Patience? Are You Kidd’n Me?

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Rob@quincy has come aboard as our latest virtual crew member.  You can join Rob and the others by following the blog.  Welcome Aboard Rob!

Still Waters II at the dock while the crew visits the National Eagle Center.

7.0 National Eagle Center

Mark Twain Quote of the Week

patience

Summary of week:

Marquette

The crew managed to make some good miles south, but were only able to cruise two days:

They took a weather delay in Red Wing on Monday, but managed 66 miles in the rain to make Winona (1) on Tuesday.  Wednesday, they put in a monster day and made 92 miles to Marquette (2).

But the trek south hit a snag on Thursday when they learned that several Locks south of them are closed because of flooding along the banks of the Mississippi River.  They also learned that the flood gate in Dubuque has been closed which prevents access into the marina which is the next stop south.  The river level rise is due to the run off from the water shed in Iowa due to all the rain over the last week.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Who is bigger, a Female or Male Bald Eagle?
  2. How many years does it take for a Bald Eagle to reach maturity and get a white head?
  3. How many pairs of Bald Eagles reside in the state of Texas?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II take a stop at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN  to explore the wonderful life of Bald Eagles.  Enjoy!

National Eagle Center from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, October 8th

The skipper woke to thunder, lightening, and heavy down pours of rain.  A quick check of the weather forecast showed that these conditions would persist for most of the day.  It was an easy decision to sit still for another day.  This also allowed the crew of Tasteful Traveler, Pam and Joe, to drive down and spend the evening in Red Wing with our crew.

For new comers to the blog, Pam and Joe started their Loop Adventure back in 2015 about a month ahead of Still Waters II. The two crews did not cross paths though until the Spring Rendezvous in 2016 at Waterside Marina in Norfolk.  This did not prevent the skipper from trolling the Tasteful Traveler blog though to mine great places to stop and explore.

It was a great time swapping Looper stories and reliving great experiences around the Loop.  Thanks for visiting Pam and Joe!  Also, good luck on that Looper presentation on Thursday.  Hope to see you both again in Ft Myers later this year.

Crew of Tasteful Traveler, Pam and Joe

4.2 Pam and Joe

Tuesday, October 9th

The cold dreary, rain would hang with the crew all day today, but at least there was no lightening.  Visibility was poor much of the day so not much to report along the route today.  However, the crew did stop in Wabasha to visit the National Eagle Center.

Dockside in Wabasha to visit National Eagle Center

21 Dockside at Wabasha

The Center houses some Bald Eagles that are not able to be released back into the wild.  The crew saw one male Bald Eagle, Was’aka; two female Bald Eagles, Angel and Columbia; one juvenile Bald Eagle, Latsch; and one Golden Eagle, Donald.  Meet the eagles for yourself by clicking on this link, Meet Our Eagles.

Was’aka

8 Bald Eagle

Columbia

10 Columbia

The crew spent about two hours exploring the Center and learning about the Bald Eagles.  For instance, did you know Female Bald Eagles are actually larger than their male partners.

The crew got to watch the staff feed Latsch, the juvenile Bald Eagle.  The FAQ page provides the answer to the Question, “How long dos it take a Bald Eagle to get a white head?”

11.1

Answer:  Juvenile bald eagles in their first year of life are dark brown over their body wings, head and tail. Their beak and eyes are dark. As they age, juveniles may show white feathers anywhere on the body, especially the breast and under the wings. At three to four years of age they begin to develop the white head and tail of the adult. Their beak and eyes lighten in color as they reach adulthood. A complete white head and tail usually takes until age five or six to develop.

And finally, the Center keeps track of how many breeding pairs of Bald Eagles are in each state.  Alaska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin lead the nation in breeding pairs by a large margin.  But did you know that Texas has 166 breeding pairs of Bald Eagles.

After exploring the National Eagle Center, the crew shoved off the dock and continued down river to Winona.

Chimney Rock in the foggy clouds

19 Chimney Rock

Mile 733, Near Fountain City

20 mile 733

After an 8.5 hour day on the water, the Eagle Center, and 3 Locks, the crew pulled into Dick’s Marine in Winona for a peaceful night.

Wednesday, October 10th

With the weather continuing to deteriorate, more rain and cold, the crew decided they would try to get as far south as they possibly could today.  They had a few obstacles impeding their southward migration though, namely  a RR Bridge and several Locks.

Mile 716

23 mile 716

If delays mounted up they could pull into Lansing and call it a day; however, if they had FOG (Favor of God) with the bridge and Locks, they might be able to make it all the way down to Marquette.

The overnight cloud cover was the first good sign of the day, the temperature was 64 at 0800, much warmer than the last few days.  A look at the weather radar showed the predicted rains to be well east of the crew also.  One area of concern though was a cold front dumping snow in its wake, and headed towards Minnesota.

Mile 710, can you make out a face in the rocky ledge?

24 mile 710

The crew managed to get right in and float down the first two locks.  The river is running high again due to the rain so the step down in the locks are less than 2 feet, rather than the normal 8-10 feet.

Here, let me help you…..

24.1

When they arrived at the RR Bridge,  a tour boat driven with a paddle wheel was coming upstream thru the bridge.  Commercial Operators have priority, so the tour boat made the bridge opening.  A train was also coming so the bridge tender closed the bridge after the tour boat went through.  The bridge tender radioed and said the train would go by in ten minutes and he would reopen the bridge.  The train passed by in the 10 minute timeframe, but it would be another twenty minutes before the bridge swung open and the crew could continue down bound.

26 La Cross Queen

The FOG continued with the locks though.  At Lock 8, the operator had the gate open and the green light on so the crew went straight into the lock.  The crew also got to float thru the lock rather than tie to the wall.

Based on the time, it looked as though the crew could make Marquette before dark so they cruised by Lansing and continued south.  As they continued down bound the winds kicked up around 17 mph and the temperature started dropping.  Looks like the cold front has arrived.

Mile 700

25.1

The last challenge of the day was Lock 9.  The FOG continued and the crew was greeted with open gates and a green light.  They also got to float thru the lock.  However, the step down was less than 6 inches.  The skipper looked over at the dam and noticed that the water was flowing over the gates.  That would be a harbinger of things to come.

After pushing out of Lock 9 the crew had a little over an hour to go before docking in Marquette just before dark.  Turned out to be a good day on the water with minimal delays.  Once docked the skipper got the power cord plugged in and the Admiral took charge of flipping on the breakers and turning on the heaters.

Thursday, October 11th

The wind howled all night long making for a sleepless night.  When the skipper climbed out of bed and checked the weather it was an easy decision to stay put today.  The winds are 17 mph with gust to 28.  It looks as though the gusts are blowing most of the time though.  With the temperature at 37 at 0700 and the high only 41, this would NOT be a good day to be out on the water, especially since there would be at least 2 locks to manage.

While the skipper was checking the weather though he tripped over this notice from the Corps of Engineers:  “As of this morning, Locks 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 22 on the Mississippi River were closed due to flooding.  Water levels at these sites have become high enough that water is starting to flow over and through the lock structures.”

Well that certainly messes up the plans for the path south.  Kind of reminds the skipper of an ole song though …….. snow to the north of me, closed locks to the south, here I am stuck in Iowa with you.

Friday, October 12th

Well, well, well, things seem to be getting worse down stream.  The crew had made reservations to go on down to the transient dock in Dubuque to spend the weekend and wait for the locks to open.  The marina is behind a flood gate and the flood gate is closed.  On the bright side, at least the crew is not stuck behind the flood gate.

Rumors have started that it might be two weeks before the water crests and the Locks reopen.  The skipper has reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers to try and get the scoop on reopening, but has not heard back from the Corps yet.

Scratch that, the skipper got a non-response response back from the Corps.  Verbatim response, “Hello David. Each lock does have a level that it has to reach before it can reopen.  Those levels are not published anywhere but we will be posting updates as water levels fall and the locks reopen.”

But on the bright side again, Al and Ruth of the Tortuga called and graciously volunteered to come and visit the crew on Saturday.  They also volunteered to take the crew on a Walmart run to re-provision.  The ships stores would get mighty low if they end up stuck here in Marquette for two weeks.

Saturday, October 13th

Al and Ruth arrived late morning and came aboard for a little bit.  The crews last met on Mackinac Island, and since then Al and Ruth have crossed their wake and earned that coveted Gold Flag.  Consequently, there were many stories to share before re-provisioning.

Thanks Al and Ruth for your kind offer of a provisioning run!

27 Al and Ruth

Under the category of: “No good deed goes unpunished”..…….

As Al and Ruth went to back their car out of the marina parking lot, an extremely long train that had been parked for a crew transfer decided to also leave town.  Because the train was just getting started, it was moving at a snails pace.  But fast enough to block the roadway so that Al and Ruth could not leave.

After the crew got  the new supplies loaded on the boat, Al and Ruth were still waiting for the train to pass.  So the skipper could not resist this next shot of Al and Ruth waiting for the train after helping the crew.

27.1

Nope, no end in sight

27.2

Next Week –

The skipper talked with the marina in Dubuque and moved their reservation to October 21 and 22.  He will check back with the marina late next week to see if they have the flood gate back open or not.  Once they open the flood gate to the marina, the crew will drift south.

He will also be monitoring the flood levels at the Locks to determine when the Locks open back up for business.  It looks to be at least a week away.

Lastly he will keep an eagle eye on the weather.  The long range forecast continues with the lows near freezing and the highs approaching 50.  Not the best weather to be boating in, but it is manageable.

Once the Locks open, the crew will make a bee line south travelling as far as they can each day chasing warmer temperatures.

Tune in next week to see what happens.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

End of Navigation

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We have passed the milestone of 50 virtual crew members aboard Still Waters II.  You might have to scoot over some to make room for: Susana S., blgOtaylor, Iayla R., Karl.  Welcome Aboard, and enjoy the ride as we head down the mighty Mississippi River.

The Stone Arch Bridge is a former railroad bridge completed in 1883.  The bridge is now used as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.  The bridge also now marks the end of navigation on the Mississippi River.  The river starts another 541 miles north at Lake Itasca, but the navigable waters start here at the Stone Arch Bridge.

203.1

Mark Twain Quote of the Week

For those demanding term limits for Washington Politicians, Mark Twain said it best.

Mark twain best famous quotes images pics (35)[1]

Summary of week:

End of Navigation

The crew had a good week of cruising, though it was much colder than they would have normally cruise in.  They left La Crosse on Monday and made way to Winona (1).  Their next stop was in a small town named Alma (2) on Tuesday.  Then Wednesday, it was on to Red Wing (3).  Thursday, the crew made it to St. Paul (4) where they stayed at the Watergate Marina.  Friday, the crew went another 15 miles upstream to the end of navigation (5) on the Mississippi River.  The crew returned to the Watergate Marina and then took a bus ride to the Mall of America to celebrate.  Because of the cool weather, the crew decided to head south in search of warmer temps and stopped back in at Red Wing (6) for the weekend.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Where was water skiing invented?
  2. Who was the first water skier?
  3. Where is the World’s Largest Boot?
  4. Who is Tugboat?
  5. Who holds the record for the longest homerun in Minnesota?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she reaches the end of navigation on the Mississippi River, turns around, and then starts the down bound journey to New Orleans.  Enjoy!

End of Navigation from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, October 1

The weather has taken a turn for the worse with the highs in the 40’s and the lows in the 30’s.  Also, there has been heavy cloud cover with cool rain forecast for all week.  Based on these sudden changes, the crew has started talking about making it to St Paul and then turn around and begin the southward journey.

The crew waited to leave late on Monday to allow the rain to pass.  The crew then set out for the days run.  They had hoped to land on the courtesy dock in Winona, but the dock had already been removed for the season.  They found a dock at the north end of town and landed for the night.

Mile 710, low clouds make for an interesting view. Reminds the crew of the Smokey Mountains.

159.2

Mile 714, Saw this guy paddle out of Lock 6 in the rain with his dog.  He is the 5th paddler the crew has met hoping to make the Gulf.

160 Down Bound out of Lock 6

Tuesday, October 2

After not seeing a single Bald Eagle all day yesterday, the crew saw a record 18 today.  The crew continued in the rainy cold weather, but managed two Locks with no rain.  The crew stopped in a small town, Alma, where they stayed on the town rolly, shaky, courtesy dock.

Mile 730, Do you see the white pelicans or a creepy monster looking over the sand dune?

162 mile 730

Mile 760, Wabasha 

166 Wabash

Mile 760, National Eagle Center, crew plans to stop here on the way south

166.1 NationalEagle Center

Wednesday, October 3

Mile 770, Lake Pepin

167 mile 770 Lake Pepin

Lake Pepin happens to be the location where water skiing was invented.  The young inventor was Ralph Samuelson, and he used a pair of barrel staves for skis and clothesline for a towrope back in 1922.  He was already an accomplished at aquaplaning, standing on a board while being towed.  He wanted to create snow skiing on water, so he had his brother tow him while he learned to water ski on his home made skies.  He would strap the skies on and stand on the aquaplane.  He would then step off the aquaplane and try to maintain his balance on one ski.  Then completely step off the board with both skies in the water.  It took him a week to perfect his skill, but he is credited with being the first water skier.

After a good cruise up Lake Pepin to Red Wing and landing at the Ole Miss Marina, the crew took off on foot to find the world’s largest boot at the Red Wing Boot Factory. 

175 Red Wing

On the way back to the boat they stopped at the local grocery store to pick up a few provisions.  Cokes were on sale, 3 12 packs for $11.  The skipper decided he would go back to the boat, get his backpack, and walk back to the store to score the cokes.  With the Admiral back on the boat, the skipper headed back to the store.

Pollinator Park in Red Wing

174.1

While he was checking out a sudden storm blew in and was dumping bucket loads of water.  The winds were clocked at 50 mph and the wind was not falling but just blowing sideways.  The skipper waited about 10 minutes, and the storm stopped just as suddenly as it started.  He checked his weather radar and the sustained winds were down to 25 mph with gusts to 50.  He walked the mile back to the boat.  When he returned to the boat, he found both the Admiral and the boat in good condition.  A good reminder to always tie the boat up good for the weather you might get, not the weather you have.  Unfortunately, the wind blew hard until midnight, and did not really calm down until the next morning.  Such is life on a boat.

And yes, the crew found the world’s largest boot

178.2

 

World’s Largest Boot Facts

178.1

Thursday, October 4

The crew decided to make a long day out of it and go all the way to St Paul today.  But first they had to wait until 1000 to allow the temperatures to get above 40 degrees before shoving off.  Not much fun cruising in cloudy, wet, and cold weather all day.

The highlight of the day though was a conversation they had with one of the lock tenders at Lock 2, Tugboat.  He volunteers to go on hurricane relief trips with the Corps of Engineers.  He told a couple of shocking and horrific stories about his trip down to Houston for Hurricane Harvey relief.

One story had to do with a Vietnam Vet that they came across in his flooded home in Houston.  The Vet had lost his legs in Vietnam.  He lost his wife during the storm to a heart attack.  His dog had also died during the storm, and was still laying beside him with a bit of a bad smell to him.  The Vet said he had no idea how to go on with his life and was just going to sit there till he died.  Tugboat helped find a VA facility to move the Vet into where he could get the help he needed.

It is great Americans like Tugboat who make the crew proud to be Americans.

3 Tugboat at Lock 2.JPG

The skipper asked him how he got the name tugboat.  He answered and said that his mother always introduced him as Tugboat and never called him by his birth name.  The nickname stuck and now he is Tugboat.

After getting out of Lock 2, it would be another 5 hours before the crew got to the Watergate Marina in St Paul.  They arrived just at sunset and had to fight off these pirates guarding the marina entrance though.  The skipper tossed them a bottle of Bahama Rum and the Pirates quickly gave up the fight to warm their bones with the rum.

1 Pirate Ship at Watergate Marina

Friday, October 5

This turned out to be one of the best days on the boat since the crew started back in June 2015.  The plan was to take a short day cruise up to the end of navigation on the Mississippi River and return to the marina.

It took about 1.5 hours to get from the marina to Lock 1 in Minneapolis.  The river is lined with parks for the whole 8 miles.  After getting stepped up 38 feet in the Lock, they were greeted by some of the best fall color that they have seen anywhere.  The trees were yellow, burnt orange, and vibrant reds.

199

198

After passing thru the Lower Anthony Lock they only had 0.3 miles to go to reach the end of navigation at the upper Anthony Lock.  The upper lock is now permanently closed, so the crew took a few pics and turned around and headed back to the marina.

Iconic Stone Arch Bridge with Anthony Falls in the background, end of navigation

203.1

204 Southbound

The crew returned to the marina about 1430, so they decided to walk a mile up the road and catch a bus to the Mall of America.  The Mall actually sits where the old baseball stadium used to be in the days of Harmon Killebrew.  The skipper is familiar with the ‘Hammerin Harmon’ because he was one of the skipper’s dad’s favorite players.

Killebrew was a power hitter deluxe.  He hit the longest homerun at Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium, a 520 foot shot that broke a red seat in the outfield stands.  They retired the seat, and no fan ever sat in it after that blast.  He also holds the record at the old Baltimore Memorial Stadium for the longest homerun with a 471 foot shot.  He was also the first of four batters to hit a ball over the left field roof at Detroit Tigers Stadium.

Inside the Mall, they actually have a replica of the red seat hanging on a wall in the approximate position it would have been in the stadium.  Then 520 feet away, there is a home plate in the floor.

205 (2)

The crew topped the day off by ‘Flying Over America.’  This is a ride inside the Mall where you soar about in an IMax style theatre over some of America’s most iconic sites.  It was a great way to end a great day.

Saturday, October 6

The crew decided to start south in search of warmer weather rather than sit in St Paul for the weekend.  The forecast for the next week does not look promising, but the further south the crew can get the better.

With that strategy in mind, the crew again waited for the weather to warm up a bit before taking off.  The good news is that with the current in their favor, the crew was making about 10 mph running downstream.  The 53 miles took 9 hours on the way north, but the crew made it in 6.5 hours on the way south.

Interesting yellow tree with red trunk

2 Yellow with red trunk

The cooling towers at the Prairie Island Nuc Plant

4.1 Cooling Towers

Boat name of the week

Sell-Fish Decision

171.2

Next Week –

The weather will be cold and rainy for the next week.  The skipper is not sure how far south they will actually get, but will play it day-by-day depending on the weather.  For example Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be rain days with storms.  If that turns out to be true they may stay in Red Wing for a few more days.  If they can safely travel, they will shove off and try to make about 60 miles each travel day.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Das Beste! Oktoberfest

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Grandad Bluff overlooking La Crosse

152.1

Mark Twain Quote of the Week

In honor of our elected officials in Washington, DC.

1-140 mile 630

Summary of week:

La Crosse

This past week the crew made way from Le Claire to La Crosse making the following stops:

  1. Monday they pulled into Sabula
  2. Tuesday found the crew in Dubuque.  They arrived just as the marina was closing.  They walked along the Riverwalk and have put Dubuque on the list of return stops to explore further.
  3. Wednesday, the crew decided to make La Crosse by Friday so they went all the way to Marquette and were fortunate to find a spot to dock for the night.
  4. Thursday, they pulled into Lansing, and again were fortunate to find a spot to stay when they learned the town courtesy dock does not allow overnight dockage.
  5. Friday, they made La Crosse to enjoy Wisconsin’s largest Oktoberfest.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Where is the world’s largest bicycle statue?
  2. What is the catchy name of the bicycle statue?
  3. Were is the first Euro-American village in Iowa?
  4. Where is Wisconsin’s largest Oktoberfest?

At the Box Office

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, Sept 24th

Today was a day that boating was trying to teach lessons on patience.

When the crew arrived at the Clinton RR Swing Bridge (mile 514), there were three trucks and several people out on the tracks working.  The Bridge Tender said that there would be a 25 minute wait to open the bridge to allow a train to pass.  When the train cleared the bridge the bridge tender said that it would be a few more minutes because the work crew had to move a truck off the bridge before the bridge could open.  The bridge tender then started calling different tows in what seemed to be a delay effort in opening the bridge.  After it was confirmed that no other tows were in the area and would need the bridge to open, the horn finally sounded signaling the bridge was about to open.  Well that only took 40 minutes longer than it should have.

Then when the crew arrived at Lock 13 (mile 522), there was a tow just entering the Lock.  There were two down bound tows waiting to lock through, and one additional tow waiting to step up.  This looked as though it could be a long wait for the crew.

A little over an hour later when the tow in the Lock started to push out of the Lock, the lock master called the skipper on the radio and told him to move over to the lock because he was going to step Still Waters II up while the next down bound tow moved into position after the tow in the lock passed by.  Count the crews lucky stars that they only had to wait an hour to get in the lock.  It could have been much worse.

Along the river though, the crew did see a few interesting sights.  The first was at mile 117 in the town of Port Byron.  The skipper spotted a 30 foot tall bicycle statue.

Will B. Rollin

117 Will B. Rollin

Will B. Rollin has a cousin, Big Ben Biking in Sparta, Wisconsin, some 300 miles away.  Big Ben is 32 foot tall and is billed as the worlds largest bicycle statue.  A Will2Ben bicycle tour is organized annually to make the trip between the two statues, sounds like a fun ride.

Big Ben Biking

117.1 Big Ben Biking

Speaking of fun, how about a tug-of-war across the Mississippi River.  Yes, this is a thing.  Port Byron, Illinois and Le Clair, Iowa just completed the 32nd annual Tug Fest.  Port Byron won the 2018 Tug Fest 8 to 3.  They took home the Alabaster Eagle in Flight Trophy as well as another year of bragging rights.  Port Byron leads the series 21 to 11.

The line is 2,700 feet long and ways 680 pounds.  Twenty people (tuggers) are on each team on opposite sides of the Mississippi River.

A few Tug Fest Pics 

117.2 Tug Fest

117.3 Tug fest

Tuesday, Sept 25th

Today the crew set out for Dubuque, IA.  Along the way, they  saw two White Flagged Looper boats that were down bound.  That makes three Loopers that the crew has seen making way south to the normal looping route.

127 mile 554

Along the bank at mile 577 there was a large structure over looking the river.  The Gothic monument is in remembrance of Julien Dubuque, who in 1788 founded the first Euro-American settlement in Iowa.  Dubuque was a French-Canadian fur trader.  Dubuque learned from the local Mesquakie Indians that there were lead deposits in the bluffs along the river.  Dubuque began a lead mining operation in the area.  In 1796, the Spanish colonial governor granted the land to Dubuque. The governor also named the area the Mines of Spain.

Dubuque Monument

131 mile 578 mines of Spain

The availability of lead, led to the building of a shot tower in Dubuque in 1856.  The tower stands 120 feet above ground level.  To make shot, lead was melted at the base of the tower and then hoisted to the top.  The molten lead was then poured through screens of different gage wire.  The molten lead would pass through the screen and tumble down to a water vat below.  On its way to the water, the molten lead would solidify as a round ball.  The tower could produce 6-8 tons of shot per day.  Today, the Dubuque Shot Tower is the only existing shot tower west of the Mississippi River.

Dubuque Shot Tower

133 Shot Tower

Another interesting building in town is the Star Brewery.  The building was originally completed in 1899.  The main product of the brewery was Dubuque Star Beer.  However, because of prohibition, the brewery closed for many years.  After prohibition, the Star Brewery was the only surviving small scale brewery in the state of Iowa.  She reopened her doors in 1933.  Local legend is that the first keg of beer brewed following prohibition was shipped to the Governor’s office.

Dubuque Star Brewery

132 Star Brewery

Wednesday, Sept 26th

Two different sources have told the crew that this weekend is Oktoberfest in La Crosse.  The Fest starts on Thursday, so the crew has decided to try and make La Crosse on Friday and enjoy the full weekend.  To make that happen they would need to put in a long day today and have good favor at two locks.

Mile 580, first signs of Wisconsin on Left Descending Bank (LDB)

134 mile 580 Wisconsin

As it turned out the Locks were no issue.  There was a tow pushing out of each lock, down bound as the crew arrived.  As soon as the tow cleared the lock, Still Waters II was given the green light and entered the lock.  They spent just under 30 minutes waiting total time for both locks.

Mile 615, Waiting for tow to push out of Lock 10

138 Lock 10, mile 615

This allowed the crew to make good time and distance.  The only issue for the day was finding a place to dock.  The crew arrived in McGregor just before 1900.  The marina they planned to stay at had a cover that was too low for them to get under so they had to move on.  There were no other good options in McGregor so the skipper started to look for a place to drop the anchor before dark.  A few miles up river looked to be good for anchoring so they continued north.

Running out of daylight, McGregor in distance

140.1

Before they arrived at the anchor spot, another small town came into view.  There was 100 foot of face dock available so the crew moved over and did a port side tie on the dock to bring the day to a close.  To their surprise, the crew found a 50 amp power source that they could also plug into.  What a deal.  With the good run today, the crew should easily make La Crosse on Friday.

Thursday, Sept 27

After the skipper woke up and spent some time reading his Bible, he went down the dock to see if anyone was in the office.  He found two gentleman inside the office reading the morning paper.  The skipper asked about paying for the over night dockage, and one of the guys looked up, thought a moment, and then said he would charge $20 for the night.  Now that is a good deal.

Just north of McGregor as the crew left town

141 Just north of Mc Gregor

After taking care of the financial details, the crew slipped the lines and continued north up the Mississippi River.  The goal today was to reach Lansing so that they could easily make La Crosse on Friday.

The Quimby’s Cruising Guide states that Lansing has a courtesy dock but does not give much information on the location other than ‘below the gas docks.’  The description raises more questions than it answers. The obvious question is ‘What gas dock?’

On a bluff overlooking the river out in the middle of nowhere

144

After idling along the shore the entire length of Lansing, the crew neither spotted a gas dock or the town courtesy dock.  The municipal marina is situated about a mile north of town so the crew decided to head there for the night.  As they approached the marina they noticed a gas dock and a long dock extending south.  Could this be the town courtesy dock?

Darth Vader unloading a coal barge just south of Lansing

146.1 Darth Vader

The skipper held off from calling the marina to ask for a slip for the night.  When they arrived at the long dock south of the gas dock a mile north of town, they discovered that yes, this was the courtesy dock.  However, there was a sign that said No Overnight Dockage.  Guess the skipper will be calling the marina anyway.

Hershey Kiss along the banks of the Big Muddy

145 Hershey Kiss

The marina had a spot for the crew just north of the gas dock so they took the slip and landed the boat to bring an end to the day’s cruise.

Friday, Sept 28th

The crew set off to make the last push to La Crosse this morning.  The big news of the day was that someone turned down the thermostat.  Hi today was only 54 degrees.  The overnight low was 34.   These are not the temperatures that the crew likes to cruise in.  Hopefully this is only a short duration cold snap and fall like weather will return by Monday.

Mile 670 found these two Bald Eagles

147.2

The cruise was pleasant enough though with the Bald Eagle sightings keeping the skipper occupied.  He spotted 16 Bald Eagles today along the shore.

The trees continue to change colors from their dark greens to light green and yellows.  There are a few orange and reds but not many yet.  The locals say that the best color is usually October 8-15.  This will be when the crew is headed back south thru this area so they are looking forward to the fall spectacular.

Mile 690, Dredge Operation in progress

150 Dredge Operation mile 690

The crew made the Boat Club in La Crosse so they are set to take in the Oktoberfest in La Crosse for the weekend.

Saturday, Sept 28th

Sharon P. took time out of her busy schedule to drive over and visit the crew in La Crosse.  Sharon is one of the many good folks that belong to the OKC Softball Family.

Sharon and the skipper

156 Sharon (2)

Sharon took the crew on a tour of La Crosse and then up to the bluffs overlooking the valley and town below.  It was a spectacular view looking down into the valley.

Still Waters II is docked down by the blue bridge

153 Looking out at La Crosse

The group then took the river road to explore the river by car rather than by boat.  The group then returned to the Boat Club and had a late lunch at the Boat Club Restaurant.

Caught this big fish while out exploring

156.2 (2)

Overall a great visit with Sharon.  The best part of visits with Sharon is her generous heart and sharing her beloved Wisconsin.  Sharing in the form of apples, candid apples, Wisconsin cheese, apple spice donuts, and the caramel dip.  But most of sharing of her time to make another great memory for the crew as they cruise the Great Loop.

THANKS SHARON!

Boat name of the week

Recess Won

Next Week –

The crew will leave La Crosse on Monday and make their final push to the Twin Cities that are about 150 miles further up stream.  The crew will probably arrive on Thursday and hope to visit with the crew of Tasteful Traveler. 

The crew has also been extended a nice invitation to go up to Winnipeg and celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving on October 8th with the crew of On Business.  While that sounds like a boat load of fun, the crew is mulling over the weather ramifications of said road trip to Winnipeg.  Might make the trip back south a bit colder than the crew is comfortable with.  And do not forget, the skipper is cruising with the Admiral who he has nicknamed Miss Comfort.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Respect the Rust

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We had two more folks come aboard as virtual crew members and join the adventure by following the blog.  Welcome Aboard Patrick J. and Tom K.!!

The crew visited Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, Iowa

E95EC158-DEA7-4B13-B262-B716C49E7D34

Mark Twain Quote of the Week

Composite photo from the Dave Thomson collection

70.1Get a bicycle.  You will not regret it.  If you live.

                             From “Taming the Bicycle”

Mark did not climb aboard a bicycle until 1884, which would have made him 49 at the time.  This might explain the quote above.  Those bones are a little more brittle at 49 than they are before 9 when most folks learn to ride a bike.

And when learning to ride a bike, you are going to fall.  As the skipper likes to say, “Gravity works 100% of the time, and never takes any time off.”

Summary of week:

le Claire

The crew continued their trek up bound on the Mississippi River with the following stops:

  1. Hannibal, MO, boyhood home of Mark Twain
  2. Keokuk Yacht Club for their first stop in Iowa by boat
  3. Burlington, IA for a great dinner at Big Muddy’s
  4. Rock Island, Illinois for a couple of nights at the Sunset Marina
  5. Le Claire, IA courtesy dock for the weekend

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Who was the original Mark Twain?
  2. What does the term Mark Twain mean?
  3. Where did the Latter-day Saints cross the Mississippi River on their way to Salt Lake City?
  4. Who is billed as America’s First Super Star?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she meets a tow, floats thru a lock, and passes thru a swing bridge on her way to Quad Cities. Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America Great Loop.

Monday,  Sept 17

The river continues to run fast and furious as the flood waters recede.  The head current was anywhere from 3-4 mph depending on the width of the river and location.  The straight-a-ways have less current and the outside of the bends have the highest current.

The Mark Twain doing an afternoon tour

53

The crew had planned to bypass Hannibal, because in a strange twist of fate, the boyhood home of Mark Twain does not have a marina to accept larger boats.  The entrance to the marina has shoaled up and is reported to be less than 3 feet. Even with the high water levels, the crew only saw 5 feet of water below the props when they entered the marina.  Once inside, the depth dropped to 3-4 feet below the props.

Boyhood home of Mark Twain, notice the paint bucket by the white fence

MMMarkM

The stop at Hannibal was necessitated because the Hannibal Lift Bridge was in the down position at 1330 when the crew arrived.  The bridge tender told the skipper the work would complete at 1600 and he would open the bridge then.  The skipper was also informed the bridge would be out of service all week from 0800-1600 for the rest of the week.

The skipper called the Hannibal Municipal Marina to determine if he might get in without churning up the mud.  The guy on the other end of the phone ‘thought’ the crew would be ok but would guarantee nothing.  With that bit of confidence the crew drifted down to the opening to the marina and took their good sweet time maneuvering into the fuel dock where they spent the night.

Huck Finn home

58

The Mark Twain Museum closed at 1700, so the crew made the boat safe and headed down Main Street to go explore.

The Museum complex is made up of an initial building where you get a timeline of Mark Twain’s history.  Then you are directed to Huck Finn’s home.  You are then directed to tour the home of Mark Twain, then the home of Becky Thatcher.  Then down the street was another museum that features Mark’s written word.  This museum was well curated with excerpts from his books.  Tom Sawyer had a cave you walked thru, Huck Finn had a raft that actually floated in water and was about as unstable as an actual raft.  You could sit and watch a film of Huck Finn.

53-IMG_0056

In Roughing It, you sat in an old stage coach and watched excerpts from a movie about the book.  In Europe and Elsewhere, you were on a ship looking out over the ocean.  You looked thru different spyglasses to see the different towns and scenes described in the book.

62

Upstairs they had the original collection of Norman Rockwell sketches and finished works of his illustrations done for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. A few favorites:

The master’s arm performed until it was tired and the stock of switches notably diminished

65

“Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it.  Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

67

The actual famous fence

56

Overall a great museum tour and overview of the life of Mark Twain.

Did you ever wonder where Samuel Clemens got the pen name Mark Twain?  He actually took it from another Captain, Isaiah Sellers.  Sellers was a riverboat pilot and would write status reports on the river and have them published in the New Orleans Picayune.  Sellers articles contained the pen name Mark Twain.

Samuel Clemens wrote some satire articles on the original Mark Twain reports that caused Sellers some embarrassment.  Sellers soon stopped publishing his river reports.  Samuel Clemens then confiscated the name and began using it on his own works.

And finally, have you ever wondered where the term ‘Mark Twain’ comes from and what it might mean?  Well, the term denotes safe passage based on the depth of water under the steamboat.  A fathom is six feet, so two fathoms would be 12 feet.  Twain is an archaic term for two.

A man would sound the depth of water at the bow of the steamboat and call out the ‘marks’ on the lead line in the water.  Mark One would be 6 feet deep, Mark Twain would be 12 feet deep, and denote safe passage.

When the crew returned to the boat, they met a couple of guys who are attempting to paddle down the Mississippi River to the Gulf.  One has a canoe with the supplies, and the other is in a kayak.

73

Tuesday, Sept 18

Because the crew needed to get under the Hannibal Lift Bridge before work started at 0800, the crew shoved off the dock and made way to the bridge early.  They could see that the bridge was open after they shoved off the dock.  They passed under the bridge a few minutes after 0700.

Over on the Left Descending Bank (LDB) above the bridge, there was a large Riverboat Cruise Ship.  The crew saw them yesterday when the crew turned around.  Because of the flooding, the Cruise Ship does not have enough clearance to get under the bridge and continue downstream.  They spent the night above the bridge tied up at a barge company dock.  The skipper heard the Captain talking with the bridge operator about the water level.  The bridge tender and Captain agreed that they should wait a few more hours before attempting to go under the bridge to allow the water level to drop some more.

Cruise Ship waiting for water level to drop

74.2

The crew decided to bypass Quincy and continue up river since they got an early start.  They eventually made it to Iowa and finally stopped at the Keokuk Yacht Club for the night.

While waiting to go in a Lock, they saw this kayak paddle downstream.  The crew last saw him back on the Erie Canal near Tonawanda.  He must have come down the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan and portaged over to the Mississippi River, similar to the route that Joliet and Marquette took.

84 Kayaker

Oh, and that big Cruise Ship, the skipper did hear on the radio that she finally made it under the bridge back in Hannibal.

Wednesday, Sept 19

At mile 375 on the river , the crew passed an area known as Nauvoo.  As they approached the area, a huge church like or university building dominated the landscape.  Curious to know what the building was, the skipper determined that it was the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple of the Later-day Saints.  From the temple, one can follow Parley Street down to the Mississippi River where  a statue of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith are looking westward.

91.3

The statue marks the spot of the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo in the 1830’s following Joseph Smith’s death.  This is where they crossed the Mississippi River during February 1835 on their way to Iowa and eventually establish their new home in present day Salt Lake City.
Exodus Memorial

The crew continued northbound and stopped at a dock in front of Big Muddy’s Restaurant.  The place had come highly recommended by some friends who said the fried catfish was the best on the river.  Hard to let a recommendation like that go untested.

IMG_0001

After getting settled, the crew headed across the tracks to Big Muddy’s and were not disappointed.  The Admiral went with the Prime Rib and the skipper had a plate of catfish.  Then he took one for the team and tried the apple pie a la mode.  The food was all great, but the best thing about Big Muddy’s was a woman named Fergi who served the crew.

The Admiral and Fergi

D249AA91-103C-4C0C-AEFC-0286B18AA3FC

She was a delight to visit with.  Her youngest child is about to graduate from Texas A&M University and also is on the schools Rodeo Team.  Dakotah is a barrel racer.  Who knew you could get a college scholarship for barrel racing.  You might recall that the crew’s daughter and family lives in Bryan/College Station where Texas A&M is located.  It amaze the crew how they continue to run into great people all around the Loop that they can meet and find connections with.  The crew has already marked Big Muddy’s as a must stop on the way south and are looking forward to seeing Fergi again.

Thursday, Sept 20 – Friday, Sept 21

Another day and more changed plans.  The Bible teaches that man makes his plans, but GOD directs his steps.  This week, those words have been very evident.  More so today than the rest of the week though.

Bald Eagle and White Pelicans on an exposed piece of mud

IMG_0028

The crew shoved off the dock at Big Muddy’s and continued up bound on the river.  After lunch, the skipper called the marina to ensure that they had a spot to spend the night.  To his surprise he learned that the marina closed on Labor Day.  The skipper scrambled around and found a second marina that could accommodate Still Waters II. 

Unfortunately, the dock master reported that the flooding had damaged their docks and that he would not have the repairs complete for at least another week.  Bottom line, the crew would not be stopping here either.

Unique Swing Bridge, tain road runs on bottom level, the highway runs above the train track

IMG_0035

To make matters worse, the winds decided to pick up and blow around 20 mph.  The winds were out of the south and actually caused wind blown waves that were moving upstream.  That was strange to observe.  The skipper checked the weather and discovered that these winds would hang around all night, but shift out of the north by the morning.  Then blow all day Friday 20-30mph.  That took anchoring out of the equation and also travelling on Friday.

The skipper scrambled around some more and finally found another marina that could take them for the night. The good news was that they got a reservation accepted.  The bad news was that the marina was another 20 miles up river.  A quick math calculation and a look at the time for sunset confirmed what the skipper suspected, they would be docking in the dark in high winds.  And for just a little humor, the name of the marina you ask, Sunset Marina.

Met another River Cruise Ship

IMG_0013

The sun did set at 1900, and it was dark by 1930.  The moon was out though and provided some light as the crew docked at 1945.  A 13 hour day on the water and the crew was tired.  The good news with all this is that the marina is up in a well protected cove and mostly out of the wind.

Though the winds have been present all day Friday, and the boat was moving around a bit, the crew was much better off here at Sunset Marina than they would have been at either of the other two marinas that the skipper had planned to stop at for the night.  FOG!  (Favor of God for those just getting on board)

Saturday, Sept 22

The crew had planned for a short day on the water but the 18 miles turned into 4.5 hours due to the current and an hour delay at one lock.  Such is life on the Mighty Mississippi.

The crew docked at the courtesy dock in Le Claire, IA.  Those familiar with the History Channel might recall that Antique Archaeology hails from here. The crew walked the main drag thru town and up one block to find the Antique Archaeology store front.  As expected there were old bicycles and Indian Motorcycles on display in the shop.  There were more items tagged NFS (Not For Sale) than items with a price attached.  After Pick’n the Pickers, the crew took their new treasures back to the boat.

Interesting 2 Wheeler

44F113B0-B741-4F3B-BDC4-1F2C2FCF2F61

On the way back, they stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum.  The skipper thought this was an odd place to site the museum.  A sign outside the front door explained that Buffalo Bill was born just outside of town.  They also ‘Bill’ Buffalo Bill as America’s first superstar.  Might have to come check that out tomorrow.

The Freedom Rock

img_0042

The town was also a buzz with many young people coming down to the dock and taking pictures.  Still Waters II was the backdrop for many of these photos.  Turns out it is homecoming weekend for the local High School and the big dance is scheduled for tonight.

The skipper took a pic of the proud parents taking pics of their prodigy

IMG_0041

My how things have changed though since the Admiral and skipper were in High School.  The girls back then wore long gowns for Homecoming.  These girls tonight, let’s just say that the high heels were longer than the skirts.

Boat name of the week

Happily Ever After, also aspiring Loopers

IMG_0040

Next Week –

The crew is at mile 497 in Le Claire, IA and hope to put in another 200 mile week which would get them to La Crosse, WI by the weekend.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Where Two Rivers Meet

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Log Cabin in Marquette State Park in the Land of Lincoln

46

 

Mark Twain Quote of the Week

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore.  Dream.  Discover.

This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but has not been verified. But the skipper thinks it is a good one to start with anyway.   Kind of describes what the crew has been doing for the last several years.  

Welcome aboard to D. Wright.  Hope you enjoy the ride up the Mississippi River.

Summary of week:

Rockport

 

 

The crew has been sitting in Grafton (1) (mile 0 on Illinois River, Mile 218 on upper Mississippi River) for most of the week waiting on the crest of water to go down stream so they can head up the upper Mississippi River.  Both the Illinois River and Mississippi River are in flood stages due to rain falling north of Grafton.

The crew headed north on Friday, and anchored at mile 258 near Timberlake Island (2).  Saturday, the crew made way to Rockport (3) where they will spend the weekend at the Two Rivers Boat Club.

While waiting the skipper has been doing some research on Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette.  He and the Admiral have also been working on a few boat projects during this down time.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Who were the first Europeans to explore the upper Mississippi River?
  2. How far south did they journey down the Mississippi River?
  3. Who and when was the mouth of the Mississippi discovered?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II  following the American Queen up the Mississippi River.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Boat Projects

The main project the skipper tackled this week were stopping a few water leaks into Still Waters II when it rains.  They managed to get a covered slip in Grafton, so it seemed to be a good time to remove and re-caulk many of the old joints around the boat.

Since the washing machine has decided to die, the Admiral has been busy lugging clothes to the laundry facility.  Finding a new washer that will fit thru the 23 inch door opening has proven to be problematic, but the search continues.  If the skipper knows what is good for him, he better be finding a new washer though.

Exploration of the Upper Mississippi River

Since Mackinac Island, the crew has seen many statues, towns, bridges, roads and other infra structure named after both Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette.  The skipper decided to find out more about these two guys in between working on the caulk project.

41 MarquetteJacques Marquette, also known as Pere Marquette and James Marquette, was a French Jesuit missionary.  He is credited with founding the first European town in Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie in 1668.  Actually he founded a Catholic mission.  French colonists eventually established a fur trading post there also.

 

 

 

42 Joliet

Louis Joliet was a French Canadian explorer.  Initially he was on a path to be a Jesuit priest, but decided to follow his dreams as a fur trader instead.

 

 
43

Joliet and Marquette took Mark Twain’s quote serious, and teamed up to explore the upper Mississippi.  They left St. Ignace, Michigan with two canoes and five other adventurers on May 17, 1673.  A month later, they had made it down Lake Michigan and to the end of Green Bay.  Then portaged across modern day Wisconsin and landed at the Mississippi River near present day Prairie du Chien on June 17.

The expedition then traveled south along the Mississippi.  When they got within about 400 miles of the Gulf of Mexico, they began encountering natives with European goods.  They decided that they would turn around and head back north before they had an unfriendly encounter with Spanish explorers.  You may recall from your history lessons that Hernando de Soto discovered the southern entrance of the Mississippi back in 1541.

The Cross Marks the spot where the expedition first stopped on the Illinois River

36

The expedition turned back at the mouth of the Arkansas River.  When they arrived at the Illinois River, natives informed them of a shorter route to Lake Michigan.  The expedition continued north on the Illinois River to the Des Plaines River, near modern Joliet.  From the Des Plaines River, they used the Chicago Portage to the Chicago River and then went downstream to Lake Michigan.

5 Degrees to Peter Jenkins

The crew hosted ‘Docktails’ aboard Still Waters II with three other boats.  One of the boaters, Bert, told an interesting story about a disillusioned young man, Peter Jenkins, who wrote several books about his journeys walking across America.  He left New York in 1973 and arrived in Oregon in 1979.

Bert aboard his boat, Touch the Horizon

44 Bert

But even more interesting is that in the books, Peter uses a JanSport Backpack.  He started using the JanSport Backpack because Norman, one of the co-founders of the company gave him a backpack early in his journey.  Bert talked about how he had met Norman while doing volunteer work together.  Norman told Bert about meeting Peter and giving him the backpack.  Norman also told Bert about the books.  Bert recommended the books as good reads.  So now the crew is 4 degrees from the author and you are 5 degrees.  Is that cool or what.  And yes the skipper also has a nice JanSport Backpack.

This sign is stating the obvious

45

Friday, September 14th

The crew left Grafton and started their way up the Mississippi River at mile 218.  As they were about to pull out of the marina, the American Queen appeared and passed by.  The skipper then pulled in behind her.

American Queen at close quarters

IMG_0003 (1)

They would spend the day following her up the river.  The crew was not sure what to expect as they ventured north.  The river is very rural and very picturesque.  The crew traveled north 42 miles and did not see any towns along the banks.  This also means there are no cell towers so they have been cut off from the outside world for the day.  It is amazing how dependent our culture has become on the internet.

Wonder if Huck Finn explored this cave?

IMG_0006 (1)

In addition to following the American Queen all day, the skipper spent most of the day playing ‘dodge debris.’  The high water level has caused much debris to float downstream.  The crew is familiar with two boats who have hit debris and caused broken transmissions.  They have heard rumors that there are at least another dozen boaters with prop problems or transmission issues because of the debris.  The skipper has kept a diligent Look Out for debris and as yet has not hit any.

When the crew arrived at Lock 25, the American Queen was in the Lock and there was an upbound tow waiting to enter.  To the surprise of the crew, the Lockmaster put Still Waters II thru the lock before the tow.  As it turned out, the 15 foot step up turned out to be only one foot due to the river running high.

Lock 25 

IMG_0011

After the Lock, the crew travelled another 16 miles up river.  However, with the high water level also comes high current flows.  The head current was 3 mph so the crew was only making 5 mph Speed of Ground (SOG).  This leads to a long three hours to go those 16 miles.

When the crew arrived at the anchor spot, the skipper anchored just south of Timberlake Island.  His hope was that the Island would protect them from any debris floating downstream.  It was only a few minutes after dropping the anchor that the crew experienced a large debris field.  As hoped the currents around the Island carried the debrief off to the sides of Still Waters II.

Debris Field drifting while anchored

14.1

Saturday, September 15th

The crew pulled anchor and continued upstream.  Another surprise of the river has been the number of Islands that are sprinkled between the banks.  The Islands add to the beauty of the area.

The crew also saw first hand a situation that they had been warned about, disappearing navigational aides.  Because of the high water levels and current, sometimes the markers get pulled underwater.  Then the marker pops up out of the water.  The warning for navigating is that pilots should not ass/u/me the marker is off station or missing and cruise over the area.  Boats have been surprised when the force of the marker knocks a hole in the bottom of their boat when the buoy pops out of the water.  There have been many missing markers and the skipper has been giving them all a wide berth.

Now you see it

IMG_0021

Now you don’t

IMG_0018

Buoy fighting for air

IMG_0020

When the crew arrived at Lock 24, there was a tow just entering the Lock.  The Lockmaster told them it would be about 45 minutes to get the tow up before he could get Still Waters II.  After the tow pushed out of the Lock the crew then entered.  As with Lock 25, it was only a 1 foot step up and the Lockmaster allowed the crew to just float in the Lock.  Normally both Lock 24 and 25 would raise the boat 15 feet to the next pool level.  Just an indication of how high the water is running over the dams.

Flooding along the river

IMG_0023

IMG_0029

Boat name of the week

Boat US has released their top 10 names of 2018 based on graphic sells:

1. Grace – This name reflects the elegant and tranquil qualities of the boat, oftentimes owned by someone seeking peace through boating.

2. Freedom – A patriot to its core, this boat symbolizes the meaning of freedom in all senses of the word: freedom to explore, freedom to dream and freedom to discover the world by water being most important.

3. Seas the Day – While this boat owner may feel a loss of control over a declining retirement account, he or she is completely in charge while boating and intends to get the most out of the boating lifestyle.

4. Therapy – Capitalizing on all the joys boating has to offer, this name takes into account the healing nature that boating provides its owner.

5. Second Wind – This boat is perhaps owned by parents constantly yearning for that second boost of energy in life. Spending time with their boat gives them rejuvenation despite the craziness of being mom or dad.

6. Serenity – Born out of the “hippie era,” this name illustrates peacefulness in both the boat and the owner. Simply explained, this boat owner is completely untroubled while out on the water.

7. Perseverance – A relentless vehicle that never stops exploring, this boat likely has more than 10 years on it with a few dents and scratches but also holds countless memories of good times.

8. Rum Runner – A party boat by nature, this boat often hosts big personalities and guarantees a good time with laughs galore.

9. Knot on Call – The moment a boater steps onto this boat, his or her responsibilities are left at the dock. The owner enjoys and encourages leaving worries behind and fully immersing in the boating experience.

10. Pura Vida – More than just a Costa Rican saying meaning “pure life,” it reflects a way of everyday living by example – one that thrives on no worries, no fuss and no stress.

Next Week –

The crew will continue northbound with hopes of making short daily runs of about 25-30 miles due to the strong head current.  They hope to make about 200 miles during the week and end up at Le Claire, IA by the end of the week.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Building A Better World

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built, or so they claim

17 American Queen

Met this beauty on Tuesday headed towards Peoria.

17.1

Summary of week:

Grafton

The crew completed their cruise down the Illinois River this past week where they made the following stops:

1 – Peoria, mile 161, where they visited the Caterpillar Visitor Center

2 – Bar Island, mile 85

3 – Hurricane Island, mile 25

4 – Grafton, mile 0

 

 

 

 

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. What is the largest steamboat ever built?
  2. Who won the Olympic Gold Medal in basketball in 1952?
  3. What is flood level at Grafton?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows highlights as Still Waters II completes her voyage down the Illinois River.  Enjoy!

 

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday & Monday, Sept 2nd & 3rd

With the Labor Day Weekend in full swing, the crew decided to stay put and enjoy the amenities of the Heritage Harbor Marina rather than take their chances on the water with the local drinking and boating crowd.

A nice surprise was a visit from Bill H., the captain of Perfect Day.  Bill swung by to say hello.  He has returned to his boat from California and is prepping to go down to Green Turtle Bay where his wife will then join him the rest of the way down to Florida.  It was great to catch up with him.  The crew last saw Bill and Lori back in late summer 2016 in the North Channel of Lake Huron.

Bill, Thanks for making time in your schedule to visit

33

On Monday morning, the crew enjoyed a free breakfast provided by the marina staff.  The staff made to order omelets, pancakes, biscuits, and orange juice.  The locals said they do this every Labor Day.  What a deal.

Monday afternoon, the skipper attended a captain’s brief given by the Dock Master about river conditions all the way down to mile zero on the Illinois River.  The big take away from the brief was that the water level is currently 3-4 feet lower than normal and many anchorages are therefore unavailable.  For example, all three anchor spots that the skipper had planned to use are too shallow to enter.

Back to the boat to recalculate the stops south.

Tuesday, Sept 4th

After taking on some fuel to ensure the crew can make Grafton, the crew headed to the Staved Rock Lock, eleven miles downstream.  The skipper checked the Lock Report to learn that there were two upbound tows at the Lock.  When they were two miles from the Lock, the crew met one of the upbound tows.

3 Meeting a Tow

The skipper called the Lock Master to announce the arrival of Still Waters II.  The Lock Master had already started the procedure to drain the Lock to get the other upbound tow.  However, the Lock Master said he would reopen the gate and let Still Waters II down.  The crew arrived at the Lock and waited a few minutes before the gates swung open.  When the gates opened, the crew noticed two other motor boats already in the Lock.  Well our crews good fortune was the other boaters 30 minute delay.  Our crew thanked the Lock Master for holding the Lock.  If they had not made the Lock, they would have had to wait three hours to get down.

Leaving the Starved Rock Lock, with up bound tow ready to enter

6 Leaving Starved Rock Lock

With the good fortune of the Starved Rock Lock timing and the low water levels in the Illinois River, the crew decided to travel all the way to Peoria and try to snag a spot on the free dock.  They arrived at the dock at 1830 and found one spot that they could land.  But some other boaters warned them that there were no cleats to tie off on at the dock.

Buffalo Rock along Right Descending Bank

5 Buffalo Rock

The skipper went ahead and landed on the dock anyway and then set about trying to figure out how to secure the boat to the dock.  With a little bit of ingenuity and the help of Scott from Last Call, they got the boat safely secured.

The boat may have been secured, but at 0100 in the morning the Admiral was awakened by some people talking just outside the boat on the dock.  She got up and looked out the window to notice them climb aboard Still Waters II.  She woke up the skipper and informed him that somebody was on the sundeck.  The skipper hopped out of bed and went to the salon doors to look through the glass doors.  Three people, one man and two females, standing on the sundeck looking around.  The skipper threw the salon doors open, yelled as loud as he could and directed the folks off the boat.

Down Bound on Illinois River

10 Down Bound

He startled them pretty badly, and they all jumped off the boat and ran down the dock.  One lady, using the term lady loosely of course, ran right out of her shoes.  After they got about fifty yards down the dock they stopped running.  The lady asked the guy to go back and get her shoes.  He slowly started back to the boat with one hand up saying he did not want any trouble, just wanted to get the shoes.  After the shoes were retrieved, they all disappeared into the night.  The skipper wonders how many of them needed an underwear change after he scared the daylights out of them.

Wednesday, Sept 5th

The crew decided to spend the day in Peoria and visit the Caterpillar Visitor Center.  Cat has a large presence in the area.  The Visitor Center was run with both current and retired employees.

The tour starts with a short film.  The theater for the film was built into the truck bed of a very large dirt hauler, a 797F Mining Truck.  The truck was three stories tall.  The film talked about the history of Cat and their relationship with their customers, especially focusing on how they are building a better world together.  After the film the crew explored several other floor displays of heavy equipment.  In the corner of this floor the crew found one of the best curations ever, simulators for Cat equipment.

797F Mining Truck

34 (2)

The crew took turns trying to master an excavator.  Seemed like an easy task, just move a few buckets of dirt to cover a pipe.  This was much harder than it looked.  After about 5 different attempts, the skipper was finally successful in covering the pipe in less than the three minutes allotted.

The crew then spent another couple of hours exploring the history of Caterpillar.  The biggest discovery though turned out to be the Peoria Cats.  Before the modern NBA became successful, there was an industrial basketball league sponsored by companies.  The players actually worked for the company sponsor.

Coach Womble and the 5 Peoria Cats that made the US Olympic Team

IMG_2409

The Peoria Cats, sponsored by Caterpillar, were one of the more successful teams.  So successful that in 1952, the team won the championship game which gave them a birth in the US Olympic basketball team playoffs at Madison Square Gardens.  The Cats beat the University of Kansas 62-60.  The win resulted in their coach being named as the US Basketball team head coach.  He was then allowed to pick the seven member US Team.  He picked 5 of his Cats players, one player from the Phillips 66 squad, and one player from Kansas.  The US Team went on to win the Gold Medal in Helsinki, Finland by defeating the Russians 36-25.

Next door to the Caterpillar Visitor Center is this interesting statue of Lincoln with a Common Man, and no our skipper is anything but common

32.jpg

Thursday, Sept 6th

The crew shoved off the dock in Peoria and continued down the Illinois River.  The Peoria Lock was only three miles down stream and the Lock Master had the gate open when the crew arrived.  They got secured in the lock and were lowered 10 feet down to the next pool level.

Bald Eagles along the route

16 Bald Eagle

The day’s cruise was mostly uneventful with dodging large tows (3×5 barge arrays) and spotting Bald Eagles.  The crew anchored out beside Bar Island with another boat named Last Harvest.

Had to get on wrong side of the red marker to let this tow get by, at one point the barges were actually rubbing the red marker

15 Close Call

It has started to rain, and with rain in the forecast for the next several days.  The river level is down several feet, so the run off may raise the river to normal pool levels.  The down side of that is that more debris will be swept down stream.

Shoreline with beached debris waiting to float down river

22 Current and Future Debris

Friday, Sept 7th

The skipper woke early to try and size up the possibility of getting through the next Lock which is only a few miles down stream.  The Lock Report website showed an upbound tow with 3 barges currently in the lock.  The skipper calculated that the upbound tow would probably push out of the lock around 0830.  There was also a down bound tow waiting to enter the lock with 15 barges.  This tow would take about 3 hours to lock through.

The Lock Master would not answer the phone, so the skipper decided to raise the anchor and go to the lock and see if they could get through before the 15 barge tow.  Late Harvest also pulled anchor and headed down.

When the two boats arrived at the lock, they could see that the upbound tow was being raised in the lock.  When the gates opened the tow pushed out a ways then stopped to attach back to all his barges.  While this evolution was in progress, the Lock Master hailed the skipper and told them that once the up bound tow cleared the lock to come on inside.  He would lock the two pleasure craft down while the up bound tow passed the down bound tow and the down bound tow maneuvered into position to enter the lock.  Score another one for more Lock FOG.

Just for a little perspective, 10 loopers left the Joliet Wall yesterday to travel to Ottawa and stay at Heritage Harbor.  Last week when our crew made this trip, they left the Wall at noon, made the three locks down stream and pulled into Heritage Harbor about 1920, for a 7.5 hour day.  These 10 boats did not have the same good fortune.  They left the Wall at 0830, had to wait 1 1/2 hours to get through the first lock.  Then waited another 1 1/2 hours at the second lock.  They arrived at the third lock at 1730, but did not exit the lock until after 2100.  By then it was pitch dark for the last few miles to the marina.  Total time for the same trip, 14 hours and 44 minutes. This is a more normal locking experience while in the Illinois River.  The crew has had very good fortune all the way down the Illinois River.  This is why the crew gets very excited when they breeze right through a lock with little delay.

Late Harvest floating in the La Grange Lock

20 Late Harvest

As it turned out, the drop in the La Grange Lock was only 2 feet, so the Lock Master also let the two boats just hover in the lock without tying up.  What a deal.

Kampsville Ferry Crossing

25 Kampsville Ferry

After exiting the lock it was 0900, so the crew decided to go six more hours down to about mile 26 where they anchored behind Hurricane Island.  The rain followed the crew all day, and it looks as though the river has risen about a foot since yesterday.

Another Bald Eagle

28 Bald Eagle

Saturday, Sept 8th

The rain continued all night long and finally stopped around 0900.  By the skipper’s estimate, it looks as though the water is up another 2 feet.  When the rain stopped, the crew raised the anchor and headed down towards Grafton.

Another Ferry Crossing

31 Ferry Crossing

About 5 miles from Grafton, the weather took a strange twist.  The forecast was for winds out of the north east at 5-10 mph.  The first clue that something was changing was when the skipper noticed that 1 foot swells were starting to form on the river.  Then he noticed that the wind had changed direction and was mostly out of the south east.  Then the wind picked up to 15-20 mph.  Funny how this seems to happen just about the time to dock the boat.

Bald Eagle in the Land of Lincoln

30 Bald Eagle

The rain is supposed to continue through the weekend so the crew will monitor the changing river levels and determine the best time to make their next move.

Boat name of the week

In honor of all the spiders in these fresh waters.

35

Next Week –

With all of the rain that has been dumped on Wisconsin and Illinois, the upper Mississippi River has reached flood levels in several areas.  The crew had planned to run up the upper Mississippi River to Minneapolis, but that might be in jeopardy because of the river levels and flooding.  Time will tell.

Grafton is mile 0 of the Illinois River and mile 218 of the upper Mississippi.  The crew will monitor the river levels and determine the best course of action.  If it is safe and the marinas are open, they will continue north on the upper Mississippi.

If not, they will start the run south on the upper Mississippi and head towards Hoppies Marina.

The projected river level for Grafton, 18 feet is flood level

graftona

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Sweet Home Chicago

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

4 Chicago (2)

We have had another virtual crew member come aboard.  Welcome Mycalhus!

Summary of week:

Ottawa

The crew made three runs this past week: they crossed Lake Michigan from Grand Haven to Chicago (1), took the Chicago River to Joliet (2), then took the Illinois River to Ottawa (3).

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. What is the number one tune with the word ‘Chicago’?
  2. Extra Credit, for the first singer to perform the song to question #1?
  3. What is the oldest baseball stadium in the Major Leagues?
  4. What is the ‘Basket’ at Wrigley Field?
  5. How old is the Manual Scoreboard at Wrigley Field?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II  cruising thru downtown Chicago.  After she makes it thru town she cruises thru some rural areas, industrial areas, and finally meets a tow.

The background music to this week’s video, Sweet Home Chicago, was originally performed by Robert Johnson in 1936.  Most of his material was composed in just two years, 1936 and 1937.  His life was cut short in 1938 when a jealous husband poisoned Robert, which makes another legend about his life initially seem odd.  He is credited with selling his soul to the devil in exchange for commercial success at a crossroads in Mississippi.  Robert had little commercial success or recognition during his lifetime.  However, Eric Clapton has called Johnson ‘the most important blues singer that ever lived.’  Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the first induction class in 1986.  But, as everybody knows, it was the Blues Brothers who made the song famous.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, Aug 26th

The winds that have been blowing for the last week finally died off during the night and the Big Lake looks like she has settled down for awhile.  The forecast shows high winds starting again late in the afternoon and blowing for a few more days.  At this pace it might take an additional week to get down the east side of Michigan and across to Chicago.

With a short window of opportunity today, the crew has decided to roll the dice and try to make the 108 mile run all the way across the Big Lake to Chicago before the winds pick back up.  A bit risky, but the skipper is tired of the winds and waves on Lake Michigan.

The crew got up early, before sun up, to try to get a few extra hours of calm motoring before the winds kick up.  They followed six charter fishing boats out of the channel and into Lake Michigan in the dark.  They lost sight of the boats running lights almost immediately as they left the protected channel.  A heavy fog set in on top of them and visibility was down to feet in front of the bow due to the dark and fog.

The view for much of the morning.

39 Fog

The cruising conditions on the water were great though.  The winds were light around 5 miles per hour and the waves were basically non-existent.  The skipper put the radar and the autopilot to good use to guide them safely across the lake.  These conditions existed until around 1230 when the fog finally gave way to the sun.

A few hours later, still in calm conditions, the crew spotted the skyline of Chicago, a happy sight.

Approximately 7 miles off shore from Chicago

40 Chicago

Around 1700, the crew was entering the Chicago Harbor.  As the crew rounded the break water wall they felt the wind gust a few times and then start to build.  By the time they found their slip at the end of C Dock the winds were up over 15 miles per hour and the water was white capping just outside the harbor.  Now that is cutting it pretty close.

Harbor entrance

44 Harbor entrance

The crew was happy to be off the Big Lake but had one more obstacle to overcome as they docked.  The crew had planned to pull along the B Dock with a port side tie to pump out the holding tanks prior to landing at their slip.  Because of the high winds and surge at Grand Haven, a few of the dock lines need to be replaced due to wear and tear.  This resulted in not having enough lines to prep both sides of the boat for docking anymore.

Sailboat enjoying the wind, notice the octopus on the main sail

42 Sailboat

Just as the crew arrived at the B dock for a port side tie, another boat landed on the B dock.  There was no room left on the dock, so the skipper decided to go on over to their slip assignment at C Dock.  However, this caused the Admiral to have to shift lines over to the starboard side so that they could land and hook up to shore power.  While the skipper was turning the boat around to get the starboard side towards the dock, the starboard main engine high temperature alarm went off.  The gage showed 200 degrees which should not be cause for a high temperature alarm, but the alarm was blaring none the less.

The Admiral was scurrying as fast as possible to move the lines, and the skipper got over to the dock as quickly as possible.  As soon as they got the breast line down and secured, the skipper turned off the starboard main engine.  Sure would not have been fun trying to dock in the wind with only one engine.

This expresses the crews relief of making it to Chicago

45 Sailboat

Well, what an interesting end to another delightful cruise down Big Lake Michigan.  The crew is sure glad to have that part of the Loop behind them!

Monday, Aug 27th

Future sailors just off the dock, Navy Pier in the background

1 future sailors

The young man in the lead boat saw the skipper with the camera, so he directed his charges to wave at the camera.  One little boy was heard to say, “I’m not waving at the camera!”  You may of heard of Southern Hospitality, well that was a version of Northern Hospitality, or flat out rebellion.

The main goal today was to figure out how to get to Wrigley Field to catch a Cubs game since they are in town.  Turns out it was pretty easy using the transit function of the map app on the phone.  It was a one mile walk up to the red line subway, then a six mile ride on the train to the ball park.

But no task is as easy as it looks.  When the crew arrived at the subway station, the skipper must have had a sign on his forehead that said ‘Novice.’  While reviewing the wall map to verify what train to get on, a nice young man approached and asked if the crew was going to the game.  The skipper replied in the affirmative, and the young man stepped in front of the skipper to block his access to the ticket machines.  This maneuver also funneled the crew to the turnstiles.  The man quickly scanned a ticket and the turnstile opened to let the skipper in.  He did it again, and the Admiral was inside also.  The man then handed the skipper the tickets and said that will be ten dollars since they were round trip tickets. The skipper reached in his pocket where he keeps only a few dollars, handed the guy 9 dollars and said this is all I got.  The man took the cash and directed the crew how to get on the right train.

When they got down to the loading area, the skipper and Admiral looked at each other with a “what just happened look.”  The skipper was the first to speak and said I think we just got hustled but not sure how bad.  The Admiral agreed.

When they arrived at the ball park the skipper went up to a subway worker and explained what had happened.  The worker just shook her head and said do not ever do that again.  She then assisted the skipper to determine that his two tickets were indeed expired tickets and worthless.  Six dollars later, the ticket machine spit out two return tickets for after the game. So basically the skipper paid three dollars more for the other tickets.  Education is expensive, no matter how you get it.

With a guaranteed ticket to get back to the boat, it was time to go enjoy some baseball.  Wrigley Field is the second oldest stadium in the Majors.  The Cubs have been playing at Wrigley Field since 1916.  The oldest stadium is in Boston, at Fenway Park which opened in 1912.  And the Texas Rangers, well they are working on their third stadium since the 1970’s.

The crew walked around the stadium before entering.  They have statues of Cubs Hall of Famers scattered around the outside of the stadium.

Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub

5 Wriggley Field

Outside the stadium, but inside the ticket area, a big, Big, BIG screen TV is available for fans to sit and watch the game.  You can see the TV behind Ernie Banks in the pic above.  Before the game, a band was set up in the area playing country music to a large crowd that had gathered.

The crew went on in the stadium to find their seats down the third base line.  The stadium filled up quickly as most of the fans were in their seats before the first pitch.

Historic Score Board, 30 minutes before game time, the scoreboard was installed in 1937

5.3 (2)

The roof top seats outside the stadium were also full.

5.2

The actual playing field has some interesting ground rules due to its age and design.  For example, the outfield wall has a chain link fence that runs the entire length of the outfield.  This chain link fence actually extends into the playing area.  The design was made to keep fans from falling out of the bleachers and onto the playing field.  (A felony charge for a fan on the field in Chicago.)  The result is that a ball can land on top of the chain link fence but still be inside the outfield wall.  This no mans land is termed the ‘Basket’ by fans.  The umps call it a home run if a ball lands on the chain link.

The basket

47 wrigley-field-basket

The ivy on the wall is also interesting.  By Major League Baseball rules, the outfield wall must be padded.  The Cubs are the only park in the Majors without a padded wall.  They are also the only team with an exemption to the rule, they were grandfathered when the rule was passed.

The ivy also causes some interesting ground rules.  If the ball goes into the ivy and is stuck, the outfielder may raise his hand and the hit is ruled a ground rule double and other runners only advance one base.  However, if the player reaches into the ivy to get the ball, the runners can advance at their own risk.

Wrigley Field Ivy at Center Field

47.1 Wrigley-Field

The last observation on the Cubs and their fans was the number of baseballs that ended up in the stands.  After the Cubs completed warm-ups, the players walked over near the stands and began tossing balls into the stands.  Each player must have thrown about ten balls into the stands.  In between every inning, all three balls used by the players to warm-up were tossed into the stands.  And lastly, every time a Mets player made an out, without runners on base, the players would toss the ball around the infield and finally to the pitcher.  The pitcher would roll the ball to the dugout.  Then someone in the dugout would toss the ball into the stands.  If the pitcher did not like the ball he was pitching, he would roll it to the dugout also, and that ball would be in the stands.  The Cubs put cases of balls in the stands every night.  A great experience at Wrigley Field with a Cubs Win.

Tuesday, August 28th

The skipper used the day to check out the starboard engine and make sure it was ready to go.  Initial checks reveal no damage to the engine or components.  The skipper did find the oil and coolant levels unusually low though.  He filed them back to normal and will have to keep a closer eye on them for awhile.

Wednesday, August 29th

The crew headed to the Chicago Lock to officially exit Lake Michigan and enter the Chicago River.

So long Lake Michigan

2 Goodbye Lake Michigan

Entering Chicago Harbor Lock

3 Chicago River

Hello Chicago River

3.1

The crew decided to take the Chicago River back thru downtown Chicago on their way to Joliet.  There was much activity along the waterfront and the sights and sounds were exhilarating.

Still Waters II reflection off a building

3.4 Reflections

The  cruise was going well until the crew arrived at a closed RR Bridge with only 11 feet of clearance.  The skipper could not contact the Bridge Tender by phone, radio, or horn signal to request the bridge to open.  After ten minutes of trying to make contact, the Bridge Tender finally answered the phone and said he had two trains approaching and he would open the bridge after the second train passed.

Second train stopped on the bridge

3.7

After another 20 minute wait, the trains were gone and the bridge opened.

The next obstacle today would be the Electric Fish Barrier.  Only one vessel is allowed to transient the area at a time.  When the crew arrived they were the only vessel around so they cruised on down the river and passed the barrier.  News reports are claiming the fish barrier is not working very well and that some Asian Carp have actually made it north of the barrier and closer to Lake Michigan.  There are some threats and news out in the grapevine that the government might close the river to prevent the carp from making it into Lake Michigan.  Surely, there is a better solution than closing the river to recreational boaters.

3.16

Tight squeeze as the crew left the fish barrier and a tow had arrived at the southern end of barrier.

3.14

The last challenge for the day was the Lockport Lock.  The crew arrived at the lock just as a large tow was leaving.  Once the tow cleared the lock, the skipper got the green light to enter.  The Admiral used a new tool the skipper made to assist in attaching the boat to the floating bollard in the lock.  He basically took some line and ran it thru a hose to form a ring.  This allows the Admiral to play ring toss with the bollard and attach the line to the boat which is much easier than trying to lean out over the railing and around the bollard with the line.  The tool worked excellently, and will make locking in these large river locks much easier.

The Admiral modeling the new tool.

3.23

After arriving in Joliet, the crew prepared for a night out on the town with relatives.  Cyndi, the Admirals cousin, came and picked the crew up and drove them north where they also met with Brandy and Rich (Brandy is Cyndi’s daughter).  The crew had a great time breaking bread and talking with family.  Thanks for dinner Cyndi!!!!

Thursday, Aug 30th

The crew spent most of the day relaxing between boat projects and cleaning.  Probably more relaxing than boat projects though.  In the afternoon a series of six Looper boats pulled onto the wall at Joliet to join our crew.

One of the boats, Green Eyes, is from Coronado, California.  Green Eyes is crewed by a nice couple Sherry and Orin.  They have cruised all over the world, but what caught the Admiral’s attention was that they have cruised from San Diego Harbor all the way to Juneau, Alaska on their own boat.  The Admiral was asking many questions about the route and some how to questions as well.  The Admiral is leaning more and more towards that west coast cruise all the time.

Friday, Aug 31st

Just another down day to plan for the next run down to Ottawa.  Five of the boats tried to leave around 6 this morning but there was a tow in the next lock.  The operator said it would be two hours before the tow exited the lock.  The boats decided to return to the wall at Joliet.  Around 0930, it looked like the lock operator was ready for the boaters, but a train came before they could get under the open RR Bridge.  The bridge went shut and they had to wait for the train to go by.  Did I mention how sloooooow the train went by.  They finally got in the lock around 1030.  Glad our crew decided to sit it out today.

Another 6 Looper boats arrived at Joliet late in the afternoon.  About 1730 the crews all gathered for dock tails to swap sea stories.  The Joliet Harbor Host also arrived and ran a few boaters to the local grocery store to re-provision.

6 Docktails Joliet

Saturday, Sept 1st

The day started early but would get off to a slow start.  The skipper called the Brandon Lock (which is only 2 miles downstream) to see about getting in the que to lock thru this morning.  There were two tows in the lock going down bound, and one tow upbound waiting to get in the lock.  The Lock Master said it would be at least three hours before he could get to the seven pleasure craft on the Joliet wall.  The skipper said he would call back at 0830.  While debriefing the other boat captains, another down bound tow passed the boaters and arrived at the lock.  Hmmm. Might be awhile before the seven Loopers make the lock.

At 0830, the skipper called the lock again and learned that the seven Looper boats had been pushed to noon for their lockage.  At 1130, the skipper called again and the lock master said the upbound tow was pushing out of the lock so come on down.  Two of the boats decided to stay at Joliet due to the late start, but five boats shoved off the wall and headed down stream towards the lock.

Green Eyes in the Brandon Road Lock

1 Brandon Road Lock

After the tow got completely out of the lock, the lock master gave the green light and the five pleasure craft entered the lock.  It was a slow 34 feet down because one of the drain valves was broken.  That explains why it was taking three hours to move one tow.

Babe in Brandon Road Lock

1.1

Still Waters II on Brandon Road Lock

1.5 Still Waters II

After exiting the lock it was about 14 miles to the Dresden Lock.  The lock master made the five boats wait 30 minutes before he opened the gate.  Then he directed the smallest boat to tie to the port side of the lock.  He then directed the four larger boats to all draft off the forward bollard.  Never seen this before.  Francesco was on the wall, then Still Waters II, then Babe, then Nova Jornada.

Francesca holding three other boats on the wall

2 Dresden Lock

When the crew exited the Dresden Lock they were officially in the Illinois River.

The Illinois River was giving a nice push due to the current and the five boat flotilla was making 10 mph.  This was good because it was three hours to the next lock, then two miles before the marina.  Nobody was looking forward to making any miles in the dark.

As it turned out, the flotilla arrived at the Marseilles Lock at 1800 to make the 24 foot drop down.  They exited the lock at 1837 and managed to be docked before sunset.  Glad to have that day in the rear view mirror.

Boat name of the week

In the DuSable Marina in Chicago

46

Next Week –

The crew will stay at Heritage Harbor thru the Labor Day weekend.  They will then head down the Illinois River to make way to Grafton, Illinois near the intersection with the Mississippi River.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Stuck in Grand Haven

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Grand Haven Musical Fountain

30.4

In 2016, the crew took many weather delay days trying to get down Lake Michigan to Chicago.  The crew had to wait a day or two for each travel day they took.  Consequently, the crew started saying that Lake Michigan was to be endured, not enjoyed.  The small towns are wonderful to visit, but the Lake is a major endurance challenge to the skipper’s patience.

This year, the crew has done well with the weather on Lake Michigan.  They actually travelled 5 days without a single delay.  That has all come to a complete and total halt though this week.  Lake Michigan is up to her old tricks and not being very cooperative this week or next.

Summary of week:

Grand Haven

The crew traveled from Arcadia to Pentwater (1) on Sunday, then managed to move on to Grand Haven (2) on Monday.  However, the rest of the week has seen winds 15-20 knots with waves 5-9 feet out on the Big lake.

Consequently, the crew has stayed tied to the pier in Grand Haven waiting for the weather to change for the better and the Coast Guard to remove the Small Craft Advisory that has been issued for Lake Michigan..

 

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. When did the Grand Haven Musical Fountain become unseated as the World’s Largest Musical Fountain?
  2. So who now holds the title of World’s Largest Musical Fountain?
  3. What is a skidder?
  4. What is a teamster?
  5. What is a River Rat?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II watching the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.  Her slip was directly across the Grand River from the fountain.  Enjoy!

Bonus Feature, a behind the scene look at the musical fountain.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, August 19th

The weather was forecasted to be very calm today so the crew opted to put some miles on the water and head south.  However, before they left they took on fuel.  While fueling, the skipper learned that the dockmaster had completed the Loop back in 1995.  When the skipper asked the dockmaster what his favorite part of the Loop was, a strange answer was returned.  The dockmaster said his favorite part was the 50 cent per foot dock rates and that the further south he got the nicer the people became.

Sure would be nice to get some of that 50 cents per foot action since the going rate seems to be more in line with $1.5 to $2 a foot these days.  The skipper also learned that the dockmaster has a pizza shop in Pentwater, and he said tell the young man at the counter that he sent us in and to give a 10% discount.

Leaving Arcadia

18 Leaving Arcadia

After fueling, the crew set out for Pentwater.  The biggest obstacle out on the water was the number of fishing boats taking advantage of the calm conditions.  After the crew rounded Point Sable, the number of fishing boats began to dwindle.  Maybe they knew something the skipper was unaware of.

The sand dunes are getting smaller

19

Point Sable Light

21.1

About an hour later, the wind abruptly jumped up to about 15-20 miles per hour.  It did not take long for the seas to build to 2-3 feet.  Luckily, there were only 3 miles to go to the breakwater wall at Pentwater.  As they arrived at the harbor entrance, the locals were out in force enjoying the warm summer day.

23 Pentwater Beach

After landing at the Snug Harbor Marina, the crew set out on foot to find Sunshine Pizza.  The pizza place is on the main drag in town about a half mile from the marina.  The young man working the counter said the dockmaster in Arcadia was his Grandpa.  The pizza tasted good, but was especially good since the young man gave the crew a 10% discount.

One funny thing though, the pizza was not sliced so the skipper took it back up to the counter and asked them to slice the pizza.  A second young man immediately began giving the grandson a hard time for not slicing the pizza, calling it a rookie mistake.  Turns out the grandson had been picking on the second young man for about a week for making the same mistake last week.  Pride goes before the fall, because the second guy was certainly serving up some humble pie.

Sunshine Pizza

24 Sunshine Pizza

Another surprise in Pentwater was the Cenzo’s Market.  They carry the Racine Krinkle, the official pastry of the state of Wisconsin. The Admiral bought the Apple Cinnamon Krinkle.  umm umm good!!

26 krinkle

Monday, August 20th

The weather was border line marginal today, but the crew decided to shove off and see what the Big Lake would present them.  Initially the waves were only 1 footers coming from the eastern shore.  The skipper moved in close to try to get the smoothest ride for the crew.

Little Sable Light

27 Little Sable Light

When the crew rounded Little Point Sable the waves picked up to two feet. The further south the crew traveled the more intense the waves became.  By the time they passed by Muskegon, the waves had built to 3 feet.

White River Light

28 White River Light

With only a few miles to go, they were sure glad to pull into the breakwater wall at Grand Haven.

Entrance to Grand Haven

29 Entry to Grand Haven

Grand Haven is known for their Musical Fountain, a synchronized water and light show with music.  The fountain was based on a similar model in Germany that a local citizen saw during his tour of duty in Germany.

When the fountain opened in 1962, it was the largest musical fountain in the world.  The Grand Haven fountain held this title until 1998, but fell to second after the fountain at the Bellagio Casino and Resort opened in Las Vegas.

A three minute song takes about ten hours of programming, with as many as 6,000 lighting and or water commands in a single song.  If you have a gift of programming and choreography skills maybe you could program a song.  In 2018, the software was made available to the public so that individuals can program their own song for display to the public.  Click the link to learn how to Create A Song for the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.

A few pics from the Grand Haven website

30.1
30.2

The crowds have not been as large as in the pic above, but the crew has front row seats at the marina on the bow of Still Waters II.  The marina is next to the seating area, and the crew is only 5 slips down.

Tuesday, August 21st

The weather has completely deteriorated.  The Coast Guard has issued a small craft advisory that expires Wednesday evening, which means that winds or waves are expected to produce hazardous conditions for small craft……..and should avoid navigating in these conditions.

A check of the weather sights show that winds will be 15-20 knots, with gusts to 30.   The waves are expected to build to 7-9 feet.

Flags flying at Grand Haven

31 Town

The conditions were so bad that the locals have closed the beaches in the area.  There were two drownings in Chicago over the weekend when this storm passed through the area.

The crew will sit this out and wait for more favorable conditions before heading further south.  The skipper spent most of the day tending to the boat, lines, and fenders.  Even a mile up the breakwater channel the boat is still experiencing 1 foot swells that are rocking the boat pretty good.  On the up side, they will see another performance of the Musical Fountain.  Tonight’s playlist:

  1. Heartbeat Song – Kelly Clarkson
  2. Waka Waka – Shakira
  3. Shutup and Dance – Walk the Moon
  4. Dare You – Hardwell
  5. Ain’t it Fun – Paramore
  6. Holy – Florida Georgia Line

Wednesday, August 22nd

The night was very rolly.  The skipper said it was like being a hotdog in a boiling pot of water.  The small craft advisory is still in effect.  Looks like the winds should fall off in the late afternoon.  The small craft advisory is scheduled to end at 2000.

Sailboat art in Connector Park

32

Another night of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.  The playlist:

  1. How Far I’ll Go – Alessia Cara
  2. I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepson
  3. Under The Boardwalk – John Cougar Mellencamp
  4. Say Your Name – Plumb
  5. Pompei – American Authors
  6. Love Alone is Worth the Fight – Switchfoot

Thursday, August 23rd

The Small Craft Advisory was lifted but the Admiral was not comfortable going out in the marginal conditions on the Big Lake.  The forecast calls for winds 10 – 15 mph with waves 2-3 feet.  The crew has a rule that if one person does not want to go, then they stay put.

The winds are supposed to pick back up on Friday and not subside until Saturday afternoon.  Next opportunity to leave may be on Sunday.

Connector Park Boardwalk

33 Boardwalk

Another night of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain, tonight’s playlist:

  1. Soarin – Jerry Goldsmith
  2. Viva La Vida – Coldplay
  3. This is Me – Keala Settle
  4. Happy – Pharrel Williams
  5. Home – Philip Philips
  6. Calling on Angels – Tiesto

Friday, August 24th

As predicted the winds are blowing again and the Coast Guard has issued another Small Craft Advisory.  The bigger problem now for the crew is trying to protect the boat from the dock.  The surge from the wind came straight down the opening of the breakwater and caused the boats in the marina to bounce around all day.

The skipper spent most of the day readjusting lines every hour to prevent the boat from smacking the dock every 3-5 seconds when another 1 foot wave passed under the boat.

Grand Haven is nicknamed Coast Guard City

35 Coast Guard

He did manage to catch a small break in the weather so he visited the local history museum just a few blocks from the marina.  The museum told the story of the early settlers in the area.

The territory was mostly settled with only native Indians and a few fur traders who traded with the Indians and shipped the goods back east.  The men who actually moved the goods were called Voyagers.

When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, people followed the route west and began to settle along the shores of Lake Michigan.  During the spring and summer, these pioneers farmed.  After the harvest was brought in, the men would head out to logging camps where they would work until the next spring thaw arrived.

The men worked six days a week and started their day with a 0430 wake up call followed by breakfast.  As in any industry, new terms were invented to describe the various jobs required to be done to get the white pine trees to market.  Once the lumberjack fell the tree, a group of men would trim the branches off the tree to form a log. A ‘skidder’ would use a team of horses to drag the trimmed tree from the field to the nearest road.

A ‘teamster’ would then load and move a wagon full of logs to the river bank, where the teamster would unload and stack the logs.  When the river thawed out in the spring, ‘river rats’ would push the logs into the river and guide the logs downstream.  The river rats rode the logs down to the sawmill, then hiked back up river to the next pile of waiting logs on the bank.

Another interesting thing learned in the museum was that ox were initially used as the beast of burden to move the logs around.  However, when a recession hit in the 1860’s, the logging camps shifted to horses because they ate less than an ox.  As the skipper says, Always follow the money.

Surfs UP!

37 Surfs Up

The shows at the Grand Haven Musical Fountain continue to get better as the week moves on.  Tonight’s playlist:

  1. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  2. Calling on Angels – Tiesto
  3. Brand New – Ben Rector
  4. American Medley – Anthem Lights
  5. Can’t Stop the Feeling =- Justin Timberlake
  6. Believer – Imagine Dragons

Saturday, August 25th

Well, the winds were howling last night.  The surge continued to bounce the boat against the dock.  At about 0300, the skipper woke to the boat smacking the dock.  He spent the next two hours adjusting all the lines and fenders to try to get the bouncing boat under control.  Sadly, by 0330, the skipper noticed that most boaters were up on the docks also adjusting their lines.  The skipper also opened the windows of the helm to cut down on the windage and this seemed to help keep the boat from blowing into the dock.

37.4

Unfortunately, the open windows were only a short break because it began to rain and the skipper went back and closed the windows.  Oh well, it was good while it lasted.  The 1400 weather report shows the small craft advisory to be cancelled late this afternoon and the winds to die off to under 5 mph.  The waves are supposed to also calm down and drop to less than 1 foot by the morning.

Wipe Out

37.1

Finally things are settling down.  This is calm compared to the last 72 hours.

Last night of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain for the crew.  The playlist was a special themed show based on Beauty and the Beast.  It was the best show of the week.

Being stuck in Grand Haven does have its upside.  There are numerous ice cream, fudge, and comfort food stops all along the water front.  The skipper has been busy in between adjusting lines on the boat to go test the local product; double cheese burgers, ice cream fruit slushies, pronto pups (deep fried hot dog), and shaved ice to name just a few.  He claims he needs the extra calories for the energy to keep adjusting the lines and fenders.

A small Hawaiian Ice

38

Boat name of the week

Not many boats moving about this week so not much opportunity to catch a good boat name.

Next Week –

The skipper says he has had enough of Lake Michigan, stick a fork in him, I think he is done.  He says he is going to Chicago the next available weather window.

The skipper will continue to monitor the weather overnight.  If conditions improve and allow departure on Sunday, the crew will turn towards Chicago, travel 108 mile to cross Lake Michigan, and pull into the DuSable Marina by the Navy Pier to end the Lake Michigan tour. The crew will hang in Chicago for a few days and then start south on the Illinois River.

If things do not improve, the crew could stay stuck in Grand Haven until the next weather window opens.  The earliest window might not be until Thursday, August 30th.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Magical Mackinac Island

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Welcome Aboard to gotogirlsblog, hope you enjoy the adventure.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

21.3 Grand Hotel

Summary of week:

Arcadia
The crew left Presque Isle on Monday and landed on Mackinac Island  (1) for three days.  They left the Island and anchored in Petoskey Bay (2) on Thursday.  They anchored Friday night also in a cove at South Manitou Island (3).  Then ended the week at Arcadia (4) on Saturday.

 

 

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

One of our virtual crew members, Scott, asked an interesting question last week.  He submitted, Are there tides on the Great Lakes?  Well, per the NOAA website, yes there are tides on the Great Lakes.  However, the tide range is negligible, only about 2 inches.  However, two other phenomenon have a greater impact on water level. The change in water level due to consistent winds blowing in the same direction are actually more noticeable in a harbor.  Atmospheric pressure also may cause the water level to change as the pressure goes from low to high (or high to low) due to the large surface area of the lakes.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows the crew of Still Waters II  take a bike ride around Mackinac Island, then enjoy a taxi ride to the Woods with Al and Ruth for a fun evening of fine dinning.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, August 12th

The crew spent a wonderful afternoon bicycling about 10 miles around Presque Isle with the crew of Lucky Loopers, Deena and Jerry L.  The General Store across from the marina offers courtesy bicycles for visitors to explore the Island.   The store also has some good ice cream.

Deena and Jerry started their Loop Adventure just a few days ago from Lake St. Clair, but are waiting on some friends to arrive and complete the Loop before launching their Loop in earnest.  And who are they waiting on to celebrate their Wake Crossing?  Well, that would be the Getting Looped crew who are onboard a 43 foot Viking, and our crew last saw them in Cape May.

Riding around New Presque Lighthouse

25 New Presque Isle Light

Deena and Jerry L.

25.1

Monday, August 13th

The crew planned to cruise to a town named Cheboygan just south of Mackinac Island when they shoved off the dock.  However, they were unable to secure a reservation.  Turned out that Cheboygan was sponsoring a boat race and the area marinas were booked solid.

New Presque Light from the water

13.1

The skipper called Mackinac Island State Harbor to see if just maybe they could land there.  The marina was booked full by the Michigan Reservation System, but the Island keeps about 20% of the slips out of the reservation system for first-come-first-serve boaters.  The dockmaster said they had a few slips open but could not guarantee a slip would be available upon arrival.

Poe Reef Light just north of Cheboygan

14 Poe Reef Light

The crew was about 18 miles away from the Island, so they decided to roll the dice and see if they could arrive in time to snag a slip.  Two hours later, when they arrived in the harbor, they were informed that the marina was full.  The dockmaster did inform the crew that they would be able to tie up at the ferry dock if they called.  The Admiral made the call to the Ferry Line and secured permission to land on the dock because there was no cruise ship scheduled in.

Mackinac Island Harbor entrance

16 Mackinac Harbor Entrance

While the crew was making way over to the ferry dock, the crew noticed that the crew of Tortuga was at the State Marina.  After landing the boat, the skipper sent Al, the captain of Tortuga, a text message with a pic of their boat saying: “Guess where we are?”

26 Tortuga (2)

Al responded: “I give, where are you?”  The skipper had walked over to the other side of the ferry dock so he could see the back of Tortuga and text back: “I am on the ferry dock, look out the back of your boat and you will see me.”  Al walked out and waved at the skipper.  Al sent another text over inviting the crew for docktails.  The crew walked over and had an enjoyable evening with Ruth and Al.

Al is responsible for the skipper learning about the Great Loop.  It was fun to catch up with them and hear how their adventure has gone.  The two crews had last seen each other in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  

Tuesday, August 14th

The first order of business today was to snag one of the first-come-first-serve slips when boaters began to leave the marina.  While the crew waited for other boaters to vacate their slips, they were entertained by watching the morning deliveries by horse drawn wagons.

19 Delivery Wagon

20 Morning Deliveries

At 0930, the skipper called the marina and secured slip 17.  The crew moved off the ferry dock and headed to their new home.  After getting settled in slip 17, the skipper got the bicycles off the boat and prepared for a ride around the Island.  The crew spent the afternoon bicycling the 8.5 miles around the Island, stopping to enjoy the views and take in the scenery.

The Arch

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0908.JPG

The clear water

22

Flowers every where (make sure you read the fine print on the sign)

29

Later in the day, Al and Ruth joined the crew for a taxi ride out to the Woods where the two couples enjoyed a nice dinner together.  After the taxi left the marina, the skipper turned as white as a sheet.  Ruth noticed the strange look on the skipper’s face and asked him what was wrong.  He was busy checking all his pockets for his wallet when he finally answered that he left his wallet on the boat.  Well it looks like some one will be shoveling horse manure and washing dishes tonight.  Luckily, Al said he would cover the ride out (taxi is cash only) and the Admiral had her credit card to pay for dinner.  On the return trip to the marina, the taxi driver had to stop at an ATM machine so the Admiral could get the cash to pay for the ride back.

Taxi to the Woods

21.9

Al and Ruth on the way to the Woods

21 Dinner at the Woods

Approaching the Grand Hotel

21.10

Thru the woods to get to the Woods

21.11

The after dinner group photo at the Woods

21.8

Wednesday, August 15th

Al and Ruth shoved off the dock and headed out this morning.  They plan to go down the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan.  Our crew will stay on the Michigan side this year.  Both crews plan to go up the Upper Mississippi, so they hope to meet up again somewhere south of Chicago.

Our crew continued to take it easy and enjoy the Island.  The skipper got in two laps around the Island on his bicycle while the Admiral went around the homes to admire all the pretty gardens and flowers.  Did I mention two laps around the Island for the skipper, that was so he could devour 1.5 pounds of fudge from Joann’s (best fudge on the Island and the Loop).

28

The sun sets on another great stay at Mackinac Island

23

Thursday, August 16th

Leaving Mackinac Island

1 Leaving Mackinac Island State Harbor

The crew set out towards Lake Michigan and their next major goal, Chicago. The skipper has it planned for eight travel days, but with the weather on Lake Michigan, you just do not know how long it will actually take.  In 2016, due to weather delays it took them 15 calendar days to make the eight travel days to Chicago.

The ferries provide for a good wake until you get under the Mackinac Bridge

1.2

The weather was good today though, so they cruised under the Mackinac Bridge and entered big Lake Michigan.  They cruised to the Little Traverse Bay and dropped anchor at the end of the Bay.  The water was so clear that you could see the anchor on the sand bottom in ten feet of water.

Mackinac Bridge, now the third largest suspension bridge in the world

2.1

Abandoned lighthouse

3 Abandoned Lighthouse

Little Traverse Bay Light

4 Little Traverse Bay Lighthouse

Sand Dunes at end of bay where the crew anchored

5 Sand Dunes at Petoskey State Park

Friday, August 17th

With another good weather day, the crew weighed anchor and headed towards South Manitou Island.  Deena and Jerry recommended the anchorage, so the crew thought they would go check it out.

The cruise did start in fog, but by the time the crew reached the main body of water, the fog had lifted and the sun was trying to break out.  The auto-pilot sure worked good in the fog.  The skipper was usually doing crazy Ivan’s when he was trying to manually steer in the fog.  The auto-pilot stayed right on the heading, which allowed the skipper to better monitor the radar for potential targets (other boats).

6 Morning Fog

Running along the south shore of North Manitou Island

9.1

9.4

When they arrived at the cove at South Manitou Island there were already five boats anchored.  The first time the crew went to set the anchor it dragged, so the crew raised the anchor to see what the problem might be.  When the anchor came up it was covered in grass.  No wonder it did not set.  The skipper cleaned the anchor and then moved in closer to shore to make sure they dropped the anchor in the sand.  The anchor set and held the boat all night.

Anchor covered in grass

10.1

By the time the sun went down there were a dozen boats swinging on the hook.  And swing they did.  The wind was out of the north and the Island provided good protection.  However, the swells were coming from the east and rolled the boat all night.

Cove at South Manitou Island

10 Cove at South Manitou Island

Saturday, August 18th

The crew finds themselves squarely in the middle of the pack of the Looper flotilla.  This has caused some issues with marinas because they are all booked up.  The skipper could not secure dockage at the spots he wanted to stop at today, so he settled on a small little marina in Arcadia that does not see much transient boater action.  Mainly because the four block town has absolutely nothing to see or do.  Scratch that.  The skipper just found an ice cream store a half mile from the marina.  Time to take a break from blog writing and go check out the local creamery.

South Manitou Light

11.1

Point Betsie Light

12 Point Betsie Light

The skipper is pretty sure he remembers something about building a house on a solid rock, rather than building a house on a sand foundation.  These folks must not have gotten the word.

13 Sand Dunes

Boat name of the week

Varmint

17

Next Week –

The weather looks good to travel both Sunday and Monday so the crew will take advantage of the opportunity to make way and try to arrive at Grand Haven by Monday.  The forecast shows 25-30 mile per hour winds both Tuesday and Wednesday so the crew will stay in Grand Haven to allow the weather to pass.

If the Lake calms down Thursday, the crew will try to move to South Haven, then Michigan City on Friday, and make Chicago Saturday.  However, that is a big IF.  They will watch the weather and see what happens.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Moving on, Lake Huron

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

A hearty Welcome Aboard to Two Lazy Trotters for becoming a virtual crew member by following the blog.

29.4

Summary of week:

Presque Isle

The crew spent Sunday and Monday in Cleveland (1) where they visited the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.  Tuesday, they planned to stop at some islands about half way to Detroit, but weather dictated that they keep moving so they anchored just south of Detroit (2).  Wednesday, they fought the currents of the Detroit River and the St Clair River before stopping for the night in Port Huron (3).  Thursday, they entered Lake Huron and stopped at Harbor Beach (4).  The weather was good to cross the big open water of the bay north of the thumb of Michigan, so they made way to Harrisville (5).  They completed the week by cruising to Presque Isle (5) on Saturday.  One drawback to this beautiful location is little to no connectivity to the internet.  This is a pretty remote area from civilization.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. What is a prison singer?
  2. What is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan?
  3. Where did President Truman and wife Bess honeymoon?
  4. What does Presque mean?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she cruises thru the Detroit River, crosses Lake St Clair, and then shares the water with a few Lakers, up close and personal.  The poor internet access at Presque Isle has prevented uploading the video.  As soon as the crew can get a descent signal, they will upload the video.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, August 5th

The crew has a philosophy of: If it is a good weather day on these Big Lakes, then you best be making some headway.  Sunday was a good weather day while Monday was questionable.  So they cruised to Cleveland and pulled into the Rock and Dock, which shares the waterfront with the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Cleveland by Night, Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame is the building to the left of pic

29.1

Monday,  August 6th

The crew spent the day exploring the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.  It was a surprisingly good experience.  The displays start in the 40’s and show how the merging of Folk, Blues, and Country Music spawned the unique sound of Rock-n-Roll that was birthed in the 50’s.  The history continued with an exclusive video about the life and times of Elvis Presley.

Front of Hall of Fame

29.3 (2)

The British Invasion was next as well as the California sound of the Beach Boys.  A very good film featuring Dick Clark and the American Bandstand was fun to watch.  The film showed Hall of Famers original footage playing on the ‘Bandstand’.

The Admiral and one of her Fav Four, he looks bigger than life

29.6

Scattered throughout every floor, they had kiosk set up so you could listen to your favorite artist on headphones.  Another neat display was video footage of your favorite folks during their performances and thank you speeches during their induction ceremonies.

29.8

Some of you might not know it, but the skipper is tone deaf.  He always wanted to learn to play the guitar, so his parents had him tested before they wasted the money on a guitar and lessons.  The fellow conducting the test told the parents to save their money and not waste it on the skipper because he could not carry a tune in a bucket.  Needless to say, the skipper is in awe of a good guitar player.  Several of his favorites are in the Hall, including Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Stevie Ray Vaughn Guitar

29.7

 

Did you know that the skipper is a prison singer.  That is right, he is usually behind a few bars and he never has the right key.

Tuesday, August 7th

The original plan was to cruise to the Middle Bass Island and anchor for the night.  However, when they arrived near the island, the skipper checked the weather forecast and saw that the weather was going to change overnight.  Rather than be stuck out in bad weather around the islands, the crew decided to make a long day of it and push on towards Detroit.  They arrived about dark and dropped the anchor at the first good place they could find.  Unfortunately, the next morning, they learned it was not such a good place after all.

Looking over into Canada

30 Canada

The first thing to appear on shore was the Fermi Nuclear Power Plant

32 Fermi NPP

Guiding the way into Detroit River

35.1

Wednesday, August 8th

The first thing the crew noticed was that it looked like someone set off a bug bomb on the boat.  If there was one bug there had to be 10,000 bugs all over the boat.  When the crew went to raise the anchor, they quickly discovered that it was wrapped in weeds.  It took 45 minutes to haul the anchor up and clean the chain, a task that normally takes less than 5 minutes.

With the chain and anchor back on board the crew headed north into the Detroit River.  It did not take long to figure out that this was going to be another long day.  The current was running between 2-3 miles per hour.  With the throttles set at a speed where they normally travel at 8.5 mph, they were barely making 5 mph.

Current around a navigation aide

36 Current in Detroit River

37 Detroit River

37.8

The cruise was interesting though.  The water was a very pretty turquoise color, and the scenery along the river was interesting.  After that slow go, the crew entered Lake St Clair where they crossed the lake and then entered the St Clair River.

St Clair Light in the middle of the lake

38.2 St Clair Light

More head current and more slow go as the crew headed north on the St Clair River.  This head current should not have been a big surprise.  All the water flowing out of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan combine near Mackinac Island.   These waters then combine with Lake Huron and flow thru both of these rivers into Lake Erie.  When the water leaves Lake Erie it flows into the Niagara River, where the crew saw the current as they went thru the Black Rock Lock.  They also saw the flow over the Niagara Falls.  All this water eventually makes it thru Lake Ontario and then out to sea via the St Lawrence River.

Lakers passing close in the St Clair River

38.1

Some scenery along the way

39.2

39.5

The crew finally reached their destination of Port Huron late in the day. After getting secured, the skipper spent some time trying to wash all the dead bugs off the boat.

By the time he was done, everything in town, except a DQ, was already closed, so the crew walked up to Dairy Queen and got something to eat.  While walking to DQ, they passed a Historical Marker sign stating that Harry Truman had honeymooned in the adjacent hotel.  He returned from WWI in May of 1919 and married Bess Wallace in June 1919.

The Hotel where Harry and Bess stayed

40 Port Huron Hotel (2)

Thursday, August 9th

The clear water is nice to look at but it also allows weeds and moss to grow thick in this area.  The crew awoke to another bug hatch, but it was not as bad as yesterday.

The crew left Port Huron and headed into Lake Huron.  As they left the St Clair River there was a nice looking lighthouse on the port shore.  Turns out this is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan.  Fort Gratiot Lighthouse was built in 1829.

1.2 Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

The conditions were good enough to make another long day and press all the way to Harrisville.  They had planned to anchor in the harbor, but when they arrived they found the harbor full of weeds.  Rather than fight the weeds and anchor in the morning, the crew decided to pull into the city marina.

Entrance to Harbor Beach

3 Enter Harbor Beach

Friday, August 10th

There must be something about this weather that is making the bugs hatch every night.  Unfortunately, the bugs were alive and well, and in the upper helm.  What a mess.

The crew set out towards Port Austin; however, when they arrived at the tip of the point, conditions were calm out in the bay so the crew decided to cross over to the other side.  They set their sites on Harrisville and made it across the bay with little trouble.  When they arrived at the marina, they once again found it full of weeds and moss, so they pulled into a slip rather than anchor.

Crossing over

4 Crossing over

The town did have a fudge and ice cream store so the crew took the 1.5 mile hike to enjoy the confectionaries.

Harrisville Marina

7 Harrisville Marina

Saturday, August 11th

The weather was good again for a cruise, so the crew set out for Presque Isle.  The skipper was not familiar with the term ‘Presque’ so he looked it up in the dictionary to see what it means.  Turns out it means almost an Island.  Well Presque Isle fits the bill as almost an island because it is still connected to the mainland of Michigan, but does jet out into Lake Huron.

On the way to Presque Isle, the skipper altered course to run closer to shore rather than out and around some islands.  As they passed Middle Island, the skipper was heard to say that the island was aptly named because they are out in the middle of no where.

Middle Island

9 Middle Island

On the approach to the marina, the crew could see two lighthouses, the old and new Presque Light.  Upon arrival, the crew took a walk to the old Presque Isle Lighthouse.

Old Presque Lighthouse

11.1

The lighthouse is one of the oldest on Lake Huron.  It was built in 1841 and operated until 1871.  The old lighthouse was only 30 feet tall and the trees grew up to obscure the light.  Rather than cut the trees down, they built a new light about a mile down the road.

Boat name of the week

Reel Blessed

Next Week –

The crew will head towards Mackinac Island and try to get a transient slip.  The marina reservations are sold out all next week.  However, they keep a few slips open for first come first serve transients.  The crew hopes to snag one of these slips.  If not, they will head to Mackinac City and take the Ferry Boat over to Mackinac Island for a day trip.  They will then go under the Mackinac Bridge and enter Lake Michigan.  They will cruise the Michigan side of the lake this trip, and will get as far south as the weather will allow.

Looks like the skipper has racked up some penalty minutes.  Hope he gets out in time to continue the adventure.  Would hate it if he misses ship’s movement.  Because you know what the skipper says, “If you are 15 minutes early, You are on time.  If you are on time, you are late.  And if you are late, you will get left.”

12 (2)

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Falling Over the Falls

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Horseshoe Falls 

128.9

Summary of week:

Geneva SP
After the family left on Tuesday, the crew made three moves down the south shore of Lake Erie:

1- Stopped in Dunkirk on Thursday to hear a great band

2- Anchored in Presque Isle Bay State Park across from Erie, PA on Friday

3- Docked in Geneva State Park Marina on Saturday

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Who was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel and live?
  2. What does the Perry Monument in Erie Harbor memorialize?
  3. What did Platt R. Spencer base his script on?
  4. What is the longest covered bridge in the US?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she enjoys the family vacation to Niagara Falls.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Saturday-Monday, July 28-30th

The family made the trek to upstate New York to visit Niagara Falls.  The group bought a Discovery Pass which allows access to the following attractions:

  • Maid of the Mist boat ride128 Maid of the Mist
  • Observation Tower
  • Cave of the Winds

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0878.JPG

  • Aquarium

137.2

  • Discovery Center
  • Trolley
  • Movie at the Visitor Center – the film was very interesting as it chronicled the falls from early Indian days to the present.  It showcased Annie Taylor, who became the first person to survive a trip over the falls in a barrel.  She made the trip on October 24, 1901, which also happened to be her birthday.  The film also discussed the youngest person to ever survive a fall over the falls.  He was 7 years old when he and his sister were knocked out of a boat in the Niagara River Rapids about a mile above the falls.  The sister was rescued just 20 feet from going over the falls.  The boy, with nothing but a life jacket and swim suit went over the falls and was rescued by the Maid of the Mist tour boat.

Annie Taylor

136.1

The park service also provides a free fireworks show Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at 2200.  The fireworks over the luminated falls was very impressive.  This weeks video shows the details of the trip.

IMG_0984

Niagara Fireworks

Tuesday-Wednesday, July 31st-Aug 1st

The family departed early Tuesday morning, so it was time to turn attention to a needed water repair.  Last Friday, just before the family arrived, the skipper discovered that the potable water expansion tank had sprung a leak.  A stream of water the size of a pencil lead was shooting out of the tank.  The skipper isolated the tank which inoped the fresh water supply on the boat.  Timing is everything.  The boat was basically without water while the family was visiting.

So with the family gone it was time to repair/replace the tank.  The repairs with epoxy and JB Weld proved to be ineffective.  While looking on line to order a new tank, the skipper discovered that Home Depot had a similar tank.  With a Home Depot only 6 miles away, the skipper rode his bike and fetched a new tank.

With a new tank in hand, the skipper was able to replace the leaking tank and get the potable water system up and running again.  Now time to plan the next leg of the journey.

Thursday, Aug 2nd

The crew set out from Tonawanda and headed to Dunkirk.  A Harbor Host had come by the boat and left a note for the crew.  The Harbor Host suggested taking the Black Rock Channel in Buffalo and bypass the current in the Niagara River.  This turned out to be a good suggestion.  It looked like the current was flowing 3-5 knots in the Niagara River while the crew was in the Black Rock Channel.

Black Rock Channel leading to Lake Erie

3 Black Rock Channel

Entering Lake Erie

5 Enter Lake Erie

The view for the rest of the day

6 View for most of Day

After about 6 hours on the water, the Dunkirk Lighthouse came into view and the crew turned into the harbor.  The crew docked at the Municipal Pier.  While docking, the crew noticed that a crew of folks was busy setting up a stage.  Turned out that Thursday night is Summer Concert Night.  The main band was named Nickel City Pimp Choir.  They did a show similar to the Blues Brothers, high energy and very good.

Dunkirk Lighthouse

7.1

Nickel City Pimp Choir

9 Nickel City Pimp Choir

The band played for about two hours and put on a great show.  The crowd was also having a wonderful time on the pier.  The band was supposed to stop at 2030, but they brought the sun down and played until 2100.

The crowd

9.1 Crowd (2)

The sunset

10 Sunset Dunkirk

Bonus sunset and music video

 

 

Friday, Aug 3rd

The crew took on fuel before leaving Dunkirk, and then headed out towards Erie.  The run was about three miles off shore so not much to view but hours of water going by.

South shore of Lake Erie

11 South Shore Lake Erie

As the crew approached the channel to the Erie Harbor, another lighthouse marked the entrance.  The crew entered the channel and made way to the Presque Isle Bay where the crew dropped the anchor for the evening.  While on the way to the bay, they passed a monument to Perry’s Victory.  The memorial was established to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie, during the War of 1812, and to celebrate the long-lasting peace among Great Britain, Canada, and the US.  Well, the peace after the War of 1812 that is.  The memorial is just 5 miles from the Canadian Border.  Did you know that the US -Canadian Border is the longest unprotected border in the world?

Entrance to Erie Harbor

13 Erie Channel

Perry Memorial

14 Perry Monument

Saturday, Aug 4th

When the skipper tried to make a reservation for the Geneva State Park, the park staff said the marina was full and that Still Waters II would have to find another place to stay for the weekend.  The skipper decided to go another ten miles west of the State Park and anchor for the night.

However, when the crew was about 16 miles from the State Park, the skipper received a call from the Park.  Suddenly, there is a place available at the State Park.  The skipper said they would take the spot and altered course to head towards the entrance to the park.

View of Lake Erie from shore

19 Lake Erie from Geneva

After arrival, the crew took a walk to Geneva-on-the-Lake.  This was a happening place on a Saturday afternoon.  There must have easily been over a hundred motorcycles in town.  The strip is mostly T-shirt shops and fast food eateries.  Eddies seemed to be doing the most business.  There parking lot only holds three hundred vehicles though, or they probably would be doing even more business.

Eddie’s Grill from the side

20 Eddies (2)

Geneva makes claim for two things:

  1. The work of Platt R. Spencer, whose Spencerian Script is the foundation for our cursive writing.  Mr. Spencer lived in Geneva and is said to have modeled his curves and loops after the pebbles found on the local beaches.
  2. Covered Bridges – The longest covered bridge in the US is the Smolen Gulf Bridge.  The bridge is 613 feet long which also makes it the 4th longest covered bridge in the world.

Smolen Gulf Bridge

21 Smolden- Gulf Bridge

Boat name of the week

0F807577-4E52-432B-8D78-40783AE290D1

Next Week –

The crew will travel to Cleveland and visit the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.  The weather may keep them in Cleveland for a few days, but when they can leave, they will head towards the islands just north of Sandusky.  Then they hope to make it thru Detroit and to the south end of Lake Huron.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

End of the Erie Canal

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The original Flight of Five Locks built in 1825 at Lockport

116 Original Lockport Flight of Five

Summary of week:

TonawandaThe crew made three short hops on their way to the end of the Erie Canal at Tonawanda (3).  On the way, they also made stops at Holley Canal Park (1) on Monday, and Middleport (2) on Tuesday.
Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. What was the name of the vessel that brought the first Norwegians to the US?
  2. How far did Lars Larson Geilane skate the Erie Canal?
  3. Why did they start in the middle and dig out towards the rivers while creating the Erie Canal?
  4. What is the name of the only road that crosses under the Erie Canal?
  5. How many locks were at Lockport in the 1825 Canal?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II cruising the end of the western Erie Canal.  She goes under a few more low bridges and then completes the last two locks at Lockport.   She completes the week by watching fireworks over Niagara Falls. Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, July 23rd

Today the crew traveled 12 miles, but would be greeted by three low lift bridges.  This would not normally be a problem, except the lift bridge operators are roaming operators, and have control over two bridges.  Sometimes when you arrive at the bridge, the operator is at their other bridge doing an opening.

The Lift Bridge at Adams Basin

91 Lift Bridge

When the crew arrived at the Adams Basin Lift Bridge, the skipper noticed a NY Canal Work Boat tied to the wall.  When the skipper hailed the bridge operator, the Work Boat responded and said the Bridge Operator was on her way from Spencerport.  Sure enough, about 5 minutes later a car pulled up and a women jumped out and ran up the stairs.  The traffic was stopped and the bridge opened.

The crew continued down the canal towards Holley but first had to pass under two more lift Bridges in Brockport.  The first bridge was open for maintenance so when they arrived at the second bridge the operator quickly opened the bridge and allowed the crew through.

The crew docked along the wall and headed down a path to go see the local waterfall.

Path to the waterfall

94 Hike to Waterfall Holley

After walking around the pond, left turn down the hill

94.1

Half mile later, the waterfall

94.2

When the crew arrived back at the boat, they learned that the Lois McClure would be arriving in a short while.  The boat is a replica canal boat that gives out free tours along the canal route.

Modern day Canal Boat rental

97 Modern Canal Boat

The 1865 replica Lois McClure

98 1865 Canal Boat

98.1

Just beyond where the Lois McClure landed along the wall, an historical marker told the story about the Norwegians who initially settled in the area.

99 History Holley.JPG

The first Norwegians arrived on a vessel named the Restauration.  By US Maritime law, the vessel was only permitted for 16 passengers.  When the vessel arrived in New York City on October 9, 1825, there were 53 passengers on board.  The vessel was impounded, the Captain and spiritual leader, Lars Larson Geilane, was arrested.  The passengers continued on up the Hudson River and then took the Erie Canal to Holley.

Their leader sold the ship, solved his legal problems, which included a pardon from President John Quincy Adams, and headed up the Hudson River.  When he arrived in Albany, he found that the Erie Canal was frozen over and closed for the season.  He did not let that stop him from catching up with his passengers.  He strapped on some ice skates and made the 290 miles to Holley.

Tuesday, July 24th

About the time the crew was shoving off the wall, a rental Canal Boat went by and requested that the Holley Lift Bridge be opened.  The Bridge Operator responded and said that she would open the bridge as soon as she could see all three boats that were arriving.  The skipper requested to also pass thru on the opening and permission was granted.

The canal rental boats only run about 6 mph, so the skipper set the throttle at 6 mph and cruised to the next bridge with the three other boats.  The three rental boats are a Boy Scout Troop out of Falmouth, MA.

When the four boat flotilla arrived at the next lift bridge, the operator had arrived and had the bridge open to allow passage.  The skipper sped up and left the three Boy Scout rental boats behind after the second bridge.

The Dewitt Clinton

101 Clinton

While traveling along, the crew met a New York Canal Work Boat named Dewitt Clinton.  The boat was named after the Governor who was responsible for initiating the Erie Canal.  One smart thing the Governor did when they started building the canal back in 1817 was to insist that they start in the middle and work back towards the Niagara and Hudson Rivers.  His thinking was that if they ran out of money digging the original canal they would not have connected to water so the completed parts would be dry and useless.  To make the canal usable, he believed that the lawmakers would then fund more money to complete the canal.

When they arrived in Albion the crew had two lift bridges to clear.  The good news was that the two bridges are within eye sight of each other, maybe a quarter mile apart.  The bridge operator opened the first bridge and the crew just idled down to the second bridge.  After lowering the bridge, the operator hopped in his car, drove down the side street, hopped out of the car, and ran up the stairs to open the second bridge.

The West Albion Lift Bridge, second bridge

103 Albion West Lift Bridge

About a half hour later, the skipper heard the Boy Scout boats asking for the Albion Bridge to open.  The skipper sure was glad the Bridge Operator allowed our crew thru instead of making them wait for the three other boats.

The Admiral noticed that the crew was getting close to Lake Ontario, less than 20 miles.  A little later the crew passed a sign that stated that they were at the most northern part of the Erie Canal, how about that.

104 North Point

The crew has started to notice many Apple Orchards along the water in these parts.  Looks like Johnny Appleseed was busy in this section of western New York.

Apple Orchard

106 Apple Orchard

The crew then literally crossed something very strange.  They cruised over the top of a road.  The design of the canal built an aqueduct to carry the canal over Culvert Road back in 1825.  It is the only road that crosses under the canal.

The view of Culvert Road from the boat

108 Culvert Road under ErieCanal

108.1 culvert_cornersign

The crew then pulled into Medina where they planned to stay for the night.  The crew got lunch and were about to go explore when they noticed that the Boy Scout boats had arrived and docked.  The skipper noticed that the leaders were huddled up discussing something.  He got off the boat and noticed that one of the boats was not able to hook to a power stand.  He approached the leaders and asked how much trouble no power would be for one of the rental boats.  A man said that they were discussing their options but were thinking of continuing on.  The skipper offered up that he would leave and allow the boat to have his spot on the wall.  He thought it would be easier for one boat with two people to leave than three boats and who knows how many people to round up and leave.

Arrival in Medina

109 Mediina

So the Admiral and skipper shoved off and made another 5 miles down the canal to stay at Middleport for the night. If nothing else, they are 5 miles closer to their destination on Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 25th

Under the banner of ‘No good deed goes unpunished,’ the crew ran into a few delays as they traveled the canal today.  The first one happened before the crew could even get started.  The three Boy Scout boats passed by and got thru the lift bridge before the skipper could get off the wall and get going.  This caused a 45 minute delay as the bridge operator left and went to open the Gasport Lift Bridge.

Gasport Lift Bridge

110 Gasport LB

Interesting mural in Gasport

111 Gasport Mural

Things seemed to be going just fine as the crew continued down the western Erie Canal.

112 Western Erie Canal

Well, until they arrived at the Lockport Lift Bridge about 1140.  After getting under the bridge, the Lockport Lock Operator hailed the skipper and directed him to stop and tie up along the wall.  The operator said they were on a reduced operating schedule due to some herbicide treatment upstream and the next lock opening would be at 1230.  The skipper did as directed and stopped at Upson Park.  The crew enjoyed lunch at the park.

View while waiting on Lock E34/35 from Upson Park

114 Lock E34

While waiting, the skipper discovered that there is a cave and under ground boat tour that starts in Upson Park.  The skipper will work out a way to come back here and take the tour.

115 Erie Canal Cave

About 1230 the skipper noticed two tour boats headed to the lock.  The Lock Operator called and told the skipper to follow the tour boats into Lock E34.

Entering Lock E34, up 25 feet

114.1

After exiting Lock 34, the boats immediately entered Lock E35 and went up another 25 feet.   Once out of the Lock the tour boats ran down the canal for about 10 minutes and then turned around and headed back to the locks.  The U-turn was pretty impressive.  The skipper hailed the Captain and told him good job once he completed the turn around.  The Captain said thanks and added that there was nothing to it, well as long as nothing went wrong.  Nice commentary on how life works.

Tour boat making the U-turn in canal

117 U Turn

 

After getting passed the tour boats, the crew overtook a guy in a kayak.  The skipper slowed down and talked with the guy.  His name turned out to be Rich Brand.  He left New Orleans on Jan 3, 2016 to complete the Loop.

Rich Brand in his kayak

120 Kayak Looper

Now that is doing the Loop the hard way.

Thursday, July 26th

The skippers son, AKA AMF Delivery Service showed up in Tonawanda in the afternoon.  You may recall that the skipper left two props in Brunswick, Georgia to be repaired.  The repair took much longer than expected, and when the marina called and said that the props were ready to be picked up, the crew were in upstate New York.

The skipper called his son to see if the boy could swing by Brunswick and pick up the props.  His son is an over the road truck driver.  He agreed and managed to get a load to Orlando, Florida.  On the way down to Orlando, he stopped and picked up the props.

He then secured a load back to Kansas City, where he transferred the props to his car.  He then delivered the props to the skipper in Tonawanda.  He will also stay thru the weekend and enjoy the area.

Thanks, AMF Delivery Service!  Free Delivery…….better than Amazon Prime.

The repaired props

123

Friday, July 27th

With the boy on the boat with a car, the skipper and the boy set out o run several errands.  First of which, was to buy a few youth lifejackets for the arrival of the grandkids.  While on that mission, they also bought a throw ring.

When the dinghy is on the swim platform davits, approaching boats cannot see Still Waters II name on the transom.  The throw ring fixed this problem.  The boy supervised the skipper putting the boat name on the throw ring.

After shopping, the boy also helped the skipper clean the ‘moustache stain’ off the bow of the boat.  So another shout out thanks to the boy.

124

The crew ended the week by going out to Niagara Falls to see the falls illuminated and watch a short fireworks show over the falls.

Niagara Fireworks

Saturday, July 28th

The Lathers crew arrived around midnight Saturday morning and went straight to the hotel.  Our crew did not see them until Saturday morning though when the grandkids arrived at the boat.

Boat name of the week

A boat went by with Remax Realty advertisement on the side.  The name of the boat was:

Smooth Selling

Next Week –

The extended crew will visit Lockport and Niagara Falls over the weekend.  The grandkids will be on their way on Tuesday, and our crew will head out on Lake Erie on Wednesday.  They hope to make the Rock and Dock in Cleveland to visit the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame by the weekend.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

%d bloggers like this: