Wednesday, October 5, 2016



Tuesday morning, Barbara and I get up, and start prepping to leave the Columbia Yacht Club for the river part of our Journey. We arrive at the first lock about 9:30, but have to wait for a Chicago Fire Boat to enter also. At 9:50, we are in the Chicago River headed south and west, away from the Great Lakes. One of the first things you see is a building flaunting the name of one of the current Presidential candidates.


We tried to get into the Chicago River before all the tour boats. But they are already moving around in the river when we get there. And there are water taxis also. Some were seen to being used by workers headed to their jobs . There are a lot of city bridges to go under. Most are Bascule lift type, and do not normally open for pleasure craft. We have lowered the mast, but it does not appear we needed to. There are some nice buildings on the water through the downtown area. And there is work going on at some of them, and some of the bridges. And there are restaurants with patio seating on the water, including a Starbucks and Panera Bread.

I am going to make an assumption the smart way to arrive is by "water taxi". As we leave the business area, we pass one building with a marina underneath. Your own condo, and your boat tied up ready for use just a few floors down. We come to a railroad bridge that is supposed to be open unless there is a train. We call on the radio, and no answer. We motor near the piers, and get a posted phone number. The guy tells us he will open the bridge for us shortly. About 10 minutes after our phone promise, a METRA train shoots across the bridge.

As we leave the downtown area, we start to meet the other commercial traffic. The tugs, with and without barges. They are known as "tows" on the River System. It is good to see them, as it means that our country is not all bad financially. The Calumet River comes into the Chicago River, or the "Sanitary and Ship Canal" as it is known at this point. The Calumet is used by boats, tows that can not get low enough to go under the Chicago bridges.

And the canal portion gets narrow. And there is a corporation about 3/4 the way to Joliet that is shipping sand and gravel into town on the canal. They have barges tied up waiting to be loaded or delivered, and the canal is one lane wide at the materials yards. We meet a tow with a wider barge, and we have to duck between two waiting barges so that he can go by.

We come to our first real lock. The lock dividing the lake from the Chicago River that we first entered is only for water flow control. It does not change elevations. This lock will change our elevation, lower us to the level of the Illinois River. Another power boat joins us in the lock. This will be one of two locks we will transition down river before we reach Joliet.

We eventually get to Joliet, IL. We have gone 38 miles, and it has taken us over 8 hours. Not a fast way to travel, but if you are moving materials, you can haul a lot of semi loads in one barge. We tie overnight to a city park wall provided for cruisers by the city of Joliet. There are three of us tied to the wall.
      We start moving again on Wednesday morning. We have to wait until after 8:30, as one boat is too high to go under the first bridge without it being raised. And they will not raise it until rush hour is over. Right after the bridge is our first lock for the day. We will do three locks on our way down to Ottawa, our destination for the evening. We have to wait at the second lock while the Army Corp of Engineers positions a barge with crane to work on the dam. Barbara and I are entertained by the couple on "Bright Angel" that is traveling with us. They use their twin engines and bow thruster to stick the bow of their boat into the shrubs on the shore to retrieve a fender lost by another hapless boater. They are successful on the second attempt, and about the same time the lock is ready to take us down, and we proceed downstream.
The river is getting wider now, and looks more like a river than a canal. There are a number of grain silos along the banks with barges waiting to be loaded with grain, or loaded and waiting to be pushed to the purchaser. We notice that the towns of Morris and Seneca (where we lived for 2yrs) have new highway bridges over the rivers for them. Before long we are at the Marseilles lock and dam. They have us hold for a few minutes upstream while a rainstorm passes. We go through this lock, and we continue with SummerTime to tie up at the town dock in Ottawa. Bright Angel turns into the marina just before Ottawa. Barb and I are entertained by a homecoming parade over the Fox River.

And there is a blue heron just off the back of the boat fishing for his supper. After watching him for five minutes with the camera hoping to photograph a catch, I lose patience and  put the camera down.

Five minutes later the heron makes a quick stab with his beak, and comes up with a fish about 6" long. Barbara and I walk into the downtown district to Tones Cones. They only have soft serve, but they do have waffle cones to put it on. And we go across the street to the IGA and buy some basic groceries to carry back to the boat.
      We awake on Thursday morning, and leave the Ottawa City dock and head downstream. Our first stop  will be Starved Rock Lock and Dam. About two miles away, "Bright Angel" radios the lock, and the lockmaster tells them he has a double to bring up, and then will take us pleasure craft down. We idle around about 1//4 mile from the lock exit awaiting our time to enter for lowering. The tug finally gets his barges (3 long x 3 wide) out of the lock. We are told to enter from behind the cells, and after the barges. It is a hard turn, and tight fit, but we get in the lock for lowering. We are on our way to Peoria. We are seeing more wildlife. Near Peru we have two separate sightings of Eagle pairs.

And we have seen more white pelicans, which we first encountered in Sturgeon Bay. And we continue to meet more tows. The river travel is more peaceful than being on a large lake. We make good time, and get to the Illinois Valley Yacht (IVY) Club a little after 5. We arrive about a half hour earlier than we had given the lockmaster, and catch them off guard. But they still do an excellent job of getting us tied to a dock and extending a warm welcome. We meet others for the Thursday Taco Specials going on at the bar.
       On Friday, I get up and go to work to complete the AIS transponder installation. I borrow a soldering iron from "Somewhere In Time" just before they depart. Barbara does laundry. I finish the AIS install about mid afternoon. When I power it on, the transponder picks up targets, and it inputs data to the VHF radio. An electric project that went right on the first attempt.
      This has been a good week. We have traveled every day we wanted to, and made good progress. And we have made a lot of interesting sightings.

No comments:

Post a Comment