September 25, 2012

Days 10 - 12, September 23 - 25: The Illinois River to the Junction of the Mississippi River

This is the most remote river area we have traveled through. There are a few small towns, few marinas, and little or no cell phone or internet service. The river bank has looked the same throughout this area with only one riverbank home seen in two days. The tows are becoming more frequent as we near the Mississippi River. This one is 130 ft long and has liveaboard crews that run from New Orleans to Chicago 24 hrs a day.

Typical river banks
A large river tug


Today we decided to try our first anchoring on the river. Good anchorages are inlets off the river or behind small islands as they provide protection from wind and the wakes of the tows. Since the river levels this year are very low, many of the anchorages are too shallow to get into. Our first attempt was at Grape Towhead Island just south of Beardstown; however, the boat grounded trying to get in, and I was lucky to be able to back it off. We found a better one nearby just southwest of Bar Island and it turned out to be a beautiful spot. You can see the same location on the chart plotter with our boat position identified by the GPS (quite remarkable accuracy) and a depth of 8.4 ft. The sunset was just spectacular and was the highlight of the day.

Anchorage off Bar Island
Anchorage off Bar Island on the chart plotter
Sunset at Bar Island Anchorage
The next day we passed the westerly most point on the Great Loop which is the Valley City dual railroad bridge. We ended up tying up for the night at the Illinois River Dock Restaurant where we got a discount if we purchased dinner (it was a great brisket and too much to eat). We continue to meet interesting people all along the way who are also looping.

Tonight we are tucked in at Grafton Marina which is at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Tomorrow we change rivers and head for St. Louis.


  1. Larry, I don't know why, but it seems very nice that there are remote spots like this to enjoy without being very far from civilization...kind of comforting. You left at the right moment as there were 10' waves on the big lake last week! Hello to Anne and dream of Huck Finn--you're gonna meet up with him, I'm sure.

  2. We have seen some Huck Finn like fishermen in some very rickety river boats and rafts.