Chugging Down the Illinois River

No, we have not dropped off the face of the earth. We have, however been in a state of limbo thanks to torrential rains.

My last post, gosh months ago, had us stopping in Illinois to help my mother-in-law after hip surgery. Nautical Dreamer was pulled out and stored for the winter. My mother-in-law  is healthy again and the boat was pulled out of storage in late April. We made it to Ottawa, IL, before the rains. Once they started, they didn’t stop. For weeks. Time was not on our side since the locks on the Illinois River were closing down for repairs.

Unfortunately, the rain raised the river system above flood stage through the Mississippi and kept it there. For weeks river water was above or WAY above flood stage. The boats were safe in the marina, but daily life became interesting. Blocks were placed on walkways so we could get ashore and we were instructed eventually we would need to use our dingy or call for a boat ride to shore. (Fortunately a side trip had us out of town for the worst of it.) Locks on the upper Mississippi were closed due to the flooding. We were going nowhere for a long time.

We learned that the locks on the Illinois River were allowing commercial traffic at night and pleasure craft could go through on the last lock through before shutting down for the day. So, we could travel on the Illinois, but down river still had nowhere safe to go. Several marinas we intended to stay were flooded out including their fuel stations.

Two weeks ago, the tap slowed to a trickle. We’re sitting in sweltering heat and humidity now with only an occasional afternoon pop-up shower, that does not prohibit the water on the rivers to recede. The Mississippi locks are open, the marinas have cleaned up, and the days are filled with sunshine. Much like a barometer tells of impending weather, my bowels are confirming what I knew was coming. We are on the move once more.

Despite the belly distress over worry of the unknown, I’m quite excited. Ottawa is a lovely town but we’re antsy. This afternoon we will head to an anchorage about a mile from the next lock at Starved Rock. Tomorrow we plan to lock down at six a.m. and stop in Peoria, IL.

We are moving slowly to give the Mississippi waters a chance to reach a “better” flood stage. It’s currently six feet above flood stage, which is a far cry from its peak of almost 20 feet above flood stage, but still, the lower it gets the safer I feel. Plus, a fellow traveler is passing through next week and we’ve decided to be Mississippi River buddies for safety.

The foreseeable future is:

Tonight: anchor by Starved Rock Lock

Tuesday/Wednesday: Peoria, IL

Thursday-Sunday: Grafton, IL (The Key West of the Midwest!)

Monday: travel to Alton, IL to await our travel partner

1 thought on “Chugging Down the Illinois River”

  1. We are so happy that you are at last sailing again. Know you were planning on wintering in Florida. It was wonderful that you were there to assist Rick’s mother when she needed you. The weather all over the country has been crazy due to the changing weather patterns caused by global warming. It is amazing all that you and Rick accomplished with the remodel of the boat. Be sure and post pictures of all the improvements. Smooth Sailing!

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