It seemed that the heat wave was going to dissipate somewhat and this, being Labor Day, would signal many boaters on this portion of the waterway to head for home we determined to head out for the next stage of our journey. At 0640 we headed out with Namaste not far behind.
The next 11 miles was very nice but uneventful. About 1.5 miles out I called Starved Rock Lock and Dam to find out what the locking status was. The report was that they were about to bring a Tow up and that it would be about an hour. I asked if we could anchor off of the channel and the lockmaster indicated that it would be fine to tie off behind the cells on D rings that were available there. Soon, AIS (Automated Information System) we had installed Grand Haven, Michigan indicated there was a tow ahead and around the bend heading the same direction as we were. This would change things. We waited until a 5 x 3 tow move into the locking position and then tied to the back side of the cells.
After watching the tow move into the locks and then begin backing out again we realized the tow was too long to fit in one locking and that it would need two to take the 5×3 down. When I say 5 x 3 I am referring to five barges long and three barges wide. This is an incredibly huge quantity of material and mass. In conversations between the tow and lockmaster on vhf it was clear that the original hour wait had just turned into over two hours. The tow had left three barges in the lock and backed up with two still connected. Apparently there is another tow boat below the lock to take the barges out and wait until the whole load gets through.
Onward for another three and a half hours where we were looking forward to staying on the town of Hennepin free docks. Unfortunately, when we got there, we discovered that the free docks were to shallow on one end and little tiny finger piers on the other making it a stop not possible. We talked to locals to determine whether we were in the right place and, sure enough, we were. Without too much difficulty, the discussion between the Namaste crew and that of Sea To See, rendered a decision to continue on to the town of Henry and Henry Landing.
Our arrival there found a fuel dock for Namaste and an old lock wall on which we tied for the night. There was power on the old wall and the price was right ($1/ft.) so we pulled up port side with bow into the current for a nights stay. After getting situated we all (including Sammy) walked to the bar/restaurant to pay our moorage fees, celebrate our days run and have dinner. We were hot from the days run in 80 plus temperatures so ate inside with the air conditioning but Sammy couldn’t come in so had to stay on the deck. She was a hit with all of the patrons eating on the deck and was soon adopted.
Prior to heading to the “Landings” restaurant I had found the needed to prime the aircon water pump once again. This I did and we left it on while going to dinner. It sure was nice to come back to a cool boat. Thus ended another day running the Illinois River from mile 242.3 to mile 196.1.