From Joliet to Grafton harbor

After Joliet it took another seven days to reach Grafton Harbor Marina in Grafton, IL on Sept. 21st. Grafton Harbor is at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers where we left the boat on Sept. 27th to drive to Connecticut for John’s 50th high school reunion. We made five stops along the way.

On the second day out from Joliet our destination was the Heritage Harbor Marina which is not far downriver from the Marseilles Lock. We pulled into a restaurant dock (Snug Harbor) and tied up there along with five other boats waiting for our turn through the lock. We waited nine hours. The lockmaster apparently does not like pleasure boaters even though the Army Corps of Engineers rules state that every third lockage should be for pleasure boaters. The night before nine boats waited into the dark of the evening. Finally, at 1:30am four, just four boats were allowed through with the remaining five boats getting through at 3:30am, never mind that the next day we locked through with twelve boats in the six-hundred-foot lock. The owner of the Heritage Harbor marina later got in touch with his Congressman about the poor treatment of pleasure boaters, his bread and butter. Pleasure boats are now being locked through according to the rules.

We stayed two nights at Heritage Harbor cuz we were tired out from having to wait nine hours at the Marseilles Lock. From there we moved on the Illinois Valley Yacht Club for two nights (one weather delay day) where an absolutely gorgeous 65-foot Fleming came in. the east coast Fleming dealer is in Edgewater, Maryland where we used to live before becoming full-time live aboards. We docked out boat for one year at a yacht club next door to the Fleming dealer. We talked with the owner. Turns out that they used to take walks in our neighborhood.

The next stop was Logsdon Tug Service in Beardstown. We tied up to their barges and tugs for the night along with five other Looper boats with three boats rafted to the other three tied up. On the way we had to pass through another lock. A fellow Looper had an untimely failure of his electronically-controlled throttles. They went haywire; the controls did not respond to commends. The captain was unable to stop the engines and the boat crashed into the lock wall, bounced off, shot forward into another boat already tied up, then bounced again and into the wall at a 90-degree angle where the bow pulpit shot underneath a steel railing and got stuck. Fortunately, through bouncing the bow the boat was freed. It was later learned that the 12-volt feed for the engine controls was wired to the bow thruster battery which had been depleted because of heavy use entering the lock thus reducing the battery voltage enough to cause the controls to do the unpredictable.

The next day all five other boats elected to drive all 88 miles to Grafton Harbor, a very long way at 9 MPH and a lock in between. We elected to anchor out for the night about half-way there. We chose well (Buckhorn Island). The anchor set well and kept us secure through a thunderstorm with winds that reached 37 MPH. The storm passed quickly and we spent a very quiet night at anchor except for an occasional tug and tow passing by.

The next day, Sept. 21st, we arrived at Grafton harbor where we met up again with most of our travelling companion Loopers. We were placed in a covered slip which was nice because we were going to leave the boat there for three weeks. A couple of problems there, however. First, our satellite TV dish was useless as it will not see a satellite through the metal roof. We streamed a lot of Netflix the next four nights before leaving for Connecticut. Also, Verizon cell service was spotty and sometimes non-existent all the way from Peoria to Grafton Harbor, not so for AT&T subscribers. We have no idea of how Verizon will perform further south from Grafton. We’ll soon see.

The pictures are examples of some of what we encountered. They include eagles and flocks of white pelicans.

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