Valley of the Waves
Sunday, October 1, 2006, Monday October 2, 1960
We were on the water 8 hours Sunday and I have now seen enough freighters to last me a lifetime. Talking with the tow operators has been fun; they all sound a little gruff, a little southern and quite charming. It's amazing how close we have been to some of them. So far the largest tow we have encountered has been with 15 freighters (3 wide and 5 long).
We docked at Joliet, Illinois at their Bicentenial Park; there are no marinas in Joliet. We needed to re-stock groceries and as Mike headed for the bikes and backpacks I assured him I could take care of the groceries while he tended to some maintenance issues concerning him. I left the park, grabbed a cab and bought groceries. We had some concerns about vagrants sleeping close by on park benches but everything worked out OK.
We decided to have a leisurely breakfast this morning and Mike wanted to tighten up a loose belt on the engine. Unfortunately we had a problem with the alternator bracket again and Mike had to bike to a welder and have it repaired. I walked over to Harrads Casino so he could tinker in peace.
We were only on the water 3 hours today afer Mike completed the repairs and stopped at Harborside Marina for the night and a much needed shower. It was awful...the water reeked of sulfur, the restaurant was closed on Mondays and no laundromat.
We have now been through three locks and experienced a rough time in one of them. They were 3 feet, 34 feet and 37 feet. The 34 ft. lock was the most challenging as it was very windy and we had difficulty holding the ropes to keep the boat positioned.
We made the best of it and cooked a great dinner after a few manhattans. The evening was warm windy and we enjoyed a parade of freighters from dockside and a scarry lightening dislay.
Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006
Two hours on the water today into the Calumet River, under three drawbridges and a mast down at Skyway Yacht Works.
What a positive experience; six people, and a smooth mast down where Mike was always in control of our mast. $4.50 per mast foot was the charge and well worth every penny. We were tired and the owners let us tie up free of charge for the night. As if that wasn't enough they provided wonderful chicken gumbo for our supper. We would highly recommend their facility
Friday, Sept. 29, 2006
We are headed south of Chicago to Calumet Bay and Hammond Marina and finally off the Lake from Hell as Mike refers to Lake Michigan. Thirty two miles in five hours; we expected much worse time wise but it was bitter cold. We encountered some very disgruntled seasonal slip boaters at Hammond Marina as tomorrow is the last day the marina is open for at least a year while the present gambling casino is replaced with a new one. Most of these displaced boaters are on waiting lists at other marinas as slips in the area are at a premium. Mike did some prep work on our keel stepped mast in preparation for the de-mast tomorrow.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
5:45 AM Wednesday morning we left the farm for St. Joseph Michigan to return the Enterprise rental and get on with our plan to get off of these dam lakes. We would highly recommend the West Basin Marina in Benton Harbor/St. Joseph's Michigan. The harbormaster was knowledgeable and accommodating and the marina offers the usual ammenities including a laundromat. One problem..no stores nearby to re-stock; I ended up using the powdered milk I brought along "just in case".
I was a little taken aback when Mike presented me with a bright yellow foul weather suit (pants, jacket and hat) last Christmas but delighted to don it at 6:30 am today as we headed out in bone-chilling weather. Rain, wind, hail, 6 to 8 foot waves, dark skies (except for the lightening) escorted us to the Michigan City Marina at the southeast end of Lake Michigan. Just one more excursion on the lake and we'll be near the Calumet river. We missed our de-mast date at Hammond Marina and are hopeful to schedule one in the next couple of days.