Looper Parade

Day 375: Saturday, September 14, 2013

Port to Port: Ottawa to Henry Harbor Marina

Underway: 6:16 am      Motor Off: 4:50 pm      Miles Traveled: 44      Stayed At: Marina

First Things First: First time tying off to a random barge along the river; first time having an asian carp fly into the side of our boat.

Mile 240 to Mile 196: Sun Gypsy, Bucket List, Journey, Down Time, Harmony, Tour De Loop and Shell Seaker – we could have had our own private Looper Rendevous at the Starved Rock Lock and Dam.

We got an early start but we should have slept in longer. There was a light fog over the river but the sun was starting to light up the sky so we headed out and down river. We only made it a couple miles before the fog got too thick to see oncoming tows so we pulled over and tied off to a barge parked along the river to wait for the sun to burn the fog off. To pass the time, we decided to untangle all our lines and cables and restep our mast. This went very smoothly – it’s great to be a sailboat again and not have all that junk in the way. We headed out again down river but another bank of fog reformed over the river and we decided to turn around and go back to our safe harbor and tie up to the barge again. This time we made cinnamon rolls to pass the time – they turned out perfect.

The fog finally burned off and we headed downriver toward the first and only lock for the day. Not long after we got started, a large tow snuck up behind us honking his fog horn so we decided to turn off and let him go by and lead the way through the continuing light fog. He was going really slow so as soon as we passed a narrow pinch point, we slowly motored by him and turned the corner only to find the lock just a couple miles away.  Bummers, this is going to be a long day.

It was a really long day but the lock worked out better than we thought. The lockmaster (who really seems to like his job – he was hilarious) told us to hang out by the wall near the dam for a little while so they could bring the first half of a tow up through the lock (they pull the first half out with a tow cable) and then he would take us down before the second half went in. Woohoo! With two large tows waiting, we could have been here for 4 or more hours – we could cook a turkey dinner in that amount of time if we had one. As we waited by the wall, we saw a flotilla of large power boats heading down towards the locks – what are the odds we know them. Pretty good I would say. We knew everyone except the four little speedboats that came in last. Now we have three categories of Looper boats – hares, turtles and snails. At the moment, we are not the snails.

It was fun to see and chat with everyone for a little while on the radio. Our lock down went smoothly and everyone headed downstream for our next rendevous on the Illinois River. After the lock, our day was just long and boring. The scenery was nice – if somewhat industrial in parts – but the sky was a deep blue, the temperatures perfect and the water calm. What more could we ask for (other than about 2 more knots of favorable current).

We had wanted to go farther but we were tired and we needed gas so we pulled in to Henry Harbor Marina and decided to tie up with Tour De Loop and Shell Seaker on the wall of the first lock on the Illinois (now abandoned) built in the mid 1800’s. Not pretty but cheap and historic.

We joined our friends for drinks at the bar/restaurant and decided the prices on the menu were so good we would stay for dinner (leftovers or a good hamburger…leftovers or a good hamburger and no dishes or cooking involved – which would you choose). We had a blast.

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