What an eye opener the last six days have been! The major stops have been Hammond (Indiana) – two nights, Joliet (Illinois) town wall – one night, Heritage Harbor (Ottawa, Illinois) – three nights, and now we are at Lower Henry (Illinois).
We left Hammond, which is just south of Chicago, early Sunday morning to grey skies and rolling two-foot waves. We did not have to sail far until we were safely inside the break wall which shields the Calumet Harbor, Calumet River and Sag Channel.
The Cal-Sag is quite an interesting albeit smelly route. There are numerous bridges of all types and shapes. This industrial route, at times, looks apocalyptic. As the weather was grey, producing grey skies and grey water, the various shades of grey of bridges, barren earthworks, and factories, made for quite a study in ‘grey’. It had its own stark architectural beauty. We sailed on the Labor Day weekend and were pleasantly surprised boat and tow traffic was light.
This day of sailing was a very long one, as we waited for opening of bridges and locking through. We sailed with our buddy boat, Stay Cool, and were delighted to meet up again with My Time Too. The gang was together again and it was party time…
Joliet was an interesting place to stay overnight. Well-lit, noisy and constant wakings from tows and barges did not make for an easy night of sleep. We did, however, enjoy the Labor Day fireworks in the evening, and the impromptu breakfast next day with our buddies.
The sail from Joliet to Heritage Harbor saw the heavy industrial side of the Illinois Waterway give way to greenery and bird life. We sailed through the electrified barrier for the management of Asian Carp without incident. No jumping carp landed on our boat. The Illinois Waterway is a water highway for barges carrying earth, rocks, chemicals, sand and other cargo. Pleasure craft must give way to the slow moving behemoths. At times, negotiating bends or narrow sections of the river, it has been prudent to wait in the side of the channel. Getting too close can result in some interesting boat manoeuvres.
Heritage Harbor was so welcoming and relaxing we decided to stay for three nights. One of the locks further down the Illinois River closed to traffic for maintenance helped us make the decision to stay and enjoy each others’ company in idyllic surroundings. We soaked up a comprehensive and informative talk from the Harbor Master on the inland rivers down to Green Turtle Bay. We tried our hand at pickle ball, played Scrabble, lounged by the pool, and dined at the very comfortable onsite restaurant. Just what we needed after a few long days of sailing.
Today we left Heritage Harbor at sunrise in fog and locked down through Starved Rock Lock. The scenery was augmented with the addition of rugged cliffs – reminiscent of sailing on the Tennessee River. Tonight we are secured in a secluded, pretty anchorage behind Lower Henry Island. Our buddy boats are resting quietly, too, now that the hilarious afternoon of board games and Scrabble is over. Earlier, Bushranger provided Uber dinghy service for our My Time Too buddies to Stay Cool.
No jumping carp – at least not into our boat! No deer spotted – but a buddy boat spied a doe and her fawn at the water’s edge! No bears – forgot to leave the peanut butter out!
Almost a perfect day! For today our Queen Elizabeth died. She was an extraordinary woman. Rest In Peace, Your Majesty, you were a good and faithful servant.
Such is Life!