Day 9 – Obstacle Course

Friday, October 21, 2011

Joliet, Illinois to South Shore Boat Club, Peru, Illinois

We’d pretty well gotten our routine down – casting off dock lines and springing off a dock or in the case this morning a seawall on the river. Then we motored down the river, following the red and green buoys indicating the channel; because we’re going down river we’re keeping green to starboard (right) and red to port (left).

Andy and Bill were on the bow for a good part of the day. With binoculars in hand, Andy spotted at least twenty-two different types of birds, not counting a couple types of gulls and a variety of LBJs (aka little brown jobs, referring to brown birds that are too far away to identify.) He also said that he identified two others by their call.

We’d also gotten our system for the locks down pat – fenders on the side where we tie up to the floating bollard, a breast line at the waist (middle) of the boat and once we’re descending loop a spring line on, wait for the water to drop completely and the gates to open then get startled by the “all clear” horn and off we go.

We went through 4 locks on Friday: Brandon Road (mile marker 286), Dresdon Island (271.5), Marseilles Lock (244.6), and Starved Rock (231). We had been hoping to make Henry Harbor Marina at mile 196.1, but at Starved Rock we had to wait two hours for two barges to lock through. So we had to find a place on the other side of the lock to anchor. The lock master said that we could anchor on the right descending bank, but in order to get far enough over we would have run aground. So we motored on looking for a place deep enough. On our Illinois Waterway Chart Book by the US Army Corp of Engineers, but not mentioned in Skipper Bob’s book, Cruising from Chicago to Mobile, it indicated at mile 222.2 there was the South Shore Boat Club in Peru, Illinois. We called ahead to find out their depth and if they could accommodate a boat 65 feet long. They said they thought they had enough depth by their fuel dock, but they didn’t have diesel. That would be fine as we would stop at Henry Harbor Marina the next morning for diesel, pump out, water and groceries.

We arrived at South Shore just after sun had set. When we couldn’t fit onto their fuel dock (too shallow and we were too long), they suggested we go on further down river. We explained that we didn’t have running lights and asked if we could raft up to the tow boat that was right next door at Mertle’s concrete company. South Shore was nice enough to call the owner and get permission for us.

“As long as you’re gone by 7 AM, it’s no problem.”

“We’ll be gone long before that,” Hugh replied. We’d be casting off the next morning as soon as there was enough light, any time after 6:30 AM.

By the time we had tied up it was dark. Dinner was quickly eaten. Then we had to negotiate the obstacle course — we jumped onto the tow, carefully walked around the cabin, scrambled over the edge of the tow and up cement block steps, through their railroad gate to South Shore Club. The reward was a well needed shower. South Shore was a private boat club, hence not mentioned in Skipper Bob’s book. They were very nice to help us out.

Everyone we’ve encountered so far along this trip has been helpful. When we were at Crowley’s Yacht Yard in Calumet, IL I asked one of the dock workers, who had helped pull the masts, where we could get ice.

“Right there. I’m not sure how much it is.” He walked us to an icebox by the harbor master’s office.

He ducked inside and asked, “How much is ice for folks who have spent $1200?”

“It’s free.”

The whole crew has worked well together below decks also. When I volunteered to do the cooking, Mike and Terry said they were actually expecting to be responsible for meals on a rotating daily basis. Instead, they readily agreed each would take galley clean-up after each meal. It was decided that doing alphabetical order would be the best way to keep track of whose turn it is next. First was Andy, then Bill, Mike and Terry. Hugh is exempt because he has captainly duties to take care of. They are all wonderful about offering to lend a hand to help in the galley at mealtime if they don’t have anything else to do and if I look like I have a lot to take care of.

One night Bill had a project to take care of, so Mike offered to swap galley shifts with him, so Bill wouldn’t feel pressed for time.

When Andy joined us in Chicago (Calumet) he started offering to dry the dishes and put them away while the other guy washed. If I need help “setting the table” they pitch in willingly. If something looks like it needs to be done, they stop and do it. They don’t complain when the oatmeal sticks too much to the bottom of the pan. They just put a little water in the bottom of it and set it on the stove to soften up.

“I’m sorry there’s so many dishes tonight,” I said. “It’s amazing how a simple dinner like spaghetti and salad could require so many pots or pans – a skillet for cooking the onion and ground beef, a pot for cooking the sauce, a pot for cooking the spaghetti, the cutting board for chopping the veggies and a bowl in which to make the salad.”

“Oh, but it was good!”


About juliemckaycovert

I am a therapist, teacher, photographer and published author. I am a lover of life and nature. My husband, Hugh, and I live off the grid on a remote 40 acre island, Shelter Island, just off of Drummond Island in the far eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This blog is about my life, a life I thought I'd never be able to live. This blog is about dreams and ideals being manifested. It is about daily events with a backwoods twist. It is about the simple pleasures and wonders being brought forth. I invite you to be inspired and even, as some friends have, live vicariously through my words.
This entry was posted in Appledore, Birds, Locks, River, Sailing, Schooner, Skipper Bob's book and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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