Another Boat?

Ok, I rarely suffer boat envy these days.  Escapade is pretty close to perfect, and I’ve been excited at the idea of blasting around the lakes in Tin Lizzie this summer.

But there’s another boat that I’m actively pursuing.  I’m not going to talk about it here, except to offer some teaser dimensions: LWL 63′, beam 12′, draft 6′, displacement 34,000 lbs.  Single 127 HP Yanmar.  I’ve had my eye on it for a long time.

If I get this boat both Escapade and Tin Lizzie will be for sale.  If you think you might be interested in owning either reach out. 

Rivers Recap

Long time readers will recognize that rivers hold a special fascination for me.  I’m thinking now of fall travels south on the big rivers.

The trip up went pretty much according to plan.  It was nice having family visitors in Tennessee and Alton, and seeing old friends in Knoxville.  I didn’t make it up the Cumberland River.  Another time.  The Upper Mississippi and Ohio are still calling my name.  I’ll be back. 

Looking back, I’d say it was all interesting.  I liked the trip from Mobile to Demopolis and the detour up to Tuscaloosa.  The Tenn Tom and Tennessee River were interesting, mostly because it was all new.  The Mississippi is an endless adventure to me.   By the time I was on the Illinois I was mostly pressing for Chicago, but the lower sections were pleasant.  All in all fun travels.

I had two noteworthy incidents.  I had a minor grounding on the Tennessee River and I damaged my prop getting off.  Easy fix with a local yard hauling and swapping to spare prop. I had the prop repaired in Alton.  $1500 total repair bill. 

More recently I took a chunk out of the port transom while moving the boat on the dock in Ottawa IL.  There was a lot of wind and current and protruding steel.  Not a major repair.  I hope to get the boat in the shop this summer for some paint repairs.

I’ve been thinking lots about traveling upriver vs downriver.  I did lots of both on this segment.  I’ve decided I prefer to travel upriver.  But that’s going to get its own post.

Tallying mileage and fuel for the Florida Panhandle to Alton segment, Feb 9 – April 9:

Distance traveled: 1,927 NM (2,217 miles/3,569 km)

Engine hours: 298

Fuel used (excl heat): 1,599 l (423 gallons)

That’s not far off the mileage I get on the ICW.  A lot of those miles were up and back detours, and I loafed going downriver.  This is a picture taken of me going downriver below Pickwick Locka by another boat.  Not much fuss, and probably 10+ mpg.

Loafing with a tail cutrent

I should add that with about 10,000 miles aboard Escapade, I am very happy with the boat.  I’m always looking at other boats, but rarely suffer boat envy these days.  Fuel economy is a key component for me, and the numbers above tell the story.

Chicago

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.

Peoria

Peoria wicket dam (open)

I anchored here as it was getting dark. There is public docking here, but I was happy to stay on the hook.

I had forgotten how remote the river is below here. It’s like the lower Mississippi, with dikes set back from the natural river. I didn’t have mobile coverage for lots of it.

I’ve been enjoying it, but am looking forward to tying up in Chicago later this week.

Wheels

I’m in Ontario this week in a rental car. Back to Escapade this weekend. I’ve been vehicle shopping. My 2010 Prius is dead. Here is my next daily driver

It’s a Honda Silverwing. I’ve wanted one since they were introduced almost 20 years ago.

I’ll be riding it this summer, and if I like it I’ll try to find a good way to carry it aboard Escapade. It’s pretty porky at 550 pounds, but I’m sure there is a workable way to do it.

Alton

I’m tied up for a while.  Booked a slip for two weeks at Alton Marina. Plugged in for the first time since leaving Lunenburg.

I’ve been here before, when I was downbound in Mazurka. It’s a good spot.

The two week stay assumes I’m going to continue on upriver to Minneapolis. I’m very keen on that right now. It wasn’t part of the original plan, but I’m ahead of schedule. It’s about 1300 miles return. That trip has been on my wish list forever, and I like shoulder season cruising. High water might stop me, but I’m assuming I can turn around and head for Chicago any time if the going gets tough.

In the meantime, some shore side activities and boat cleaning and maintenance!

Missouri River

St Louis Arch

I’m anchored here where the Missouri flows into the Mississippi. Between wing dams it’s quite pleasant.

The river opened today at 4 pm, and I got here at dusk. The river was flowing fast through St Louis. I was making 10.5 mph through the water and at times ground speed was below 5.

Alton Marina is just a few miles away on the other side of the Mel Price Lock. I can sleep in tomorrow.

St Louis

Yesterday was fun, but required all my attention.  The current was stronger, 4-5 mph in the center of the river.  I was on the banks most of the time, trying to stay in slacker current.  Made 56 miles in ten hours, and anchored here at mile 170 for the night between wing dams.

As it turns out, I should have gone a bit farther before stopping, as there is work happening at mile 172 with daily closure of the river from 0800 to 1530. I heard about it yesterday, but didn’t realize it is in effect today as well. So I’m sitting waiting until it opens.

My destination is Alton Marina, about 30 miles and two locks upstream of here.  Samantha and Sarah are joining me there tomorrow night for a biking holiday.  I won’t be there today as planned, but should make it tomorrow.

I’m thinking of heading north on the upper Mississippi after that, rather than heading for Chicago. I think I’ll stop in Alton for a week or two and then decide.