Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wednesday 10/28/15– in Columbus MS
Weather/Sea   Cloudy then Sunny, Calm, temp 50 to 75
   Captain - John C. Kwak crew Chuck Stuart and Greg Murphy
Dutchess and crew are in Columbus MS on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway. We are in the Columbus Marina at mile 335 and staying 2 nights to take care of business and regroup. The cost is only $98.16 for the 2 nights. I needed to stop in good size town to replenish my pharmaceuticals. I was worried about getting them here but I called my Doctor in Modena NY and she emailed prescriptions to Walgreens in Columbus MS and it all took about an hour. We got the courtesy car from the marina and went to Walgreens and picked them up. That is how things work in the computer age, wonderful. Tomorrow we go to Pirate,s Marina Cove in Pickensville Alabama.
Tennessee River portion.
We left Green Turtle Bay Marina in Kentucky on the 19th and went to Paris Landing Marina in Tennessee. We tanked diesel ay GTB only 24.48 gallon at a cost of $67.89. GTB is of off Barkley Lake on the Cumberland River from which we took the Barkley Canal which connects Barkley Lake to Kentucky Lake. Kentucky Lake is a TVA dam and lake on the Tennessee River.  The Canal enters the Tennessee River at mile 25.4 and then we have to travel up the Tennessee to mile 215.1. Parish Landing is at Mile 66.1 and is a State Marina. The cost is only 1.00 per ft so $44.00 for Dutchess, no tax.
On the 20th we traveled for 8 hrs to Cuba Landing Marina at mile 115.5. We called them on the phone and VHF no answer but we entered anyway. The trawler “Crossroads” entered before us and left because the marina appeared closed. We proceeded slowly and tied up to what appeared to be the transient dock. We asked some fishermen about the status and they said that it was closed on Monday and Tuesday, since it was Tueday we decided to stay and pay on Wednesday which we did with no problem. They only charged $33.00 for the night and they were happy that we stayed.
On the 21st we ran for 6.7 hrs to Clifton City marina at mile 158.5, dockage was $48.29. Gregg bought a 6 pack of Shark Beer and we relaxed under the porch roof. Then we ordered burgers, Sonya the dock lady and only one there cooked them and they were delicious. We took the courtesy car to town but only found a Dollar Store to provision the boat, very small town. The boat was visited by a small Raccoon during the night. It was only 3 feet from Gregg and trying to steal my Oreos. Gregg chased him out and we closed the boat up more tightly. He tried to come back twice which kept Gregg up for hours.
On the 22th we cruised to Grand Harbor Marina which is on mile 449.7 on the TennTom Waterway. This was a 10 hour run which included the Lock into Pickwick Lake. We had to wait for a Tow to lock out and then we into a very deep 55’ lock and rose up to Pickwick lake level, easy lock with floating bollards. This is the highest level on the trip all the locks are down from here. Pickwick is another TVA power lake but also is the start of the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, known as TenTom. We stayed at Grand Harbor Marina for 3 days because they had good WIFI and Gregg needed to do some computer work for 2 days. Nothing to do here, because it is an isolated resort community  and large marina with no facilities. We were picked up by a local Restaurant for free, I had shrimp and catfish. That is 3 small shrimp and 2 small catfish fillets. The fish was undersize and should have been thrown back Ha! The other days we cooked on board. The 3 days cost $141.24, we also tanked diesel 27 gallons for $76.62. On the way to the fuel dock I lost reverse gear and every time I pushed it into reverse the boat went faster forward. Within seconds I could not steer away from a dock and smashed into it with the bow. Dutchess has a clipper bow so it rides up on the dock and then slides backward off. Then using the bow thruster I managed to steer a large circle around the fuel dock at idle and then shut the engine off and coasted to the dock. While the crew pumped diesel and holding tanks, I jumped into the engine room. I found that the shifter control cable sheeth had jumped out of a clamp. I put it back in and safety wired it also, no more problem. Except that the bow now has a black streak from the docks rubber edging. 
On 25th we sailed down the TenTom to Bay Springs Marina at mile 412.2 a 6.3 hr trip. We have had excellent weather until this day and now the rain begins. We have seen many tows pushing barges with Benzene or Xylene before but now each tow seems to be Benzene. Yes they are called tows even though they are pushing.
On the 26th we traveled to Midway Marina at mile 393.8 which took 6.7hrs. We passed thru three locks Whitten Lock, Montgomery Lock, and Rankin Lock, in each we were joined by three other boats “Crossroads”, “Red Eagle”, and “La Luna”. We had to wait at each lock for La Luna because she is a smaller sailboat and slower than us three. La Luna is owned by a Dutch couple, they fly the Dutch flag, and I spoke some Dutch with them. I hope to meet them again. Dockage here is 58.85 for the night. I expected the Dutch boat to come in but they anchored out.

On the 27th we sailed to Columbus Marina at mile 335 and passed thru 4 locks. In Fulton Lock we had “Kristin Says”, Sales Call”, and “La Luna” with us. After this lock I slowed down to stay with La Luna and the Trawlers caught the next lock. La Luna and Dutchess went thru Wilkins Lock and Amory Lock then La Luna anchored and we went alone thru Aberdeen Lock. We entered Columbus Marina at 5:30 a 10 hour 58.8 mile run.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday 10/18/15– in Grand Rivers KY
Weather/Sea   Sunny, Calm, temp 40 to 65
   Captain - John C. Kwak crew Chuck Stuart and Greg Murphy
Dutchess is in Grand Rivers Kentucky at the Green Turtle Bay Marina, we are resting up from our push down and up the rivers. This is a large marina and resort on Barkley Lake KY, it has a yacht club with a good restaurant which is about 100’ from the boat. We are staying here three days at a cost of $51.92 per day plus tax it totals $165.11 for our stay here. By anchoring out in the rivers the 3 previous days the cost is not much per day. I will discuss each river leg as follows.
On Oct 11 we left Grafton IL and entered the wide Mississippi  at mile 218. The river flows between Missouri and Illinois and an impressive body of water. The river flows at 2 to 3 knots so we were doing 8 to 9 knots. We stopped at Alton mile 202.9 to get the holding tanks pumped out because there is none at Hoppies and none for the next 6 days. The two 40 gallon tanks were full; Dutchess stores all the waste water including sinks and galley so it adds up. Alton charged only $5.00 for both tanks and I gave the dockhand a 5 dollar tip. At mile 200.8 we had to traverse the Mel Price Lock to drop 23 feet, we had to wait 2 hours for commercial vessels which have priority. There is no place to tie up therefore we kept station with the engine and bow thruster. Then were allowed in behind a short tow, when the lock opened we again had to wait for the tow to exit, they start very slowly and create a lot of turbulence with their big screws.
The Missouri River enters the Mississippi at mile 195.3 from the Missouri side of course, which increases the flow and width of the Mississippi.
The next and last lock on the Mississippi is at mile 185, the Chain of Rocks Lock at the end of the Chain of Rocks Canal and drops 12’. We entered this lock right away and locked thru quickly. Then we scooted past St Louis and the ARCH to Hoppies Marina at mile 158.5.  A total  trip of 60 miles which took 10hrs. 20 min. At Hoppies we tanked diesel but took only 24.5 gallons. They charge $1.25 per foot, it cost us $55.00 per day and we stayed 2 days. Hoppies consists of 5 old steel barges tied to the bank. You park your boat alongside and are subject to the wakes from the tows all night, but it is the only marina on the Mississippi. We rented a car from Enterprise and visited St Louis. We saw the Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was tried (look it up) and where they sell tickets for the ARCH. Both the Courthouse and the Arch are a National Monument with US Park Rangers on duty.  Chuck and I went up the arch and took pictures, very impressive view out of both sides of the arch. We had dinner in town and then drove back thru local streets to Arnold MO to return the car by 1730. Enterprise drove us back to Kimmswick MO where Hoppies is located.
On Oct 13 we sailed down the Mississippi to Little Diversion Channel a narrow anchorage off the river, at mile 48.8. This trip of 110 miles took 11hrs15min a long haul, dodging many big tows and even a stern wheeler passenger ship. Since there are no more locks in the Mississippi the tows are bigger, we saw some with 5 across and 7 long or 35 barges. We anchored at 1815 in about 10’ in black muck with no current, placed bow and stern anchor to keep us in the deep part of this little channel. Dutchess was the third boat and therefore we had to be the first to leave. We hoisted anchors at 0700 and crept up the inlet, but noticed on the AIS that 2 tows were passing the inlet so we waited for them to pass and then shot out of the inlet into the current. We needed some speed to have rudder control or the Mississippi current would have grabbed us and pushed us along the shore. A little trying since we could not see up or down the river. At 1150 we entered the OHIO RIVER which starts with mile 981. We are going up the Ohio so fighting the current she could only make 5 knots.
Going up the Ohio we have to pass the construction of the Olmstead lock, and you have to call them for permission to pass. They gave us directions to follow a tow which we did with no problems. Olmstead Lock when finished in 2020 will replace the following locks #53 and #52 and raise the water level to the present pool height behind Lock 52. We proceeded to Lock 53 at mile 962.6 and were told to wait on the wall, which we did for an hour. Then we were called to enter the lock behind some tugs and we tied up to the rough steel caissons which make up the wall of the lock. Never seen that type of lock before it looked cheap and done in a hurry. Also because these locks are due to be replaced and demolished they do not perform any unnecessary maintenance. We sailed out of the lock and to our anchorage at mile 949.0 which is in the Ohio river but next to a sand bar and therefore protected. I cut the turn a little soon after the red buoy and touched bottom but managed to back off and try again. The red buoy was apparently off station, this happens a lot, we see buoys on the wrong side or banks every day. We anchored in clean sand bow only and had a peaceful night, except for the noises of the tows going by, they run around the clock.
On Oct 15 hauled anchor at 0815 and sailed up river to Lock 52 at mile 939.0 where we entered the lock with another yacht “Golden Girl” and behind a construction barge with 3 small tugs pushing. This old lock is made of circular steel caissons with very rough and jagged steel walls. The Dock Master advised us not to tie up but to float in the lock which kept me busy keeping station. After the upstream lock doors opened the barge Captain came on the VHF and told us to pass him that was nice, the Yacht slipped by and we followed and proceeded up the Ohio.  At Paducah Mile 934.5 the Tennessee River flows into the Ohio but we had decided to take the Cumberland River at mile 923.0. We went upstream and near the Cumberland we took an anchorage behind Cumberland Island, nice and wide and protected. Two more boats joined us there for the night, plenty of room. We had arrived early at 1318 and stopped because the Cumberland run to Barkley Lock and Dam was 30 miles and with the lock would make us enter the Marina in the dark.
We had a pleasant quiet night and at 0750 pulled anchor and sailed up the Cumberland. This river is smaller and you must be careful passing tows. We only passed 2 and they were small no problem. We arrived at Barkley Lock at 1345 and went right in behind another looper boat. Then we had to wait for two more looper boats. The boats were Crossroads, Encore, Yolo and Dutchess. This lock has a 57’ lift to get you up to Lake Barkley. It has floating bollards; we simply put one line amidships around the bollard and float up as they fill the lock. After the lock the Green Turtle Bay Marina is only a mile but it has a tricky entrance, not to be done in the dark on your first visit.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wednesday 10/10/15– in Grafton IL.
Weather/Sea   Sunny, Calm, temp 55 to 70
   Captain - John C. Kwak crew Chuck Stewart and Greg Murphy
We are in Grafton IL in the Grafton Harbor Marina, this is a 150 dock marina with all the services that you want. They charge $1.30 per foot so Dutchess costs $114.40 for 2 days. This more of a resort town with lots of restaurants and wineries. This is the end of the Illinois River at mile 0.0 and it connects to the Upper Mississippi at mile 218. The Upper Mississippi begins at the confluence with the Ohio River, therefore we have 218 miles to go on the Mississippi. A big issue here for most boats is that there is a stretch of 224 miles with no fuel stops but Dutchess has no problem because we have a range of over 500 miles on her 100 gallon tank. There is a closer fuel supply but you have to call the fuel truck to come to the dock and he has a minimum of 75 gallons. Tomorrow we plan to go to Hoppies Marine in Kimmswick Missouri which is the last Marina for the next 228 miles. We need to lock thru 2 locks, the Mel Price Lock and the Chain of Rocks Canal and Lock. The Chain of Rocks Canal bypasses rapids in the Mississippi and we are warned to take the canal and NOT the river.
On Oct 8 we left Beardstown and went to Hardin IL a trip of 67.4 miles which took 9 hrs. 51 minutes our longest yet. We went thru LaGrange Lock which only a 7’ drop and went easy, this is the last on the Illinois River. We went to a dock for the Riverdock Restaurant hoping that we could stay the night after eating at the place. We walked ashore and to the restaurant and it was closed. We asked a neighbor and she said they had a fire and flood and would be closed for a while. Then we asked her if it was ok to stay at the dock, she said sure everybody does. For dinner we could only find a bar again and we had bar food again, oh well the beer was good. No fancy beers though “they don’t drink those here”.
The next day we went to Grafton a trip of only 21.1 miles which took only 3 hrs. 11 min. we arrived before noon and hiked around town. We are now passing very large tows with the huge pusher tug and 15 barges, 3 wide and 5 long. We have to be careful on passing and always call them on the VHF to ask them on which side they would prefer us to pass. With the AIS we know the tugs name and they are always helpful. We found out that one of the old products in Grafton was ground charcoal used for gunpowder. They burned Willow and Poplar wood to make the charcoal. Most of the old houses are made of yellow sandstone that came from the sandstone cliffs in the area.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Wednesday 10/07/15– in Beardstown IL.
Weather/Sea   Sunny, Calm, temp 60 to 80
   Captain - John C. Kwak crew Chuck Stewart and Greg Murphy
Let me first say that my new crew is working out great and we are becoming a working unit, not bad for three strangers. Dutchess is heading down the Illinois River which is 273 miles long and it ends at the Mississippi River.
We are now in Beardstown IL, attached to a crane spud barge in Logsdon Tug Service. This is a commercial operation but they let recreational boats tie to their barge for the night. For this privilege they charge $44.00 per day. We walked into town, again a very small village with not much, the movie theater is for sale!
On Oct 3 we did a 7.5 hr. run from Heritage Harbor in Ottawa to Henry Harbor Marina in Henry IL. Dutchess went thru lock #6 the Starved Rock Lock with easy center tie. Henry Harbor is a small marina with an old stone wall that larger boats can tie to. The wall is the remains of the first lock on the Illinois River. The depth was ok and they had electric. Instead of cleats they have looped rebar stuck in the rock for boats to tie to. Henry is not much of a town; we ate a spaghetti dinner in the boat, thanks to Greg’s cooking.
On Oct 4 we ran for 4.6 hrs to the Ilinois Valley Yacht Club better known as IVY located near Peoria Illinois. No locks on this run. We arrived here on Sunday and they were having a Football party in the club and we were invited to enjoy the buffet. After tanking 12.9 gallons of diesel and emptying the holding tanks we took them up on their gracious offer. The Commodore bought the first round of beer, a STELLA for each of us and we consumed a delicious meal. We talked at length with the members they were all curious about the trip and very friendly. They charge $1.50 per ft x44’ =$66.00 but the free meal was worth more than that.
The next day Oct 5, we went to the Peoria Municipal Marina only 5 miles from IVY. This is a free marina for 3 hours but we were told that we could stay overnight; we were the only boat there. We immediately walked the 2 blocks to the Caterpillar Visitor Center and Museum. There we saw the history of Caterpillar which is headquartered in Peoria. They showed a video in a theater which is in the bed of their huge mining truck. This is a very interesting and interactive display of their equipment. It was a bit of a sales job but that was expected. Chuck and I took a long bike ride and picked up some groceries. Greg and I took a dinghy ride after working out some bugs in the propane system. The river is full of Asian Carp an invasive species, which do not react to Dutchess but the dinghy engine really spooked them and they were jumping all around us. We were afraid to be hit by one of these 5 to 10 LB fish. In the evening we sought a restaurant but being Monday only the Kelleher’s Irish Pub was open. We had a nice Irish stew and beer.
On Oct 6, we sailed to Havana IL. where Chuck wanted to stop to see the father of his friend. Well Scotty Lynn was waiting for us with a welcoming sign, wine and muffins. He was going to drive us to a grocery store but first he had to show us off to the town newspaper the Mason County Democrat. The editor wanted to see the boat and take pictures. We immediately returned to the boat he took pictures of us and the boat and we will be featured in the next edition. Front page news in Havana! The head line will be “Havana To Havana” since I told him I plan to go to Havana Cuba, if the laws are changed. Then Scotty took us to a bar “Babe’s” and we had a Stella and wings, then finally groceries and back to the boat. At 1830 Scotty and his lovely wife Barbara came to the boat and took us to “Babe’s” for dinner. We had a very nice evening and could not pay a cent, not allowed. On the way here we went thru Peoria Lock #7 with only a 9’ drop, no problem.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday 10/02/15– in Ottawa IL.

Weather/Sea   Sunny, Windy temp 45 to 63

   Captain - John C. Kwak crew Chuck Stewart and Greg Murphy

Dutchess is heading down the rivers, into the Calumet River, the Cal Sag channel, the Little Calumet, the Des Plains River Canal, Des Plains River and then into the Illinois River which we will take to the Mississippi River.

We are now in Ottawa IL, in Heritage Harbor Marina on the Illinois River. This Marina is a very new place with housing still under construction. They give a discount to LOOPERS so it only cost $44.00 per day and we are staying 2 days.

Our first day from Hammond was only a 3 hour run with one lock Thomas S. O’Brien this is only a 2 foot drop and exists to keep river water from flowing into Lake Michigan. We stayed at Marine Service Marina in Dolton IL., at a cost of $59.00 for dockage.

On Tuesday 9/29/15 we traveled for 7.1 hrs. to Joliet IL, where we tied to the free concrete wall with free electric. The price was right so we stayed 2 days. We had to ride the bikes up a long hill to get groceries and we had dinner in Charley’s Irish pub and Charley bought the pizza, we only paid for beers. For the next dinner I made Beef Stew which the crew appreciated. On this run we went thru Lockport lock which is a 40 feet drop and they have floating bollards but they are located very near the lock doors. We passed the first bollard and went to the second but it was so close to the door that instead of a mid-ship tie we wound up with a bow tie on the bollard and they dropped a long line for the stern. This would have worked except for the 20 knot winds gusting and swirling in the lock canyon. Dutchess swung like a weather vane with Chuck trying to hold her on the stern. Because of the depth the stern line was almost vertical and not much use. That was the worst locking experience I have ever had and this was about my 90th lock. “Sometimes you watch the show and sometimes you are the show” as one of the other boaters said.

On October 1, we traveled for 8.7 hrs. to Heritage Harbor Marina and traversed 3 locks on the way. These all had floating bollards and we made use of them. In Brandon Rd Lock we simple hooked on a floating bollard on the starboard side using a center line and the boat rode down easily. In Dresden Island Lock the lock Master insisted that we tie to a motor boat “SERENDIPITY” already at the Bollard. Again the wind pushed both of us around and we had to loan him a fender to keep him off the wall. In Marseilles Lock we simple took a starboard bollard and a midship tie and rode down easily. These locks can eat up a lot of time because you have to wait for the barges which have priority. Luckily we only had to share one lock with a single barge and tug. We saw tows as large as 3 barges wide by 5 long with the pusher TUG, they totally fill a lock. We travel at about 5.5 knots on the river the other pleasure boats traveled faster but at each lock they would have to wait for us. I would call the Lock Master as I was approaching and he would hold the lock open for DUTCHESS she is a lucky ship!!!