Sunday, August 5, 2007

Stranded on a Sandbar

OK. Well, I guess everyone noticed we haven’t blogged in a while. No, we didn’t leave and get so busy that we didn’t write. We actually have been boatless and land-locked. As with most boat-related activities, the repair work took longer than expected. To their credit, the mechanics at Chicago Yacht Yard are very good. Thorough. Diligent. They fixed a number of problems and worked hard in some very hot and humid conditions (outside temperature: 90 degrees; down in the engine room with the engine running: WAY OVER 90 degrees). Sorry we didn’t get a picture of the old camshaft with its concave wear marks – it was pretty impressive.

In the meantime, we continued to enjoy Chicago’s summer. Some friends of ours – Louis, Maria, Josh and Jessica - came over one evening and hung out by the pool. We went to Venetian Nights and ran into other friends – Angelo and Rosie. Venetian Nights is an annual boat parade and fireworks show in Monroe Harbor. The boaters decorate their boats to the theme – usually something about Chicago – and parade around Monroe Harbor. This year’s fireworks show was really impressive – possibly better than the July 3rd extravaganza. We haven’t actually gone to Venetian Nights since we got the boat – usually we just watch the fireworks from the boat. So seeing all the boats creatively decorated – which must take a lot of work – and watching the fireworks with the other estimated 1.5 million people that gathered along the lakefront for the event was really a treat. (Ever notice that News Shows always estimate that 1.5 million people were at the lakefront to see a major fireworks show, the air show, the marathon, etc.? It’s a wonder Chicago doesn’t topple into the lake on those nights since everyone is at the lake and the rest of the city and suburbs are empty)

We also went to see some more movies, went to some street fairs, read some books, Bernie cooked more, and Phil ate more.

On Friday, we decided to visit Meridian at the Yacht Yard. (Special Thanks to our dock-neighbor Kevin: When Phil heard that you, an experienced nautical person, recommended visiting the yard, he decided it was a good idea. When Bernie suggested that same thing, Phil thought she was being impatient and we would seem pesty.) Anyway, Meridian was apparently very happy to see us because that afternoon she made a complete turnaround and the mechanics were able to finalize their work. Phil will put all the details in our sister-blog: The Inept Boaters Guide.

So on Friday afternoon – about 4:30 pm – we started our trip back to our slip. We first encountered a HUGE barge. Which was a little unsettling as it took up almost the whole river. The barge captain radio-ed us that we could go into an overflow/turning area basin because it was deep enough. We radio-ed back a “thanks” and did accordingly. We assumed he heard our thanks. We continued up the river, uneventfully, until we hit the infamous Amtrak Bridge.

So we get to the bridge about 4:50pm and radio the now-famous line: “South Branch Amtrak Bridge, this is Power Boat Meridian requesting a lift.” And waited. And waited some more. Finally the bridge went up and we sailed through. For the Full Story, you need to read the Inept Boaters Blog. It’s worth the read!

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful - well, except for the magnificent views of the Chicago skyline from the river.

By the time we got to the locks it was dusk and piloting the boat at night is not something we’ve done before.

But we didn't have any trouble getting into DuSable Harbor, then into the slip. No one was on the docks to help us tie up - you should have seen Bernie lasso the dock cleat from the deck, which is about six feet above the dock, (It only took me 10 tries) then tie off on the bow cleat to secure the boat. She looked like a rodeo champ.

We spent all day Saturday cleaning, re-packing, and organizing the boat – fully expecting to leave on Sunday. However, we were very tired, there was a thunderstorm occurring, we were very tired, the weather service was predicting 3’ – 5’ foot waves, and we were very tired, so we decided to spend a relaxing day on the boat (the first such day since July 16th.)

So, we have to wait another day. AT LEAST WE AREN’T LAND-LOCKED ANYMORE.

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