180 miles to Aliceville, AL

Our first let was from Grand Harbor Marina to Midway Marina, MM394 (662) 862-7306, This was a long 56 miles because we caught up with the other 14 or so loopers that were making their way to the gulf from the last big rendezvous.  We had 3 locks on this leg Witten, Montgomery, and Rankin.  Having this many boats we had to wait for all the vessels to make it into the lock to lower us all at once.  Everyone travels at different speeds so this part takes a while to get everyone to lock through at the same time.  Arriving at a marina with 14 other boats is quite the exercise of patience as well.  We noticed one boat with the bilge pump running non stop, they realized they had a raw water leak on the engine and the boat was taking on water.  Scary to think about loosing a boat in this dark river water.  That’s why you have to keep on top of all your hoses as soon as they get brittle they can split or burst at anytime.

Beautiful morning before we caught up with the flotilla

img_1512img_1497

There are only 10 bollards in each lock, some boats had to raft off to one another to accommodate everyone in the lock.  This is the biggest lock on the system at a 84′ drop

img_1499img_1500img_1503img_1501img_1514img_1515img_1506midwaymarina

From Midway Marina we went to Columbus Marina MM335 (662) 327-8450 this leg is 59Miles with 4 locks Fulton, Wilkins, Amory and Aberdeen.  Columbus is a great marina, they have a store, fuel and courtesy car.  Owner T Caldwell ordered some BBQ for all the loopers and we all had a great dinner celebration.  KC and Steve were here from “Jetstream” they are going to be Platinum loopers once they make it to Jacksonville.  And Cynthia and Byron from “Bright Angel” were at Columbus relaxing after crossing their wake and becoming gold loopers!  We celebrated with all the other cruisers this evening and some good stories were told.

leaving at 0700 from Midway Marina,  first wake of the day

img_1507img_1518img_152240787

The last leg was from Columbus to Sumter Recreation area in Aliceville, AL.  MM270 this was a 65 mile day with 2 locks Stennis and Bevill.  Sumter Rec area is a good anchorage and there is a launching ramp here too.  I chose to do a Mediterranean Moore where you use your bow anchor and then secure the stern to the land to limit the boats ability to swing.  Our good friend Rusty and Frances invited my mom and I over for dinner at their home in Aliceville.  Rusty came and picked us up at the launching ramp.  We had a great time visiting with them and they are such great cooks and hosts!

img_1531img_1527img_1528img_1529img_1530img_1535img_1541img_1538img_1532img_1540screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-10-11-41-am

194 miles to Grand Harbor Marina

Leaving Green Turtle we went south through Kentucky Lake, This was very beautiful water with lots to see.  Our first stop was Pebble Isle Marina (931) 535-3827 MM204, this is 74 miles south of Green Turtle.  Kentucky Lake is one of the highlights about coming south on the river system.  Kentucky Dam creates the largest manmade lake in the eastern United States. It backs up the Tennessee River for 184 miles and creates a lake that stretches south across the western tip of Kentucky and nearly the entire width of Tennessee. At maximum normal operating level, Kentucky Lake covers 160,300 acres.

img_1368img_1380img_1375img_1392img_1373img_1429img_1434img_1399img_1401fullsizerenderimg_1426img_1425img_1433img_1432

Friends on S/V Windfall headed for the Keys and Bahamas 

img_1386img_1407

Pebble Isle has diesel for 2.19 which is the cheapest from here to Carrabelle Fl.  The owner makes great cinnamon rolls every morning for the Loopers and they have a courtesy car you can take out to dinner or on a grocery run.  Driving into this marina reminded me of the Trent Severn.

45558

Pebble Isle to Clifton Marina (931) 676-5225 MM140, 64 miles.  This is a perfect stop for the night, owners are very nice and so is the property 

img_1411img_1417img_1416img_1423img_1440

Clifton Marina to Grand Harbor Marina 56.3 miles and one lock Pickwick Lock & Dam start of the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway.  My sister Clotilde had been with me from Alton IL to Grand Harbor.  Our parents drove up to see us and my mom traded with my sister so she could get a taste of the cruising lifestyle on the next 400 miles home.  We got to celebrate my moms birthday that weekend as a family and enjoyed the hospitality of northern Mississippi.

img_1448img_1449img_1450img_1471img_1456img_1454img_1458img_1457img_1469img_1470img_1478img_1461img_1453img_1488

Grand Harbor (662) 667-5551 is a great marina, they have a good ship store, courtesy cars and condos to rent on site.  along with a lot of other things to do.  The marina staff is great and we met over 40 loopers here that were just getting started after leaving the fall rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park.  This was super special seeing all the new loopers and hearing about how they got to this point!  “Inspiration” “At Last” and “Pura Vida” cruised south together from this point forward.

135356135357

300 miles to Grand Rivers, KY

Alton Illinois to Green Turtle Bay Lake Barkley, Grand Rivers Kentucky

Our First leg was from Alton Marina MM202 to Hoppies MM158. We have 2 locks on this leg, leaving Alton we went directly into Mel Price Lock. Mel Price lock was interesting, after an hour of waiting they finally allowed us inside the lock.   Our suspicions were correct and the lock was full of trees, Full size full-length trees lol. Inspiration was first in and they pushed some logs out of the way for us. This lock only lowered us 4’ because they have the dams’ wide open on the Mississippi to keep the water as low as possible because of all the flooding in the Midwest. They want to keep ahead of the floodwaters to prevent it from backing up on the Mississippi and flooding any towns. So the river is being kept as low as possible. We arrived at Hoppies and Fern Hopkins the Legend aka Hoppies wife made sure we were tied up secure in the 4kt Current. Fern has a Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee River seminar every day at 1600. She started with how to disembark from her floating docks in the heavy current. This was a good refresher for everyone. She told us about all the good safe spots on this 270mile trek from Hoppies to Green Turtle Marina. There are no marinas in between. Fern keeps up with all the river news every day, she has been doing this forever. Hoppies has been around since 1934, this is a must stop while traveling south on the Mississippi. Fern is a doll and we are all so thankful to know her and carry her wisdom south with us.  They don’t make them like this anymore yall. We stayed there with 6 other loop boats. We all went out for BBQ it was a great time! It was great to catch up with my friends Patty and Randy on their way down the river. I originally met them in Apalachicola when I had first started the loop and we crossed the Gulf at the same time. It was so great to see them and know things are going well. They switched from a beautiful sailboat to a really cool Ranger Tug ½ way through their loop! Life is so grand; don’t ever take a second of it for granted. Thank you for all these amazing people that come into my life every day.

img_1127img_1142img_1140fullsizerenderimg_1157img_1151img_1154img_1156img_1162img_1163img_1161img_1168img_1167img_1169img_1172img_1177img_1176img_1173img_1171

From Hoppies to Kaskaskia mm118 it was another smooth run with no locks. We were tied up to the lock wall by 1330. We convoyed with “Inspiration” and “Sandy Gal” our new Canadian looper friends Rachel and Nick. Kaskaskia is a lock up a river .4miles from the Mississippi, with usually no current. They allow you to tie to the lock wall after you get permission from the lockmaster on VHF ch14. This is one of Ferns recommended stops. She keeps in good standing with the locations so they continue to let you use the locations as overnight stops.

img_1203img_1192img_1201img_1202img_1199img_1187img_1188img_1196img_1194img_1197img_1204img_1207img_1206img_1227

Kaskaskia lock to Boston Bar MM7.7 we departed Kaskaskia at 0730 it was cold and overcast but a beautiful morning sky. Today was a long run 112 miles; we passed many barges on this leg. Pura Vida was the lead boat so we made all the radio contact with the barges all day and worked out the passing schemes. There are hundreds of blind turns on the Mississippi so watching the AIS and having AIS is so important. We made 12.5kts the whole way. Boston Bar is a great anchorage, we went in first and Clotilde dropped the anchor once we were happy with where we were located. Good 1kt current that keeps the boats in a straight line, and the bar that extends across offers great protection. It also insures no down bound boats will interfere with our anchorage. 8’-10’ depths inside the cove use anchor alarm! We had dock tales on “Sandy Gal” and talked about the next leg of the excursion. We are now only 7 miles from where the Mississippi meets the Ohio River.

img_1232img_1238img_1236img_1240img_1234

Boston Bar just under the surface

img_1246img_1253

Boston Bar to Cumberland Towhead Island anchorage, MM0 Cumberland River. We hit the Ohio River 7 miles past our Boston Bar anchorage. Its 58 miles from where you enter the Ohio to where you get onto the Cumberland. The current was now against us, we went from 14kts to 8.5 once we hit the Ohio. The first lock is lock 53 Olmstead Lock. We had a government boat escort us through this lock because its still under construction. The escort lead us for probably 2 miles and also made sure we made it through the old lock 52 which is taken apart but still presents a hazard to navigation. We arrived at the newly named lock 52, its about 18 miles past the old decommissioned 52. We waited here two hours. We made it to Towhead Island Anchorage MM0 Cumberland River right at sunset. This is a great anchorage. Latitude: 37*06’.587N Longitude: 088*25’.759W Make sure you enter this anchorage from the south side, as under water walls extend out on the north end. Come in from the bottom of the island and leave the same way you entered. There is plenty of water and very protected, we slept great all night.

img_1259img_1260img_1261img_1263img_1264img_1265img_1267img_1275img_1272img_1276img_1277img_1268img_1284img_1282img_1285img_1289img_1288img_1286

Cumberland MM0 to Green Turtle Bay resort marina MM32. We only have one lock this leg at MM30 Barkley Lock and dam. Barkley dam was put in to form Lake Barkley and also use the lake water to make electricity with the hydro generation facility inside the dam. The Cumberland River has been smooth and the tows have been very friendly to us. The current is running 1.5kts against us. We had to wait about 90 minutes to get through Barkley because there was a tow going up “Nashville Hunter” there is plenty of room to anchor up in the dam area, we rafted together with “Sandy Gal” and “Inspiration”. Green Turtle is right at the topside of Barkley Lock in Barkley Lake. This is a great marina with tons to do and see. There are hundreds and hundreds of boat slips and 90% of them are covered. Great food here and the whole town is golf cart friendly so renting one for 20$ a day is a great way to see the town. They have a spa gym and anything else you could think of.  Green Turtle Bay 1-800-498-0428  Latitude: N 37* 00.457’     Longitude: W 088* 13.538’

img_1291img_1295img_1297img_1296img_1322img_1324img_1335img_1326img_1329img_1342img_1341img_1346img_1347

135449

 

182 miles to St. Louie

It’s been a great three days of cruzin.  First leg we did one lock. Peoria Lock, distance today 77miles.  The day was great slightly over cast and windy out. Beardstown was our first stop; Pura Vida and Inspiration spent the night on the side of a barge. This is a great overnight spot for people passing through and wanting to check out a great small town.  This is the only transient space in this town, N40-01.05 W90-26.30 Contact Logston Tug Service for space (217) 323-1290 MM88.4 There is a small fee for overnight dockage and no services are offered.  If you phone ahead a deck hand can assist in catching your lines.

img_0953img_0962img_0955img_0959img_0966img_0977img_0978img_0972img_0965img_0970img_0974

Barge headed up the river at night, spotlights blazing a path

img_0980

Second leg is from Beardstown to Harden with 1 lock Lagrange lock.  Distance today, 69 miles with lots of open stretches.  Hilly terrain and plenty of water depth.  The current is helping our speed around ½ a knot on this part of the Illinois. There are lots of cool homes built on stilts, keep an eye out for logs.  Many buoys are broken off and lying on shore.  It’s amazing how many abandoned barges line the riverbank.  This night we are spending the night at Illinois Riverdock Restaurant, formally Mel’s   (618) 576-2363.  It’s a 250’ face dock on the river, no services but only 25$ a night at MM21 Illinois River.

img_0985img_0986img_0988img_0989img_0991img_0993fullsizerenderimg_1021fullsizerenderimg_0996fullsizerenderimg_1015img_1013

Third leg is from Beardstown to Alton Marina in St. Louis, distance today 36 miles.  Rain in the AM before we left, the river is very wide in these parts.  Deep water 15-25’ the Illinois joins the Mississippi at Mississippi MM218.  Debris is heavy on Illinois and even more so on the Mississippi.  The current was pushing us an extra 3 knots, this really helps speed and fuel economy.  Tons of logs trees and buoys litter the water, some buoys are sitting right under the surface from the crazy current.  Harbor Master Greg will be happy to have you at Alton Mariana MM202 (618) 462-9860 A bunch of my looper friends are here and we have been having a great ole time.  Watching the Mississippi from the marina is great.  all the goods and materials being moved by barge, and all the debris floating by from the flooding a week ago is a site to see.

img_1020img_1023img_1011img_1032img_1024img_1031img_1025img_1036img_1022img_1026img_1037img_1039img_1040img_1038

Alton Marina covered slips, buy 3 nights get 3 free.  1$ a foot covered, hot tubs, pools, nice deli and ship store.  Many businesses offer free rides to and from the marina. 

img_1042

77 miles to Peoria

Pura Vida and Inspiration made it well to Peoria.  The only lock we had this whole leg was called Starved Rock Lock and we had to wait 4 hours for this lock to let us through.  the river really opens up in some areas around here.  You can start seeing some nice estates along the river.  Peoria is home of the Caterpillar World Headquarters a few machining plants, and also the SS building which makes all the D6-D11 track type tractors.  The SS facility is the only place in the world where they build the D11.  So if you see a D11 its safe to say it was built right here in Peoria.  We had a factory tour with my good friend George Newell.  It’s not easy to get a factory tour here but we were able to do so because of Georges involvement with Caterpillar and my Grandfather who was a big customer of Caterpillar from the very beginning.  We are docked at the Illinois Valley Yacht Club aka the IVY club.  This is a nice marina, protected and close to Peoria.  (309) 682-5419  They accept other club memberships. 

img_0866fullsizerenderimg_0864img_0881img_0863img_0873img_0901img_0865img_0859img_0902img_0906img_0896img_0903img_0904img_0917img_0913img_0916img_0932img_0931

IVY Club

36635img_0923

46 miles to Ottawa

Started out mid morning today, rolling with “Inspiration” & “Let It Ride”.  It was windy today and cold, but it was a beautiful day.  Our first lock was Brandon lock, the guy cutting the grass didn’t seem to notice all the boats and did a good job of covering the boats with grass and dirt.  The lock master realized this and said sorry lol.  The day went great otherwise.  The last lock before Ottawa held us up for 3 hours.  This is a known often delayed lock because the lock master dislikes pleasure boats.  The Harbor master was nice enough to come in after dark and help us get settled at Heritage Harbor.  We had dinner with Phil, Pam, Tim and Karen, the on site restaurant is great.  Today took almost 9 hours and only covered 46 miles, total locks today = 3.  My friend Tiffany has been great help on board I really appreciate it.

img_0831img_0826fullsizerenderfullsizerender

Sheep

img_0837img_0830img_0832

this barge had been idle for a while and blew some smoke when it put fuel to the big EMD’s

img_0840img_0843

10 out 10 more in, Marsalis lock 

img_0839img_0828img_0846

arrived at Heritage Harbor (815) 433-5000

img_0850

Fuel, reverse osmosis water, cable, wifi “actually works”, 240volt, restaurant/bar on site. 

img_2031107481

59 miles to Joliet, beginning of the rivers

Left Chicago 0800, headed south for the Calumet River.  You can take 2 routs out of Lake Michigan.  One you need to be able to clear 17′ which is through downtown Chicago on the Chicago river.  The other is 12 miles south on the Calumet river max height 19′.  Pura Vida is 18′ so I took the Cal Sag route.  This is a 25 mile heavy industrial area.  Chemical plants, refineries, recycling plants, any industry you could name they probably did it along this river.  It shows, the water is highly toxic and the land looks like its been stripped of all its natural resources.  After the Calumet river joined the Illinois river we had another lock and arrived in Joliet.  from the cal sag entrance to Joliet you will have 2 locks to go through and a dozen bridges to go under.  I only had around 5 bridges that needed to open.  Joliet has a great free wall to tie up for a night or two.  The coordinates are N 41 31.670′ W 88 05.180′  The canal is plenty deep and well-marked, AIS is a must when traveling the rivers.

img_0773img_0775img_0774

Water is still blueish in the begining of the canal  

img_0778img_0777img_0787fullsizerenderimg_0794

Where the Calumet meets the Illinois 

img_0797img_0813img_0807

lowest bridge on the whole great loop 19.1′

img_0803

They have a electronic barriers in the waters here to try and keep the evasive species of carp and other fish from getting into the Great Lakes 

img_0809fullsizerender

Illinois River 

img_0800fullsizerender

If anyone knows what these colored piles of sand are let me know!

fullsizerenderimg_0780

nice sand box 

fullsizerenderimg_0804img_0805img_0806img_0798fullsizerenderimg_0792fullsizerenderimg_0818img_0819