We left the Grafton Harbor dock at 6:15 a.m. today, at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Mile zero on the Illinois. Our goal was to reach Peoria at mile marker 164. Our longest day until now was about 145 miles. Even through we traveled upstream, the trip was smooth. Very little barge traffic, no other “pleasure craft” and far less turbulence and debris than we encountered on the Mighty Mississippi.
We passed through the La Grange lock and the Peoria lock, both with lock designs that allow the river current to fill the lock chamber and that empty the chamber by dropping a large door into the river bottom. But today, both lock doors were kept down to allow floodwaters to flow downstream. The lockmasters told us the doors were down and that we should drive right on through the locks. Unnerving, but no problem.
We went under three railroad lift bridges that normally are very close the water, at track height, but that lifted to allow us to squeeze under.
Some bridge tenders waited for a lift request by VHF radio. Others saw us coming a few miles away on AIS, a system that broadcasts your AIS-equipped boat name every few minutes so that you are visible to others. We use AIS to preview tows approaching us around a riverbend and tows ahead of us that we need to pass.
We arrived at South Port Marina in East Peoria at 6:30 p.m. A good day!