Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pickwick-Grandville, MI - Oct 6-9

Friday, October 6 we departed Pickwick Landing State Park and traveled 8 miles upstream on the Tennessee River and hung a right on to Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. We traveled a whopping 2 miles to Aqua Yacht Harbor in Iuka, Mississippi. It was another hot, sunny day, so once in our slip we dropped the dinghy for some exploration and a swim.

Aqua Yacht Harbor is the home port of Joe & Tammy, a couple we met at the Fall Looper Rendezvous in 2014 and they followed our blog for the remainder of our trip. Joe and Tammy are planning to do the loop in the future. They were instrumental in finding us a slip near theirs to leave the PV2 while we return home for a couple months. It was great to see them again and catch up.

Our friends Paul & Cindy from back home, drove down with their motorhome to meet us and bring us back home. Friday night we cooked out at their campsite at Pickwick State Park. On Saturday, they joined us for a boat ride to the Waterfall cove. This was one of our favorite anchorages on our 1st loop.  It was fun to share this with them!

Sunday morning we closed up the boat, boarded the motorhome, and hit the road.  We were sure glad we were in a motorhome vs a boat as it was a rainy, windy day.  (remnants of Hurricane Nate) This was the first rain we saw on the entire trip!  We stopped at a campground just outside of Nashville for the evening.  Instead of our normal dinghy ride after arriving at our destination, we jumped in their Jeep (that they tow behind the motorhome) and headed into Nashville for food, music and fun.

We had a smooth relaxing ride back to Grandville and arrived home by 5pm on Monday.  We plan to return to the boat in December and continue moving her south.

Trip Summary:  Number of days:          17
                          Travel days:                  14
                          Miles traveled:             949
                          Gallons of diesel:         Yup

Sandy beaches on the Mississippi River - too many to count.



                          Joe & Tammy


The Waterfall Cove



Paul & Cindy


Our anchorage near Nashville


The "dinghy"


See ya'll down the river!

                       
                       

Kentucky Dam-Pickwick, TN - Oct 3-5

Tuesday noon after spending the morning washing the boat and doing laundry, we cast off our lines and headed south on Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River in reckless pursuit of our long lost friends on Thistle. We buddy boated two summers ago in Canada with Greg & Reenie on Thistle.
We very much enjoyed our time together that summer and looked forward to catching up with them.
Late afternoon we pulled into Pebble Isle Marina to find they had just arrived and were tying their lines. The evening was spent sharing pizza, stories and laughs.

Wednesday morning, after homemade cinnamon rolls at the marina office, be both pulled out and headed south on the Tennessee River. The PV2 got up on plane and went ahead to scout out anchorages for the night. We settled on a great little spot between Swallow Bluff Island and Dickey Towhead. We dropped the anchor and the dinghy, took a swim and watched for our friends to arrive.
Our welcome wagon dinghy picked up Greg & Reenie shortly after their arrival and transported us all to a small sandy beach on the island to enjoy a beautiful sunset. We had read that wild goats lived on the island and sure enough we were greeted (or not) by 3 of them as we approached shore. They allowed us to enjoy their beach in peace.  They looked mean, but they really weren't that baaaaaad!

Thursday morning we pulled out of our anchorage and were joined by 4 other boats along the way. The Lock Master at Pickwick Lock & Dam advised us that if we hustled he could lock us all through before an approaching down bound tow. We all picked up the pace and nicely made it. After locking up 55 feet, Thistle & PV2 turned into Pickwick Landing State Park Marina for the evening. We took the dinghy to the State Park Restaurant for our farewell dinner with Thistle as we will part ways in the morning. We will miss them and hope to catch up again this winter.





Tennessee River


PV2 at anchorage


Welcome Wagon Dinghy


Greg & Reenie on Thistle


Baaaaaaack off!

Beautiful sunset!

Beautiful sunrise!

Breakfast of Captains!


Dickey Towhead


Great friends, great times. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Alton-Kentucky Dam - Sept 30-Oct 2

Saturday, September 30, we pulled out of the Alton Marina and started our journey down the Mississippi River. Much like the Illinois River, the Mississippi water levels are very low. WOW! This river doesn't look anything like the last time we traveled it. Last time we were warned about the underwater wing dams which deflect water to the center of the river to keep the shipping channel from silting in. This time, the wing dams were very obvious as they were rock jetties sticking out of the water, some up to 10 feet tall. Yikes! Overall the Mississippi was much more enjoyable than last time. No dodging trees, logs and fighting the current, just one 6 point buck swimming across the Mississippi migrating from Missouri to Illinois.  Sheli fell in love with the beautiful sandy beaches along the banks.  Who ever knew! Our stop for the night was at Hoppies in Kimmswick, MO.

We departed at dawn for our 110 mile day on the Mississippi, pulling in late afternoon at Little Diversion anchorage. Sheli insisted we take a dinghy ride across the river to put her toes in the sand of the "not so Mighty Mississippi". The sand reminded us of Lake Michigan sand - weird! We spent the night anchored out with 6 other boats.

Monday, we left at first light and started our biggest/longest boating day ever! After 49 miles we made a NASCAR turn on to the Ohio River. As expected, it turned out to be a long day due to lock construction and closures. We floated right through the brand new lock chamber at Olmstead as the dam is not yet completed. The lockmaster told us the next lock was broken and instructed us to tie to the wall short of Lock 53. There were already 4 boats tied up and waiting. Come to find out, one boat had been there waiting 22 hours! Panic!  The good news is we only had to wait an hour before it was fixed and we were on our way. Ten miles later as we approached Lock 52, we were instructed to drop anchor out of the channel, as our wait could be 4-6 hours before we could lock through. (due to backlog of barges).  First Mate "Sweet Talker" called the lockmaster on the telephone and managed to get us locked through in an hour. Love that girl!  Although we never, never travel after dark, we made an exception.  One of the boats that locked through with us,was being delivered from Chicago to Kentucky Dam Marina by a local delivery captain. He intended to travel in the dark to get there and we made the decision to follow him.  Following his stern light and our radar, we turned onto the Tennessee River and traveled 22 miles to the Kentucky Lock. After locking through, we pulled into the Kentucky Dam Marina at 9:30pm. A 15 hour day!  Done!

Hello St Louis!

This lock stuff is hard work!


Mississippi River - Really???


Little Diversion Anchorage


First Mate "Sweet Talker"


New lock at Olmstead

Entering the Kentucky Lock at 9pm.


Ottawa-Alton - Sept 26-29




Tuesday, September 26, we traveled 80 miles to Peoria where we stayed on the downtown wall. Free stay with electric - yay - as temps are still in the 90s! On our last trip this is where we discovered the Nina, Pinta and the Pura Vida, but this time the Pura Vida sits solo in the harbor.

Wednesday, we tackled 110 miles and 2 locks before anchoring behind Big Blue Island. It took traveling 30mph at some points (sucking down the fuel) to arrive before sunset, but we made it.
Captain "I don't like that" polished the props on the river bottom as we pulled into the anchorage we were told had 5-6ft depth. We then dropped the hook between the red buoy and the river bank in about 6ft of water just out of the barge channel. As usual, when the anchor goes down, the grill came out. A fine meal was enjoyed under the bright moon and a zillion stars.

Thursday was an easy trek of 58 miles to the Grafton Marina. This is where the Illinois River meets the Mississippi River. Once again we made a left turn to join the Mighty Mississippi. (more NASCAR)   In the afternoon we deployed the dinghy to explore some nearby islands and coves on the Mississippi, harassing a few Asian carp along the way. At night we joined 8 other loopers for dinner overlooking the river.

Late Friday morning we left Grafton and did a short 22 mile cruise to Alton Marina where we fueled up and prepared for our trek down the Mississippi. That evening we enjoyed a fun dinner at the legendary Fast Eddies Bon Air.



Lock Duty!

Tows on the Illinois River







Pura Vida dos (PV2) docked at Alton

Grand Haven-Ottawa - Sept 20-25

We're off! We left Grand Haven early Wednesday, September 20 in a dense fog. We tested our radar to guide us out the Grand Haven channel. After turning left at the channel we decided that rather than Chicago, our destination for the day would be New Buffalo. The fog soon cleared and it was a beautiful, hot cruise down Lake Michigan.

While in New Buffalo, Captain Fix It (yes he is on board again) was checking things in the engine room and discovered one of the 4 new batteries, that were installed just prior to us purchasing the boat,  was running significantly hotter than the other three. We contacted the Interstate Rep who had a local dealer bring us a new battery the next morning. 

Looper friends, Dave & Michele from Just Us, now live on their boat full time in Florida. They were coming back by car to Michigan and stopped by to see us. It was great to see them again!
It was awesome to still have access to Lake Michigan for a dinghy ride and a swim on a very hot, 90 something, Julyish day.

Friday morning we had a 2 hour run of 40 miles across the bottom of Lake Michigan and entered the Calumet River near Hammond, Indiana. Due to the high water levels in the Great Lakes, we had to have several bridges lift to allow us through that we would have fit under at normal pool level.  Thirty miles later we again turned left (this is beginning to feel like NASCAR) onto the Illinois River. It was a 2 lock & 1 electric fish barrier day by the time we reached our destination of the free wall at Joliet.

Saturday morning we left by 7am with 5 other Loop boats and quickly locked through our 1st lock of the day. The 2nd lock, 22 miles later, was a different story. Due to Tow traffic we had to wait 4 hours before passing through. While waiting we dropped anchor and Captain Slave Driver put us to work on waxing the boat. Waxing in 102 degree temps is not the first mate's idea of a good time. Our 3rd and final lock of the day went much quicker so we were able to reach our destination of Heritage Harbor in Ottawa, IL before sunset.  It was a long, hot day.

Due to lack of rain, both the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers are very low, so we will battle this as we travel down the rivers. We stayed in Ottawa a couple days due to high temps (nice swimming pool and good dinghy ride to town) and barge congestion downstream where they are doing emergency dredging.

Foggy morning thru Grand Haven channel


Captain Adorable at the helm


New Buffalo

Friends Dave & Michele 

Calm morning out of New Buffalo to cross Lake Michigan


Electric fish barrier

Wall at Joliet

Captain loves his new dinghy and lift!


Heritage Harbor Marina




Monday, September 18, 2017

Here we go again!

The next chapter!  Since completing our first Loop in September 2015, we have been dreaming and scheming about our next adventure.   Over the past two years we have missed the cruising life so have decided to again cast off our lines, head to end of the channel and turn left.  

Same crew, different boat, undetermined schedule.  Captain Adorable and his first mate Sheli plan to head out Wednesday, September 20, crossing directly from Grand Haven to Chicago to get the ball rolling (hopefully not the boat). We have upgraded to a 2005 Sea Ray Sedan Bridge and named her Pura Vida dos.  Since Steve is still working we will break the cruise south into different segments, leaving the boat at different locations, and returning home.  Throughout the winter we intend to return to the Pura Vida dos occasionally and continue to explore the waterways of Florida.

While we will still be blogging here, we will not be posting as frequently as the last time around. We will however be trackable via TravelMap.  Simply go to ssterk.travelmap.net to follow our progress.


    Pura Vida dos anchored out on Muskegon Lake (our one and only shake down cruise)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Month Twelve/Total Trip Stats


August/September  2015

Number of days:                           35         Trip to date:          368
Miles traveled:                             442                                    6295
Engine hours:                                48                                       826
Locks:                                             0                                        109                           
Gallons of gas:                          OK, OK, here it is!                 6687
Nights on anchor:                             4                                        60
Nights on free wall/marina:                4                                        59
Nights at marinas/lock wall:              27                                     249


States covered:  Michigan 

Laughs and memories made  - too many to count
Trip travel days - 172
Trip cities/ports, anchorages visited - 172
Average cruising speed - 7.62 mph 
Highest fuel price - $4.70
Lowest fuel price -  $2.35
Transmissions replaced - 1
Fuel pumps replaced - 1
Spark plugs replaced - 2 sets
Distributor caps replaced - 6
Props dinged or damaged - 0
Boat haul outs - 0
First mates replaced - 0!!!!!!


Highlight: Being together 24/7; 368 days!