Where is YOLO?

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

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!

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