Hey Gettin’ Looped Followers,
Sorry for the delay between postings, but we have been w/o internet & phone for a few days.
Monday Sept 18th was our 34th Wedding Anniversary !
We celebrated with a very long 9 hour/1 Lock day going from IVY Yacht Club in Peoria Illinois to an anchorage near the small town of Beardstown Illinois called Bar Island.
Our original plan was to go about 40 miles to a marina called Tall Timbers, frequented by many Loopers. We had spoken to the harbor master Bob at Tall Timbers 3 times prior to travel day about low water at the entrance, and thought that we could make it in. But the day before departure we found out from Bob, that our Looper pal ” Desperado” could not get over the shoal at the entrance, and they had the same 3’9″ draft as us.
So we decided to do the long day from the IVY Club at Peoria to Bar Island. Bar Island in Beardstown is about half way between IVY Yacht Club and Grafton Marina.
The day started out with a nice ride down the Illinois River thru downtown Peoria, where we had attended the German festival a few days before. During our stay in Peoria the city was visited by replicas of the Tall Ships. We did not tour the boats, but they looked pretty cool from the water side.
Further down the river south of Peoria, we experienced a 1-1/2 hour wait at the Peoria Lock. We had to wait for multiple commercial traffic to pass thru the lock. The final barge was very large and took up the entire 110ft x 600ft lock. The 1-1/2 hour wait included idling at the lock entrance, due to no mooring cells available.
During the ride down river after the Peoria lock, we had to pass about 5-6 tows, always asking for permission to pass and which side the tow captain preferred (1 or 2 whistle).
The last 2-3 hours were very nice with no locks or tows, and a beautiful scenic ride with nice homes up in the hills.
We left Peoria about 8am & finally set anchor at Bar Island about 5:30pm, just before a nice rain storm.
We had Grilled Cheese for dinner, and toasted with 1 Bud Light & 1 Miller Lite.
There was no internet or TV stations, so we listened to jump drive music from our youth (Huey Lewis, Fleetwood Mac, Journey, and Heart) and watched the DVD – La La Land.
Shortly after anchoring, we learned from other Loopers that the next day was also going to be a challenge. Due to historically low water (which kept us out of Tall Timbers), there was a reported barge stuck at mile marker 76 on the Illinois River, blocking all traffic. We were told that the “LaGrange Lock” at mile marker 80 was not letting anyone thru potentially for 2-3 days.
I woke up about 5:30am Tuesday morning and called the LaGrange Lock. The lockmaster Randy advised that he could let us thru, but the Army Corps & Coast Guard were not letting anyone past marker 76. I asked for a phone number for the local coast guard, spoke to a person who advised that there was a conference call at 9am that would determine if PCs (pleasure craft) would be allowed thru. We had decided to go for it when I saw two Loopers heading for the lock at 6:30am. We hurriedly pulled up anchor and followed the 2 Loopers toward the lock.
When we arrived at the lock, lockmaster Randy advised over the radio that he would lock us thru, but the coast guard had made a decision that only boats of draft 3’/6″ or less would be allowed thru, and all others would have to tie up on the downstream wall. The lock operators asked each of us what our draft was – We all responded 3’/6″
As we passed thru mile markers 79,78,77,76,75,74,73,72,71 we soon realized that this Illinois river barge blockage was more over-exaggerated than the year 2000/Y2K computer collapse or the Giraldo Rivera’s Al Capone’s Vault opening. There was a barge off to the side of the river at mile marker 76, but there was 8 feet of water throughout the channel. If nobody had said anything, we would not have suspected any issue at all. We called a few fellow Loopers upstream to give them the update that passage was possible thru LaGrange & marker 76, and we were finally on our way. The only problem was The FOG.
Shortly downstream from LaGrange at the lower water level, still only 8:30-9:00am, we encountered very thick fog. Luckily we were following friend Loopers “Lab Partners” who have Radar & AIS.
After a second long day we finally arrived to the comfort of our covered slip at Grafton Harbor, where we will spend the next 5 days, and visit with my nephew Jake & his first mate Mollie.