Day 2, Lock 9 to Dubuque, Iowa

Miles Covered:  67 miles, um 647- to um 580

 Closest towns or landmark (chart): Outside of Lock 9 to Dubuque, Ia Yacht Club

Original Post date: May 29, 2009

 It was just an OK nights sleep after a long wait to pass through Lock 9.  A tow had priority and the process for a large tow to pass through takes a while – pushing 12 barges they move into the lock (which will only hold nine barges and the tow), so they have to leave the front three (or six) in the lock and back out.  The first containers are lowered (or raised) first and then the tow and remaining barges “lock-through” and reattach on the other side – it takes at least an hour….


 So we tied up to a buoy in ‘pool 9′ for the wait and watched the eagles soar and do their natural thing. To this date we have noticed 23. There are also many white pelicans and blue heron present – the river’s natural and unnatural entertainment mixed together, all a part of the adventure. 


Besides the trains last night  providing us with their music, we heard what sounded like coconuts falling into the water, plunk! We figured it to be beavers slapping their tails against the water.

 This mornings chore was to figure out how to use the coffee pot – looks like a Mr. Coffee,’ but you set it on a Coleman grill,  fix the ‘trigger,’ and turn the heat way up. Fixing the ‘trigger’, as we quickly found out,  was very important. If you neglect this step, you will end up with coffee on the deck and grounds in the coffee. We only made that mistake once more during the voyage……… it a hung-over mistake.

The day started with light rain.  So with the wind in our face we ‘idled’  along in the current to McGregor, Ia. and took a walk through the town. We located a restaraunt near the river and had breakfast, nice simple place – and more great folks at their nice simple pace. Tom enjoyed biscuits and gravy while I  had my favorite… eggs/bacon/hashbrowns too.  For some reason the coffee really sucked though. All the while the locals enjoyed their normal morning conversation. It was nice to just ‘fit-in’. I had the feeling that coming in off the river gave us some kind of right of passage to the local scene.


Early Fire Triangle (alarm) Early Fire Triangle (alarm) 



 The motor has been doing fine after a couple early concerns – our fuel tank needed venting. We found this when on docking Tom checked the rear of the boat – our 12 gallon tank looked like a two gallon red raisin. (I think it was pulling fuel FROM the motor) Simple fix – open the vent! Notice the difference in the 2 tanks below!


So we ease along in no hurry. We are quickly surprised by our daily mileage. Tom had allotted 57 days and nights for the river trek at 30 miles per day thinking weather would hold us up a number of times but we hit the ‘mother-glitch’ of good weather for going south and we are riding it casually southward…..


Lock 10 came with sunshine, but again an hour waiting for a tow to pass through.  Waiting wasn’t so bad. It was just a bit tougher with the south wind producing ocean-size whitecaps in the ‘pool’ immediately before the lock. This, along with the strong current, made it difficult to stay off (or out of) the dam.  For us, it just took some boat tricks (large, slow circles) and patience….  .


 Just after lock 10 we decided to stop and ‘top-off’ our fuel, again – if for nothing else to enjoy some wonderful conversation with the locals..

Really, the fuel attendants Really, the fuel attendants.

OK, so we really needed the three gallons of fuel….. the conversation was great and the scenery – well, you decide.  We slowly climbed back into the ‘bird’ and proceeded southward into the sunshine with a little more ‘flavoring’ to our conversation – it took a short while before the beauty of the bluffs, long trains, and tows returned to the top of our thoughts – well, maybe a little longer……



The view from the Freebird Pilot-house……


 There seems to be plenty of camping and recreational boats along the sandy shores here,  picturesque – all of it.

The wait at lock 11 took the longest so far (2.5 hours) so we tied up to a maintenance skiff between the lock and shore, then walked up and watched the “lock through” process from the handrail. This lock was not open to the public and after advising us of that point the attendants still allowed us to ‘hang out’ anyway.



 We arrived in Dubuque,  Iowa as it was getting dark, sometime after nine o’clock – another late ‘tie-down.  So we followed the right shoreline around and through a small channel to the Dubuque Yacht Club where we tied-off to their transient dock…..I’ll never forget the “Sanford and Son” feeling I had when our makeshift craft approached the expensive yachts in port. Instead of some island, we find ourselves tied-off between all these large nice vessels. Tom then completed the picture by soaping down and bathing under a garden hose.


The next morning we awoke to a wonderful Yacht Club, with plenty of amenities (and good food)……


 Dubuque Yacht Club Dubuque Yacht Club



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