#56 Hardin, Illinois to Grafton, Illinois

Written by The Crew

Rev writes all the posts as "The Crew" at What Yacht To Do. It's just part of the First Mate duties. That list just keeps growing...

October 18, 2019

We got to sleep in this morning because we only had a short 21-mile cruise to get to Grafton.

There were five boats tied up at Mel’s Riverdock Restaurant.

The day before we ate at Mel’s and everything we had was delicious.

So, it was an easy call to go back for breakfast.

The portions are giant so we saved half for a future breakfast.

We also were able to use the restaurant’s wifi.

Great food and Internet.

What could be better?

Our view as we were docked at Mel’s.
What a beautiful morning!

The dock at Mel’s is in terrible shape.

It’s rusty, buckled and hard to walk on.

Even Mel told us when we went to the restaurant that he is surprised the dock is still there after all the flooding they’ve had.

Leader of the Pack

Sam was in the lead as we left Hardin and headed to Grafton.

There were only two of us but still.



Sights Along the Way

I know this won’t come as a big surprise but we saw a few barges along the way.

Shocking, I know.

But we also saw houses on stilts.

After the recent flooding on the Illinois, you can see why they build like this.

I’m not sure I could live like this but it sure is awesome to see along the river.

We also saw a couple of ferries taking cars and trucks across the river.

Another sight we haven’t seen before.

It’s hard to imagine life where you have to rely on a ferry to take you across the river to work or to shop or to go visit someone.

But for those of us that get to enjoy watching this in action, it’s very cool.

Time to drive off and get going!

Right before we reach Grafton, we saw another barge.



Well, once we got to Grafton Harbor docking was interesting.

To say the least.

Sam has become very reliant on using the bow and stern thrusters to get us into slips since we started this journey last May.

So here it is four months later and we lost our bow thruster in a lock.

I try to remain calm as we as we enter the harbor and try to locate our slip.

We are at the very end.

That’s great!

Shouldn’t be a ton of spectators down there.

I am saying reassuring things to Sam in our headsets.

Things like “you can do it!” and “you’ve got this!” and other commonly over-used sayings when trying to encourage someone.

I even kind of believe what I’m saying.

But neither of us knows what to expect since Sam has never docked in a slip in a marina without a bow thruster.

Here We Go

As soon as Sam makes the right turn to go down the dock, he gauges the wind to decide if he’s going to go bow in or stern in.

He decides to go in bow first.

He thinks that will be easier.

So as he lines up to go in the wind decides that he is lined up too perfectly and starts to turn the boat sideways.

Sam announces that he is going to turn around and try it again.

He reverses and then throws it into forward gear to go behind all the boats docked in their slips and circle back around to our slip.

That’s the time I decide to freak out.

I not-so-calmly mention that he is way to close to those boats!

My stomach is up in my throat.

He remains calm.

I don’t know how.

But he did get us turned around and lined up so I was able to get a line to the dock hand that has been watching our show.

Right as we get lined up and have the nose of the bow in the slip, an Asian carp jumps up and onto the dock.

I scream.

The dock hand laughs.

Then kicks the bloody carp back into the water.

I don’t know why the Asian carps flop around and bleed but they do.

And it’s gross.

Grafton Harbor

We had a nice time at Grafton Harbor once we got settled in.

There are so many restaurants within walking distance.

They also have a courtesy car although it broke down when we used it.

What is it with us and this place???

We met a few other loopers at Abigail’s Tap Room and had a great time swapping stories.

Also, while we were in Grafton, we attended a docktails event that was organized by Susan of Lucky Me.

There were tons of fellow loopers there so we had a chance to meet up with some we had met before and meet a few new ones.

We also had a chance to meet some friends who live in the area.

It was great to catch up with Mimi and Mark!

Our Thoughts

Here are our thoughts about moving from Mel’s Riverdock Restaurant in Hardin, Illinois to Grafton Harbor in Grafton, Illinois.

If you want to know what to do to pass a barge, this is the video for you.

Sam does an excellent job of showing you exactly what to do.

Let’s Hear From You

How did you find out about the Great Loop?

We would love to know who told you or where you read about it or however you got the info.

Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Another exciting adventure for the “Here’s to Us”! The Asian Carp makes it more comical. Kudos on the “How to pass a barge” video.

    • Oh, those carp were frightening! I totally didn’t expect that. Thanks so much. I thought Sam did an excellent job of showing how to pass a barge. 🙂

  2. I was researching fuel efficient boats and came across Ranger Tugs. Their community is very active and many do the Great Loop. That’s how I learned about it. Do you bump into a lot of Ranger Tugs? Any feedback from owners?

    • We have met two couples with a Ranger Tug and they love them. But we don’t know a lot about them. If you are a member of the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) one of the benefits is that they have a searchable member database. You would be able to contact members of Tugs directly.

  3. I believe I likely learned of the Great Loop via Boating magazines many years ago. I then read the book “Honey, Let’s Get a Boat” by Ron and Eva Stob. That created some interest in the venture, but it’s more boating than I think I want to invest in. I’m enjoying your posts.

    • Sam read that book also and loved it. You are right, James. It IS a lot of boating. LOL


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