Sunday—- Illinois River MM 178 Hamm’s Holiday Marina Southbound

September 5th, 2010 john Posted in The Loop Part II | No Comments »

Day: 446   Miles Today: 59   Locks Today:  01   Total Miles:  4957   Total Locks: 140

Last night we had dinner on the dock.  There were about 25 people of all ages, grandkids included.  We had lobster and shrimp and potatoes and corn and great deserts.  It was quite a feast.  Everyone was so friendly.  They have truly made this a great stop for us. It’s all about the people.  We finally had to retire to the boat at about 9:30 p.m. because it was going to be an early rise this morning.

I was up, dressed, with coffee in hand at the bridge at 5:00 a.m. waiting for first light.  The plan was to make a run for the Peoria Lock, which is only open on Sundays or at night due to construction.  If we get through the lock in a timely fashion we then have a long run to the first possible marina.  We are praying that we will not be held up at the lock.

As I waited I got onto the Internet.  I had found a web-site that listed all of the locks on the inner rivers system, listing all of the queued commercial traffic.  Upon displaying the information for the Peoria Lock, I found out that there were five towboats and loads waiting to go through.  Yow!  I called the lock master and he said that there were so many pleasure craft calling that he was going to try to do a special lock through for them.

At predawn we started the engines and eased out of the harbor into the river. It was eerie driving out of the harbor with all the old casino boats and paddle wheelers, barely able to see our way.  The sun had not risen but I could make out the buoys on the river. Of course we also had radar and the GPS navigational systems so we were fine. We were father up river then the other loopers so we had to make a run for it. We needed a head start.

We were off and running. 

As we passed through little towns with marinas we started to pick up more Looper boats behind us.  We pulled up to the lock and had to wait about two hours. I pulled under a highway bridge and dropped the anchor and just waited.  Finally, it was our turn.  Seven pleasure craft eased into the lock with smiles on their faces. 

We had a successful lock through. We had already done 20 miles this morning but we had another 40 to go.  The current helped us out a lot and we made 10 mph (speed made good) and were at our destination marina by mid afternoon. Four other Loopers followed us into the little marina.  It went from empty to full in 15 minutes.  We were the largest boat so they stuck us on a dock in the corner.  It was a great spot and easy to get in to.  It may be a different story getting back out.

On the way into the little embayment of the harbor the currents were strong.  The Emery El got shoved left and right and it took some brut engine force to get her back into the middle of the little channel.

We were at Tall Timbers Marina in Havana, IL.  It was small but cute; the dock-master very friendly.  It had very clean showers and bathroom.  After meeting several of the locals and giving some more tours of the Emery El, we walked about 5 blocks into the little town.  The only thing that was open was a Dollar General store and a new very little Mexican restaurant.  We decided that we would choose Mexican for dinner and entered.

The waiters barely spoke English and we could not pronounce the name of the restaurant but the food was excellent.  We all enjoyed our meals.  It was a bit of a trial paying our bill.  They did not speak English and they also must have failed math.  It took four tries and two runs of credit cards to get it right.  (Their first run was for $14.00 and you know that is not right for three people with drinks.)

Back to the boat and to the top deck with a scotch, a good cigar, and Kenny G softly playing on the top-deck speakers.  What a way to wind down a good day, overlooking the sleepy harbor.

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