The Mighty Mississippi

October 20

The last day on the Illinois showcased what a beautiful river it is. Following are some pretty pics.

Debbie shot this photo of our wake on a glass like river.

The next 3 photos are of a lock we went through or rather we went over. Water is so high we were instructed to just proceed over the lock doors!

Really starting to see some color in the foilage.

Love those shots where the shoreline and sky are duplicated by calm water. Until our 46,000 lb. boat screws it all up!

Had to have the bridge operator open up for us.

The waterway on the left of the MFD (Multi Function Display) is the Illinois. On the right, the Big ‘ol Mississippi.

This is Grafton, Illinois. About 80 miles from our starting point for the day. We decided to run 25 more miles to Alton as Monday was not to be a very good weather day.

If you look closely you can see the bottom of the flag pole is under water. We have been in high water ever since we got to the Hudson River. All along the Erie Canal, through the Lakes and still on the Mississippi. Where the heck is all this water coming from?

We ran down the Illinois at 11.5 – 12 MPH. At an engine setting of 1300 RPM’s we would run around 10 MPH. Once we got to the Mississippi we hit 14 MPH! Cannot imagine running against this current.

Great candid shot of Debbie’s thumb! Photogenic as hell that girl!

The cliffis alongside the Mississippi are awesome! Reminds us of the beautiful Tennessee River.

Notice how the cliff walls jut out to the river?

After almost 9 hours underway we hit 100 miles for the day.

Setting sun…

Smooth Seas and a Cool Breeze

October 18 & 19

On Friday morning we left our anchorage at 7AM with this sunrise. Great way to start a cruising day.

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This is a deadhead, well actually just a tree moving down the river. A deadhead is the same thing with only a little of the tree or log showing above the water line. The other end of the tree is stuck in the bottom of the river so it is not moving.

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We love the rivers, especially this time of the year.C4B8BB7C-FD6F-4CBF-882F-D58991914FCA

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Rafting up, locks and marina’s require all manner of fenders. Gotta keep em handy.

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This looks like a burial ground for old casino gambling boats.

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Our run on Friday.

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How we ended our day on Friday.

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Saturday morning started out like this. Turned into an 80 mile day.

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Peoria, Illinois

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Since the Illinois River is high we drove right over the Peoria Lock.  Really strange feeling knowing there are lock doors just beneath your running gear.

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This is Tuscany. He is bringing his 42 ‘ Island Gypsy from somewhere in Illinois and his destination is Cuba Landing marina on the Tennessee River. Deb and I loved Cuba Landing. Hope he does as well.

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After an 80 mile run today we got the boat secured and opened the cooler.

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Our stop for the evening. We tied off 3 boats and rafted up 3 more to Logsdon Tug service. Just tied up to a barge.

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Our run today. Headed for the Mississippi River tomorrow.

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Finally Unfettered

October 17

Last night all 10 boats met for pizza, docktails and yep, dominoes! Such great comarraderie.

We bust out of the marina at 7AM.

Still pretty early, you can still see the moon.

Underway down the Illinois.

 

We tied up just upriver of the Marseilles lock. The large silver structure is a “cell”. These are structures large tow arrays tie off to while waiting to enter a lock. Curti-Sea tide off to this one and we tied off to him while waiting for the lock to let us in.

We waited for a tow array to come out of the Marseilles lock. After that, this guy locked down. We waited until after that. Took a few hours.

Shoreline Traveller, a 38 footer from Quebec owned by Pierre and Rene.

That “cell” I mentioned that Curti-Sea tied off to? Yeah, that’s Captain Ted relaxing while we wait for the lock.

Part of our armada behind us waiting for the lock.

Debbie and Deb Neal chatting while they wait for the lock.

Four boats tied off to the cell in front of us.

Once in the lock we all rafted up. Isn’t it crazy how the sun makes your hair look gray?

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Rafted up 3 to a side.

Another Jerry on Saltie.

WTH, a STINKBUG??? ON OUR BOAT???

Finally, the doors open and off we go!

Cool photos of our trip downstream to the Starved Rock lock.

On our way to the Starved Rock lock after the Marseilles lock we saw so many tows. Never ended.

Waiting for the Starved Rock lock. The lockmaster told us it would only be 20 minutes. Yeah, right…

This is the guy we were waiting on.

Starved Rock lock.

New bridge construction.

All of these barges and tows were waiting to get through the locks headed up river.

Shoreline Traveler

Peru, Illinois.

Our anchorage tonight. Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato bisque soup and, yup, Champagne!

HURRY UP! (Andwaitandwaitandwaitandwait…)

October 15 & 16

The best laid plans of mice and men. Our plan was to depart Joliet at 7:30 this morning. Having gone to bed at 8 o’clock last night (Deb followed at 9) we were up at 6:30. Good thing cuz those darn Kuchma’s phoned at 6:45. We are on Central time. Always good to chat with Steve and Christine at any hour. Late last night (9:30) got a call that the bridges that we would need to open for us would not do so during rush hour. Postponed our departure to 8:15. So Debbie and I head out to breakfast at a place Sam and Rev Crouse had recommended when they were here. Back to the boat in time for an 8:15 departure and once we get short tied, the power cord stowed and the engines warmed up, we get notified by the lock just downriver from us there is a lot of barge traffic so our departure is now 9:15.

HUGE breakfast with a plate of hash browns bigger than my head. As we walked to the Route 66 Diner we passed this church which gave me a splendid idea.

The buildiing was for sale. $228K or best offer…Had me a VIOLA moment! Make a low ball offer for the church, renovate it, move in and become…FATHER JERRY! Whoa, no more income taxes. Worshippers kissin’ my ring. What could go wrong??? Jeez, Debbie can be such a buzz kill. She did not share my zeal for this endeavor. Maybe due to the fact that since retiring I have had 2 jobs. Didn’t get paid at either one of those, although the benefits at Kentuckiana Yacht Services were fabulous!

This is a photo of our group on the wall in Joliet. Less 2 sailboats who do not need to wait for bridge openings since they have their masts down (but they DO have to wait for lock openings) Whisky Business is 5th from the right. We came across those 2 sailboats quite a few hours later at our first lock. They had been waiting hours when we finally arrived.

Video of our “anchorage” outside the busy lock. Waited there for hours. See the two “demasted” sailboats at the beginning and end of the video? They left the Joliet wall before 7AM and got stuck at the lock. We didn’t get their before 10:30 so they were there for probaly 5 hours before we all got through.

The next 2 images are of the tow array (don’t call ’em barges to a tugboat operator) that took 3 hours to get through before we could go. They had to break up their array of barges into 2 sections to get them all through the lock.

Coupla shots along the way.

Aqua-miniums?

Turning into a pretty day.

Prior to getting to our second lock we all had to wait again. Dropped anchor and waited. Again, WB had 2 boats rafted up to us. Tow array came along and wanted our make shift anchorage so we all had to move. Except WB. Went to lift the anchor and when it got close to the surface the windlass began straining. Got the anchor to the surface and there was a steel braided cable about 1-11/2″ in diameter looped around the anchor. Using a boat hook (telescoping pole with a hook on the end) I got one loop of the really heavy cable off the anchor. Called the tug captain and told him of our dilemma. He was very patient and courteous. Could not get the cable off. Steve and Carol on Valentine came over tied up with their stern to our bow (Valentine is the second boat over in the photo below) . Since Steve was so much closer to the water than I was on our bow, together we were able to get the cable off. Below are the 3 boats rafted off to WB in the lock chamber. That is a boat hook in the center of the photo.

Four boats rafted off each other in front of us. Unlike all of the locks on the Ten Tom waterway, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers these locks have very few bollards to tie off to.

That’s the lovely Carol Smith on Valentine waving to you 2 boats over.

In the image of our NEBO track from Tuesday, after we got out of the last lock we turned up the heat in the engine room and ran a couple of times at over 20MPH. We exited the last lock after 5PM. Debbie and I do NOT run after dark. We still had 20 miles to go before sunset. Good thing we did. When we got to the marina the wind was gusting to over 20 MPH and the dock the marina staff wanted us on had the wind blowing us away from the dock and we could not get tied up there. Had to exit the small marina to have space to turn this big girl around. It was dusk when we finally got tied up in a slip. By then it was dark and the rest of the the armada had arrived. The slower boats did not get to the marina until after dark.

Eight O’clock captians meeting Wednesday morning. Some of our captains slept in. At 7AM Captain Steve (2nd from left) contacted the Marseilles lock and was informed they MIGHT get us through at 3 but could not gaurantee anything. Could get us through at 6:30 tonight, after dark. Nope.

Since we were gonna be sitting still for the day, it was time for bloody mary’s! Debbie and John Neal with their trusted sidekick, Cheeto.

Finished the day with pizza, dominoes and cammaraderie. Tomorrow’s plan is to leave the marina by 7 AM and run the 7 miles to the Marseilles lock.

Heading South (actually west then south) part 2

September 15

Part 2? I was encountering so many page reloads, I am guessing from the lenghty post that I had to do a “part 2” entry. You may notice the hour which you received your email notice. Two reasons. One, the numerous reloads were driving me crazy and I just gave up, and two, we had an incredible dinner on board of pot roast and green beans after which I went in to a stupor and retired for the night at 8 pm. Got up at 1:30 to finish.

I left off Just before we entered the Brandon Road lock. This lock had a 40 foot drop. This is a 600 foot long lock but there were only a few places to tie up in the lock as it is set up for large tow arrays, not for a lot of small pleasure craft. So we rafted up.

In this image we are tied off to Saltaire which is tied up to another boat and we are in the front of the lock. We are so far in front that after the lock had lowered we had to back up so the doors could swing open.88B2FE6F-197A-47D7-824F-ACD25B15BBD7

Three boats rafted up on the other side of the lock.

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Four abreast behind us.

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Notice the 2 boats rafted up to the left. A demasted sailboat called West Wind and a trawler called Best Day Ever. They are behind the 6 boats in front of them in the lock. As a rule Loopers are a very courteous and giving group of folks you could ever hope to meet. During our 45 mile journey today all boats stayed in a single line so as not to impede oncoming commercial traffic and operated in an orderly fashion.

Well that lasted only as long as it took to approach the tie up wall at Joliet, Illinois. This is a free wall with free electricity with room for all boats. This is not a terribly wide river and when we got to the edge of Joliet coming under a bridge just before the tie up wall, those 2 boats, charged ahead. WB was 3rd in line leaving the last lock. Coming under the bridge these 2 boats were on either side of WB racing to the front to get their spot on the wall. When Best Day Ever got to the wall as the second boat to arrive, the captain left 50 feet of space between his boat and the boat in front of him. By now we had grown to 14 boats so every foot of space was precious. Guy was an ass and very reluctantly moved forward. All boat crews gathered for docktails but this crew was not invited.

Below is an image at the bottom of the lock.

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Docktails!

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Prior to our departure from Lake Michigan there were 70 Loop boats waiting to get off Lake Michigan due to 2 locks being closed for maintenance. The director of the AGLCA, a delightful lady by the name of Kim Russo, made arrangement with the locks and marinas along the way for the various groups of Loopers who would be heading down river. There were 4 groups. Group 1 was already on the river staged to move through the moment the locks opened. Group 2 (us) would leave the day after that. Group 3 two days later and group 4, heck I don’t remember. On the radio this morning I heard that Group 1 had given themselves an official name. Not to be outdone, I hailed all members of Group 2 and suggested that over docktails each crew should submit a name for our group. I had 3 fabulous recommendations, Herd of Turtles, Speedy Herd of Inviting Turtles (or it’s acronym S—T) and Jerry’s Kids. Other great ideas were Valentine’s Vagabonds (Valentine was our leader), and Aqua Squad. What did they choose??? Twopers. Like Group Two/Loopers. Really?  Jeez, I’m going back to bed.

Heading South (actually west, then south) part 1

October 14

We left Hammond marina which is about 3 miles southeast of Chicago with 9 other Loopers at 7:30 AM yesterday. In the image below you can see we failed to turn on NEBO, our tracking app until later in the morning. Shout out to our buddy Dave Heilman for the text reminding us to turn it on. I pestered Debbie daily to turn it on during my recovery so I could monitor their progress.

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Moon setting just before wheels up.

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There was a large barge adding boulder size rock to the breakwater moored in the entrance to the marina leaving a 30 foot gap for us to exit. Looked pretty darn skinny to me. Was glad to see a sailboat with a 5’5” draft go through before me.

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Short video of our departure.

We were 4th in line headed for the Calumet River. Would have loved to take Whisky Business through downtown Chicago but our air draft (height) kept us from doing so. Great shot of our armada approching the city.

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Time lapse video of us going through a number of drawbridges. Bridge attendants would not open bridges until all 10 boats had gathered together which created maybe just a little bedlam.

Boats behind us.

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5 boats in front of us.

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This is a real working river. No restaurants, grassy areas to be seen. Interesting nevertheless.

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We would approach these low (18-22’) bridges and I would swear there is no way I can get under them until one of the boats who has an air draft a foot more than WB would go under. We would still hold our breath.27775C9B-4719-4FFB-BA06-9590598B68DCE35730E5-1309-4888-9ABE-C5D20C9E44F13E840EBC-CC0E-46E7-8BE4-ED123AC6C5D5

Our first lock with a 2 foot drop. Lockmaster told us we did not even have to tie up to the sides of the lock if we did not want to. These commercial size locks are 600 feet long and 110 feet wide.

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Passed a couple of landfills that were…full? Guess that would make them “landfulls”?

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Interesting, an overhead pipeline. Saw quite a few of these.

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The obelisk structure below marks the confluence of the Illinois and Calumet Rivers.

That’s right. “obelisk”, look it up!

We are now on the Illinois River.

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Felt like we were gonna trade paint with the barge array below. A wee bit narrow.A66B9E6D-6DEF-4957-82B1-1ADD369365FFA7348B12-FD98-462B-A43F-6DE118F6790B

For a guy, this is one of the best jobs ever!

There is a section of the Illinois River where an electrical barrier has been installed to prevent the spread of Asian carp to the Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. A metal grid placed on the river bottom that electrifies the water prevents any marine life from passing this area. Go to YouTube and search Asian carp. A terribly invasive species that decimates populations of native marine life.

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As God as my witness, I’ll never be cold again!

October 11 – 13

Scarlett O’Hara’s famous last words in Gone With the Wind came to mind this morning when  we got up and checked the weather. Last November and December when Whisky Business was making it’s way down the Ten Tom waterway and across the Florida panhandle I swore I would never be cold on a boat again. Never say Never.

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We drove to Hammond, Indiana on Friday and watched the temp drop the whole way up here. My wife Nanook the Eskimo with her cart of provisions on her way to WB which is waaaaay out on U dock. Fifteen MPH winds froze us to the core. Fortunately the AC/heating system on WB is keeping us warm and toasty.

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Some weeks back the backup camera on  WB ceased to work. Man I really missed it. Backing this 15’ wide boat into a slip that is only 15’ to 16’ wide is a snap with that camera. Backing into a slip also makes getting on and off the boat using the swim platform much easier. Last few marina’s we were in I used the excuse of my poor back to pull bow in so Debbie would not have to carry the heavy 50’ power cord all the way to the back of the boat. No more excuses. Downloaded an update and VOILA!

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Once we got all of the provisions in their proper places it was bubble time. I swear when Debbie is on the boat I don’t know if we use more diesel fuel or Champagne. At a stop in New York we had to “settle” for a case of Veuve Cliccquot as Taittinger was not available at that particular Costco.

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While home we reloaded on the beverage that makes ya run faster and jump higher! Makes me even more handsome! Hard to believe, I know…

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And one of those beauties made it’s way to Whisky Business.

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Directly adjacent to the marina is a Horseshoe casino. Steve and Carol Smith from Valentine had some BOGO cards (buy one get one) which allowed us to have a coupla really nice New York strips for the price of one. Yes, that’s Debbie holding an EMPTY Manhattan glass. With proper instructions the bartenders along the Great Loop have made some superb Manhattans. Steve and Carol were drinking Dewar’s. That’s Scotch. Really? I swear, I have tried to show them the light with God’s own Dirty Water (that would be Bourbon) to no avail. Love ‘em anyway.

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Came over Saturday night for a coupla rounds of Left, Right, Center. After taking all of their laundry quarters we switched to dominoes.

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A smart boat captain always pays attention to the other captains as there is always something new to learn. One lesson I learned while traveling with Sam and Rev Crouse on Here’s to Us was Waffles and Bacon on Sunday morning!

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What was supposed to be a planning meeting for the 45 mile run to Joliet, Illinois tomorrow turned out to be another episode of “Docktails” onboard Shoreline Traveler. There were 9 boats represented by their Captains and Admirals. Couldn’t get everyone in a photo so a video was selected.

Wheels up at 7:30 in the AM. Frost is in the forecast…