On the Cal Sag

I’m back on the Great Lakes. Whew! The last couple of days have been stressful. This is the only picture I took since my last post. But there are lots here from my November 2019 trip through in Mazurka.

I’m tied up at Crowley’s, and will be here for a while. More on that later.

Stressful? I’d say it took three parts. First off, I’m still having trouble with air in the fuel line. I had the filter assembly off last month, and thought I had solved for it. Anyway, coming up the Illinois I had a couple of times when the motor stopped suddenly. It would restart after a few minutes. I went through the system again, and found a rubber seal at the connection to the injector pump that was badly deteriorated and had failed when I overtightened after bleeding. I used some gasket sealant to seal it up as best I could, but was still not 100% confident that a sudden stop wouldn’t happen.

The second issue was the wind. It’s been howling at times over the last couple of days. Highly variable, but 30-40 knots at times. The big tows were all stopped, so I had the river to myself. But I got into a bit of trouble coming into a lock downwind. They only had floating bits on my starboard side, and I made three or four unsuccessful attempts to get alongside the lock wall. The lock tenders suggested I float in the pool, and I did that while they slowly raised the lock. It worked, but I was imagining what would happen if I lost power.

By word of explanation, Escapade has a lot of prop torque which pulls the stern to port in reverse. It’s very difficult to get the stern against a wall when coming downwind in a breeze.

The third issue is the route into Chicago. It’s a narrow cut with no place to stop, hard walls, and I expected it to be jammed with barges and activity based on my last trip through in Mazurka, which wasn’t entirely without incident. Not somewhere to be suddenly disabled.

As it turned out it was an uneventful trip in. There was almost no activity on the river because of the wind, and the motor kept chugging. But I had trouble relaxing for a while after arriving.

It’s good to be here. My old friend Bruce took me out to dinner at a great Mexican restaurant nearby shortly after I arrived, and I’m plugged in and looking forward to spring in the yacht yard.

One thought on “Chicago”

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