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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.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Saugatuck to Joliet (Goodbye Lake Michigan, Hello Illinois River)

The trip from Saugatuck to St Joe was relatively easy. We left early in the morning and arrived in St Joe around mid-day.
MV His Idea leaving Saugatuck the day before

MV My Therapy leaving Saugatuck

Sidenote: We like to leave early in the mornings, especially if we have big waters to cross. The wind tends to pick up as the day gets warmer and it just whips the waves up as well. So in getting away early, we usually arrive at our destination before major waves and winds have time to build.

St Joe
In St Joe Gary went shopping at the Boaters Outlet store, something he had been looking forward to since we were here last year! I went to stock up on beer (priorities?)
Tied to the wall in St Joe we were joined by this monster Laker.

Since the wall in St Joe was very rocky from the rollers coming off the lake, we decided to go and anchor further up the river. We were later joined by MV My Therapy and Gary’s new BFF Mike.
Gary's new BFF :)

Poor Gary, he misses the company of a man to discuss things like engines, motors, boats , bikes, and general stuff like that. In Mike he has found a new companion in all things manly.

The next morning MV My Therapy joined us in our crossing to Chicago.

Sidenote: Thank you to my friend Jim (MV Wild Goose) who phoned me and helped me with the weather forecast. It was perfect weather for crossing. Also thank you to Bob and Catheryn who took time on their daughter’s wedding day and gave me a weather forecast when we were back in Charlevoix, all the way from Seattle!! I had no internet access and no way to check the weather forecast.

Anyhow, like I said, the weather couldn't be better for the crossing to Chicago. The seas were smooth smooth smooth!

Chicago's impressive skyline...

When we arrived we tried to anchor in the “playpen” area in the harbour but we were turned away by the coastguard. There was an airshow practice taking place, right over the anchorage, so we were not allowed to anchor there. We when politely asked him if there was somewhere else we could anchor he told us that if we came any closer he would issue us a citation for $2500!!! We were floored!!! They shooed us out and told us that we had to go outside the break wall. When we got outside the break wall we were told by another patrol boat we were not allowed to anchor there either. They suggested we call the Chicago marine police, who in turn told us we could anchor south of the lock, so we did. Unfortunately it was so bad out there, a pot of water we were boiling for pasta, fell of the stove, the boat was rocking so much!!
Navy Pier

Downtown Chicago

Navy Pier

Navy Pier

Airshow practice - Gary says they are second ww planes, he thinks they are P47 Thunderbolts.

With nowhere else to go we just had to go through the lock and continue on the Sanitary Canal towards Joliet. BUT before we could do that, Gary had to take the radar and antennas down for us to make is under the down-town bridges. We went into a marina and anchored in an area that was protected. We asked for 5 minutes to get the work done and we would be on our way. The young man at the marina was very understanding and told us to take our time.
Buckingham Fountain

Now, we had both gotten up at 4:30 in the morning to cross Lake Michigan, and it was now around 2pm. We were both stressed and tired but what can you do? We started heading onward to Joliet. A 50 mile trip that would take us another 7 hours!!! I checked Active Captain but there were no anchorages between Chicago and Joliet for us to stop.
The first of many low bridges on the Sanitary Canal - Chicago

After waiting for quite a while for the water to be turned off, we closed the boat up and went under
it , just as we were on the other side they turned it off!!!!!!!

Bridges galore!

Trains ,cars and boats...

All along the waterfront are nice little places to sit and eat or just enjoy the scenery.

These bridge watch gates remind me of something out of the middle ages.....

It was a nice sunny day so there were plenty of tourist sightseeing boats on the canal

As we passed the junction with the South Chicago River we spotted an area that looked ok for a night and we dropped the anchor. It turned out to be a great anchorage but we forgot something about the Sanitary waterway……it stinks!!! Man, o man, it smells like a sewer!! And it is dirty!!!! It is filthy!! And it Stinks!!!

After a good night’s sleep we headed on to Joliet. Past many barges and smelly industrial areas and refineries we finally made it to Joliet at around 2pm.
We woke up to the voices of these young men getting ready to go for a row....yes, on the stinky bubbling water!

The Sanitary meets the Calumet

At the top of a crane, a great place for a nest.

Barges getting loaded - this would be a barge carrying hazardous goods, chemicals or gas or fuel.

This barge is getting loaded with grain or wheat ( non hazardous)

The Sanitary canal is not without beauty

Sanitary Canal - Built to keep the dirty water from flowing into Lake Michigan.
On the wall in Joliet - free tie-off and free power.

Joliet- A big tow passing through.

PS just as we were on our way we heard on the radio that the "playpen" was open again for boaters. We wish that coast guard person would have told us that and saved us a whole lot of trouble. But it seems all his was interested in was to write us a ticket. ( This time I did blog in anger)

To be continued………………..


  1. You guys can call or text about weather any time. (Not that you really need to now.) We also could have advised you on a free dock just past downtown Chicago. Lastly, you guys are moving along pretty quick. We hope you plan on coming to Chattanooga for a side trip! If not, we are going to be way behind you this fall.

  2. Hi friends,
    Hope see you on kentucky lake. We will be there around september 06 at lihthouse marina.The plan is to be in Mobile last week in november and thanmake plans to the future.

    Daniel, Angela

  3. Hi Christelle and Gary,

    Thanks for the great photos of His Idea, we'll be adding them to our album!

    It was fun to hang with you as we travelled down Lake Michigan. Too bad we didn't get a chance to connect in Chicago, but hopefully there will be other opportunities further down the Loop, or perhaps when we make it to the Bahamas next year.

    We'll be keeping watch on your blog, and look forward to hearing more about your adventures.

    Safe and happy cruising.....

    John & Ria
    M/V His Idea