Oct 172021

Henry IL, what a great stop. The Marina has been bought by a local family after learning the marina would close. In April, 2021 the Passini family decided to buy out the former owner. They have dreams of making it bigger, better, stronger for Loopers. Although at first glance one might think that the situation isn’t the best. An old lock wall, a marina with about 5 feet of depth. However, overall this is river life. There is a free pump out at the dock on the river, fuel, both gas and diesel 30 amp power, but no water on the lock wall. The marina does have water. The luxury of having a safe place to hang out, enjoy the journey and meet really sweet hometown folk will not be in the cards as we travel south on these rivers. Henry’s marina is a comfortable place if you look beyond your city ideals. This is small town America. The Mayor stopped by and was thrilled to see the marina being used by Loopers. The owners are the kindest you will ever meet. These rivers will be a test for those with expections. These little reprieves will not be there for you as your journey on the Mississippi and beyond will challenge you.

We are in a holding pattern as we figure out the insurance issues we are having with traveling on a boat. Again we did not expect to have the ability to travel. Our focus was getting HP to Springbrook Marina. We still pinch ourselves and thank goodness we have the cruising permit.

On a walking trip into town where there is a grocery store, hardware store, Dairy Queen, a few restaurants we find a sleepy town where everyone who passes you waves. From their car or just passing by on the sidewalk a hello from the friendly locals is welcoming. We did stop in at Henry Foods with “Carrie” our grocery cart and picked up a few items. We are coming up to a stretch where groceries close to the marinas or anchorages will likey be a trek or not available.

There is a park in the centre of town “Central Park” as it is known, where a war memorial is set up for the local folks who gave their lives in the many wars of the 20th Century. A small tribute for all the Veterans is at a downtown corner made by the local town folk. Some buildings have stood the test of time and look to be from the 1800’s but it’s a guess as to how old they are. The old wooden handmade corbiels and cornices painted with layers and layers of paint over the years tell us a hidden tale.

Being here makes you appreciate what you have completed on your journey this far and look forward to what the next few hundred miles will bring. So treat the folks with kindness in your heart and may your journey down the rivers make you a stronger person.

Oct 152021

Starved Rock Marina – Henry, IL – Lock Wall Oct 15, 2021

We are up early and contact the lock.  We are hoping that getting going early will help with the locking.  Calling Starved Rock Lock before 7 AM the lockmaster tells us he currently has a double in the chamber.  That means that the tugs push barges into the locks without a tug, locks are filled or emptied depending on direction.  They then winch the barges through to stay on the long wall outside the lock and wait for the next batch of barges usually having a tug to push them all down river.  This process takes hours to complete.  The lockmaster says that if we are there in time he will put us into the chamber on the down, between the two batches.  We quickly get set and push off.

At Starved Lock we are asked to wait on the north side of the massive cement pilings so that the first batch of barges can be winched forward.  We only wait about 20 minutes and then again we end up going through a squeeze between the barge end and the lock wall.  Captain is used to this and does it with ease.  Again another morning with no wind. 

Cruising south on the Illinois River the trees are all still green.  Fall has not made an appearance yet except for the cool nights.  This section of the river is more wilderness than it is industrial.  There is so much bird life here.  Herons, Egrets, ducks that we have no idea which kind they are, just sitting enjoying the peace.  We spot some large white birds.  I mean very large.  We thought they were storks but they have short legs and duck feet.  We research them and come to find out that they are migrating white pelicans that are native to the Illinois River.  Who knew?  We have been told that there are lots of bald eagles around these parts but have not seen any.  We start to talk about them and without the words out of mouths there one is.  Standing so silently on a dead branch watching the waters for his next prey.  Statuesque and very large even on this barren branch. 

Continuing down the river there are pockets of industry and barges at the ready to be filled or emptied.  We have counted 15 barges on a tow as the largest one so far.  Since Chicago the tow have become larger so they can push more, hence the double locking we have encountered.  With the rains we have had there is a lot of debris that Scott dodges with ease.  We only travel at 8 knts or so which makes it very easy to spot.

Pulling into Henry, IL we find the old lock wall that we stayed on in 2015.  The water is about 6 feet less than then.  We could only see the trees popping out of the water on the one side of the old historic lock wall and now we have a full island.  Where we stayed in the past was at the high wall and we had to step down.  Very little wind and the sun has come out for a bit here and there.  The water is becoming the ick brown that I remember.  This fish are jumping again. 

Oct 142021

Seneca, IL Springbrook Marina – Starved Rock Marina – Oct 14

The lock is about an hour away so once up we prepare to leave, call the lock and start the engine.  The lockmaster says to get there quickly and he’ll run us down before the double tows coming up.  We’re gone before finishing breakfast. 

The ride down is a comfortable ride.  No wind today.  Just a calm and light rain starting, more of a drizzle.  As we approach the lock we are first to arrive and hail the lockmaster.  He says it will be a 2 hour wait.  As we wait 2 more recreational vessels show up.  We chat with each other about where we are all going and the wait time.  This is the Mersailles Lock with a larger pool to wait in.  Then another boat shows up.  Now the 4 of us wait…..almost 3 hours.  Not much we can do but wait.

When the lock doors open they are full of barges, no tow.  These barges are full of sand and weighted.  How do they get them out of there without a tow?  As we watch the fellas onshore work with some kind of winch, or something, the barges move so slowly out of the lock.  There is maybe 25 feet between the end of the barge and the lock wall.  We are hailed to go in through this space.  Us being 60 feet and watching 2 of our comrades coming in at 75 ft.  Great Captains for all.  We all finally cruise into the lock, tie up  on the bollards (so easy) and watch the slow lock lower.  This is the slowest one to date yet.  I think we were in that lock an hour ourselves while 2 tows wait below.   Again there is a small opening to pass through the tugs and barges and the lock wall.  So glad it is not at all windy. 

We get out of there and travel slowly as we watch 2 of our new lock buddies speed up.  The river is so calm and the sun starts to come out. 

Rounding the bend of the river near Starved Rock, IL we have a new buddy that started in on the journey.  However 3 of the boats have now stopped.  We see 1 anchored, 1 at the fuel dock of the marina of the same name and 1 moving around the next bend.  I call the lockmaster at this lock, Starved Rock Lock.  He tells me he has 2 full tugs that will take over 3 hours to move along.  So now we look at the clock and know it will be 4 hours til we get through.  It’s noon so that means 2 or so hours after we get through the lock before nightfall because we are on Central Time and the sun sets early and rises early.  We contact Starved Rock Marina and set up a slip for the night.  We will be on the fuel dock.  The current occupant has no intention of leaving before the lock is ready so we drop anchor.  It was almost 4 hours later that we got the call to head to the lock.  We watched every boat leave and head to the lock as we headed to the fuel dock.  It was almost 4:30 anyway. 

We kept a look out at the live maps and those boats didn’t get underway until after 5:30.  We are happy we are at the dock as we settle in and reference some logistics that we have to take care of.  We still have some things to take care of as we did not expect to actually have the ability to travel.

The Asian Carp have made their appearance as well.  Sitting chatting in the salon we hear a sound coming from outside the boat.  On the dock there is a 3 pound, or so, Asian Carp flopping around.  It was too dark to take a pic but certain there will be more opportunities to photograph these jumpers.

Oct 132021

Seneca, IL Springbrook Marina – Oct 13, 2021

Slept in, finally.  Not Scott though.  He was up early as usual.  He says there is rain coming in this afternoon so he wants to get started on the outside chores before the weather changes.  Coffee at the ready and off he goes……drilling holes in the boat!!!!!!

We have been missing our BBQ grill since we bought the boat.  We usually grill just about anything and everything.  There are no areas designated for a grill on this boat.  After coming up with some options, we decided on fishing pole holders that can support the grill on a specially designed BBQ grill holder.  Now is the time to see if it all comes together.

Hole saw in hand and off he goes.  A couple Killdeer birds don’t like us here.  Squawking for hours as Scott works on the back deck.  We don’t mind at all but think it is rather comical. Springbrook Marina is a working marina.  It has the ability to lift larger boats and has many options for breakdowns or maintenance.  The docks are about 40 ft or so with lots of options for smaller vessels with 30 and 50 amp power.  Their lift is a 50 ton lift.  Fuel, both diesel and gas are available on the Illinois River for ease of access.  There is a restaurant here with bar style fare.  A few lender cars are also at the ready for anyone needing to head into town to visit grocery, Walmart, Laundry, or whatever provisions you need.  Kind and friendly staff as well.  The entrance looks narrow but it is about 12 feet throughout the marina.  The slips are approx. 8 ft depth so backing in is a great option.  Scott ventured around the property and saw Kate, our broker extrordinaire, who found and sold us our dream. We had several brokers working with us but Kate continued to stay in touch when we were searching for a boat. She came upon our gem and contacted Scott immediately. The rest is history. We can’t thank Kate, Kyle, the Team at Springbrook Marina for making our dream possible.

Scott installs the fishing rod holders/BBQ grill holder in style and fashion finishing up around noon.  The winds have picked up as well.  Captain Karl shows up on a delivery so we will chat with him before the day turns nasty then it will be indoor chores.  The flies have also returned.  When we left home we were happy to say goodbye to them.  Now they are back since the temps are favourable.  Egrets and Swans are migrating too.  We see them in droves in the shallows of the Illinois River.  The pics do not do it justice.

Rain for short duration of time but it came down in buckets.  The wifi is great here so we updated our software, cleaned the boat, changed out the keyboard we ordered for the laptop and had delivered to Springbrook.  Scott was able to save the laptop by replacing the keyboard that must have been soaked.  Thank goodness we don’t have to buy a new laptop.  We will be having pickerel, or walleye, for dinner from the fish monger we bought from in Kauwanee, WI.  That Killdeer is still squawking too.  At this point it will be hoarse at some point, we hope. 

Oct 122021

Joliet, IL, city wall – Seneca, IL Springbrook Marina – Oct 12, 2021

With all the hype of issues staying on the Joliet wall we had none of it.  We had 30 amp power which is tucked into the green crisscross doors on the cement pillars.  No water available from what we did see.  The setting is very nice with tree lined park area.  There is a parking lot and what looks to be a city type building.  We had tornado warnings for a couple hours where the wind did pick up and a calling for 20 mm of rain in that 2 hour period.  However, none of that happened.  It just drizzled and rained on and off til around midnight. 

We called up the Brandan Lock Lockmaster and asked when he would like us to come through.  He said right away so we headed out around 8:00.  No waiting at this lock as it was ready for us.  Again this lock has a bollard that you loop your line around and it goes down with the water level.  Scott stays at the helm while I mid cleat our line and remain on watch.  Easiest way to do locks.  Thank you Army Corp of Engineers for making this passage so easy.

The Illinois River is a meandering river with a lot of history.  The river was important among Native Americans and early French traders as the principal water route connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi. The French colonial settlements along these rivers formed the heart of the area known as the Illinois Country in the 17th and 18th centuries. After the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and theHennepin Canal in the 19th century, the role of the river as link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi was extended into the era of modern industrial shipping. The Illinois now forms the basis for the Illinois Waterway (Wikipedia)

The Illinois River is a principal tributary of the Mississippi River and is approximately 273 miles (439 km) long. Located in the State of Illinois the river drains a large section of central Illinois, with a drainage basin of 28,756.6 square miles (74,479 km2).  The drainage basin extends into Wisconsin, Indiana and a very small area of southwestern Michigan.  (Wikipedia)

We notice that the colours of fall have not reached this area.  Trees are green with very little hint of the autumn blooms yet to come.  The winds are picking up as the day warms so the river has become choppy.  We have another lock to head through today before we call it an early day at Springbrook Marina in Seneca, IL.  The home of Heliopause on her delivery to the US from France. 

We did have to wait about 20 minutes for the lock to fill as it was in the empty stage. The lock at Dresden Lock is again a bollard.  Easy pass through on our last leg to Springbrook.  From here it is about an hour to our destination where we will stay a few days to get some work done that we have been putting off.  We know they will have parts if we need any as this is a Prestige Dealership.  As we pull in those pesky winds have picked up so Scott used his Captain skills and nestled her in with no issues.  It’s only 2:30. 

Scott starts on the set up for the work he wants to do.  I tidy up and catch up on the blog.  Homemade pizza for dinner is prepped. 

Oct 112021

Chicago IL, -DuSable Marina – Joliet, IL, city wall – Oct 11, 2021

Pushing off from the picturesque skyline we head down towards the Chicago River.  Scott took the time to design a lift system for the tallest portion of our boat. The radar tower sits almost 3 feet above the main part of the boat. He designed and created a special mounting to take off the radar with a small amount of effort so that we could enjoy areas that are too tall if you are almost 18 feet. He created it for the western Erie Canal but it also works for the Chicago River instead of taking the alternate route through the industrial portion and missing the experience of the Chicago River. If you are under 17 feet tall you can take this river as it meanders throughout the city with over 40 bridges.  Otherwise you can take the Calumet-Sag River and must fit under 19’6”.

The Chicago River is much more beautiful and the buildings can take your breath away if you like architecture and history.  As you cruise through the bridges you will note that buildings have different structures.  Some cement, some glass, some steel.  That is mainly due to the different styles of architects that have made their claim here in Chicago which is named the most diverse style of buildings in the world.  You can see the history in these buildings.

Along the river are kayak rentals, pontoon rentals, water taxis, shuttles, cruises for the tourists and recreational boats.  It can get very busy. 

Leaving the Chicago downtown area and heading down the suburbs of Chicago we leave the tall skyscrapers in the distance and come upon all the industrial area.  Barges and tows are becoming familiar along with the parked barges along the side either emptying their wares or filling their hulls with grain, sand, stone.  These barges supply the city with materials needed, not just Chicago but also those farther south. 

The area in a portion of the Illinois River has the electric charge underwater fencing to keep the Asian Carp out from the Great Lakes.  There is an entire infrastructure built for only this purpose.

A warm day in October but with rain expected.  We are hoping to get to Joliet before the big rains.  We follow several barges and end up being stopped just before the Lockport Lock as a barge starts downbound.  We are stuck waiting an hour.  Then the rain starts.  Weatherman says thunderstorms and heavy rains tonight. 

So here we are tied up to the Joliet wall.  It is beside a beautiful treed park.  We have heard many a story about not staying here so we call the recommended police station and let them know we are staying the night.  The police number is 815 724 3100 and they are putting out extra patrol tonight.  I think we will tie our lines back to the boat, put on the anchor alarm, tether and lock our mid cleat, keep the cameras on, cell phones beside our bed.  There will be lots of sleep interruption tonight as we take turns checking.

With these rains it will be a bevy and movie night.

Oct 102021

Chicago, IL – DuSable Marina Oct 10, 221

Scott was checking Nebo, the boat tracker app, and found that our Captain was on Navy Pier on the Tall Ship Windy.  Windy is a tour boat operated out of Chicago for a great sailing experience.  (https://tallshipwindy.com/)  Scott contacts Captain Karl for a meet up when we head out to discover what Navy Pier has to offer.  The pier known as Municipal Pier at the time opened in 1916, was renamed Navy Pier in 1927 to honor the Navy veterans of the first world war.  When the second world war emerged in the 1940s, Navy Pier went back to being a military station.  It mainly served as a place to have pilot training orientation.  The build was overseen by architect Charles Sumner Frost and based on Daniel Burnham’s “Master Plan of Chicago.” The purpose of the Pier was to be a shipping and recreation facility. Navy Pier has enjoyed a remarkable evolution. Originally designed for shipping and recreational purposes, the facility has evolved into a premiere entertainment and exposition center. The pier provides a skyline view only seen being “out front” of the buildings.   We wander until lunch and head back to the boat to dine.

After lunch we have designed a DIY walking architectural tour throughout the main streets of Chicago.  This tour will take us to some of the most acclaimed new buildings and some of the old Chicago buildings that came out the other side, after the burning of Chicago.  We walk The Magnificient Mile of Michigan Ave.  Churches, interesting, designed buildings, and read up on the history of how Chicago rebuilt itself after the burning as we stroll.  There are 3 major designs here in the downtown.  The cement and stone shorter buildings that were skyscrapers in their time, the next generation of tall buildings made of cement and steel and then the 100 story buildings made of steel and glass.  There is so much to learn about how each of these generations of buildings were made. 

Famous architects became famous due to their design of one of these buildings.  Truly a work of art.  The most famous architect is Burnham who in the late 1800’s designed Chicago with streets in a grid formulation.  All streets run north to south or vise versa, and east to west or vice versa.  There are no meandering through other streets.  The city streets are designed in a grid pattern and the city grew from there.  Also in Burnham’s idea for this city he included parks and green spaces which to this day remain.  They are plentiful throughout the city.  The boardwalk was also introduced in that era where you will find different modes of transportation each having their own lane to travel in that is away from the city streets and vehicles.  Our main goal was also to find a grocery store that was close to the boat.  With our cart in tow we also head out and fill our cupboards for traveling south. 

We rent a couple Lyft bikes and peddle our way along the waterfront trail. We were able to see so much more of the city and stopped at the Museum for water and a break before heading back to our boat. These bikes are amazing. You rent them from a kiosk by entering your credit card. Then you get a scan code to the bike you choose. It opens a lock and off you go. For a reasonable price you are able to cruise around for as long or short as you like and drop off the bike at another location that is to your liking. It locks in to a pedestal and you are charged on your credit card accordingly. It’s a great way to get around.

Tonight we are also welcomed with warm temps and dinner on the deck.  City lights glowing, in this our last day in a major city for a long while. 

Oct 092021

Milwaukee, WI – Chicago, IL, DuSable Marina – Oct 9, 2021

Too many marinas for our liking.  We can’t wait till we are off the Lakes.  The weather is changing tonight to a poor outlook for travel so we know we have to get to Chicago.  Leaving Milwaukee harbour we are greeted to a slow and quiet Lake Michigan.  There is still the roll that comes from large bodies of water but the conditions are amazing.  We run to Chicago in about 6 hours at 8 knts.  8 knts is our comfortable speed and great gas mileage.  Scott has always said that you either have time or money while traveling on a boat.  When you work you always need to be somewhere at a certain time and when you have the time you take the time to conserve.  It is proving to be a true statement. 

It was such a nice cruising day.  As we approach Chicago from the west the city skyline comes into view.  It was a patchy, fog arrival with sailboats out enjoying the light winds and calm waters.  Cruise and tour boats are out with folks enjoying the sights.  Rounding into the harbour the main lighthouse is a sight.  The harbour at Chicago is a harbour, within a harbour.  With the strong waves from Lake Michigan the city has established a large open area where you can boat as if on a small lake, then you round another harbour to enter into where the marinas and anchorages are.  We do need groceries and want to see the city so we will be taking a slip at DuSable Marina. 

DuSable Marina is the closest marina to the city.  It is also closest to the first lock to enter the Chicago River and head downtown.  The marina has everything you need for a city stop.  The boardwalk along the river is at the end of your dock with locks and security patrolling.  A code will get you into your dock when you leave to visit the sights. 

It is late in the day so we have dinner and call it a day.  We will be here for a couple nights so we can enjoy just a bit of the city. 

The night lights do not disappoint.  Simply spectacular with the tall buildings.  It was such a warm night we had dinner out on the deck and watched dusk fall into night with the city coming alive with the light show. 

Oct 082021

Sheboygeon, WI – Milwaukee, WI – Oct 8, 2021

Ralph factor 2.  Not bad seas today.  All good but another day just cruising along the shoreline.  We are excited to see the city lights tonight.  Just a 5 hour trek south to Milwaukee.  South, that’s the best word of the day.

There are many choices here for marinas and anchorages.  We decide to take the space by the Discovery Kids where an anchorage is available.  There is a marina here as well but no water, just power.  This area is to the south of Milwaukee Harbour.  We found a small grocery store and pickleball.  There is a river through Milwaukee that we plan to take with the tender and stop at both of these.

We get HP settled and get Otter, the tender, down to begin our exploring.  It is still early, around 2:30.  Off we go in Otter and onto the Milwaukee River.  What greets us is a huge surprise.  This area of Milwaukee is called the Third Ward.  It was the industrial age buildings that took us by surprise.  They have been converted into condos and apartments right alongside the river.  Not just a small area but the entire area.  There are restaurants, homes, shopping, boat slips all along here.  Old buildings mixed with modern updates to make homes. 

I wouldn’t call the river clean though,  They don’t do a good job of getting the garbage out so it floats together in spots looking more like a garbage dump than a river.  Come on people.  Take care of your waterways. 

So Scott had already mapped out the pickleball area.  It was alongside the river.  The city of Milwaukee has made the underpass of a main street a pickleball area with 2 courts.  We tie up Otter with a locked cable and head to the market.  At the market it is more of fast or fresh food to take out.  Okay so we re-think groceries for Chicago tomorrow.

So we head over to the pickleball, under the overpass.  What a great concept for use of space.  We start to play, just the 2 of us.  Then several folks show up and 2 courts are now going.  We met some very spunky 20 somethings and played several games with them.  It felt so good to play.  It has become my mission to find a good overpass in Niagara Falls and hope to sign them on for a good couple courts. 

After a good sweat we are back in Otter and heading back to HP.  Again passing through the river to the harbour entrance and still finding such great use for brownspace and older buildings.

It was so nice today, weather, boat ride, calm seas and new friends.   Now for those city lights which did not disappoint.  A beautiful city skyline sitting on the deck after a full day and very thankful.  Tomorrow is Chicago!!!

Oct 072021

Kauwanee, WI, city wall  – Sheboygeon, WI, – Oct 7, 2021

It’s a 5 hour run south to Sheboygeon, WI. Again getting an early start we head out the channel again with those pesky easterlies on our beam.  We are met with some heavier winds than yesterday but Heliopause can handle them.  Me not so much.  A lot of time was spent with my eyes closed on the couch in a prone state.  Ralph factor 7.  It’s has become a new call sign for how bad the seasickness is. 

The trip south is open water again about 10 miles offshore.  There isn’t much story to tell about this trip as it is routine with the open waters of Lake Michigan. 

Rounding the harbour of Sheboygeon there is an open area for anchoring but at this point we are just going to the marina.  The winds have picked up and the fog is rolling in and rain predicted.   The marina finds us our slip.

We decided to head into the harbour boardwalk where the entire area has been upgraded.  Lake Michigan is still high and the docks that normally are available for docking are underwater.  There are no docking signs on both the north and south side of the harbour.  We find a quaint store and pick up some extra tasties for our pantry.  Fresh soup ready for a cold night, which we have had a couple here and there. 

Walking around town in the quaint streets with not many people was a treat.   It was drizzling by now but we managed to wander and explore.  Eventually, we head back to the marina.

This marina is by far the best marina we have ever seen.  Not only did it have a 60 ft dock for HP, 50 amp power, it was clean, had a great view, a convenience store, restrooms, laundry facilities.  You name it, it is here.  I did do laundry to catch up.  As the rain started we headed out to the heated pool and spa.  No one was there.  So we changed in the heated separate change rooms, jumped in the warm pool and swam laps and had some fun for over an hour.  Then the hot tub awaited.  We stayed in there longer than we probably should have.  It was rejuvenating though with all the logistics, planning, ups and downs all behind us. 

By this point it is dinner so off to relax, grab a sundowner and wait out the rain. 

Oct 062021

Sturgeon Bay, WI to Kauwanee, WI – Oct 6, 2021

Tired but so ready to begin our journey south.  For the first time we can officially say we are headed south instead of north.  Lake Michigan wasn’t too bad.  Unfortunately we have the next 5 days of easterlies which rarely happens on this lake.  Usually the winds are SW.  Just our luck that as we travel south we have waves on our beam.  Just enough to rock us so not too bad.  Our sailor friends would be jealous. 

An uneventful day as we head to Kauwanee, WI.  We have not done much homework on this place other than we know there is a town wall, power but no water.  The marina cannot take our size.  As we travel down Lake Michigan we notice that the trees have not started to change colours yet.  There is a dabble of colour but not near as much as we had when we left home.  We are fairly far out, about 10 miles or so, so not much to see other than water.  Sun is out and it’s a great day to cruise.

Kauwanee city wall is a great place to stop.  Full power and a free pump out.  We move to the pump out and then hand pull Heliopause back to her spot for the night.  We head out for a walk about.  The town has the largest grandfather clock in the world.  It was made by a businessman here about 50 years ago and it still stands in all its glory.  It has a 3 sided face so everyone in town can see the time.  There is also an old tug here named Ludington.  Ludington was involved in the DDay activities of WWII.  She was a tug that brought in supplies needed for DDay.  She also provisioned other ships, brought in fuel and was the go getter for that infamous day.  Today she rests here in Kauwanee as a walk on tour boat for a donation. 

There is also a fish monger store here.  We head over as the fishing boat comes in and see what the fresh catch of the day is.  Atlantic Salmon are just starting to run and the King Salmon are just about done.  Apparently the Kauwanee River attracts these salmon every year in abundance.  We pick up some fresh Atlantic Salmon, perch, pickerel (or walleye) and the renowned smoked salmon that is boasted about in the reviews.  There is a grocery store about a mile uphill and the harbourmaster has offered us a personal ride.  We are good until Chicago so we decline.

It was a breezy evening and night with the easterlies as this marina is not far from the lake and more open.  However we did not bounce much and recommend this as a great spot.

Oct 052021

Hotel Quattro, Sault Ste Marine, ON to Sturgeon Bay, WI by plane and shuttle – Oct 5, 2021

Flights booked, shuttle booked to get to the airport.  Check out at 7:30 am.  We both pinch ourselves.  Up until now we were not sure exactly which plan was going to pan out.  This has been a long few weeks and the day is here, finally.

Flight at The Soo was turned around in Toronto due to a malfunction.  We were instructed that we would have to wait until a new flight made the trek north.  Okay, grab another coffee.  At least there is wifi. 

Finally get on the flight and we are told that we won’t make our connection so the agent books that for a later connection.  Dang.  We really wanted to have the time to stock up and get situated coming in around 5:30.  Now it will be 10:00 pm.  Call the shuttle driver to be sure he can pick us up.  Check.

Easy flight to Toronto and we grab lunch.  I packed our lunch and it came in handy.  Now we have a 4 hour layover.  We find a quiet spot by ourselves and wait for the flight to Chicago. 

On time, yay.  It’s around 4:00 and a little over an hour to Chicago.  I think the taxying on the tarmac took longer than the flight did.  O’Hare is a large as they say.  Finally in.  No luggage for us as we travel with carry on only.

Our final leg of this journey is a flight from Chicago to Green Bay, WI.  Another hour flight. We will land late as we were held up on the Chicago runway waiting in a long line of flights to take off.  The shuttle driver followed us on our flight for landing time. 

Landing in around 10:15 we now have a shuttle drive to the marina where Heliopause waits for us.  Can’t wait to be home.  The shuttle was about 45 minutes. 

All this time we are traveling so is the Captain and crew.  We had to book everything.  So they took a shuttle from Sturgeon Bay to Green Bay, jumped on an Amtrak train to Chicago, then a taxi to home.  Yes they made it without a hiccup.  I think we are hired for future planning.

There she was.  Standing so elegant in the night with her lights on.  Thanks Captain Karl from At the Helm.  So thankful right now.  Change sheets, grab a shower and head to bed.  It’s a good day!

Oct 052021

Hotel Quattro, Sault Ste Marine, ON Oct 3 – 5, 2021

ON HOLD until we can meet up with Heliopause.  So we walk everywhere.  Grocery store for our meals, hardware store because Scott needs something for the boat.  The bank where both of us can do some last minute banking, and lots and lots of logistics for travel for both us and our Captain and his crew. 

It is literally putting together our schedules and the Captain and crew’s schedule, but last minute as we don’t know exactly what the weather will hold for our girl and her new team on the journey south.

Stay tuned until we get back to our home in Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Oct 022021

Hilton Beach, ON – Drummond Island, MI – Sturgeon Bay WI – Oct 2

Best news ever.  Sault Ste Marie, MI is giving out cruising permits.  Just heard that they just issued one yesterday.  So I was all over that getting names, numbers and what we needed to get this done.  The day is looking up and we are super excited about this development.

Scott says the engines are ready to have their filters changed so he heads off to the engine room to do maintenance.  I prepare the berths for the 2 crew coming onboard.  We had stocked up on food in Tobermory and made sure to have the Captain’s favourites.  Cleaning up inside and making sure it is presentable, after a few weeks living aboard, was very much in need.  Changing all linens and towels, prepping the galley, windows cleaned…..check.

By the time we are done we have a couple hours before the Captain arrives.  We pack up what we will need to head to the hotel in The Soo.  We will be taking their taxi back to the hotel. 

We did get a ride back to The Soo, ON and stayed at the hotel on pins and needles wondering if the Captain would have the ability to get a cruising permit.  Waiting, waiting, waiting for the call.  Finally, Scott gets a call from the head of the port of entry area on his day off, no less and it’s Sunday.  The director was quick to reference to us that this was something that we had to arrange before the Captain arrived but he would let us have the permit after asking many questions to fill out the paperwork.  He was so accommodating and kind.  A huge thank you to him.

Once we received the number for the cruising permit our plans changed.  Now the Captain can to take HP to Sturgeon Bay, WI because we are now able to drive ourselves.  That was the best news we have heard on this journey from St. Catharines.  We always knew that Chicago plan would be okay but this news makes our dream work.  So now the Captain heads out from Drummond Island, MI at the port of entry and starts heading south.  Heading south as a nice ring to it.

Somewhere in Lake Michigan Heliopause will jump the timezone and be in Central Time rather than Eastern Time making her an hour behind us.

We are at the hotel for the next 3 days until Heliopause makes her way to an area that can get our Captain home easily by plane.  We figure Sturgeon Bay is a good fit being close enough to Green Bay, WI. We make plans for our flights from The Soo, ON to Green Bay, WI and a shuttle to Sturgeon Bay.  Literally planes, trains, and automobiles yet again.

Oct 012021

Eagle Island, anchorage – St. Joseph’s Island, Hilton Beach, ON – Hilton Beach Marina – Oct 1, 2021

Today is the day we end this portion of our journey and wait for the Captain to take over from here.  We are hoping for a best case scenario but that has evaded us thus far.  The border is still closed and word has been said that it will be closed until at least November.  Our plan is to have the Captain take her to Chicago where we have 3 options.  She will get there and the border will open and we will have the ability to get a cruising permit.  Or…..she will get there and the border will eventually open.  We will fly home and wait it out.  Or…..she will get there, the border will remain closed and we will put her on the hard until spring when we will go get her and bring her home going through the lakes again. 

We head out of the anchorage very early and travel to St. Joe’s Island.  We never would have thought that we would ever travel quickly through the North Channel but that’s what we have to do.  It’s October, we have a Captain waiting, flights booked, cars and shuttles picking up his team.  There is no time to waste. 

Arriving at Beach Haven Marina proves to be much more convenient than The Soo.  The St. Mary’s River that heads up to The Soo has a 10 km speed limit for several miles.  It would take us a day up and the Captain a day back down.  He charges by the day and all expenses are ours.  So Scott found this island not far from the Port of Entry in Drummond Island, MI.  It was about an hour away from the airport.  Taxis have already been set up. 

Hilton Beach Marina was a fabulous find.  A large marina with everything you need.  Laundry, clean docks, water, fuel, power 50 and 30, restrooms, etc.  Some city marinas are not this great.  A restaurant on the shore if that is your thing. One of the best marinas in the north we would say.