Wednesday, July 30, 2008


7/29/08---Moved from the fuel dock to a slip that is not presently in use. Apparently the regular renter is on a boat trip. After our long trip the day was spent just enjoying the view. There are lots of sail boats in this harbor. Almost looks like a forest of straght up trees. Many other boats are also tied up in slips here. The harbor stays quite active. The water is so clear that the rocks on bottom can be seen several feet down. Keith cleaned all the air conditioner suction sreens and washed off the air intake filers. Nice to be cool. There is a very nice walking park next to the marina. Walking along next to Lake Michigan is rather unique for old country kids. James treated us to a great meal at his favorite Greek restaurant called the Pegasus.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


7/28/08---Looking at the waterway charts it becomes very clear that our boat height is to much for passage thru Joliet and downtown Chicago. We got up early and laid over the radar arch and bimini top to get the measured height above water from 20' down to 15.5'. We pulled away from Harborside Marina at 7:30 a.m. knowing it would be a long day. The water was very calm this morning and it was easy traveling at 10.5 MPH. We reached the Brandon Road lock & Dam (mi 286) and had to wait for the tow we had passed to catch up with us. Commercial traffic has priority over pleasure craft. It was a single barge of coal and there was plenty of room to pull into the chamber behind the Eileen C. They let us out of the lock first and we continued on thru Joliet. The channel from now on is quite narrow and most of the next 40 miles is a no wake zone. There are so many tugs moving barges there is barely room to pass in some spots. We stayed only a short way ahead of the Eileen C tow. We reached the Lockport Lock & Dam at mile marker 291. Again the tow was allowed to catch up and enter first. There is not a lot of room in this chamber, so the lock master asked us to tie up to the coal barge. This lock raised us the most of any, a 40' rise. We thanked the tow Captain for the tie up as we left the chamber. Much of our travel was made at 4.5 MPH. The bridges were low as expected. Several were 16' 5" and 16' 6". We cleared with no problem. However, operating the boat from the fly bridge made a person want to duck when going under the noisy railroad and highway bridges. There was one old bridge that was really low. After four Amtrac trains went speeding by, the bridge was raised so we could pass. At last we got a good view of downtown Chicago! What a sight, as the tall buildings seemed to dwarf us as we passed thru the city. There were an unbelievable number of sight seeing boats on the Chicago river. They were a little anxious if we were in their way. Their time schedule is probably a lot tighter than ours. We reached the final lock. This is the Chicago Harbor lock that lifted us about 2' to get into Lake Michigan. The tour boats of course went first. Wow! What a change from calm canal waters to the big open lake water with a pretty good wind. It bounced us around a little as we proceeded north looking for a marina. We had made arrangements by phone with the Diversey Harbor. Don't go there with a house boat! After we got into their calm water there was an entry bridge with maybe 12 feet of clearance. We had quite a time getting backed out of the narrow area. We contined north another 1/2 mile or so and went into the Belmont Harbor. Of course it is closed, but we tied up to the fuel dock & were very happy to be there as it is now 7:45 p.m. A new first was set. This was a 12 hour day--that is plenty. Keith & Maryann's son James came to visit with his girl friend. We had a good time, and after they left about midnight we nestled in for the night.

Monday, July 28, 2008


7/27/08---A little lazy today. We did a few boat chores and visited with Capt Moe. When we left Heritage Harbor at 11:30 am, the Canadian Geese were sitting on the block retainment wall. Traveling upstream to the Marseilles Lock at mile 244.6 was very pleasant. As we locked thru you can see the crew was doing a fine job of holding the boat against the wall of the lock. The next lock was the Dresden Island Lock at mile 271.5. Another successful lock thru, looking now like pros. There were many weekend boaters and travel was slow. When we could leave a wake the PWC's were jumping with joy. Having learned that boating harbors shut down between 4:00 and 5:00 pm, calling ahead early is very important. Planning ahead it looked like we had better get fuel before making the final leg to Chicago. Just did get in contact with Harborside Marina at 4:00 pm. They waited for a short time for us to arrive. This is another private marina that does not sell fuel to transients unless they spend the night. It was not a problem as we were happy with a short day. We stayed tied to the fuel dock overnight. You see Keith & Maryann disembark. We were treated well and the restaurant was good. The marina had several Gibson boats on display. Ron is a dealer and was very impressed with the workmanship on our boat. I put on my Wahoo Marine Sales shirt so he would know Scott Backman is the real dealer. We enyoyed a pleasant evening. Carol thought the little light house was neat.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

OTTAWA-Heritage Harbour

7/26/08---Believe it or not we got an earlier start! If you consider 9:00 am early. Concern about the water depth prompted us, as it appeared the water level had gone down some overnight. As we pulled out of the Peoria Boat Club harbour the props stirred some mud in places. At one point the depth sounder showed 1.2 feet of water. We heard that a barge had hit the dam at the Peoria Lock that is likely causing the problem. The day was pleasant with a little wind. We traveled the length of Lake Peoria and Upper Lake Peoria, about 20 miles. We had to slow down many times during the day as there were plenty of weekend boaters. They were fishing, tubing, skiing, swimming and generally having a great time in the sunshine. In some places there were lots of folks fishing along the shoreline. At 5:30 pm we reached the Starved Rock Lock and Dam in anticipation of a new experience. We locked thru with no problem. This was our first full lock thru. They raised us up several feet before letting us out upstream. We again had to drain water from the sediment bowels a couple of times today. Looking for a place to stop for the night we made a random choice to pull into a harbour that had nice block walls leading in from the channel. It is 6:30 pm. What a stroke of good luck! As we pulled in looking for a spot to tie up, "Capt Moe" met us and provided great help and guidance. His name is actually John Mobley. He is the HHO Cruise Director and Waterway Consultant. There was plenty of room along the dock. A band called "Wake The Sheep" was playing some fine country music. We were cordially invited to join the gathering under the pavilion. Capt Moe introduced us to Marina Manager, Mike Harloff. He also introduced us to the developer, Tom Heimsoth. This was an older marina that has been taken over and will continue to be developed as a premier place to stop. The area for the boat slips has been nicely dug out for good water depth and surrounded by the block retaining wall. The 50 slips are already full, but plans are to build up to about 400. This fine place is called "Heritage Harbour Ottawa". It's known as the HHO Marina. When you are traveling by water, be sure to stop here for a warm welcome. The overnight charge is $1.50 per foot but accomodations are very good. Yes they have showers. Gasoline is avalable but no diesel yet. Should be available next year. This will certainly become a magnificent place as they build the hotel and about 800 private residences. This fine spot is located at mile marker 242.5.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


7/25/08---After quite a bout with the bugs before getting the door closed tightly, sleeping was great. We awake to a very calm morning with overcast, but the sun was peaking thru. After doing our routine maintaince chores we weighed anchor and proceeded north. Water in the fuel is still a bit of a problem as the sediment bowels had to be drained twice during the day.

Ever wonder where the power plants are located? Many of them are along the rivers. The Illinois Power Co has a large plant at the 118.4 mile mark. There are lots
of grain silos and many other products that are hauled by barges. A large shovel was filling a hopper feeding onto a conveyor belt. It looked like salt, but may have been rice.

The Peoria Lock & Dam at mile 157.6 was open. We were cautioned to pass thru the lock slowly. There was a lot of activity at the dam. The US Army Corp of Engineers had several tugs and other equipment working on it.

As we neared Peoria there was a lot of barge traffic. Carol rode along quietly reading her book. Under a highway bridge we got our first look at Lake Peoria. We saw three boats along the wall fishing with bows attempting to hit some large carp that were jumping out of the water.

Keith called the Peoria Boat Club shortly after entering the lake. They said we were welcome to tie up for the night. The water was very shallow entering their harbour. The depth sounder showed 1.7 feet. That depth must be below the bottom of the boat. I (Allen) eased along as a man on a radio directed me to the parking slip. As we got close he and several others came to assist. They tied us in between the dock and another boat. We connected into dual 30 amp power. The people were very friendly. One lady drove us to the store for a few needed supplies. Later one of the men loaned us his new extended cab pickup truck so we could go eat, at the recommended "Irish Villa Pub".

Thursday, July 24, 2008


7/24/08---A long travel day ahead. After some fine pancakes at Mel’s we left Hardin at 10:30 a.m. There was a light drizzle to keep us wet on the fly bridge. After a while we chose to operate from inside the cabin. The twin Yanmar diesels purrrrred with a deep guttural tone as we cruised up the Illinois River. This turned out to be a day of firsts. Our radio worked great as we communicated the first time with the tugs to find out which side they preferred we pass. At 12:30 pm another first occurred. The river is still about 3’ above pool stage so the Gateway Western Railroad Bridge at mile 43 had to be raised for us to pass. The next first occurred at 1:45 pm when we had to call for the Florance Highway Bridge to be raised at mile marker 56. This bridge is on Highway 100/106. Arriving at the LaGrange Lock & Dam there was a short wait because the lock tender was having radio trouble. When he could finally be heard we learned that because of the water level there was no need to lock thru. We were instructed to stay in the main channel and continue up the river. Thinking that an early stop might be good (5:30 pm), we attempted to tie up the Beardstown Municipal dock. This is nothing more than a barge secured to a retaining wall. The name of the town (Beardstown) was painted in large letters on a building on the barge and a stairway leading to the top of the wall made the place look okay. The current was strong and the water depth to shallow. After putting a slight bend in a short section of the railing on the starboard side of our boat, it was determined the location was not acceptable. There are no services on this part of the river so we continued on looking for a desirable spot to anchor. Carol spotted a deer along the bank. One area was tried with a single anchor, but the water was shallow and the passage way narrow. We continued upriver. As Keith operated the boat I (Allen) got down in the hold and took out a brand new Fortress Anchor. Carol helped me get the 200’ of rope attached to 20’ of 5/16” chain, and to the anchor, with swivels and shackles. A nice wide area was found at the outlet of Jack Lake (106.9 mile marker) just out of the main part of the river. This is a fine spot with about 8’ of water. Maryann helped me with the rope as I dropped the anchor off the port side at the stern. I had Keith pull forward as rope was let out. Maryann dropped the plow anchor on the bow with the windless. As the boat moved back I picked up on the line at the stern. Once the bow anchor dug in I tied off the stern and the boat settled between the two well placed anchors. Another first-anchored out for the night. Now that the anchors are in service we remind ourselves the rope is actually called “rode” when used on an anchor. Thank goodness the boat is secure for it is now 8:30 pm and having travel 86 miles in 10 hours it is time to relax. That is also a first--the most hours traveled in a single day. We plan to reach Peoria tomorrow.


7/23/08---We started out the morning with considerable enthusiasm thinking our fuel problem was over. We eased out of our docking slip and traveled downstream about 15 minutes to Polestar Marina. Some water had to be drained from the sediment bowels. That must be about the last. We took on 420 gals of #2 Diesel. Out in the river we went. Within a few minutes the sediment bowels were filling with water. We shut down the port engine. Before I (Allen) could drain the water, the starboard engine died. We were now without power, Keith, called Bloch Marina to have them bring their work boat to help us out. Floating down the Mississippi without power is not the way to go. Fortunately after draining water we were able to start the port engine for some control. Bloch’s mechanic boarded and was able to get the starboard engine started. Water continued to appear in the sediment bowels. Back to Polestar, John Bloch maneuvered the boat onto their lift. The boat was picked up & leaned from side to side as we pumped water out of the main fuel lines. It sure would have been great if the manufacturer had made provisions for a tank cleanout! Again back underway.

What the heck, let’s go to Chicago. We had talked about it for quite some time. As we proceeded up the Illinois River to Hardin a small amount of water accumulated in the sediment bowels. At least it was manageable. We tied up for the night in front of Mel’s Restaurant. After a nice dinner and a walk, we were content to settle in for the night. Tomorrow as we proceed north we will be traveling into new territory for us. No telling what adventures lay ahead.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


7/22/08---What a day! Woodland personnel hand carried 20 pails of clean diesel fuel so we could put 50 gals in each tank. John Bloch w/ Bloch’s Marine Service, at the request of Woodland management, came over to purge the fuel system from the tanks to the engine filters. John is an experienced diesel mechanic. Sediment bowels were cleaned and primary filters inspected. Once the fuel was clean through the lines, new secondary replacement filters were installed on the engines. John bled water from each of the 6 injector lines on the starboard engine. Once the fuel was clean to that point, he tightened the connections. The fuel was okay in the injectors on the port side. Both engines started promptly. What a relief!

Upon John’s advice, the decision was made to change the oil again. The concern was we may not have adequately removed enough of the old oil on our first attempt. We made a trip to town for oil and supplies. Upon returning to the boat, both engines were run to warm up the oil to about 160 degrees. Keith & I performed a successful oil change including new oil filters. The system of attaching a hose to the dip stick tube and sucking the oil out of the crankcase with small vacuum pump is quite interesting. This completes the 50 hr service (actual eng hrs 54).

After washing the boat and filling the fresh water tank, bed time seemed to come late at 11:00 pm. tomorrow we will go to Bloch’s Marine to finish filling the boat with the other 420 gals of fuel.What a day!

Monday, July 21, 2008


7/21/08---Woodland Marina personnel reponded to the dilemma created by having water in their diesel supply tank. They lifted our boat out of the water and pumped all of the contaminated fuel out of both tanks. The staff is working hard to get this issue resolved. JoAnn (Marina Manager) is most apologetic and provided a basket of fruit & spirits to help soothe our nerves. To give you a some idea of how large the boat looks when out of the water, observe the picture below to see Keith standing at the bow of the boat. The fuel was pumped into environmentally approved containment tanks.