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Trenton, Ontario, Canada
In June 2012 we started the Great Loop in our Bayliner Explorer. This blog is for family and friends who would like to follow our comings and goings and , for now, our getting ready for the trip. If you read this blog we would love to hear your comment& suggestions.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Chicago to Hennepin

Chicago – Mobile

August 29. 2012

We left Hammond Marina just after 7am and made our way to Chicago.
The evening before we left we said goodbye to Joanne, Catheryn, Jim, Henning, Bob and Erik.
Gary is in the back ground bbq-ing.

For old time’s sake’s Lake Michigan wanted to remind us of who is boss, so she tossed us around a little. The Captain said everything was going to be ok, so I counted the waves and minutes till we were safe behind the break waters in Chicago Harbour.

The first thing we had to do is go through the Chicago Harbour Lock. It is only a 1.5 foot drop but it was a new way of locking for us Canadians who are used to the Trent-Severn way of locking. Here you are given a line to hold on to, you have to wear a life jacket at all times and you can keep your engines running. We are fast learners so we passed through without a hitch. (We though, this is NOTHING, but little did we know…….!)

Getting ready to lock through

The trip through down-town Chicago was worth all the work and wait. It was breath taking…and talking about breath, I started to smell a weird smell but Gary said he couldn’t smell anything….and on we went.
Yes, there are people who use these ....

We passed under bridges, knowing that we would fit under them but all the time listening for the sound of the bimini touching the bottom. Thank goodness it never happened as we made it safely under all the low bridges with no problems. (It is weird, you KNOW you will fit under the bridge but as you get closer you start to think……what if we hit/are we going to make it?)
The Aggie C , the first tow boat we encountered. The captain was very friendly and
wanted to know where we were heading ; he also gave us tons of information on the
lift bridges and Electric Carp Barrier. Very nice guy.
The city landscape gave way to industrial sites and huge refineries and factories spewing all kinds of smells into the air, but still there was that other scent in the air that Gary now, also could detect.
Rolling down the river
The Calumet River joining the Chiocago Sanitary Canal
MV Headquaters and her crew all the way from New Zealand
passing us on the Illinois River
The electric barrier designed to keep the voracious Asian carp fom invading Lake Michigan.
You have to radio the Parks and Fisheries when you enter the area and when you leave.
However, they have found evidence of the carp north of the barrier :(

One of the bigger barges we saw on our first day on the river.

We moseyed on through the rivers to our first stop on the river, Joliet.
Joliet at night
The free wall at Joliet is a little crumbly but if you are careful you will be fine. We put out plenty of fenders and were pleased to meet Dale and Brenda on MV With a KVIII, (harbour hosts in Joliet) Lane and Joyce on MV Making Memories, Sol and Ina on MV Solina O (From Belleville Ontario which is only about 8 miles from our hometown Trenton ON) We were also joined by MV Headquarters and SV Teasa who we had met in Hammond.
Joliet in the daylight
Sharing the free wall space with the other Loopers
Time and Tide is the second boat from the back with the grey canvass
Canadian Loopers, Solina O is parked behind us.

We were warned that there are people around the free wall in Joliet who are “sketchy” but everyone we met and spoke with was very friendly. The police station is right across from the free wall on the opposite side of the river and they keep a close eye on things that go on there and they also keep an eye on the boats.

We did meet a local guy who calls himself “Samurai”. He was walking his two dogs and started chatting with the Loopers. He was very interesting he kept us entertained with his stories.
Duck Blind -Illinois River

August 30, 2012

We enjoyed a slow meander down the river and the only hitch in our day was when we ended up in a lock tied-up next to a tow. The tow operators keep their engines running while in the locks and the wash off the guy’s prop really bounced us around. Even though we asked him to turn it off he said he had to keep the engine running to keep the big boat on the wall. He was very apologetic as we had a hard time getting past him and his big wash in the narrow lock. We came though undamaged but our blood pressures were raised and my heart didn’t stop beating a mile a minute till we were way down the river. It was a lesson learnt and we didn’t realise how lucky we were until the next day ….
I am loving the slow river pace.
Gary calls these "a three wide"

 We stopped for the night at Ottawa and another free wall with free power hook up. Again we were met by locals and they enjoy chatting to Gary about the loop and travelling on a boat. ( and Gary likes chatting with them!)
On the docks we met some guys fishing and they actually eat the fish they catch (I wouldn’t)

After it got dark we noticed a few pontoon and John boats about, with very bright lights, lit by their onboard generators. They use the bright lights to draw out the Asian Carp. The carp jump at the bright lights and the fishermen shoot them using compound bows with a rod and reel attachments. The group we saw were a charter group out for the evening, go figure!

August 31, 2012

We decided to sleep in a little and got off to a late start. It didn’t really matter because when we got to Starved Rock lock we ended up having to wait to lock through. Starved Rock has been home to the Native Americans for centuries.  It is now a state park. The Illini from Upper Mississippi  were pursued by  the Ottawa and Potawatomi  tribes to the top of the rock where they were besieged until they all starved to death.
Buffalo Rock
Starved Rock

The boats all milling about waiting for the lock to open.
We entered the lock with a large tow boat, 2 other Loopers and another trawler. This time we stayed as far away from the tow as we could but it is still an awkward way to lock, just holding on to two lines. On the way out the second boat got slammed hard against the lock wall by the tow boat’s prop wash. The wash was so strong the captain was unable to move his boat off the wall as it kept him pinned there. The lock master had his wits about him and shouted to the tow captain to turn off his engines and tie to the wall (to prevent from drifting). As soon as the engines were turned off the smaller boat (47 foot trawler) was able to move off the wall and out the lock. It happened so fast but as soon as I saw it I put our large ball fenders on the port side of our boat, just in case the same thing was going to happen to us. Fortunately it didn’t. We spoke to them on the radio afterwards; no one got hurt, which is the most important thing but the boat did suffer quite a bit of damage to the rails and hull. We hope they are ok.
Tonight we are in Hennepin. It is very warm and there is no electricity on the wall. The genny is running the aircon and life is good. The wall here is actually an old barge that is now a tie-off spot for boaters who like free accommodationJ there is a Laundromat, bar, grocery store, hardware store and Marine store all a stone’s throw away from the boat. The kind folks at Hennepin Marine allowed me access to their internet, Thank you guys!

We are waiting for the remnants of Hurricane Isaac to hit us. We are expecting a lot of rain and perhaps a little wind. Locals tell me it is going to miss us to the East, we shall see.

……………………………… be continued

1 comment:

  1. Sounds wonderful. Dennis and I will be heading south in February. Maybe we will run into you! I will watch your progress to see where you will be. Chris