Thursday, October 6, 2011


Wednesday was a good day, we made 71 miles including one lock. The scenery has changed from mostly industrial to almost all rural tree lined banks. Very pretty scenery. We passed some VERY large tows in some VERY narrow channels.
We pushed on all the way to Peoria where we are tied to a free town dock. Pretty quiet down on the river right downtown, even though there are 4 restaurants within a block. We went to the pub & had a few beers and sandwiches. Good to not have to cook & clean for a change! We'll stay here an extra day to catch up on projects. AND, they have a Walmart right across the river! Time to break out the folding bike and join the Walmartians! I'll fit right in!!!

Finished my latest masterpiece, now I need good internet to upload the large file.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Video: Cygnets

While you're awaiting the next new video, due shortly, I hope you don't mind this re-run!

Answering some questions a reader had, from Chris

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.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

River Rats

We departed Crowley's Yacht yard this morning headed down the Cal-Sag canal. The mast is in good hands at Crowleys and we're now a motor boat. We watched 2 small tugs maneuver a 700' ore carrier up a very narrow channel prior to departing. We soon caught up to them and had to pass them at another very narrow spot. The tugs put out a LOT of prop wash. First pucker of the day!
Soon we were out of the heavy industrial part of the Cal-Sag and into a mix of light scrub forest and a smattering of marinas & industrial sites. Barges are the main use for the canals here. We were cruising along nicely when I spotted a double wide barge set on the left, port side bank and another double on the right bank, leaving me with only about 20'. As I approached this, I realized the starboard double wide was moving toward us! I quickly circled back before getting next to the port side double and getting stuck in that precarious spot with the moving barge bearing down on us! Lots of jockeying around till we finally nestled up to the front of the stationary port side barge and waited for the starboard barge & tow to pass by. Second pucker of the day!
The next adventure was our first real locking. The Lockport lock dropped us 45'. Quite impressive. We had a lot of concern with handling these large locks. All went very well. Hopefully that will be the norm for all our locking. Third pucker of the day!

Collected plenty of video for another clip. We may take a day off soon and I'll get back to editing. We'll need more wifi to upload. We're finding open wifi is not common. So that will limit my upload capabilities.