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Day 1 – June 20th Great Loop Adventure 

This is the post excerpt.

20170620_203018This is the blog of Greg & Doreen Youngberg’s great loop adventure 2017 – 2018.  We departed this morning, June 20th, 2017 from the Isle Casino Marina in Bettendorf Iowa on the Mississippi river at mile marker (MM) 486.2

We plan to spend the Summer traveling the entire Tennessee River before dropping farther South to join the rest of the loopers this Fall.

Greg’s Dad and our boating friend Gary Melton were waving to us as we passed by 31st street end of sunset marina.  Dave & Deb Pollitz came up to us in their runabout boat near barge beach (formerly known as crystal beach) to send us off with a wave also.  Lots of well wishes posted on FB as we chronicled the first few lockages.

We got a slow start by having to wait nearly 2 hours to lock thru LD15, but made up for it with no wait and quick in-out at both LD16 & 17 where rollers were wide open and only a 6″ drop.

Greg loves his AIS feature that ties his VHF radio to his new chartplotter.  He hails the towboats by name and checks their positions ahead at locks so he can throttle up or back to coast into locks with minimal  delays.

We are throttled back now waiting for a tow to exit LD18 above Burlington IA.  We will anchor for the night somewhere below Burlington.

We anchored at MM 402 just below Burlington RR bridge for the night.

We traveled 84 miles today and got thru 4 locks in 12.5 hours.  A very nice little boat ride!

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Marathon FL Keys: Friday April 17th, 2020

We call it groundhog day everyday…similar weather patterns of mid 80s, sunny skies, and beautiful sunsets, surrounded by palm trees and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The struggle is real. We are grateful to be here vs back in Iowa where it snowed twice this week! Yesterday Marathon had a record high temperature of 94 degrees! Yep it was a scorcher but we were crazy and went fishing with Kevin and Deb in their Angler anyway! Didn’t catch anything we could keep or cook, but it was entertaining just the same. Greg hooked a barracuda and a nurse shark, and a few tiny fish. Kevin also caught a few tiny ones. We relocated to the bridges (between the old and new spans of the 7 mile bridge) and caught a few sea chubs but that was it. We had to use a fishing app to figure out what kind of fish the chub was since we’d never caught one before. We heard they are not edible and sometimes are used as bait.

The Monroe County checkpoints remain in place and they continue to turn away many who try to come to the Keys but have no job or residency here. There are neighbors reporting short term rentals still occurring in their neighborhoods resulting in fines and in a couple cases owners were arrested for failure to comply with the countywide mandate.

A couple days ago, I finally went to the grocery store for the first time in about 2 weeks because the freezer and refrigerator were getting pretty empty. Our county requires everyone to wear a mask or something over their mouth and nose before entering any essential business, so I was in good company with the other grocery store shoppers. Everyone was doing their best to give others plenty of space in the aisles and during checkout. Only thing I could not find to buy was paper towels…we have one full roll left so we will get by.

Marathon FL Keys: Wednesday April 8th, 2020

Been busy today preparing for the Quarterly HOA Board meeting (I am a board member and Secretary for our condo association back home in Iowa). We had golf ball sized hail last night in Bettendorf Iowa. The 4 condo buildings and clubhouse sustained hail damage to siding, window screening and possibly the roof shingles…we are having a drone launched to inspect the roofs later today. I am hosting a conference call with our property manager and board members tonight.

We hired a diver to professionally scrape clean the underside of our boat this afternoon. We’ve been sitting in this slip since November and salt water critters like to grow on boat hulls and running gear. The diver advised Greg that our bottom paint was in great shape and deterred growth very well, and our sacrificial annodes on the shafts were deteriorated. He then offered to put new shaft annodes on since we had an extra set handy. We tipped the young man well for his additional effort. He told Greg all he really needed to do every few weeks was snorkel along the sides to get the growth removed with a scotch brite type of pad. Our running gear should remain clear for a few weeks since growth he removed after just over 4 months wasn’t terribly bad. Tom Unley and his crew at Unley Marine back home will be happy to know that the expensive bottom paint they applied is working well after 2 seasons here in Marathon.

While the diver was scraping our hull, Greg and Kevin hauled the 20′ Angler fishing boat out onto its trailer and did some scraping of its hull. Kevin really appreciates Greg’s help in maintaining his fishing boat…we enjoy riding in it so he is more than happy to help.

Greg’s Mom is an amazingly talented quilter and seamstress. In addition to working on a quilt for us, she made us each a face mask to wear to the grocery store using a hospital approved pattern…the masks arrived in the mail today.

We spoke with Noah today and he is getting settled in at Alex’s house in Sherrard IL…a technician was scheduled to install internet service today. He will then get online to file his unemployment claim with Colorado. My Mom already told us he and his friends Alex and Donnie came on Saturday to collect his bed and most of his things he left behind when he moved to Colorado 6 months ago. Noah said he got to go fishing with his Uncle and Cousin and that he also caught a nice sized large mouth bass…he missed catching big fish (he only caught small trout in Colorado last Fall).

Weather here in Marathon is essentially the same day to day with slight wind variations. Sunny and low to mid 80s for high temps and lows in the mid 70s. Full moon last night and another marvelous sunset. I’ve been posting pics and videos on Facebook of sunsets for family and friends back home to enjoy while they are home waiting for the days of the COVID-19 pandemic to pass.

I will update with some pictures later

Marathon FL Keys: Friday, April 3rd, 2020

We spent 8 hours on the water aboard the 20′ Angler fishing boat with our neighbors Kevin and Deb (they own the Angler). We probably put on 50 miles and enjoyed our run to No Name Key and Big Pine Key. Got carryout from No Name Pub, less than a block away from a small private marina where we could tie up for a small $5 donation. Viewed Sunset from the boat and then returned to our home marina by 8pm.

We explored Anchorage areas and just relaxed away from news, and even kept our phones put away so we could get away from it all.

Of course I got my phone out for sunset and Kevin took a picture of us girls on the bow as we were returning. The picture of us leaving at noon was courtesy of our friends Bill and Anna Marie who were relaxing at the point of our marina resort

Marathon FL Keys: Sunday March 29th, 2020

2:20pm update…Hurray!!! The checkpoints will continue 24/7 afterall. 778 cars, approximately 2000 people, were turned around in 48 hours!

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Well we thought we’d be in one of the safest places in the country after Monroe County set up checkpoints on Friday morning and turned around tourists attempting to come to the Keys at the rate 20 cars per hour. They claimed they didn’t know the hotels were temporarily closed to tourists. Yesterday a Sheriff told a private jet load of 20+ passengers from NY/NJ they couldn’t deplane at the unregulated Marathon airport (no TSA or air traffic control personnel at this site since only private and charter aircraft use it…no commercial carriers). The FL Governor has pulled State Troopers off the 2 checkpoints leading into the Keys and the Monroe County manpower is limited and may not be able to sustain the checkpoints after 6pm today! Hopefully the FL Governor will provide requested support to Monroe County…we will know more on Monday.

Update on our son Noah: He has left Summit County Colorado. He lost his seasonal job at Keystone Ski Resort when they closed all ski resorts earlier this month, and could not stay in employee housing much longer. He was driving across Iowa this morning and should arrive in the Quad Cities area early this afternoon! He will be moving in with a friend and will eventually get his remaining things moved out Grandma Minick’s house.

We’ve had some spectacular sunsets and I’ve posted lots of pix and videos on our Facebook page “Greg Doreen Youngberg” Here are a few highlights

Marathon FL Keys: March 24th, 2020

Update on our standed son Noah: a local auto repair company sent their tow truck Monday afternoon. Today (Tuesday at noon Mountain time) they called to advise his vehicle is running fine now and ready for pickup. He found a friend still in town who can take him to his car. He needs to turn in the old alternator to the auto parts store where he purchased the new one to get reimbursed for the core charge. Then, he needs to find someone at Keystone to turn in his official outerwear apparel so he isn’t charged upwards of $400 per item. He should be packed up and on the road from Dillon Colorado by Thursday and back to the Quad Cities by the weekend!

Greg’s folks will arrive home today…they’re outside of Des Moines Iowa on I-80 as I write this.

Very quiet in Marathon…social distancing is being taken very seriously.

Local fresh produce stand is open this week but they aren’t sure their biweekly trips from the Florida City farms will be sustainable enough to continue to remain open.

Meat department at Publix grocery offered to fresh grind a lean cut of meat into burger for Greg yesterday because they haven’t gotten in ground beef lately.

Greg’s blood pressure has been a bit high recently so he is taking it easy and managing it with his RX meds and rest. I think all the stress of his parents traveling and our son being stranded are contributing factors, but he’s not likely to admit it.

Here are last nights sunset pictures taken from the point at our marina

Marathon FL Keys: Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

I decided to begin our blog again so hopefully we can look back on the coming days, weeks, and months knowing we did the right thing by remaining here to ride out the Corona virus pandemic.

By 6pm today, all FL Keys short term hotel, condo, and marina guests must leave. Short term was defined as less than 28 days. We are on a long term monthly lease/rental and are allowed to stay here at the Blackfin Resort and Marina. We have been provided with a document from our marina manager on letterhead that states we have a long term lease/rental agreement thru the end of June 2020. There are only 8 liveaboards remaining here (including ourselves) in our tiny marina so social distancing will not be a problem. 4 of these boats are year round liveaboards, the other 4 of us have been here several months…we arrived November 21st. All of us are healthy and symptom free at this time .

Our boat is stocked with at least 2 weeks supply of food. We are supporting local restaurants by ordering carryout for dinner at the Hurricane grill onsite adjacent to our marina.

Greg’s folks left Arizona a couple days ago to return home to Illinois. They have kept us informed of their daily progress and have the advantage of Quad City friends who are a day ahead of them advising on gas stations and lodging availability and conditions along their route. Greg’s brother Jeff went to the grocery store to get some food for his parents house so they don’t have to go to the store as soon as they return.

Our son Noah is stranded in Keystone Colorado in employee housing until he can get the alternator replaced on his car. Vail Corp closed all ski resorts across the country and gave employees until March 27th to vacate their employee housing. They paid them thru today based on their 40 hour work week. Neither Noah or his remaining roommate Brandon have a running vehicle and Keystone ski resort has become a ghost town. The Keystone Housing office calls them and the few remaining others in their housing complexes a few times a week to check in on them and are aware of their situation. The boys were down to pizza delivery for food after buses and shuttle service shut down along with resort closures. I called their local grocery store in Dillon yesterday to inquire about their delivery service. They said they were booked thru Tuesday, but suggested I try Instacart online ordering and delivery service for their area. I was able to order frozen prepared meals like mac n cheese, burritos, breakfast sandwiches etc with a delivery timeframe of 5 hours. The delivery driver arrived at their Tenderfoot housing building in less than 3 hours! We are very relieved for now and Noah and Brandon are thrilled to say the least…they have food for several days. We hope to find an automotive repair service to replace his alternator on Monday. Noah could not reach anyone over the weekend.

My Mom is doing fine in her house in Moline IL and says she has plenty of food in the house.

We predict there will be a nationwide lockdown in the immediate future and the national guard will be put in place to restrict travel. We have out of state plates (Iowa) and plan to take our long term lease/rental agreement document with us any time we need to drive to get groceries etc if/when it comes to this.

We mostly worry about our son Noah and his situation with employee housing. Lots of what if questions that we cannot answer at this time.

We will deal with this one day at a time. We are grateful to be marooned in Marathon FL Keys with this million dollar view and gorgeous sunsets to ease our anxiety and stress levels. When Greg’s folks get home safely that will be one less concern. If a shelter in place declaration is put into effect before Noah’s car is repaired, we hope he and his roommate will be allowed to remain in employee housing at minimal or no expense, and that grocery delivery service providers can keep up with demand.

Not sure if I will post daily, but plan to post on a regular basis. We know that this is just the tip of the iceberg and it will definitely get worse before it gets better.

Days 20 to 23 – November 13th – 16th, 2018:  Demopolis AL/Kingfisher Bay Marina MM 216.9

Winds picked up overnight at our Sumpter rec area anchorage as predicted and by 4:45am we were awake and noticed Claude checking lines and his anchor using a flashlight.  He expressed concern about his anchor dragging and it was holding all 3 boats.  Greg thought his chain just straightened out a bit with the wind and we weren’t really dragging at all.  By 6:05am we had pulled anchor with enough light to see and took the lead leaving the anchorage.  At first we thought the tug wasn’t joining us and then they came into sight as we were getting secured in the Heflin lock.  The lockmaster of course waited for him and all 5 of us locked thru and were heading to Kingfisher Bay marina.  The river was very swollen now that we were below the Heflin lock and the amount of debris, big stuff, was significant but for the most part could be avoided.  We hit a few things we couldn’t see to avoid, but with no apparent impact (no vibrations).

We arrived at Demopolis just before noon after traveling 53 miles and 1 lock.  We decided to pay for a full week to give plenty of time for the water levels to return to normal and for the mass numbers of boats to leave here and get thru the debris and anchorages and leave room for us.  We signed up for the 5pm shuttle to town for dinner and Walmart grocery shopping.  Jacklyn and her kids came to visit shortly before we had to leave to catch the shuttle.  We got word that Wendy, Bob and their 4 kids were about to enter the marina (they topped off with fuel before coming into the marina)…but we had to catch the shuttle so didn’t get to welcome them.  We joined several others on the shuttle and had dinner together with 7 of them at the Red Barn restaurant before getting groceries. We got back to the boat with a load of groceries and checked FB to discover Lauren and Jim from Oar Knot (a 34 Mainship) and Al and JoAnn Barr were here in the Demopolis marina too.  We met Lauren and Jim on the C&D Canal, then they followed us to Cape May NJ,  and we met once again at the Trent Port Marina in Ontario Canada.  We met Al and JoAnn in January and February 2010 thru Jim and Cyndi McKay at the Orange Beach Marina when were were in the process of buying our 39 Mainship!

Day 21 – November 14th, 2018:  Remained at Demopolis AL Kingfisher Bay Marina

Slept in and then made a huge pot of chili.  Jim McKay called us to advise his son-in-law Joel Jenkins was asked to dispatch a Tow BoatUS to assist a stranded trawler above the Heflin lock and wondered if we happened to know them or see them when we were in route.  We assumed it was the Skolmate and gave name and contact info to Jim to pass on.  Jim called back to us know it was a different boat named Meridian Star.  We hadn’t seen it.  We let the Chili simmer and went to visit Lauren and Jim after leaving a voice message and boat card for Al & JoAnn.  Lauren and Jim have already been here a full week and were going to wait a while before leaving.  They thought the same way we did about the large numbers of boats trying to get into the same small anchorages or pile up at Bobby’s fish camp dock.  Neither of us wanted anything to do with that shit show.

We got a text/email from the Nimble Nomad, Sutters Ann, stating they arrived safely at Bobby’s fish camp (we joined them for dinner at the Red Barn restaurant last night).

We were invited aboard Compass Rose around 4 and told them we would be there but couldn’t stay long because we were meeting Al and JoAnn at 5 on their boat on C dock. Margaret and Claude Fuller were leaving early in the morning so we enjoyed seeing their Mainship and chatted over a beer in their boat.  We then visited with Al and JoAnn Barr on their 44 DeFever for a couple hours and said we would see them again before we leave.

Day 22 – November 15th, 2018:  Wilsons texted to say they were among 4 boats that left early this morning and they would arrive at Bobby’s Fish camp by 2pm.  Debris was visible but not terrible.  Fullers texted to say they were doing 10.5 mph and then texted later to say they were anchored in Okatuppa and there was no where near as much debris as the day we left Sumter in route to Demopolis.

We left the transient dock and out of the bay around the corner to the fuel dock and topped off with 110 gallons of diesel fuel.  Greg had coordinated with Anna Marie and she told us we could relocate into Slip B16, so we were able to pump out right at the dock (no pump out available on the transient face dock across from the huge docks with slips ranging from 40 to 70′.  We are backed in to a 50′ slip (they only charge by the size of the boat, not the size of the slip).

Laundry day – got it all caught up while Greg took the golf cart over to the boat works side of the marina complex.  He checked on Phil and how his boat repairs were coming (Fire Spray II) and asked if there were any plow style anchors and chain available for sale…nope.

We were invited by Al and JoAnn to join them on Friday night for dinner at the Red Barn…looking forward to it.

Day 23 – November 16th, 2018:  We took the marina courtesy car to Walmart once again for a few more items before we depart tomorrow.  Anna Marie processed our refund for 3 nights since we previously paid for a full week.  Phil got his boat launched and are just a few slips away from us now.

 

Day 19 – November 12th, 2018:  Columbus Marina MM 335 to Sumter Recreation Area Anchorage MM 269.9

At 6am, the Stennis/Columbus Lockmaster confirmed our planned 7am lockage and we tossed lines by 6:30 to slowly leave the marina and wait at the lock for the gates to open.  A small tug had also tossed lines and was going to be joining us in the lock.  We lost the tug after the first lock as they could not keep up with us.  We traveled 65.1 miles thru 2 locks on this cold rainy day.  My shrimp boat boots (Royal Whites) and rain pants have come in very handy.  In route to our anchorage we passed an older trawler that appeared to be beached on the downstream end of an island at an exiting oxbow.  They did not hail or request assistance.  An hour or so after we got anchored med style with Compass Rose, that older trawler arrived and asked if they could tie up to their port side (we were on their starboard).  They said they were stuck on a sandbar upstream overnight after trying to turn into an oxbow to anchor and two big boats came by and waked them enough that they were able to get off the bar.  They didn’t realize it was us or that the water level had risen significantly overnight enabling them to leave.  We all traded boat cards, they are the Skolmate.  Another boat named Seasons was already in the anchorage upon our arrival.  The little tug arrived shortly before dark, and we read its name as it pulled in past us, it was a little green Nimble Nomad named Sutters Ann.

We had little if any Verizon cell signal, let alone data.  We were grateful to get a text message from Jacklyn advising the river was going to continue to rise significantly.  She included a picture of the rivergages chart showing levels rising from 38’ to over 60’ within 72 hours!  Greg used our VHF to communicate with the Heflin lockmaster to advise there were 5 of us in the anchorage looking for an early morning lockage.  The lockmaster also confirmed the increase in water levels would not impact locking operations.

Day 18 – November 11th, 2018:  Midway Marina to Columbus Marina on Tenn Tom (MM 394 to MM 335)

I called the Lockmaster 3 miles away at 6am and then texted the only sailboat, Lulu, that I got a boat card from to advise of a planned 7am lockage for a group of upto 10 boats.  I then texted the other cruisers after texting Jacklyn on Fire Spray II.  Most already knew of the time set by the lockmaster and were tossing lines by 6:30.  The lockmaster told me I was the 5th person to call him.  Told him we were sorry it wasn’t a better coordinated effort.  There was no sign of activity on the sailboats as we left the marina and no response from Lulu to my text.  The 7 of us cruisers were secured in the locks and the lockmaster had the doors closed already when he saw one of the sailboats beginning to leave the marina.  He locked us down and advised them he would turn the lock around for them as soon as he could.  He told us if we got an hour ahead of them, the next lock 15 miles away would scoot us thru and not make us wait on them. Boats in our floatilla today included Fire Spray II who took off after the first lockage to get that hour ahead of the rest of us slower bigger boats (they can do 40+ mph), Makin Memories, Moon Dance, Plumbfun, Tango Papa II, Compass Rose and us.  The Columbus marina gave us an option of a covered slip so Compass Rose and Blurred Lines were contently secured under cover (it was going to rain overnight and all day the next day).

We met Wendy and her family (we’ve been following Wilsons on the Water on FB since Jacklyn told us about them) and invited Wendy and Bob to tour our 38 Bayliner after dinner (they are traveling with their 4 daughters aboard their 32 Bayliner).

We coordinated with Claude and Margaret Fraser (Compass Rose the 2005 Mainship Trawler 400) about possibly traveling in the rain tomorrow vs waiting for rain to clear and then dealing with 10-20 mph winds on Tuesday.  We invited them to join us for a pre-dinner beer aboard Blurred Lines and gave them a tour.  We agreed to leave together in the rain the next day and had a plan and a back up for anchorages half way to Demopolis.

Coordinated with others in the Marina and all we were able to reach advised they were staying one more day and would not be traveling with us in the rain.

Day 17 – November 10th, 2018:  Aqua to Midway Marina on Tenn Tom (MM 448.8 to MM 394)

It was a cold crisp 29 degrees when we got underway just before 6:30am with a little smoke on the water.  We saw a Mainship (Compass Rose) leaving just before us and followed them thru the ‘ditch’ section as it is referred to on this narrow section of the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway.  We soon found were in the middle of a parade of 9 boats all headed to Midway marina:  3 sailboats, 1 catamaran, and various cruisers most much larger than us.  The Lockmasters on the Tenn Tom are the great equalizers…they make the faster boats wait for the slowest boats so they lock us all together.  We looked forward to getting to Midway to meet up with Phil, Jacklyn, Carlson and Aubry.  They were waiting for us on the dock upon arrival and were waving and smiling and happy to help in any way they could.   The kids entertained us in the boaters lounge that evening and we enjoyed catching up with Jacklyn.  Phil had his boat to himself for a few hour of peaceful TV watching.  We exchanged several boat cards with the floatilla we traveled with today.  I tried to coordinate a departure timeframe with the pack leader, Makin Memories.  They were planning to leave at first light.