Chicago Industry and the Waterways

For SEASONS the Loop Adventure starts when we enter the CAL- SAG Waterway. Since Dorothy and I have sailed and raced all over Lake Michigan it does not feel like we start the trip we are working our way down the Illinois River.

First off a nice sunrise over the steel mills of Indiana.


The Cal-Sag Channel (short for “Calumet-Saganashkee Channel”) is a navigation canal in Illinois.  It is 16 miles (26 km) long and was dug over an 11-year period, from 1911 until 1922. (Wikipedia)

This is one of the most industrial sections of the entire Loop trip. The Go pro is mount on the front of SEASONS and takes a picture every 5 seconds.


I am working on the videos. Its a learning curve. I need to add some cool sound tracks.

The lowest bridge which every boat must go under is the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe railroad bridge. It will not and has not opened for many years. The height from the water is 19′ 7″.  We cleared it by about a 1 1/2 feet.



As you look at these photos keep this statistic in mind, A standard barge tow carries the equivalent of 1,070 truckloads or 216 rail cars of product. Some of these products are  corn, soybeans, chemicals, petroleum products, fertilizer, ethanol, cement, styrene, sand, gravel, wood products and raw materials for steel mills.

Chemical or petroleum dock


Red flagged barges carry hazardous cargo.


Scrap aluminium for recycling.


Mulch for the city of Chicago


Sand and salt dock. the black pile is salt covered with a tarp.


This is a barge and towboat repair facility.


Another chemical facility.


After this section the river will become more scenic, However our interaction with the commercial tows will continue.


Second Voyage

Blog Title credit to Jill for recently serving a bottle of wine with the same label at a neighborhood get together.


As you may have read in our last blog we are doing the Great Loop trip again.


We spent some time in Milwaukee visiting family and friends. It was great to see everyone and sorry if we missed you. We had a long list (4 pages) of projects to complete onboard SEASONS before we ventured off again. Dorothy and I prioritized them and finished most of the major items. Some of the big things were New dingy Lift system to accommodate our new bigger dingy, new freezer top, some varnish work, rebuilt the engine injectors, all oils changed, all filters changed (12), reworked anchor chain, Prop shaft coupler replaced ( this was a big project) and some electrical upgrades. We also checked off quite a few minor items on the list. It seems the boat project list never ends especially when there is so much to varnish.


A beautiful sunrise started the day. However the old sailor phrase states “Red sky in morning, Sailors take warning” so we were extra careful leaving the dock.


We left South Shore Yacht Club on a beautiful morning. Our parting photo and yes I am wearing shorts. It is the goal of the Loopers to wear shorts around the entire Great Loop, which means we have to keep moving with the warmer weather. I did not make last year and had to put pants on in Mississippi. The temp got down to 32 degrees.


Lake Michigan has been a bit rough lately, so we found a favorable weather window to head south on Thursday October  17, 2019. The Chicago skyline from the water is always impressive.


We are happy to be underway once again and headed towards warmer temps.

SEASONS has crossed her Wake




On August 14, 2019 at 12:20pm we crossed our wake at South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee, WI. Dorothy and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip so much that we are planning to leave in October 2019 to do it again. Completing The Great Loop is an awesome adventure. We enjoyed all of the people along the way, the places we visited, and the challenges encountered.

Our 1987 42’ Grand Banks Classic was the perfect boat for us. SEASONS handled a variety of conditions from beam seas to intense squalls at anchor. We navigated rivers, locks, oceans, and The Great Lakes. Driving from the upper helm provided a fantastic view of our travels. With a second forward cabin guests could join us along the way and were comfortable.

Our top 10 highlight list:

  1. Space-X Falcon Heavy rocket launch from our anchorage in Titusville, Fl
  2. Overnight dockage in the Henry Lock built in 1870
  3. Peterborough Lift Lock
  4. Blueberry picking in the North Channel
  5. Backing into Lock 26 on the Mississippi River
  6. Viewing the Statue of Liberty by water
  7. Cumberland Island
  8. Kilkenny Anchorage
  9. Friends and Family who joined us along the way

We could easily do a top 100 list of great memories.

Just a few of the completion stats for SEASONS.

1987 42’ Grand Banks Classic with Twin 135 hp Lehmans

  • Statute Miles traveled 5686, Hours underway 678, Average Speed 8.0 mph
  • Total days 319, Travel days 145, Average daily travel miles 39
  • Nights in a marina 241, Nights at anchor or no charge stops 78
  • 107 locks, Highest level was 840 above sea level
  • Gallons of diesel used 2407 / burn rate .42 gal per mile
  • 26 friends and family stayed on the boat at various times



  • Total fuel $8174.00 / 3.40 per gal
  • Marina dockage $19,792.00 / Average 82.00 per night
  • Provisions $8982.00, Dining and entertainment $11,419.00
  • Maintenance $8973.00 No major issues or repairs
  • Total expense $68,325.00
  • We budgeted $5,000.00 per month actual was $6,507.00 per month


The trip is truly an adventure for all of the senses. The visual enjoyment of ever changing landscapes and watching the waterways open up before your eyes, anticipating what you’ll see around the next bend. The smells of crisp fresh air in the north, salt air in the south, industrial areas, and farm fields. The sounds of a peaceful water slap against the hull in a secluded anchorage to the busyness of New York Harbor. The taste of all the local cuisines some of which we have never heard of before. The feel of our boat as it slides through the waters, wind on your face and the handshake of a new friend.

The Great Loop route encompasses a mental smorgasbord for the brain, decisions, challenges, experiences, problem solving, adversity and above all the comradery of like minded people with the love of the sea and adventure spirit. We truly value the friendships created along the way.

Brian and Dorothy

“SEASONS”  42’ Grand Banks Classic

AGLCA Gold 2019


What is a Haweater?

Haweater is a nickname given to a person born on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. We talked to the the Dockmaster at Gore Bay Marina and even though he has lived all of his life on on the island , he was born off island and he can not ever be a Haweater. For a number of years there were no babies born on the island because there was no doctor or medical facilities, but now children are arriving on the Island thanks to midwifes assisting in birth. The name derives from the prevalence of hawberries among the island’s vegetation. Originally it was reported that early settlers got their vitamin C intake, and thus avoided scurvy, by eating hawberries.


This a jar of Hawberry Jelly we picked up at a local store. Its not a very strong taste, Maybe a little like weak cherry jelly.





The Boat Roller Coaster

Since Dorothy and I were able to ride a roller coaster at the Sylvan Beach Amusement Park we thought our boat SEASONS should have a little fun.  The Big Chute Marine Railway provided the perfect opportunity. It is the next to last lock (not really a lock) on the Trent Severn Waterway. This is the only time our boat covered some distance on the Loop without touching the water.

Big Chute Marine Railway at lock 44 of the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario, Canada. It works on an inclined plane to carry boats in individual cradles over a change of height of about 60 feet. It is the only marine railway of its kind in North America still in use, and is overseen by federally operated Parks Canada.


Here is a little video of our ride on the tram and some scenery afterwards;

A very peaceful anchorage all to ourselves in Georgian Bay.



On to the North Channel


Lovesick Lock

Traveling along the Trent – Severn waterway is a beautiful scenic tour of inner Canada.  We traveled through the day with 3 other boats. Miss Adventure, Sand Dollar and Voyager. We locked with the same boats all day. The group became very comfortable and smooth entering and leaving the locks.


One of those picturesque places we stayed over night was Lovesick lock. Lock 30 is located on an island, and therefore only accessible by boat – a unique feature on the Waterway. The natural beauty of the setting and island seclusion makes this lock station an extremely popular overnight stop.

The Legend of Lovesick Lake

Lovesick Lake: a name like that calls out curiosity, and local lore contains no shortage of explanations for the forlorn epithet.  Samuel Strickland recounts a tragic affair between an Anishnaabe man and an Irish settler; the stars were crossed against them and prejudice and circumstance kept them apart. Devastated, the young man cast himself away on one of the lake’s many islands, determined to give up the ghost.  His near lifeless body was discovered by a fishing party and he was rescued, but his point had already been made: Lovesick Lake is a beautiful place to pay tribute to a love that will never die.

After the Lock workers had gone home by boat for the day I thought it would be fun to swim in a lock chamber. This is strictly forbidden on the canal system. I mentioned my plan to Dorothy and her response was “NO Brian, you can’t do that”. This was all I needed to hear to justify the swim. I was able to talk a fellow Looper into the dip as well.


The group got together for some fireside docktails until the killer mosquitoes over powered any sort of repellent we could come up with.




A Canadian sunset




A different kind of Lock

The Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent Severn Waterway is an engineering marvel.

Some info from Wikipedia;For many years, the lock’s dual lifts were the highest hydraulic boat lifts in the world, raising boats 65 ft. The lock has two identical bathtub-like ship caissons in which vessels ascend and descend. Both caissons are enclosed at each end by pivoting gates, and there are pivoting gates at the upper and lower reaches of the canal at the junctions with the caissons. The gates on the caissons fit into slots on the gates on the reaches, so that they open in unison.

Each caisson sits on a 7.5 ft diameter ram, the shafts for which are sunk into the ground, are filled with water, and are connected with a pipe that has a crossover control valve. The caissons are guided up and down on either side by rails affixed to concrete towers.

No external power is needed: the lift lock functions by gravity alone using the counterweight principle. One caisson always ascends and the other always descends during each locking cycle. When one caisson reaches the top position, it stops 12 inches below the water level of the upper reach, and the control valve is closed;[5] Siemens ultrasonic sensors are used to help determine the differential.[6] The upper reach and top caisson gates open, and water flows into the top caisson until the level equalizes. The weight of the extra foot of water is 144 short tons (131 t), making the total weight of the upper caisson 1,844 short tons (1,673 t).[5] Any vessels that just ascended in the top caisson exit into the upper reach, and any new vessels making a transit of the lock then enter the bottom or top caisson from the lower or upper reach respectively. Once the vessels are secured, all gates are closed and the crossover valve in the connecting pipe between the ram shafts is opened. Since the upper caisson weighs more than the lower caisson (1,844 vs 1,700 tons), it pushes down on its ram, forcing out water from its shaft via the connecting pipe into the shaft of the bottom caisson. The force pushes up on the bottom caisson’s ram, raising the caisson up to the top position. When the gate of the newly descended top caisson and lower reach gates open at the bottom, the extra foot of water flows out and equalizes with the water level in the lower reach of the canal, and any descended vessels exit, allowing the cycle to start over again.

I know this is a long explanation but I have a few engineer friends reading this blog.

We were fortune enough along with some other Loopers to receive a behind the scenes tour of the inner workings of the lock.

The Lockmaster let Dorothy operate the lock. When we are finished traveling by boat she can get a job at the lock.


Walking the edge of the tub. A 2′ wide catwalk with water on one side and a 65″ drop on the other.



The lift rams are massive.


Crew of Aquaman, Sand Dollar and SEASONS


SEASONS in the Lift Lock tub.


Leaving the lock the canal becomes very narrow in sections. You are required to issue a securite’ call over the VHF radio to warn other boaters you are in the channel.



This experience at the Peterborough Lift Lock made the top 10 list for our Great Loop trip.



Trent Severn Waterway

We left the Erie Canal and headed North through Oswego Canal which connects central New York with Lake Ontario. We locked through a series of 7 locks lifting us 45.6 feet higher. We had a beautiful flat water travel day across Lake Ontario to Trenton, ON. Clearing Canadian Customs was just a quick cell phone call.

A little history of the Trent Severn Waterway from Wikipedia;

The Trent–Severn Waterway is a 240 mile long canal route connecting Lake Ontario at Trenton to the Georgian BayLake Huron at Port Severn. Its scenic, meandering route has been called “one of the finest interconnected systems of navigation in the world”.The final sections were greatly delayed by World War I, with the link to Trenton opening in 1918, followed by the link to Georgian Bay in early 1915. The first complete transit of the waterway was made in July of that year.By the time the route was completed its use as a commercial waterway was over; ships plying the Great Lakes had grown much larger than the canal could handle, and the railways that originally connected to the canal now took most of its freight. But the introduction of motor boats led to the Trent–Severn’s emergence as a pleasure boating route, and today it is one of Ontario’s major tourist attractions. Its passage through cottage country, makes it perfectly positioned as a cruising route, drawing thousands of visitors every year. It also forms a major portion of the Great Loop. Today it is officially organized as a National Historic Site of Canada linear park operated by Parks Canada. It is open for navigation from May until October, while its shore lands and bridges are open year-round.

SEASONS entering the TSW at Trenton, ON.


We spent the Fourth of July in Campbellford, ON.  The dockmaster did have some red white and blue cupcakes for the Americans but no fireworks. This city is Home of the Toonie, the Canadian 2 dollar coin.


It was very hot requiring us to drink lots of water.

IMG_0197.JPGSEASONS tied up on the wall with other boats traveling the TSW.IMG_0195.JPG

Dooher’s is one of the best bakeries on the entire loop. We were told by locals that timing was everything when going here. If you go too early they do not have the good items out yet and if you wait too long they sell out.


Pastries and Butter Tarts were so good.

Going through locks 11 and 12 Ranney Falls a double lock or flight. They give you a total lift of 48 feet.



No sunset photos this time.


Low Bridge, everybody down!

How many of you sang those words in grade school?

Growing up in Troy, OHIO we sang it loud in music class.

After traveling up the Hudson River from New York we arrived in Albany, NY for a couple of days. My Son Garrett met us for the journey on the Erie Canal.

Built between 1817 and 1825, the original Erie Canal traversed 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo. It was the longest artificial waterway and the greatest public works project in North America. The canal put New York on the map as the Empire State—the leader in population, industry, and economic strength. New York’s canal system has been in continuous operation since 1825, longer than any other constructed transportation system on the North American continent. ( copy from the web ).

Locking with some fellow Wisconsinites.


Once we enter a lock we are required to wrap a line around this cable and use it to hold the boat from moving to much in the lock. The line slides up the cable while the lock fills. Our big orange fender balls keep us from damaging the hull of the boat.


The locks are well maintained.


A tug work boat used by the Erie Canal maintenance crews.


Soctia, NY, a small jazz performance we stumbled upon. We sat just behind the walker section.


Sights around Amsterdam, NY a one night stop over for us.

Erie Canal Lock 17 is located in Little Falls and is the largest lock in New York State. The lock lifts every passing vessel an astounding 40.5 feet, replacing four locks on the old canal by just one. Construction on this lock was challenging. Design elements called for a unique feature, a water saving side pool which would allow about half of water from a locking to be reused on the next locking. Couple this extra feature with its massive size, the need to build it in solid rock, and keep the old Erie Canal open, which this was built directly on top of, required massive engineering. This design included a guillotine style lower gate and a concrete arch of which the boats pass under — the only implementation of such a design along the canal system.


IMG_0144.JPG Garrett was teaching me how to use my drone to video us while we were moving using a flight program in the drone. We lost communications with it monetarily and the drone found a tree along the canal to land in. I estimate its about 200 feet in the air. We tried throwing a line around a branch to shake it loose, no luck. So the drone is wedged tightly between Lock 19 and Lock 20. The real bummer is the memory card has some great videos on it.


The blue float was to aid in retrieval should land in the water.

IMG_0169 (1)

Garrett departed in Utica, NY after traveling with us for 5 days. The train station in Utica is spectacular, built in 1914. We are sitting on the original wood benches.


We always enjoy a little history on our trip.



Up the Hudson River

A very picturesque trip through the Hudson Highlands of New York state.


It was fun to see big ocean going ships 130 miles up the Hudson River. We pulled over to the side to let “Global Venus” go by.



Bannermans Castle was built to store surplus ammunition after the Spanish American War.


The West Point Academy


The Hudson Maritime Museum in Kingston, NY was a great stop for us.

Stern Steerer Ice Boat.


Hudson River Sloop Display


Ice Cutting Equipment which I liked, because I was involved in the Ice Business in Wisconsin for many years.


The Riverkeeper Organization has its origin on the Hudson River. I served on the board of Milwaukee Riverkeeper for 9 years.


The first USCG approved fully solar powered passenger vessel. They are very proud of this boat.



Roundout Lighthouse, Dorothy liked the proper curtains in the windows.