Rafting off in a lock

Yesterday, day three of our Great Loop, we left the Joliet town wall around 8:00 with a group of other Loopers. By law, the Joliet drawbridges could not open until 8:30, giving priority to rush-hour car traffic.

Traveling with a flotilla of other Looper boats was a learning experience. I’m used to setting my own (faster) pace, but most of the day we followed the slower pace of the trawlers, popular looper boats with a small single diesel engine that typically travel at 8-10 mph.

Three trawlers in a row.

With that many boats nearby, I learned to be careful about my wake (“slow ‘er down, cap’n”). And both of us learned the value of communication by VHF radio about expected waits for bridges, locks, plans to pass another boat on one side or the other, and general courtesies. (“Ruby Street bridge, this is R&R, thanks for the lift!”)

Fist Mate Rhonda looped the Floating Bollard.

At the end of the day, after a long wait for completion of lock maintenance, we locked through the Marseilles, Illinois Lock with about ten other pleasure craft. There were only enough floating bollards (tie-ups that move up and down with the water level) for a few boats to tie up to the lock wall, so the lockmaster directed us to raft off of each other. We were in the middle between Golfino and Tuscarora. Another first!

Meeting new looper friends in an Illinois River lock

We and most of our fellow travelers today had reservations at Heritage Harbor Marina in Ottawa, Illinois. That marina is only two miles beyond the Marseilles Lock. We all arrived in the early evening, like ducks in a row, to a warm welcome from helpful dockhands, and had a good dinner with new friends Craig and Nikki and others at the marina restaurant. We were blessed with safe travel, new experiences, new friends. All good!

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