Friday, September 7, 2012

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

Days on cruise:  168

Distance traveled:  90.5 miles

Travel time:  7 hrs, 12 mins (8:30 counting lock)

Total trip odometer:  3,496 statute miles

Nothing about today went as planned, so this journey continues to be one that reinforces the need to remain flexible with “all plans cast in jello” to quote friend Hobie!

We got up early and intended to leave early, but the weather had other plans. It was raining, lightning, thundering and blowing, so we waited more than an hour for the weather to calm before casting off our lines and re-entering the Illinois Waterway.


We called the Peoria Lock to inquire about its’ status, and they told us they had two tow-barges waiting to lock through, and if we’d hurry up and get there, we could lock through with the second one. Great!  So we sped up (burned more fuel), and arrived at the lock only 45 minutes after departing (instead of 1.5 hours), only to find that plan wasn’t really going to happen.

Instead we pulled off to the right out of the way of the many maneuvering tows with barges, dropped our anchor next to another pleasure boat (meaning not a commercial vessel), a 75-foot Hatteras, and waited. The full-time professional captain of the Hatteras called us on the VHF radio, seemed bored with the wait, so engaged Cathryn in a 20-minute conversation. He’s been with this boat owner 16 years and made the trip up and down the rivers 16 times round trip.

Below: lock is on the right, a waiting tow on the left.


Eventually the lock staff called us into the lock and encouraged us to float free rather than tie to the wall as the drop was only 8 feet and they wanted it to go quickly so they could get back to locking through the commercial vessels. This was the first time we free-floated, and it went smoothly. That’s the 75-foot boat in front of us, also floating free while the water level drops.


We planned to make today’s journey about 50 miles, stopping at Tall Timbers Marina. However when we called the marina to ask how much water they had at the entrance and slips, they said they were already full for the weekend and couldn’t accommodate us. It wasn’t clear whether this was typical weekend busy-ness or because so many marinas don’t have enough water to accommodate boats our size anymore, so the few that have enough water are extra busy.  Anyway, that sent us into research mode to make a new plan for the day about where to stop.

We considered stopping to anchor at Quiver Island nearby, but when we checked the afternoon/evening weather forecast there, we learned a storm would be blowing through with high winds and thunderstorms, and being unfamiliar with the anchorage, we weren’t comfortable with that plan. The next place to stop and tie up for the night was another 40 miles further down the river. What to do???? We decided to pick up our pace and go for it.  So 2000 rpms and 15-18 mph instead of 1200 rmps and 9-10 mph we went!

Late in the afternoon we came upon a roadblock: a dredge had the entire channel blocked! We called on the radio, they inquired as to our draft (4 feet), and told us they’d send a little boat out to guide us outside the channel in waters that would be sufficiently deep for us. Ok. That’s interesting, but whatever you say is what we’ll do! And it worked out fine.


We’re starting to see lots of “flying fish”, presumably the famous Asian Carp about which we’ve heard so much. They seem disturbed by the noise or rough water of a passing vessel and often jump into the air, quite high and in large numbers, in our wake. We’re told we’ll be lucky if none ever jump onto our boat deck!


We saw white pelicans today, a first! We’re accustomed to the common brown pelicans of Florida, Mexico, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and more.  But this was new.


Finally late in the day, we pulled into our overnight stop, Logston Tug Service. Believe it or not, we’re tied up to a BARGE for an overnight stay!  There are no amenities whatsoever – no water, electricity, restrooms, nothing – but it’s a secure place to stop where we don’t have to worry about dragging anchor in a storm, and there’s plenty of water depth.  So nothing to complain about, and Jeff, the guy who caught our lines and took our little bit of money was nice, friendly and helpful. The next marina was many miles down the river, so this was a happy choice.


This was our third longest day of travel on the entire Loop so far, and we’re happy to have it behind us.


Good thing we didn’t need to get off the boat to go somewhere, as there’s lots of stuff to thread your way through or trip over between us and the shore!

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