Cruising

Wow! It has been a long time.

It has been a long time since I’ve let my fingers walk on the keyboard. So long that I had to look up my last post to figure out where I left off.

Four Months!

July. It has been a long time.

Let’s get started. Here’s what I’m going to do. Give a brief review of our travels in the last 4 months then go back and expand on what I thought were significant.

Last time we were in Canada celebrating Canada Day with new friends. We still are in contact with them through Facebook.

While traveling the Trent-Severn waterway we had a situation with a recurring problem that required the boat to be lifted out of the water. With out a place to stay we rented a vehicle and drove to our home port of Grand Haven, Michigan. Friends and family were gracious enough to put up with us for almost 3 weeks.20160729_134614

 

Thanks again to everyone that helped out.

With the boat back in the water and August slipping away we pushed through the Georgian Bay in 2 days and back into the North Channel of Lake Huron. At the top of Georgian Bay is Killarney, Ontario. We were now in familiar waters, having travelled here in 2013. My thoughts were to push to Mackinac and down the coast of Michigan to Grand Haven. Silly Me

Lake Michigan is not a lake to mess with. We ended up in St. Ignace, MI waiting for weather and waves to become better. Waves again forced us into Beaver Island. Then with our sights set for Frankfort, we were forced into Charlevoix. Let me tell you this. If you are forced into a harbor Charlevoix is a great place to pushed into.

With an open window we moved from Charlevoix to Frankfort and from Frankfort to Manistee. Where again we had to wait for a weather window to move again. Then to Pentwater, Muskegon and finally on September 4 we reentered Grand Haven harbor and completed our Great Loop.

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We stayed at the municipal marina for 2 weeks, met with friends and family, went to Dr, appointments, and caught up with what needed to be caught up with. We were so busy that by the time we left we were ready to get back to the easy pace of cruising.

A salmon festival had us leaving Grand Haven in not the best of conditions. We traveled the Lake Michigan coast in 17 – 20 feet of water. Very close to shore. But any farther out and we were being banged around by 4-6′ waves. We made South Haven and stayed til better conditions arrived. Then New Buffalo MI and Hammond IN.

We arrived in Hammond on Cynthia’s birthday and went to the Casino next door to the marina. If we signed up for Player’s Cards we would get a free buffet. Whoo Hooo, free food and a birthday dinner to boot.

Now off the big lake and into the rivers again for smooth cruising. Our cruise down the Illinois River was uneventful. The upper Illinois River is highly commercial and is not the prettiest of scenery but in improves the closer you get to the Mississippi River Valley.

The Mississippi River has a great current that makes for easy travel at speeds unthinkable in slow-moving vessels. We would travel around 14 to 15 mph at engine speeds that would usually have us at 8 or 9 mph. Then we make the turn up the Ohio and speeds drop from 15 down to 6 in a boat length. But this is only for a couple of days and we enjoyed our nights at anchor on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

From there we entered the Cumberland River just north a Paducah, KY on a Sunday. The Kentucky Lock and Dam was closed for repair and barge and tow traffic had been re-routed onto the Cumberland. Where when we first traveled the Cumberland we saw 1 barge this time we saw and passed more than 12 moving tows. The Cumberland is much more narrow than the Tennessee and the Ohio and water levels were much shallower than the last time we were on it, making the passing just a little more nerve-wracking. But a great day and we were able to enter the Barkley Lock without waiting.

Now up the Tennessee and on to the Tom Bigbee River. We are currently in Columbus MS and what was supposed to be a short stay has become weeks. I turned and put out my back and have been here recuperating until we both feel comfortable in my moving capabilities.

Life goes on.

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Cruising

Cruising; Rolling down (or up) the river.

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you to what we are doing and the places we’ve been to and seen. I’m going to start to correct that now. We are now in Green Turtle Bay Marina located in Great Rivers Kentucky. It’s located on Barkley Lake and we are very close to the Kentucky Lakes region. But first let me tell you how we got here.

In the slip at Green Turtle Bay Marina

In the slip at Green Turtle Bay Marina

GTB decorating for the season

Green Turtle Bay decorating for the season

Last time I wrote of our travels we were in Illinois at Tall Timber Marina. Tall Timber Marina is in the town of Havana IL, still on the Illinois river. We have traveled on three additional rivers since that time. The Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Cumberland rivers and when we leave Green Turtle Bay we will be entering the Tennessee river.

Every day of travel is new and different. The Illinois river was running quite fast due to runoff generated by rain. Traveling down river with the current we were able to get great fuel mileage and speed From Tall Timber Marina we made a long day and set our destination as Grafton, IL a distance of 120 miles. We did this because there were no marinas in between and with the current flowing as fast as it was I did not feel comfortable with anchoring for the night.

On our big push to Grafton we saw flooding and some debris. The one thing that we didn’t see a lot of are the Asian Carp. We know they are around but we did not encounter the jumping and crashing into the boat that we had heard so much about. I was a little disappointed. We did hear stories from others that had encounters with the fish. Like one sail boating couple were pulling their dinghy behind the boat and at the end of the day found over 30 fish in the bottom of the dinghy.

We had become accustomed to the tow traffic and thought we had the meeting and passing pretty well down pat. At least until we got to the Mississippi river. The Mississippi tows are much bigger than the other rivers. The largest we saw on the Illinois were three barge wide and three long, approximately 600 feet. On the Mississippi the barges were bigger and the tows were 4 and 5 wide and up to six long. Some over a 1000 feet long. We were glad that the Mississippi is as wide as they say.

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Union electric Light & Power co.

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Compare the arches

St. Louis Archway to the West

St. Louis Archway to the West

Towboat traffic

Towboat traffic

As we traveled south toward St. Louis MO. We passed the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, which without it being on our charts would have been easy to miss. There are no great signs or landmarks to advertise it existence. St. Louis has no pleasure craft marinas and we were warned by other travelers and by all our travel books that it could be very busy and congested with working boat traffic. However, when we passed St. Louis about noonish traffic was light and we had no problems. We ended our day at a Looper destination Hoppie’s Marina in the town of Kimmswick MO.

Hoppies w/ Fern's awning in background

Hoppie’s w/ Fern’s awning in background

Mississippi river from Hoppies

Mississippi river from Hoppie’s

Kimmswick is the second oldest town in MO. It was suggested that the explorers Lewis and Clark used Kimmswick as a gathering spot before their great adventure. Just up river from Hoppie’s there is a tall tree that is said to have been a land mark during the Lewis and Clark time. That would make the tree over 300 years old.

 

 

Lewis & Clark Landmark tree

Lewis & Clark Landmark tree

Hoppie’s is owned by Fern and Charles Hopkins, the two have lived on the river their entire lives. Now in their late seventy’s Charles “Hoppie” Hopkins has some health issues that don’t allow him to tie and pull boats against a strong current. But is seen from the river walking off the distance and calling to the boat captain to “Just bring it in here”. (I never had to parallel park a 46′ boat before.)

In the evening Fern gathers river travelers under an awning with well-worn but comfortable chairs and shares her knowledge of anchorages and river conditions. Fern’s knowledge is gratefully accepted because from their marina it is a trip of almost 250 miles until the next fuel stop or marina. That means a trip of 2 to 4 days and nights at anchor, depending on the cruising speeds of the various boats. Fern provides the travelers with locations of safe anchorages and a suggestion to travel a little farther up the Ohio river to the Cumberland river to by-pass the first lock and dam on the Tennessee River. She said the lock master at Kentucky Lock and Dam does not like pleasure boaters and is known to hold them for up to eight hours to make sure an oncoming tow will be able to pass through the lock first.

“Hoppie” has been a river-man his entire life and assisted his father in “lamp-lighting” while growing up. Lamp-lighting is the lighting of the night-time aids to navigation along the shores of the river. It is suggested that Hoppie could be the last living “lamplighter” in the United States. I found this information in some of the literature we have gathered, not from either of the Hopkins, who were down to earth and quick to smile people, glad to share their accumulated knowledge and stories about the river to the travelers.

Leaving Hoppie’s and continuing our run down the Mississippi we decided to pass the first anchorage and proceed further to Little Diversion Anchorage just south of Cape Girardeau MO. Entering Little Diversion the current pulls the boat past and we needed to power up river and into the small river inlet. We found it without much current and we were not affected by the big river traffic. We anchored with about 6 other boats and had plenty of room.

Little Diversion looking toward the Mississippi

Little Diversion looking toward the Mississippi

Little diversion looking up stream

Little diversion looking up-stream

This was our first night at anchor and Toots’ first night of having to go ashore by way of the dinghy. We were still learning the best way to get Toots from the back of the boat down and into the dinghy. On our second sortie to shore Toots and I tried the other side of our anchorage river, less rocks, but a lot more mud. Dearest was not happy with the Mississippi mud that we brought back to the boat with us. We were able to wash most of the mud off Toots, but my socks and shoes were a different story. I spent quite a while on the swim platform scrubbing and trying to get mud out of the soles of my shoes. The dinghy was also full and until I had time to really clean it we carried mud out of the little boat on our clothes and fur. I guess that’s part of the adventure also.

Our second day from Hoppies we left the Mississippi and entered the Ohio river. It is amazing the difference between the two rivers. There is a line of sand and silt at the confluence of the rivers. Also there was almost no debris in the Ohio. After a week of dodging logs, stumps, and entire trees on the Illinois and Mississippi the clear traveling of the Ohio was appreciated.

Island of debris

Island of debris

log

log

tree

tree

Now we are traveling up river and against the current. No more just idling and making speeds of 8 and 9 mph. Now we are running at our factory suggested 75% throttle and making 8 to 9 mph.

We found a lot of tow traffic on the Ohio but for the most part not the huge 1000 foot tows we grew accustomed to on the Mississippi. Up river we passed the new and under construction Olmsted lock and dam. When I hailed the dam to get instructions on passing the construction zone we were advised that the lock and dam 53 was open and we could pass through without waiting. We proceeded north to lock 52 and locked through with three other boats. This was our first lock with the water going up.

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam Construction

Olmsted Dam construction

Olmsted Dam construction

We had planned on our anchorage to be just a short ways north of the lock and found our spot. We snuggled up behind a Corps of Engineers set of barges and tugs and set our anchor.

Sunset at anchor

Sunset at anchor

This is enough for now, until next time we are enjoying the adventure and meeting many people and making some new friends.

Up next the Cumberland River and Barkley Dam.

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Cruising

Who are the people in our neighborhood?

We are running into so many Loopers on the waterways and it seems we see the same faces for a few days then lose contact. Then new faces (along with familiar faces) appear. Some folks have been boating for years, some are on their very first boat. Some plan to boat forever and some plan to sell their boat at the end of the journey, moving on to something else.

We were fortunate enough to meet a couple that have been on the Loop for 7 years and haven’t completed it yet. Some people leave the boat for a month or two, or the winter, and then plan to start again in the spring. While we were in Peoria we had heard stories of a couple canoeing the Loop.

Wild Raven Adventures canoe fully packed.

Wild Raven Adventures canoe fully packed.

We happened to meet them in Peoria, and then again in Grafton. I found their story fascinating and exciting. The couple – Jennifer Gosselin (34) and Pierre Pipen (55) – met when Jennifer was enrolled in an extended outdoor leadership course. The course was taught by Pipen. Having the same interests, love blossomed and the two became a married couple. They lived in Quebec City, Montreal. Jennifer was raised in the area while Pierre was raised, in his words “all over Canada”. Pierre joined the Army when he was 17 and became part of a joint venture between the Canadian and U.S. Army special forces. He did his first guide work in the wilderness at the age of 18.

Pierre and Jennifer - modern voyageur.

Pierre and Jennifer – modern voyageurs.

They both enjoy all types of outdoor activities, from snow shoeing, wilderness survival, back packing, hiking, and canoeing. While on a Christmas holiday canoeing in the Everglades they met a local guide who spoke of the “Voyageurs”. Historically these mainly French Canadian people engaged in the fur trade, moving furs from the wilderness to populated areas. All this done by canoe. Jennifer told me that while in school the only mention of fur trade was about the Hudson Bay company. Not much, if anything, was taught on the Northwest Fur Company, which was very active at the same time as the Hudson Bay Companies, and a chief rival. The Northwest Fur Company was established in 1783 with its wilderness headquarters in Grand Portage, now Minnesota, on Lake Superior. Jennifer and Pierre became interested in the travels of the Voyageurs and decided that they would like to follow their route from Grand Portage to Quebec City. The first long distance canoe trip of 2300 kilometer was planned to take 8 weeks. They paddled the distance in 8 weeks, with a 2 week hold up due to poor weather conditions.

They returned to the everyday work scene, Jennifer was employed by a Canadian Software company as an Operations Manager. Pierre worked in construction, with his specialty being theater stage construction. Both Jennifer and Pierre grew disenchanted with everyday life and spoke of the stress of work, the problems with dealing with other people stressed about their lives, and the negativity that they dealt with on a daily basis. Pierre and Jennifer decided to sell everything and begin a “NorAm” Odyssey trip down the great rivers of North America. They had not heard of the “Great Loop” until after they started their adventure. Now members of the AGLCA they have posted on the site and met a number of the members.

Toots and Jasmine - an attempt to play.

Toots and Jasmine – an attempt to play.

Jasmine, the bear dog.

Jasmine, the bear dog.

Starting from Ottawa, Canada, the two have paddled through Canada to the Georgian Bay, the North Channel of Lake Huron, down the West coast of Michigan and currently, into and down the Illinois River. So far the trip has covered 1500 miles. Joining them on their adventure is their dog Jasmine, a Karelian Bear Dog. Jasmine joined the team as a pup and has been with them ever since. When I approached the campsite Jasmine met me prepared to defend the camp, but soon found that I was not a threat and became quite friendly. She desperately tried to play with Toots and got our old girl moving a little. Being from the Montreal area Jasmine is used to commands solely in French. There has been a lot of interest in the “NorAm” Odyssey and their campsite has an almost constant stream of people asking questions and chatting about the adventure. With French as her primary language, Jennifer speaks English but does not consider herself fluent. However, guests find she is more than capable in communicating. Pierre also speaks primarily French, as well as English and Spanish. Both are very easy to talk to and Dearest and I were lucky to be included in a couple of evening get-together around their campfire with snacks. We wish them the best of luck and safe travels and hope our paths cross again. If you want to learn more, or follow them on their adventure, go to their website and blog at www. wildravenadventure.com. We both feel so fortunate to have met these people tackling this amazing adventure.

Until next time, follow your dreams and make it happen.

Jennifer's tattoo says it all.

Jennifer’s tattoo says it all.

I just wanted to let you all know that this post is a joint venture between Cynthia and myself. So, when you see that the text is laid out better than usual you can thank Dearest for her efforts.

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Book Reviews, Cruising

Book Review, “Interface” by Neal Stephenson & J. Frederick George, copyright 1994

Another of the group that were loaned to my by my friend in Grand Haven. “Interface” chronicles a presidential race that has three contenders for the office, however, one candidate can’t lose. A microchip planted into his brain after a stroke now can receive transmissions that let the man know exactly how the public is viewing his actions. As with other books by Neal Stephenson his views and outlooks are well before his time. The actions of this shadowy group of investors seems too true and believable.Interface

“Interface” has characters that are geeks, athletes, veterans, lawyers, politicians and sons and daughters. One major character is Eleanor who was raised with strict family values. Eleanor knows work, she is a college graduate that has teenage children and now has lost her job, her husband, and her home. Basically she has turned into a bag lady that is trying to keep her children from being homeless. She still is trying to raise her children with the same values she had been raised with. She needs to let her kids know that she is still the parent and parents take care of their kids.

Another character is Mary Catherine Cozzano, daughter of the Governor of Illinois, Mary Catherine a doctor in her own right still feels that she is not good enough for her father. Especially since her mother has passed away and Mary Catherine is now considered the matriarch of a large Italian family.

“Interface” is science fiction that sucks you into a very plausible situation. Not an intense thriller that has you on the edge, but a suspense novel that keeps you wanting to figure out how and who are really pulling the strings in a presidential election.

Up next, “The Perfect Ghost” by Linda Barnes.

Until next time, we are continuing our adventure on the mid-western rivers. Right now we have been held up due to flooding on the Mississippi. As of this writing it looks like the weather and water are beginning to loosen and boats are starting to move again. We plan to move on tomorrow and in a couple of long days we should be in Grafton IL where the Illinois River and the Mississippi Rivers combine. Once in Grafton we will be picking up mail and catching up on laundry, shopping, and the regular duties required on board the boat.

We have recently celebrated Toot’s 14th birthday, Dearest and my 33rd wedding anniversary, and shortly Cynthia’s birthday. It is difficult sometimes to celebrate on the exact date of the birthday or anniversary and we take our celebrations when we can. Now it will be a celebration just to be back moving again. We all get a bit antsy after a few days in the same place. We are meeting many other Loopers that are at all stages of their journey. It has been quite the adventure. We will keep you posted

Until next time, see y’all down stream.

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