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Days 8 & 9

Location: Anchored at Mile 61.6 of the Illinois River, about 80 miles from St. Louis

Distance Travelled these two Days: 127 Nautical Miles

Total Trip Distance: 454 Nautical Miles

Hey thanks everyone for all the comments and emails. It’s good to know some people are following our progress. Keep the cards and letters coming. If you want to read what others are saying, click in the heading for any blog entry where it says something like :5 comments”.

Deckhand James has been giving me a hard time because my blog appears to be self-serving in that I don’t mention my own screwups. Doesn’t a blogger have something like artistic license to control what is reported? Anyway, a couple of days ago we were coming through a lock. The usual procedure is to take one of their lines and give it only one turn around our cleat so it can be gradually let out as the boat descends. Somehow I looped mine with the end I was holding underneath the line going to the top of the lock so that as we descended, the line tightened up on itself and the tension made it impossible to loosen it up. Rather than have our cleat pulled out or the line break as it tried to hold up a 100,000 pound boat, we took the expedient route and cut the tight line with a kitchen knife. I tied it back together and was attempting to sneak away before the lockmaster noticed when Deckhand informed him that one of the lines had “come apart”. The lockmaster replied that it happened often when someone “green” locked through.

2006 Sturgeon Bay to Mobile 009.jpgOther than buying this boat without a more thorough inspection, my only other fault appears to be that I volunteer to do the dishes, put them in the sink to soak, and gradually wash one or two at a time over the next several days. So what’s wrong with that system? It seems a logical way to get through an unpleasant job without ever really doing more than rinsing a dish or two.

Deckhand, on the other hand, seems to be perfect. He’s a perfect gentleman, a perfect chef, and an overall perfect deckhand. Therefore, for the rest of his time on board, I will refer to him as “Perfect Deckhand”. (I’ll write the truth about him after he leaves.)

Sunday and Monday have been good days. After a night at the free town dock in Hennepin, the rain stopped but it turned bitterly cold and windy. The high Sunday was in the mid-forties and last night it dropped down to 30 degrees. We bought fuel Sunday at the last spot it would be available for about 175 miles. We really probably didn’t need any but I don’t trust all the gauges yet so it’s nice to have some extra. Since there are no marinas or town docks we can get into until St. Louis, we anchored out last night and tonight in quiet desolate spots. Although there are occasional towns or industrial areas, we are mostly in the countryside and the scenery has been beautiful. While my pictures can’t do justice to fall foliage,2006 Sturgeon Bay to Mobile 012.jpg the photo below gives you some idea of the great colors we are seeing. We understand that we might already be past the peak fall colors in the area, but they are still bright and colorful.

We continue to find bizarre little problems with the boat that should have been fixed long ago. When we stopped last night to anchor for the first time, there was a steel pin locking the anchor on deck so it couldn’t be accidentally dropped.It was locked in tightly from the tension on the anchor 2006 Sturgeon Bay to Mobile 022.jpgwindlass so I pressed the “down” anchor button for a second just to give some slack. It turned out the switch was wired backwards so down raised the anchor while Up lowered the anchor. By pulling the chain tighter, the pin was bent so that it would not come out to allow us to lower the anchor. Perfect Deckhand suggested a hacksaw and I cut through the pin to get it out of the way. Fixing the switch took me literally 30 seconds today by just pulling loose the wires to the switch and reversing them. Not exactly rocket science but the problem caused me to lose the locking pin altogether by sawing it in half. I’ve reported earlier that the kitchen sink is plumbed backwards so hot is cold and cold is hot, another simple thing to fix that could have been done long ago. We also have the problem of no hot water in the forward cabin shower and we can’t locate the line to it to see if it is shut off somewhere. The previous owner has stopped responding to my phone messages and emails and I guess I can see why.

So there you go. We keep rolling down the river, making better time than I imagined. We should make it to St. Louis, or to it’s only marina about 20 miles north of town, by tomorrow afternoon. Perfect Deckhand will head for home and I’ll lay over a few days awaiting the Lovely Laura Lee. Thanks for checking in.

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Reader Comments (1)

Hi John-and James too! John, it has been so great reading your blog. I love your writing. It is also fun keeping up with Laura on her cooking adventures. I've become so desperate to have an exciting adventure to write about, that I've signed on to work at the orphanage that I visited in Tanzania, Africa for the month of January. I could have a really great blog then, but there's no internet access! Oh well, I'll just take some pictures! Love, Laurie
October 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Armitage

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