The Western Rivers
08 October 2015
We left Joliet on the morning of the 16th and headed down the Illinois River. There were two real challenges. First, the tow and barge traffic was heavy and the river narrow in spots. We had to get out of the way a few times as the barges took up the entire channel coming around bends. But the real issue was the locks. Being a recreational vessel put us at the bottom of the priority list and for the first few locks we waited up to 2 hours to lock through. This made it difficult to plan stops. One thing we knew, we did not want to be on the rivers after dark!
We stayed the first night in Seneca. IL at Spring Brooke Marina. We were at the fuel pier as the marina itself was too shallow for our 6 foot draft. The other boats we were traveling with were able to go in. We bought an anchor light and Chris made a mast out of PVC pipe for the VHF antenna and the anchor light. It works well as the wires run down the pipe and into the deck fittings. We did not put up the radar, figuring we wouldn't travel at night or in the fog anyway.
The next day we separated from the other boats and pressed forward to make the last lock on the Illinois. Chris called the lock master and even though he said he would be able to take us through, we got stuck and ended up at another fuel pier at Starved Rock. But there was a nice restaurant and one other boat with us, Knot too Big.
The next three nights we anchored out, at Upper Henry Island, Quiver Island, and north of the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge at mile marker 616. We really do enjoy anchoring! At night you could hear the tugs going by and they would light us up with their spot lights. We left our VHF and AIS up so they could see us and talk to us if necessary.
Those were long days on the river and we arrived in Grafton, IL on the 21st ready for a break. The Grafton marina was having a deal for Loopers so we stayed four nights. There was a pool, laundry, bar and a courtesy car so we were able to get into town to the grocery store. We also went zip lining! It was a first for both of us and a lot of fun. Although the guides looked like they were about 12 years old. They did a nice job and we went for lunch after at the Aerie which had an incredible view of the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
We decided to do a short hop to Alton on the 25th to position ourselves for a lock first thing in the morning. We also wanted to get out of the large group of boats as we felt that was complicating things in the locks. At this point we entered the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi had a lot of commercial traffic, strong currents and debris. The Corp of Engineers has built dams along the sides of the bends to direct the rivers and they cause eddys and whirlpools. Our first stop on the River was Hoppie's Marine. Hoppie's is the last place to get fuel for a very long time so the power boats all stop there. It is a long rusted barge that has been stuck into the remains of a Civil War ship that sank there in the late 1800's. Hoppies has been in service since 1935 and Fern is considered an expert on the rivers. She gave us a "Captains Briefing" letting us know what to expect regarding anchorages and things to look out for. She was quite a character.
The next three nights we anchored out again. The first night at the Kaskaskia Lock wall. Dorito got out on the the wall and stretched his legs. The next morning, we noticed he had a runny eye and was sneezing a bit. But still eating well.
The second evening we were in the Little River Diversion Canal, it was hot and buggy. We had some troubles setting our anchor, but once it was down we didn't budge all evening.
The next day, the 29th, we entered the Ohio River and made it through the Olmsted Lock and Lock 53. These locks are notorious for very lengthy delays and we were lucky to get right through. We anchored at mile marker 950 on the Kentucky side near Joba, IL. Lot's of tow and barge traffic lined up to go through the locks.
On the 30th, we left the Ohio River and entered the Cumberland River headed for the Barkley Lock and Lake Barkely. The Cumberland was a relief after the huge industrial rivers and once more we lucked out and went right into the lock arriving at Lake Barkely around 4:30 in the afternoon. Our destination, Green Turtle Bay Marina.
Green Turtle Bay is a big stop for Loopers and we ran into friends and boats we had meet along the way. Boats from Sturgeon Bay, Hammond Marine and Joliet were all there. The marina has all the amenities including a spa! Four of us ladies went for a spa day and I had a massage, facial, pedicure and had my hair done. Our friends from S/V Outrageous Sandi and Albert made a stop and spent the night. They were driving from Vermont to Houston and it was so fun to see them again. We also had a couple of bonfires at the beach. And we made new friends.
We had originally planned to stay three nights and leave on Saturday the 3rd of October. But Dorito had caught a cold and really wasn't getting better. He was sneezing and had a runny eye. He was also lethargic and not eating well. We found a veterinarian and took him in. I was expecting the worse. It wa a very small clinic and they couldn't run blood work, but the vet was a very kind man. He examined Dorito and said that for his age he was what he expected. His lungs were pretty clear but he had lost a pound since his check-up in Milwaukee. He got a shot with an antibiotic, steroid and antihistamine mix and came home with the same mixture in an oral solution. We decided to stay at the Marina for a few more days to see if the medication worked. We didn't want to be in the middle of nowhere if it didn't.
I am happy to report that Dorito has made a pretty good recovery. He is eating well and much perkier. I'm pretty sure he has gained some weight back as well. We are so happy to see him feeling better.
We left Green Turtle Bay Saturday the 3rd and entered Kentucky Lake and the Land Between the Lakes. We brought out the generator and plan to anchor out until we reach Pickwick Lake. We are moving up our schedule to arrive in Mobile a few weeks earlier than we had originally planned. We really want to get Dorito to my mother's.
The Land Between the Lakes is very beautiful and I will try to get some good pictures to post.
Headed Down River!
16 September 2015
After our rough trip on Saturday, we had a beautiful sail down Lake Michigan and past Chicago to Hammond, IN. We took a slip at Hammond Marina and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. The marina was fine, but the surrounding area is between Chigago and Gary, IN...enough said.
The next day we traveled a short distance down the Calumet River to Skyway Yacht Yard to have our mast removed and prepared for shipping. We pulled along the wall and tied up. After a little coaxing, the crane started and was brought along side. Chris had already taken off the sails, halyards, lines, boom and boom vang. I disconnected the electronics. Then the yard guys attached the lines to the mast and the shrounds were disconnected. Then the mast was lifted off and the placed it in a cradle and moved it to a staging area. Chris and I removed the radar, VHF antenna and wind instruments. Our aft cabin is now uninhabitable and filled with all of the things we took off of the mast. The last thing we did was write our name and contact info on the mast and boom...just in case.
Upon returning to the marina, we got a ride to Walmart from the security guard and shopped like we weren't going to see a grocery store for two months! Then the security guard took us to a liquor store and we are now well provisioned. When we returned to the boat, we stowed our goods and Chris made a small mast so that we can hang an anchor light out when appropriate. We also rigged our VHF antenna so that we have communications and AIS. Very helful in these congested rivers.
We then cleaned all of the dirt off of the boat. Skyway is just under the Skyway Bridge and they were welding up there. There was a lot of dust and dirt! We collapsed into bed after taking some ibuprofen.
Tuesday morning we left the Great Lakes and headed down the Calumet River to the Cal-Sag Canal. Then into the Chicago Sanitary Canal and finally into the Illinois River. That part of the journey was uneventful. Very industrial! And if you saw the underneath part of the bridges you would think twice about driving over them!
The next part was challanging as there is a lot of tug and barge traffic. It's so nice that Chris is well-versed at commincating with and manuvering around these huge barges. It was un-nerving to me. I will post pictures. We also transited two locks. We stopped in Joliet and tied up to a free city pier that has electricity. There are 7 boats here, all doing the Great Loop. We had some cocktails and snacks and made some new friends.
This morning we are waiting for a lock to be available. The commercial traffic has priority. Some of the tugs can push 20-30 barges and in order to go through the locks, they have to break up the tows and go back and forth. A lenghty process.
Tonight we plan to stop in Ottawa at Heritage Harbor Marina. It is about 45 miles and we have 5 locks to get through. Hopefully the tug and barge traffic will lessen once we pass under the I-55 bridge.
I will post some pictures with this blog.
12 September 2015
We woke Saturday to a beautiful sunny day at the Milwaukee Yacht Club. Chris stored the bikes and dinghy since we won't be using them before we take our mast down and they need to be out of the way. I knew it was supposed to be bumpy so the cabin was already secured. I even made a little place for Dorito in the aft cabin, where anyone would want to be in rough seas. But not Dorito. He insisted on being in the forward (unit-gravity) cabin.
As soon as we went through the north gap, the swells increased in height and frequency. Chris was unfurling the mainsail and I went below to check on the cat. Not good. He was on our bed at the very forward part of the boat. Evidently he had vomited with such intensity that it caused him to evacuate his bowels. Now I am sorry to expose you to the rougher side of cruising, but this is germaine to what happened next. As I gathered the quilt, after containing the puddle of vomit with a towel, and palced the entire bundle into a trash bag, I found myself queasy. I barely made it out.
I spent the next 5.5 hours up in the cockpit. As did Dorito. Stale pretzels and soda water. I also, for the first time on this journey, took sea sickness medication.
Chris took care of the boat and tried to make it a better ride. The swell was running 8-9 feet and when left on the auto pilot, the boat wallowed so Chris hand steered. It was much smoother then.
Finally Waukegan, so happy to be in and feeling better. Tossed the quilt and washed the sheets. Dorito recovered quickly and scarfed down a whole can of food. he also drank a lot of water which made me happy.
One more day and then we will be out of open water and into the rivers and canals. It will be a much better ride for him then.
S/V DAVALI on the move again!
11 September 2015
I’m back! I haven’t blogged since the end of July! A lot has happened, but instead of a chronology, I will hit the high points. We took a slip at Center Pointe Marina in Sturgeon Bay and had our canvas replaced. Huge improvement. The marina itself is wonderful! I highly recommend it to any and all. Great docks, pool, landry, showers that are like a hotel. Outdoor grills, fireplace, boaters lounge with a very nice kitchen. The other boaters were friendly. Two different couples lent us their cars. And I love Sturgeon Bay. If only it didn’t freeze solid in the winter, I could live there.
We also replaced our alternator and installed the windlass, finally. We ran wires all over the boat and installed our tank level indicators. Very nice to know when the water tank is almost empty and the waste water is full! With the exception of hiring an electrician to lengthen the wire harness on the windlass, we did all of the work ourselves. And we didn’t fight at all.
We discovered that the zinc we had hired a diver to install at the end of July was missing! So we ordered more zincs and had the boat hauled to properly install the zinc and wash the bottom of the boat. We also wanted to get a visual of the bottom before we start the next part of our journey down the rivers to Mobile Bay. That got complicated. We have a special propeller called a MaxProp. SInce it’s an older prop, the zinc is held on with three screws. The new ones have six as three was inadequate and the zincs fall off. But ours had somehow sheared off. (Could be when I backed over the line for the dinghy, but who knows for sure?) Anyway, the mechanic was unable to drill out the sheared off bolts so he drilled three new holes into our $3000.00 prop. And installed the zinc. But when he put us back in the water, the prop didn’t work. No forward, no backward. So he hauled us back out of the water and dickered with it, back in the water and this time we could move, so off we went. But it didn’t feel right to Chris and he didn’t have the same control over the boat has before. After he dove down to look at the prop several times and did some research, he called the yard that hauled us and we went back. Turns out a MaxProp is a sophisticated peice of equipment and the mechanic had never seen one. Well he is an expert now! Turned out it was misaligned. The yard was very ncie and made it right, but we are still concerned about the holes.
We had visitors and went out for a few weekends sailing around Door County. So beautiful. FInally, on Sept 3rd we headed to Milwaukee. In the blind fog! From Sturgeon Bay to Sheboygan, total fog. And lot’s of bugs. Our enclosure worked so well and it was such a relief not to have them in the cockpit with us. But seeing them swarm all around did make me nervous. We didn’t see the breakwall entering or leaving Sheboygan until we were right in the middle of the opening. We used our radar to look out for other boats and I stood on the bow and blew a horn as we entered and left. There were fishing boats all over tha place.
We stayed at the Milwaukee Yacht Club, which is the first time we have used a yacht club. Meh. But then anything would seem dumpy compared to Center Pointe. They did give us a great price. We also went for our checkups, had our teeth cleaned and got flu shots. Dorito made a trip to see Dr. Vermey and we are encouraged that he seems to be ok. He has become a very picky eater and has lost a little weight but still looking spry for 16! And he had his nails clipped, which we are not brave enough to attempt on our own....
And now tomorrow we leave Milwaukee for Hammond, Indiana and Skyway Marine where our mast will be taken off and shipped by truck to Mobile, Alabama. It is a two day trip. We will stop in Waukegan on the way. The weather looks good for sailing with winds 15-20 out of the northeast. But it may be bumpy, so I have spent the evening securing everything for sea and started Dorito on his seasick medication. I also made a place for him in the aft cabin where he can feel safe and have ready access to the litter box.
This is the second time we will have our mast unstepped. Last time we had to take the sails and lines off of the mast and disconnect the electronics. This time it all has to come off of the mast. We have to remove the rigging and the electronics, inaddition tot eh sails and lines. Then we have to figure out how to re-install the VHF antenna and our AIS. (This system sends out a signal with our position, course and speed to other boats and is displayed on their chart plotters and it receives the same info from other boats which is then displayed on our chart plotter) The yard will, of course, help us with all of that, but at 100.00 an hour we want to do as much ourselves as possible.
On Tuesday, Spet 15th we will start down the river. There are locks and tugs and current and debris and carp ahead of us, but we are really looking forward to moving again. And it will be much easier to blog with more interesting things happening!
Fast Forward One Week
22 July 2015
When last I blogged, we were enroute to Lake Michigon having left Rogers, MI. That was Wednesday. We, smartly, decided to anchor that evening in Little Sturgeon Bay, MI. It was so beautiful and quiet. I posted on facebook that I felt like we were the only people on earth, so I felt the need to share that with everyone. I wonder what that means?
It was bittersweet entering Lake Michigan. We were happy to be close to our first milestone, Milwaukee, but sad to be sailing past Mackinac Island without stopping. It looked like fun through the binoculars. BUt we stayed up a little later than usual celebrating.
Around 4 am I noticed that we seemed to be bouncing about more than expected and that Chris had gotten dressed. He said the wind had shifted and picked up so he was going to get underway and that I could stay in bed. Which I really did try to do, but the boat was pitching quite a bit. I got up and went into the salon just in time to notice that the hatches, while closed, were not fastened down. It is amazing how much water can come through a non-fastened hatch. Thank god the one over the bed was properly closed. I cleaned all of that up and was beginning to feel a little squemish so I went up to the cockpit. The waves were 3-5 feet and we were taking quite a bit of spray over the bow. I felt better, but we were in the midst of a bug infestation so I took Chris's advice and went to have a nap in the aft cabin. Upon arrival, I noticed that Dorito was seasick and had thrown up. He was kind enought to get most of it into his liter box. So I cleaned that up and climbed into bed. I put a pillow behind me and a pillow in front. The cat relocated to the same spot and we hunkered down. I feel asleep for 3 hours and woke up to the same weather but feeling much better.
We were able to sail for a few hours, but also needed to make Washington Island before dark. Eventually we put the eingine on. The winds built to 20-25 knots as we entered Death's Door. We anchored in Hedgehog harbor, a place we have taken our Sea Ray. It felt like home.
The next morning we sailed to Egg Harbor and anchored. It was beautiful and bug free. We took the dinghy into the beach and went for a walk. Hit the gorcery store then went to bed very early. We were still tired from the 12 hours crossing Lake Michigan.
The next morning, Saturday, our friends Jamie and Phil arrived. We picked them up by dinghy, used their car to provision and headed out to anchor in Nicolet Bay. It was a perfect Door County day. We ate and drank and had a great time. The only faux pax was when I fouled our dinghy line in the prop. But the good news is that the line cutter works great!! Chris dove down and was able to free the line. It was cut cleanly and no damage to the prop or shaft.
The next day we sailed all day long. We even put the big asymmetrical sail up. It was a lot of fun. Jamie and Phil left that evening, it is hard to have a job:) We had planned to be in Sturgeon Bay Monday morning, but the winds were out of the South, the direction we needed to travel, at like 20 knots and so we got a slip in the marina and stayed one more day. It was wonderful. I went for a long walk, Chris went for a bike ride, we visited all of the little shops and bought some fairly expensive balsamic vinegarette. We called Charlie, our canvas guy, and rescheduled our appointment for Wednesday. On Tuesday, we headed out. It was another perfect day and we sailed the whole way to Sturgeon Bay. And we flew the asymmetrical, which was the first time Chris and I did it by ourselves. It went off without a hitch and I feel like my sailing skills have improved quite a bit.
We anchored Tuesday evening, which was last night. I wrote about the incident with Dorito on Facebook. Chris heard a wave slap the stern around 1230. He thought it sounded odd and almost blew it off but decided to investigate. Thank god he did!! Our cat, Dorito, had fallen off the boat and was hanging on by a toe nail to the swim step. The water is pretty cold here, like 65 degrees. He grabbed him and ried him off. He was shivering and a bit wobbly. I slept through the whole thing and only heard about it this morning! Dorito seems fine today, let's hope he learned his lesson.
Today, Chris rode his bike to the local marine store and bought a zinc for our propeller. A zinc is a piece of metel that will corrode intead of our propeller when exposed to stray current. Ours had dissolved like an alke seltzer. We have a diver coming at 1800 to put it on for us. We aren't sure what caused this rapid disintegration but we think it is probably our generator. We need to tie the neutral and ground together for marine operations and haven't done that yet. Another lesson learned!
We met with Charlie form Dorsal Canvas. We liked him right off and he came to the boat to gather information for an estimate. We went to his shop and picked out fabrics, screens, and glass and discussed the design. We should have the estimate by Saturday. We are staying at a city pier which appears to be free! But no electricity. We took our devices to lunch with us and availed ourselves of the free electricity at the Inn at Ceder Crossing.
We will be leaving tomorrow for Milwaukee and probably staying at Mckinley Marina for about 5 days. We will be coming back to Door County for the canvas at some point. And that's as far as we have planned.