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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cuba Landing 9-29-10

Today we traveled from Paris Landing Tenn state park 49 miles upstream to Cuba Landing. We met Steve & Barb from GETAWAY a 34 foot Mainship. they live not far from here, pickwick Tenn. they are retired and spend their summers cruising on the river system. We got many great tips from them. we met a couple from Ind. who cruised here last Nov.2009 and stayed would be mighty cold living on your boat here in the winter. Tomorrow we are intending to get to Clifton Tenn. closer to our near term goal of Chattanooga.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28th - Green Turtle Bay

We enjoyed a restful week at Green Turtle Bay, a marina located in Grand Rivers, KY. The Tennessee River joins the Ohio at Paducah, KY and the huge Kentucky Lock is located upstream forming Kentucky Lake. A few miles beyond this juncture on the Ohio, the Cumberland River joins the Ohio. This is an alternative route to Barkely Lake, the other huge lake formed by the Barkley Dam. Grand Rivers is located between these two huge lakes.

During the week we repaired and cleaned Crawdad as well as rode our bikes and used our kayaks. The weather was hot, so we enjoyed the pool as well. We even hooked up to the cable TV to see if we could find any good football games, but no one here seems to care about our teams!

Paducah is located 20 miles from Grand Rivers, KY and we used the courtesy car on one occasion to attend the Paducah BBQ on the River. We attended with Sue and Darrel from Present Moment. On Saturday the Paducah BBQ was hosting a viewing of a tug. We were disappointed as the original tug advertised was not available and we toured a Coast Guard buoy tender instead. We were hoping to resolve our questions on horsepower and gallons of diesel burned!

In Green Turtle Bay we ran into our friends the Parrents. They are a young family of 2 girls, 1 boy and two parents! They have a Chris Craft Commander and are doing the loop. Last year they crossed the US in and RV. They are from Ada, MI. They sold their house and cars and are off on this adventure. They love Buddy and BooBoo and the boys love the attention the kids give them.

Today we left Green Turtle Bay headed for Paris State Park. As we neared the Park, we read about their golf course. On the Tennessee River! Jim had insisted we bring the golf clubs, so now we have used them! The Park Ranger picked us up from the marina, brought us to dinner at the Park Inn and drove us back to the marina. Our tax dollars working for us!

The Tennessee River scenery is more interesting than the Ohio. The Ohio River is slow moving, wide and low. The Tennessee river scenery is plush, hilly and at times stoney. Bays abound with alternatives for anchoring. Each more interesting than the last. If we didn't have the boys with us, we would certainly be anchored tonight! After the last mudfest, we are not anxious to dinghy to shore!

Tomorrow we will continue up the Tennessee River to......

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sept 20th-23rd

Leaving Little River Diversion Channel came with its challenges. We had dropped the dinghy when we arrived and must return the dinghy to its position onto the boat. A lift is attached to the boom with a line and hook used to raise the dinghy. The dinghy is pulled over it'scradle and dropped into place. Not difficult, but is about a 20 minute process.

Next were the two anchors to be raised. The Channel is extremely muddy and it was difficult to snag the anchor. All five boats were in the Channel questioning the holding power of the anchors. We chose to drop a stern anchor (heavy bugger!) so that we would not swing during the night. Fortunately, it was a quiet night and there was little movement by anyone. As we raised each anchor, the mud rose to the surface. Crawdad has a short water hose located next to the anchor for hosing off the mud as the anchor is raised. What we really needed to do was hose each other and the boys off after our trip to the shore!

These were long days along the Mississippi as this is probably the least pleasant part of the trip. The current is swift, up to 4 1/2 knots and wing dams are placed around most legs that create turbulence. These underwater stone walls extend perpendicular to the shore and divert water into the middle of the river to maintain the depth of the river for the barges. Turbulence is created that can literally swing the bow of the boat around 90 degrees in a few seconds. Recovery is not a problem, but the whirlpools are avoided after one experience with the wing dam! Rather than traveling 8 or 9 knots, we could easily travel 10-12 knots with the current.

The barges travel up and down the river. It is not unusual to see a tow with 12 or more barges in front of the tow, always being pushed. The tows on the Illinois River have a cab that can be raised when not under bridges, so the Captain of the tow can see in front of the barge. On the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, the tows are huge machines. Usually two huge engines, but occasionally as many as 3. The turbulence created around the barges is to be avoided.

We entered the Ohio River and traveled UP the Ohio River. Now the green cans (flat on top) are on the starboard and red nun cans (shaped like a nuns cap on top) are on our port side. (The saying is "red right returning", which means when traveling from the mouth to the head of the river, the red nun cans are on the right- got that!) When traveling down a river, the cans are reversed. We have resorted to moving a piece of red and green tape to designate the appropriate side for the cans and nuns so as not be confused!

The Ohio River is mild and traveling upstream diminished our speed was significantly to about 7 knots of boat speed. Since we were traveling 85 miles that day, we felt we could anchor at Fort Massac State Park. We were fortunate to have in our group of 5, a couple who were completing their loop in Grand Rivers, KY, only a few miles from Fort Massac State Park. They suggested we anchor in about 10 feet of water directly across from the State Park. We were the last to arrive and lowered our muddy dinghy into the water. As we motored to shore, the ground looked relatively solid (thank goodness, we thought!) and we pulled up onto the shore. When I stepped in....up to my knee in mud, I knew my favorite sandals were under terra cotta, to be discovered in 500 years. My second step produced a similar experience. Finally after great struggle, I was able to pull the dinghy to a safe place for the three boys. I think I have a new nickname, Mudpuppy!

We pulled anchor at 7AM and moved toward Lock 53. The first two boats passed into the Lock. After 3 hours of waiting, it was our turn to pull into Lock 53. As we listened to the tow captains, we could see the lineup was significant. The priority of usage of the locks is commercial craft first, then pleasure craft. We were fortunate to move through in 3 hours as we listened to a tow being assigned #28!.

The first two boats had called the Kentucky Lock and found there was no traffic, so they chose the shorter route on the Tennessee. Typically a pleasure craft would choose to continue on the Ohio (extra 25 miles or so) to the Cumberland River so as to avoid the Kentucky Lock. The Barkley Lock is not used commercially as much as the Kentucky Lock. This shorted our trip, but the lift is 57 feet, which is significant. We are learning how to handle the bollards and wrap our line around the bollard which rises with the water level. The boat is protected with fenders (everywhere!) and we must keep the boat parallel to the wall. The water is turbulent, so the process is definitey a balancing act. Most of our learning has come through the assistance of our friends on Present Moment. They had shown us and advised. Extremely helpful. They are pictured above.

Out of the Kentucky Lock we could see gorgeous Kentucky Lake. Shortly thereafter we cruised up the Barkley Canal to Lake Barkley and the Green Turtle Bay Marina. Heaven! Long showers, clean clothes, restaurants! Crawdad will be at Green Turtle for a week of rest and catching up.

We are headed to Paducah (confluence of Ohio and Tennessee Rivers) this afternoon for "BBQ on the River and Old Market Days".

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sept. 16th-19th

We left Grafton Harbor after staying 3 days, accompanying Present Moment. As we passed Alton Marina, which we heard was a nice place as well but in a major metro area, we picked up another looper, Midnight Sun Robert and Ivy from near Toronto Canada. We had two locks to go through today, Melvin Price and the second one Chain of Rocks, was under repair with divers in the water. I it took 2 1/2 hours to get through.

We arrived at Hoppies Marine Services at 3:30PM. We had time to walk to town and get ice cream before our evening information session with the famous Fern Hopkins. Her Husband is Charles Hopkins father started the Marina in 1937. It is the only marina for recreational boaters on this stretch of the Mississippi for two hundred twenty three miles. Hoppies is located in Kimmswick, Mo. The next morning we became a caravan of 5 boats and traveled only 40 miles to tie up on the lock wall at the juction of the Kaskaskia River and the Mississippi River. This was a fun evening even though we could not leave the lock exterior wall. We were on an island in the middle of the r\River. We had a great cocktail hour with the occupants of the five boats.

We were able to go ashore with Buddy, BoBo and anther dog named Beaner (Vanilla Bean) for you know what. We tied the dingy off to a dredging barge and tug when we went ashore. We got a history lession from the dredge operator on the process done every year.

We stopped Sunday after traveling 75 miles form Kaskaskia at the Little River Diversion Channel 3 miles south of Cape Girardeau Mo. Going ashore here was a real trip! Gloria Buddy and I had to wade in the blackest mud to get the boys to shore to do their duty. What a mess the boat became after we got back aboard.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 12th through 14th

We started the day leaving Heritage Harbor very early. Planned a series of 3 long runs (avg. 80 miles) in order to get to Grafton, IL in three travel days. We reached the Starved rock Lock at sunrise and went through with 2 other pleasure boats, a tug and his barges. Our new friends, Darrel and Sue, gave us locking tips for handling the lines dropped from the top of the lock.

We reached Peoriaand after much searching found a spot on the city wall right below a rock concert. We had searched the marinas and found the water level too low for our draft (4.5 ft). We enjoyed pizza at Old chicago Pizza. Peoria is an impressive city with a very nice park along the waterfront. The boys enjoyed walking in the park.

Since the Peoria Lock is closed for repairs from 7Am to 5PM, we needed to be through the lock before 7AM or after 5PM. There was no place to dock after the Lock, so morning was the only option. We rose at 430Am and left at 515 with searchlight on. Jim lead the way with his radar on and the searchlights. We found the Lock with no problem and locked through quickly.

The day was a long one with the Lock and 77 miles to Beardstown. In Beardstown we tied up to a barge at the Logston Tug and barge Co and use the bathroom used by the tug Captains and crew (no shower again!). Beardstown is a very small and sad city. Much retail space with little commerce.

Tuesday was another early start and we cruised 88 miles to Grafton, IL. Though rain was predicted, it was a lovely, but long day.

We saw many barges on the Illinois River with less barges on the southern part of the River. We enjoyed cruising down the River just like Huck Finn and tom Sawyer, only we were enjoying tunes on the radio the entire trip!

Our friends from Fenton, the Kaspers, Julians and Fergusons would have loved it.Dr. Kasper, being the President of the Fenton Yacht Club, is always interested in cruising at this speed and enjoying the day.

We reached Grafton, IL late in the day and will stay here at least two days.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We are enjoying Heritage Harbor in Ottawa, IL. Heritage Harbor is a new development with a few homes already complete. The staff is exceptionally accommodating. Ottawa is a nice midwestern town with restaurants and some shopping. We reprovisioned, mailed a birthday card (my first attempt at a computer generated birthday card) for my 92 year old Dad and laundered our dirty clothes.

Present Moment is here with us again as well. They have assisted us in "learning" the locks as well as long-term cruising. Coincidentally, their boat is from Macatawa, MI, my hometown.

A mechanic is on board now replacing the coupler on the shaft. Apparently the coupler was not positioned on the shaft correctly back in Bay City. We are lucky the mechanic here was able to find a new coupler, from all places - Michigan, and have it sent overnight! We should be up and running this afternoon. Will be nice to have two engines again!

We have learned our lesson on traveling in the locks with Tugs. Tugs use propulsion to hold themselves against the lock wall which makes the lock a "boiling pot". When Jim realized he had no propulsion from the starboard engine, Jim and I remained in the lock and struggled for about 45 minutes while we waited for the tow to leave the lock and move it's tow. Jim deserves cudos for keeping us off the walls of the lock and getting us to Heritage Harbor on the port engine alone.

Today we are catching up on planning our future stops and mechanical maintenance. Always lots to do...and yes, Buddy had a bath!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


We left Riverdale on the Calument river 7AM then to Cal Sag. section the onto the Chicago Sanitary &Ship Canal, now on the Ill. River. We passed by the asian Carp electric barrier, what a hoot nothing there but a red sign. We are staying tonight in Joliet on the wall many tugs with barges in tow passing 10 feet away. Tomorrow we splurge and stay at the plush Heritage Marina mile 242, the showers should be great.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Crawdad ventures into the Inland Rivers

We arrived into Hammond Marina to the sounds of weekend partiers. The marina is located adjacent to the Horshoe Casino and "cigarette" boats abound!

Our friends Tim and Linda Harvey traveled to pick us up at the marina and drove us to China Town for a wonderful dinner. They even helped us lower our mast and get ready for the low bridges on the rivers.

We awoke Labor Day morning to a gale warning (enough already!) and entered the Calumet River. Hopefully now we will escape the howling winds!

After calling and radioing to no avail, we stopped in at a marina along the river and "are hearing banjos." (memories of the bicycle barricade!). The owner is "gone" and no one is running the marina. The local boaters are hoping someone buys the place! Strange! Better lock our doors tonight!

Chapter 2 begins....

We were surprised and pleased to spend three days in St. Joseph!

The Tri-State Race was scheduled to begin the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. Chicago to St. Joseph. Second leg - Sunday to Michigan City. Third leg back to Chicago on Monday. Memories for me! 26 years ago (how could I forget as I was pregnant with Adrienne), I raced my one and only Tri-State Race. This year the first leg was cancelled due to extreme wind conditions and the subsequent huge surge into the westerly facing St. Joe harbor. Not even safe for sail boat racers!

Needless to say, we could not venture out on Lake Michigan and were "stuck" for three days, but what a pleasure! We were fortunate to spend time with Jim's brother, Randy and sister-in-law, Debbie and their two grandchildren. To top it off, my sister Marcia and her husband Andy decided to become our first overnight guests on our adventure.

Great town. Lots to keep us busy. The West Basin, Municipal Marina lent us their bicycle cruisers. Good thing we just got back from the bike trip in Virginia, as we climbed to the top of the bridge over the river in 30 knot winds!