Gunk Holing Along the IL River – Peoria to Grafton

       Day 73-77, September 9-13, a total of 730 miles traveled!

What is gunk holing you ask? Well, it means that we are at anchor in a small protected space (from tows and wakes) instead of at the dock in a marina. The name doesn’t sound glamorous but the experience is a highlight. We watch the charts and pick a spot behind an island, pull in at very slow speed watching our depth and drop the anchor in 5-10 feet of water. These spots are glorious in their lush, peacefulness. The putt-putt of the dinghy engine going ashore is the only break in the 12-18 hour silence. The first night we were with four other boats but usually it is just our buddy boat, Sea to See, and the Namaste. The challenges of gunk holing are that we run off of 12 volt power so only the necessities (no refrigeration or device charging) are available and Sammy has no dock to walk so she goes to shore via the dinghy to potty. So far the shores have been pretty steep and muddy – not Jim’s favorite task!

Speaking of the challenges, on the Great Lakes we work with wind speed & direction, wave height, and long stretches using the compass and GPS. On the rivers, however, it is all different. Here we are continually concerned with the depth and width of the river while navigating minute by minute with charts (paper and virtual). It is getting easier for sure but focus is absolutely essential no matter how tired. Also, the VHF marine radio and channel 16 takes the place of any and all Apple devices for communication.   By the way, we have been on Verizon extended service with one bar for the past four days! Vicki and Ron have AT&T and are currently getting slightly better reception.

As for the delights, it is a continuous parade of different birds. Every day a Blue Heron has crossed our bow, which we take as a sign that all is well. Yesterday Jo Ann was at the helm with Sammy on her lap and they saw an Eagle swoop down and grab a fish about ten feet from the boat. Sammy came alive and was on high alert the rest of the day. American White Pelicans were prevalent behind Bar Island and seemed to be practicing their formations for heading south. They have up to a six foot wing span so when in large formations they are quite a presence in the air. I am pretty sure we have never seen an American White Pelican before.

Another thing – feeling pretty silly is a frequent occurrence around here! Examples abound but I won’t bore you or expose us. However, in my good moments I have begun to understand that they are great opportunities for increasingly creative levels of problem solving. I think this is what is meant re living out of the box and managing the learning curve.

Well, we celebrated completing the IL River with a bit of champagne in the Grafton Harbor.  There are about 10 looping boats here and we are having quite the party.

Boat Name of the Day: Every Tugboat we have encountered from the “Mary Sue” to the “Marquette Hilltopper” to the “City of St. Louis”

Bad Boat Name of the Day: “Nasty Habit”

Quote of the Day: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” -Marcus Aurelius

Happy belated birthday to Julie Navarre!

Couldn’t upload pictures tonight – almost no signal!  Will add later.  Good night!

Little red row boat on man power from Chicago to New Orleans.

This is Larry!  He is rowing from Chicago to New Orleans!!  Love to know the story here.


Kuchie's opened for the seven boats waiting to go through a lock. A first docking experience with significant current. Learned much!

Kuchi’s Restaurant located strategically just before a lock that often requires a considerable wait.  Getting onto that dock with the current was another new lesson.


Seven boats waiting - taken with a pano lens to get everyone in.

Seven boats waiting at the lock – picture taken with pano lens.

Burgers around at Kuchie's, 10:30 a.m. Even took some to the lock staff.

This picture made Kuchi’s Facebook page.  They opened specially for us and we all ate burgers at 10:30 a.m.

Waiting at anchor for the storm that didn't happen. The cool off was a relief!

Anchored, safe and waiting for the storm that never came.

Gunk holing beauty!

Namaste at sunset x2!

The sun is down and it is time to go to bed!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s