Wednesday, August 24, 2016

8/24 Joliet, Illinois to Ottawa, Illinois in the rain

We left the free dock wall at Joliet bright and early hoping we would get through at least the first lock before the rains came.  We didn't.  The rain started just as we were cutting the lines.  Because of the tow and barge traffic, the locks on the rivers are enormous.  They can accommodate barges that are three across and 4-5 long.  They are run by the Army Corps of Engineers.  We entered our first lock today and the rain really started to come down.  In these locks, you loop a line over a floating bollard.  As the water goes down, the bollard goes down.  By looping a line from the midship cleat on the Hydrophilic, one can hold the boat in place through the lock through.  Here is a picture John took from inside the Hydrophilic of me next to the bollard. 
It is required that you where a lifejacket if you are on deck during a lock through.  In this next picture, you can see that it is a one hand job to keep the boat next to the side of the lock. 
In an earlier lock, it rained pretty hard and John got a good picture of us in the lock going down.
This one is from outside under the awning of our boat. 
Today, we passed our longest tow, the Margaret Ann.  We first saw her sticking out around the bend.  And she kept coming, and coming, and coming.  She was huge.  We passed each other safely.
The Margaret Ann was more than 2 football fields long.  I had to wait until I could get the whole vessel in the frame of my cell phone camera.

One must be alert for all the barge traffic, but there is a lot to see.  The barges are being loaded and unloaded at chemical plants, silos, and nuclear power plant.  However, there is so much in nature to see.  John and I saw an eagle.  John saw a dead Asian Carp in the water too.  We passed this area filled with flowering water plants close to shore. 
Where the river is wider and has shallow sides, there are duck blinds.  One of the cruising guides laughingly suggested that one should wear blaze orange in duck season.
We passed a marina that was filled with houseboats.
  I was reminded that we were in the Midwest when we passed some areas where one could see corn all the way to the horizon.

Tonight, we pulled off the river into Heritage Harbor Marina for the night.  The rain stopped and the sun began to shine just as we arrived.   They welcome loopers here.  We are at Mile Marker 242 on the Illinois River.
This is a beautiful resort marina with homes and cottages as well as a huge marina.  We took a swim in the pool before dinner.  It was so refreshing.  We had a really nice dinner in the restaurant overlooking the marina.  What a nice view at sunset!!

Tomorrow, we will head further south and west down the river.

Lat 41 degrees 20.43 North
Long 88 degrees 47.26 West

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