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S/V Passage - Refitting a Classic (& Building Our Skills) Before Cutting the Docklines
We are working toward our dream, one step at a time, and are prepared to make mistakes and learn from them so we become better cruisers every day.
Winter Storage River Trip
Brodi / Cooling Off Fast
19 October 2011 | Chicago, IL
We went on our big river trip this weekend...taking Passage through the river lock next then 3 miles upriver under 23 bridges to Chinatown! David's best friend, Andre, was in town from LA and joined us for the floating jaunt through the city. They'd gone out for a sail while I was at work on Friday, so Andre already knew his way around Passage's decks by Saturday morning...sort of...but good enough!

We got up early and got to Monroe Harbor around 7:30am, and were off the can by 8 and on our way toward Navy Pier! We weren't really sure how long it would take to go through the lock, or even where it was...so we followed the other boats heading that way and hoped for the best. By the time the Lake Shore Drive bridge raised a little after 9am, there were 18 boats waiting to head up the river to winter storage!

When the river started to narrow after we passed the Merchandise Mart, we quickly discovered that 18 is too many to safely navigate the river between bridges since they don't raise at reasonable intervals for boats to keep moving smoothly along the river. Once the boating caravan turned south, we were basically broadside to the wind and the smaller boats started struggling to maintain control of their vessels. One sailboat ended up being blown into the lowered bridge while waiting for the bridge staff to raise the damn thing.

There were some moments of stress, but overall we pulled it off without doing damage to out boat (or others') and we even managed to see people we knew along the way! Some of David's coworkers came out to wave as we passed the Merchandise Mart and then our friends Brian and Lauren came downtown to see us as we turned south into the second part of our river journey.

In the last leg of our trip, we waited for quite a while for the railroad bridge to raise while we stared at Canal Street Marina next to Ping Tom Memorial Park in China Town. At least there was a lot of open space there, and we were able to raft up to a wall and hang out with the other boaters while the freight trains went over the last bridge between us and the end of the 'road'. By the time we pulled up to the marina dock to check in for the winter, we spent four hours on the river from the time the first bridge went up...that wasn't too bad considering one river trip took boaters NINE hours because the bridges kept breaking down!

We took the sails off the boat and organized it a bit before heading to dinner at a tasty authentic restaurant in China Town. It was a truly exhausting day! To see the pics, check out Passage's Facebook Page!

The next morning, David and I headed back down to the marina to meet with the yard mechanic, Jeff. But the time we got there, he had fixed our water pressure system...something we hadn't been able to do all summer since our water pump made noise so we assumed it worked. Turns out, it didn't work except to make noise...problem solved! He installed the new one and showed us how to empty and refill our tanks (to clean out some seriously stinky, nasty sludge) so we can winterize them and actually use them next summer. Jeff and David also reviewed the process for winterizing our engine, and set a date for David to shadow Jeff while he winterizes our system.

So far, we LOVE our choice for winter storage. Mark and Jackie Riegel, the owners, are so nice and friendly and helpful. Mark is going to connect us with some guys who can help us repair our rub rails and Jeff is going to let us shadow all the work he does so we know how to do it ourselves next time. He also recommended the diesel engine class we want to take this winter because a friend of his teaches it! What a great connection to have...Mark even volunteered to adjust our boat from cradle to jackstands when we repaint the bottom next spring so we don't miss any spots! It's really nice to be able to discuss our plans and have yard staff who are willing to support and work with our goals to learn our boat systems better.

To wrap up a great weekend, our Nature's Head arrived this weekend...now we need to prep the boat for the install so there'll be one less system to winterize! With 24/7 access to Passage, we should have plenty of time to knock out several of our bigger projects...I can't wait for next summer!!!!!