August 31, 1999

After the departure of La Ti Da, we decided to move on to
Chicago but weather had prevented us from venturing out into Lake Michigan.
We went about a half a mile out, it got very uncomfortable very fast so we
turned and went back inside the seawall, which protects Milwaukee. Moving a
bit south from the Milwaukee Yacht Club we found the South Side Yacht Club
where we stayed for another two nights before moving on. We liked Milwaukee
and the friendly people there, although we had a difficult time finding a
place to send email. (And actually the last newsletter) We did find some
good Wisconsin cheeses and some polish mustard, always a bonus. Carol and I
spent a good part of the day riding our bikes around the nicely groomed
neighborhoods of the South Side. On Friday the 20th we left and motored out
into a two foot following swell and turned south toward Chicago fifty-four
miles away. At seven miles an hour it proved to be a long day. We left at
0620 and entered Illinois water at 1050, yeah! As we made our approach, the
first buildings became visible at a distance of thirty-eight miles, and as
we came closer we could see that they were preparing for an air show. We
later found out that the Air and Water Show draws over two million people
into the Chicago area. The Thunderbirds gave us a grand welcome as we neared
the windy city. We secured accommodations at the Columbia Yacht Club, which
uses an old ferry as a clubhouse. Jerry, the dockmaster was most helpful
and the clubhouse was great, but the actual spot that we ended up was not
the most comfortable place. Our fenders hardly mated with the dock so it
was difficult to board, and we rocked all night. We called old friends from
Rehoboth who now live in Chicago and made plans. Bob and Sheila met us at
the Yacht Club, toured Vera Segunda, which we all know takes sooo long and
we went off in search of a cab and dinner. We dined at a place called the
Flat Top, which is almost impossible to explain, except that you pick you
food and they prepare a stir-fry, or soup or whatever out of it. Very good
food, and All You Can Eat!!! We also got to see Bob and Sheila's apartment
and see pictures of the kids. Boy is it ever good to see familiar faces; we
had a very good visit. We also got to view "Cows on Parade" as we drove
through the city. Apparently over 320 fiberglass cows, which had corporate
sponsorships, were painted by artists and have been placed throughout the
city. What a clever thing.

The next morning, after checking our email using the credit card machines'
phone line in the bar, at the club house, we cast off our lines and headed
into Chicago, through the lock, and into the Chicago Shipping and Sanitary
Canal. Sounds lovely doesn't it? Well the fact of the matter is, it is
beautiful all through the downtown area. We motored right through the heart
of the city and saw even more cows on parade, and many fantastic buildings.
And we were traveling against the flow of traffic as it was early Saturday
morning, the day of the air show and it seemed as though every boat
registered in the State of Illinois was in the river heading for the Lake
and the Air Show. All was going well until we reached a very low railroad
bridge. I had lowered the mast once again so we could fit under the bridges
and measured our highest point above the water. We are exactly eleven feet
six inches with every thing in the down position; the bridge was ten feet
off the water! We ended up waiting for over an hour as train after train
went over the bridge, some even stopping on the bridge and getting broken
and retrieved by other engines. Once through here it was smooth sailing and
becoming increasingly more industrial. We began seeing lots of barge
traffic after we passed the junction with the Calumet SAG Canal. We passed
refineries, sand and gravel places, scrap yards, cement and grain facilities
and a variety of other businesses as we headed south. Through the town of
Joliet, we passed La Ti Da, tied to the town dock. We went on, and through
the next lock to find a marina for the evening. This marina was right out
of "Deliverance", the power was wired so poorly we did not attempt to plug
in and none of the docks felt secure, and they were lined with old torn and
rotted couches and chairs. I guess it was a "working man's" marina. We
moved on early the next morning before any unusual demands could be made...
We were now cruising the Illinois River and it is beautiful. The river
brings back a lot of child hood memories and it is beginning to feel like
home, as I grew up in Illinois and spent a lot of time along the creeks and
rivers. You can feel the history in this area. A couple of miles south of
the marina was our first lock and it only took a few minutes to lock
through, very easy and expedient... however the next lock at Marseilles
(pronounced Mar-sales) took us over two hours to get through. We had to wait
for a tow, (which is what they call the tow boat and barges together and the
tow boat actually pushes and never tows!) which had to be broken into two
pieces and locked through separately. We entered the lock with the back
half of the tow and the towboat. The tow was originally three barges wide
and five barges long for a total of fifteen barges with the towboat centered
at the rear. The first break was nine barges rafter together and when we
entered the lock the remaining six barges and the towboat were in the lock.
There was not enough room between the barges and the lock wall to even put a
canoe. Six pleasure boats squeezed into the lock on either side of the
towboat, and no one could leave until he had gone, as there was no room to
pass. We had to wait for the tow to reconnect to its first break and leave
the lock. And of course when the tow went to leave it churned the water so
much that we all bounced around quite a lot.

This day brought us to Starved Rock Marina where we were to pick up a
passenger, my Dad. I called home after we secured the boat in the marina
and gave Mom directions on how to find us. Carol and I had a pleasant
evening filled with anticipation of seeing Mom and Dad. They were to arrive
at nine thirty or so but as I was walking up to get rid of some trash at
eight thirty they were pulling into the lot. It was so good to see them and
they looked well and happy. Mom's friend Donna was with them as well as Mom
wanted company for the ride home; Dad was staying with us. Dad made himself
at home as we shoved off from the dock and headed toward the Starved Rock
Lock and Dam. Mom and Donna drove ahead and chatted with the lockmaster and
waited for us to arrive. We got through easily and were able to chat with
Mom and Donna for a short while as we began our decent. Soon they were out
of sight and the doors opened and we were on our way down the river. Dad
enjoyed the scenery from the flybridge until it started to rain. We retired
into the main cabin and motored from the inside helm. The river was
spectacular even in the light rain. The afternoon cleared and we headed for
the town of Henry. We tied inside an old lock at Henry, it was actually the
first lock built on the Illinois River and has long since been abandoned.
Dad, Carol and I walked to the Tugboat Tap at the marina and enjoyed a cold
one. Here we met a guy named Gary who owns a logging operation and has been
cutting soft maple along the river. To our surprise he loaned us his truck
and we went off for a tour of beautiful downtown Henry, Illinois. We got
some supplies at the local grocery and Carol picked up some black and white
post cards at the pharmacy... they even gave her a bumper sticker that
proclaimed her love for Henry. We returned the truck, walked to the boat
and watched an approaching storm. I threw and extra line around the tree
that we were tied to just as the skies opened up. It rained! It really
rained! As Carol set out a spectacular Italian dinner we watched the rain
the wind and the lightening from our secure little spot between the rock
walls of the old lock. We were visited late that evening by a lot of white
geese who seemed to think it was our duty to feed them.

The next morning we headed south once more, with Peoria as our destination.
It was an uneventful day other than the fact that I got to spend it with Dad
and Carol and reminisce about growing up, and get another history lesson
from Dad, and watching the wildlife. We arrived in Peoria at 1300 and tied
port side to the face dock at the Peoria Boat Club.

That was one week ago today and we will be here for another two weeks. We
have been bust visiting with Mom and Dad and my brother Dan and his wife
Kriss and we hope to catch up with some old friends as well during our stay.
Another surprise was that La Ti Da also came to Peoria and we reunited with
them for a while. All is well between us, there was a need for a separation
and the reunion went well. They moved on today and we have made some
tentative plans to meet further down the road, maybe on the Tennessee River
or???. I have been doing repairs, maintenance and other chores. It is good
to know that you will be somewhere for a while and can find the things you
need. Peoria has turned out to be a great town. This weekend is a blues
festival and last weekend was the Irish festival. Dan and Kriss took us to
a Harley Rodeo and a balloon festival and my Illinois accent is beginning to
creep back into my speech patterns. We are splitting our time between the
boat and Mom and Dads. Here at the boat club we have met many fine folks,
some of whom are going to be heading south soon, so we may be traveling with
others as well. Carol is flying back to New England next Monday to take
care of some things there, but this will be after Jason (out son is moving
to California) stops for a visit this weekend on his way west. We are
searching for charts of the waters we are going to be going through, they
seem to be scarce, but a store back home is hot on the trail.

Bridges Passed Under/Through 386.

Locks 49 Miles Traveled 2214

Average speed 7 mph

9 States 2 Countries

94 Days

"I once knew a writer who, after saying beautifu things about the sea,
passed through a Pacific Hurricane, and he became a changed man."
Joshua Slocum