Downtown & Chicago River,

What do I say about Chicago and it’s skyline, it is impressive. Being from a town only about 150 miles away I’ve been to the city. But never approached and stayed on the water.

IMG_6713 IMG_6714






We stayed a Du Sable Harbor, close to the Chicago River and Navy Pier. In the early 60’s I visited my Brother and Sister-in-law while they lived in the area. My brother was stationed at the Navy Reserve Center on Navy Pier. It doesn’t look the same. For one thing the Navy didn’t have a Ferris Wheel. Navy Pier has been made into a destination for locals and visitors, with shops and even an I-Max theater.

When I visited I don’t even remember the river and the lock. I do remember the Science and Industry Museum, Shedd Aquarium and the Natural History Museum. All are located within walking distance from Du Sable Harbor.

We had planned to stay a couple of days at the Du Sable Harbor, but when we realized that the first lock we would encounter would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday for repairs, we cut our stay short to make plans to move on Monday.

To prepare for our trip downriver we started with some recon. All three of us took a walk along the river walk to the first low bridge at Michigan Avenue. We spoke with excursion boat captains, and other Loopers that were heading either down the Chicago River or heading to the Calumet Canal. Many thought we would be too tall. Cynthia and I discussed it and the decision to proceed. If we were too tall we would turn around and head down to the Cal/Sag only about 15 miles south. I spent the rest of the night removing the radar dome from the arch and lowering our overall height another foot. I told myself we would be fine.

We left the dock about 8:00AM and made our way to our first lock in the Bright Angel. For a first time it went pretty well, just a little rocky from wave action in the Chicago Harbor. Upon exiting the lock we saw the Chicago canyon. Cynthia took her place on the roof of the back deck leaning on the dingy as a spotter for our height, and we moved forward at a very slow pace.

Here is what we saw:

IMG_6716 IMG_6719 - Copy


IMG_6743 IMG_6745





IMG_6733 IMG_6730 IMG_6724IMG_6741 IMG_6739 IMG_6735 IMG_6738 IMG_6750IMG_6755IMG_6752



IMG_6748 IMG_6749 IMG_6739




IMG_6756 IMG_6757 IMG_6759 IMG_6761 IMG_6762 IMG_6763 IMG_6764 IMG_6765 IMG_6767 IMG_6768 IMG_6769 IMG_6773 IMG_6774 IMG_6776 IMG_6777 IMG_6780 IMG_6781 IMG_6786 IMG_6787 IMG_6789 IMG_6792 IMG_6796 IMG_6797 IMG_6823 IMG_6827 IMG_6839




Once passed the downtown, the landscape turned to heavy industrial and we began to meet the first of the barge traffic. We spoke with the barge captain via radio and he informed us that the Fish Barrier would be closed until 4:00PM but there was a wall, sort of, to tie off. With help from others waiting for the barrier to open we tied and were able to take Toots for a walk. After only about an hour wait we were advised by the Coast Guard that it would open for a short time to let a tow through and we could proceed after they cleared. We were back on the river. Going through was no different from just heading down river at no wake speed.

IMG_6857 IMG_6856










The next lock was in Lockport Illinois, where we learned from the lock master how he wanted us to enter and where to tie off for the downward ride. In this first lock we rafted off another boat, that made it easy for us, the inside boat tied to a floating bollard kept us both against the wall. We made it through without a hitch and the Lock Master gave us info on the further locks and some good advice.

Joliet was our first destination and we got into the town’s free dock about 6:00PM. There were already a couple of boats tied up so docking was easy and a free night with power was had. Soon we noticed other boaters gathering to exchange stories and experiences on the first day of travel on the Chicago River.

Up next, in the cruising edition we will highlight our travel through Illinois toward the Mississippi River.

Until next time, it’s quite an adventure.



2 thoughts on “Downtown & Chicago River,

  1. HBee says:

    Love the new lingo: Lock Master. Never met one of those, hummm. A guy walks into a bar…Pictures were GREAT. I had asked Cyn if it felt like a canyon. I especially liked the one under the bridge…that was some engineering! Interesting perspectives. Thanks for the post, glad you are now big timers. Xoxo HBee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s