Running the Gauntlet

maria | September 5, 2013 | COMMENTS:Comments Closed
This is a terrible photo, but hopefully it shows how narrow this section is.

This is a terrible photo, but hopefully it shows how narrow this section is.

Beginning Location: Dolton, IL
Ending Location: Joliet, IL
Miles Traveled: 36
Locks: 1 (3 hour wait)
Weather: Warm and summery
Stayed at: Joliet Wall (free)

Today we traveled the Cal-Sag Channel, one of the busiest shipping corridors in the country. The Cal Sag supplies the city of Chicago with all the ugly, dirty and poisonous stuff it needs to keep functioning. We were treated to miles and miles of scrap metal, salt, gravel, chemical plants, coal burning power plants, MOUNTAINS of mulch, more chemical plants…

You get the idea.

This section of the river is very narrow and very full of barges. I had our VHF radio tuned to 16 and at the ready. We passed many tows (not tugboats – they don’t like being called tugboats for some strange reason although they are pushing the barges, NOT towing them) and safely passed all of them with little to no drama 🙂

We also traversed our first real lock today, and it was a doozy. The Lockport Lock only drops 40 feet, but we had to wait 3 hours for a “double” to lock through. A double is a tow (with attached barges) that has to be split into two groups to fit in the lock chamber. This chamber is 600 by 110 feet, so that should give you some idea of how enormous these things are.

Fortunately we were able to tie up to a wall while we waited, so we had lunch and tried to stay not terribly bored. If only locks had wifi!

Going down. The Lockport Lock

Going down. The Lockport Lock

Because we had such a long wait, we decided to stay the night at the Joliet wall. The great thing about this is, it’s free and the city provides electricity for boaters. The bad news is, it’s in Joliet! We were there with four other boats, and three of them are much nicer than ours, so we felt pretty safe from “inquisitive youngsters.” We walked across the bridge to downtown, had an early dinner, and went to bed exhausted after a long, kind of nerve wracking day.

Casino #2 of the trip. Harrah's in downtown Joliet in the background.

Casino #2 of the trip. Harrah’s in downtown Joliet in the background.

Category: On the Move

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