9/13 We depart Alton very early, our voyage today will bring us to Kaskaskia Lock about 70 miles down river. We pass St Louis to our starboard side about 25 miles after departing Alton. In this brief time we quickly find out that the river is all about barges and work. The ride is boring with minimal wildlife to view. However once we get to the lock for the evening we are joined by a pair of bald eagles.
9/14 Again we depart very early for another long day on the water, approximately 90 miles. You may ask 90 miles long, hmmm, well moving at 9mph you see it becomes a 10 hour day. Our target for the night is Browns Bar and we should rest at anchor for the evening. The river is running at a 4 knot current and the anchor set like a champ. We are passed by several barges throughout the evening and into the night.
9/15 Next stop Pudacah Kentucky a move of about 70 miles or so. Once we reach Cairo, IL we will depart the Mississippi and head up the Ohio River, against the current. We have tamed the mighty Mississippi in just 3 days. You may be asking why so quickly. The short answer is that there really is not a whole lot of support on the Mississippi for recreational boaters. We needed to transit from Alton to Paducah approximately 250 miles without having access to diesel fuel. Upon arrival and a quick tour of Puducah we quickly realize this is a great little town and decide to stay an extra day.
9/17 We depart Paducah in the rain to transit the 40+ miles to get to Grand River Kentucky and the head of Kentucky Lake. We travel about 15 miles or so where we depart the Ohio river and get onto the Cumberland river. The transit on the Cumberland is marked with a heavy current against us. The rain is steady and as we approach Barkley Lock we are greeted with massive downpours. Well needless to say we got wet while locking up the 57 feet. We arrived at Green Turtle Bay Marina and Resort. We need to slow down a bit so we have decided to stay here a week. We immediately hit the spa and took care of some needed pampering. The weather is a bit iffy this week so this will workout great.
9/5 We departed Ottawa and headed to Starve Rock Lock. The lock master said we would have 30 minutes to get there, we arrived on time but they were not finished with the tug in the lock, we waited 45 minutes before the opening. We were headed to Henry for the night. We passed several Bald Eagle along the way. We tied up in an old lock for the night, very cool little spot but when we awoke the boat was covered with May flies
9/6 Departed Henry early in the morning and headed to Peoria the home of Richard Prior. Upon arrival at the city docks we were greeted by a total mess on the docks. Goose, duck and sea gulls poop everywhere, but it was a free tie up so take the good with the bad. It is Labor Day and the place is locked up tighter then a drum. We visited the museum and the Holocaust display.
9/7 We depart Peoria and arrive at the lock. They lock master told us to tie to the wall it would be a while. About an hour later the doors opened for us to transit. A long day at the helm had us arrive at Havana and we pushed through mud to get into Tall Timber’s Marina for the night. Exciting we passed several large flocks of American White Pelicans, along with numerous Bald Eagles again.
9/8 Early start because we have about an 80 mile day to reach our Anchorage which is Buckhorn Island. Barges, eagles and more pelican were the highlight of the day. We actually floated in the middle of a lock instead of tying up, worked out well. The lock master was kind enough to hold the lock until we got there or this would have been a long wait. Tip of the hat to him!
9/9 Buckhorn Island to Alton, oh by the way all these locations are still in Illinois. Another long day at the helm but we hit the Mississippi River today. We will sit down in Alton for 4 days in preparation for the next 250 mile transit to Paducah, KY. There will be not much to see or places to stop so we will try to transit this section in 3 days. We will however be going by the arch in St Louis the day we depart. Our stay in Alton has been marked by a heat wave however the marina has a pool and we spent all 4 days just relaxing poolside. What a nice break but it is time to move on.
8/31 Well we departed Hammond Indiana headed to Chicago, after Marie returned from Rhode Island. We cruised down to Monroe Harbor to grab a mooring ball for a couple of days. Well let’s just say the Windy City earned its name sake the first night out in the field. We rocked to 3 foot swells all night long. Sleep, not so much!
9/1 We relocated to another mooring ball in a much more benign location. Happy 14th Anniversary my love. We visited with another looper we haven’t seen since Cleveland. It was great to see Sand Dollar once again. Tom and Anita are taking their boat around the world once they finish the loop.
9/2 Time to head down the river but we start by going directly through the city, what a cool experience that was. We press on to Joliet, 40+ miles going 7.5 miles per hour. Great for fuel economy but makes for a long day at the helm. I really need to get use to this as this will be our standard mode for the next 1300 miles. Congrats to fellow loopers Rick and Jenny on Nauti Jenny, they crossed their wake and now have their gold burgee.
9/3 We travel another stretch of 40 miles to Ottawa, IL. We have decided to spend an extra day to tour the town and we need to provision some items before heading out.
8/19 We travelled from Muskegon to Saugatuck. We followed the river back into the harbor and anchored again for the 4th straight night. Being at anchor is so nice, a very different experience then being in the marina. Our Buddy boat was ticketed on his dinghy for speeeding in a no wake zone and throwing a wake., really in a dinghy? We visited the town which was a very nice, upscale area. We found some nice bargains on summer ending sales and grabbed a few items for Marie. 8/20 Up early and departed for our next destination St Joe’s. We will be socked into port for a few days the wind is going to kick up. Unfortunately the marina is on the opposite side of the river and it is quite a distance to town. He have about 6 other loopers here with us so we decided to have a pizza party. Great time sharing stories and hanging with two other boats from the area I grew up in Long Island, NY. 8/23 We depart St. Joe’s headed to Hammond, Indiana….just 12 miles from Chicago and we are now in Central Time Zone. The seas were very rolley polley on the way over. It was a 60 mile transit on lower Lake Michigan. Marie will be leaving to fly home tomorrow, for a visit with the grandchildren, amongst other things. I will be staying back to take care of maintenance, cleaning etc. We will hopefully depart for the mooring field just outside Chicago and make preparations to head through Chicago and start our journey down the river system, Mobile, Alabama is about 1300 miles from our location.
8/14 We departed Charlevoix at 7am after we unhooked out Danik Hook from the mooring ball. We should have known what the day would have been like considering the swells coming into the harbor channel. Well we braved it through some big seas and arrived in Leland battered and beaten, boy it was sure nice to end this day. We ended up staying in Leland 2 nights because of the WIND!
The upcoming week looks to be beautiful on the water!
8/16 We departed Leland and transitted to Frankfort. We grabbed a day dock and toured the town. We found the best ice cream, made right on the premises. Frankfort changed a lot since our last visited here 6 years ago. The have upgraded a lot of buildings and in my humble opinion have lost a lot of it’s quaintness. We decided to shove of early and traveled to Arcadia, about 10 miles south. Very sleepy town, but we found a great cove to drop the anchor for the night.
8/17 We departed Arcadia around 8am headed to Luddington. We entered the harbor and again grabbed a day dock so we could tour the town. At this point all the towns are really starting to look the same. I will say that Michigan’s parks are second to none! After we toured the Maritime museum we hopped back aboard and headed out to the break wall to anchor. Oh did I mention Michigan has great sunsets as well!
8/18 Up early and on the water. We are heading down to Muskegon, and another spectacular day on the water. Upon arrival we refueled, emptied trash, and took on water. Off the dock and out to the break wall for another night on the anchor. Oh, did I mention the sunsets! Once we put the hook down we dropped the dinghy and spent the day on the beach.
The plan was to go out and explore Drummond Island and then head to the Islands out to the west of Detour eventually ending up in St Ignace. Well, you guest it the weather changed our plans and we needed up staying in Detour and extra night. After reviewing the weather again, yup daily occurrence several times I might add, we needed to modify the plan once again. 8/7 we departed Detour and headed out to the islands to the west headed at St Ignace. We travelled through some beautiful waters and saw some other loopers at anchor. We rafted up with them for about an hour and had a nice visit. After departing we continued our trip through the islands and saw some very cool old Chris Kraft lake boats. They are so beautiful but soooooo much work, all wood. We eventually navigated out the west passage and back onto Lake Huron heading to St. Ignace. We passed the famous Mackinac Island to port on our way. We were socked into port once again due to winds. We were treated to a big party at the marina followed by fireworks in the evening. The following day we toured St Ignace which was a pretty cool little town. Up early on the first ferry the following day we headed to Mackinac Island. This was a great treat and a step back in time. NO let me repeat NO motorized vehicles on the island accept for emergency vehicles. You hear the sound of horse shoes hitting the ground all day. You all know that with that sound is the smell of horse dung. We visited several attractions including The Grand Hotel. Yup, grand it is Marie ordered a cocktail to the tune of $16.00! We experienced a severe thunderstorm at around 5:30, it poured for hours! We eventually got on the 7 pm ferry back to St. Ignace.
8/11 We get a late departure due to fog as we head out to Petosky, Welcome to Lake Michigan! Thanks for radar and AIS because as we transitted toward the Mackinac Bridge Marie said oh there is the bridge and I said where, her reply above your head! Mind you the bridge is the largest suspension bridge in the U.S. I knew we were there because I could see the big multicolor blotch across the screen. Thankfully the lake cooperated for the entire 57 mile move. Pretty flat until we were just outside Petosky Harbor. Wind is due to pick up again so I will be playing meteorologist quite heavily in the next day or two to hopefully get a small window or travel the 18 miles to Charlevoix our next stop.
Long time no type. Why you may ask? A serious lack of cell service! Fine in my book.
7/31 We departed Port Austin to journey across Saignaw Bay to East Tawas. Some bumps along the way but generally was a good transit. We left at 6:00am because the wind was do to pick up by 8:00. We saw some swells but the late departure folks had a much tougher time of it. We had a nice looper dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Mango’s. We had 6 boats that participated. Weather kept us all in port for an extra day so we attended a church called Harbor Church, wonderful service. Bob from Benita organized another dinner up in the park, pot luck style. 8/2 We departed East Tawas and travelled to Harrisville. The dock master has earned a negative reputation and we could see why. We stayed on the hook and sat in the harbor listening to her bark at boaters left and right. It was quite amusing! We dropped the dinghy and headed into town. It was very quiet but a pleasant little place. 8/3 We swang around the corner after departing Harrisville and were headed to Presque Isle. The seas were very tranquil and made for a beautiful cruise. Once we hit the harbor we refueled and we hooked to a mooring ball. We put our danik hook to great use as a safety line on the ball. Awesome rest with the extra security! We dinghyed into the marina and tied off on Benitas boat. We all walked up to the old lighthouse. She is a glorious old light for sure. That evening we were joined in the harbor by two other loopers. We joined them on their vessel for cocktails, well everyone else, I as usual was sipping my H2O. We moved to the marina the next day as we had a new item delivered, we purchased an electric scooter for a mode of transportation. 8/5 We departed Presque Isle in route to Detour in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The route was 49 miles or so and was easy as could be. This was the first time we could not see land, although it was about 2-1/2 hours it seemed like forever. Upon arrival we docked up and hit town. We visited a great little museum down the waterfront. We reprovisioned because the next few days we are going to be traveling and staying on the anchor. Opppps we forgot something so I scootered back up and grabbed them. We will be in some very beautiful waterways but very remote.
7/26 We arise to excellent wind and favorable seas. We depart Port Huron at 7:30am and fight the 4 knot current up to and beyond the Blue Water Bridge. Once past the current and out of the shipping channel we proceed north to Lexington. The seas were flat as can be, why can’t it always be this way I ask myself, hahahaha is the response I received. We transmitted the 30 miles or so in about 1-1/2 hours and had the morning to explore the nice little town of Lexington. We went to the beach in the afternoon and enjoyed the water, a bit chilly for our liking. We gathered with about 6 other looper boats in the park and spent an hour or so sharing information and loop stories.
7/27 Again a beautiful day of water is in store and we depart for Harbor Beach about 40 miles away. The seas were so calm the boat actually tracked on our waypoint bearing without my hands on the wheel, I didn’t realize we had auto pilot! We arrived at Harbor Beach early morning. The harbor master Michelle gave us a ride to town and we spent time touring. We walked the jetty, picked up some groceries, toured the Murphy Museum. About 2 hours later Michelle gathered us up and brought us back to the marina. We spent about an hour or so on Silver Jubilee chatting and touring their boat, a 37’ Nordic Tug.
7/28-29 & 30: We departed to transit the 30 miles or so to Port Austin. We left at 6am as the wind was to pick up by 9. We arrived in the harbor at 8:30, we fueled and hit the slip. We new we were going to be in town for two days. We decided to have lunch in town and we enjoyed The Bank. Yup you guessed it, it was the original bank of Port Austin. Food was good and the atmosphere was very cool. We were entertained by a nice steel drum band in the evening. We were invaded by a swarm of jet skis later in the day. Turns out they are doing a fundraiser for special olympics. They do a 220 mile run on the lake, it is called water warriors. Couldn’t resist we made a donation. They brought a bunch of special needs folks down and took them for rides. We have a stuck starboard side window that we just can’t get open. Tried a few things with zero luck! So we resorted to our favorite thing ice cream! Want a true bargain checkout The Blue Moon, heaping servings and cheap! The weather has turned, the temp has dropped and the wind is blowing at a steady 15+ mph from the north. This is not the wind you want want. The lake is raging with seas upwards of 5 feet. We have stayed put for an extra day, looks like we have a window to cross Saginaw Bay tomorrow to Tawas.
7/23: We departed Put In Bay at 6am and we new the seas were going to be tough as we got closer to the coast and the Detroit River. The current flowing out of the river is south and the wind was blowing north. This always makes for sloppy seas. As we approached the Livingston Channel at the mouth of the river the swells very quite large and I really needed to put the engine in high performance to break through the swell. A lot like running into an inlet with opposing tide and wind, CRAZY WATER! We decided that once we entered the channel we were going to run to Detroit. Stayed over night and we were right next door to many cool riverfront attractions.
7/24: Departed early again to run across Lake St. Claire and up the St. Claire river to Port Huron. Again we encountered some tough stretches of water. As we approached Port Huron the currents began to get stronger and stronger. I watched our tachometer slow down and our gallons per hour burn increase. Another long run but we arrived at Port Huron Yacht Club. Toured the town and hit church in the morning. We took a dinghy ride up the Black River, visited the Maritime Center and visited the Ice Museum, quite interesting. Tomorrow we take on another Great Lake, Huron. First we go under the Blue Water Bridge where the current will typically run 4knots.
Bolster Buddy: We have used this daily when the boat is under way. We have used the product in various scenarios. I have placed it behind me on top of the helm seat as a backrest leaning post while standing. I have placed it beside me and used it as an armrest. I have used half(2 equal halves connected with Velcro) to sit on while piloting. I have also used it in the dinghy as a backrest so I can layout and relax.
Aqua Vault: This portable safe has kept our valuables secure all day everyday. Superb product to help you rest easy. We store cash, checks and passports in our vault.
Impact Fenders: These fenders have come in very handy in numerous scenarios. We have use them on pilings and poles. We have used them in the locks on the Erie Canal quite often up on the bow so if the stern rolled out a bit impact was there to fend of some nasty lock walls.
Swift Knot: We have used these many times as spring lines. For longer stays these make excellent spring lines. As well We have used when going in to fuel and just needed a quick tie and go. We have used the swift knots to loop around pilings at the dock as well. The product is very versatile and I am sure we have not maximized there potential.
Danik Hooks: We use these on our fenders and it makes adjusting them a breeze. We have also rigged the heavy stainless hook as a secured line for when we are attached to mooring balls. This gives us piece of mind to sleep easier at night.
Boat Loop. Great boat hook! Very versatile with the loop attached. It has made grabbing cleats and pilings very simple. Also have fended off lock walls as well.
Top Knot Dinghy Bridal: Well you all read about my mishap with the bridal, again this was a operator error and certainly not the product, the product preformed awesome. We still have the 25’ attaching rope and I have rigged new lines so when we go back to towing the dinghy Top Knot will be in action again.
Fortress and Cooper Anchors: We have not used either product to date. I do see us using these a lot in Florida so stay tuned for the reports on these products.