Sunday: As agreed last evening, we all take a leisurely pace thru our pre-departure chores this morning as we have plenty of time. First, we all get the chance to meet Bob and square up with him for the dock fees and we have a pleasant time talking with him about his marina, it’s uniqueness and his plans for improvements. Then we all stock up with on-board water for our fresh water holding tanks and Wild Goose gets a pump out. By 10:45 am Wild Goose is all pumped out and pulling away from the dock and out into the river followed by Kailani, then Sea Cottage. Once out in the river, Kailani leads the pack followed by Wild Goose, then Sea Cottage in a row. Today we only have to overtake one tow and pass one tow so the 28 miles is a real smooth cruise in spite of the off and on rain that falls during the 3 hours and 20 minutes on the water. The day is spectacular for eagle watching as we spot 18 eagles with 8 of them bald eagles. The eagle sights really made the cruise a pleasant one and soon we were approaching the Beardstown Railroad Bridge and our dockage right after the bridge. About a mile before the bridge, I called the bridge tender to ask him what the pool level was doing to his air clearance as we were all right on the border of safe passage unless the water was up some and we’ve had quite a but of rain the last two days, so I wanted to confirm with him. Once I asked him, he simply said that since there were no trains coming he’d be more than happy to raise it for us so there would be no chance of any of us hitting it and soon the bridge was raising and we all passed safely under it.
Right after the bridge is the Logsdon Tug Service on the left descending bank and they are a working tug yard, but they allow pleasure craft to tie up to their barges and/or tugs to spend the night. There are no services here, just a safe tie up in the river currents. And there is also the possibility that at 2 in the morning, they could come out and let one or all of us know that we’d have to move our vessels because they need to get a tug out into the water. After all, they are a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week working tug yard. So I call them on VHF 10 as directed when I made the arrangements and a tug employee answers and directs us where to tie up. Wild Goose pulls into a niche between two tows and two barges, then we raft up to him while Sea Cottage pulls up to the port side of a tow boat and ties up to that.
Since these are the spots they have told us to go to , we’re hoping we’ll be getting a full night’s sleep without a midnight maneuver! Time will tell on that score.
Once we’re all tied up, Barry and I take a walk into town to check it out and all we can find for a Sunday afternoon is rolled up sidewalks in a fairly large community. Some of the guidebooks described this stop as extremely interesting and lots to see and do, but we can’t find anything in those regards, so we enjoy our downtown stroll and return to the vessels before the rains come.
Once we’re back and on our respective vessels, all on battery power, the rains come with a good 30 minutes of heavy downpour. The heavy type where you can’t even see across the river!
Well, we’re all safe on our respective boats for what we hope will be a peaceful night and tomorrow, we’ll head out for a longer cruise down river to a nice anchorage spot that was recommended to us by Jeremy Fowler a week ago at Heritage Harbor Marina. We’ll have to pass thru the last lock on the Illinois River called LeGrange Lock and Dam. It’s a wicket type dam and the lock is normally a 10 foot drop, but we’ll see what’s in store for us in the morning. By Tuesday we will be off the Illinois River and onto the Mississippi River where we’ll leave Kailani for some minor repairs while we drive home for a week.
Monday: As is our procedure whenever we have a lock to cruise thru, we make a call early in the morning and the lock master says that the wickets are down and there’s at least 12 feet of water over the wickets and the lock is closed. Just follow the red buoy and there’s 420 feet of channel width over the wickets. So there’s no need to plan for an opening thru the La Grange Lock. So our plan is to depart around 9:00 am. At around 8:00 am we go up to the office to pay our fees for the dockage and as we’re walking back to the boats, the tow captain says that he’ll need the space where we’re docked pretty soon. So we tell him that we plan to shove off at 9:00 am and he says that his boss will fire him if he waits that long, so we must go into rush mode and prepare the vessels for departure. We’ve been doing this for so long now, this isn’t a problem and at 8:20 am we’re all off the barges at Logsdon Tug Services and prepared to head downriver towards a suitable anchorage. We have not decided where we’ll anchor yet, we’ve only decided to start moving and see how the river treats us.
Well the river is good and bad to us today. The good first: there’s a two knot current helping us down the river.
The bad: there’s a ton of floating timber as a result of yesterday’s storms raising the river levels and there’s a 15 knot headwind causing wind-driven waves the whole day. So effectively, we are cruising at about 8 knots and gaining the extra speed up to 10 knots, but we must avoid all floating debris at the same time! Once we see that the river is pushing us so much and we got a relatively early start, we could potentially go all the way to Mel’s River Dock Restaurant at mile marker 21.1 which is nearly 60 miles away from us. But eventually, we decide that shooting for Mel’s makes a lot of sense and by 2:45 pm we’re tying up to the floating dock at Mel’s. Collin is the new owner and he meets us at the docks to assist with the tie ups. Within fifteen minutes we have all nestled up to the dock and secured our lines. Sea Cottage relaxes aboard their vessel, Wild Goose goes for a bike ride and Tracy and I go up to the restaurant for some lunch. Then we spend the afternoon chatting and relaxing amongst our friends from all three vessels. Tomorrow we will be heading off for different destinations so today is our last day together for a while.
We all agree to meet at the restaurant for dinner at 7:00 pm and we have a really good time together and stay in the restaurant as long as we can, acting like we don’t want the night to end.
But soon we must leave, walk back to our boats and Wild Goose turns in while Sea Cottage and Tracy watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” before turning in for the night. We all try to run our generators for a while to make sure the batteries last thru the night, but the generator on Kailani doesn’t want to start. So I go into the generator compartment and try to get it started. First I check the battery and right away I have a sense what the problem is because as I check the voltage at the posts, I’m only getting 11.75 vols, so there’s an issue with my system that this battery is not getting recharged as it should. I immediately go up to the bridge to make sure the engines will start so we can leave in the morning and they start right up. I leave them running for a while just to re-charge the house batteries a bit, then I shut them down. Tracy returns form watching the movie and then we turn in for the night.
Tuesday: Since I can’t make coffee aboard Kailani without a generator, I go up to the Riverdock Restaurant for coffee and breakfast. As I’m finishing up, Barry walks in, sits down and has breakfast with me. I buy a large coffee and a large cinnamon bun to go and bring them back for Tracy.
We have short cruises today, but we all want to get off the Illinois and onto the Mississippi. So with 25 nautical miles for us and 41 nautical miles for them, we all prepare to leave the dock. By 9:15 am we are all cruising down river and today the current is as strong as yesterday but the debris seems to be a bit heavier than yesterday, so we maintain constant vigil and we also cruise at a slightly slower pace so we’ll have more time to react if we see something hazardous floating by.
We end up with 2 passing situations and no overtaking situations, so the cruise is very easy, at least until we get to the Mississippi River. Once we hit the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, Sea Cottage and Wild Goose will continue cruising down river to Alton Marina, but we will turn up river and head to Port Charles Harbor. So for the last 6 miles, we will be going upriver into a stronger current. Just before the turn, we are getting over 3 knots push, but when Kailani turns up river, we go from 11.3 knots per hour to 6.5 knots per hour and that’s with an increase of 100 rpm’s on the throttles.
Once we split up and they continued down river, they still had 20 miles to go and we had 6 miles to go and we only were tied up about 45 minutes before they were all secure in their marina.
Since we’re going home tomorrow to cure a case of severe homesickness, we will not be cruising together with Sea Cottage or Wild Goose for a while and we will miss being together with them, but they both have plans for returning home at some point so after we all make our respective trips to the homeland, we should be able to eventually catch up with them again.
Once we’re all registered at Port Charles Harbor, we go back to Kailani and do some chores that need completing before we leave for a week. Also, Paul Hopkins will be stopping by later in the afternoon so we can go over the list of items we want done while we’re gone. Then at 4:00 pm I will get picked up by Enterprise and taken to their office so I can get our rental car, then return to the marina.
We eat up some left-overs for dinner so they won’t be science projects when we get back from CT, then we spend the evening preparing for our 9:00 am departure tomorrow. Our plan is to break up the 16 hour drive into two eight hour drive days so our goal will be to make Akron, Ohio by tomorrow evening. The forecast is calling for rain tomorrow so we will pack accordingly and leave wet weather gear available if necessary.
Wednesday thru Saturday: We start the long two day drive back to CT. Rain on both travel days makes for even longer days, but by Thursday evening we are home in CT and ready for a weekend of family, friends and birthday parties.