Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Winterizing for dummies

How many YouTube videos does it take to feel confident about winterizing our boat? More than I can count!

Here we are back on board, getting Mara Beel ready for her hibernation. This will be a tough winter for MB, as she has spent previous winters snuggled comfortably in a nice warm building. This year she will be floating in the chilly Mississippi with a bubbler to keep the ice away. We assume that MB has never been truly winterized, so this is new for all of us.

Yesterday Mark changed the oil in both engines. I think he said 7 quarts per engine. He watched this being done in Sturgeon Bay last year, so he felt confident about doing it himself. He may never want to do this again!

Today Jeff is working for us. He is winterizing the fresh water and raw water systems, the generator, the heads and showers, to name a few things. He does this on 50 boats every Fall, so he's knowledgeable and efficient in draining and flushing with antifreeze.

I am not much help due to my stylish new footware.

The view from our slip

Friday, October 11, 2013

Last Day on the Water

We reached our winter home across the river from Louisiana, MO on the 8 th. Mara Beel will be hibernating in Two Rivers Marina-- probably her first winter outside of heated storage. We had a beautiful trip up from Port Charles. We had fog early but it quickly burned off and turned into a perfect day. 

The Wisconsin

Lots of interesting sights along the way.

Golden Eagle ferry

2 locks and 1 railroad bridge opened right on cue for us, as if they knew it was my birthday!

This guy hung around our slip for quite awhile checking us out with a malevolent stare. Maybe we were in his space. Then he or she brought reinforcements.

We will go back to the boat later this month to get her winterized. The end of the boating season is always bittersweet. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Adios to the Illinois

Friday was an incredibly long and grueling day. We left Havana shortly after 7 am and covered 100 miles during the next 10 hours. It was hot and windy. There are only a few small towns visible along this stretch of the river, and even fewer marinas.We knew we did not want to tie up to a barge in Beardstown, and we preferred to not anchor out. (we need to replace our anchor.) So we planned this long day to end up in Hardin, IL. We tied up at the dock that belongs to the Illinois Riverdock Restaurant, also known as Mel's. No power or water, but that was OK.

We ate supper at Mel's, and Mark appropriately ordered the River Rat burger.After eating, it was a losing battle to stay awake. We were asleep before 9 PM, which they say is the Loopers' midnight. So true! This is not a wide river, so I was awake each time a towboat passed by. Wish I had night vision binoculars!

We left early this morning to beat the rain to Grafton. Grafton Harbor is a welcome return to civilization. We are in a covered slip, and there is a winery and a small town here. We have cell and Internet service once again. Best of all, we are looking at the Mississippi River!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Peoria to Havana

Today we successfully dodged rain and plenty of barge traffic. We left Peoria around 10 along with the last raindrops of the morning. We breezed right through the Peoria lock with no waiting and continued down the river. The  tow boats were thick south of Peoria. I lost count of them, and everyone knows I love these boats!! Various sizes and barge lines that we don't see on the upper Mississippi were really a treat. Our AIS was invaluable in letting us know what boats were approaching us.  This part of the river winds around so much it is impossible to see around the bends. The forewarning was really helpful.

We arrived at Tall Timbers Marina in Havana around 3:45. The rain started a few minutes after we secured the boat and hooked up the shore power. Perfect timing! As we docked the dreaded Asian carp started jumping around our stern. One landed on the deck and tried to thrash himself to death, leaving blood and stink all over the dock until marina owner Bob kicked him off. Luckily none of the fish landed on the boat. We hear that is really messy.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013



The morning fog burned off in time for us to start out at 8:00. Our trip was long and uneventful. We had only one lock today, at Starved Rock. We saw lots of herons, egrets, eagles and pelicans. Hundreds of pelicans. Thousands of pelicans!

We arrived in Peoria, IL, around 4:30 PM and are docked at the IVY (Illinois Valley Yacht) Club. We met John and Linda on Easy, a 37' Great Harbor. John helped us with our dock lines and we had dinner with them at the Club. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Another day at Heritage Harbor

Two new things today. We made crockpot bread! Who knew this was even possible?? Thanks to Hy-Vee for the recipe. http://www.hy-vee.com/seasons/recipe.aspx?r=8770#.

We used regular bread flour instead of whole wheat, so our loaf looked a little different. Okay, maybe a lot different. But it tasted good.

The other more exciting thing is that we had a Siren Marine Sprite Monitoring system installed. Installation by a trained expert took about 5 hours. I'm glad Mark did not attempt to do this on his own! The Siren monitors many things on the boat for us-- shore power, battery level, longitude and latitude, bilge pump activation, temperature, and how many bottles of wine are in the fridge. (I'm joking about one of those.) if something is amiss, up to 4 people receive a text message immediately. It is odd to receive a text from Mara Beel!


Tomorrow we will untie the lines and head to Peoria, about 75 miles down river.

It's not much to look at, but it sent both of us 27 texts during the set up and testing process.