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Old 09-13-2017, 06:45 PM   #1
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City: Southport, Florida
Country: USA
Vessel Name: FROLIC
Vessel Model: Mainship 30 Pilot II
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 123
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Transit upriver from Gulf Coast to Lake Michigan

I have been asked more than once if I would say something about the up-rivers delivery of a Grand Banks 36 powered by a single Ford-Lehman 120. I had not thought to add anything about it here, but since I was asked, I will provide a brief summery. Anybody interested in the looong version can read it at

A friend sold his immaculate GB36 to a Canadian. The story about how that happened is interesting in itself and involves a hurricane, photos of his boat work posted on the internet, and the Canadian's lucky search. Before the actual sale, the seller and I briefly discussed how much fun he and his wife were going to have delivering the boat to Canada leaving from my pier and running up the east coast. The buyer had pressing family concerns which obviated his being away from home during the period of time envisioned for the delivery. In the end, my friend the seller thought better of the idea of self-delivery for a number of reasons. What would you do about delivery if you had the buyer's money in hand, or would you rather do a self-delivery before money changed hands?

So, anyway, I piped up that with nothing to do all Spring and early Summer, Mary and I would be willing to run the boat up there. After the parties agreed to the sale, I went to the boat to meet the buyer and discussed the delivery. For a number of reasons, he wanted the boat run up the Western Rivers instead of via the US East Coast. Hmm, says I to myself, I have been up the Tenn-Tom a couple of times, but that 220-mile run up the Mississippi from Cairo to Grafton presents a challenge for an 8.3-MPH-in-still-water boat. A bit of research and help from T&T listees with that experience convinced me that it could be accomplished, given the right river conditions, and I eventually agreed to undertake the 1400-mile, mostly upstream, delivery from my brother's pier in Orange Beach (boat moved and sold there to avoid heavy Florida taxation on the Canadian buyer) to Michigan City, 36 miles east of Chicago on Lake Michigan.

We were about set to depart in early April when sudden record-breaking rains up north swelled the rivers making them impassable. So the boat sat for weeks. I might add at this point that the US Corps of Engineers multiple websites on the rivers are quite helpful in ferreting out what is happening on the rivers, but you need to spend days getting through them all and placing them in a favorites list in order to have them handy when needed. However, NOWHERE is there an estimate of what the current speed in MPH might be.

The new owner and I corresponded frequently over the course of the delivery and we never out of synch on planning or financial needs. He wired additional monies to my checking account as cost mounted, and I sent him regular Excel spreadsheets detailing every penny.

We finally got underway on the 29th of May and made Demopolis in a few days through soggy weather hanging over the Gulf Coast. After several days facing two MPH head currents, we spent several days in Demopolis while worse weather passed by. The first night at anchor after Demopolis, a generator exhaust system casualty and a coincidental battery charging problem left us no choice but to get ourselves to Columbus Marina where the manager more or less took control of the generator issue in a very professional way, while I handled the battery charging issue. Nine days later, we were underway again with a new battery charging system and a repaired generator exhaust and new generator starter solenoid (found burned up during the exhaust work) to the tune of around 1500 bucks in parts and labor. Later on during the trip another charging improvement was made when I got an updated external voltage regulator installed.

Up to Aqua Harbor Marina at the head of the Tombigbee Waterway and then blazing down the Tennessee with a two MPH tail current to cross over the Land Between the Lakes via the short Barkley Canal to end up at Green Turtle Bay Resort at Grand Rivers, KY where we left the boat for a month because the Mississippi was again up too high for us.

Returning to the boat in early August, I installed an AIS transponder, AIS display capable VHF radio, two new VHF radio antennas (SWR meter said old ones were toast), the newly overhauled Balmar 100-Amp alternator, and its updated external regulator. Then on 9 August we were off again choosing the Barkley Lock and the Cumberland River to get to the Ohio instead of the barge-clogged Kentucky Dam and down the Ohio River to within a few miles of the Mississippi. The agreement with the owner was that if we could not make at least 4 MPH against the current of the Mighty Mississippi that we would give up and return the boat to GTB with him deciding what to do at a later date. Luckily that is exactly the speed we were able to make against the swirling and wildly upwelling river, and for the next five days we often used full rudder in either direction to counter the swirling waters. Autopilot was mostly useless.

We spent three days in Grafton before heading up the 320-mile run on Illinois/Des Plaines River at a blazing 7 MPH on a mostly uneventful run which included a pass through the noisy canyon of downtown Chicago with the mast down and a resultant air draft of 15'5" to the bimini top - I could touch the low steel of several 16'6" bridges.

Next morning, we were underway from DuSable Marina early for the 36-mile run across Lake Michigan arriving in Michigan City, IN at 1130 on 23 August, moved off the boat (we filled a Grand Caravan van with all the stuff (including my own SuperMax anchor and many pounds of tools), and turned the boat over in a two-hour systems briefing to the owners.

Total days underway - 23.

Rich Gano
FROLIC (2005 MainShip 30 Pilot II)
Panama City area
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:45 PM   #2
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City: UMR MM283
Country: US
Vessel Name: Northern Lights II
Vessel Model: Bayliner 3870
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,235
I've been up the Illinois and out on to the lakes a couple of times and always enjoyed both. I've only went against the Mississippi current from Grafton to the QC areas and it does make for a long day.
Ron on Northern Lights II
I don't like making plans for the day because the word "premeditated" gets thrown around in the courtroom.
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