Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tennessee River & Kentucky Lake

I'm going to hang loose in this marina by Kenlake state park in Kentucky. Thunderstorms with strong wind and rain are coming and going so what's the hurry! Besides that few other things happened the last couple days so I have to hang loose here! I don't know what to say about things that happened! I have to learn from this and make sure to prevent so it doesn't happen again! 
On Saturday night I anchored in Pisgah bay, very nice anchorage site. Sunday morning I woke up hearing the dinghy banging next to the boat. I realized the fender between the dinghy and the boat was not there. So I look around and I see the fender all the way by shore. I can not afford loosing stuff, so I got in the dinghy and rowed over to shore. It got very shallow close to shore so I had to get out and walk in the mud to get the fender. I thought, that was a good excitement & exercise of the day!
The winds were strong on Sunday, gust up to 35-40 miles! Within couple of hours down the lake the sky started getting dark of clouds and I could feel a storm coming. The bay I had in mind for anchorage was only couple miles away and I would be anchored mid afternoon and still have 3 hours of day light. Anyhow, the clouds were getting darker and darker and in few minutes it started pouring down. By this time i had everything moved in the cabin along with the charts. When I got close to the bay I spotted the buoyed channel. Kept my eye on the depth-sounder, I didn't want to experience running aground again. I've been running aground 4 times & I got myself out of it every time! I realize that the depth sounder is acting up and doesn't show the right depth. And suddenly, boom the boat stopped and yes I ran aground!
I tried to back up and it didn't work. Meanwhile I'm trying to back up, I hear some unusual noise in the engine room. I went down to the engine room and saw bunch of wires wrapped around the shaft and it's dripping water down there. So here I am stuck in the channel, it's raining, the depth sounder is not working, and I can't run the engine because the shaft is all wrapped in wires!
Anyhow, I cleaned the shaft, still leaking though, took an anchor out with the dinghy and dropped it and tried to haul myself out! But no, I was stuck pretty good. My phone don't have any reception. I tried to radio the Marina and TowBoatUS, and no answer. Finally I go on deck and get one bar on the cell phone and called the tow. I had to wait 2.5hrs for the TowBoatUS to come over and tow me out. Finally after 5 hours I get out! A less better day!
There are couple of projects that had to be taken care of before I leave this Marina. Yesterday, I worked on the shaft and fixed it. It's not leaking anymore. I installed the new sonar so I can see the depth. And to make this story better, lost my cell phone in the water yesterday! What a mess!

I'm in the middle of nowhere, the closest store is 20miles away and it's a Walmart. I met Ed yesterday. He is on a 39' Beneatau in this harbor and he was so kind and helpful. He drove me to town to get a new phone. My T-mobile phone didn't have much reception down the river anyway so this was a sign that I need a new phone with a new provider. So I got the iPhone 4 with at&t. I can't afford loosing this one and I really would like to take a break from shit happening.
Last night I invited Ed over to Earthling for dinner. I made the special shrimp & mushroom stew with rice and salad. Ed loved it and he said he is going to miss me when I leave tomorrow, which is today!                 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kisses to the catfish!

The mast is up!

The last couple of days we have done so much work on Earthling. The mast is up and rigged, radar dome is installed, wired and is working, the wiring for Sonar is connected, the bow pulpit is fixed and few other things. I feel like Lee & Roy are the maintenance team! Originally they were supposed to come here and go down Kentucky lake with me but since the mast collapsed on deck last week, it was a sign to get it up! After we raised the mast on Thursday, we left the marina and anchored in a cove off Kentucky lake. The best anchorage place so far, we had our own little space there. There were few campers and tents on the shore and many people came on their little fishing boats and fished there. 
We actually caught 4 different fish yesterday and today.  I have not been fishing since I was 14-16 years old! Few years ago! :-) Yesterday I caught a big Cat fish and today I caught a Stripper! One of Lee's hobbies is fishing, he lives down in Florida 3 months a year and is fishing all the time. Being with him was a great opportunity for me to learn and get into my fishing mode!
I just dropped Lee and Roy at shore, they left an hour ago and I'm solo again. Hopefully in few days couple other friends of mine will join me. Now, before it gets too late I have to sail away and find another cove to anchor in!        

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ohio to Cumberland River into Kentucky lake

Dear Readers, I'm trying to get better updating the blog. Lack of data communication makes it a little difficult. In the last three days, I went northbound on Ohio River, and southbound on Cumberland river into Barkely Lake. I had to go upstream on both of the rivers but thank god the current wasn't as much as Mississippi River. Cumberland river flows from east to west into Ohio River. Cumberland river is very scenic with rolling hills and forest.

Yesterday Lee & Roy joined me in Grand Rivers, KY at Turtle bay Marina. We have been working on the mast to get it ready for rigging. We add a new Anchor light on top of the mast, ran new cords inside the mast for Radar & camera and new flag line on the spreader. Running the cords inside the mast was a project! I'm so glad to have friends like Lee & Roy. They have helped me so much with Earthling. Last winter they spend time fixing the stringers on Earthling meanwhile I was traveling to different destinations.
The goal today is to lift the mast, and I can't wait for that. Everything is ready, the radar dome is there and we are ready to go. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dangerous Turns!!

After being docked by the barge in St. Louis for 2 night we sailed down to Kimmswick, MO. We docked at  Hoppies Marina in Kimmswick. This marina is run by an older couple, Hoppie & Fern. They have been running this place for over 30 years. Fern kindly went over the charts with me and another docked boater, pointing out dangerous turns where there is a lot of turbulence and current. She also pointed out few good anchorage locations, but there are no marinas for the next 230 miles. 
There is so much commercial traffic on the river. When we were docked at Hoppie's, barges passed by and created wakes that would make me nervous! Few times the mast moved slightly forward and backward and the stands the mast is laying on would make noises.I was not comfortable with that!
On Thursday evening, Rachael took the train back to Chicago, Jesse and Jessica gave me ride back to Earthling from the train station, and on Friday morning I was all by myself ready to sail Mississippi southbound!
The Friday passage went well. I have been so lucky with the weather, sunny every day since we left Chicago. I made 41 miles in 4.5hrs. The current adds up to 5kt to the boat speed. I keep the RPM down so it doesn't put much pressure on the engine and also save fuel. Fuel was topped in Grafton and the gauge is just below full right now & I made 170 miles!
Last night I docked on a wall in Kaskaskia river by Kaskaskia Dam & Lock. First night by myself on Earthling. For the first time I watched a movie aboard. I have a 4TB external drive with lots of movies, shows and documentaries.
The passage today was 70 miles down the river. In the morning I made breakfast and lunch ready for the 7.5 hr passage. When you are solo on the river, you can't really take your hands off the wheel, so you have to make sure you have everything ready and handy. I got the charts, log book, radio, phone, life vest, and camera always handy on deck! Yesterday I passed one of the dangerous points at mile 130 (crook light) and it went smooth. There are under water vents at these turns, the depth drops to 60-70ft and you see whirlpools & lots of turbulence. The lady (Fern) at Hoppies Marina advised us to radio ahead and see if there are any barges going through at those points and if there are any, we should wait till they pass. It would not be safe to pass barges around these turns. 
Today, at mile 84 (fountain bluff bar), I called ahead and nobody replied, repeated and no reply. I motor closer and didn't see any other traffic so I proceeded through. The whirlpools at this turn were really strong. I was scared it would suck down the dinghy. I passed through without any problems. Few miles after I passed a barge that was going northbound, which created big waves and the wind helped building up the waves, the waves were 4'-5' and there were few of them. I hit the first one and the mast moved more than ever before, as the second was coming through I put my hand on the mast I was hoping it's going to be ok, NOT!!
The mast moved backward, forward and all the four stands broke and the mast landed on deck.
The bow pulpit bend & held the mast from falling off. Two of the reserve fuel tanks were hanging on the side and almost fell off. So I put the wheel on lock, grabbed a knife, cut the lines attached to the tanks, took the tanks to the cockpit, grabbed couple dock lines & secured the mast down on either side. I was so lucky the damage wasn't bad. It could been worse!
I am currently anchored on Little River Diversion. I worked on the mast as soon as anchored before it got dark. I will secure it more tomorrow morning before the next passage. I just hope I can make it safe to Green Turtle Marina in Kentucky lake. Over there most likely the mast will be rigged. It would feel so much better if the mast was up, maybe I could sail down Kentucky lake! Thanks for reading!   

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Down Mississippi

Since I was a kid I've always dreamed about sailing down Mississippi river. I remember in school we learned Mississippi river was one of the largest river systems in the world. The river is anything between 30 to 60 feet deep, the current varies at different sections of the river & we have registered as high as 4.2kt of current. Yesterday we were racing down the river doing 10kt.
Right now we are docked in St. Louis next to a barge on the river. There are no marinas here and it's not a safe place for pleasure boating!
I have couple friends here in St. Louis. Last night Jesse stopped by Earthling and he lend us his car so we could do some grocery shopping today. Marcin is leaving in couple of hours and Rachael is arriving in couple of hours. I will be down Mississippi for the next few days.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Illinois River & Mississippi Junction

Right now we are in Grafton IL, the junction of Illinois River & Mississippi. Today will be our first day  on Mississippi River. The Grafton Marina is a beautiful marina, with a grocery store, Laundry and showers. It felt great to take a hot shower last night. There has not been any internet reception on my phone the last few days or right now. I will tell you more on the blog about the last few nights once I get my phone working in St. Louis tonight.   

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Second Day of The IL River Voyage!

Today, we left a little later than planned, however when you are cruising, especially on Earthling, there is no schedule! Right outside Joliet, we had to wait for
Brandon Road
lock for an hour & half. We docked by River side grill & met the owner & he sent us a 12 pack of ice tea bottles, such good people!
Brandon Road
lock dropped 35 feet.
Yesterday morning Dee waved @ us when we left the dock, this Morning Rachael waved us & tonight Perry will leave for couple of days, so he will wave too! After the first lock Dariush was @ Helm for couple hours, meanwhile I made special Earthling sandwiches & served with chips & Salsa & some sliced apples! The river is looking more beautiful as we go, it's wider & more scenic!
Illinois river stretches from Lake Michigan to Mississippi River & the distance is approximately: 335 nautical miles. Mile Zero is the Mississippi & Illinois River Junction. Right now we are @ mile mark 241, Ottawa, IL. We have done an average of 48 miles a day! We could do more than 50 miles a day if we hit the locks @ the right time & leave early in the morning. We went through 3 locks today. We were lucky with the 2nd lock (Dresden Island, mile 271), we arrived @ the right time when the lock was raised & there were no barges waiting! At mile 245, Marseilles Lock, we waited an hour for a double barge to go through. During that hour we had dinner & sun went down & it got cold & dark. We went only few miles @ night which was not bad, I would prefer to do most of the passage during day light though! Tomorrow, we will go through Starved Rock national park & I'm very excited! Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 4, 2010

First day of the river adventure!

Well today earthling set off with darius, jp and myself! We left Chicago 10:30 in the Morning. The river trip went by fast until we saw the signs that said we must contact the coast guard in regards to an electric fish barrier. Then we had an amazing lunch just the three amigos. Later on, we passed the lock @ lockport which dropped down 37feet! After that we found a free free dockage with shore power convieniently across the street from a lively casino in Joliet. Then miss Racheal joined us for a late dinner and now I am going to bed with a pounds of blankets to keep me warm on this Monday night!