Cruising on Island Time

America's Great Loop here we come

Alton to Cairo

Posted on September 30, 2019

Sunday – Tuesday, 9/22 – 9/24 – Alton. So we last left you having arrived Sunday afternoon to Alton. Had a leisurely afternoon relaxing and listening to the storm, then later in the day we met Dick & Sandi of Amazing Grace at the Bluffs Bar & Grill. It’s about a mile from the marina and up hill so we all decided to Uber it. Bob and I sat at the bar and enjoyed talking to the bartender until Dick & Sandi arrived then had a really nice meal inside. The photo with Bob standing under a red line under the American Flag is the marking showing how high the water came up during the flood of 1993. This is up hill and in town.

On Monday, the four of us took an Uber to the Great Rivers Museum at the Mel Price Lock & Dam. We arrived at 12:30 to sign up for the 1:00 tour of the lock as it is “first come” and a limited group. The tour was very interesting and our guide took us to the top of the lock & dam which is 80′ above the river. The Mel Price Lock & Dam is a relatively new lock having replaced a tired, old and smaller lock a bit further up river. Mel Price was the Senator that got the funds ($1 Billion) to build the new lock so it was named after him. The new lock & dam is huge with a main & auxiliary chamber. The main chamber is 1000′ long and 600′ wide. It was great to learn all about the building of it and the process of running the lock. Plus we got to see it up close before our upcoming transit through the lock in our boat. Incidentally, we asked if there were any fees to lock through and were told that pleasure craft does not pay anything but the tows pay a surtax on their fuel of .29 per gallon for the use of the lock. An average of 700 million tons of cargo transits through this lock each year which is mainly coal, petroleum and crops.

After the tour, we watched a couple of movies about the commerce on the Mississippi River & building of the lock and also one about bald eagles. A few fun facts about eagles. First, they are migratory and the Alton area is a favorite wintering home for them. Last year, 2000 of them were believed to be in the area. Many coming south from Minnesota when it freezes up there. Second, they mate for life and generally come back to their same nest or nesting area each year. Lastly, they live about 25 years. Now we know why we were having daily sightings of eagles.

After the museum, we caught another Uber ride into town to have a late lunch / early dinner at Chez Marilyn. BTW, the two Uber drivers we took to and from the museum were the worst drivers any of us had ever experienced with Uber. We were all terrified on both rides.

On Tuesday, Dick rented a car and the four of us went over to St. Charles, Missouri with a list of stops and errands we all wanted to make.  Sandi, Dick & I got haircuts at a Great Clips which was fast, cheap and surprisingly good. Bob bought a handheld VHF for our tender as the installed one stopped working and we all needed to provision.

Prior to stopping for groceries though, we went to the Lewis & Clark Boat House. While the museum itself wasn’t as physically impressive as the Great Rivers museum, the story about Lewis & Clark is truly amazing and heralded as one of the greatest exploration trips of all time and certainly pivotal for the U.S. A few facts that we came away with.

Meriwether Lewis, was the private secretary to President Thomas Jefferson and an explorer. President Jefferson dreamed of exploring the lands west of the Mississippi in order to add to the US territories. Jefferson was able to appropriate the funds from Congress and the plan was set. Lewis chose William Clark as his partner in the adventure and the two started from St. Charles, MO in 1803. They headed up the Missouri River so the going was slow against the current. They took the Missouri River to its headwaters in Nebraska, crossed the plains and Rocky Mountains, had encounters (mostly friendly) with 50 different Native American tribes and made it to the Oregon coast and Pacific Ocean. Their journey took them 2 1/2 years. Absolutely amazing. After seeing the museum, we definitely want to read a book about this astonishing journey.

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Wednesday, 9/25 – Imperial, MO / Hoppies marina. We departed Alton about 8:30am and headed to the Mel Price Lock about one mile south. We spotted two other pleasure craft heading that way as well. We hailed the lockmaster to let him know we were on our way as well so he would hold the lock for us. We locked through in the main chamber (the big one) with three other PC’s. The entrance to the lock chamber was full of debris, including big logs, and it was turbulent. Once inside it was calm and we tied off to a floating bollard and it was a quick transit with only a 2′ drop.

Our journey today would take us 40 miles with two locks including the Mel Price lock. Lots of tows north and southbound as we exited Mel Price. Next up the Chain of Rocks canal and lock which were easy. We were behind a tow going south and didn’t want to pass him in case we had to wait for him to lock through (priority to commercial). But as it turns out, they put us in the auxiliary chamber and we passed right on through. Short drop. There were three of us PC’s including Amazing Grace and Just Jilling.

Next up the St. Louis Arch. We had been cautioned about the commercial boat traffic in the St. Louis area and it was a bit rough. Between the wind coming from the south and hitting the current, the dodging of debris, dodging of tows, it was challenging. Sometimes the waves were 4′ high due to the back wash from the northbound tows.

One of the suggestions for this area is to transit it with a buddy boat so you can take photos of each other’s boat while passing the arch. So we arranged with Just Jilling (Dave & Jill) and Amazing Grace to do this. Although it was so rough that we almost said forget it. But we took some photos of Just Jilling and he came back around and took photos of us and Amazing Grace. It was pretty cool but we were glad to leave the St. Louis area.

We arrived at the iconic Hoppies marina without further incident. For years, Hoppies was a fuel stop in between Alton and Paducah, KY. However, this year’s flood wiped out (sunk) a few of their barges so they not only don’t have fuel but only have room for four boats to tie as opposed to 15. The stop was beyond rustic. It was like parking your RV in a junk yard for the night. Since its right on the river, the current makes it challenging to tie up and walking off the barge to get to town is another challenge. Bob and I had originally planned to stay two nights but left after losing power in the night. The walk to town was quaint with an old walk bridge (circa 1830) and the food at Smokee Robinson’s BBQ was very good but we couldn’t wait to make haste.

Thursday, 9/26 – Kaskaskia Lock Wall. We said goodbye to friends Dick & Sandi as they had plans with friends that live in the area. They agreed that if they didn’t have plans, they would not stay another night. Departed around 8am and headed downstream the 40 miles to Kaskaskia lock wall. This is a popular stop along the way as there are not too many options on the Mississippi. Kaskaskia lock wall is just that. There is a lock there for going up or down the Kaskaskia River and the protocol is to call the lockmaster and ask permission to tie up on the outside wall (not in the lock itself). We got there about noon and Lee & Cynthia from Desiderata were already tied there and assisted us with our lines. We had met them at Hoppies and assisted with their lines when they left Hoppies.

After settling in, Bob & I took the tender into the lock and headed up river 10 miles to Port Evansville (IL) and had lunch at Water Street Bar & Grill on the river. Not much to it as it sits on a barge but the owners were friendly and the bar food was acceptable. Most Loopers stay put on the wall and don’t go up river so the folks had not heard of Loopers and were amazed by our trip. We opened it up to 25 mph on the tender so the trip took no time and neither did locking through. The lock doors were open for us each way and as soon as the lock doors closed behind us, the other lock doors were opening. We didn’t even bother to tie up on the return as it didn’t seem to drop or raise but a few inches.

Later at the lock wall, three other Loopers (Journey, Talisker & Camelot) arrived and we assisted them with lines and told them what to expect via VHF as they were heading in. They were all very appreciative of the assistance. The lock wall was a nice quiet stop off the Mississippi with no current or wakes. Slept well.

Friday, 9/27 – Little River Diversion Canal. As mentioned, there are very few, if any, marinas or anchorages along the Mississippi so all 5 of us were headed to the same anchorage 70 miles away. Rough 5 1/2 hour day. A strong wind was blowing from the south and against the current which made it choppy and wavy and harder to see all the floating debris in the river. It was a 5 1/2 hour obstacle course and it took both our full attentions trying to spot the debris (telephone size trees, big logs, small logs). Many Loopers have damaged their propellers on the Mississippi and had to get hauled out of the water for repair upon leaving it.

We finally arrived at our anchorage which is a fairly narrow river and there were a total of 8 boats anchored in the river for the evening. We were invited for cocktails on Patriot but everyone was exhausted from the obstacle course and we all declined. Bob and I had a Cosmo and grilled some pork chops. Nice quiet anchorage with no wakes from the passing tows.

Saturday, 9/28 – Cairo / Boston Bar anchorage. Bob had a conference call in the morning so we didn’t depart until about 9:00. All but one boat had departed earlier. While he was on his call, I worked on the blog as I am a couple of weeks behind. What a difference a day makes on the river. Wind was down so it was a relatively easy 40 mile trip to our anchorage. Some of the Loopers we had been with the last 2 days said they might stop here but since it was an easy day, they all continued on so they could get off the Mississippi for good and on to the Ohio River. Our anchorage at Little Diversion is at MM 49 and MM 0 is the turn off for the Ohio River and so they opted to continue on. We on the other hand, opted to stop at MM 9 which is in the Cairo area. Easy in off the Mississippi River and we had the anchorage all to ourselves. A strong current (about 6 mph) but we were thinking this was a good anchorage. Not!

Our last night on the Mississippi would turn out to be quite a harrowing adventure. Did we mention the strong current? Well right about the time we were getting ready for bed, we heard a weird noise at the bow of the boat. Bob decided to go out and check in out and knocked on the hull side indicating I should come out. A huge tree (20-25′) had come streaming down in the current and snagged itself on to our anchor line. It is pitch black and there is a ripping current as we are discussing how to disentangle ourselves from this tree. We were worried that the tree would break our anchor line or dislodge the anchor from the bottom sending us spiraling down into the Mississippi River and the bridge that was close by. We tried launching the tender to see if we could dislodge the tree but no way. Too heavy and the current was dangerous for us. We called the Coast Guard but they said unless we were sinking and needed to be rescued they would not come out to remove a tree. No tow boat services for 60 miles. So we basically stayed up all night on watch detail to make sure the anchor didn’t fail. Bob took the first shift until 3:30am and I took the 3:30am to 6:00am shift. In the morning and in daylight, we decided on a course of action and were able to dislodge the tree. Nightmare over. We could not wait to get off the Mississippi so we weighed anchor early and set off for the last nine miles of the Mississippi River. The first photo below is of our anchorage. The other photos show some of the trees we have to dodge on the river and a buoy marker showing how strong the current rips by. Next up our turn into the Ohio River. Stayed tuned for our hopefully non eventful week ahead.

Peoria to Alton

Posted on September 28, 2019

Tuesday/ Wednesday, 9/17-9/18 – Peoria. We departed Henry’s Island with Amazing Grace and headed to Peoria. There was quite a bit of barge traffic as we were pulling out of the anchorage so we had to hail them on our VHF radio. One northbound tow (not referred to as tugs because historically they did tow and that reference is still used today even though they now push instead of towing) had pulled off to one side to let two southbound tows pass as there isn’t enough room for them to meet and pass each other on the river. Most of the captains are very nice and funny with their thick southern accents. I asked one if I should slow down to pass and he responded “come on girl, just come on by and don’t slow down”. After passing, it is polite to thank them for the permission to pass and they usually tell you to “have a nice day and be safe”. When we passed Peru, Bob snapped a photo of the sign and texted a few friends that we may have made a wrong turn and ended up too far south (photo). We arrived at the Illinois Valley Yacht Club (IVY Club) in the afternoon. The depth in the marina and the entrance were pretty shallow and also a tight squeeze to get in but we made it in without incident. There were quite a few Loopers there and so a cocktail gathering was arranged by the pool at 5pm. Met some new Loopers and saw quite a few that we already knew. I would guess that about 12-15 boat crews showed up for the get together.


On Wednesday, Dick and Sandi from Amazing Grace took an Uber with us to the Caterpillar Museum. Caterpillar headquarters has been in Peoria for 110 years but in 2017 the headquarters moved to Deerfield, IL just north of Chicago. They still have quite a few manufacturing facilities in the Peoria area and of course all over the world. We truly enjoyed the museum as it featured the history of the company, its products, films, and equipment and simulators. We got to simulate driving excavators and bull dozers. The excavators were quite challenging to drive with both a right and left hand joystick. The introduction film at the entrance is inside one of their mining trucks which can seat about 60 people. The tires were 12’ tall (photos).
After the museum, we all headed to Schnooks grocery store for provisions as we planned to anchor out the next 4 nights. Super nice grocery store on par with Whole Foods. They had everything including wine & spirits and a dining area where we all sat down to have lunch before checking out. Later in the afternoon, we met up for dinner at the restaurant on the marina property with not only Dick & Sandi but the crews of Pegasus and Lucky Me. Good dinner and fun time.


Thursday, 9/19 – Quiver Island. Departed Peoria and headed to an anchorage at Quiver Island. Once we got past Peoria, we didn’t see any boat traffic all day. The river was scenic and less industrial. Our anchorage would be just off the river and next to the Havana Coal Docks. Fortunately,  they only load coal on Tuesdays so we didn’t have to worry about coal dust getting all over the boat. Amazing Grace was about 10 miles behind us and informed us that a flotilla of 5 Looper boats passed them so we were prepared. Turns out that they were headed into the same anchorage and one of the boats was our friends on Golden Daze. Greg & Sonia were our neighbors in Pompano Beach which we met through the AGLCA before leaving on our trip in 2018. They started their loop in April of 2019 having sold their house and buying a 55’ Fleming to do the loop on. I saw their boat on AIS and hailed them on the VHF.

So what’s AIS you ask. AIS (Automatic Identification System) is required on all commercial vessels and is optional on recreational vessels. The AIS shows the name of the vessel on your chart plotter so you can see where they are and call them on VHF. It also shows the type of vessel (tow, passenger, pleasure), how fast it is travelling, and the distance. We had heard that AIS was very helpful on the Inland Rivers so you can see all commercial traffic on your chart plotter. And with the large barges taking up the whole river, you want to contact them so they know your intentions and give you instructions on whether it is safe to pass. We purchased and installed our AIS transmitter and receiver before leaving Fort Lauderdale and so glad we did.
Greg & Sonia on Golden Daze were excited to have caught up with us and we agreed to meet up for drinks after they got settled in. Their flotilla of 5 boats anchored just behind us and rafted off together. Amazing Grace came in while they were rafting off and squeezed by to anchor just in front of us. (photos). Once everyone was settled, Bob and I dinghied over to have a drink and reunion with Golden Daze. They are aboard with their 2 Golden Retrievers, Rusty & Ruby. A large percentage of Loopers travel with their dogs or animals which can make it challenging for them if the dogs won’t go on deck pads. Most of them, dinghy their dogs to shore to walk them but some days that can be a long wait. After our visit, Bob and I headed back to grill hamburgers as we had not had lunch and a very small breakfast.


Friday, 9/20 – Bar Island. The flotilla of 5 departed relatively early as they were headed past LaGrange lock. We were headed to an anchorage north of the lock so we bid them farewell. We had heard a rumor about that lock closing and found out that they do indeed have periodic 4 hour closures and were not taking any PC’s until 1pm. Our friends ended up having to wait from 11:30 and did not lock through until 2:30. We had a leisurely morning then headed out at 9:30 for our 35 mile journey. We passed quite a few tows along the way and had to radio them for permission and instructions to pass. We spotted 3 bald eagles, several hawks and a couple of deer along the way so it was quite enjoyable. We arrived at our anchorage at about 1:30 and immediately turned on the generator so we could have AC. 90 degrees this afternoon so enjoyed spending time in the cabin. Amazing Grace was about 20 minutes behind and came in and anchored behind us. The anchorage is on the left descending bank and exposed to the main channel but we did not have any waking from the passing tows. After settling in, I dinghied over to Amazing Grace to play Mahjong with Sandi. She and I have been trying to get together to play for a while so we finally enjoyed playing for a few hours. Went back to the boat and cooked a quick light dinner.
Saturday, 9/21 – Willow Island. We woke early to call the LaGrange Lock and were told we could probably get through in 2 hours. We decided to head down a little earlier than the 2 hours to make our presence known to the lockmaster and get in line for the lock. So glad we did because he let the 5 PC’s that were southbound (all Loopers) through then shut the lock down 4 hours for maintenance. Earlier we had spotted Meant to Be on AIS just north of us tied to the Logsdon barges so we texted Phil to coordinate locking through together. We had not seen them since Harbor Springs so it was good to see them again. After the lock, we let the other PC’s pass and enjoyed a leisurely cruise down to Willow Island knowing that no one would be coming behind us due to the lock closure. Spotted about 5 or 6 bald eagles along the way.
The anchorage was really nice and quiet with only us and Amazing Grace anchored there. Beautiful spot. The wind was blowing pretty strong from the south all day and storms were expected in the evening so we set a stern anchor out. Normally the downriver current keeps you straight with no swinging but with the opposing wind, we weren’t sure who was winning the battle. Dinghied over to Amazing Grace with our cocktails and enjoyed a visit while it rained.


Sunday, 9/22 – Alton Marina & the Mighty Mississippi. We had planned to anchor another night before getting to Alton but heavy thunderstorms were forecasted for the afternoon so we weighed anchor at 8am to make the 50 miles before the storm. Our anchorage was at MM 31 (mile marker) on the Illinois River and MM 0 is where the Illinois & Mississippi Rivers meet at Grafton, IL. Grafton is also MM 218 on the Mississippi and we would be headed to Alton at MM 202. While the Illinois River has a moderate current (2 – 3 mph), the Mississippi’s current about doubles. While out of gear, we would still be moving at 5-6 mph. This makes turning into an anchorage or a marina a challenge.

All along the rivers, you see indicators of how high the waters can rise in flood stage. Last year due to the heavy rains and the extreme cold and freezing, the rivers flooded over and many towns and marinas were damaged. Not quite as bad as the flood of 1993 but only about 2 feet below that stage. Many homes on the banks are on stilts and some of the bridge clearance markers show the water marks as to how high the river gets. Lots of pretty rocky bluffs on the Illinois and the Mississippi.

The Alton Marina is a very nice facility with covered floating docks (first time for us in covered docks). We got in and settled and then the thunderstorm and rain came down. It was relaxing to sit and listen to the rain under the covered docks.

Well that wraps up another week of our adventure. A little behind due to lack of WIFI and or cell service but will catch up shortly. Stayed tuned for our trip down the Ole Mississippi.

Joliet to Henry’s Island

Posted on September 18, 2019

Wednesday, September 11 – Joliet. We decided to stay another day & night on the Joliet Free Wall. Bob had a conference call scheduled at 3pm and we didn’t want to be caught going through a lock or in a situation that he could not take the call so we opted to stay. Nice relaxing day with both of us working on the computer. Bob doing work; me the blog. While there are electrical hook ups on the wall, there isn’t anything else (water, amenities, bathrooms) but it’s a free stay. The day was really hot so we enjoyed staying inside our boat in the AC. Later in the morning, the AGLCA Harbor Host for this area, Brenda, came by to see if any Loopers needed a ride into town or the grocery store. Brenda and her husband completed the Loop in 2004-2005. Her husband passed away a few years ago but she truly enjoys coming out to say hi to all the Loopers coming through. Two of us Loopers took Brenda up on her offer and drove the mile to the grocery store. Later in the afternoon, we got a new batch of Loopers arriving from Chicago. About 12 boats in total on the wall. While there is the casino across the bridge and within walking distance, we opted to have dinner aboard.

Thursday, September 12 – Seneca. Early in the morning (6:30am) when Bob ventured out of our cabin (where we like to sit and enjoy our coffee) he was surprised to discover that all the Looper boats that were tied up behind us on the wall were gone! Vanished. (photo) Apparently they had all decided to leave early and head down to the Brandon Road Lock which is only 1.5 miles away. While all these Loopers were told to come on down and that it would not be long to wait, they apparently waited (drifting around) for several hours. Since Bob and I weren’t in a hurry and didn’t feel like following a pack of 12 boats, we opted to enjoy our coffee and breakfast before heading out. Two other Looper boats, Contentment & LT Looper, felt the same way and we decided to travel together. Craig & Elizabeth on Contentment would call the Brandon Lock and let us know when they could accommodate us in the Lock. The lockmasters prefer that the pleasure craft form a group and transit together with one Looper/ PC (pleasure craft) making the calls instead of 12 boats calling. At about 10:30 we got the green light and the 3 of us cast off and headed south. The transit was easy and I took some photos of Contentment and LT Looper on the lock wall after dropping 35’. Dave on LT Looper is doing the loop solo on a small 22’ boat. The 3 of us travelled together through the Dresden Lock and pretty much all day. After the Dresden Lock, the Illinois River got a little wider and prettier and not as industrial since leaving Chicago.

 

 

Contentment and us had made reservations at Spring Brook Marina in Seneca while LT Looper opted to go further and try to get through the Marseille Lock so we bid him farewell. It was about 4pm when we arrived at the marina. The day was even hotter than the previous day with the temperature hitting 88 degrees and not a wisp of wind. That kind of heat is exhausting. The marina had us tie up on their fuel dock which is right on the river (so we could hip tie our tender).  Got to watch the tugs and barges go by as we sipped our cocktails. The restaurant on property was closed but the marina recommended a restaurant that delivers and the food was good. Contentment took a photo of us towing our tender as they passed by earlier in the day. (photo)

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Friday, September 13 – Ottawa. Today would be a short voyage of only 14 miles. Contentment texted us and once again we agreed to travel together as we were both going to Heritage Harbor Marina in Ottawa. Craig and Elizabeth called the Marseilles Lock and we were told it would be about an hour and a half to two hours. We headed out around 8:45 and made our way the 10 miles to the lock and only had to wait about 15 minutes for a tug and its barges to clear the lock. We proceeded in and rafted off to their boat while we dropped about 35’.

Now you may be wondering why we are telling you all this about lockage times and suffice it to say that we have been extremely lucky the last couple of days with our quick transit times. There have been many Loopers over the years that have been held up waiting for hours and days to pass through a lock. Yes, hours and days. This year has been especially disconcerting because the Marseilles & Starved Rock locks were closed in August for maintenance during the day and only letting PC’s transit at 5:30am or after 6:00pm while the commercial vessels transit at night. Some Loopers have gotten up at 4:00am to get to the Marseilles Lock by 5:30am only to be turned back and told to “call back at 5:30pm and maybe we can get you in”. The restricted hours are being lifted with locks operating 24 hours a day from September 12 – 20st then closing completely until October 5th. So most of the Looper fleet of 2019 is shooting to get through before or after the closing. We expect such a backlog of commercial traffic after October 5th that we opted to go sooner rather than later. Well after months and months of talking about the Marseilles Lock ad nauseum, we sailed right through. More about this later.
Once past the lock, it was only 3 miles to Heritage Harbor Marina and we were docked and settled by 11:30am. Very nice marina and well protected from the river traffic. Floating docks, pool, great restaurant, great shower suites, courtesy car, Tiki Bar, Looper discount, etc. These folks really love Loopers. In fact the road into the marina is named Great Loop Drive. And cheap! Only $1.00 per foot with the discount so we decided to stay another night and check out the area as did the Loopers that arrived the day before us. There were Loopers everywhere. Last count, there were 33 boats here on Friday night and many of them that we have seen or met along the way.
Friday afternoon, we attended the Looper briefing given by the dockmaster, Jeremy. He has lived in this area his whole life and knows the rivers. Every afternoon, for any interested Looper he discusses marinas, anchorages, locks and problem areas on the river for the next 300 miles. Lots of valuable information so we took copious notes. Following the briefing, we went to the bar at the restaurant on property, The Red Dog Grill “Food and Fun under one woof” for drinks and dinner. Tons of Loopers inside and we also met and spoke with a very nice local. Dinner was delicious. Everyone all day had said how good the food was and it did not disappoint. Bob had the salmon while I had the Whitefish with lemon and ginger over sautéed spinach. Yum.

 

 

 

 


Saturday, September 14 – Ottawa. On Saturday morning, there was a mass exodus of Loopers. At least 25 boats departed the marina to transit the Starved Rock Lock and head south. Having decided to stay another day, we enjoyed our day. First, a coffee cruise down river and to check out a restaurant that our local friend told us about. Then we hopped in the courtesy car (brand new Buick) and drove up to Starved Rock State Park which is Illinois’s biggest attraction. Big park with canyons, waterfalls, and overlooks looking out over the Illinois River. We hiked up to the Starved Rock overlook which was quite steep. Very pretty and free. Next up lunch at Dockside Restaurant followed by stop at the liquor and grocery store. (photos view from top of Starved Rock)

In the afternoon, we heard from our friends Dick & Sandi on Amazing Grace that they were headed towards the Marseilles Lock and would be at our marina in the afternoon. Well, they weren’t as lucky as we were. Apparently, the lock had several tugs with barges heading north and it would be several hours (or Monday) before they might be allowed to lock through and it would be after 6:00pm. So they and a couple of other Loopers chose to stop at Spring Brook and try again tomorrow as they don’t want to travel at night and neither do we.

 

 

Sunday, September 15 – Ottawa. We had planned to depart this morning and try to get through Starved Rock Lock (the final one up this way with closures)  but it was storming pretty bad. The thunderstorms started about 2am and were forecasted to continue until Noon. Between the thunderstorm and the uncertainty of being able to transit the lock, we opted to stay another day here (the beauty of not being on a schedule). When we went to check with the office about staying an extra night, there were 2 other Loopers requesting same and we were all accepted. Reserved the courtesy car so we could do some laundry (the one thing this marina doesn’t have) and made arrangements with Deborah on Mountain Wave to go together to the laundry mat in town. She and I enjoyed our visit getting to know each other better while washing clothes.

While we were in the marina office in the morning, we were told that a Looper came through the Marseilles Lock last night and could not find the entrance to the marina as it was pitch black. The dockmaster, Jeremy, going above and beyond the call of duty, hopped into a boat and went out to the river to lead the way in. That’s real service.

Sunday afternoon, Bob went up to watch some football at the Red Dog and later in afternoon we met KT, Deborah and granddaughter Mary Grace from Mountain Wave for dinner at Red Dog. Enjoyed another nice meal there and we discussed our plans to leave Ottawa in the morning.

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Monday, September 16 – Henry’s Island. Woke up at 6am to hear the report about locking through Starved Rock and it was fogged in. The designated leader that called the lock told the group that we would reevaluate at 9am once the fog cleared. By 7:45am the fog had cleared so Bob and I decided to head down to the lock and not wait on the group. It’s about 9 miles so an hour travel time. Got to the lock and there was a tow with barges headed north so we would have to wait until they cleared. We ended up waiting for about 45 minutes and by the time we got called in, the other Loopers & PC’s  had caught up with us. So we were about 7 or 8 boats. Fortunately, one of the PC’s was a local guy who had done this many times and can understand the “lock language” and led us in. There was a barge blocking the entrance to the lock so we had to maneuver around these concrete circular cells in order to get into the lock. Tight 90 degree turns but we all made it in without incident. However, the leader of the group who had made the call and arrangements got caught on a buoy while we were all waiting and drifting in the current and he could not dislodge himself. He ended up missing the lock transit with the group and had to wait for several hours until the next group of PC’s were able to lock down. We ended up rafting off to and chatting with the local guys boat which was informative.

Once out of Starved Rock, we travelled about 32 miles and anchored out at lower Henry’s Island. Our friends on Amazing Grace called to say they were headed our way and we went out in our tender to lead them into the anchorage. We enjoyed catching up with them for a bit but went back to our boat to cook some dinner. Beautiful, isolated and quiet anchorage that we both enjoyed. Along the way down to Henry’s, Bob and I spotted about 5 or 6 Bald Eagles and a few hawks. Really awesome.

Tuesday, September 17 – Peoria. Prior to leaving the Henry’s Island Anchorage we both (Amazing Grace & us) took our tender’s for a coffee cruise. We saw hawks, an eagle and they spotted 4 wild turkeys. Next stop Peoria but that’s for next week.

 

 

That wraps up another week of our adventure. Stayed tuned for more fun!

Chicago to Joliet

Posted on September 11, 2019

Tuesday – Tuesday, September 3rd – September 9th – Chicago. On Tuesday, the weather was nasty with strong winds, lots of rain and severe thunderstorms. Good day to stay inside as the winds were occasionally gusting to 50 mph. We definitely had to re-secure the boat lines and adjust fenders. Perfect time to stay in and work on blog and Bob’s cases. Tuesday evening, after being inside all day, we opted to walk to Michigan Avenue along the river and found a place to eat. Don’t even recall the name but it was a good meal.

Chicago is such a great, great town. One of the prettiest skylines of any city, beautiful and clear lake, a rejuvenated river front, the “magnificent mile” for shopping, Chicago Bears football, Cubs Baseball, museums, aquarium, planetarium, architectural river tours, Segway tours, Blues clubs, concerts, beautiful parks, and the list goes on and on. Our marina was within walking distance to just about all of this except maybe Wrigley field. It also has lots of history. If you haven’t been to Chicago, you should definitely plan a trip. A couple of interesting facts to note.

First, as you might know, Chicago is known as the “windy city”. Yes its windy when the wind blows and it shoots through and in between all the high rises but that isn’t why its called the windy city. Nope, it was nicknamed this long time ago because of the politicians. Some one coined the phrase a long time ago calling the Chicago politicians “blow hards” and the rest is history. Second fun fact, did you know that in 1900, the flow of the Chicago River was reversed by civil engineering. The river is 156 miles long and the Illinois General Assembly decided to reverse the flow of the river by taking water from Lake Michigan and discharging it into the Chicago River and Mississippi watershed. This was done partly in response to a major weather event that threatened the city’s water supply. In 1999, the system was named a “Civil Engineering Monument” by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Now the drinking water from Lake Michigan stays clean.

On Wednesday, Bob and I had an action packed day. In the morning, we took our dinghy up to the Chicago Harbor Lock and locked through into the Chicago River. This lock is 600’ long & 80’ wide and services government, commercial and pleasure vessels. It is open 365 days a week and 24 hours a day on demand. Since we will be bringing the Tiara through here next week, we wanted to do a test run and expire the riverfront area. Since it was relatively early and all the tour boats weren’t out yet, we were the only ones in the lock. Our little 15’ dinghy in a 600’ lock! We hailed them on our VHF, and were told to enter on the green light and tie up to any side we wanted. The lock attendant, Melanie, came out and we chatted with her during the 20 minutes it takes to drop the level 6’. Melanie was very informative as we peppered her with lots of questions. She explained to us that the commercial vessels, mainly the water taxis and tour boats, have priority in the lock and they enter the lock on a yellow light. The light system looks like a regular traffic light; red is stop, yellow is commercial and green is pleasure craft. Everyone on board all pleasure craft vessels must wear their PDF’s (personal flotation device) while in the lock regardless of the size of the yacht. The transit was easy and then we cruised and explored the river while dodging the water taxis and tour boats. We spent a couple of hours as we explored the south & north fork of the river. The river looks like a “Y” and sometimes you see various logos for Chicago with a “Y” in it and this is why. When we transited the lock outbound, we locked through by ourselves again except for a mother duck and her ducklings. We rose up 6’. In the photo of the lock gates, note the water pouring in from Lake Michigan. You can see that it is about 4-5’ higher than the water in the lock. (photos)

 

 


When we returned to the boat, we decided to go check out Mariano’s market. Mariano’s is a great grocery store just a few blocks from the marina. It is 2 stories and has lots of quality fresh produce, prepared foods, salad & sushi bar, hot food bar, wine & spirits, and just about anything you want. Bob and I grabbed some lunch first and ate outside in their courtyard overlooking a park. We also got to watch some window washers hanging from cables about 80 floors up. You’d have to be gutsy or crazy to do that job. We then did some provisioning for the boat and walked back to the marina rolling our little cart just in time to receive our guests.

Our friends Ramah & Judd who live in the Chicago area, drove in to spend time with us. Even though they are life long residents, they hadn’t been through the Chicago Harbor Lock on a pleasure craft. So we grabbed extra PFD’s, our cocktails and went touring around the harbor, through the lock and up river to the fork in the river. Ramah was pretty impressed with the locking process (photo) and both enjoyed the personal tour. Upon our return, we walked up to Millennium Park and had dinner at Park Grill which sits in the middle of the park. Great meal; great friends. Note we are wearing light jackets here as its been low 60’s at night and in the mornings.

 


On Thursday, after laundry, work and chores, Bob and I headed into town with 3 planned stops. First, we stopped at the bank so Bob could get a document notarized for one of his cases, then we walked several more blocks so we could check out the train station as we plan on taking the train to Midway Airport on Friday to fly to Denver. Then we walked back to Millennium Park to check out all the cool art and stuff at the park. Our friends had told us about the Crown Fountain and we wanted to see it in the daytime. Hard to explain the fountain but I’ll try. The artist took close up video of people’s faces and they stare out at you. Then about every 5 minutes, the person puckers their mouth as if to blow and that’s when water comes pouring out of the fountain. At the bottom and in between the two water towers, is a splash pool where the kids can splash around or adults can take off their shoes and walk in the water. Really interesting to watch all the different ethnic faces. From the fountains, we walked over to the “Bean” which I can’t even describe other than to say it resembles a bean or flying saucer and is a giant mirror so people walk up and photograph themselves in the bean. (photos) Unique and very interesting.

 


Lastly, as we were about to leave the park, we heard opera coming from the open air concert venue and sat down to enjoy some opera. It appeared to be a rehearsal of an upcoming opera in the park.(photo). Then we walked over to eat lunch at Brown Bag Seafood which was very good and then back to boat. One benefit of living in the city is you get your exercise. Bob and I have been averaging about 3.5 miles a day walking around the city.

Friday – Monday, September 6-9 – Denver. With suitcases packed, Bob and I walked the 20 minutes to the “L” or elevated train and hopped to Midway Airport which was about a 25 minute ride. We had an action packed weekend with our daughter Colleen, our son-in-law Mark and grandkids Matthew, James & Caroline.

Colleen and I had conspired to surprise Bob with this trip for his birthday. Colleen and Mark prepared a fabulous birthday dinner for Bob on Friday night with London Broil, baked potato, zucchini, and an ice cream cake. On Saturday, Mark & Colleen had invited a bunch of their friends to watch our grandson Luke play in a televised college football game. University of North Colorado versus Washington State. Luke plays defensive end for UNC. While Washington was heavily favored to win, it was exciting to watch Luke on TV. On Sunday, we all walked up to Wash Park and enjoyed the beautiful day. In the afternoon, I offered to make paella and we enjoyed dinner at home. Photos of James & Caroline in their Chess enrichment class, at the park, and James sporting his first place medal for swimming in the state championships.

Monday morning, we were off to the airport and returned back to the boat via train, walking, and stopping for groceries along the way.

 

Tuesday, September 10 – Joliet. Well the long anticipated start on the Inland Rivers & Waterways. Following Bob’s conference call in the morning, we headed out about 9:30am. We were able to enter the Chicago Harbor Lock without delay, said hello to lock attendant Melanie and were on our way. Dodged some of the water taxi and tour boats and only had to wait about 8 minutes for the Amtrak bridge. Once we cleared the Amtrak bridge, we didn’t see much traffic until we joined the Cal Sag River which was about 20 miles away. Then it got interesting. Just at the junction of the Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Cal Sag, we were behind a slow moving tug (the Derek E) pushing a barge. Along this stretch, we passed tons of barges and industrial sites and the going was very slow. But Derek E pulled off to the side and let us pass along with 4 other PC’s (that’s what they call us pleasure craft). We got lucky and the Lockport Lock was waiting for the 5 PC’s with a green light to enter.

The locks along the inland rivers and waterways are set up for commercial traffic and as such they have priority. The Lockport Lock and most locks that we will transit on our way to Mobile, AL are 1000′ long and 100′ wide. The floating bollards are far apart and so it is challenging for PC’s. The Lockport lockmaster dropped some long lines down to the others we were with as we would be dropping 40′. We were the last boat in and secured a line to the floating bollard. (photo) Once down, we exited and made our way to the Joliet Free Wall in Bicentennial Park which was only another 3.5 miles. When we arrived, the wall was full of Loopers and we counted 10 Looper boats in the evening. We met and exchanged our boat cards with many of them.

It was a long and tiring 7 hours on the rivers and we were happy to be tied up. Bob and I took our usual cocktail tender ride and went south to see our next lock (Brandon). We enjoyed a quiet evening aboard and retired early. In the morning, we watched as the tugs were pushing some very large loads up river. (photos).

 

 

Well that wraps up this week! Stayed tuned for more adventures on the rivers!

Holland to Chicago

Posted on September 3, 2019

Monday – Friday, August 26-30th – Holland. We wrapped up our 2 weeks in Holland with the usual stuff (tender cruises in the afternoons, reading, relaxing, planning, dining, provisioning) but also went to see Piper & Allie compete in school sports activities. On Monday, we had dinner at Sandy Point Beach House with Brian & Sandra and saw quite a few deer on the way back to marina. Tuesday, we went to see Piper compete in a swim meet. Holland Christian against Ottowa High School. Piper competed in 4 events (100 meter butterfly; 200 meter medley; 200 meter freestyle relay; 50 meter freestyle). She did unbelievably well considering that she only has one arm. While she didn’t win, she never came in last with 2 – 3 girls coming in after her. So incredibly proud of her as she is one of the happiest and most outgoing girls you could meet. (photos)

On Wednesday, it was time to see Allie compete in volleyball in an exciting competition between two schools. Allie is another Dekkinga star in that while she is at least a head shorter than her teammates, she is definitely one of the leaders on the team. She is the Libero on the team which is a defensive specialist. They are responsible for receiving the attack and are usually the players with the quickest reaction time and best passing skills. Holland Christian won 3 games straight. Very exciting. (photos)
On Friday, we took the dinghy to dinner at Boatwerks and got a chance to try out our new chart plotter and depth finder. It is so nice to finally have one on the boat as we were pretty much operating in the blind for 3,000 miles. Had another great dinner at Boatwerks and ran into Brian & Sandra on our way out as they were having dinner with friends. Said our final goodbyes to them and Holland.

Saturday, August 31th – Chicago. We departed Holland before 8am as we would be making a 90 mile crossing of Lake Michigan. Forecast had called for southeast winds with waves of 1 – 3’. Not even close! It was more like 3-5’ with an occasional 6-7 footer. It was not a fun crossing. We didn’t see any other boats the whole way over which tells you something. Sometimes we could not even see our dinghy that we were towing 85’ behind the boat due to the large swells. And to top it off, the boat did not handle well on auto pilot so we had to steer the entire 5 hours across. But, finally arrived in Chicago Harbor. We were both tired from the stress of the crossing so enjoyed a Cosmo and dinner aboard.


Originally we secured 2 nights at Monroe Harbor which is a mooring field as the marina we wanted to get into was full. This large mooring field is really designed for the seasonal slip holders who don’t stay overnight on their boat. It was way too bumpy due to the wind direction and boat traffic. While it is a picturesque setting right on the lakefront in downtown Chicago, we spent a rough night on the mooring and in the morning were delighted when we were able to secure a slip in DuSable Harbor Marina next door.


Sunday, September 1st. After settling in and meeting a few of our slip neighbors, Bob and I went exploring on foot. We walked along the lakefront then turned west along the Chicago River. Tons of people out walking and tons of activity along the river with pleasure boats & tour boats passing by every minute. One of the fun attractions here in Chicago is to take the architectural boat tour along the river and hear about the history of all the buildings. This being Labor Day weekend, the boats were full all day and night. We passed by the Chicago Harbor Lock which is the only way to enter or exit the river from Lake Michigan. Since we will be transiting through here ourselves in a week or so, we wanted to check it out. (photos)
Bob and I wanted to try some world famous Chicago style deep dish pizza and one of our dock neighbors recommended Lou Malnati’s. It was worth the mile and a half walk. Thank goodness we got there at 11:30 am because when we left there were at least 40 people waiting outside. The pizza was fabulous and also worth the 45 minutes that each pizza takes to prepare. We boxed half to take home and enjoyed the stroll back through town and the river. Later in the day, we took the dinghy out for a cruise around the harbor. Skipped dinner as we were still full from lunch and retired early from lack of sleep from the night before.


Monday, September 2nd. Labor Day & Bob’s birthday. We enjoyed a great day celebrating Bob’s day. Signed up for the Big Bus Chicago hop on/ hop off tour of the city and walked over to catch the 9am bus. Our tour guide, Lincoln, was very informative and we enjoyed learning about the history of the buildings, the city, and its citizens. The tour has 14 stops and lasts about 2 – 2.5 hours depending on traffic and we opted to stay on until stop 12. We hopped off to take in Chicago 360 at the top of the John Hancock Building. Actually formally known by that name as there is bidding going on to buy the rights to name it for a mere $10 million. We took the high speed elevators (2 floors per second) up the 100 floors to the observation deck and enjoyed the breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and Chicago.
When we got down to rejoin the tour bus, we opted to walk a block down to Ditka’s for lunch. The Yankees were playing and Bob asked if they would turn the game on and they were very accommodating. Although, the bartender did make a crack about charging more money to watch the Yankees. The lunch was surprisingly good and reasonably priced. Though it might be labeled by some as a tourist trap it was totally on the contrary. Good wine, good food. Afterwards, we hopped back on the tour bus and enjoyed a new tour guide who had different insights to the city. We finally hopped off at the stop closest to our marina and walked along the lakefront. We opted to have a quiet evening on the boat people watching.


We will be here in Chicago until next week with a side trip to Denver and then we will start our next big adventure. The Inland Rivers & Waterways! Stayed tuned. And oh yes, we have been monitoring Hurricane Dorian very closely and are thankful for Bob’s brother Ron and our neighbors Gayle & Scott who both offered up to button up our house for the storm. As we sit here today, we are relieved that the storm is projected to move up and away from the coast of Florida but are saddened to see the devastation of Abacos and Grand Bahamas. They are in our prayers.

Holland, MI

Posted on August 27, 2019

Monday – Sunday, August 19th- 25th – Holland. That’s right, we have been in Holland for a week with plans to stay another 5 days or so. As I had planned to fly home to surprise my mom for her 92nd birthday and Bob had a big report to write on a case he has been working, we selected Holland for our base camp.

Holland is a fairly good size town with plenty of restaurants & stores for entertaining and provisioning. Holland, also known as the Tulip City, was originally populated by the Ottawa Indians and then settled by the Dutch Calvanist separatists in 1847. Dire economic conditions in the Netherlands compelled them to leave home and head for America. Holland sits on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and on Lake Macatawa. Holland is also known as the city of churches as there are 170 in the greater Holland area. Population of the city is roughly 35,000 and urban area is 115,000.

On Monday afternoon, Bob and I took a long tender ride around Lake Macatawa with plans to go to Boatwerks for dinner which is accessible by boat. Lots of big beautiful houses in and around Holland (photos). There is one house high on the point as you enter the harbor that is owned by Dave Van Andel, second generation Amway. This is just one of many that the family owns and told they store about 17 cars on the property.  Of course, Dave’s father had a modest cottage on the property originally and after he passed, the son tore it down and built this mansion.

Boatwerks was great. We had a table overlooking the lake and watched the sun setting and skiers on the lake. The markup on wines was minimal at this restaurant so we ordered a bottle of Belle Glos Pinot Noir to go with our steaks. While we were enjoying the ambience, the alarm of one of the boats docked there went off and the owner, and several guests, tried and failed to find the cause. Finally the boat owner, left with the boat and the alarm still sounding and everyone at the restaurant clapped as it was rather annoying to listen to it. Later he returned with a quiet boat and we found out that it was a bilge alarm. The float switch in the bilge was stuck and thus the alarm. He had to call the dealer in order to problem solve the issue.

Tuesday morning, got a nice short haircut in the morning then in afternoon, Bob and I took our loaned truck and went for a spin around town. We stopped in at the Tiara factory, as they are built here in Holland, and I got a chance to say hello to some of the people I knew from my days of selling new Tiara’s. Bob had not been to the factory so Sue Kane took us on a short tour.

Later in the day, I had an appointment to see a 36 Tiara Coronet that one of my customers is interested in and it was conveniently located at the marina next door. I took the dinghy over there but had to cut my visit short as this big thunderstorm came rolling in. I used a slight lull in the rain and lightning to hightail it back to our boat.

On Wednesday, Bob drove me to the Grand Rapids airport and I flew home. My neighbor, Gayle Shultz, was kind enough to pick me up from the airport and we enjoyed some wine on our dock followed by dinner at Gianni’s. Great food, especially their garlic rolls, and wine.

On Thursday, I drove down to Miami around lunchtime and walked into my brother’s house and surprised my mom. She was delighted with the surprise and afterwards we went to lunch while Alex ran some errands to ready for the party in the evening. My brother Alex, said a couple of my cousins were coming over but that was an understatement. We ended up with about 20 people to celebrate Mom’s birthday. Before dinner, we went next door for the unveiling of mom’s new house.

This past April, my mom’s house was hit by lightning and all the wiring in the attic was sizzling. This happened at 10:30 pm so my mom slept through the night breathing in that toxic air (there were no signs of smoke). In the morning when she tried to get out of bed, she couldn’t walk and her phone line was dead (she won’t use the cell phone that both my brother and I have given her). Anyway, she crawled to the front door and sat on the steps until she flagged down a neighbor and asked them to go next door and alert my brother. My sister-in-law Mimi, who is a general contractor, walked in and realized there was a problem. Called an electrician who immediately called 911 and the fire department doused the whole house destroying everything inside. Mom spent 3 days in the hospital and even her cat got sick. But the happy ending is that Mom got a new and improved house. Mimi, did a fantastic job designing the new interior and supplying it with all new furniture. Mom was ecstatic and plans to move in as soon as FPL installs the new meter. (photos) Mom has been living with Alex next door since April which has been a godsend.

On Saturday afternoon, I drove back to Miami to celebrate my godmother Eysa’s 80th birthday. She looks fabulous for 80 (photo) and I got to spend time again with all my cousins plus see some I hadn’t seen in years.

Sunday, I flew back to Michigan in the morning and Bob picked me up at the airport around 1pm. Later in the afternoon, we went over to Brian & Sandra’s for dinner and we got to see their home. They had done a big renovation last year and the house was beautiful and sits on just over an acre. The backyard is large and surrounded by trees and they say its common to see turkeys and deer walking in their yard.

While I was gone, Bob diligently worked on his report but did get a chance to relax, read and have dinner with Mark & Patty who had come to Holland and were in a different marina that was close by. We will be here for another few days repairing our steering ram and installing a new GPS chart plotter on our tender.

Well that wraps up this week’s news. Hopefully we will be headed to Chicago by the end of the week. Stayed tuned!

Frankfort to Holland

Posted on August 19, 2019

Tuesday, August 13 – Frankfort. Spent a quiet and lazy day working on the blog and reading. We had dinner plans with Mark & Patty from Speedy Delivery. They came over to our boat for a cocktail then we headed to dinner at Dinghy’s which was a 5 minute walk from our slip. Enjoyed a nice dinner and bottle of Meiomi. (photo of Patty dining on giant turkey leg) Frankfort is a quaint little town and was originally named after a man named Frank. Frank’s neighbors chided him about the fort he built around his house to protect his doors from the snow drifts and thus calling it “Frank’s Fort”.

Wednesday, August 14 – Ludington. Departed for Ludington early in the morning and while it was a bit swelly, it wasn’t bad. We arrived at Harbor View Marina and were given a slip on a T head. As stated before, most marinas are accommodating so that we can tie our tender to our hip and leave it there while we dock the boat. After settling and checking in, we headed for lunch a couple blocks away at Jamesport Brewing Company. Bob and I took a seat at the bar to watch some baseball and enjoyed a fabulous lunch. The salad combinations with the dried local cherries, nuts, blue cheese and fat free cherry dressing is so good. I will definitely try making it if I can get the dressing. Bob asked the bartender if he could watch the Yankees play but the local stations weren’t picking it up without a cost. Can’t imagine why they prefer to watch the Michigan teams instead. Photo of boat transom. Name of boat Mai Tai complete with recipe.

Later in the day, we took a long cruise around the harbor on our tender and the timing was perfect. The SS Badger was making its way into the harbor and we were up close and personal. The Badger is the last coal fired passenger ship in the U.S. and in 2016 was designated as a National Historic Landmark. And one that moves! The 410’ Badger crosses the 60 miles to Manitowoc, WI with passengers and vehicles every day. It’s a 4 hour cruise one way and some passengers do the round trip in one day. So while staying at the marina (about 100 yards from her berth), one hears the horns announcing its departure and arrival. That evening, the Badger had a special dinner cruise to celebrate the “end of summer”. August 14th! The ship was packed for its cruise around Lake Michigan from 8pm to 11pm. And of course, we heard the ship’s horns announcing its return at 11pm.(Photos)

Thursday, August 15 – Pentwater. Departed early for the short run to Snug Harbor Marina in Pentwater. Wanted to get there early to get to the farmer’s market which was to be from 10am to 1pm. Took our cart and I headed there while Bob worked. This farmer’s market was a bit bigger than the others we have attended and I purchased some tomatoes, corn, peaches & cheese. Afterwards, I stopped by the small grocery store and bought a few more items. Mark & Patty from Speedy Delivery were on their way back from the market, as they had come in yesterday, and we agreed to hook up for drinks and dinner.

Bob and I went for our usual afternoon tour of the harbor in our tender and later caught up with Mark & Patty. We walked into town, about 2 blocks, and ate at Gull Landing. Bob and I thought the food was excellent. I had the pecan encrusted walleye over kale and a side of acorn squash and he had the meatloaf. Delicious.

Friday/ Saturday, August 16/17 – Grand Haven. Departed for Grand Haven (50 miles away) early and about 30 minutes after Speedy Delivery departed. We had a couple of other towns or safe harbors charted in case the lake was acting up but we made Grand Haven in just over 3 hours. Along the way, we made reservations at Grand Isle Marina instead of the municipal marina as it was full. There is also a town wall you can tie to for $10 overnight and it was open but the comments on Active Captain reported that the wall was very bumpy at night due to the boat traffic and the swells coming in from the lake. Later about this.

Our Garmin charts indicated that the Route 31 Bridge we would have to cross under was only 15′ high and with the high water, we were concerned we could not get under it. The bridge only opens once an hour and does not open at 12:30. Having just missed the 11:30 opening, we would have to wait for 2 hours. We hailed the bridge tender on VHF but he was not sure of the clearance because the clearance boards were under water. Our friends on Speedy Delivery, having heard the exchange on VHF, reported that their paper charts indicated the bridge height at 25′. As luck would have it, we passed under with at least 10′ to spare.

We were assigned a slip on the VIP dock which was next to Mark & Patty on Speedy Delivery. Mark & Patty rented a car in the afternoon from Enterprise and invited us to dinner in town. We enjoyed a nice meal at the Kirby Grill Room and walked about the waterfront after dinner. Grand Haven is known for their water fountain and light show on the waterfront. We got to see the fountains spraying up but the lights don’t come on until 9pm. We walked by all the boats that were tied up at the town wall and were so glad we weren’t staying there overnight. The boats were all rocking and rolling. We did spot and say hello to a few loopers on the wall.

On Saturday, Mark & Patty were heading to Costco and invited us along for a provisioning trip. Costco was about 35 miles away but it was a treat driving through the countryside of Michigan. We came back a different way which was more scenic with small agricultural farms growing a variety of crops. Bob and I loaded up on provisions (water, wine, meats, cereal, etc) and we also stopped in at Best Buy and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Later in the day, we took Mark & Patty on a tender cruise through some of the waterways of Grand Haven. Mark & Patty have a tender but have not been able to use it because their launch & retrieval system is broken. They would be staying in Grand Haven for at least a week while they made some repairs to their boat. They enjoyed the cruise and told us they had “dinghy envy”.

We bid them farewell as we would be leaving in the morning knowing that we would probably catch up with them at some point on our way south. We enjoyed a nice dinner of salmon on board.

Sunday, August 18 – Holland. The weather forecast called for winds to pick up later in the morning and for rain around noon. We departed at 7:30 am in order to try and reach Holland (20 miles) before the winds picked up. So glad we got under way early as it started to get bumpier and bumpier the closer we got to Holland. Came into the harbor, made our way to the Yacht Basin Marina, fueled and pumped out and got into our slip just before the storm hit. Storm not too bad but thunder all around, rain and definitely windy. Whew!

Our friend Brian Dekkinga has his Hinckley office here at the Yacht Basin Marina and arranged for us to stay in their reserved slip for a few days. Nice marina with pool, restaurant, laundry, ship’s store, parts store, convenience store and service facility. We have arranged to have the seals replaced on our steering ram so will be here for several days. Bob also has a big report due so timing is perfect.

We enjoyed an afternoon cruise around part of the harbor with plans to grill chicken and dine aboard. Our dear friends Brian & Sandra Dekkinga stopped by in the afternoon to drop off one of their cars (a truck) for us to use while we are here. Did I mention “dear friends”? Really. how many people lend you their cars? Anyway, we shared some wine and stories before they headed home which is 2 miles away.

Well that wraps up another week of our adventure. Stay tuned for more!