Countdown to departure

My plan is to get underway again in a week. I’ve been reading all the warnings against taking the lower Mississippi but my plan is to go that route. So no change to the plans I outlined in my earlier post ‘Winter Plans.’

I need to be fully prepared. There are only a couple of places to stop south of St Louis. Basically I’m on my own for 600+ miles on the Mississippi. It’s kind of like getting on an expressway with no exit ramps. Or at least that’s how I’ve come to think about it. I think I’m going to like it.

Boat is in good order. I have a new radar, VHF with AIS, plotter, and depth finder. Mechanical is good. Have a comfortable inside steering station set up for bad weather.

I’ve been learning a bit more about the early canal building here. The Illinois and Michigan Canal had a big role in Chicago’s early history. I hope to stop and explore a couple of the river towns on the Illinois Waterway on the way. Lots of interesting history.

A little Loop

Samantha and Sarah jetted in this weekend for a quick visit. Lovely. And they indulged me in a long, mostly boring, occasionally rough, and relentlessly dark and cold boat trip.

My boat went in the water a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been staying on the north dock at Crowley’s. Good power and out of the hustle and bustle. I’m very pleased with the heating capabilities of the reverse cycle a/c.

I really wanted to do a shakedown cruise before setting off. I fixed a couple of nagging issues with the motor and wanted to make sure all was in order. It is. I also had the prop rebuilt and it’s definitely smoother.

In any case, we went up the Calumet to the Sanitary Canal, then up to Chicago. Spent the night in DuSable Harbor, had a great dinner out, and zoomed down the lake this morning to get back to the yard.

Planning on leaving in about a week so will try to blog about the preparations.

This is the O’Brien lock, taking us down from the Calumet port area to the level of the Illinois Waterway. Just a small drop of a couple of feet, we just idled in the middle of the lock. There was a corresponding lock up at the lake in Chicago downtown.

Past a steel mill

Coming into the Loop

DuSable Harbor

Heading south on the lake

Thanks Samantha and Sarah for the pictures, and for joining me!

AGLA Burgee

I wrote this on Sept 23 under the title Winter Plans

I’ve been making a bit of a study of looping and Loopers. I’m not quite ready to join that club. If I complete the Great Loop I suppose I’ll recognize the occasion, but it is not really a goal, and not really the right identity for me. I do want to recognize the strong community and identity that Loopers have. I’m a member of the AGLA and I think they’ve done a lot to create that identity. From the Trent Severn to Chicago everyone along the way knew about Loopers, and at times it was convenient and helpful to self-identity as a Looper. I was chatting with my old boss and friend Bruce about this and he whipped out the Groucho Marx classic about not wanting to be a member of a club that would have me. That sort of sums it up nicely.

When I got underway I thought about getting an AGLA burgee. I didn’t, because I was in home waters and didn’t want to display that label until I got into the US. Plus I hate cross border shopping. The plan was to revisit when I got here.

I ordered my burgee today and will fly it proudly. I want to identify as a member of this group. I’m also getting a burgee from Guelph Community Boating Club. And I’ll get a Canadian flag and a US courtesy flag.

My newfound enthusiasm is in part driven by seeing all the recreational power boats cruising by here on the Calumet River. Many don’t have the first clue about courteous operation. But Loopers are recognized and generally respected by the yard crew. And although I’m trying to stay off Facebook there is a AGLA group there and it’s really cool to see the community of Looper watchers – people on towboats or views of the rivers spotting Loopers. I think that’s cool.

So even though I may not loop I’m ready to fly the flag.

Living in a Yacht Yard

I was looking for a picture. The only one I have of Mazurka is this one. Look hard!

I’ve been on the hard for about ten days, in the middle of a busy boatyard. This pic was of a measurer checking a Farr 40 for the upcoming worlds.

At night it’s just me, the security guard, and the odd looper here in this huge facility at the mouth of the Calumet River. This used to be a big port. The yard is bounded by an industrial canal, a huge lifting railroad bridge, and a rail switching yard. I was sitting out in the cockpit enjoying the sights and sounds earlier. They never end.

I was woken the other night about 0230 by a loud blast from a ships horn. I was curious and got up to see a cement ship go through the bridge. I dunno how big Lakers get, but this guy wasn’t small.

I was anxious to get back in the water after the bottom repair but the prop shop still has my propeller so I’m waiting for that. But I’m actually quite comfortable out of the water, and the docks are busy. I may stay out for a while.

I have my car here, as I drove back from a visit home last weekend. One of these days I’ll go sightseeing. I haven’t really been too motivated to do that but have scoped out local grocery shops and Mexican takeout.

If I sound neutral about this don’t assume I’m not enjoying this. I am. Immensely.