Not really good-bye, more like, Till the Next Time!

November 4, 2019

Our last sunset on our Great Loop adventure was in Alton, Indiana. This sunset just kept getting better. Stunning!

To truly enjoy a great sunset, great Champagne is required.

Barges everywhere.

The Overlook Restaurant in Leavenworth, Indiana. If you have never been there it is a lovely drive and you will be rewarded with great fried chicken.

There is a “boat load” of money tied up in these tug boats.

Getting close, Ceasars Gambling boat in New Albany.

Growning up on North 39th street in the West End of Louisville, these smoke stacks were a part of our everyday vista.

Entry into our last lock in the Portland area of the West End of Louisville. How many locks did we go through in the last year? Gotta be close to 100.

Sherman Minton bridge from Louisville to New Albany. We used to drag race across this bridge.

New Albany, Indiana

Video of the McAlpine Lock and entering downtown Louisville.

My buddy Glenn Glaser was kind enough to come down to the lock and get some photo’s of WB. Glenn was one of my best friends in high school. I went on to sell whisky. Glenn went on to make whisky. Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon Whisky? Yup, Glenn made it as the Plant Manager for the Early Times Distillery in Shively. Glenn and his wife Bev went to Napa with us a few years ago. Winemakers out there wanted to kiss his ring.

Ever so gently I have to manuever WB’s 46,000 lbs to the concrete wall of the lock. WB is not equiped with bow or stern thrusters. Thrusters? We don’ need no stinking thrusters!

Crew of Whisky Business posing on the bow waiting for the lock to fill.

Doors open and off we go on the last leg of our journey.

Photo reminiscent of the one Dan Meyer took of Whisky Business 14 months ago as we passed under the I-65 Bridge on the first day of our Loop. Headed in the opposite direction in this photo.

Downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

Glenn’s trip home paralleled ours along River Road.

Lewis and Clark Bridge in eastern Louisville.

The entrance to Harrod’s Creek off the Ohio River. The CQ Princess on the right of the photo.

Short ride up the creek to our marina. Love this photo. Thanks Glenn!!!

Entrance to Captain’s Quarters Marina.

Entering the marina with my mermaid on the bow preparing her lines for docking.

We used every inch of dock space. My friend Joe Jarles from Kentuckiana Yacht Services leased me this dock space. Joe, be carefull getting in your dinghy.

This chapter of the adventures of Whisky Business and crew comes to an end. During the next year we have some maintenance to perform and some upgrades. Since we are the 5th owners of this boat in it’s 25 years of life there some overdue issues that need to be addressed. Getting the fuel injectors rebuilt and adjusting the valves on the engines should take care of the soot issue we have. Better fuel economy will be a result. She came from the factory with a Sub Zero refrigerator and freezer and they are at the end of their lives so looking at replacing those. Debbie wants to redo the saloon interior.

After that we are toying with the idea of doing most of the Loop again, but sticking to our original plan of a 3 year cruise (3 summer cruise more like it). The plan is to get to the Bahama’s and spend more time on the east coast. Visiting Montreal and Quebec in Canada will be at the top of the list.

We shall see.

Jerry Goes GOLD!

October 31-November 3

Gold SPARKLES that is. As usual I failed to bring a pair of “cheaters” to dinner so I was unable to read the menu. Fortunately a fellow Looper lent me her gold sparkly glasses. Lookin’ pretty good, huh?

Took a ride to the Cumberland Lock with GTB’s courtesy car. This is one of the Propellers they use in the dam to move water.

Explained better here.

Barkley dam.

Left Green Turtle Bay Marina just after first light. 360 miles to Louisville.

Our first lock, at the Barkley dam. Clear skies departing GTB and all systems go once the doors open.

A view looking up the lock wall. A 57′ lift.

Yep, a clear day. Uhhh, is that a cloud waiting for us to leave the lock chamber?

Oh hell no. A wall of fog. We moved under the bridge but absolutely no visibility. Came back to the dam, dropped the anchor in a fast current and waited for the fog to burn off.

Current on the Cumberland was almost as fast as the Mississippi when we came out of the lock.

Leftovers for breakfast. Steak and Biscuits!

Lot of quarries on the Cumberland.

Current gave us quite a boost.

Fall colors on the cliffs.

Water like glass.

Cumberland is such a beautiful river. Last August when we made our way down it was really hot and all I remember is water, mud and trees.

This is where we made the turn onto the Ohio River.

And now we are traveling upstream. Like going uphill.

Our home for the night at a restaurant dock in Elizabethtown Illinois. Boat was bigger than the restaurant!

2nd time we saw the Statue of Liberty on the Loop. An overlook of the river in Elizabethtown.

Civil War memorial in front of the town hall.

The obelisk in the left of the photo is a memorial to Elizabethtown lost sons in WWI, WWII and the VietNam wars.

Main Street.

A 7AM departure from E-Town after an hour wait for the fog to burn off. With no fog we could have been underway by 6:15.

Car ferry crossing the river.

Remember that great Bluegrass song Muhlenburg County?

Daddy won’t ya take me back to Muhlenburg County,

Down by the Green River where Paradise Lay.

Well I’m sorry my son, you’re too late in asking,

Mr Peabody’s coal train done hauled it away.

Well there’s the Peabody Coal Company from that song.

Made it to Inland Marina in Evansville, Indiana. last fuel bill. Sorry can’t figure out how to rotate.

Another early start headed to an anchorage 80 miles from Louisville.

Party in the Boone Hollow bend of the river, Whisky Business and 5 tows (red and green triangles).

Bucket List:

Complete the Great Loop – ✔️

October 28, 2019

At 2 PM this day, after 7,123 miles, Whisky Business crossed her wake on the Tennessee River at the Barkley Canal. It took us 1 year, 2 months and 9 days to get here. What a ride!

In anticipation of this event we preordered our Gold Burgee which signifies the completion of the Loop and had it shipped to Green Turtle Bay. Will mount tomorrow.

After refueling, a party ensued when we reached our slip, which then carried over to a local restaurant.

Didn’t think I would ever open this. But with the crews of 12 Looper boats on hand for the celebration it certainly seemed appropriate.

Take a look at the bottom right corner of the map below. You can see the little red line that crosses over the land. That is actually the Barkley Canal that runs across the top of the Land Between the Lakes. On the left side of that red line is where we crossed our wake.

Just a few interesting statistics about our journey:

Miles traveled: 7,123

Elapsed time: 1 year, 2 months, 9 days and 5 hours

Fuel Burned: apx. 4800 gallons

Cost of Fuel Burned: Do not want to know.

Bottles of Bourbon consumed: 7

Bottles of Absolut Mandrin consumed: 6

Bottles of Jerry’s Splendid Manhattans consumed: 6

Bottles of Champagne consumed: 72

Bottles of Wine consumed: 24

Cans of Beer consumed: 3

Cuss words exclaimed whilst in the engine room: 1 brazillion

The long green object below is a barge being painted at Paducah River Painting

Pretty darn gloomy day.

Saltie

There are 2 routes we could have taken to get to Green Turtle Bay Marina. The shortest and most convenient would have been to go through the Kentucky Lock on the Tennessee River. At the briefing we attended at Hoppies we were told to take the longer route down the Cumberland River and through the Barkley Lock. It was explained to us that the shorter Kentucky Lock route would have us waiting for many hours for a transit. We were told the Kentucky Lock operators do not like pleasure craft. Sure enough, the day before we would leave Paducah, fellow Loopers waited 8 hours to get through, arriving after dark. One boat ran aground. Day before that it was reported Loopers waited 6 hours to get through. The route suggested through the Barkley presented it’s own challenge. It is closed daily from 6 AM to 6 PM due to repairs. We would not be able to get through until after dark. Kinda acceptable as you can see GTB marina from the lock. Deb and I do not like to travel at night.

What to do?

When I got off the boat this morning I noticed Saltie had left. The dock hand told me the captain had called the Kentucky Lock and was told he would get through later that morning. I then called the Kentucky Lock, spoke to a very gracious fellow who told me they were only taking down bound traffic today and they could get us through, depending on when we got there our wait would be 3 hours worst case. At least we would get through in daylight. By now it’s 9 AM. I banged on Curti-Sea, Here’s to Us, Saltaire and Vitamin-Sea (of course Captain Sam on Here’s to Us was still in his jammies). We were wheels up by 9:30 headed for the Kentucky Lock. When we arrived the lock doors were open and a tow was exiting. Awesome! As we started for the lock chamber maybe 300 yards away, 2 eagles dove for fish right in front of us!!! Great omen! Too fast to get a photo.

In the video below you can see a couple of tows waiting for the lock to cycle them down.

We had to take on quite a bit of fuel when we arrived. My hand got tired so my brain went to work.

All of the Looper boats in Green Turtle Bay Marina with us. With all of us on the same dock it’s gonna be a great couple of days!

This next little video needs some explanation. Captain Sam from Here’s to Us is quite the prankster. Whenever we went into the same marina, if he got there first he would always tell the marina office “if that guy from Whisky Business tells you he is only 46 feet long, he’s lying. He’s at least 60 feet.” I would then have to ‘splain things to the dock hands to get things straightened out. Marina’s charge by the foot. What a hoser! Well, turnabout is fair play. When we got to GTB it was payback time. Best part was Robin, the gal who was running the office at the time really got on board with my plan. Bear in mind Sam and Rev have a 50 foot long boat. Listen carefully to the young lady behind the counter tell Sam and Rev she knows their boat is 70 feet long.

Our adventure is coming to a close as we will be making our way up the Ohio back to Louisville. Truly bittersweet. We are looking forward to seeing family and old friends that we haven’t seen in months but our new friends will be sorely missed. The upside is most everybody we have traveled with will be near Punta Gorda, Florida where we hang out in the winter so we will see them soon.

Blustery day in the ‘hood

October 26 & 27

This was our anchorage for 2 nights. Little Diversion is off the big river and out of the crazy current.

We woke up at 6:15 this morning for a 7AM departure. Nope, raining like heck. The three captains had a conference call and decided to stay put in this very safe anchorage off the Mississippi. Our arrangement with Here’s to Us with their anchor acting as the stern anchor for all 3 boats was a good idea…in theory. Virtually no current in this little channel we’re in, until all the rain came. By 10 this morning the anchor that Here’s to Us had deployed to be a stern anchor was not holding. Guess we did not have enough chain out. Didn’t matter. As the rain continued the current in our anchorage picked up and we were spun 90 degrees. Had we not had the other anchor out we would have done a 180. So Here’s to Us untied and moved downstream while Whisky Business went about resetting our anchcor. And if the rain and current were not enough, while we are about to bring in some anchor line to reset the bridle, along comes a 15 foot log. Yep, hangs up on my bridle and anchor chain. Had to disconnect the bridle from the boat and with Sam jockeying his 60 foot long boat around we got a line around the log and finally got it off. While I am typing this along comes another log and hangs up on Saltaire’s bow. We get it off. Hangs up on Saltaire’s props. Wrassled it for awhile and finally get it off.

You can see John from Saltaire on the lower right corner of this photo. He is rasslin’ that log off his boat.

BUMP! Another partial tree bumps into WB while I am downloading the photo above.

And then here comes…

And these…

Gonna be the longest night on the Loop. Just watched the crew of Saltie spend 45 minutes getting a tree off their anchor chain…in the dark. I remembered WB had a plug in spotlight inside one of the benches on the flybridge so I held that spotlight on their bow while they got that log off.

Next morning, clear day. Great day for running the 97 miles to Paducah. We get out on the river make a right turn and see…mountains in front of us? No, that would be a fog bank.

It was coming from the left side of the river and we could see on radar it was not that long, maybe 3 miles. Running at 15 MPH we hoped we could get to the end of it before it engulfed the river.

It was like watching a Stephen King movie as the fog rolled over the big Mississippi. Again, our AIS system along with radar saved our bacon.

Visibility got down to maybe 50 yards for about a mile and then we were out of it.

This river is big, fast and not very friendly to anything but the largest craft. Still, it has it’s own beauty.

This was our speed coming down the Mississippi. The current was running better than 5 MPH.

When we made the left turn to come up (against the current) the Ohio, BANG, we hit a wall and our GPS speed slowed to 8.4.

After 7,050 miles we turned up the Ohio headed for Paducah for the night. We ran 97 miles today.

This is the Olmsted Lock and Dam which is still under construction…after 28 years! This new system replaces 2 sets of locks on the Ohio. Why 28 years? Budget constraints and changes to the original plans made this the gift that has kept on giving.

Ah, the Ohio River. Like running on glass after the turbulent Mississippi.

METROPOLIS! HOME OF SUPERMAN!!!

No comment, couldn’t help it…

Fort Massac on the Illinois side of the Ohio. Built by the French in 1757, destroyed by the Chickasaw in 1763 and rebuilt in 1794.

Twelve boats tied up at the Paducah marina. Essentially a dock in the river far out of the shipping channel. A great investment for the city of Paducah. We filled the place up.

Broke out the “ships stores” after getting settled in.

Coupla old timers enjoying the scenery (probably younger than me).

HA! Think about what you paid for the piece of land your house sits on. Back in 1827, $5 could by 37,000 acres!

Dinner in Paducah with Saltaire, Here’s to Us, Vitamin Sea and Curti-Sea.

Beautiful mural on the floodwall.

The Looper Armada at night.

Southbound

October 24 & 25

Rev from Here’s to Us took this shot of WB in one of our locks together.

As I stated in my last post, Hoppies being one of the “must stops” on the Loop, was not exactly a luxurious stop. Photo below is a power hook up. You can see the judicious use of electrical tape.

Pretty darn gloomy day. Only a 4 hour run to the wall on the Kaskaskia lock. If the sun was out the color of the trees would really pop.

Rock quarry

Can’t really make out this array of barges anchored out in the middle of the river very well. Five wide and 6 long. At the briefing held last night at Hoppies we learned that tows between New Orleans and St. Louis can have as many as 43 barges because there are no locks or dams between those 2 cities. Largest array of barges I have ever seen is 15.

Check out the caves at the top of the cliffs in the following photos.

Another quarry

Our speed through the water was almost 9 MPH.

Because of the push of the current we were actually moving over 15 MPH! The current will pick up as we get closer to the Ohio River.

After about 4 hours we reached our destination 50 miles down river at the confluence of the Kaskaskia River and the Mississippi. We pulled off the big river into the Kaskaskia and tied up to the wall at the dam. It started raining as we tied up to the wall. Then it started pouring…Bloody Mary’s that is!

Forecast was for rain the rest of the day so we decided to have our very own Lebowski Fest.

Sam showed up in appropriate attire.

Multiple Causasians (The Dude’s term for a White Russian) were enjoyed during the movie.

As the day progressed at our wall tie up another 8 boats came in and tied up. By 5pm there was no more room at the inn.

Off the wall and underway to a popular anchorage called Little Diversion. We wanted to make sure there was room for us.

Had a little sunshine briefly at the start of the day.

Did not last.

Gotta look pretty closely at the water. Spinning eddies like underwater tornadoes swung us around quite a bit.

We always keep a sharp eye on our chartplotter for the AIS signature of tow arrays around the bend of a river. Saw this guy coming.

After hailing the captain and asking him which side he wanted us to pass him, I had to hail him again and ask him how often he gets hailed as “Lewis-ville”? Not often his response. I suggested he put the bumper to ’em if they did. He Loved it.

This is one muddy river.

As we approached we thought this was a bridge. Overehead pipeline.

This was a tow array we passed with an array of 7 X 4 barges. That’s 7 barges long and 4 barges wide for a total of 28. HUGE!

These are the “roller” waves the tug puts out. In order to push the weight of 28 loaded barges the tug has to really amp up the power and the wake behind it is unbelievable.

Short video of WB pushing through the 3 and 4 foot waves behind the tow. Never seen waves like that on a river.

Beautiful bluffs.

After 5 hours and 70 miles we made our anchorage at Little Diversion just south of Cape Girardeau, Il. Saltie got here before us and anchored using a stern anchor also. When anchoring in an anchorage with very little current it is wise to deploy a stern anchor. Let out a lot of chain on your bow anchor, throw out an anchor off the back of the boat and then move forward taking up chain off the bow while letting out line off the back of the boat, setting the stern anchor. We did something a little different so that we could keep Saltaire, Here’s to Us and WB together for cocktails. After dropping our anchor, Here’s to Us pulled alongside and behind us, dropped their bow anchor and then backed up to the side of us. So their bow was at our stern. Saltaire then tied up on the other side of WB.

Our run today. We averaged over 14 MPH at our normal cruise which would put us around 9 MPH. We were flyin’!

Wheels up at 7 AM for the long run to Paducah, Kentucky. After 14 months on Whisky Business we will be back in Kentucky.

Hoppies!

October 23

We left Alton Marina at 8:15 this morning passing under the iconic Clark Bridge. For those of you who live in Louisville, Ky. does this bridge look familiar?

This is the map of our run today. Most of our track is in red as we were moving close to 15 MPH. This current really moves us along.

Mississippi is a wide and fast moving river. Especially at near flood stage.

Came across this tug boat with it’s array of barges. Great name! Could not get a good photo due to the bright sun on the other side of the array.

Entry into the channel for our last lock till the Ohio River.

In the lock channel the water was quite calm.

When we entered the lock we noticed there were no lock doors. The door rose up behind us.

And there it is, the Arch of St. Louis.

Great photo. Fella we just met who is crewing for the captain of Toscana must have been on his computer when we passed the Arch. There is a web cam across the river from the Arch. In the photo below that’s Here’s to Us on the left, Saltaire in the middle and Whisky Business on the right side. So cool!

There were quite a few of these groups of barges that were anchored in the middle of the river without tugboats. Perhaps they were there since the river is so wide?

You can see WB in the compass rose in the middle of the photo. The 2 red triangles just behind WB are the 2 boats Deb and I are traveling with. All of the other red triangles are tow arrays. They are all on either side of the river wedging themselves into the banks. This was a target rich environment. Busier than the Hudson River at the Statue of Liberty with all of it’s ferries.

We had quite a bit of wind today. I shot this short video with sound just to give you an idea of how loud it was on the flybridge. The squeaking is the entire bimini and it’s windows shaking in the wind.

One of the most, gotta stay there, iconic stops on the whole Great Loop. Hoppies. Really just a couple of barges lashed together that boats can tie off to. Unfortunately we did not get to meet Fern, the character who owns this “marina”. Until this past spring there were 2 more barges that Loopers could tie off to. Spring flooding wiped out the other 2 barges and there is only room for 3 boats here now.

No marble floors in the restrooms here. Not sure there are restrooms.

Debbie carefully navigating the off ramp from the barge we are tied to.

The town of Kimmswick, Mo. is a lovely little town with lots of shops. Lot of sexual discrimination taking place in those shops. No mens department in any of ’em!

The Blue Owl restaurant. Article in Oprah’s magazine praised the 10 inch tall apple pie.

Our group posing with Mary, the owner of Blue Owl.

Disaster averted!!!

October 20 – 22

We left Whisky Business for a short walk to dinner with the crews of 5 other Looper boats. This is a view of the Highway 67 bridge to St. Louis.

Sam and Rev from Here’s to Us had a rental car so we headed to St. Louis for “The Hill” neighborhood. Decidedly Italian American.

Made a stop at DiGregorio’s (why do Italian names have so many syllables?) grocery. We thought we would lose weight on this trip.

No way.

Did not go to the Arch but got a good look from the hiway.

Highway 67 bridge back to Alton.

When I got up yesterday I decided to change the engines water pump impellers. The impellers are a critical component of the engines cooling system. When they spin in the water pump housing they draw raw water in and that water passes through a heat exchanger (kinda like a cars radiator). The heat exchanger contains antifreeze and the antifreeze is what actually cools the engine. The last time I changed the impellers was just before we left Punta Gorda, Florida in April for the Keys. You may recall we replaced the waterpump on the starboard engine while on the Erie Canal in July. That water pump had had it’s impeller replaced around 100 hours before I installed it on our engine. Should have been fine.

NOT!

The impeller on the left side of the photo is the one I took out of the port engine. It was installed in April and it is in very good condition. The impeller (or what’s left of it) on the right side of the photo should have been in as good a shape or better than the one on the left. Here comes the hard part.

Ya gotta find every single piece that broke loose. There is a device just upstream from the water pump that cools the gear oil. Found all of the pieces there. Had that impeller lost any more of it’s vanes, I could have overheated that engine. $30K fix averted.

Pre-game for a night at Fast Eddies with 4 other crews.

One of the must stops on the Loop. Fast Eddie’s in Alton, Il. The menu is on the front of the building. Half pound burger for $2.49. All drinks $4.50. Such a deal. Had a blast!

One of those vending machines where you pick up your prize. Coozies!

Yup.

Food pick up.

Sunset.