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HOME: ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY SEA

Broad Picture and Plans of Attack!

We’re starting this  blog to facilitate sharing our latest adventure –the Attack of the Great Loop–with family, friends, and apparently strangers lurking on the internet (welcome, btw!). Out of the chute, it’s felt almost as nerve-wracking and strange as the locals must have felt as the Brits pressed in to their towns. But we’ll see how it goes and perhaps add other adventures on land too–hence the name of the blog! ONE IF BY LAND, TWO IF BY SEA.  (Well, technically anything involved with water will be under the “By Sea” category.) So tip of the hat to Longfellow for coining the phrase that we’ve picked for more trivial and fun communications than rebelling against taxation without representation.

For the current adventure, here’s the general map; however, we aren’t starting close to the main Loop route.  The prologue to The Loop for us is to approach it via the Ohio River (beginning at The Point in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).  Well, actually we started a few miles up river.  (See Red Dot for starting point)   Hope you check in often and enjoy the posts! xo

THE GREAT LOOP: Over 5000 miles long (depending on side-trips…did you say Cuba?….well, we DID say it ( as well as the Bahamas!)….but that will have to be another trip!)

MAP UPDATED::   SEPT 21,2017  !!!!!!

2017-6-6 best great loop pic map (8)_LI.jpg

We started Sept 3, 2016, just North of Pittsburgh on the Red Dot with a 922 mile prelude/side trip down the Ohio River  (all WHITE LINES ARE SIDE TRIPS! — ie NOT technically part of the Great Loop) to get to our official beginning  start point on the Loop (Green Dot at Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers, Kentucky).    The GREEN LINE represents our Loop trip. In addition to the Ohio River prelude/side trip, other side trips (WHITE) were: A small leg  up and back the Tennessee River to Florence, Alabama;   leg up and back the Black Warrior River in Alabama past Tuscaloosa (and nearly to Birmingham);  up and back the Potomac to Washington DC; and up and back the Sassafras River (at the north end of Chesapeake Bay).  All DOTS (except the pink one at Chicago) represent times we’ve flown home for 10-18 days (one dot for flight home is missing–right about where the “S” is in the word “Severn” in northern Canada).  As of September 20, 2017 we have traveled 7,827 miles and are a stone’s throw down a section of the Mississippi River and a turn toward the east)  from completing our Loop back at the green dot (Green Turtle Bay, Kentucky!)        [Any route marks that are not GREEN or WHITE are simply the possible routes of “The Great Loop.”]

UPDATE (10-19-16) The  Second Leg:  We left Green Turtle Bay, Grand Rivers, Ky which is just east and south of Paducah on the map below (and marked w/ a big green oval dot on the map above). As of 10-19-16 we are at the top (north end) of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (in dark purple on the map) where it branches off of the Tennessee River (which flows downstream to Paducah/the Mississipii –hence we were going UPriver from Green Turtle Bay to the head of the Tenn-Tom Waterway…which will then be “DOWN-river”

2016-10-17-leg-2-map

UPDATE (9-19-16):   THE OHIO RIVER:  Which we have now completed as of Sept 15, 2016! 922.5 miles (We started just north of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River and we did NOT go that tiny little end knob section to the Mississippi River but rather turned left (aka east) (towards Nashville up the Cumberland River)

UPDATE: (5-15-2017)  Chesapeake Bay Area.  By the way, Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the USA….followed by Puget Sound, Washington.

chesapeake map (2)
The Red Line traces our route out of the ICW through Norfolk, Virginia and up to the Eastern Shore.  Stopped at Cape Charles, Va, Ohancock, Va and Crisfield, Md  Drove to the Red Dots on the Atlantic Coast: Assateague and Chincoteague.  Plan to hit the Orange Dots (and other tbd spots) within this next week: Smith Island, Tangiers…..and then Washington DC!

 

UPDATE:  JUNE 8, 2017:

6-6 map_LI (8)
As of June 7, 2017 we were at the Schuyler Yacht Basin (Red Arrow).  Our route  will continue up the Champlain Canal, Champlain Lake and into Quebec, Canada to more canals and finally Lake Ontario, the Trent-Severin Waterway, and Georgia Bay on Lake Huron….following the green dash above. (but…..as you can see there are a lot of other canals and waterways that remain for future trips!)

At my request, Nick revised Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere with a little artistic freedom to fit us:

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the great boat trip that started this year,
On the fourth of September, in 2016;
Nick and Barb got on the Loop
Knowing not what to fear.

Nick said to Barb, “When running the river
Let’s look out for barges and whatever might be
Keeping red buoys to right while not missing greens,
Failure to do so will leave props obscene
And we’ll finish the trip by land not by sea.

Passing through locks with nary a shiver
Slowly but surely we’re learning the river.
Bollards are watched and lines always kept free
Passing through locks with nary a shiver 
Slowly but surely we’re learning the river.

For the original see:  http://poetry.eserver.org/paul-revere.html      or  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4hUMQG3MI8     for a live reading and cool old prints

Sep 23-25; Days 274-276 We Got Looped!

Ok, so the spoiler-alert title is a bit ahead of the preamble, but for those who know me and accuse me of taking forever to get to the point of a story, I thought I might change tactics with this post. Read on for the details.

After a morning jaunt on shore and breakfast, we left the Little River Diversion anchorage muddy banks behind us and ‘chased’, at 7mph, the few other boats that had left at dawn.

2017-9-24 miss to right ohio to left
Just about to turn left, say goodbye to the Mississippi, and head UP the Ohio River.  See the chart?  We’re going over 26 mph and we weren’t really “supposed” to do that until farther up the Ohio!

About 10 miles before the first lock, we received a text from one of the group.  With a warning that it would be the only opportunity for pleasure craft to pass through and that we had 20 minutes to get there, we hit the pedal to the metal (well, fiberglass)……and hoped that our good gas mileage and adherence to our gas/speed plan from the prior day would hold out with the extra push at a bit earlier and more than the 23 mph than we had authorized ourselves to do.  We reached the group of boats in time….but, needless to say, still wondering about our gas situation.

 

We didn’t have any waiting at the first of three locks– which one could argue isn’t quite a lock yet: the partially-constructed  Olmstead Lock system.  It will eventually replace the next 2 locks (with the non-descript names of #53 and #52).

2017-9-24 olmstead drive thru and new
Here we go on the tails of the whole group in the distance as we are about to enter through the “lock ” that is currently under construction (ie water is same level on the up and the down side). So no door….but it is a narrow passage way so it adds to the delays up river at #52 and #53.  The big behemoth structure to the right will be the main part of the new Olmstead lock. It’s due to open next year (after nearly 30 years of planning/construction) and will relieve tons of shipping pressure and traffic jams caused by the 2 oldest dams in the system that still use wooden wickets,  etc and are not only small but also infamous for breaking down for big blocks of time. 

We tied up to a wall to wait an hour or so for the #53. Lockmaster was nice, friendly and encouraged a dog walk! Always a way to B’s heart!

2017-9-24 lock 52 on decaying wall waiting
The herd of pleasure craft (mostly loopers) corralled together for the day on the crumbling wall. 
2017-9-24 lock 53 measurmts up and down sides
Lockmaster house with river height measurements up the road (which aligns with  the actual dam) and 2 different measurement sets up the building wall–one for the upriver side and the other for the down river side (I guess??…or global warming/modern science required a re-measurement??).
2017-9-24 lock 53 fr above
Nice to be able to stretch 4 dog legs and 2 human legs with a climb up to the high ground above Lock #53. Doesn’t look like much…but boy does it cause problems.

Within a few short miles, the final lock of the day, # 52,  loomed  and was surrounded by waiting barges on all shores on the up and the down sides. We all tossed anchors off the downriver dam side; at least we saved gas by not having to circle and battle the current. The lockmaster told us to sit tight for a couple of hours.  Sunset came and went.

2017-9-24 dark bow 52
Despite hearing horror stories abound among the Looper crowd, the lockmaster did basically follow through; however…. we didn’t get into and out of the lock until it was pitch black dark  No tie ups to the walls.  N’s view from the flybridge past the bow as he maneuvered us in: We were in the middle of the pack floating in a small churning pool with a bunch of other boats.  
2017-9-24 better stern dark low
B’s view from the cockpit as the lock fills up and we get squeezed from the back too.

We haven’t really boated in the dark other than at dusk for a mile or so and certainly not locked in the dark (nor floated with no tie ups on top of that) let alone in the oldest lock with THE WORST reputation in the entire country AND on top of that when: 1) we had NO idea whether we had enough gas to go the remaining 4 miles; 2) the charts don’t actually show where the dock we want is because it is so new (and, by the way,  neither did google earth when we checked earlier in the day);  3) despite trying every light combination available, it was so dark we couldn’t see any channel markers (yet they loomed in abundance on the charts); and 4) likewise, we couldn’t see the infamous debris known to be lurking about.

2017-9-24 dark see
Seeee!?!?  There’s nothing to see!  But we made it!

This made for our longest boating hours in one day and latest arrival time ever! All of which was on the last full day of our entire Loop journey! (gee….what’s that final message supposed to tell us??)  11 hours and 5 minutes of boating and arrival to the Paducah dock at 9:10 pm—10 minutes past our bedtime!

2017-9-24 may flies lamp post
After the exhausting day, we awoke to have the entire boat COVERED with may flies!  N was in such a hurry to spray the hose that we didn’t get a pic. Here’s the nearby lamp post–We snapped this pic a bit later—but you get the point! REALLY gross!  Miles later we were still dealing with partially dead flutters and carcasses! (but at least they don’t sting or bite!)
2017-9-24 paducah dock
Look how high these piers are for the high water flooding!

Paducah, Kentucky dock just opened this week actually and now provides travelling boats a much needed fuel stop. We knew we needed to fuel…..but the pump was SO slow that we couldn’t stand our own impatience to fill it all the way up. So after 60 minutes of fueling, we left with just 60 added gallons knowing it was enough to get us to our next stop.  SO….we had to wait for our final fuel calculation a few more hours.  But obviously we did NOT run out of gas in the dark on the long stretch from Hoppies to Paducah!

2017-9-24 cute paducah
Paducah is a pretty nice little stop with nice restaurants, museums, and quaint streets. We had been here last year in the courtesy car from Green Turtle Bay.  Quiet Sunday morning downtown.  

With our late arrival last night and our hard-to-get marina slip reservation at Green Turtle Bay, we couldn’t stay an extra night in Paducah to enjoy the restaurants. So we just stretched our legs in the coolish air (aka 75 degrees at 8 am) and spent time looking at the cool big mural and repeating a few pix that we took last year at about this same time.

2017-9-24 Z lewis clark statue
Ziggy’s not 8 months old anymore!  Now she will sit and stay for pictures–especially with Lewis (or was it Clark’s?) big dog! Plus, with morning light, this statue can be appreciated better than last’s year’s pic! For comparison and more Paducah pix  See https://oneifbylandtwoifbyseablog.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/day-19-sept-21-parting-shots-and-thoughts-end-of-leg-1/ 

After a leisurely morning walking around and at the Paducah dock, we pushed off for our last (first?) loop day.

2017-9-24 N bow underway rare
It took over 8000 miles and a bunch of spider poop, to get N to dare get on the bow while B is at the helm. A calm river and no channel markers probably had something to do with it too!
2017-9-24 ohio cumberland loop cross
At the confluence of the Ohio (to the left) and the Cumberland straight ahead.  Last year we came down the Ohio to start the Loop.  Last year, as we came down to this point we turned left to go past these metal things and get on the Cumberland.  So here it is….the spot where we  started our Loop, coming up from the other direction and “crossing our wake!!!

 

And here we are boating over our prior “wake prints”!!

2017-9-24 wake tracking over tracks
We did it!

Oddly, even after more than 8000 miles and only traveling by here once before, this stretch of the Cumberland River with it’s twists and turns and occasional industry interspersed in remoteness feels very familiar.

2017-9-24 truck cumberland

2017-9-24 up cumberland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last (first?) loop lock!

2017-9-24 last loop lock B

2017-9-24 bollard loop graffiti
Couldn’t let this last opportunity pass by without an extra special penmanship practice!

We had that weird feeling you get when you drive past your old elementary school as we exited the Lock and headed into the familiar channel markers leading us to Green Turtle Bay. Familiar enough but yet definitely feeling a bit older, more sun-worn, and certainly impacted by the journey.

We did finish filling the gas tank and after some double checking and cross checking calculations, determined that we rolled into Paducah in the dark the prior night with only between 1.5 and 4 gallons of gas left in the tank.  Hahaha…more than just fumes! Yay for excel spreadsheet calculations and living by them (mostly)!

2017-9-24 drinks part of trio
Enjoying our celebratory drinks that were waiting for us from Looper friends Let It Be’s Margo and Jerry who called in the order! Kinda DOES look like we got looped, right?
2017-9-24 boat fr gtb yacht club
As we looked down at our “home” for the past year, we enjoyed a nice dinner at the Green Turtle Bay Yacht club.
2017-9-24 larry part of trio
Another random happenstance surprise—crossing paths with Larry (born and raised in our hometown of Tacoma!) and Sherry precisely where we met him last year—on the ramp up from the Green Turtle Bay dock as we both walked our dogs.    

Those random, fun moments along with recently crossing paths with our first siting over a year ago of a looper, In Deep Ship’s Kelly and Terri; and  texts and calls from our original buddy boat, Panacea’s Joan and Don, offering to help trailer the boat back to the west coast, are what, I believe is literally called ‘coming full circle’— it’s a  LOOP!  Altogether pretty weirdly amazing!

2017-9-24 loop circle us b n z
And no, that’s not an obscene gesture…..B is simply making a circle/loop with her fingers as we crossed our wake!

What’s next? Absorbing, pondering and planning for now!  It’s weird to have a destination (or two), but with no “purpose.”

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned!  We have to live up to the title of the blog with some “Land” posts, right?

Here are our Loop raw stats:

387 days “on the Loop” (minus 68 days at home)

184 travel days underway

8,118 miles total traveled (including the approach down the Ohio and side-trips up the Black Warrior River and the Potomac)

5,748 gallons of gas

587 engine hours

176 locks (including a rail chute)

13.8 mph average speed over the entire trip

2 countries; 2 provinces; and 20 states; uncountable bodies of water

Sept 20-22, Days 270-273 Riverboat Gas Gamblin’

OK, so we went off scope again! Can’t really come up with a good excuse, but it’s tough to do these blogs and when you delay a few days everything becomes jumbled making it even harder so you decide to put it off and the jumble compounds! C’est la vie. Lots of pics on this post. We’re about 7,800 miles into our journey now and startin’ to smell the barn. There’s still about 300 miles to go including that long stretch without fuel to conquer, but we can count the number of locks remaining to transit on one hand. We left the tiny Tall Timbers marina and continued down the Illinois to its confluence with the mighty Mississippi at Grafton, Illinois.

 

9-23 tt 2
It was a little foggy when we got up at Tall Timbers, but we had a lot of miles to cover.

 

 

9-23 tt
Many marinas/anchorages on the river are little cuts off the main channel. These two posts mark the “hump” you go over to get in. We had about 2′ under the boat coming off the channel so the big boys can’t get in here in this low water. You go Bayliner!

 

As big as all these rivers are, they’re still subject to surprisingly large fluctuations in water levels. Indeed, on the Mississippi we were told to be careful to allow for a 2’ variation overnight when considering anchorages, but I get ahead of myself. As it is, low water on the Illinois has backed up river traffic with multiple days-worth of barges parked on the river banks waiting for more water. The problems were compounded by one barge having run aground and effectively closing the river to commercial traffic. Honestly, that was good news for us because we there was no waiting to enter the LaGrange Lock after which we zipped past the blocking barge on the downriver side.

 

9-23 rocks
All sorts of cool industry to observe along the way. Ok so maybe not everyone likes to see industry, but there’s only so many trees and birds you can look at. Besides, this place was weird. If you blow this picture up you’ll see a truck on the right dumping rocks into a barge while on the left an excavator is picking rocks out of a barge and putting them into another truck. WHAT??!! At the same location? Maybe there’s a communication problem and who ships rocks to a quarry? I think this place is owned by the same guys looking for funding to start shipping ice cubes to Alaska.

 

Many Loopers passed us during our fuel economy experiment yesterday. While it was great (and necessary!) to confirm our fuel burn at slower speeds, we were delighted to power up and get back to our regular 25mph cruise speed (life’s too short to worry about MPG unless you really have to). We had about 150 miles to travel and N spent the AM figuring out where we might catch up to everyone that passed us the previous day…… “if two boats are going in the same direction, but starting different places and travelling different speeds, where will they meet?”. Amazingly, he was accurate to about a mile after well over 5 hours of travel…. ok, ok, it wasn’t cold fusion.

 

9-23 nick
Here N points out “Nicholas Rock” while sporting what has now become his de rigeur piloting eyewear!

 

We made it all the way to the self-described “Key West of the Midwest” otherwise known as Grafton, Illinois at the mouth of the Mississippi. The marina was nice, but Key West?! Uhmm, an oyster bar, a winery and few biker spots doesn’t really equate to Key West. We did go for $1 taco night at a local bar despite being told the “best pizza” around was served at the local BP station.

 

9-23 grafton
When your town is on the river, you note the high-water mark. It’s what you do! Look at this mark from ’93 in Grafton.

 

You get the idea! Next day we made the short jump to Alton, Illinois to stage ourselves for the big run past St Louis, but also to stop and look at a boat that was there for sale.

 

9-23 alton
Here’s another line in another town! See the red line on the grain elevator?

 

We liked the boat, but didn’t break out the checkbook just yet as we still need to reconcile getting down to a sub 20mph cruise speed.  

 

9-23 cana
From Alton we were off to St Louis passing through the Chain of Rocks canal. The sign looks pretty obvious, but we were told some people go right instead of left. One guy on 38′ Tiara went right and hit “the rapids” on plane. Took them 3 months to figure out how to get the boat out.

 

 

9-23 work
So this IS sort of a ditch. There on the side you can see a crew re-doing the sidewalls (white rocks are new). We were lucky not to come across a barge coming the other way.

 

 

9-23 arch
There’s the “money shot”! How cool is that? Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Miami, DC, NYC, Burlington, Montreal, Chicago and now St Louis….ALL on our own boat!

 

Although a lot of people characterize river boating as variations on a common theme of travelling in a ditch, we enjoy the journey. Beautifully calm water, no compass headings, interesting scenery and not much traffic. Overall, it’s pretty relaxing.

 

9-23 barge
This guy is pushing a load 7(!) barges wide by 6 deep for a total of 42 barges! They can go as big as 49 or nearly three acres of space pushing up the river.

 

9-23 barge 2
OK, so we’re fascinated with these barges, but look at the size of this thing! BTW, they’re not actually called barges, but rather “tows”. Who knows why they’re tows because they never tow anything, but they won’t even respond to a radio call where you call them a barge…. ask how we know! Also, when passing you need to use the “one whistle / two whistle” vernacular as in “see you on the one” or “see you on the two”. Took a while to remember what meant what because it changes based on passing versus overtaking.

 

9-23 hop
This is the famous(!) Hoppies Marina. The last stop for gas or ANY kind of moorage for over 200 miles. It’s basically a few barges strung together sitting on the side of the river.

 

9-23 hop 2
So here you see the “marina” tied off to the riverbank…..

 

9-23 truck
….well sort of. You see that line goes up the bank and is tied off to the front bumper of this truck. Geez, that’s NEVER gonna’ hold… but wait that truck is then tied off to the truck behind it! Yeehah! That’s how it’s done in Missouri! Any questions?

 

9-23 mary
We arrived at Hoppies in time to walk in the brutal heat into the small town of Kimmswick where we went to the Blue Owl for lunch. The latter is run by this woman (Mary Hostetter) of Food Network, Oprah, blah, blah, blah fame and named a top restauranteur in the greater St Louis area. Gotta’ love the outfit.

 

9-23 pie
The Blue Owl is known for it’s “Levee High Apple Pie”. We’d knocked it over before taking the pic, but it was pretty tall… and yes, very tasty!

 

9-23 trips
Back at the marina, the guy on this boat was watching all the gas boats fill up. These are three electric motors powering a homemade  35′ boat. The boat has zero other systems and is going to go into the Guiness Book for the longest solar only powered trip. I suggested he go for a second category associated with patience since he can only go about 5mph and has to “tack” to make headway upstream.

 

9-23 sol
The entire roof of the electric boat was made up of solar panels.

 

9-23 calc
N built a little spreadsheet to better understand how we had to run the boat from Hoppies to Paducah. We tried to be conservative. We get the benefit of a 3 to 4 knot current downstream, but then face a similar upstream push against. Anyway we sliced it, we needed to carry extra gas cans to supplement our 113 gallons on board.

 

9-23 map
Not sure which is more remarkable…. crossing the 8,000 mile mark or N actually sticking to the speed strategy! Probably helped that he did the spreadsheet to convince himself.

 

9-23 gas
That’s how Bayliner captains do it! Lug extra gas and pour it in at the first anchorage. We had 21 extra gallons plus the dinghy tank if necessary. No, Z was not particularly helpful to the process.
2017-9-24 dinghy dock
So the Mississippi gets called the Big Muddy. Why might that be? Because it as muddy as freaking get out! B had to build this little landing strip to avoid losing her shoes when taking Z in to shore. We won’t talk about how filthy the dinghy got.
9-23 mud
Of course, Z had no problem with the mud and managed to dash around on shore while getting impossibly filthy. Dog and handler were not allowed beyond the swim step without a serious wash-down upon their return from shore leave!

 

9-23 food
Just because we were off the Mississippi in some filthy little anchor hole it didn’t mean we couldn’t eat well! B whipped up this colorful breakfast to fortify us for the push to Paducah

 

9-23 water
…and we’re off down the river following our float plan and conserving gas because it’s Paducah or bust… well not BUST, probably more drift downstream in the wrong direction!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sept 16-19; Days 266-269 The Last of the Illinois River

SEE UPDATED MAP ON HOME PAGE!!

We’re working our way down the Illinois River which, fortunately, is unexpectedly scenic and undeveloped.  The Illinois River is an old meandering twisty 273 mile river that connects (via the 336 mile preamble of the Illinois Waterway) Chicago to the Mississippi River at Grafton, Illinois (just a bit north of St Louis).  In the early 1900’s, the river was second only to the Columbia River in fresh water fishing harvests; not so anymore, thanks to over-fishing and to pollution in general and specifically industry and sewage out of Chicago.

2017-9-19 river edge trees Fall
Fall Colors -A reminder that it’s around the corner.

Despite being in ‘middle’ America, we’ve passed through some very international sounding locales: nights in Ottawa and Havana and a drive-by of Peru! Here’s a collection of a few pix of our river life as we make our way south. (Speaking of which, the geese and ducks in Georgian Bay, Canada were winging, honking and quacking southward over our heads when we were there in mid-August.  Now we are starting to see them here again after minimal sightings along Lake Michigan.)

We left with a pack of six other Loopers from the Joliet wall and had one of our longest and latest days yet.  And all that without the reward of big mileage: 10 hours and 10 minutes and only 44 miles.  Three locks (each with increasing wait times of up to 3 and half hours) turned a short trip into a very long day .

2017-9-19 ottawa marina pool
Here we are the morning AFTER pulling in after sundown in Heritage Harbor in Ottawa (Illinois) .   Needing a break and a dip in the pool (and a rest before the next leg), we stayed here for two nights

The bottom line is the commercial barge traffic has priority over pleasure craft; but that is compounded by the barges’ snail’s pace to enter, exit and get tied on/off and the locks trying to beat each other’s safety records. By the time one clears out, another one is radioing in with its approach. No one seems to take note that a mile away for the barge at 1 mph could practically lock through a whole gaggle of pleasure craft!

2017-9-19 ottawa lock trail
Two days provided plenty of time for B and Ziggy to get there “walk on” on what was originally the horse and mule tow path for the Illinois and Michigan Canal (built in 1849!!) Now it’s a great 90 mile walk/mountain bike trail. Bonus points: an entrance to the trail system is right across from the marina!
2017-9-19 abandoned lock ditch
Glimpses of remnants of the old canal which was replaced in 1900 pop out randomly along the abutting trail.  
2017-9-19 sunrise
A few dawn starts to try and get an edge on the barges and the long waits we experienced at the prior locks had us modifying our usual leisurely morning walks, eggs, veggies and coffee routine.  The trade-off was definitely worth it.

Although I’m pretty sure Ziggy didn’t agree with the change in the routine!

2017-9-19 cold dog
Fall is in the air for this cold dog!

Speaking of Ziggy:

2017-9-19 WTF wondering why the dam(n) delay
What-the-Ruff?!!??”  Z checking out the dam(n) delay
2017-9-19 N patient waiting
N’s version of patiently waiting (part of famous Starved Rock Park in background) Yes! He looks relaxed and flowing —right?  Had to get a picture of THAT!

 

 

IMG_21162017-9-19 graffiti
While Z and N patiently wait, B practices her penmanship!  The lockmaster allowed us to tie up to this metal circle thing with D rings…. despite asking 3 times we could not figure out what he called it.  I’d like to chalk it up to scratchy radio reception…but to be honest, he had a southern Appalachian drawl that was  “unique!”   I’m sure we must have a reader that will know what these things are actually called?!?

 

2017-9-19 ill river scene feature poss
The waiting pays off with some nice scenery and morning light.

 

A stop at Illinois Valley Yacht Club (IVY), just north of Peoria, for gas and the night after a relatively easy 74 miles over a 5 hour day on the water.

Refreshing, short leg stretch out to the marina entrance.

2017-9-19 always sophmoricly amused Pee
Apologies to the mature audience, but simply always sophomorically amused!  

In anticipation of our long 205 mile run down the Mississippi between gas-ups, we bit the bullet, got up early again, skipped breakfast and did a SLOW day to see if we could eke out better mileage and make the run without asking fellow Loopers to loan us their dinghy gas along the way. Good news: we increased our mpg by 113% and can make it! Bad news: it is now confirmed–we hate going 7mph!!  But we’ll do it for those 2 days (maybe with a few fast sections once we feel good about the river current, etc)

2017-9-19 IVY sunrise Loopers depart.jpg
Every boat you can see (minus under the covered roof) are Loopers…..all departing IVY at dawn.
2017-9-19 peoria industry
WAIT!!!!  Over there on the left in Peoria, it’s those Nina and Pinta replicas again…..ok, ok there must be duplicate (or triplicate?)  replicas unless they can drop their masts low enough to get under the Chicago bridges??….and change locales as quickly as we do??    
2017-9-19 peoria pollution
And this (along with the thought of Chicago’s sewage) is why we aren’t jumping in to cool off!
2017-9-19 boats in distance at slow speed
We made it through the lock after idling in circles for an hour  as we basically boat-danced and chatted with the other Loopers who, once out of the gate, quickly left us in the dust (or should I say in their spray….well at 8.5 mph, they didn’t go THAT fast…but they did leave us in their wake).  Very hard on N to see them off  in the distance (see the white specks??) as we proceeded on our 7 mph experiment.

Just a sampling of at least a dozen channel markers washed WAY off the mark!  (Remember the rule? “Red right return”– so when going DOWN a river (away from its head), then green is on the right…supposedly! Keeps us alert!

2017-9-19 peru illinoiAside from Peru Proof, here’s a shot of a rare road along the waterway and an even rarer small town. Basically it has been a tree-lined waterway!

Yes, we made it all the way to Havana (by way of Ottawa and Peru!!)

2019-9-19 havana waterfront park
Illinois’ version of the Malecon–waterfront park in Havana
2017-9-19 duck store window
Racks and racks of ducks in this downtown Havana store. Reminded us of Chesapeake Bay museums.  Other stores had stuffed albino beavers, life-sized ceramic does inside glass encased coffee tables and other fine finds too.
2019-9-19 havana bank
No palm trees in THIS Havana…but they nearly have the Banco Nacional de Havana:
2017-9-19 havana fog
 Morning fog after nighttime torrential rain, wind and lightening for 2 hours
2017-9-19 pano muddy water
The Illinois River is getting muddier as we go — wonder how the Mississippi will be!
2017-9-19 fast past power plant thing
Back to going fast–nice to be able to zoom by this creepy thing!

We were Lock Lucky on our final 120 mile approach to Grafton.  Only one lock to get through and it was straight in and out due to the low river–barges grounded and lined up on the shore waiting for “water” and/or dredging in some bad spots. All their bad luck resulted in no traffic and minimal clearance for everyone except small pleasure craft (like us!) We zoomed through our 120 miles (and whipped past a bunch of Loopers who had left us in the spray yesterday when we were doing our slow-mph-test)…much to N’s joy today!

2017-9-19 house on stilts
Back to houses on stilts!
2017-9-19 confluence Illinois and mississippi
Confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers straight ahead.

We now sit at Grafton Marina where the Illinois meets the Mississippi River! That’s Mile Marker 0 on the Illinois and Mile Marker 981 on the Mississippi. Just one more small (relatively) leg and we’ll complete our loop and cross our wake.  Yikes………weird feelings looming!  Time for Taco Tuesday!

 

 

Sept 11-15, Days 260-265, My Kinda’ Town..

We left Hammond Harbor Marina on our final real push west before making the BIG LEFT and heading south and the completion of our loop.

9-16 ham
Hammond Marina seemed to be designed as an aquatic parking lot for the giant casino there in the background. The whole thing is “floating” no doubt to flout local gambling laws.
9-16 casino
Whaddaya think? We’re going to tie up at a casino and not go inside? B held her nose! Notice sign to craft beer.
9-16 casino 2
There we go… no gambling, just craft beer. Looks like things got a little blurry.

Still many hundreds of miles to go, but left into the river means we’re on the home stretch. In the meantime, we had to get our “city on” with a stop in Chicago.

9-16 chi 6
It was super cool to approach Chicago from the water. Our route takes us amongst all those buildings.

We stopped in DuSable Harbor right downtown next to Navy Pier and the Chicago River. Normal hotel cost down there? At least $300/night. Bayliner luxury? Oh, about $80! And we’re right in the loop! Wow, a double entendre… downtown Chicago’s “Loop” and our own larger “Loop” trail.  

9-16 chi 10
This was the scene from the back of our boat in the marina.

We’d visited Chicago not too long ago on another trip so this stop was all about “saying we did it” and meeting up with one of N’s original work chums from N’s very first ever job out of college. B is not a real “urban scene” fan so although the city has done a great job creating beautiful walking parks along the lakeshore, it just wasn’t the same as some of the quieter places we’ve been. Of course, N complained of exhaustion just watching all the joggers go dashing by each morning. 

 

9-16 chi 9
Could have been a great shot except for Z not paying attention

 

9-16 bean
The reflections off this Chicago “Bean” sculpture were awesome…. every city should have one. Can you see us?

In the meantime, we went out to dinner with Dennis and Nancy (B had to suffer through “remember that time…….?” conversations, but it wasn’t too bad(!) according to N), walked around town and went to a Cubs game.

9-16 game
With friends Denny and Nancy. I think the Mariners are one of the few teams to NEVER have been in the World Series…. and they’re not going this year!

 

9-16 game 3
Classic Wrigley shot. 

 

N also played golf on one of the first golf courses he ever played all those years ago. It was Chicago where he bought his first set of golf clubs way back when.

Our Chicago stay was nice, but we were itching to get into the Chicago River and have the experience of boating right through downtown, so after two nights we were off! You can tour the river on a river cruise boat, but very cool to pass through that steel and glass canyon on your own little vessel. Even B had to admit it was pretty cool, urban landscape and all. We took way too many pictures!

9-16 chi 1
Denny left his office to take this pic of us passing under the Dearborn Street Bridge. How cool is that?

 

9-16 chi 2
Gee, for someone who dislikes big cities B seems pretty happy, Maybe because we were outbound!

 

 

9-16 chi 3
OK, not too much nature, but still a pretty cool cruise. For you Washingtonians, that’s Boeing’s Chicago HQ there on the right. Not sure it beats a Seattle locale.

 

Once through downtown, it was back to river life. No more worries about big waves and winds.  

 

9-16 river
Been awhile since we’ve seen barges. Many more to come….

 

First stop out of Chicago was Joliet, Illinois where we spent the night on a wall along the river with many other Loopers (pic in header). As you might imagine, this passage off Lake Michigan and into the river is like a giant funnel. After months of passing time across the expanse of the Great Lakes and Canadian points north, ALL Loopers head back to the river heading for points south. As a result, we’re seeing a lot of Looping boats; catching up with (and passing!) boats we’ve seen somewhere over the last 12 months and meeting up with people just getting started (we feel like such old salts around the newbies). Despite our speed, we’re currently at the same marina with the very FIRST boat we ever saw on this journey 7,500 miles ago and way up the Ohio River! Obviously, we had some mechanical issues and went home a few times and they haven’t traveled the same extended route, but it’s still interesting a 25mph and a 6mph boat find themselves together after all that time with no planning.  

 

9-16 lock
This tow was nice enough to share a lock down with him (they don’t have to). More importantly, note the boat ahead of us. It’s a 38′ Donzi sport fish cruiser with cabin and three 300hp engines. 65mph and cruise at 40mph and you can sleep on it. 

After spending months passing through “cute” little Canadian locks whose raison d’etre is servicing recreational boaters, we’re back to the grim reality of traversing HUGE locks which are focused on commercial traffic. ANY pleasure craft (let alone a 29’ Bayliner) is basically treated like whale dung (No, there aren’t whales in rivers, but you get the point) and left to hang in the channel waiting for a break in the tow traffic…. and those tows aren’t fast!

 

 

9-16 wait
Loopers as far a you can see waiting on the lock!

 

 

9-16 barge
Lots of barge traffic going to Chicago.

 

We spent over 3 hours waiting for passage through one lock and we were lucky! A group we passed ended up waiting over 6 hours to get through another lock we snuck into earlier after waiting over an hour. In total, it took us 10 hours to travel about 40 miles…. And we were going 25mph whenever we could!   

 

9-16 barge 2
Eat some wake buddy making us wait! Honestly, these guys can’t feel our wake at 5 times this size.

 

OK, the waiting is a pain in the rear, but there are worse things we could be doing than floating on the river on a sunny weekday afternoon. Of course, some crew members use the VHF radio to monitor what’s going on in the locks and occasionally remind the lockmasters we’re still freaking here! UUuuhhhmmmmmm!  

 

9-16 lock 2
The lock guys finally relented and let us in before sundown! Marked our first day when we had to come into port with our nav lights on.

 

It’s an interesting transition back as we are now beginning to see scenery like that when we started and hear the same sorts of bug noises one comes to associate with cornfields and countryside in the Midwest. Let’s not get to poetic though as there is still plenty of hulking industry, locks, and the Mighty Mississippi ahead of us to navigate around and through. Not to mention our upcoming 225-mile passage without a fuel stop on our 150-mile cruise range boat (we’ve lost range with these smaller props). Should be interesting…..cruise On!  

Sep 9-11; Days 258-260 Coastin’ Down Lake Michigan

South Haven should be renamed: Wave Haven.  It seems the usual entry system to all these great little harbors that are sprinkled every 15-30 miles along the east side of Lake Michigan (west coast of Michigan State) is to set up two long protecting jetties and cut an entry in which probably expanded what was originally a little creek or river mouth that then opens up to either a large lake or wider river.  Some of the cuts even zig and zag with doglegs so the crashing storms and unrelenting winds are subdued.  Very nice system!

2017-9-10 s haven bridge view
The small town of South Haven is centered along both sides of the Black River…every possible spot has as many boat slips squeezed in as possible along the banks, in little inlets, and in coves for about a mile up.

 

2017-9-10 unstolen wood
Unstolen Wood–random after-store-hours pic! And a few doors down were a bunch of nice plants and a bench for sale too—still all sitting there at 8:30 pm…and they remained there, unstolen,  again 12 hours later as we passed by on our morning walk!  I guess the bad guys haven’t hit South Haven (I mean Wave Haven) yet. 

We ventured out up the dead calm Black River in the dinghy for a little tour:

2017-9-10 nina pinta
View from the water line in the dinghy: we last saw these two great replicas (the Nina and the Pinta) down  in South Carolina last April see: https://oneifbylandtwoifbyseablog.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/apr-232425-days-150151152-low-country-double-bogey-blues/     They won’t be looping with those masts though!  Bridges too low in Chicago.

After about a mile and a half, the docks, marinas and boat slips suddenly thinned out and ultimately only nature (well, a bridge or two did remind us we weren’t too far out).

2017-9-10 black river dinghy ride Z
In fact, we could have gone further but it was getting late….definitely worth exploring more (with a picnic in hand though!)
2017-9-10 bridge relections
Bridge Reflection– could get philosophical with that title….

We had fun over dinner (and some port back on board) with N’s old work chum, Denny, from Arthur Anderson days and his wife Nancy.  It took some back tracking but we finally pieced together when we last saw them: 2012 …wow- time flies!  And of course, we forgot to take a pic!   But looks like we’ll see them again in Chicago…so hopefully we stop talking long enough to get a shot.

We snuck out onto The Lake on a great day:

2017-9-10 lighthoue storm s haven
No, Hurricane Irma didn’t make it this far north…but just want to show you what it could look like on the edge of South Haven.
2017-9-10 lighthouse s haven clear day
Here’s our pretty exit out at the same location as the above pic ( just the other side of the wall) Yay- minimal winds and flat water!  No floor time for B and Z.

En route, we slowed down to take a closer look at the big Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

2017-9-10 sand dunes
Can you see the cars on top for size comparison?
2017-9-10 shipwreck
While dune peaking, we passed right over an old wreck.  Water was about 15’ deep.

A 60 mile jump got us to a nice night in New Buffalo where we enjoyed golf, yoga, grocery replenishing, frustration with Seahawk performance and some nice walks!

2017-9-10 New Buffalo dock better
A few Loopers here.
2017-9-10 beach trail pano
Only a handful of people enjoying the sandy beach.

2017-9-10 boardwalk

Here’s  one of those “what-is-it?” shots.

2017-9-10 duck blind tow dog boat
Is it a floating duck blind, a floating tiki-party boat, a dog transport, or a tow boat?  I think all of the above…and probably more!

A short 40 mile hop midday, got us to a new state!  Indiana! We are definitely out of the country-side and into “civilization.”  In Hammond, Indiana with industrial smoke stacks of Gary, Indiana to our east and the towering skyline of Chicago to our west.

2017-9-10 marina hammond chicago skylineHammond Marina shares the floating dock with a mega-casino….talk about un-civilized civilization!  See Chicago in the background?

2017-9-10 coyotes sign
Feeling a bit like Dorothy and Toto here. But this really nice long trail through a bird sanctuary/migration spot is a little bit of paradise squeezed between the casino and downtown Chicago.
2017-9-10 ecoli beach
A further reminder that coyotes, cockroaches and crap are not limited to Washington DC….. probably all  will out-survive us!

Speaking of signs (and on a more pleasant note):

2017-9-10 xmas sign
At least someone has their priorities right! Fun!

Heading into Chicago in a bit….Go Cubs!

Sep 5 – 8, Days 254 -257 Wavin’ Frankfort Goodbye!

After spending many weeks complaining about Canadian internet, I’m not sure what’s worse… getting stuck by weather in a marina with whip fast internet, or moving from one marina to another with inferior internet at each one! Honestly, I’ll take the former. At least we can stream video, watch games, and follow the news. Also, we were in a town with a reasonable main street including a brewery, a few bars, restaurants, and a grocery store. That was all good because we were stuck in the town for 6 (SIX!!) nights.

This Lake Michigan is a beast! N was going crazy (had to keep repeating the mantra…. it’s not a race, it’s not a race….), but there was just no way to get out of port and on our way. We’ve had a week of sustained winds above 15 knots and waves of at least 5’. B and Z went to the breakwater each morning to assess the situation. Waves breaking over the wall meant no go!

 

9-8 light
Yes, we had some occasional sunshine. Even so it was windy with waves coming over the breakwater!

 

 

9-8 boat 2
N didn’t care… he just wanted to get underway. In the alternative he used great internet to find pics of boats in rough water!

 

 

9-8 wave
Even so, he did get us into this “slop” (you can’t appreciate how bad it is from this pic). Amazingly, it was N who opted to return to the dock as B was totally fine prostrate on the cabin floor… her normal “big water” position.

 

 

9-8 below
We’re at Defcon 2 when B and Z are on the floor with life jackets on…..damn the torpedoes!

 

Obviously, there’s not a lot to write about when you’ve been sitting in the same spot since the last time you posted! We’ve been up and down the main street at least 30 times, spent time in the library, talked to guys cleaning fish (it’s amazing how many fish get caught including large king salmon although the latter look nowhere near as good as our PNW variety), jaw boned about the weather with guys on the dock and did a lot of thumb twiddling!

 

9-8 city
Walked this street many a time!

 

9-8 sign
Found this great brew pub….then what?! Closed due to rain. Fortunately beer was flowing elsewhere.

 

 

“We” (i.e. N and a reluctant crew did try to leave yesterday…. only to be turned around by 6 footers! At least we tried. The good news is that as of this writing we’re off the dock and heading down the coast.

 

9-8 sun
Yesterday evening things began looking up for continuing our journey

 

We’re going to go for a bit longer each day to get off this lake post haste, but also because while the little towns along the Michigan shore are nice,

 

9-8 cut
Yes, it’s a NEW harbor… after 6 days we went nearly 70 miles today to Pentwater. This is the channel entrance off the lake into the harbor. After brutal waves for days we had “water-ski” conditions for much of today. It’s a funny old lake! Forecast for the next few days is great so we’re going to burn down Lake Michigan and hopefully get to Chicago and the rivers before the winds kick back up.

 

there’s only so many t-shirt shops and cutsie art places you can look at before they all sort of run together! Not to mention it’s getting cold and we aren’t psychologically ready for that yet!

 

9-8 b
B was delighted to find a pair of VERY USEFUL wool hunting pants from the 50’s at some antique store (yes, there’s a lot of those in these little towns too)….Z was less enthused. 

 

More later… cruise on!

Sep 3-4; Days 252-253 One Year Anniversary on the Loop: Sittin’ in Frankfort

That NOAA website misrepresentation of wave height (discussed in last post) that resulted in a very, not good wave day has us second guessing our every decision to venture out again into Lake Michigan–well, it has B vetoing while N yells “damn the torpedos; full speed ahead.”  That, coupled with actual major winds forecast (and occurring) have us hunkered down in Frankfort, Michigan for at least 3 nights. You really get to know a small town when you are there that long with nothing to do but walk a dog!  It’s a very nice place with plenty of t-shirt stops, craft beer spots and, unfortunately, a beautiful sandy beach that is going un-appreciated in this weather.

But N did find a diversion to get to his diversion before the bad weather hit:

2017-9-3 N golf scooter
Can you see his golf clubs on his back?  Certainly easier than on the bicycle—especially when the course is a notch too far.
2017-9-3 golf course
That is NOT Lake Michigan  beyond the golf course; but rather Lake Crystal –about half the size of Lake Washington–at 15 sq miles. Although N returned from golf raving about the size of lakes here and how Lake Chelan pales in comparison. (talk about under-appreciating our home state!)

We did, however, unceremoniously celebrate our one year anniversary since starting the Loop though!  Luckily we happened to go for a brunch with another Looper couple  so that counted as our acknowledgment of the day. I could get all “retrospectivey-philosophicky” here…but since we are about to close the entire loop circle in a month or so more….I’ll hold off.  You’re spared…for a bit!

2017-9-3 imagine 2 moon light
 Our brunch companions left the dock and took a mooring ball for the first big wind hit…nice moon light before it hit.

Speaking of night shots:

2017-9-3 tv screen
Here’s a reason NOT to make N go out for an evening stroll before bed.  He’d only covet this set up more by night!  You can’t see it, but they have a major football game on that big screen. But N has been ecstatic with the internet here and even streamed the game on his ipad while smoking his cigar on the back of our boat.  Who needs a big screen!??!

 

 

It is shocking how many mega fishing-equipped small boats there are here on Lake Michigan.  These guys are going out and just circling the little harbor and beyond at all hours–day and night. Look at that collection of lures in lower left window!

2017-9-3 frankfort street
Ok, so when you are stuck for 3 days in a small town and you have no need for another t-shirt, fudge, icecream, or craft beer and despite that you’ve walked the streets about 50 times, then looking at the fish cleaning station becomes a great pass-time!
2017-9-3 fish cleaning station clinical
Really impressive fish cleaning station at the boat ramp. Very active all day long—Alas, except when I came back to take pictures for the blog during the wind and rains!  

One of the prize catches are king salmon.  “Wait!” you ask!?!  “From a fresh water lake?”  Yes, about 150 years ago they introduced kings and cohos here for sport.  They survive and they keep stocking the lakes too. We even saw them trying to spawn up a stream that was damned/blocked off.   Kinda weird/unnatural if you ask me!

No, this is NOT another artistic shot of a pretty stone that B has stumbled upon!

2017-9-3 roe closeup
It’s salmon roe!  They’ll use it for bait; despite B insisting that they should do as our loyal reader Bjorne does and clean it, etc and serve yummy salmon caviar to us!

Well, when you’re stuck in port and the internet is perfect, the readership gets a quick back-to-back posting—albeit just a snippet of life at the docks in a small lakeside town. We actually may push off late this afternoon (so it might not be 3 nights at the same port…but not going back up to edit that earlier paragraph!)  If so, we’ll make a quick run to the next port to keep working our way down and get off this GREAT lake as soon as possible before the really bad weather sets in.  Of course, that departure is weather dependent and subject to B’s veto!  Oh and speaking of weather….

2017-9-3 labor day weather duo

The Tale of Two Cities! Here’s a juxtapostion of realities: so much for skipping out on the NW typical bumbershoot, non-picnic weather at home!  That water shot is NOT through the window! Look at the size of those rain drops! Accompanied by big thunder and lightening too…. stay tuned for more.

PS AND, Happy Labor Day too!