Betsy speaks: As looping days go, today was not a good one! This is what happens when you are under a time constraint. We needed to have the boat in East Chicago, Indiana, tonight because we have an appointment to have the 600 mile service done on the engines tomorrow morning. If we didn’t make it here for that appointment, the service man couldn’t do it until next week because they are involved in a huge boat show starting Tuesday.
From Chicago to East Chicago on Lake Michigan is just over 21 miles…sounds easy enough. Weather forecast was the best we’ve had all week: sunny and warm. But the wind has been relentless ever since we arrived in Chicago (duh! It is the “windy city”). We left our slip at DuSable Harbor, right next to the old ship that houses the Columbia Yacht Club headquarters, at about 10:30. The harbor is behind two breakwaters. As soon as we got beyond the second breakwater I knew we were in trouble. Seas were very high and were right on our beam or right behind us. It was a rollercoaster I didn’t want to ride. We went less than a mile before we turned around and headed back to our slip.
So what do we do? We can wait and get up very, very early tomorrow morning and hope the forecast which calls for one foot or less is right. But our experience with wave height forecasts has not been good. Our other option is to take the Chicago River, whose entrance is right next to our marina and is protected by the breakwater, into the Illinois River and then to the Calumet River. Then take the Calumet River back out to Lake Michigan at a location very near where we need to be. This is a total of over 60 miles (remember, it would be a 21 mile trip on Lake Michigan). This is what we decided to do after studying the charts carefully and calling the Coast Guard to make sure the river closure we mentioned yesterday is beyond where we make the turn to the Calumet River.
We certainly did not want to do the Chicago River section that goes right through downtown on a weekend, and had carefully planned not to do that. But we ended up having to do it on a Sunday and there were plenty of crazies out there. The river/canal is very narrow and there are lots of sizeable tour boats on it. We can deal with them because they know what they are doing. It is the weekend boaters in their little runabouts that have no clue how to drive that can get you in trouble. But we did the best we could and didn’t holler at anyone. Once we got out of the downtown area it was smooth sailing. There was even a pretty lighthouse where the Calumet River comes into the Illinois River. And the Calumet River was very pretty until it neared Lake Michigan at which point it became very commercialized.
We passed our first barge on the river system while on the Calumet River. Barge traffic is much lighter than usual in this area because of the river closure just south of the junction of the Illinois and the Calumet. I wonder how many hundreds of barges are in our future as we work our way down the rivers once we leave here.
We did have to go back out into Lake Michigan for a short distance to get to the marina where we’ll have the service work done, and it was still not comfortable but not as bad as this morning. Anyway, here we are at East Chicago Marina, right next to a casino where I’ll spend the day tomorrow. Rick will stay with the boat and the dog. Wish me luck!!!