Monday, May 18, 2009

The River Gods are not co-operating

Wed, May 13- Sun, May 17, we loaded up the car Tuesday night with everything but the last minute items. Then in the morning we loaded the last of it. I am always amazed at how many tote bags the Admiral has and how much stuff she can find to put in them. She is always amazed that I can find room in the van to pack “just one more”. The forecast for the Illinois River was to continued down at all locations and most should be below flood stage in a week or so.

By a little after 8:00 we were on the road head for St. Charles. Five hundred plus miles is always a long day but it was uneventful (that is good). When we got to southern Iowa we saw a little mist and some road spray, other than that it was easy driving. We got to St Charles about 6:00 P.M. and got the cats settled in the motel room. They are always eager to get out of their carries and enjoy exploring new surroundings.

We had a nice dinner at a restaurant across the street and went to bed early. About midnight we had a major thunderstorm roll through. It turns out the wet roads we drove on were the back edge of a system that drop a fare amount of rain earlier in the day and the night storm was the second system of the day.

Thursday we ate a leisurely breakfast and headed for Polestar marina. The boat was in the water and we began the transfer of all of the stuff from van to the boat. It took many trips but finally the van was empty. Now it is just a matter of finding the proper place to put everything.

The marina had finished the installation of the thrusters and launched the boat the day before we got there, but they were not done with the wiring for power to the thrusters (they are electric not the hydraulic type) or the control wiring to both helms. So, we had people working on both ends of the boat that we needed to work around.

Friday morning we headed for town to stock the boat for the summer; canned goods, snacks, frozen meats, extra cat food, kitty litter, etc. Plus a supply of perishables; fruits milk, etc. The first stop was for a cup of coffee and internet access. After wading thru the e-mails I checked the river forecast and found that although Thursday was nice in St Charles there had been another rain event go thru north of us. Combined with the two events Wed the forecast for the river didn’t look good for us going anywhere for over a week.

I have an appointment June 1st that I had planned to rent a car and drive home from eastern Wisconsin for, now it looks like we would be just starting up the Illinois River when I need to come home. We made the decision that instead of sitting on the boat for ten days waiting we would drive home on Sunday and wait at home then return to the boat after my appointment. This reduced the shopping trip to just a few items to get us by Friday and Saturday. This was done quickly and we headed back to the boat to finish putting everything away.

Friday afternoon was a beautiful day with a temperature that reached 86, but there was a cold front coming. By late afternoon there where all sorts of watches and warnings to the west and north of us. About 7:00 P.M. the temperature plummeted and the wind picked up to over 40 MPH soon there were gusts of 60 to 70. By the time I had double checked all the lines and fenders and secured all the loose items on deck the heavy rains started. After an hour or so the heaviest winds subsided but it continued to blow and rain all night.

Saturday morning showed no damaged in the immediate area but in the greater area there was some tornado activity and wind damage. For us the worst news was areas up river (both MS & IL) had five inches of rain. Our decision to go home for two weeks looks very good. With no workman on board I finally got a chance to wash down the outside of the boat. Whoa, can a boat get dirty when it sites, at least I got the first layer off.

Saturday Wahoo Marine, (the Gibson Dealer we bought our boat from), had an in water boat show (seven boats were open), with a free BBQ. We spent a cool blustery day socializing and eating great hot dogs. After the boat show the Duck Club, a private marina – club, just a quarter mile down river had been having an open house for the public to attract new members, so we went over there. They were having a shrimp special, a bucket of delicious shrimp with new potatoes, corn on the cob and salad for $13, it was great. We enjoyed the meal and watched a very exiting Preakness Race. There were far more shrimp then either of us could eat, so we got a big to go box.

Sunday morning we packed just the essential to take home and closed up the boat (we did remember to bring the kitties). We made an early afternoon stop at a rest area and had cheese and crackers plus shrimp cocktail for lunch, not a bad way to travel. After another long but uneventful drive we were back in White Bear about 6:30.

The newest river forecasts after the Friday storm show several points on the Illinois not cresting until next Sunday (the 25th) and then at levels that will be in the top five or six levels of all time. We will see next week when the forecast finally brings it down again. We will be spending the next two weeks watching the forecast and praying for no more rain. We will also have to review our plans to see how late we can start the trip and still completed it this year. Also we will look at alternatives for shorting it and or dividing it into a two year trip and leaving the boat somewhere for the winter.

There will not be much to report, so the next entry will probably be about the 1st of June.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring is here it is time to head to Canada

“House Boating” in Minnesota in January.

I thought I would include this picture for those that did not see it on the news. A house on the Island in White Bear Lake was moved from the island to the mainland to be relocated on a new lot. Click on picture to enlarge.

Spring is here and we are eager to get back to the boat and start our summer long cruise. The current plan is to drive to St Charles on Monday, May 11, and get back a board on Tuesday.

We will spend a couple of days shopping to provision the boat and checking out the bow and stern thrusters that Bloch Marine Service has added to the boat for us. Then if the water level on the Illinois co-operates we will be off for Chicago.

Currently the Illinois is in flood, but it has crested and if there isn’t more heavy rain, it should be OK by the time we are ready to go.

I will be updating this blog on a regular basis starting next week (internet access allowing).

For those of you that would like to know more about the Canadian waters that we will be enjoying this summer I am including three good web links to data about the areas.

First the North Channel.

Jim Hebert lives in Michigan and has boated all over the area each summer. He first sailed the North Channel for many summers in chartered sailboat and then later in a large trailered Boston Whaler. On his web site the North Channel link goes to a great overview of the area with nice photos. The sail log link takes you to each of the summer excursions and detail of that summers trip. If you like Boston Whalers, that link contains a wealth of knowledge.

Second Trent Severn Canal

This is the Parks Canada site (they run the canal). There is lots of information here. If you go; visitor info, more info, Lock info – there is a nice overhead photo of each of the locks along with links to lock chamber of commerce and other tourism sites.

Finally the Rideau Canal

This is a site maintained by Ken Watson, he lives in the area and is a writer and photographer. There is a wealth of information here (more than most will want), some is directed to the local community not visitors. The photo gallery has many great pictures of the locks and general nature scenes

We look forward to hearing from many of you. Add a comment to the blog or send us an e-mail