on an open

Unfortunately, materials used in the demonstration barrier were not long-lasting; the steel cables running the electrical charges have since
The article goes on to explain that they have begun construction on a new electronic barrier just a short distance from the old one. Since the article is now a year old, it isn't clear to me whether they've completed the project by now or whether funding has been an issue. At any rate, it's an interesting problem... and solution.

So...we only had two locks to negotiate on this trip to Joliet. The first, the Chicago Lock, was at the beginning of the Chicago River right off Lake Michigan and the second was just a few miles north of Joliet, the Lockport Lock. When we arrived at the lock we could see they were in the process of moving down a tow and its load of barges. We hailed the lockmaster on channel 14 and asked about how long it would be before they could let us through and he said it would be about 2 hours. The tow captain came on and said we could go through with him on the last pass down (it was going to take a few loads to get all his barges down) and that way it would only be about 1.5 hours wait. We thanked them and tied up to the wall area offside.

As we waited, two other power boats (Charmed III and Our Turn, whom we'd met at Manistee) and one sailboat gathered for the next trip down. And, as we waited, debris of all manner began to collect around the boats on the wall. Large ropes, huge logs, trash, animal remains...YUK! As the time neared for us to position for the lock we decided we'd better try to get out of this stuff without hurting the propellers. We cleared as much as we could with the boat hook, then let the boat drift with the current a little to move out from the wall and into cleaner water.

The last load was ready to go down (turns out there were twelve barges, total, involved!) and the tow captain said we could tie to their barges, but he wouldn't take responsibility for any damage done to the boats on the trip down. The lockmaster, who had deferred to the captain on this decision, seemed to feel it would be best for us to tie to the barges rather than to the lock wall opposite we tied up to the barges.

You know, here we are 5,500 miles or more into our trip and you'd think we might have experienced just about all you could on the water during that time. This was the first time, though that we've tied to a barge in a lock. Here's a picture of the tow, the Show Me State, as it entered the lock chamber...and a shot of our boats tied up to the barges.

With that little adventure under our belt we made our way down to the Joliet town dock and tied up with Our Turn and two other boats for the night. By this was raining pretty hard.
Saturday, September 13 - Rain, rain... and more rain.

The bridge just below our tie up in Joliet didn't open until 8:30AM, so we had plenty of time to ready for the day. Overnight a good bit of rain had fallen and the current on the river...and the resulting debris...had picked up considerably. In fact, we had another log jam behind the boat this morning! We're learning all the time. Now we know to bow-in to the current, no matter what! We were going down to Heritage Harbor Marina in Ottawa, IL, today, about a 50 mile trip. Our Turn was going the same way so we decided to travel together since the locks would control our pace anyway. Our Turn had picked up something on their props during the Lockport Lock incident and was running a little slower than usual so we led the way.

Up at the bridge, which would have to be opened for us because the water levels were rising and we needed more clearance than was available, we hailed the bridge tender and asked for a pass through. He started the process...then called us back to say that one of the guard gates on the road to the bridge would not lower and he was going to have to call in a mechanic. He thought it might only be an hour's delay.

Back to the Joliet wall we went (only minutes away) and tied up, bow to the current, to wait for word on the bridge. Within the hour he contacted us and said it was fixed. We called the Brandon Road Lock, just below the bridge, to make sure they could take us through before we left the wall and they assured us we would be able to lock right through.

The trip today was frought with debris and rain. We saw duck blinds set up along this area of the Illinois River and this guy was putting out some of the BIGGEST goose decoys we've ever seen! Wayne says, "No self respecting goose would dare approach these decoys!" Can geese see well??

After the Brandon Road Lock we had two more before we could get to Heritage Harbor. Fortunately, after a rough start this morning with the bridge, we were able to do great time through the locks. Just before the last lock we passed a tow with several barges and when we were within about 2 miles of the lock called to check on passage through. If we could get there in 15 minutes we could make it down with a few other pleasure craft (pc's, they call us). We did it and were pulling into Heritage Harbor around 3:30 PM.

As we made our way down the river Wayne talked with a marina further down that we'd planned to visit next, the Illinois Valley Yacht Club, or IVY Club, as it's called. The contact said they were expecting the water to go up 10 ft. over the next few days...cresting around Wed....and places south of them would receive even more. The IVY Club was having its fuel tanks pumped out as a safety precaution. We'd planned to top off there before hitting the Mississippi.

When we got to Heritage Harbor we asked about diesel and they said they could bring in a truck for us. Turns out the truck was coming in that afternoon anyway to pick up their fuel since the water was rising quickly. Three boats took on fuel that afternoon at $4.08/gallon.

Word has it we probably won't be able to leave here for several days. The waters are to continue to rise, even after the rain is supposed to stop tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, September 14 - Rain, rain and MORE rain...

We woke up and got Lucy out for her walk. Whoops! The floating docks were up several more feet this morning and the ramp that normally would lead to land is stuck in the water. A couple of boaters waded through the water...up to their go ashore. Wayne called the marina and found out they have a little work boat on our dock so we used that this morning to take Lucy in (whew! she says...) and then Ellen, Nat and I went to the grocery store and transported the loot back to the boats in the work boat.

The work boat, now water taxi...

And our view from the dock, looking towards the marina office and land. Note they are moving the porta-john further up the hill, and they moved the fuel tank from the concrete pads in the water (now) to a spot on the hill.

Waters are continuing to rise. We could see when we were in town this morning that there are homes in jeaopardy. They are expecting the waters to rise close to a record high this week in many areas. We're all safe and (usually) dry...congregating haphazardly at the "boaters' lounge" on a houseboat at the end of our dock. Just when we think we've been through everything...something new, again. Gotta love it!