Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Last night in Michigan travelling down the river to Heritage Marine

Saturday night we turned in early as we were going to get an early start on our journey south in the morning.  We were awakened by the sound of fireworks and were treated to a great show off the stern of our boat.  Great send off!
Left Chicago on Sunday August 30th by 8am.  There are 2 routes you can take Southbound out of Chicago.  One you must have a clearance of less than 17 feet as there are many bridges that you must pass under that don't lift.  The other is a route taken by boats with a higher clearance not able to pass under the bridges.  Steve and I spent a good hour on Saturday before our departure measuring the height of our boat....then we measured it again....then we checked our math...and then we checked our math again.  Wouldn't it suck if we measured right but calculated wrong?!  Final count came in at 15 feet 10 inches.  We were being very liberal with our measurements leaving a couple of inches in our favour.  The route with the bridges is much more scenic and takes you right through the City of Chicago.  We were going for the scenic  route.  The bridges did seem very low and I'm pretty sure I ducked as we went under the lower passes.

The river runs right through down town Chicago and the buildings and architecture are amazing.
 The building with the antennae, to the left is the Sears Tower.  The antennae are in the fog so not very visible.  Once the tallest building in the world. Not so much any longer.
Our final destination on Sunday was Joliet.  As we made our way down the river we came to a small passage.  You are strictly forbidden to stop your boat during this pass as there is a strong electrical current in the water.  The current is to stop invasive fish species from migrating to Lake Michigan.  We did see some Carp in the water further down the river and were told by some locals that if you were to take a small motor boat in the river they may jump right in your boat.  They seemed to be very plentiful where we were and as we go south they say they will be even more plentiful.
Joliet is a small town about 50 miles from Chicago.  There is a free wall there with power.  When we turned the corner to Joliet were surprised to see 6 other Loopers tied to the wall.  We also met our first Canadian Loopers out of Bayport Midland, Father and Son John and Lee Dunnink.  Kaye and Al from Knot Home, that we met in Chicago were also there.  We met Valerie and Tim O'Neil from Chester B, George and Pat Hospodar from Reflection, and Werner and Kathie Steuernagel from It's About Time.   We met for "Docktails" and chatted for a while and then turned in early as we decided we would get an early start because we had 3 locks to pass through the next day.  It was a7am start Monday Aug 31st.  If we didn't get through the lift bridge by 7:30 we would have been held up until 8:30 as it closes for rush hour traffic.

Although we only had 3 locks to pass through these locks are nothing like the locks at home on the Trent Severn Waterway.  They are open 24 hours a day 365 days a week.  They are FREE!  However, there is quite a bit of commercial traffic and the commercial traffic takes priority.  So, if there is a lot of commercial traffic you can be held up at these locks for hours waiting for barge after barge.  The barges are huge and are pushed by tows.  If you see a tow approaching you must radio and ask what the captain of the tow would like you to do...pass?.....wait?.....pull off to safe zone? Most times they tell you to pass one whistle or two.  If they say pass two whistles, you pass them on their starboard.  If they say pass one whistle, you pass them on their port. 
This picture shows the difference between an empty barge and a full barge.  Notice the difference in the water line on the barge that is empty compared to the one that is full and how much lower the fuller one is sitting in the water.  The bottom picture is the empty barge.  It looks like it is full of sand but the sand is actually piled behind the barge on land. 

We made it through all 3 locks with out having to wait any unreasonable length of time.  We did hear of another boat that was held up for 7 hours at one lock waiting for barge traffic.  Although the locks look huge there is only room in the lock for one barge at a time. 

We arrived at our destination for the day and what a great stop. Heritage Marina. The Marina offers discounts to Loopers and was absolutely beautiful.
 There was a very clean pool, where we spent the afternoon, beautiful docks, restaurant, showers and very clean grounds and facilities. Dockage was very reasonable at $1 per foot.  We had drinks by the pool and enjoyed a very refreshing swim after a very hot day on the water.  Our American friends, Kay and Al from Baton Rouge, thought the water was freezing but being Canadian, we thought it was beautiful.  We laughed when Kay said "Y'all would think it's beautiful you have no choice but to swim in freezing cold water all the time!"  Kay also showed me some new navigational tools pool side which will be a huge asset when looking for places to stay along the way!!  Thank you Kay!!....She tried to teach me to whistle too but that was hopeless.  After drinks and swimming we went back to our boat and then met for dinner at the restaurant.  The food was excellent as was the service.  Conversation never lacking.
  Great day with a great group.  Some are shopping tomorrow, some have some laundry to do, some have some cleaning to do....Steve and I are going to head South in the morning.  Hoping we will meet this group again along the way as we travel "One Bay at a Time."

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