Into the Fog
It has just been under a week since I brought My Sharona over from Pier 33 to Chicago. The day started out with poor weather but as the day went on the weather improved tremendously. I called the Kate at the Chicago Yacht Club and was told that the winds were calm. It is a 4 p.m., Sharon is at home and I give her a call. Let’s go for a ride on the boat. She says she’ll be at the office by 6 p.m. I give Elizabeth a call and she will meet us a Belmont Harbor at 7 p.m.
We all arrive at 7 p.m. and the temperature is dropping as the sun goes down. The boat is on a star dock, and I am quickly taken out there by a tender. I bring My Sharona back to the main dock and we load up.
7:30 p.m. and a crew of three depart Belmont Harbor. I notice a light fog rolling in and the water is a little choppy. I am still learning how to use the trim tabs and we bounce our way down to Navy Pier where the entrance to the Chicago Rive is. We wait our turn and lock through. It is pleasant, the sun is setting, and we take a left to go down the south branch.
Sharon spots the Presence Health Care building, the corporation she has worked for 39 years. We pass the Miller-Coors building, take a picture and forward it on to Kim.
It is a pleasant ride. Elizabeth wants to be dropped off downtown so she can take her car back to Arlington Heights. While the ride on the river is awesome, there is no place to let anyone off. We stop by Marina City and they want $20.00 just for a touch and go. Ridiculous. I finally find a pier to let her off at and there is a boat stranded at the pier, they are out of fuel. They ask for a tow to Diversey Harbor. I not comfortable towing another boat thru the locks so I wish them good luck and off we go
We make it back to the locks and wait our turn. We pull into the locks and it starts to drizzle. No problem. We pull out of the locks and we are in a solid fog bank. I can only see 100 feet in front of the boat. Navy Pier is on the port side and while it is lit up, I can barely make it out. I turn on the trusty Garmin Chart plotter, dial in Belmont Harbor and we start the slow journey home. As we pass Navy Pier, I can make out the buoy light of the Water Filtration Plant. They are my guiding lights. To the right, is a very long sea wall. The key is to exit the sea wall without running into it. Just the week before, my next door neighbor, Dave Stephani, told me to trust the instruments. So the chart plotter shows the seawall and the opening. So traveling between 8 and 10 mph, we make our way. I finally see the green and red lights on the sea wall and we exit the area known as the play pen. As we pass North Avenue Beach, I throttle back. I look a Sharon who is sitting in the back of the boat and I tell her that everything is fine, I got this under control. She says “I trust you”. At this point I want to give my brother Jim a call for a pep talk but it is 9:30 p.m. Two things, it would probably make Sharon nervous and he is probably sleeping. At this point, I hear a sailboat calling the Coast Guard. They are lost in the fog and need a compass bearing to Jackson Park Harbor.
Throttle up and we are on the way to Belmont Harbor. I am feeling a little braver so I edge up to 11 p.m. I make a couple of stops to make sure we are on track and to listen for other boats. I see the red and green lights of Diversey Harbor and about 15 minutes later I see the red and green lights of what I think are Belmont Harbor. The chart plotter shows it as Belmont Harbor but it looks different in the fog.
As we pull up to the dock, it is 10:30 p.m. Kate is waiting for us use to make sure we got home safely.
What an adventure. That night, two boaters were killed on the Cal-Sag River by a river barge in the fog.