Where is YOLO?

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

Monday, October 25, 2010

"YOLO" our vessel's legal name is finally displayed on our stern!
Don't worry we had a renaming ceremony and our good luck should continue

New Friends David and Rose' who lived on a giant houseboat at Paris landing  celebrated with us.
They donated an excellent bottle of champagne for us to sacrifice into the water to keep Poseidon happy!

Our friends Paul and Ellen from Bayfield who own the Rum Line bar spend their winters here in Clifton, TN
We got to meet them for a night and a great Cajun dinner.  Nice to see some Bayfield faces!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mississippi... DONE, Ohio... DONE!!

With much less than a good nights sleep sunday night, we got up early to contend with the last few days of the mississippi river. We would have to cover 180 river miles to make it to the confluence of the Ohio at Cairo, IL (which, after I probably sounded like an idiot, found out it's pronounced KAY-row). We casted our lines from the barge we were tied to before the sun rose in a effort to get an early start. Serendipitously, in our early start, we forgot to pay for the extra night we just spent tied up (Sorry about that Jimmy!). We set our course towards the lock and dam at the Kaskaskia river, 80 miles down river. The current helped to push us an additional 3-4 kts and we made it all the way to our 1st planned destination well before the sun set. However, this was not achieved without a stop 20 miles south of St Louis at the famed "Hoppies" marina for a Diesel / Water top off. This place was something else. Dirty old houseboats, beer cans rolling all over the place, mismatched lawn furniture of decades past right on the docks. It was what Craig Morgan sung about in his song, redneck yacht club. We were also told by wiser men than us that we had to stop there to meet this legendary "Fern" character. She's a 70 something year old lady who runs the joint. She knows the river better than anyone. She knew every bend and every mile marker on every river in the heartland! While smoking and filling our diesel tanks (yes, simultaneously...) she gave us some serious pointers that have helped us navigate these sometimes tricky waters. Don't worry, we evaded ignition.

We woke again VERY early from being tied up to the upriver approach lock wall at the kaskaskia lock, this time still in the dark to punch through our longest day yet 103 miles. Fern gave us the info on a potential anchoring spot 7 miles upstream from Cairo. We did our part and made sure we were there before the sun set, but once we made it, we weren't so sure of this anchorage and thought it to be a good idea to press on through the night and shave some time off our trip towards salt water. We consulted the upcoming locks on the Ohio to get a grasp on what kind of current and barge traffic we'd have to contend with and made our decision to press on. It turned in to a semi good idea.

There were 3 locks to contend with on the Ohio. #54 was still under construction and we bypassed it. #53 had the dam lowered so we were told to motor over the dam, kinda weird but we did it without problem. #52 (i curse this one)... We waited ELEVEN HOURS for our turn to lock through! Aparently their main lock was busted so they were using their "auxillary" lock. That's engineer speak for "smaller". So small that the barges (sometimes up to 5 barges wide by 7 barges long) had to break up and go through like 8 at a time... It created quite the traffic jam. We arrived at the lock a little after 1AM when we were instructed over the radio that we should just drop anchor off channel and wait our turn. we waited with baited breath through the night for our turn that never seemed to come, finally a little after noon we were let through with a smaller set of barges. I'm really not a fan of locks.

Finally on our way up the rest of the Ohio we took a right turn up the Tennessee river to another 3 hour wait at the Kentucky Lake Lock. We made it into Kentucky Lake last night around 8pm and carefully navigated the narrowly dredged entrance to our marina for the night. It was here that today we finally put the mast back up. It was a lot of tedious busy work getting it back into place, re connected, secured, rigged, adjusted, and most of all TESTED! we sailed YOLO for the 1st time this evening at sunset along the way to our rest area for the night, Moors Marina and Campground. but the spot would have already told you that. Sorry there's no pictures, our memory card was full. Pictures tomorrow. You'll just have to take my word for it, YOLO looks good under full sail!

A real St Louis Sendoff!

Andy and I, rejuvenated with showers, a good meal, and a real roof over our head for a night in good company (Thanks again to Eric's Aunt Lynne), returned "home" Sunday morning to hang out and wait for two more guests. My old college buddy Dan Gullickson ended up coming all the way to St Louis from South Carolina, only to stand us up. However, Andy's little sister, Emily, pulled through and found time to mix in a little pleasure with her coinciding business trip to St Louis. Andy found her wandering near the Arc and she came aboard YOLO a little after 1pm. Immediately she was captivated by our new laid back lifestyle. I don't think she got over it the whole time she was here. We decided it would be fitting to do a Anheuser-Busch brewery tour while in the gateway to the west, but with a quick smartphone internet search we discovered even Budwiser doesn't work on Sundays.
Not all was lost, the Rams just beat the San Diego Chargers, so we decided to mingle with the hometown folk downtown after the game. A quick stroll wound us up in a bar so cool it didn't have a name beyond the street names it resides on the corners of. 6th and Lucas was packed with lively Rams fans celebrating one of those rare Rams victories. We were even able to catch the tail end of the Vikings game as they pulled it off against Dallas.
Little did we know this would be the exact right place to be, for we ended up meeting several new friends. Andy, Phil, Chris, Kari, Tony, (random drunk girl in a red hat) and Nick (oh, and Jessica, who I never got a chance to say goodbye to). Not after our 1st drink was ordered, Emily was already bragging to some stranger at the bar how cool she thinks we are. Introductions were made and shots were had. Even the bartender (Andy) was getting into the little social network. Turns out all these guys were bartenders i think. The ones we were bellied up with worked at another swankier bar. Nonetheless all cool enough people to invite back to the boat for a little party extension.

We all had a great time on YOLO. Kari tried pretty hard to catch a fish, but to no avail, sorry kari... and thanks for the funny new entries in the ships log by Phil, Tony, and Nick. All good stuff.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Congrats Eric and Erin

Junior, Devin, and Eric in Beardstown, IL
We made it to St. Louis! It's been an exciting week since our last update. We had many visitors and met lots of new friends. Three of our college buddy's met us in the small town of Beardstown, IL. Jason and Devin Duvernay came for an exciting night aboard, although they had to leave the next morning and didn't get to travel down the river with us, they did get to experience the Logsdon Tug Service. It wasn't quite a 5 star marina, and was actually just a tugboat company that let us tie onto their barge. Also Eric Wehrman joined us that evening and since he has some time off before he starts his new job with Delta Airlines he got to travel down the Illinois river with us. Before they arrived they all went to the grocery store for us and we were replenished with perishable foods. The next night we dropped the anchor near a small island and cooked a feast. Eric was a bit concerned that we had no cell phone reception and we were in the middle of nowhere, but soon he really started to enjoy the fact that we were cut off from the rest of the world.

The next morning we had an exciting experience in the lock, that included being blasted by the propwash from a tugboat pushing 12 barges! Twas quite scary for us all, and it changed Eric's attitude about transiting through locks (initially he was really excited to see one in action). The afternoon brought us to our destination of Grafton, IL which is the confluence of the Illinois and the Mississippi rivers. Now we really had some current pushing us, but with that came lots of deadheads floating by. In Grafton Eric's new Fiance Erin Obrien joined us for the night (congratulations you guys!). She met us at the Loading Dock bar where we tied up for the night. There was a bonfire going on and again people caught wind of our adventure, the Caterpillar employees from Decatur were asking us questions about the boat so of course we had to invite them aboard. They were a bit intoxicated and wrote some very funny entries into the ships log!
Rowdy bunch from Decatur at the Loading Dock
Aunt Lynne introduced us to the most delicious frozen custard in St. Louis

Erin and Eric joined us for the rest of the journey to St. Louis. Erin's beautiful female voice seduced the lockmasters into expediting our travel through. Right I am using the internet at Eric's Aunt's house. This sweet woman named Lynn took us to Vietnamese dinner and Ted Drewes custurd for dessert! Then she must have realized we were quite smelly and offered us a shower and a bed for the night, so we thought we better take advantage. Thanks for the breakfast and spatula too Lynne!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Motorboatin' River Rats

Here we are at a Holiday Inn lounge in Peoria, IL. Sitting in the lounge with our laptops posing as guests is the best way to get wireless internet in this town, and we have lots to write about.

Base of the sears tower on the starboard side
No longer the sailing purists of the Apostle Islands, we are now riverboat captains. Entering the Illinois waterway under the low bridges of downtown Chicago with skyscrapers sprouting up from the river 10 feet from our gunwales was a memorable experience.

We found a great marina right in Chi-town, on canal street next to chinatown. After docking the boat we met a nice gentleman named Mike who was working on his boat and getting it prepped for new paint. He gave us some tips and advice on the area, and suggested we go to Chinatown. We could already smell the chinese food and we had a friend coming to visit so we walked over the bridge to find some dinner. My good friend Rachel Frey took the "L" train to come see us and it was actually her first time to this chinese neighborhood, we indulged in some Peking duck and kung pau chicken. She came to see the boat and then invited us to see her new house. It was worth the long ride on the "L" train for the cookies baked by her roommate Kelli. We were inspired by all their beautiful artwork, Lance painted a sailboat mural on their back door and Kelli promised to paint us a small nude woman that shall indeed bring good luck to YOLO at sea. We made it back to the boat at about 3am, but still managed to start the next day at 7am. We are obviously excited to get to the Salty water, and warm weather!

In Joliet, IL we ran into our first "river problem" whilst tied up to the wall at a park downtown. Still trying to recuperate from our late night partying in chinatown, we were preparing for bed at around 9pm, but just before turning in for the night we heard voices outside the boat. Thank got Lance peered out the porthole and saw that the wall was moving. WE WERE ADRIFT! I popped out of the campanionway in time to see 2 young hoodlums running away. Now we were worried that if we fell asleep they would comeback and untie us again and we would wake up to the sound of being crushed by a barge. So we rigged up some defense systems and booby traps, chained to the wall with a padlock, and hung pots and pans on our dock lines to warn us of intruders. We even set up our anchor drag alarm on the GPS and had the flare gun ready to go. We wanted to sleep peacefully.

Luckily another boater came to tie up on the same wall and it made us feel more comfortable. His name was Scott and he was delivering a fancy new boat down the river. As a professional captain he had lots of great advice for us. He even marked special recommended spots on our maps, and told us where to stop along the rivers for the next several weeks.

Scott was already gone when we awoke at 7:30, he was probably smart to do so because shortly after we learned another lesson. A large powerboat filled with douchebags flew by at a ridiculously fast pace and close distance. It tossed up such a wake that YOLO's toe-rail scraped on the cement wall despite being gaurded by 4 fenders! I guess we will have to learn to deal with it, because the wake off the enormous barges of the Mississippi will be even bigger.
One of the 8 locks on the Illinois Waterway. These boaters were part of a club in Chillicothe, and they were very interested in our trip. All the spectators above were asking us questions about our trip after they saw we came from MN!

Bad start to the day, but things got better. Another 80 degree sunny day and the Illinois river is finally looking cleaner and not smelling of garbage. The trees are showing their autumn colors and factories and plants are giving way to forests, hills and state parks. Descended 3 locks, met many more pleasure boaters in this area and made it to Ottowa for the night, one of Scotts recommended ports.

Yesterday we planned on a short 40 mile day, but every marina we tried to get into was too shallow. We even ran aground trying to reach some docks before sunset. Apparently the Illinois river water level is very low right now, and as a sailboat our keel is much deeper than any other boats around here. We need about 6 feet of water at the dock and we couldn't find that until we got to Peoria in the dark last night. That turned the day into about 80 river miles, and a dangerous nighttime river run. On the way we saw enough of the Asian flying carp to justify the redneck fishing tournament which is held in Bath, IL. In this contest fishermen are only allowed to catch Asian carp in their boat or with nets. Everytime one of these flatbottomed boats came by in the shallows there was a frenzy of hundreds of jumping fish following behind. While parking at the dock last night in Peoria one particularly feisty 2 foot long carp jumped onto our boat and landed on my ankle, he left quite a slime trail as I kicked him overboard!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More on Macinac

Macinac Island from Lake Huron

This place has no cars, just bikes and Horse drawn carriages.

Andy and I weren't dressed fancy enough to even walk in eyeshot of the guests at this ritzy place.

But that didn't stop andy and I from sneaking in and using their hot tub in the middle of the night.

Our new friends Dick and Dick, a pair of lively Yoopers (UPers, Upper Penninsula, MI) Perhaps Andy and I 40 years from now. They were slipped next to us in Macinac.

Taking the mast down...

We've been slipped in port at the Waukegan Port District (Waukegan, IL) since Monday evening. Our original plan had us going all the way to Chicago, but without the wind for 2 straight days, we motored through the rest of our diesel supply (that we forgot to top off in Mackinac!) and realized that we couldn't make the full distance under steam power so we ducked into Waukegan for fuel. Turns out they charged way less for slip rental and destepping the mast than in Chicago, so we decided to make this place our home for a few days. Other than having no wind on Sunday or Monday, we had a real nice passage from Mackinac Island (Mackinac Bridge pictured above on a cold saturday morning). We even made a friend, a little bird kept flying back and forth to and from our boat. We named him boomerang, a friendly little guy who was probably trying to find a place to take a breather, not sure how he got out that far.

Yesterday we had our 1st hometown visitor on our trip! Chris Warrington graced YOLO with his presence in Waukegan. He came bearing the gift of power in the form of 2 6v Golf cart batteries for our house battery bank. I wired those bad boys up then we hopped into his car to make a run to home depot to get materials to fabricate stands to rest our mast on the deck. This morning we had the crane pluck the mast out and off the boat and rest it on our mounts. We are now gonna be doin nothing but motorboatin' for a few weeks. (that last sentence is for you, Wheatley!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mackinac Island

Currently tied up at the marina in this touristy island village.  Freshly showered and enjoying a beer whilst listening to classical music, life couldn't get much better.  I take that back it could be a bit better had we not lost our only winch handle overboard in Lake Huron today!  After I emerged from the V-berth to take over for Lance, I thought he was playing a trick on me by hiding the winch handle and telling me it went overboard.  However it was not a cruel joke we actually had to sail the second half of the day without being able to properly trim our sails.  We made it safely to Mackinac Island and went in search of a new winch handle which should be easy to find in this sailing mecca, the finish line of two of the biggest sailing races in the country.  We were privately let into the ships store which had been closed for the season and were surprised that they also were lacking one of the most basic items needed on a sailboat.  Tomorrow we will pick one up on the mainland in Mackinac City and continue in the direction of Chi-town where we will have to lower our mast to fit under the bridges in downtown Chicago and continue down the barge canal toward the Mississippi River.

Something that is amazing to lance and I is the amount of interest and support people have been giving us.  Everyone we meet along the way, wants to know more about our trip and can't believe how far we've already come even though we're only five days from home.  Even as I type we have two yoopers aboard, they are both named Richard and their 26 ft sailboat is one of the only others in the marina tonight.  Today we even printed out some business cards with our blog/contact info to hand out to people because we are so tired of writing it down all the time.  Even more flattering has been all the help we've had preparing for this adventure.  The support we've had from our friends and family has been absolutely phenomenal.  We would like to give a special thanks to all of our new friends from this summer.  Without their wisdom, advice, and gifts our asses wouldn't have made it past Madeline Island!  Thank you to Jim and B.J. Collier, Cynthia, Diane, Captain Dave, and Scott and Jeniffer Brigham.  We can only hope to find a way to repay you all and hopefully someday we shall be mentors to others who are new to the sailing community.  The Brigham couple, pictured above, has been planning to sail their beautiful vessel "Pendragon" to the southern latitudes and they are so prepared I think they have 10 spares onboard for every part of their boat.  They have helped us in a multitude of ways and have gifted us with their friendship and many other sailing items.  On the day we departed from our marina they played a trick on us and taped a new boat name to our stern, "Yo Hoe".  We knew it was them because they also left a bag of gifts and books that we have already begun to indulge in.  Soon we will apply the new decals to our stern with the official name Y O L O.