Our day started early this morning with a knock on the boat from Mike on Rowe Boat. He’d just called the Starved Rock Lock and found out that if we moved quickly we could get in the lock and locked down before the commercial traffic started up. Unfortunately both Molly and Maddy were still asleep. We made the choice not to leave right away and take our chances with the lock. We arrived at the lock as our friends were exiting the down river side. The lock-master told us we would have a long wait and so we braced for a good long wait. After talking to the lock-master a second time he told us the tow in the chamber was broken apart because he was too big to fit in a single lock-through. This meant they would have to drop the chamber to get the second half of the tow. As long as we could squeeze through a narrow opening behind the barges we could go through.
The most interesting thing to me was the chamber was totally full of barges with no tow boat. It turns out the way it works is they use a tow cable to push the barges in the chamber out (very slowly) and then as the barges are out of the chamber they use lines to shore to stop the barges. This was clearly a well choreographed slow motion dance executed to perfection. We were able to sneak in behind the back barge and lock down. As we were locking down Gary Peterlin came by and watched. We then saw Gary again shortly after pulling out, waving to us from a bridge over the river. The exit to the lock chamber was a little tricky. As we pulled out we had very little room because the rest of the tow was waiting to enter the chamber with about 25 feet to spare. Because of the flooding on the river the current was ripping at the exit to the lock which wanted to push us right into the barges waiting to enter. A little throttle and we were out.
From there it was a little under 60 more miles to the Illinois Valley Yacht Club in Peoria where we would spend the night. It was a pretty uneventful rest of the trip. Some pretty scenery, lots of flooding, and lots and lots of tows. It turns out that today was the first day that most of their insurance carriers would let them run below Starved Rock. That meant there were lots of tows operating and lots of congestion.
As we got close to Peoria we passed a bizarre marina that was both a pleasure boat marina and a graveyard for old casino boats. Once we arrived in Peoria we met back up with Rowe Boat and Liquid Assets who arrived earlier in the day. Once here the girls bailed quickly for the swimming pool. Libby, Grace, Hannah, Caroline and Grandma Cathy arrived. Cathy’s friends Pam and Jeff arrived as well and we all had a good meal at the Ivy Club’s restaurant. Then Laura and I took advantage of access to a car, you’d think we’d been gone four months not four days, while Grandma Cathy was kind enough to do bedtime.