Side Trip to Nashville – The Cumberland River

We enjoyed staying in Green Turtle for three days. It gave us time to clean the boat really well and get some other things done.  Joe, from Bandwagon helped us get the mast put back up.  There was a definite learning curve on that task, but it went back up and all the guy wires tightened well.  We hiked into the village to do some grocery shopping and caught the shuttle back.  It is a nice area here in the “Land between the Lakes”.  As we walked over to The Thirsty Turtle for dinner, a bunch of deer were frolicking about and unconcerned about us.  We ran into other some Loopers there that we already knew and met others that we didn’t.  We met one couple, John and Gina, who would be starting the Loop on Friday aboard Alysana.  They are local to this area and advised us on the best next stop on our way up to Nashville.  Green Turtle Bay has an awesome spa and Jane and I both took advantage and booked massages which were fantastic.  I cleaned the air conditioner filters which is a chore because the one at the evaporator is just about impossible to reach.  I was hoping that my friend Jere and his wife, Barbara, aboard Ellie Jack would make it before we had to leave, but they broke down in Paducah, so we’ll have to catch them later closer to the Gulf.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018:

After a breakfast of pancakes and a visit to the marina store, we shoved off at 1055 for the short trip to Prizer Point Marina and Campground. Barkley Lake is beautiful and makes for wonderful cruising.  The channel is well marked as we followed the Cumberland Riverbed.  We passed the Kentucky State Penitentiary.  That is a very odd use of waterfront property.


After the 23 mile trip we docked at 1400 in a covered slip.  It was hot so after checking in, we walked over to check out the pool.  There were a bunch of kids there, so we decided to skip swimming.  We were glad the slip was covered.  I worked on the blog and we turned in early after dinner on board.

Thursday, October 4, 2018:

We were up at 0420 and prepped for a long day cruise. We were out in the channel just around sunrise.

A bunch of bass boats whizzed by, I guess in some tournament.  We were mostly alone on the river, but at 0915 we overtook the up-bound H.B. Stewart pushing coal while avoiding the down-bound Alvin Johnson with his load.

10.4.0919At 0926 we crossed the state line into Tennessee.  Then at 0945, we met the Amber Brittany on the two whistle (passing starboard to starboard).  The day was so hot and with almost no breeze, Jane brought up the fan to the fly bridge.  At 1545 something in the water caught my eye and I backed off the throttle and turned to port to make sure I wasn’t looking at a body in the water.  It turned out to be a bloated dead deer.  Sorry about the deer, but glad we didn’t have to deal with a cadaver, we continued on.  We bumped over a submerged log, but there was no damage.  We cruised upriver for ten hours to get to Clarksville listening to music and talking.  We arrived at 1650.  The dock master, Tim and a Looper, Mike, from Haley Rose came out to help us dock in the covered slip.  We always appreciate the help, even when we don’t need it.  Clarksville has a small, but very nice marina.  We showered and stepped just up the hill to the Liberty Park Grill for an excellent dinner.

Friday, October 5, 2018:

On engine checks, I discovered that the shaft seal was leaking. It was not much, only about one drop every five or ten seconds.  I knew just enough to wait and check it after we got underway.  I would know better the extent of the problem then.  We backed out of the slip at 0805.  At 0847 we passed the H.B. Stewart again with his nine loads of coal.  He was pushing it to the left descending bank to avoid a down-bound tow still aways around the bend.  We knew that we would not have to be delayed at the lock since the H.B. Stewart was delayed.  Jane had earlier downloaded the new Shipfinder App to her iPhone.  We don’t have an AIS system, but the Shipfinder App shows us the names, direction and speed of the commercial traffic.  At 0950, I checked the shaft seal and it was steadily leaking around 10 drops per second.  I knew, I’d have to address this soon.  At 1120 we entered the Cheatham Lock for the 28 foot lift to get in the upper Cumberland.  We started up, but then the lockmaster let us back down to wait for another pleasure craft.  It was hot, hot, hot, but by noon we were out of the lock.  Cruising up the Cumberland was pretty and peaceful despite the heat.  We found the narrow entrance to the Commodore Yacht Club and meandered through the winding channel.

We stopped at the fuel dock for a pump-out assisted by Ron, the harbor master.  He also got us checked in and we were tied up on the tee-head of B dock by 1545.

We thoroughly enjoyed our side trip to Nashville and staying at the CYC. CYC has a free ice machine, free laundry and transients are welcome to use the clubhouse as their own.  In Nashville, we spent lots of time with our son, Scott, and his girlfriend, Jessica.


We got to go to their church on consecutive Sundays.  (Packed house with many young adults.)  We got to watch Scott in action climbing.  He’s good, but it’s still a little unsettling for a parent to watch.


Saturday we hung out in the floating “clubhouse” at the CYC to watch the Gators on TV beat up on LSU.  We enjoyed meeting some of the members, like Ernie Jones (Me and Mrs Jones) and Rosie the dog.  On Saturday night, we went out to Ray Steven’s place, Caba Ray and took in his show.  That was fun and we may have been the youngest people there.  Our friends and other son’s in-laws, John and Louise Stevenson came over from Maryville on Monday for a boat ride and overnight visit.  It was great to catch up with them and facetime with the granddaughters while we were all together.


Our daughter, Meredith, flew in Tuesday night for a six-day visit.  We rented a car for a week, so we wouldn’t be stuck out at the Yacht Club.  We dined in lots of restaurants, took a bus tour, and did some needed shopping and restocking.

On Thursday, the 11th, we headed up the river for an overnight stay on the Nashville Tee-Dock across the river from the honky-tonks of Broadway.  It was three hours from dock to dock.  At first, we mistakenly tied up in the reserved spot for the Pontoon Saloon. They only have a yellow line to designate their reserved spot, but we had been warned.  Of course, they showed up right then with a fresh load of 30 inebriated souls, so we pulled Sabbatical up by hand into the proper space to get out of the way.  The Tee dock is just over the walking bridge and has electric service, but no other marina amenities.  Scott picked us up and we went to Wild Cow for lunch and the walked around the 12 South area for a while.  Later, we entertained a dozen or more of Scott’s friends aboard Sabbatical for docktails.

Our old friend, Clark Thomas, was able to also come by and being a professional photographer, he got a great picture of the group.


As the group thinned out, we later walked over the bridge and grabbed dinner on a rooftop.

Our instructions were to be off the dock by 0500 because the workers would be coming early to set up for the crew regatta. I got up just before five and looked out.  There was nothing happening.  I made coffee and started reading the paper on line.  At six I looked out and still no activity. At seven, I still detected no one out to set up anything, but since it was finally light, we dropped lines at 0705 and eased back down the river to the Commodore Yacht Club and docked there at 0910.  I never did see anybody setting up anything for the regatta.  We used our rental car and picked up Scott from his house and we down to Franklin for lunch.  Franklin is a cool little town.  We ate at Mojos Tacos (Scott knows the owner) in the Factory.  After lunch we did some window shopping and then stopped by the Tractor Supply so I could stock up on motor oil for the boat.  By midafternoon we were back on Broadway to find our group of friends that were in town for the Gator-Vandy football game.  We caught up with the Bells and Stubbs gang on a pub-crawl at their last stop in the Wild Beaver Saloon.

It was a large group and we enjoyed watching some of the group and others try to ride the mechanical bull.  Rule one:  if you can’t get up on the bull without help, maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t try to ride it.  We ran into more folks from G’ville that we knew and made it for a round at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.  Later we had a great meal at Barcelona.

Saturday, we slept late and really had to hustle to make it to the tailgate with the gang from Gainesville. The gang headed in for the early kickoff and we headed over to The Tavern to watch the game on TV.  Jessica’s mom, Caroline, showed up and it was a delight to meet her.  It’s a good sign that these two are getting serious.  After the game we had time for a nap before meeting Scott, Jessica, and Caroline at Rolf & Daughters for a really nice dinner.

Sunday it was rainy, but Clark and Judy Brashear came by the boat to visit for a while. It was nice to catch up with them.


On Monday, we took Meredith back to the airport and we were sad to see her go.  Jane had a heyday doing laundry.  We also got our flu shots at Publix.  Nashville was great and there’s still a bunch we haven’t done here.  I’m sure we will be back soon.  One strange phenomenon at the CYC:  We kept hearing a knocking on our hull and on the other boats as well.  I couldn’t figure it out but Ernie explained it.  They have a bunch of carp here that feed on the algae of the boat bottoms and they make a whack sound when they suck.  It’s quite unnerving.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018:

We slid away from the dock at Cumberland Yacht Club at 0955 under partly cloudy skies with 49 degrees showing on the thermometer. The river was glassy, but the rains had muddied the water somewhat.  The current assisted us and we were cruising at ten miles per hour running at our standard 1800 rpm’s.  We arrived at the Cheatham Lock just ahead of the Marc Myasaki, but the commercial traffic gets preferential treatment, so we had to wait.  We stayed out of his way, as he got lined up to go in the lock.  By 1342, the tow had been let down and we were in the lock secured to a floating bollard.  It was a quick ride down and we were back on our way at 1355.  We overtook the Marc Myasaki again at 1420.  We met the Rick Hamich heading upstream at Macadoo Creek.

By 1635 we were back in slip B8 inClarksville after getting the holding tank pumped out.

Thursday, October 18, 2018:

We eased out of the slip at 0735 headed for Lake Barkley Marina. It was another beautiful day – cool and sunny, perfect for a 71 mile cruise.  We called ahead and spoke with Tina for our slip assignment.  We would be using Covered Dock 2, Slip 32.  I looked at the map of the marina to see exactly where we would be.

At 0850 we passed the Danny Whitford with benzene.  At 1115 we met the upbound Cumberland Hunter on the one whistle (port to port) at Dover Island.  He was pushing 15 barges.  At 1232 we overtook Marc Myasaki and his 12 barges (again).  By 1450 we were easing into slip 32 of Dock 2 at the Lake Barkley Marina.  Oops!  The roof is too low.  Good thing I was at a dead crawl going into the slip.  The mast guy cables touched the eave and I quickly reversed, peeved that they didn’t ask what our air draft is and peeved that we didn’t ask the height of the cover.  Lesson learned.  They rerouted us to a slip on Dock 3 and it was fine.  We docked by 1505.  After dinner we went for a walk and checked out the Lodge.  We saw a lot of deer grazing on our way over and back.

Friday, October 19, 2018:

We backed out at 0915 and began the meandering channel to return us to Lake Barkley. At 1221 we passed the Roger Sensenbach pushing 12 barges.  Just after that we entered the Barkley Canal that crosses the Land between the Lakes and joins Lake Barkley (Cumberland River) with Kentucky Lake (Tennessee River).  We entered Kentucky Lake at 1239.  We swung through the old quarry at Pisgah Bay just to see the graffiti there.


By 1405 we were pulling into Sugar Bay, just one of the many beautiful anchorages available. We anchored in 15 feet and enjoyed the solitude of the place, sharing it only with a few fishermen returning to the nearby boat ramp.  Jane made soup and we turned in early.

Alton to Lake Barkley – The Mississippi and Ohio Rivers

Another great docktail party in Alton


Tuesday, September 25, 2018:

We were waiting on a package from American Diesel and it showed up at 1030, so we cranked up and moseyed over to the fuel dock for a pump-out. By 1150 we were in the Melvin Price Lock alone and we exited the lock at 1155.  The lockmasters on the Mississippi locks are all about getting it done and they are helpful to the recreational boaters.  We made certain to not miss turning into the Chain of Rocks Canal (at 1230) on the left descending bank right after the Missouri River junctions from the right.  If you miss this canal, you hit the wicket dams or wing dikes and sink.  Could be rapids too.  I didn’t want to find out.  It’s a fairly long canal leading to the Chain of Rocks Lock, but we didn’t have any commercial traffic to speak of and we entered the lock at 1320 and we were out again in ten minutes.


An up-bound barge with benzene passed us at 1342, we steered clear of him and negotiated the turbulence and the long wing dam at the fore-bay where the river rejoins.


We spotted Gumby II at anchor in front of the St. Louis Arch and got a picture for Scott and Christy.

We passed on through St. Louis and at 1545 we slowed a bit to let the rain pass before trying to dock at Hoppie’s Marina.  Hoppie’s really isn’t a marina in the traditional sense.  It is just a couple of old rusty barges that they have for boaters to tie to.

One Looper said you best have an up-to-date tetanus booster to land there.  Oh, and it is full current so you have to come about and edge over, keeping the bow pointed up river.  The rain did pass somewhat and we docked with the help from Ray and his other brother Ray on the dock.  They know what to do and what to tell the captains for a safe landing.  The best part of being at Hoppie’s is the river briefing conducted each night for the transients.   It used to be run by Fern (she owns the place), but she’s had a knee replaced so her daughter, Debra, has taken over the duties.


Debra did a yeoman’s job and we felt like we knew what to expect all the way to Paducah.  My electric connection was not the right voltage/amperage to keep our air conditioner working, so I got with Ray and I used my splitter and plugged into the 50 amp circuit.  It was fine after that.   All in all it was a good day and we made 44.2 miles on the Mississippi, but the night was spent getting rocked by wakes from the passing tows.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018:

Ray and Jonathan (sail boater) helped us get off the dock at 0925. Directly, we were cruising at 13 ½ mph at 1800 rpm.


It was cooler in the morning at 59 degrees and a few clouds in the sky.  We were traveling with Happy Destiny, Sauvy B, and Imagine.  There was some debris in the river to dodge and at 1150 we noted that we’re in just over 70’ of water and getting pushed about by eddies.  We turned up the Kaskaskia River and at 1255 we tied to the lock wall below the Kaskaskia River Lock.  This is a good stop when going down the Mississippi and there were a number of Looper boats there with us: Float Her, Gypsy, Sauvy B, Aslan, Caeruleus, Tip-Sea II, Imagine, Happy Destiny, and Tortuga.


There was a Corps of Engineers barge tied at the wall and boaters were given permission by the lock master to tie to it since space on the wall ran out.  Some boats were rafted to others.  The COE barge looked like it was set up for some sort of recreational activity.  There were chairs and an area that was covered.  We decided that we should just commandeer it for docktails.  (Sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than permission.)


It was a good gathering and much was discussed about who was going where next.  As we were breaking up the COE tug Pathfinder showed up and informed us that they were  to take the barge at 0630 in the morning.  We decided anyone parked near it best move early.


Thursday, September 27, 2018:

We woke up later than we wanted at 0635, cranked the engine at 0640 and were off the wall at 0646. Jane’s log entry for the weather says: “Who knows? It’s dark.”  We reentered the Mississippi and continued on downriver.  At 0745 I figured that we are about halfway done with our 220 miles of the Mississippi River.  Then we will be turning upstream in the Ohio River.  We made good time with the current and we passed a fair number of barges, some with large loads.


We continued to dodge the logs and debris.  I noticed that the tachometer drops out from time to time.  I’ll have to figure that out.  During the run, we passed Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  My ancestor, Joseph McFerron, was an early settler here and signed the city charter.  He was also involved in the first duel between Missourians which took place on an island in the river.  He won.

I have been in touch with an old friend, Jere Plumley, who has been coming down the Mississippi from Wisconsin.  We are trying to figure where we might be able to meet up and now they are just a day behind us.  It was a mostly cool day and we covered 110.6 miles before we anchored behind Boston Bar just upriver from the I-57 Bridge at mile marker 7.7.  It was a quiet anchorage and we were the third and last boat to come in, but we had ample room and good holding in about 10 feet of water.  There was almost no swinging on the anchor as the current coming down behind the island held us in place.

Friday, September 28, 2018:

We wanted to get an early (0700) start, but we were socked in by the fog. We weren’t going anywhere until the soup lifted.  At 0800 there was still less than 300 feet visibility.

Fog just starting to lift at 0945

It was lifting just around 0945 so we started getting ready and cranked up the anchor at 1020.  Surprisingly, it came up clean.  I expected to bring up enough mud to make a hog happy.  The other two boats came out just after us and in the Ohio River at 1105, Float Her joined our little group, but their catamaran is much faster and they went on ahead.  We skirted the massive parking lot of anchored and tethered barges that clog the Ohio.  I found good water to run in on the inside of the bend sticking to the left descending bank and running in between the barges anchored in the middle and the riverbank.  It helped me stay out of the higher velocity water in the channel as we made our way upriver.  We had to wait a few minutes at 1345 for the American Queen (tourist paddle wheeler) to clear the Olmsted Lock.  The Olmsted Lock is still under construction (3 Billion of your tax dollars at work) so, at this time there is no lift, but they only let one boat at a time pass.

As the afternoon wore on, I noticed that we kept experiencing momentary loss of RPM’s.  It was intermittent and I figured it had to be clogging of the secondary fuel filters.  If we could make it to Paducah, I could change them there, but I really didn’t want to do something like that if we were going to be on anchor.

We continued on upstream and passed over the wickets at Lock 52 and docked just about a half hour after sunset on the fairly new Paducah municipal dock with help from John, the dock master.  The dock is well lit and that helped.  We had only been averaging about 6 mph coming up the Ohio even though I was pushing the RPM’s and we were glad to make the entire 45 miles from the anchorage.  There is current at this dock that brings you to the dock from either side.  We were on the outside and it pulled us in.  Jane had cooked a curried dish while we were traveling and we ate dinner on the boat.  We were hanging out after dinner when some other Looper boats came in and we all rushed out to help.  There was a lot of excitement as some of the captains got to experience the effect of the eddy and hit another boat and the dock.  There was no serious damage, but it was tense for a bit.

We stayed at Paducah for another day. They were having a massive BBQ festival.  Ten years ago, I could have got my money’s worth on that.  Jane did some shopping and I changed the secondary fuel filters, which was a learning curve since I had never done that before.  I got that job done, tightened the lead for the tachometer, and replaced the air filter.  I also refilled the water tanks and we were good to go.  I showered and changed and we headed out to Paducah Beer Werks so we could watch the Gators dismantle Mississippi State.

Sunday, September 30, 2018:

It was sunny and 62 degrees in the morning. We got away from the dock without incident at 0810.  We were headed to Green Turtle Bay on Barkley Lake.  There are two ways to get there.  The shorter route would be to go up the Tennessee River, through the Kentucky Lock and then cross through the canal that connects Kentucky Lake to Lake Barkley.  We opted for the longer route going up the Ohio River to the mouth of the Cumberland River and then through the Barkley Lock.  It’s longer (44 ½ miles), but the current on the Cumberland is reportedly less and there is a lot less barge traffic and typically very little wait for the Barkley Lock.  The Ohio had lots of logs and debris to contend with, but the Cumberland was clean and scenic.  We entered the Cumberland at 1018.  At 1038 we passed Kentucky Chute where the water from the Ohio pours through and the brown muddy water of the Ohio gave way to the green water of the Cumberland.  It was a little turbulent at the Chute, but quickly the Cumberland embraced us with a gentle current and pretty tree-lined bends.  We only passed one down bound tow.

At 1500 we were waiting for the lock and tied in the shade of the high wall on the right.

Barkley Lock and Dam

Twenty minutes later the gates opened for us and we moved in and Jane lassoed a floating bollard.  We had to wait a little bit for two more boats to join us, but soon we were being raised some 57 feet and by 1550 we were out of the lock.  We arrived at the fuel dock of Green Turtle Bay for a pump-out and nestled into our slip at 1630.  It was a skinny slip with floating finger piers on each side, and just wide enough for us and a couple of fenders. We bought ice when checking in and showered afterward.  We met crews from Antonia, Felix, Phanthom, Float Her and Good Life at the pavilion for docktails before heading into the yacht club for dinner.  It was a good day.

Just a few of the many Green Turtles


Chicago to Alton – The Illinois River

Friday, September 7, 2018:

I checked every weather report known on the internet, phone apps, and NOAA VHF broadcast. There were conflicting reports between the point forecast showing one foot waves and others touting three building to four in the afternoon.  We had quite a discussion over whether to go or not.  I did not want a repeat of our experiences in Charlotte Harbor, The Potomac, or recently in Lake Michigan.  The last way and probably the best way to check the weather is to look out the window.  I walked the dock to see over the breakwater.  The waves were crashing over the wall, but not nearly as bad as the day before.  It was overcast with scattered showers and the wind was out of the east-northeast at 13 knots and gusting higher.  Around 0830 we heard from Mark aboard Antonia docked at DuSable and he said he could see a boat out beyond the breakwater that appeared to be stable in calm water.  We were ready to get to Chicago and be done with Lake Michigan, so that ended the debate.  In spite of the small craft warnings and with the full knowledge of the rough conditions we knew we would encounter, we started preparing to shove off for the 15.6 mile trek.  We retrieved our lines from the cleats and before I could get backed out of the slip, the wind was already turning us toward the sailboat tied next to us.  I put it in forward and brought the stern around with a quick blast and then backed out quickly.  I had plenty of room to reverse with nothing back there but the floating casino.  It was windy, but with the techniques I learned from Captain Billy back in Ft. Myers, I got her headed in the right direction.  We pulled alongside the fuel dock and Jane handed off the key card to the attendant.  Once we got out of the protection of the marina, the waves were coming from the northeast as expected.  It was rough but the spacing between the waves helped make it tolerable.  We were soon behind the breakwater of the Calumet River entrance and that helped as well. At 0930 we emerged through the opening removing our protection of the Calumet breakwater.  Jane hassled me about the way I was steering (adjusting for waves as need be to keep somewhat of course and as comfortable ride as we could, given the conditions) so I offered her the wheel and she commenced a tacking of sorts to diminish the effect of the beam seas.  We zig-zagged our way towards Chicago and at 1103 slipped behind the inner wall into the calm waters of the mooring area.  There is an outer breakwater wall some distance out and I realized that the boat Mark saw must have been between the walls because the waves were crashing and splashing high against the outer wall.  Nonetheless, we made it and docked at DuSable Harbor Marina on the tee head of E dock at 1112 with some help from Mark and his guest, Larry.  We got checked in with the marina and headed out walking with our folding grocery cart and made it to Marciano’s.  It was a ritzy two story store in a fancy high-rise.  After we hiked back and put the provisions away, we strolled down the dock to Antonia and gathered up Mark and Lezlie and their guests, Larry and Rose, and we all hoofed it on over to the Navy Pier for the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour.  The guide, David, was knowledgeable regarding the history and architecture as well as quite the comedian.

The six of us enjoyed dinner together at a nearby Mexican Restaurant and then met up on Sabbatical for some games and after dinner drinks.

We stayed in Chicago for the next two days and enjoyed getting to see my old Navy buddy, Ken Goetz. He is an official greeter for the City of Chicago as well as an attorney.  We were able to make it to Sully’s Tavern where the Windy City Gator Club met up to watch the Gators play Kentucky.  Gators got whipped by KY for the first time in 32 years.

Sunday we hiked over to the Urban Village Church for the 10:30 service and then found a cool vegan restaurant (Native Food Café) for lunch. We stopped on the way back and chatted with Christy on Gumby II where they are tied to the wall by the park. They are also Loopers and we have talked with them on the radio, but never met.

Monday, September 10, 2018:

We shoved off the dock from DuSable Harbor at 0930 and by 1005 we were through the Chicago Lock and entering the Chicago River basically going under all the same bridges we did on the architectural tour. At 1042 we called the Amtrack Bridge as we came under 18th Street.  Since our mast was down we could get right under all the other bridges, but we would need the Amtrack Bridge lifted.

We had to wait for a couple of trains to pass, but by 1055 we were through and entering the industrial area.  At 1318 we passed the Cal-Sag canal and at 1330 we passed our first barge on the “one whistle” (port to port).  At 1400 we encountered the Electric Fish Barrier which is to prevent the further intrusion of the invasive Asian Carp.  The Asian Carp are incredibly prolific and there are reports of them jumping on the decks of boats and leaving a bloody mess.

Luckily we did not have to endure any direct attacks but as we made our way further down the Illinois, we’ve had a number of them jump up and collide with our hull. (Thump!)  By 1520 we were in and out of the Lockport Lock going down 38 feet tied on the port on the floating bollard.


At 1545 we came about to starboard and nuzzled up to the free wall at Joliet.  It is a fine municipal wall at Centennial Park with free electric.  We joined Compass Rose, Island Girl, Someday, Sea Jamm, Second Wave, Corkscrew, Misty Pearl and Free Spirit II for docktails at the park benches.

A plan was set for Dana aboard Misty Pearl to call the Brandon Road Lock early to make sure we could lock through without a long delay due to the barge traffic.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018:

Up early and by 0658 we slipped easily off the wall and out into the current with our flotilla of nine boats.


The railroad bridge was up so there was no wait there and we all entered the lock at Brandon Road at 0730.  We arrived at the Dresden Lock at 1030 and we rafted up to Sea Jamm (Alan and Sherry) and Island Girl (Ken and Karen) to wait for the barge traffic to clear.  Sherry made lunch and the six of us visited and ate in their spacious saloon.  We finally got through the lock at 1355.  The original plan was to make it to Heritage Harbor Marina, but with the lock delay and the issue that we would still have to get through the Marseilles Lock, we changed plans.  The lock masters on the Illinois River are not too helpful to the recreational boaters so we (just about the entire flotilla) opted to stop at Spring Brook Marina (mile marker 251.8) for the night.  We docked into slip E22 as a huge Asian Carp leapt onto the dock.  Spring Brooke boasts a nice restaurant and everyone was geared to meet for dinner.  They had not anticipated any business and the cook had sent the only waitress home (or she called in sick, depends on which story you got), but he called in a friend of his to come serve us and we didn’t care that it took two hours to get fed.  The stand-in was a good bartender, the food was fine and we enjoyed getting to know different Loopers.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018:

We left Spring Brook Marina with a flotilla of eight boats: Misty Pearl, Sea Jamm, Island Girl, Someday, Corkscrew, Compass Rose, Second Wave and Sabbatical. At 0930 we were waiting at the Marseilles Lock.


We were joined by Forever Young and Free Spirit Too.  The lock was occupied by barges and two tows (tug boats) down-bound.  It took until 1015 until the horn blew to let the tow operators know to leave the lock.  At 1150 the lock tender let us know by radio that he would have the lock ready for us in about 25 minutes.  The Corps of Engineers had a team there conducting underwater survey with a remote control submarine which further slowed things down.  At 1120 we got the green light to enter the lock and all the boats filed in at idle speed.  That took about another 20 minutes to get everyone secured to one side or the other and some boats rafted to others.  We had to wait for the survey team to get done playing with their yellow submarine.


They finally finished and the upstream doors closed.  We exited the lock at 1230 and docked at Heritage Harbor Marina 20 minutes later.  The staff at Heritage Harbor did an excellent job directing each of us to our assigned slips as the six dock hands ran back and forth assisting each vessel.  Many Asian carp were jumping in the basin at the marina entertaining us.  The marina was great and Jane went off in one of the courtesy cars to the laundromat.  The dock master, Jeremy, gave a briefing in the office at 1600 detailing what we could expect downstream all the way to Hoppie’s Marina on the Mississippi.  He spent nearly two hours with us going over all manner of information and details.  It was great.  We all met up in the Red Dog Grill for dinner.  The food was awesome and it was half price wine night!

Thursday, September 13, 2018;

We dropped lines at 0800 and proceeded slowly toward Starved Rock Lock. We arrived at 0930 as instructed by earlier phone call to the lockmaster.  Finally, at 1100 we entered the lock with our armada of now 13 boats.

By 1140 we had completed the descent and were exiting the lock.  The lock master warned a couple of up-bound tows that he had released “a herd of turtles” and to be on the lookout for us.  The channel is narrow at that point, but we all got around the barges ok.


The tow operators are friendly and helpful.  Much more so than the lockmasters on the Illinois.  We proceeded on downriver with some of the boats going elsewhere, but we docked in an old abandoned lock at Henry Harbor on the crumbling lock wall.  We were able to have electric, which was not the case for all the boats there.  Mark and Lezlie were there with Antonia and we all ate in the rustic restaurant and had a good time.

Friday, September 14, 2018:

It was another beautiful day. 65 degrees in the morning under a cloudless sky.  Since we had all come into the old lock from the downstream side and had our bows to the current, we had a plan on when to leave with the most downstream boat going first.  We were second and slipped away from the rocky wall without help and backed out of the ancient lock.  As we made our way down the river, we saw a group of eagles eating breakfast.  Asian Carp sushi, no doubt.

At 1045 I noticed a pontoon boat going in circles near the right descending bank.  They were putting out quite a wake and I noticed that there was netting all around the front and three or four guys on the stern trying to bow-fish for the jumping Asian Carp.  They must have been having a blast trying to hit them in the air with the arrows.  I could only imagine that beers and bets were involved.

We were making nine and half miles per hour with the current and by noon-thirty we were secured into the Illinois Valley Yacht Club (IVY Club).

Yacht clubs are always a good place to stay and this one was no exception so we planned to stay for two nights.  We were invited to utilize the bar and restaurant.  We took advantage that night and had a great meal and got to meet some of the members who all seemed very friendly.  One, Carolyn, offered to take Jane and Lezlie shopping on Saturday, so they made a plan for that.  While they were gone, I changed the starboard side primary fuel filter, so it will be ready to go on line when I need it.  We were able to watch some football via the digital antenna, but when the Gators kicked off against Colorado State, I had to employ the phone app to listen in on the radio.  Can’t get ESPN on the boat.  I see a smart TV in our future.

Sunday, September 16, 2018:

At 0753 we reversed out of the slip and idled out into the river. We had no flotilla with us this time.  At 0900 we talked to the lockmaster of the Peoria Lock.  The wickets were up and we would have to wait for a while to lock down. By 0945 we were in the lock and ten minutes later we were exiting.  For the next several hours we were alone on the Illinois River – no other pleasure craft or barges.  It got hot and I had Jane bring up a fan to the helm.  We put towels down in the ice chest and were putting them on our necks to cool off.  We can’t wait for fall.  After 79.6 miles we anchored behind Bar Island at mile marker 88.4.  It was a nice quiet spot and the island kept us from getting waked by the barges that run all night.  We ran the generator for air conditioning and cooked our veggies on the grill.


Monday, September 17, 2018:

We pulled anchor at 0710 and proceeded down toward the LaGrange Lock.


We arrived there to wait with HMS Vagabond.


At 0840 we entered the lock behind a “light boat” (a tug with no barge) and HMS Vagabond. Ten minutes later, we were down and they invited us to exit first and we were on our way again.  We got to the Florence Highway Lift Bridge at 1121.


Jane kept busy cleaning the boat as we cruised along.  She was unstoppable, and said Bobby was channeling through her.  We dodged a few tows, but it was never a problem and the captains always appreciate being contacted and tell us to have a safe trip.  These tows on the Illinois that have 12 or 15 barges will be thought to be cute when we get to the Mississippi and some of the tows push 35 barges.


While we were in route that afternoon we Facetimed with our granddaughters, Hazel and Bea, and their other grandparents, John and Louise.  We chugged on and docked at Grafton Harbor Marina at 1715 completing the final 79 and half miles of the Illinois River.  Doug from Misty Pearl and Brent from Second Wave were there to help take the lines from Jane.  Doug is a Tennessee Volunteer, so there was some good natured smack talk going on.  We refreshed with a dip in the pool and later enjoyed dinner at the Grafton Oyster Bar above the marina store.  It was a good spot to spend a couple of days and we weren’t in a hurry.  The next day, Jane got into the laundry early and she got it all done.  Sandy and Kevin Tucker from Koastal Karma came by.  Their boat is getting repairs over in Port Charles Marina after hitting a log on the river.  The hit took out their running gear and transmission.  It was so expensive that an insurance claim was involved.  They left and we walked around Grafton a bit and had lunch in the Grafton Winery which was very nice and inspired a return to the boat for a nap.  That evening we joined eight others for dinner at Airie’s Restaurant.  The owner picked us up at the marina in his shuttle bus.  The restaurant is at the highest point in Grafton and the view was superb.  This time next year they will have a gondola ride open to bring diners from the bottom of the hill up to the top.  That will be a great hit.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018:

We were headed to Alton Marina and which is only 17 miles so we took our sweet time getting underway. We slipped off the dock at 1025 and when we got up to speed at 1800 rpm’s we were at 11 ½ mph.  This is where the Illinois joins the Mighty Mississippi.  There was a fair amount of debris and we played dodge-a-log cruising along.  At 1150 we were at the fuel dock in Alton and took on 223 gallons of diesel and got the holding tank pumped out too.  We were in our covered slip at 1300 and in the pool at 1310.  This is a great marina with perfect restrooms stocked with everything one may need.  They have a pool and two hot tubs all on floating docks and best off all is their deal for Loopers of buy 3 nights and get 3 free.  Again, we were in no hurry, so we enjoyed staying put for six days.  That night we had dinner with Mark and Lezlie and Alan and Sherry at the Bluff City Grill.  Good food, great company.

While we were in Alton, we got exercise along the trail, enjoyed the pool, rented a car and provisioned from the grocery, Tractor Supply, NAPA Auto Parts, and we visited the arch in St. Louis with Mark and Lezlie. We watched the Florida – Tennessee aboard Tanuki (Jerry was in the marching band at UF) and the Gators whipped UT with a bunch of takeaways.  I changed the oil while we were in Alton and we got the Velcro replaced on the port and starboard aft panels of the fly bridge enclosure (Thanks to Paul at Alton Landing).  We worshiped at the Bridge Church and took in a play at the Alton Little Theater (Neil Simon’s “God’s Favorite”).  We rode the bikes and enjoyed docktails (even with just diet tonic and lime, have to give the liver a rest periodically).