Yes friends that is me holding our first catch of the day. More on this later but first we have to catch up as it has been a couple of days.
When last we left you it was in Joliet. I hope you did not think we had been put in the Big House. We have just been busy and tired and with generally sketchy WIFI.
Tonight we are at a small secluded marina called Tall Timbers. It is south of Peoria and we are making good progress.
This is a duck hunting mecca. Everywhere on the river are duck blinds of all description. It seems that it would be dangerous to ride down this river whenever that season is open. Notice the picture of the one blind with all the Canada Geese sitting around. Either they know they are a protected species or they know they are not in season. Anyway it was an odd juxtaposition I thought.
Leaving Joliet we had a leisurely ride down to Starved Rock Marina. The original plan was to stay at the free dock in Ottawa. No, not back to Canada but Ottawa, Illinois. The idea was to use the free public dock which is right downtown and has power. But the dock was only 105 feet long and two other Looper boats were already squatting there leaving no room for us. So we moved on to Starved Rock. It is named for a rock plateau where a tribe of Ottawa Indians took refuge from an enemy tribe and were in an impregnable position. Their enemies could not dislodge them because they had no siege technology but neither could the Ottawas get down so they stayed up there until they all starved to death. Sort of an American Masada if you will.
When we entered the marina the jumping carp were everywhere and it was a bit unnerving trying to dock the boat with big fish slamming their bodies against the side and splashing back into the water. We were met by two of our faithful readers Ray and Lisa Fuchs. They began following our adventures when they spotted our blog on the AGLCA website. When they knew we were coming to their area they braved a storm to drive their boat down to see us and take us to dinner at the Captain’s Cove where Irma the bartender made the most unique and delicious Bloody Mary on the planet. This lady should be famous. She works here for the season and then goes to Marco Island, FL for the winter to work at another restaurant owned by this group.
After dinner when we were saying goodbye to Ray and Lisa we ran into the drunkest group of adults I have ever seen and they were operating a 55 foot boat. Very sad.
We want to thank Ray and Lisa for their kindness and devotion to Cbay’s cause.
On Labor Day we were on the move again, this time to the Peoria area. We had planned to stay at the Illinois Valley Yacht Club but there was no room again, this time because of scheduled cardboard boat races. If I had known I would have built one out of Corona cartons but it was too late so we detoured to Hamm’s Holiday Harbor Marina and I am glad we did.
Just before Hamm’s we saw in the guidebook that there was a Kroger store in the town of Chilliclothe where there was also a public dock for day use only so we pulled in. That is where we met Carl and Carter, a father-son team who had been out fishing and were pulling out their boat. They were so nice and offered to give us a ride to the Kroger. It turned out the Kroger was much further than we thought but they said they would take the boat home and come back for us. So instead of just a few items we could carry, instead we loaded up with everything we wanted. Thanks again Carl and Carter. We know Carter is following our blog now.
At Hamm’s Marina Dick Hamm, the owner, is a hustler and I mean that in a positive way. We had become by accident a flotilla of five boats (Cbay, Native Son, Qwest, Say Goodbye and Queen Kathleen) and we all arrived at once wanting fuel and slips. Dick Hamm is somewhere in his 70’s though he does not look it. He got everyone fueled and docked and never missed a beat. And the residents at this marina were so friendly offering the use of automobiles and inviting us to join their social hour.
Now to the story of our big catch. On Tuesday we began moving further toward the Mississippi. Our destination was Tall Timbers. We are full of fuel as there is no more until Grafton and it is over 180 miles away. The ride was right through the heart of jumping carp country. They even have tournaments here where people try to net them like butterflies or hit them in midair with bow and arrow. It is crazy because these fish are crazy and dangerous. If you are in a small boat running 20 mph and a 20 lb fish leaps up and hits you in the head it can do serious damage.
Now these things were hitting Cbay like hammers on the side and under the bottom like baseballs. Then I heard the sound I did not want to hear and really didn’t want and that was that a carp was somehow in our boat. These things are nasty as heck. When they land in a boat they void their bowels and start to bleed out. What a mess! When I went down to see what we had I could not find it but I could hear it thrashing. Suddenly I realized it was not in the big boat but in the dinghy. It was nearly 20 inches long and at least 8 lbs. This is a decent size one but not a giant, thank goodness. But it had destroyed the dinghy. It looked like an explosion. There seemed little to do bit let it die in there and clean it up when we reached our destination so that is what we did. It took over and hour to clean that mess in the 95 degree heat. Say Goodbye caught two today but they tossed them right away and did not have as much mess. Actually it is a violation of the law to return one to the water alive but i would have chanced it if i could have gotten to it while moving.
The generator, which we had running for the last 30 minutes in order to cool down the interior, overheated and shut down. At first I thought it was a blocked strainer because the harbor where it quit was so shallow that we were churning mud and Native Son even got stuck temporarily. But it turns out that the impeller had four torn vanes and was worthless to pump water. So after cleaning up the fish I spent another hour replacing the impeller because tomorrow night we will only have generator power. Now we have one of the Globe run dry blue impellers in there which should last longer. The one I took out was installed at Half Moon Bay on another hot day back in June.