Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Maureen and Gale worked a little on blog entries this morning before pulling anchor and heading downriver just before 10 am. We weren’t sure where we would end up today, but if we were able to get through the fish barrier this afternoon instead of at our scheduled time tomorrow, we would be very happy. We arrived at the designated holding area above the fish barrier at 12:45 pm where we saw our friends’ boat, Houlegan tied up to a barge alongside the east wall of the canal. We hailed them on the marine radio and they helped us tie off to the barge – a tricky maneuver, indeed, since we were trying to sneak in to the space between Houlegan and a power catamaran, Fan Dango, already tied off.

Once secured to the barge, we checked in with the Coast Guard and the towing company, ARTCO. We received the OK to go through today if time allowed. All commercial traffic was being given priority over pleasure craft for passage through the fish barrier. In addition, all traffic was going to be halted for an hour or so this afternoon so “testing” could be conducted in the area. We were the fourth and last pleasure craft in the queue so we settled in for the wait.

At 5:00 pm, the Joe Avery of ARTCO, called for the first two pleasure craft to raft up alongside the tow. The Joe Avery tied to the wall and had Reflection, a power boat, tie to its starboard side. Fan Dango then rafted up next to Reflection. After all batteries were disconnected and the occupants were aboard the towboat, they proceeded through the fish barrier. The Joe Avery came back upstream and made a crew change at 6 pm before calling for the remaining two boats, Houlegan and Blue Heron. With the new crew, the tow captain had us tie up on either side of his boat while he floated in the channel. Blue Heron took the starboard side while Houlegan was to port. We turned off the battery switches and all the breakers, donned our life jackets, grabbed Lucy and boarded the tow where we completed the paperwork (a Hold Harmless Agreement), and ponied up the requisite fee. By 7 pm we were through the electrical barrier, untied from the tow, and moving down the river.

Five miles downriver at 8:15 pm, we transited the Lockport Lock at mile 291. It was already dark, but the lovely full moon helped to illuminate the night. After locking through, we continued another three miles stopping at the town wall in Joliet where free docking was available. By then it was nearly 9 pm so we grilled up a few hot dogs and were in bed around 10 pm. It had been a long day, but we were glad we were in Joliet and not still waiting in the industrial area of the river.

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