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Thursday morning we took off from Burlington on glass like water anticipating an easy, lock-less ride to Keokuk. As we got closer to Keokuk the wind whipped up and we had big chop as we neared our destination, Keokuk Yacht Club. We assumed that we'd have a slip tucked away from the bay and all the waves....NOT! The Captain brought Bella in beautifully in the 2-3 foot chop and we tied her up on the gas dock, our slip for the night, hoping the wind and waves would dissipate. They finally did and we got some sleep.
Fridays float plan: Quincy. 2 Locks. 44 miles and our first lock with a bollard and a 38 foot drop. The lock workers at Lock 19 were so great. I told them I was a newby to bollard locking and they were awesome! They helped me wrap the bollard and told us how the boat would move with only one bollard running us down the lock wall. We did just fine, but I prefer two lines and my pike pole;) Below are some photos of Lock 19 and our drop. Lots of photos....
We cleared Lock 20 and slipped in Quincy last night at the Quincy Boat Club. They have a 100 ft dock with power/water and a security gate and friendly members. It's an on your honor system - love it! $1 per foot. So we put our cash in the envelope, hooked up the boat, filled our water tank and did a 4 mile walk to the Quinsippi Bridge. Photos below are of a kayaker we passed on our way down taking advantage of the wind, the club, trail and bridge in Quincy.
After a quick overnight in Clinton, we headed on to Betttendorf. Stayed at the Isle of Capri, fueled up and got another great walk in along the river. Photo below is our view from the berm above the marina.
Luck was on our side yesterday. We got thru all 4 locks without a wait and made it the 82 miles to the Bluff Harbor Marina in Burlington by 1:30pm. The river got a little dicey between the last two locks with debris from flooding, so we slowed down, took our time and watched for deadheads.
Bluff Harbor in Burlington and Jim, Julie and Brenda were great. So accomodating and helpful. We got the bikes off the boat and toured town. Burlington is a beautiful river town and we enjoyed our time tooling around.
Julie told us about 'Snake Alley", which is a local landmark constructed in 1894. It connects the residentrial district to the top of the bluff. It's in Ripley's Believe It or Not! It consists of five half-curves, two quarter curves and drops 58 feet over a distance fo 275 feet. It was really cool! Tom, of course, liked the sign. Needless to say, we walked our bikes down.
Had a pint at the local brewery. Ford and Brenda would have approved.
We headed to Big Muddy's for dinner and the Vikes game. Tom has no comment on the game.....
Photo above is the view off the back of Bella - The Burlington bridge.
We are headed to Keokuk today. Only 38 miles and NO locks!!!
All for now~
From Captain Tom
The day started great. The mechanic got our new windlass motor installed by 10:40 am and we were off under blue skies from Dubuque to Clinton, Iowa. We knew there was a chance for bad weather, but it was forecast for after 5pm, so we thought we'd be able to get thru lock 12 & 13 by then.
Got thru 12 fine. Shortly there after we passed this paddle wheeler and went under this bridge in Savanna.
Pulled up to lock 13 at 1:30pm (Lucky 13....nope) and was instructed by the lock master that it would be a 90 min wait for a barge locking up river. Fast forward to 2:30pm. Looked at the sky and decided we were going to have to drop anchor and get ready for some nasty. Photo below is before the storm started.
60 mph winds and a few choice words later, I said to Mudda, "Still wanna do the Loop?"
The admiral looked at me and said, "Absolutely!" She is an amazing partner on this journey and I am so grateful to have her as my best friend and companion.
When we left LaCrosse Saturday morning, our float plan was to reach the Port of Dubuque, but the locks and barges had other ideas! After two delays we decided to stay at the marina in McGregor, Iowa, a darling little river town. The marina was broken down and right on the channel, but we had great walk down main street and a good meal downtown.
We wondered when we would meet up with other Loopers. It didn't take long. We met Mike and Sharon Ahern, "Jealous Mistress", in the Genoa Lock.
The weather and ride down has been beautiful. The sun has been shining and the scenery has been gorgeous.
Yesterday morning we hustled and took off from McGregor early so Tom would be able to watch the Viking game in Dubuque. We made it and he watched.......he was not too happy with the Vikes after that game.
On our way down, while waiting for a lock, we realized that our Windlass wasn't working correctly, so this morning we called a mechanic and sure enough it has to be replaced. Seriously, the one thing that we didn't already replace or fix before leaving! We are so fortunate to have a marine mechanic right here in Dubuque, a safe harbor to explore and another night at the beautiful Port of Dubuque. If all goes well, repairs should happen tomorrow and we'll be on our way to Clinton, IA.
Below is the view from my morning run from the Mississippi River Walk. We are planning to check out the National Mississippi River Museum and all the other sites here at the Port of Dubuque today.
My good friend, Matt Boe (future Looper) sent me this image recently. As soon as I saw it, I chuckled and knew I'd be utilizing it when I blogged.
We made it to LaCrosse on Thursday. Had dinner with our boating friends, Gerald and Betty Baldner.
You never know who is gonna come walking down your dock.....
It was great to have a beer and chalk talk with Coach Zim.
Seriously, our friend Chris Landherr and his wife Brenda have a slip in LaCrosse and damned if he doesn't look scary close to Coach Zim.
We had fun sending the pics of Coach Zim to my football buddies and had them going for a brief amount of time.
Brenda took this shot of us departing this morning.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to the lock and dams. Getting a good lesson today!
All for now
With great sadness, we said our last goodbye to our Gem on Thursday. She had turned 12 in June, had started to decline and could no longer come to the boat so we knew she wouldn't be able to come on the Loop with us. Our son Sam was with her and loved and hugged her until the end.
Our friends, the Swedbergs had a plaque that I copied because I loved the quote:
"Be the person your dog thinks you are". It always reminded me of Gem because she was gentle, kind and patient.....attributes I hope we mirrored back to her. She was a true Gem and the best dog in the world.
At 2:45, Sept 19, in a drizzle, we cast off our lines and departed Parkside Marina in Wabasha. Neither one of us thought when we woke up that we were going to be taking off since the davit/dinghy wasn't complete and the weather wasn't cooperating, nor did we think that our departure would be in the middle of the afternoon on a gray, rainy day. But as fate would have it the crew at Parkside got the rollers on the davit installed (Thank you Rob!) and the forecast gave us a few hours of light rain instead of down pour, so we altered our destination from LaCrosse (5 locks) to Winona (3 locks) and set out.
The davit system arrive Friday and Rob began install on Monday in between rain showers. Yesterday he completed the rollers and we got it loaded on to Bella's swim platform successfully.
A BIG thank you to these guys, Jay, Rob and Mark for helping us with so much to get Bella ready for the trip. We appreciate all your hard work and mechanical knowledge. We couldn't have done it without you!
Thanks also to Jason & Dave from Volvo for helping us out.
We didn't quite make our cast off date of September 6, and are still waiting for our davit system to arrive, but feel fortunate not to be dealing with the weather on the east coast. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all battling mother nature and Florence.
So along with tying up loose ends and getting home, business and boat ready for our departure, we've enjoyed some time with friends both in Hooterville (Stewartville) and on the dock.
Our friends on the 100 Boom at Parkside were so sweet and organized a wonderful bon voyage brunch last weekend. It was a lovely gathering topped off with a boat ride!
Thank you everyone for your well wishes and support! We'll miss you all!
I guess I'm getting my first Loop lesson.....all plans are subject to change. The "plan" was to leave Sept 6, but now it's looking more like Sept 10 or after. We are waiting on our new davit system for the dinghy. Fingers crossed that it arrives this week so we can get it attached to the swim platform and be on our way.
In the meantime, there is always something to do to prepare for the trip. In preparation for the new dinghy, we moved Bella and her port to the hardtop so we are now Coast Guard compliant and our vessel's name and port are visible. Just one of many changes that have been made to do the Loop ;)
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.