Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Leaving Lake Michigan, Entering The Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal

As we passed through Navy Pier we entered the Chicago lock. This lock was constructed to prevent the Chicago river from draining into Lake Michigan as well as to prevent rising water on Lake Michigan from raising the level of the river. The name the Chicago sanitary canal means just what the name implies. Put another way, Chicago’s waste won’t pollute Lake Michigan it flows south as treated sewage contributing to the pollution in the Illinois River, Mississippi & Gulf of Mexico, the canal connects Chicago with the inland rivers allowing ship traffic to go south.  (Skipper Bob Pubs)
Navy Pier 

Boating through the heart of Chicago was exciting and the architecture wonderful

Marina City or the CornCob Towers were so unique. We took pictures from the bus when we were doing a city tour, then when we went bye the base on the boat. Look carefully, residence live in and can park their cars and boats in these twin buildings. 

After leaving the Chicago city area we entered the Sanitary Canal. As awful as the name sounds, the heavy growth and the work the canal would have taken to be built was mind blowing, this canal took 38 years to compete  

Look under the sign at the turkey buzzard (I think) 
If the emergency response doesn't get to you on time the buzzard will

I have no idea what this was but I am guessing salt or calcium? It just looked cool

I was pretty worried about the fish barrier as I had heard so many stories, but really is was no big deal, other than what is does is great! It is attempting to stop the Asian Carp from entering the great lakes. Seeing the carp for the first time was startling. Now I have learned that I really don’t like them. Sadly, they have found DNA traces of the Asian Carp in the great lakes. Sadder still is the fact that the carp were introduced into the water system 
There have been many duck blinds in all shapes and sizes along the way

Much of the root system's protection has been washed away by floods yet the trees flourish

In the Marseilles lock, the first point in the Illinois River to the Mississippi River, we had a six hour wait to enter the lock due to barge traffic. As per the lock master,  we were directed to anchor about 200 yards from the lock. The barges were carrying dangerous goods so pleasure craft were, not allowed to lock with them. On other occasions we were tied to barges and locked together. We found lock masters and barge captains, friendly, helpful and  professional  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Skippers Log September 16-24 Leaving Chicago Arriving Alton Illinois

It has been a week with very little Internet so posting the blog has been impossible.  So, to summarise the last few days we have been averaging about 50 miles per day at about 7 knots (1 knot = 1.85 km). We had the current running with us between 0.5 to 1 knot. All is well in the Blue View World. I have been using the Autohelm and even managed to do a few chores while cruising, such as fixing the Autohelm remote (yes Mike it's now fixed), mounted the flag pole and of course keep a watchful eye . We met a few barges and those barge Captains have been amazing. They help when we meet or pass, a new experience for us.  Once in the Mississippi River we have been told they are enormous. 

Spot little old Bliss II bottom right corner 

 Not all fun & games Chores still have to be done!
 Am I ever impressed with the Alton Marina Illinois.  A great facility everything you need; fuel, oil, snacks and a floating pool, yes you read that right.  Not only is the pool floating but the entire facility, buildings as well. Everything is attached to these 30 foot anchor post. If the water level rises or lowers the facility does too. Wow great system.  We entered the Mississippi River yesterday and decided to stay in Alton for a few days to catch up with the blog and  blue jobs (oil change, top up batteries and  re-organizing some lockers.   We will be starting down the Mississippi River soon.  More to follow........ 

I Have Become A Tourist Not A Sailor!

Tourist in Chicago

So, the plan was to dock at DuSable Marina in down town Chicago, but again the winds here are 15-20 knots with gusts up to 25 knots so we chose to spend one more day at the Hammond Marina and cab it to the down town Chicago. We spent a great day soaking up the sights and could have easily spent three days more. 

Chicago’s Famous Deep Dish Pizza at Giovani's
                    Rita Shopping the Magnificent Mile which is a large shopping destination
                                                  Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
Historic Navy Pier which is just a big playground
                            15 Story High Ferris Wheel Built in 1893 World Exposition
                                                The Beautiful View From the Top

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blue View Sept 25-29, 2013 Alton Marina, Hoopies, Chain of Rocks Canal

Bob & Patty Mitchell of the power boat Orinoco gave us great advice
26 Sept 2013
We stayed in Alton Marina an extra day to catch up on the Blog and do the traveler's thing.  As always tourist bogs are a Pink View Job.  We had a great time and highly recommend the Alton marina.  It is clean, efficient and the people are very friendly. If you're a BoatUS member the price of fuel is .10 cheaper and your docking fee drops from $1.30 to a $1.00 per foot, great savings. We have found the BoatUs well worth the membership.  A couple more important things here. This is the most difficult leg of the river systems for the loopers, so the Loopers Association has a meeting here at the marina. Bob & Patty Mitchell of the power boat Orinoco gave us great advice on where to anchor for the night, how to anchor in high currents using Wing-dams, our next stops and where to make reservations.  Good things to know, as at  the next stop in about 50 miles we didn't have reservations and would have been forced to do over 80 miles maybe traveling at night. NOT RECOMMENDED. Another thing is making an early call to the Alton Lock as they are (at times) very busy.  This way you don't have to leave your dock until they can take you.  After the lock you travel downstream picking up one to three knots of speed and pass where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers joins.  We then took the Chain of Rocks Canal to our last Mississippi lock. The river has picked up some speed here and we had two to three knots of current with us.  We had the engine running at five to six knots and we were doing up to ten knots. Not bad for a sail boat.  We traveled 44 miles today and stopped at Hoppies Marina.  As they say it not much to look at but again the people are wonderful and this is the last fuel stop for 107 miles.  

Mel Price Lock 

Hoppies Marina

Chain of Rocks Canal

Largest Tow to Date 36 Barges

27 Sept 13
We left Hoppies around 7:30 am and traveled 75 statute miles due to lack of anchorages in this section of the Mississippi. Mile marker 158 to mile marker 75. We did this in a little less than 9 hours averaging 8.5 knots as the current ran with us at about 1.5 to 3 knots.  There is a lot of commercial traffic on the Mississippian river and so far and the biggest tow we saw had 36 barges.  When you meet them they are very professional and friendly.  You have to call them on the radio to find with out which side they want you on.  It could be one whistle  or two whistles. The history behind this is before radio time they would use their whistles to tell other boaters or barges where to go and to this day they are still using the same terms. So how does this works you ask! It's quite simple.  If you're going in the same direction and you want to overtake the barge, he will say one whistle (his Starboard,my Port) or two whistles (his Port my Starboard).  When you meet them, one whistles means( his Port, my Port) two whistles ( his Starboard, my Starboard). Confused yet?  I was!  So here is the best way to remember (see picture). Smile.  I'm not ashamed.  Our anchorage was behind a wing-dam at mile marker 75.  Good anchorage and lots of water (9 to 10 ft). We even went for a walk on shore and a swim.  Our first swim since we started in the river system.  We are very spoiled in the North Channel with pristine clear water.  The water is not the same in the river as its  bottom is muddy, the current is fast running and last but not least Linda's least favourite Asian Carps.  She loves to go for swims but needless to say, she was very leery to swim here.  She did and the water was not bad at all.  To tell you the truth I thing she keeps counting her toes to make sure nothing starts growing.

28th Sept 13

We have been traveling now for a month and time has flowed by (pun intended).  Again we have traveled over 70 statue miles or 60 nautical miles.  As a bit of information for anyone intending in traveling the rivers all mile markers are in statute miles.  This makes a differences as we started our log book in nautical miles did not want to change back and forth from the Great Lakes to the River System and back once in the Gulf of Mexico.  So we kept our logs in Nautical Miles.  Today we made it to Cairo where the Mississippi and the Ohio river meets.  It was still good speed with the current.  I got the chance to see and take the picture of a dredging device out of the water.  This device/hogger can dig and pump mud, sand and water at an amazing rate.  Another thing that was great today is that we saw these two young Canadians in a canoe today.  We stopped to talk to them for a few minutes. They told us they left from Manitoba in August  and are going all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Linda had just taken fresh hot bread out of the oven so she gave them one.  They were very nice and so thankful.  We made it to our anchorage by four pm had some supper when low and behold who came around the point but our two young Canucks.  They paddled over to thanks us for the bread. Bliss where still cooking and gave them each a plate and I provided them with the beverage Canadian Beer.  They left us with big smiles.  What an adventure these boys are having.  Last but not least I had to do my Blue Job meaning check the oil and engine etc. Well we have a little problem with the water pump that cools the engine.  One of the seals has a small leak.  It's not a big job but we don't have the part and still have 80 miles to go.  We will have to keep an eye on it hope to make it to Green Turtle Marina and order the part.

29th Sept 13

We left Cairo this morning and started in the Ohio river,  against the current.  In some places the current was about 1.5 to 2 knots. We won't be doing 70 miles today that's for sure.  We had two locks to do and because of the lower river levels, they have the wickets down at one of the dam, meaning we have one less lock to do.  Wickets are dam walls they lower 10 to 12 feet below to water surface letting the river run. Once you get to the lock you need to make a run against faster current.  As most of you know this is a sailing vessel not a power boat.  At 6.5 knot I'm pretty well max speed.  When Bliss called the lock master to let him know we were coming he inquired about our horse power and told us to stay close to the lock wall as the current was a little lighter.  Bliss's new engine and big 3 blade prop didn't have to much of a problem but I wasn't so sure about DevOcean.  So about 1/4 of a mile before the lock I gave her everything she had trying to get as much speed and momentum as possible. Remember I'm an old truck driver and I'm thinking "Swing the Hill".  As it was all I could get is 4.5 to 5 knots against the original current.  By the time DevOcean got to the wickets wall which it's literally like a water speed bump we were down to three knots of speed. As always DevOcean didn't let me down.  Today was Linda first try at the helm in the lock. She did great considering a big tow had just left the lock and had left a lot moving water swirling around the lock. Obviously we didn't do as many mile as the last couple of day but we still did 41 NM. We dropped anchor in Paducah behind the Cuba Towhead island which is the junction where the Ohio and Tennessee river meet.   If you're wondering the water pump is still leaking but doing fine so far.  

This is a Raised Wicket Wall
Wickets are dam walls that are lowered 10 to 12 feet below the water surface to allow the water to run and raised to hold levels

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Skippers Log Chicago

Sept 10-15th 2013

We had a good day sail on Sept 10th to meet up with Bliss II and spent a great night in Milwaukee.  The following day we once again motored to Waukegan. After a good sleep we motored all the way to Hammond Marina on the Chicago East side.  I will let Linda bore you with all the details of the casino, the marina, the gambling, the winnings and the live show.  I'm more of a practical kind of guy.  On friday Sept 13th we motored two miles from the marina to the Calumet river to Unstep the mast. We had the strongest northern wind we saw the entire trip with 8 to 12 foot  waves.  We then stripped the sails and the rigging to prepare, pack and ship the mast. Believe it or not, all went well. Skyway Yacht Works did and amazing job they were very professional and friendly.  Our cost for unstepping the mast, packing supplies and loading it on the truck was $485.00. Not including the shipping which was another $300.00 per mast. The transport company showed up, loaded and was gone while we were doing finishing touches to DevOcean.  All and all a great day as everything fell in to place. Thank God I'm not superstitious but I think it helped having a few of my toes crossed as my hands were occupied.

Follow up: Stepping the mast at Turner Marine Mobile Alabama

On A Cold And Gray Chicago Mornin

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto
And his mama cries
Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
Its another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto
(Elvis ... In the Ghetto) 

Ok no snow but it was the only Chicago song I could think of at the moment. It is gray here today and the rain is falling. Ok maybe Jim Croce-“Bad Bad Leroy Brown” On the south side of Chicago which is where we are and have been since september 12th. Ok East. We arrived in Chicago at exactly the right time as there were sever storm warnings, water spouts and possible tornado sightings on Lake Michigan. Luck must have been with us as we only encountered the heavy winds for about the last 5 miles into Hammond Marina. We had left the heavy areas only hours before. 

10 Miles away from Chicago
5 Miles away from Chicago
We are here! Chicago Illinois USA

Bliss II Arriving in Chicago

Navy Pier 
We are staying at the Horseshoe Casino Marina. Casino, sailors, alcohol who woulda thought that was a good combination. The Maria holds 918 boats and though located at a casino it is relatively quiet and other than the view you would never know. 

The first day Friday the thirteenth we proceeded to the Calumet River where we unstepped the mast. We had this completed at the Skyway shipyard and though it wasn’t a pretty place they were professional, the price was reasonable and I would recommend Bob and his crew to all. We are now power boaters until Mobile Alabama. 

North Wind gusting 25 knots!
Bliss on their way to Skyway shipyard to unstep their mast 

Calumet River 

Removing Masts 

Many bridges on the river system are to low for our 50' mast. Its just got to go!
Bill & Rita

On Saturday the fourteenth the weather was beautiful. It just felt so good to get off the boat and stretch my legs that I went for a walk run for an 1.5 hours. There is a lovely beach to the east of the Casino and on the west side a bird sanctuary and beach. 

It was a perfect morning. In the afternoon Rita and I treated ourselves to some pampering while the men did boat stuff. To top off the evening we went to the casino to see Ron White perform. God might come down and smite me for laughing so hard at his potty mouth but it really was funny. 

Dave & Rita

Me & My Skipper
Barb & Bill of Babsea

As I said earlier it seems to be a gray day so my plan is to tidy the boat, do some writing and reading and quietly enjoy my husbands company. Tomorrow though is Down town Chicago, Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile. Wooo Hooo. I always boast at being an out door girl but I am getting the hang of this tourist thing down pretty fast. By the way I can not get over how friendly, kind and generous everyone is. Amazing.