Sunday, September 6, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
It seemed that the Asian Carp issue (see entry for Wednesday, August 26) was becoming more pressing as we obtained additional information. Some sources indicated that the electrical barrier may be strengthened and pleasure craft may not be allowed to travel down the Illinois River under any circumstances. Other sources indicated that the electrical barrier may be weakened to allow pleasure boats to pass freely. Not wanting to chance being an “Asian Carp Captive” for the winter on Lake Michigan, we decided to contact the Coast Guard and request approval to pass through the fish barrier ASAP. The Coast Guard approved our passage for Friday, September 4th, at 10 am. Any non-metallic vessel wishing to cross the electrical barrier must be towed by a Coast Guard approved towing company. The Blue Heron will have to become what is called a dead vessel, meaning that all electrical systems must be disconnected from the batteries while in tow. All occupants of the vessel under tow, including pets, will be required to disembark Blue Heron and board the towing vessel wearing their life jackets until the boat passes through the electrical fence. Unfortunately, all pleasure craft traveling from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River through the Illinois River must currently follow this procedure and pay a cool $600 fee to the towing company for the service of pulling the boat downriver approximately ½ mile.
Since we were leaving Lake Michigan sooner than planned, we needed to make immediate arrangements to have Blue Heron’s mast unstepped (taken down). We contacted Crowley’s Yacht Yard in Chicago and made an appointment to have the mast brought down tomorrow at 11 am. Unstepping the mast on Blue Heron is a full day’s project where we will have to prepare the boat before a crane lifts the mast and sets it on the cradles built specifically for this purpose. Regrettably, the plans we had to sail with Joel and Mary McChesney this week will have to be postponed until we are in Florida where they hope to be able to join up with us again. We had also planned to take Maureen’s brother and sister-in-law, Brian and Lin, out for a sail on Sunday and Monday of the Labor Day weekend. Brian and Lin are currently on vacation at Copper Harbor, Michigan, and plan to return home to East Dundee (Chicago suburb) on Saturday. We hope they will still be able to meet us along the Illinois River over the weekend.
Today’s tasks included returning the rental car, many phone calls and emails related to the fish barrier and arranging for unstepping of the mast, as well as our continual efforts to keep things neat and tidy on the boat. At 3:45 pm, we left our slip at the Hammond Marina and traveled the 3.5 miles to Crowley’s Yacht Yard on the Calumet River. In order to get to Crowley’s we had to have the 92nd Street and the 95th Street Bridges lifted for us. We secured Blue Heron to Crowley’s dock just before 5 pm and enjoyed the calm waters and warm evening sunshine as we ended our day.