Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back Home on the Alton Pool

   The sun set at our anchorage in Quincy, Illinois and after a long day we snuggled in for a much needed night's sleep. We were keeping our options open for the long run back to the Alton Pool; our home port was over 100 miles down river, so we got up before the sun did on August 27th.
  I hailed the Quincy Lock, which was located about two miles from our anchorage. I was told that no one was locking through and that gates would be open upon our approach. I wanted to make the most of our day, so even before morning coffee, I pulled anchor and we headed toward lock 21 in the dark.
  By the time we were exiting the lock and saying our goodbyes on the radio, Rosie was already making coffee and breakfast, to eat at the helm while underway.
  The sun began warming the day up nicely as we passed the Jerry Jarrett again; while we were asleep, he was making way downriver the whole time, but had to lay along a lock wall to take on a new crew. Shift changes on the tow boats can take several hours and it's an opportunity for pleasure craft to catch up, or pass them. We gave them a shout on the radio and wished them happy travels and were met with a similar pleasant response.
  We also passed Hannibal again on our way to Lock and Dam 22. As we chugged along, the town was getting a sleepy start on it's Saturday morning.
  A little over 3 hours from pulling up our hook in Quincy, we approached the next lock and made it through without incident. Our next stop was to be Two Rivers Marina, another 2 and a half hours away.
  It was "Hog Back" weekend up on this part of the river. The event has been primarily held for years on an Island just upstream from Quincy, but as fuel prices have risen, less boats make the trip, especially from the Alton Pool.
  Two Rivers Marina was holding a "Mini Hog Back" party. As we pulled Swing Set into the harbor, we saw boaters gathering for a cruise aboard a barge like vessel powered by a mini tug boat. We took on another supply of beer and filled our water tank before deciding upon our course of action.
  It was enticing to stay for the party at Two Rivers; we had friends there and knew it would be a good party. However, the central party was to commence on the barge like vessel, and we weren't sure if a slow cruise on the Mississippi was going to "turn our crank": after all; we were already on a slow cruise of the Mississippi.
  The prospect of making our way back home and to a sure fire party that night rallied us to attempt the next two locks and 60 mile run to the Alton Pool. So, it was before noon when we pulled back out of Two Rivers and set course for home.
  We adhered to our established speed, even with the anticipation of getting "home" before 6 P.M. We entered the Alton Pool after exiting Lock and Dam 25 at Winfield and since it was late on a Saturday afternoon, the boat traffic was heavy, but a welcome sight to us.

  We passed Cedar Hill Resort on the Illinois bank just downstream from the dam we had just left, and we waved fruitlessly at the folks enjoying themselves on the deck, as it was doubtful anyone could see us due to the very wide section of river there.
  We pulled into Woodland Marina and waved to some friends milling about on their boats late in the day and we slipped around to the dock where some other friends were hosting the BBQ. Their runabout was moved out of a slip located smack in the middle of the party area and we were invited to pull Swing Set in and plug in the shore power cords.
  Rosie and I had just completed our longest leg of our trip so far, over 100 miles and 4 locks, and we had been up since before dawn; but that didn't stop us from partying until 2 or 3 the next morning.
  We slept in until an unbelievable late hour of 8 A.M. or so, before pulling out of the slip and heading up to Lumpy's for an afternoon raft up, still opting to not go back to our home dock as there really was no reason to. Rosie had to return to work the next day, so we decided to make the most of it, and we did. We first went down to Port Charles to get fuel; I wanted to calculate our fuel consumption before heading back upriver to anchor at Lumpy's.
  Without getting too complicated; our trip consisted of seven days of cruising, putting approximately 65 hours on our engines and we averaged about 7 hours at the helm each day. We burned 351 gallons of fuel and traveled about 486 miles. My logbook on my Boating Suite app on the iPhone says we averaged 1.4 miles per gallon at 9 miles per hour at 1200 R.P.M., giving us easily a 465 mile range at that speed. With every drop in mile per hour in speed, our fuel consumption should drop considerably and our range will increase, but I am confident that our range is sufficient to get us nearly anywhere we want to go in the future.
  We enjoyed another great day on the water and were able to tell a few stories about our trip. We stayed again all night on the hook, and as the sun rose on Monday morning, we pulled up anchor and finally guided Swing Set back to her berth at the Duck Club.
  I'm not sure if our beer consumption for our week long cruise exceeded our fuel consumption our not, but we realize that a "vacation mode" of cocktail use will kill us a lot sooner than we would like, so cruising and living on the boat full time is not going to be treated as festively as our previous week. But again, we had one of the best vacations ever, with nary a mishap, with the exception being the engine synchronizer breaking early on.
  I wouldn't exactly say that we plan on having a mundane existence once we start our full time life aboard Swing Set this year, but our pace will be cut back a smidgen in the way of miles traveled per day and in the amount of beer consumed per hour.

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