It’s another beautiful morning and we’re bound for Fulton, Illinois where we hope to get up with the 2 Dons, the guys who helped us out last year when all the trouble hit. It takes us about an hour or so to get to the Savanna Marina where we pull in for some fuel. While we are here we take advantage of a free shower, get some ice and back to “the Belle.”  The water is very calm today and the boat crowd is still in force.

We are now heading for lock # 13. The pool that feeds into this lock is where our motor broke down last year. During a torential rain storm, our motor threw a rod and we drifted for hours until we washed up on shore in what is known as “the stump field.” We eventually found help on the other side of the lock at the Fulton Marina in Fulton, Illinois. That is where we met Chief Don, a retired fire chief and Don the mechanic, the two Dons. As we approach the lock, we are told that there will be a wait of about 45 minutes. Now this is when we have to find a suitable place to tie up and wait or we would end up just floating. So, we pull up to a rocky shoal and tie off. We climb up top and watch the north-bound tow come out of the lock.


Soon the lockmaster becons us in and we go through our routine, I drive in, Gator grabs the rope and we wait for the gates to close and the water to recede.

Boaters Galore

The gates open and once again we spill out down-river towards Fulton. It’s just a mile or so to the marina and we pull in at the gas pumps. We tell the gas guy our story and head towards chief Don’s boat to see if he’s around. There is a crowd of folks at the end of the pier who tell us that Don is gone for the weekend downriver. We spend some time telling our tale from last year and enjoy the company of some good folk.  We invite them aboard to sign “the Belle” and say our goodbyes. Meeting folks along the river is what makes the trip for me.

The “Fulton Folks”

After stopping for a quick lunch across from Princeton, Illinois, we motor on down another 5 miles to Port Byron, Illinos. We tie up and walk into town which is basically 2 blocks long with 2 bars, they like their bars up here! We don’t have any pictures from here on through the night because things got a little crazy just about now. As Gator talkked to Nick, his son, on the phone, I went back to the boat and noticed that it was rocking fiercly from all the boat traffic. I ran over to steady her and keep her from getting damaged. I was semi freaking out and foolishly talked Gator into moving on down-river to a calmer location. We jump aboard and head out as darkness falls, not a good idea. Four miles down we notice some lights and quickly realize that we are heading straight for lock # 14. There is nowhere for us to go but back to where we just left in Port Byron as traversing a lock at night is not an option. Guiding “the Belle” back was tricky using our little search light to find the channel markers. The blood-red moon added some ambiance to the ride. With a little luck and my great skill as a riverboat captain, we pilot “the Belle” back to the dock safely. We batten down for the night and hope for smooth waters through the night.

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