The charts for the Illinois rivers are decades old and have no depths listed. We are using the Waterway guide, it is very helpful but not 100% accurate. We have managed to hook up with a "mast shipping consortium". There are six boats that have all gone before us. They are emailing the conditions that they find. We are in an area right now with very few deep water anchorages and marinas and we are a deep water boat. We had really long waits today at the two locks, 2 and 3 hours. Both allowed us to tie up at walls outside. The locks here have concrete caissons that the tows and barges can tie to but limited areas for pleasure boats ( that would be us). The tows push barges, sometimes 2-3 wide and 2-3 long. The problem today was one carrying combustable liquid that by law could not share a lock with us.
The river has cut outs that you can see on the charts, these are for the barges, turning basins and docking areas.
Today was stressful at the end of the day because our planned stop for the night was another 20 miles "down bound". We scrambled since the Dresden lock, trying to adjust our plan. We finally settled on a marina that allowed us to tie up at the fuel dock, the only available deep water tie up.
We are learning all the right lingo, as you approach a tight bend you need to announce yourself and know exactly where you are and be prepared to get out of the way of a tow and to determine if you will pass one whistle or two whistle ( port to port, or starboard to starboard). Diesel is another issue, not all marinas have it. This will be tomorrows issue. We know that the Starved Rock marina has it but don't know if they have depth for us. They close up at 4:00.
Today was a beautiful, sunny, warm day. We are starting to see some fall colors. Most of the trip has been very industrial scenery with some nice scenic areas mixed in. Tomorrow should be even better! We might travel a half day and take half the day to catch up on some projects and to rest and enjoy the warm weather....well see, no schedule here.