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Ready to migrate south!

We had to take the mast down on thw boat to fit under the 19 foot fixed bridge on the Calumet River. Here's Morgan with the mast down and rigged for travel on Lake Michigan.

There was light fog on Lake Michigan as we passed Chicago, with about 3-mile visibility. Here is a shot of Captain John and the skyline of Chicago in the fog. John officially became a Captain today as he docked Morgan and took her out of Winthrop Harbor this morning.

Here is our new friend's trawler that he built, with our trawler in front of it at the Joliet overnight stop.
Two guys fishing while we wait for a lock. It was in the 40's and a COLD 15 mph wind and I didn't see them pull up a fish. While I stayed in the warm (70 degree) helm.
Morgan at the fuel dock at Henry's.
We passed thousands of Pelicans stopped on their migration south. It was a beautiful sight.
John took this wonderful picture of a Blue Heron sitting on a red nun. The red nun is a channel marker you see going down the river on your left side of the channel. The channel is where the deeper water is in the river. We usually have 11 feet of water, but outside the channel we often see birds standing in the water.
Docked at Logsdon Tug Service Barge.
Last night's dinner in the salon of Morgan.
An eagle catches a fish along the bank of the Illinois River.
It was such a beautiful morning on the river this morning, not a ripple in the water as we headed toward the final lock on the Illinois River at Lockport, Illinois.
The cliffs along the Mississippi River.
We see so many buoy and wondered what type ship they used to install them in the rivers. Here is a picture of a Coast Guard buoy tender going down the Mississippi River.
Morgan, with stepped mast, passes under a bridge.
Fun in St. Louis! Here, Ken Oberg, our new Captain who joined us in Alton, and Joel Busse who leaves us tomorrow morning to fly back to Florida. We will really miss him, but are very happy to have Ken join us.
John grilling lunch as we passed the arch in St. Louis.
The Old House restaurant.
Pat sends an e-mail connected to a jack installed in a pay phone booth. Morgan is to the right.
John and Ken in Little Morgan follow new friends on board Wind Dancer.
The setting sun on Diversion Channel.
Dawn on the Mississippi River.
Looking out at a dam's locks.
Eagles, herons, turtles, wild turkeys were are new companions of the river. So peaceful and tranquil as Morgan explored this segment of her journey.
The leaves were just beginning to turn. What a sight.
We stopped for the night at Paris Landing State Park. There was this beautiful bridge across the lake off the bow of our boat where we docked.
Our new friend on board his rehabbed 1929 motorsailor.
I am sure in another few days the whole hillsides will be painted with color!
John reads a book while waiting for a nibble.
In the engine room: "This is where the magic happens!"

This past October, Pat Richardson left his home in Barrington, IL on board his boat Morgan, his beloved Nordhavn 40, to bring her to Florida where she'll spend the winter. Here is his daily account of the migration south.

October 11, 2002
We are on our way to Florida! We left early in the morning for Hammond, Indiana at the southern end of Lake Michigan, just south of Chicago. The weather forecast was questionable for Friday so we left Thursday. Lois and Jasmine, along with two special people from our church, Mari and Bruce, wished us a safe voyage as we left Winthrop Harbor, Illinois. Winthrop Harbor is on Lake Michigan, at the junction between Illinois and Wisconsin. Joel Busse joins us in Hammond on Friday night for the trip down the Illinois river to St. Louis.

October 12, 2002
What a day, our first day going south on the Illinois River to Florida. We went about 48 miles and are currently stopped in Joliet, Illinois, sort of due south of Chicago. The ride down was a mixture of pretty tree-lined river and heavy, heavy tows with barges moving all over a 12- mile narrow section of the river. We saw one tow pushing 15 barges, three across, and five long. The tow captains, with their massive groups of barges, still managed to be very helpful and friendly.

There have also been many, many different types of bridges which we've had to pass under. We had our mast down so none had to be raised. Rounding out the fun was passing through two locks, the second one having a drop of 40 feet.

We met a young couple from Toronto traveling south to Florida in a sailboat, and a man with his dog traveling south to Florida in a small 20-foot custom trawler boat he built. What a great time we had with them over a pizza on our boat. I had always heard how friendly the people were on this trip down the river, and our first experiences have proven to be just that.

October 13, 2002
For my first e-mail update I will share a quote from a wonderful book I just finished reading, The Two Towers by Tolkien.

"The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr.Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that's not the way with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually - their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. . . .

We hear about those as just went on . . . You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same - like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?"

So, now, on board Morgan, I look forward to the adventures that the river brings and sharing them with you.

We are at a great spot on the Illinois River - the Starved Rock Marina - which is surrounded by a state park with fantastic hills and bluffs at the river's edge. The trees are on the brink of changing for fall.

 

October 15, 2002
We are having a wonderful time, wonderful time. It is stressful at times with the large tows on the river, but I had no idea how beautiful it would be slowly working our way down the river. We are in Peoria, today at Henry Boat Club, just past the Peoria lock and dam. We had only one lock to go through today. Things get a little rustic on the river, but we love it. John is out fishing on the river while I type this short note, and Joel is reading a book. It was below freezing a couple of nights ago, but we were warm and toasty at 70 degrees in Morgan. Tonight we will have to run the generator to have power since the dock does not have an electrical hook-up.

We are having wonderful food along the way. Today, while waiting for the lock in Joilet we had vegetarian bratwurst grilled on the grille in the cockpit. It sure tasted good! We have propane to run the grille. John has prepared some excellent lunches! Usually we eat out at night in the town we are near.

October 16, 2002
We had a great trip down the river today to Beardstown, Illinois. We docked at the Logsdon Tug Service barge. It was quite a sight.

John has been quite the Chef. We had a great pasta dinner last night, and today for lunch he grilled eggplant for sandwiches, on the grille, on the back of the boat while we were going down the river. And, you thought we were really roughing it!

October 17, 2002
We had a long day today of about 65 miles as we traveled from Beardstown to Hardin, Illinois. Along the way we saw some beautiful bald eagles. Some had the traditional white heads, and others were immature and had not changed color yet.

Tomorrow night we will be on the Mississippi River for the first time. Ken Oberg our next door neighbor is joining us in Alton when we stop tomorrow afternoon.

October 18, 2002
We made it to the Mississippi! What a beautiful wide river.

As we approached Alton we saw this beautiful bridge over the Mississippi River just south of the Alton marina. Our neighbor, Ken Oberg, just arrived at the marina. More tomorrow.

October 19, 2002
(Crewmember John takes over the writing.) We are on the OL' Mississippi. And it is warm and it is great! Just as the Illinois River joined up with the Mississippi, it turned warm…although the warm weather brought some rain and man, when it rains around here, it RAINS. It is not like a Pacific Northwest constant drizzle, but a good warm rain that lasts for about fifteen minutes then stops and drizzles a little bit, and then bam pours for another fifteen. It is nice to be on a new river. We are traveling a little bit faster (10 kts.) with the current pushing us down river. Yeah, I know we are speed demons, but someone's got to push the edge. I have found that piloting the boat requires a constant adjusting with the current behind us. We stepped the mast (layman terms = we put the mast into an upright position) when we got to port today with the help of our new crew member, Ken Oberg. After we stepped the mast, I was walking to go take a shower at the marina shower and I saw the Nordhavn 35 pull into the dock. It is a beautiful ship. The couple who own her were very nice and are also going down to FL. Hopefully we will have some time tomorrow to get a better tour of their boat.

 

But the real excitement happens at night! We went to a roadhouse bar/ Restaurant/line dancing/good time place. It was a blast. People from Pat's generation and my generation all having a good time. I was smiling ear to ear. It was great to see such a diversity of people all have a good time. People were dancing to the band covering the classic Chicago song "Does anybody know what time it is" and then the band played some country and everybody followed suit with some line dancing. The band had a tight horn section that added an extra dose of funk to each song. Ken, Joel, Pat, and myself all left with some good food and beer in our bellies, smiles on our faces, and memories to last. So, if you are in Alton, IL go to Fast Eddie's and you won't be disappointed (unless you are a vegetarian then eat before you go).

October 19, 2002
Wow, what a difference the 4 knots of current makes on the Mississippi River. We were really cruising at 12.4 knots. We arrived tonight at Hoppies Marine, tied off to a couple of barges right on the river. It was a beautiful sight this morning to see the mast of Morgan back up, and the pretty bridge. We are having so much fun here!

(Crewmember Ken takes over the writing.) I now join the group and am very pleased to be invited to join Pat and John on the Morgan for the next week. This past summer I have been developing sailboat racing skills on Lake Michigan on board the Raptor a 36.7' Beneteau. There are many exciting similarities with distance travel on the water but the differences are interesting as well. For instance, instead of a 20 gallon fuel tank partially filled on the sail boat, Pat says that we hold 900 gallons and can travel close to 3000 miles before a fill-up. The sailboat often removed the anchor and 20 feet of chair and 80 feet of rode (anchor rope) to reduce nonessential weight for racing. Pat carries 2 anchors and 400 feet of chain. This is a lot boat. For my Raptor crewmates, note "The Nook," a race we participated in, cap worn proudly. I look forward to adding my comments along with Pat's over the next week. This is a fantastic opportunity and I hope we can share some of the excitement for those of you who cannot physically be with us.

October 20, 2002
Farewell to Joel this morning as he departs Morgan and makes his was back to Florida where his trawler is docked. It was wonderful having Joel with us for the past week. After ten locks, and hundreds of tows with barges we are feeling good about boating on the river. Thanks Joel! Joel had made the trip south a couple of years ago, and we will miss him on the rest of the journey. (Crewmember Ken takes over the writing.) Yesterday, in speaking with the skipper of another southbound powerboat, we concluded we would have a better and safer anchorage in Diversion Channel than where we were planning to stay. Pat also talked to a couple we are following from North Point Marina, where Morgan stays during the summer. They are a couple days ahead of us and gave the same advice. This will necessitate covering twice the distance but could be accomplished in one full day. As we would be anchoring in the river, arriving at dusk or later can be extra challenging. So we are going to lay over at Hoppies Marine in historic Kimmswick, "where tomorrow becomes today." This is quaint village where the shops have names like "Pittypat and Tippytoe" or "The Old House Restaurant." The four of us ate at the Old House last night. They had the best coconut creme pie for dessert.

The building was build c. 1770, with the second story addition added in 1831. I will quote briefly from the menu. "Stories surrounding this historic building are many: Ulysses S. Grant visited it often with his fellow officers from Jefferson Barracks. Built before the Revolution by an unknown pioneer, the Old House has served as a trading post in its earlier years and later as a tavern and stage coach stop."

As I type, we begin to roll as another barge passes by. It reminded me of last night as we watched a barge's approach announced by a flood of light well before it rounded the bend to the south of us. Its power search beams would illuminate the river banks for miles. When they come by it is like daylight outside, it is amazing sight to see. We will try to get a picture to share with you.

(Pat resumes writing) For those wondering how we get these emails out, it has been a real challenge. Here is a picture of me at Hoppies Marine sending yesterday's email. He had installed a phone jack in the bottom of the phone in a pay-phone booth on the dock/metal barge we are docked against.

Hoppies is right on the Mississippi River, it is a famous place to stop among boaters goings down the river. On the Mississippi, the places a pleasure boat can stop are few and far between. This is the last dock for us for the next 150 miles. The Mississippi River is set up for commercial traffic in the form of Tows with barges, not pleasure boats.

 

October 22, 2002
We are anchored out in this beautiful little channel (Diversion Channel) off the Mississippi River. It is just south of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. John and Ken took the Little Morgan, our dingy, up the channel to do some fishing. What an ideal spot to spend the night. There are five boats in the channel tonight.

Hope that you are enjoying our trip with us. It is an amazing experience, truly amazing. We were invited over to another boat tonight, Wind Dancer, to have some homemade, hot apple pie with some friends we first saw in Joliet. They are anchored in the same channel on a sailboat. What a great group of people you meet on an adventure like this. This is their boat going to anchor upstream from us, with John and Ken following them in Little Morgan.

We passed our first 30 barge tow today. What a large wake the tow created! It was quite a challenge to hold Morgan on a straight path past his wake. We estimated his wake was at least 4 feet. The water just boils as the Tow goes down the river from its turbulence.

October 25, 2002
We had such a beautiful voyage today from Paducah, Kentucky to Green Turtle Bay on Lake Barkley, "the land between the lakes." The pictures I took do not do justice to the beauty we have experienced the past couple of days.

We have radar on the boat to help us with our navigation, (and if we were caught in the fog). It was quite an experience to turn from the Mississippi and head up the Ohio. The two rivers merge and continue south as the lower Mississippi River. The combined rivers are almost 3/4 of a mile wide.

Wow....it is so hard to put into words this experience.

(Ken takes over the writing)

October 26, 2002
Today we locked through one of the old dams and abreast of the lock is a "wicker" dam. This dam can be raised and lowered depending on the river level. This dam had just been raised the day before.

Thursday morning we left Paducah, the northern most year-round ice-free city to our stern. Also left behind the hectic traffic of the big rivers, challenging marine traffic and radio transmissions of the Tow captain. Actually Pat is now beginning to fully understand their unique jargon which is its own language and delivered sounding like a gruff old guy with a cheek full of crewing tobacco. Nevertheless, the Tow captains were always courteous with Morgan as we requested their guidance in our passing them.

After departing the Ohio River, we had two options for heading south: the Kentucky River or the 20 mile longer Cumberland River with less traffic, especially at the locks. We selected the Cumberland and after passing only a single tow, we were rewarded with 30 miles of river all to ourselves and the only other vessel we glimpsed was, the coast guard River Keeper.

 

October 27, 2002
What a change from the rivers we have been traveling on for the past two weeks. Kentucky Lake is a beautiful large expanse of water on the Tennessee River. The Kentucky Dam built by TVA backs up the river into almost a mile wide in places. We will follow the lake for roughly another 160 miles until we reach the Tenn-Tom waterway. There was such amazing scenery along the way.

October 28, 2002
Today we leave Paris Landing (of Paris State Park, TN) and travel to Cuba Landing, TN where Ken departs Morgan after ten days.

(Ken takes over the writing.) Recently, when we wrote about the companions of the river, and we referred to the wild life encountered. Other companions of the river include the human variety that we have met along the way. This is my last day with Morgan and I reflected back to the river travelers with whom we have journeyed in the past ten days.

We have met several couples who live for extended periods on their boats. One couple are teachers from Texas, who have been sailing for over a year, first introduced me to the camaraderie that can be had on the water. Another Canadian couple with whom we exchanged dinners and fresh boat-made apple pie (she made it not us), engaged in lengthy conversations of their adventures of five years living aboard a 37' sailboat. We met up with a boat from Winthrop Harbor, a big motor cruiser, whose skipper and wife live full-time on the water and have adopted an orphaned puppy to their boat. They shared personal accounts over dinner and a piece of mint chocolate Boat Sinker Pie at Patty's Restaurant of Patty's 1880 Settlement.

My sailing crew on the Raptor will be interested in Captain Dale. Why? Amongst his marine endeavors of private piloting and navigational instruction, he is also the Captain of the 200' Spirit of Chicago (which is tied up at Navy Pier). Not only did he share many practical tips based on his experience but had some of the latest scoops on the river news.

Finally, we met two colorful individuals, each with their own special boat. When Bruce and his dog Trevor motored up the Kaskaskia River in his 1929 motor sailor, Amphora, we had to inquire. Amphora previously had retrieved torpedoes in Navy practice areas, hauled laundry out to the Fleet and a variety of other tasks. Bruce bought her out of a Florida back yard and has been rebuilding her.

Shortly thereafter, we met Wes who had just purchased a 25' sailboat inexpensively from on the Internet (E-bay) two weeks earlier. In that short time, he already had great stories to share. They alternated playing Bruce's guitar, and singing songs about "Jake" the big fish that no one could catch.

I found special camaraderie with the folks we met here. It is available to those who can experience what John has termed "river time." River time is the decompression of leaving the rat race behind and immersing oneself into this non-rushed culture; stopping to smell the roses if you will. Now I must depart river time and return to work. Many thanks to Pat, John and Morgan for a most memorable opportunity on this leg of their journey. Safe travel.

October 29, 2002
We never seem to get tired of the beautiful fall colors we are starting to see along the river. It is like overnight the trees are starting to change, and have burst into their fall coloring. It is an awesome sight to see.

This change to daylight savings time is a real pain! It was really great in Chicago to have it lighter in the morning, but we need the full day of daylight to make some of our runs, so we have to leave now at 6:30 versus 7:30 in the morning. And, you really feel the shorter daylight time during the day as we lose about 10 minutes of daylight a day now. We are losing an hour a week of daylight!

We stopped for the night on Monday night and anchored out in this wonderful spot behind Small Bluff Island. John got the fishing pole out hoping to catch dinner. There is about a 1/2 mph current tonight in this channel.

We are now due east of Corinth, Mississippi at the start of the Tenn-Tom Waterway. It is just south of the Tennessee border in Mississippi where the Tennessee River cuts through a corner of Mississippi as it heads into Alabama.

 

October 30, 2002
We are heading south our final 450 miles on the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway to Mobile. A key part of this waterway is a man-made canal joining the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee River. It was completed in 1984 and is the largest building project in the history of the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is over five times longer than the Panama Canal!

One of the places we passed on the Tennessee River today was the Shiloh Civil War Battlefield. It is hard to see much from the river, but you can make out an American flag in an opening in the trees. It was a very sobering experience to realize that 23,000 men died there in 1862.

(John takes over the writing). To all of those who are wondering what is powering Morgan, I will let you know.

A 130 horsepower Lugger Diesel Engine made by Alaskan Diesel in Seattle, WA. Which is another way of saying that it is a John Deere tractor engine modified for marine conditions. At our cruising speed (7.5 mph), it is using 40 HP as she spins her 28 inch prop to get us where we want to go. The day before our trip we changed the oil, all 5 gallons of it. Just two days ago we changed out the fuel filters. The fuel filter system is redundant in case one becomes clogged with bad fuel from a marina. This all saved Pat loads of money considering standard marina labor charges are 95 dollars per hour. Although I believe I won in the end by learning some invaluable skills. It has been great to get to know the guts of this boat during this trip.

If the engine is the heart then this is the brains, the stabilizer system. The Naiad marine stabilizer system uses a hydraulic gyroscope instead of an electronic system. This ingenuus system instantaneously commands two large wings (3 feet wide by 2 feet long) which look very similar to the little wings on the tail of an airplane. The gyroscope detects the slightest roll motion which sends instant pressure to the two stabilizers on the port and starboard sides of the hull to correct the roll. In other words, the gyro detects the roll of the boat due to a wave hitting it from the side, and before you begin to feel it stops the roll!

There is more to Morgan's engine room but that would take up a whole website and not just one email. I am excited for the 450 miles to the Gulf and all of the adventures we will encounter.

October 30, 2002
We traveled down the Tenn-Tom waterway today to Bay Springs Lake where we anchored for the night. It felt good to not be fighting the current of the Tennessee River like we did yesterday. There had been a lot of rain south of the dam, and they were releasing quite a bit of water which increased the current. It was the most current we have seen on the trip, about 4 miles per hour.

The first part of the trip today was through the 24 mile canal that was dug to connect the Tennessee and Tombigbee rivers. The canal is about 300 feet wide and the banks are covered with big rocks.

The anchorage we stopped at for the night is really incredible. A small protected cove, with trees on all sides down to the waterline wherever you look. It is hard to capture the beauty with a picture, but you can at least see a little piece of our special place for the night.


Several pictures strung together make up this panoramic view of the cove.

 

 

 

 

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