Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beware of the Asian Carp.

Leaving Chicago Anna and I found ourselves filled with anxiety.  The next six hundred miles have been referred to as the lest favorite of those that have completed the loop.  Once through the Chicago lock, we have been warned to watch for barges, tows, logs, submerged barrels and god knows what else.  Others have told us to expect long days at the helm and long waits at the locks.  In an attempt to make the trip to the safe waters of Cumberland River a bit more enjoyable we have organized a group of buddy boats to transit the Illinois and Mississippi with.  As we boated through downtown Chicago we were joined by Monkey Girl and Bulldog Sally, we all took in as much as we could.  The sights were just awesome.  As soon as it began, it was over and as the skyline of Chicago disappeared behind us the factories, refineries and industrial plants of Illinois took over the horizon.  The water changed from a the clear blue of the lakes to a dark brown muddy mess.  A bit of depression seemed to take hold.  How could things have changed so fast.  We keep telling ourselves that there is only one way down to the clean waters of the Ohio and this is it.  Come hell or high water we are getting south ASAP.  So with other boats around us for support we have made it to the Mississippi.  From here it will be three hundred mile run to Green Turtle Bay in Kentucky.  In that three hundred miles there is only one Marina.  We will have to ether tie to barges that have pulled off the river and beached themselves on the bank or try to anchor behind sandbars or flood water run off channels which we only know of three.  To anchor anywhere else would risk being run over by an upstream or downstream barge.  I doubt they would even feel us hit as they are enormous in size.  It is sure to be an adventure. 

Approaching the Chicago Lock was just amazing.  Anna and I got an early start with Bulldog Sally and Monkey Girl for the long trip down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.
Once through these gates we will be in the Chicago Sanitary Canal.  Many years ago they reversed the flow of this river to protect the drinking water of Chicago.  Once in the canal we knew why.
What a view.
Looking back at the lock, the sun was just coming up.
The reflection of the sun on the buildings was wonderful.
Anna's Aunt and Uncle play for the opera.  This seems to climb right out of the canal.
Now that is the way to dock your boat.
The clouds seemed to hover at the top of the towers much like the top of a mountain.

The Electrified Fish Barrier.  Mans only defence against the Asian Carp.
Not too long after making it through the barrier we had our first run in with the infamous fish.  Would you believe they jump right into the back of the boat as we make way.  This fish wasn't in the boat more than 20 seconds yet managed to bleed and slime the whole back of the boat.  For the rest of the day the flies were awful.  Don't clean it up with river water it only makes it worse.
So far we have encountered heavy fog in the mornings.  It makes for some stressful hours at the helm.
Anna and I made the mistake of telling people we were somewhat use to fog.  This resulted in being placed in the lead.  I finally got to use my fog horn.
Marinas on the Illinois River are a far cry for lake Michigan.  Here you can see Monkey Girl tied to a barge.
We tied to a barge as well and were shocked when we where told to tie our lines to the engine Block welded to the barge deck.  This was the only safe place to tie up for 70 miles.  We made the best of it and had a great night.
If you try really really really hard you might just catch a moment of beauty in these parts.  Seconds after taking this shot a carp tried to jump in the boat.  Reminding us that it can only be a moment.


  1. Great pics of Chicago - good luck with those disgusting Asian carp :P The marina's here have been working furiously to pull all the boats - Earl is on it's way!

  2. Black muddy river
    Roll on forever
    I don't care how deep or wide
    If you got another side
    Roll muddy river
    Roll muddy river
    Black muddy river roll

  3. Miss you Pete and Anna!! Earl is here.. Love following your trip, great pictures... Julia starts Kindergarten next week... All is well. be safe xoxo= bec

  4. Hi Pete and Anna, Peter, when your mother and dad told me about your adventure, my jaw dropped. Once in a lifetime, I guess. I read your entire blog to date...fascinating! Continue to travel well. Thinking only good thoughts for you.
    Best, Michael