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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On the move without Zeke

 Time travelled:   5.5 hours  - the current helped!
 Nautical miles:    51
 Docked at:           Hoppies Marine Services

Pirates on the Illinois
Cowboys and Indians in Grafton

Zeke is driving us to drink!
We left Grafton Harbor Marina- a great place and wonderful people-heading south one mile on the Illinois River and then onto the Mighty Mississippi!

Illinois River on the right and the Mississippi on the left.

Bald eagles winter all along the Grafton shore 
 I called ahead to the lock about 45 minutes before we arrived and asked the status - come on down and we will get you right through!! GREAT - no waiting. We arrived and Garth called him on the VHF, he said it would be an hour and a half wait ..... so, I called him on the phone and asked what was going on, had we known he was going to make us wait we would have put down the throttle and caught up to the other pleasure craft that went through 20 minutes prior.  He said he was sorry that he did not know that they were going to close the auxiliary lock and that he was bringing up one barge and another one was waiting!  We chatted a little and then he told us we could tie up on the wall. As we were moving toward the wall he called the barge below the wall and asked if he would mind if we came down - barges have the right of way and priority but really he was taking down an empty lock and it just meant that the barge would have to wait back a little to let us out. Luckily , the barge said yes and off we went.  We did not even tie to the wall, we just floated in the middle - cool!

Going through the Chain of Rocks Canal we passed an Army Corp of Engineer barge "Pathfinder" only to get to the lock at the end of it and let him pass us cause --he had priority. He spoke to the lock-keeper and said we could come in with him and tie up to him instead of the wall. So, he got in, and we crept in, threw our lines to a guy on his deck and down we went. Two locks and two new experiences!

Pathfinder on the left and a red flag (dangerous cargo) on the right.

We went through St, Louis. We were both surprised at how small is was. The waterfront is a busy port with lots of barges and therefore lots of industry.

The St. Louis Arch

Statue of Lewis & Clark

We arrived at Hoppies - a must stop - three 100ft. barges tied together. Every evening at 4 pm Fern Hoppie holds court for the boaters. Garth quickly hooked up the electric and we walked into town - Kimmswick- the second oldest town in Missouri. We meet the guys on the boat in front of us who said the only place worth going was the bakery so we took their advice and off we went.
Grama could make this pie eh Meg!!

Algonquin in the background

The infamous FERN - chain smoking and giving us all the lowdown on the rivers,anchorages & turbulence from here to Mobile.
Not sure about internet signals for the next few days but the SPOT will be on and if you are interested in seeing where we are then click on it.  There are four boats all leaving together tomorrow and all headed for the same place to anchor out for the next two nights, so at least we will not be alone.

We took Zeke to the vet on Monday morning for xrays and blood work. The hepatic blood work was good but the xray of his lungs was cloudy and looked worse than his initial xray. OMG!  We explained that he was not eating, was drinking well and that his breathing had improved significantly. Puzzled, he called the university hospital and spoke to the doctors who had treated him. They suggested a complete physical and more blood work. Twenty minutes later the blood work showed that he has some sort of  "massive" infection.  Another conference call with Guelph. The readers digest version is that Zeke is staying in Illinois receiving antibiotics and a different anti-fungal. We called this morning and again this afternoon and he is trending in the right direction.

We made the decision to leave as this next section has a long stretch on it where there are no marinas, no services and therefore no access to a vet. When we leave here tomorrow we will not get to a marina until Friday. We felt it best to get the boat to a marina and then rent a car and go back for Zeke.  Hopefully we will get him back on Saturday.  Once again, keep your fingers crossed.