A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A tale of two Cities

Or marinas, anyway.

One was Michigan City, which I said how well we were treated in the last posting. The other is Hammond, where we were not. I won't go into too much detail as I have already vented my spleen on both the AGLCA forum and Active Captain website, but suffice to say they were the worst marina (both in facilities and attitude) that we have met to date - and hope never to again. We were put on a dock 400 metres  from the carpark and 600 from the office, then told we were not allowed to ride our
bikes down the pier.

They refused assistance in providing transport even though their own security personnel told us they considered it their function. Because of this I had to rent a car to get anywhere.

The half empty marina docks (surprise, surprise) were covered in duck poop and nobody made any attempt to clean it up. The place is a tip and the staff are not much better - say no more!

I had to wait there all this time because I had to finish the mods to the DC system, and I was waiting for a special shore power adapter to come from Amazon. The DC mods were done by my own self, with much cussing and sweat but since I have been here some of the girth has gone and I am a little more agile than before, so I managed to squeeze into place hitherto impossible. The power adaptor never arrived, which is still an ongoing issue with the supplier to Amazon, and the last night we were there we had a thunderstorm with winds of 60 kts that actually moved the dock we were tethered to over by 2 ft. Accordingly we had had enough of Hammond, so off we went into the river system via the Calumet river (Cal Sag Canal).

We passed under several bridges that required lifting and had our firtst "locking" experience albeit only a foot drop, so we didn't even tie up. We also encountered our first "tow" and managed to get the passing signals wrong - but he knew what we meant!! We stopped one night at Marine Services Marina, about 10 miles downriver in Dolton, where I had looked at a Carver 466 (Epiphany) during the boat buying trip last year. They remembered me, strangely enough, and gave us good hospitality. It is a shame they are right next door to a landfill that provides an unpleasant odour when the wind is blowing the wrong way.

The first hurdle and last (major) worry, was THE bridge at mile 300.5  that you've gotta get under to do the loop. At a published clearance of 19'5", Loopy Kiwi should not (and to some folk - would not)clear the 19.1' clearance that the bridge normally has. With careful measuring, we figured that with the anchor light down the clearance could be reduced to around 18'9" (eh, Charlie). So on approaching THE bridge, I climbed out on the hardtop and we came to a dead stop right at the upstream side. We then drifted through and we cleared the underneath with a good 8" to spare, with the anchor light UP!!!! 


Yahoo, Florida here we come.

Since then we have been going down the Illinois River and have locked down through some big locks and encountered some big tows - so we are starting to get it right. At the suggestion of our friends on JETSTREAM, we bought a couple of 18" diameter ball bouys as fenders and these have been invaluable in protecting the boat from the lock walls and our inexperience.
Everyone shows pix of lock, so there are ours. We are on our fourth night on the river and have a ways to go, so hope to have an early start tomorrow and cover around 76 miles. Here is the trip so far
PS we bought a Navionics app for the iPad for $74, which covers the USA and Canada, that turns it into a chart plotter as good as the one on the boat.

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