Monday, October 10, 2011

A bad day on the river is better than a good day at the office!

Friday started out great. We had a good evening Thursday night in Peoria and the morning weather was perfect. We cast off at 8AM with the Peoria lock a few miles downstream. That’s when the day started to deteriorate. First, we had to dodge falling concrete from construction on the bridge just above the lock. Then we had to circle while waiting for a very large tow to lock down or anchor. Circling is tedious so we decided to anchor. Just as we were about to drop it, we were hailed by another working tow headed right at us. He needed room to enter a small creek with his barge. So we decided to head back upstream under the debris bridge to cool our heels in more open space. That lasted 4 hours! There was another tow in line ahead of us and he was a chemical barge so we could not join him even if there was room. As we’re finally getting ready to enter the lock, fellow cruisers who slept in came motoring up just in time for our opening. Nice timing! We also shared the lock with a canoeist who is paddling all the way to New Orleans. And we thought we were adventurous in our 42’ boat!

Places to stop for the night get sparse on this part of the river. And low water levels make it much more difficult for a deep draft sailboat. We pulled into the backside of an island after reading reports of deep water well past the coal docks. Well, the deep water ended right at the end of a line of barges. There weren’t any good alternatives, so we dropped the hook there along with our companion. Around 11pm, we were awoken by a tow with 4 barges wanting our space. We chatted with him on the radio, very friendly and helpful. We upped anchor and moved out of his way and re-anchored in a small space between two sets of barges tied to shore. He promised there would be no issues there. He did come back later and haul away the coal barges downstream of us. We had to be gone by 7am as the coal unloading would begin then. No need for coal dust showers in the morning.

Oh well, it all worked out fine. No real danger, just many inconveniences. Saturday made up for it with another beautiful day.

Sorry for the delay in posting. Internet was very thin on the lower Illinois River.

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