The Illinois River is a principle tributary of the Mississippi River and as such is clogged with commercial barges, tugboats and itinerant pleasure boats; the least of which is the pleasure boater.
The Marseilles and Starved Rock Locks on the Illinois River will close for repairs on September 20 this year; when they reopen is questionable. The result is a mad dash by all to get through the two locks before they close. Commercial barges get priority to enter the lock and they just fit the rest of us in if and when they can. These barges are at least 300 – 500 feet long and almost the width of the lock.
Between Chicago and these infamous locks there are a series of low bridges that need to be opened for us and three other locks to traverse. Last night we waited four hours for one of these locks to open. Progress is slow. There is a strange beauty in going through the locks by moonlight.
Fortunately, four other Looper boats are making this part of the journey with us. My engine is overheating! My lights aren’t working. My generator quit. All cries from the Looper boats forced to idle and wait in murky waters for a long period of time. Dream Seeker was aground. Goleen to the rescue!
Very late in the day: A message from the lockmaster “if you hurry you can make the last lock opening”. Only Dream Seeker heeded the call. Everyone else called it quits for the night. We went through the lock by ourselves and anchored in Starved Rock State Park. We did it! The next morning, thinking we were home free, we slept late. Left our anchorage at a leisurely pace and found ourselves in the middle of the first flotilla out of Starved Rock Lock. Not sure who had the better night.