Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Shakedown Cruise

Mark got the green light on resuming our cruising life- no back surgery needed! With the back surgeon's blessing we planned our very first cruise on Mara Beel II- our new to us Ranger Tug R27. We splashed our little boat in the Guttenberg marina with a helping hand from our friend Ken and headed south on our beloved Mississippi River. Dubuque is about 40 miles downriver- a fairly short trip since our tug can travel twice as fast as our Ocean Alexander. Getting used to a different boat is an interesting, ongoing experience. We love the enhanced features of our tug- we can steer with a remote and use our bow and stern thrusters to maneuver in close quarters. There are different gauges and sounds that had us puzzled until we (quickly) figured out what is what.

Using the auto pilot and remote control.
The river in NE Iowa is lined with limestone bluffs- there are very few river towns between Guttenberg and Dubuque.

One of the numerous bluffs along the river

Interesting older house

There is just one lock between downtown Guttenberg and Dubuque, and we waited a little more than an hour for a tow to lock through. We pulled into the Port of Dubuque marina in Ice Harbor and were met by friends Marc and Michelle. Jerry and Earlene. New friends Linda and Rick, and Krickett and Wayne completed the group.

We took advantage of several activities within walking distance of the marina- dinners at Tony Roma's and the Woodfire Grille, strolls along Dubuque's lovely riverfront, and the farmers' market on Saturday morning.
Julien Dubuque bridge

The Shot Tower, where molten lead was dropped from the top  story to form lead shot


The old Star Brewery and newer Park Farm Winery bar

Farmers' Market was busy! Loved the breakfast burritos and Finzel's sweet corn!

The cruise home on Sunday was uneventful except for an engine coolant light. It was not an issue- just a heads up that we needed to check/add coolant. Lock 11 was open and waiting for us- awesome! We passed several towboats heading upriver. I think we could have sold tickets to people wanting to take a look at our tiny tug- she seems to draw attention wherever she goes. I guess Ranger Tugs are not common in the midwest.
Mara Beel back home in Guttenberg, with Lock 10 in the background.

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