Follow Captain Bill Foster as he delivers a Maxum 46 from New Buffalo, Michigan to Marco Island, Florida via the Great Lakes, Inland Waterways, and Gulf Intercoastal Waterway with the help of EarthNC Charts and Services.

Via the miracle of cell-based internet aircards, EarthNC will be receiving Capt Bill’s position and recent webcam images while he journeys for display on this page and in our interactive maps. During the journey, we’ll be getting posts for Capt Bill on his progress and experiences. We’ll also take some time to document how we’ve accomplished the tracking and webcam tasks in case you’d like to do the same.

Photo Highlights and Comments:

Lock Photos:

Interactive Map
See Capt Bill’s most recent position along with EarthNC Online chart data with the Google Map below. Check the ‘Show Navaids’ box to also see buoys, lights, and markers along his route.

You can also follow along in 3D with Google Earth. Click HERE to open Capt Bill’s journey in Google Earth. Positions will update roughly once per minute while Capt Bill is underway and has network connectivity.

Most Recent Webcam Image
We’ll be posting his most recent webcam image here when we have an internet link.

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12 Responses to Follow Captain Bill as He Cruises from Michigan to Florida!

  1. capt.bill11 says:

    Second night we stayed in Chillicothe Ill. at their free city dock. No power no water, put a very short walk to town. Which has a classic old 2-3 block main street.
    Had a nice meal at Baily’s Pub. Played a little shuffleboard at Aunt Maggie’s after dinner.

    Because of the rural nature of the areas we have been traveling, the 3G AT&T link comes and goes. So the tracking and video comes and goes. As we get closer to St. Louis it should get better.

    Leaving a bit later this morning because we need to hit a couple of stores for some supplies and while everything is within walking distance, nothing opens till 9am.

    After that it’s on down the river to the next stop with perhaps a bit of rain thrown in.

    Stay tuned.

  2. capt.bill11 says:

    Sorry, but again the AT&T aircard signal has been coming and going all day.

    Short day. But we covered about 95 miles which is about what I hoped to average per day on this trip. We stayed late in Chillicothe (the stores don’t open till 9am) to get some stuff and then hooked the radar arch back up, washed the boat and cleaned the bridge enclosure windows, etc. Stopped at the Illinois Valley Yacht Club for fuel, water and to pump out the holding tank.
    Rained off and on today. But still a nice day to travel.

    I don’t know where the track shows me now, but I know for a fact we are in Beardstowns Ill. at mile 88 on the Illinois River. Because the sign on the barge that is the city dock says so. :-)
    Again, a neat little midwest town. Good Mexican food at the Carribe Tropical restaurant a couple of blocks in town from the dock.

    Next stop should be Alton Mo.

  3. capt.bill11 says:

    OK, let’s see, ended up spending the night here in Alton Il, not the one in Mo. :-) We needed to pick up impellers for the genset and mains. The owner had said he would get them but when I finally remembered to check the box of spares he gave me, guess what, no impellers. Oops!

    I knew I should have checked before we took off but I just forgot in all the running around the night before we left. What made me think of it was that the genset shut down last night and I figured it sucked something up and fried the impeller. But we checked the strainer and fired it up and it pumped water fine. So perhaps something just slowed the flow enough to make it over heat without frying the impeller. All I know is that it ran fine all day today.

    Anyway, I called a good friend in St. Louis and he called all around and found impellers for us. This was a good thing because we almost got stuck in the mud IN the Alton Marina. Had to back out and come in way to close to the rock embankment for my liking. But this time we seemed to just barely skim over the mud and up to the gas dock. Fueled and watered up and headed to a T dock. Marina person I talked to on the radio said it was strange that we ran aground there because a boat drawing 6’ just went out. Reeeaally? That turned out to be an interesting story because the parts guy where we picked up one set of impeller said a boat had just run aground in the Alton Marina so badly they ate up their impellers. So much for 6’with no problems.

    My friend came by, picked us up and drove us around to the two places we needed to go to get the impellers for the genset. He had already picked up the ones for the mains. That plus a stop at an Office Depot ate up well over two hours. And we still needed to clean out the strainers. So at that point, 5:30 or so, I decided to just call it a day.

    We ended up eating at Tony’s off Main street. Great fried ravioli and the main meal was very good too. Then my friend dropped us off at the boat and we cleaned the strainers and are doing laundry now.

    Tomorrow, through St. Louis and down the Mississippi. My guess is we will be anchoring out tomorrow night. I’ll try to get some good shots of the arch. We have 3G here so the links should all work well.

  4. capt.bill11 says:

    Today we ran from Alton Il., on down to Cape Girardeau IL.

    They have no marina there, just a small fuel dock that you can call ahead to have fuel delivery setup. The fuel company asks for 24 hour notice. But I called this morning and they were nice enough to meet us at around 5 pm. They also were nice enough to let us hang out on the dock after fueling long enough to walk into town and get a bite to eat.

    Another great Midwest town with friendly people and good food. It’s too bad they have no marina or city dockage.

    Because of that we headed down the river and anchored up for the night in a real pretty and calm canal just off the river. In fact that is where I am posting this from now.

    The run down was great because we went right through St. Louis and passed the arch. Lots of barge traffic in and around the city. As well as lots of big stuff in the water.

    Once passed the city the river widens up and there is much less traffic. But still lots of trees in the water to keep and eye out for. Because of that we ran slower today. Around 14 – 16 mph with the current.

    We also ran into the “Evangeline” outside of St. Louis. It’s a twenty something foot pontoon boat that these two guys bought on EBay and started on their trip down the river from Minnesota. They plan on going to New Orleans and the on over to Florida. They have a Honda four stroke outboard for power and a home made deck house with a couple of hammocks strung up inside. Kind of looked like fun.

    Well tomorrow is another day and we will see were we end up. Hopefully down on the Cumberland River.

  5. capt.bill11 says:

    Left from the anchorage just below Cape Girardeau this morning at 6:45 am. And headed down the Mississippi to where the Mississippi and Ohio River meet up.

    Trip down the Mississippi was nice but with a fair amount of barge traffic. There is still lot of debris in the water and the current was ripping along at 5 + knots causing some good size up welling and the prop washes from the up bound barges to become standing waves of 3 – 4 feet tall. We steered well clear of those.

    Coming down the Mississippi and then turning up the Ohio is like going from Mardi Gras to a cotillion in the span of a hundred feet. The Mississippi is all riled up and rowdy while the Ohio is clean and calm. Quite a contrast, in both current and color.

    Very nice run up the Ohio and on into the Cumberland River. Just as everyone has said, the Cumberland is scenic and serine. Really pretty waterway.

    Of course we took that route to bypass the Kentucky Dam which is well know for long delays in locking through due to all the commercial traffic which has precedence over pleasure craft. So what happens, we get to the Barkley Dam that leads us into Lake Barkley and the lock master informs us it will be at least an hour and a half wait while he locks through a double long barge. A double long has to be sent through the lock in two pieces and them reassembled after both pieces get locked through individually.

    So the lock master says we can float around or anchor up. I elect to anchor up and ask the lock master where he suggests we should anchor up. He says on the left side of the lock up passed the wall toward the spillway. We drop anchor, hook up and hang out.

    Hour or so later we get the call to head into the lock, great. We go to pull the anchor and its well and truly stuck, not so great. I try every trick. No luck, pop the line and head to the lock. On the way in I tell the lock master I lost my anchor ask him what’s on the bottom over there, he says “Oh, there’s rocks around there, didn’t the other lock master who was on duty just before I came on tell you that?” Ah, that would be a NO! Live and learn, always ask the lock master what’s on the bottom of the area he sends you to before you drop the hook.

    Oh well. On through the lock and into the Green Turtle Bay Marina, where they just happen to have a well stocked marine store that opens at 8am.

    Hope you’ll are enjoying the views. Cause we sure are.

  6. EarthNC says:

    Captain Bill’s report for 28 July (Day 7) –
    We pulled out of Green Turtle Bay Marina at about 10:05 am after going into town for groceries and then fueling up. Very nice marina with full facilities, including haul out if you need it.

    All I can say about the Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River is WOW! They are every bit as pretty as everybody said they would be.
    Sunny day, light breeze, little barge traffic, terrific scenery and working WiFi here at Clifton Marina. What more could you ask for in a day.

    We pulled into Clifton Marina at 6:25 pm, fuel up and tied up with the help of the lovely lady on duty at the marina, whose name escapes me, and then hit the Internet.

    No restaurant close by and we don’t feel like using the courtesy car, so it looks like its Chicago dogs and home made potatoes salad tonight. And on down the river tomorrow.

    Stay tuned.

  7. EarthNC says:

    Captain Bill’s report for Tuesday, 29 July (Day 9),
    Rolled out of Clifton at 6:45AM and headed down the Tennessee River toward the beginning of the Tenn – Tom Waterway.

    I swear it just gets prettier as we go along. And some of the homes were amazing as well. Built right on the edge of the cliffs with long stairways down to their docks, and in some cases boats, on the river.

    While I’m very happy I got this job, I really wish I had time to stop and enjoy all the beautiful coves and bays we had to pass by today. We did get to take a swim while waiting for the lock at Jamie Whitten Lock. This was doubly nice, because not only did we have a bit of a wait at the lock but it was real hot and still today up until this evening as well.

    Speaking of waits, we had a total of 4 hours and 15 minutes of wait and lock through time at the three locks we went through today. This is where any scheduling goes out the window. You never know how long the lock throughs can take. You can call ahead, and most of the lock masters did this for us, and find out how busy the next lock is. And while that helps a little, in the end it is what it is. And you have to be flexible.

    Tonight we stopped at Midway Marina, notorious for calling the police and having captains arrested at the next lock passed the marina if they do not slow down while going passed. At least according to Skipper Bob’s Cruising Guide. We slowed and stopped. J
    The place was closed when we got here so we will fuel up in the morning and be on our way.

    Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t been running later and anchoring out. While I love anchoring out, and we did it once so far, the main reason we haven’t been doing it more on this trip is the owner’s insurance company was adamant about the fact that they did not want me to run at night on the rivers. And while the chances are slim that I’d have too, anchoring increases the likelihood that I might need to for some reason.

    Now when it comes time to cross the Gulf I may have to get that changed.

  8. capt.bill11 says:

    8/1

    Lots of firsts on this trip, my first time down the rivers, first time I ever lost an anchor and the first time I’ve ever been on a boat that stopped at speed in about its own length.

    Yup, that’s right, we hit something, doing 18 or so mph and came to a very abrupt halt.

    I had just gone down below to use the head when I heard a thump and the in the blink eye another series of thumps and I was flying into the forward bedroom. Once I figured out I was OK I ran to the bridge to see what happened and if everybody else was alright. They were.
    My friend the yacht engineer was running the boat at the time. He and the mate said they saw nothing in the water before we came to a halt and I determined he was in the channel and that we could still see nothing sticking up out of the water.

    I got ready to fire up the engines after they had gone below to see if we were taking on any water or if anything had broken loose. We weren’t, and nothing had.

    I fired the engines up and I put the starboard engine in gear and heard a thump and it stalled, sh$t! I put the port in gear and it seems OK. As I start to try and ease over to the other side of the channel I realize the starboard prop sounds tangled in something. It comes lose and I restart that engine and slip it into gear. Sounds fine. No vibration. Everybody goes back into the engine space and watches as I throttle up. No bad vibrations, no weird sounds and the all clear from the guys in the engine space. So I very slowly run them up and low and behold we run right up to cruising speed with only very slightly more vibration then the boat already had. (I asked the owner about it when I noticed it on the first day. He said it never did before but he had noticed it himself and felt it was because the yard had painted the running gear and props for the first time ever this year.)
    So I back it down and we check the strut bolts, engine mounts, rudder posts, etc. all over again. Everything checks out OK.

    So off we go at a much slower pace for a time. All the while we are checking the engine space and rudder area over and over again for anything unusual. All is well. And after an hour or so I run it up and after more checks everything ran fine all the rest of the way to Mobile.

    Holy crap! It looks like we dodged a huge bullet.

    I think we hit a tree on its side with the root ball sticking up. And that is what the props got into. Part of the sudden halt was from the engineer, very rightly, chopping the throttles back as soon as he heard the first thump.

    We ended the day at Dog River Marina which, oddly enough, is on the Dog River just south of Mobile. I had hoped to have them pull the boat to look at the bottom and running gear but they don’t haul on the weekends. So I think we will work our way over to Destin Fl. where the water is clearer and dive under the boat and see if I need to have it hauled and the spare props put on.

    Going through Mobile was interesting, what with all the commercial traffic and the rain. I forgot how much I hate soft bridge enclosures in the rain. Can’t see out worth a darn.
    Don’t know if we got much usable video going through Mobile due to the rain Or the rest of the day for that matter, with little or no AT&T air card reception most of the time.

    Hopefully tomorrow there will be no more firsts.

    PS Had a great meal at the Mobile Yacht Club across the street from the marina. Real Cajun gumbo, big burgers and a neat waitress named Ruth. I highly recommend it.

  9. capt.bill11 says:

    8/2

    No firsts today, thank goodness. Left Dog River about 8AM after picking up a chart I needed.

    Overcast for the first part of the day. But by the time we hit Destin the sun was fully out as were the partiers. Destin rocks on a Saturday!

    As we head toward the bridge at East Pass the sand bar on the bay side of the bridge is loaded with boats of all styles, sizes and shapes. Major party central.

    Then going into Harborwalk Marina it’s the same mad house just in a much, much smaller area. Wave runners, tons of pontoon boats, parasail boats, charter boats of all sizes, Pirate ships, dive boats and pleasure boats. You name it and they are all here trying to go through the same small channel at the same time. Oh yeah, and add in a current perpendicular to the docks and you get to see some very interesting docking attempts. What a show.

    Fueled up and then headed to our slip. Once there we took a minute or two to watch the show and then dove under the boat. No visible damage to anything. The slight vibration must be from the blade/s of the prop being out of pitch. I must have done something right in a previous life.

    Since the weather still looks perfect to cross on Tuesday (5 – 10kt of wind and dropping, seas 2ft.) we will hold up here till Monday. Then head to the Carrabelle area to stage for the crossing.

    I’ll have the video cam pointed down the channel and dock again tomorrow so you all can enjoy the show.

  10. capt.bill11 says:

    8/5

    Spent an extra lay day in Destin since there was no point in rushing to Apalachicola because the weather wasn’t right to cross till today, Tuesday.

    Did the trip to Apalachicola on the inside ICW route because the wind was still up a bit in the Gulf. Nice ride, scenery is a lot like the rivers. Very backwoods with little development in most areas. But we had no connectivity for most of the trip. And none when we got into Apalachicola as well.

    We did see a big Tarpon swimming upside down as we got near Apalachicola. Pulled up to it and it seemed as if his/her belly was swollen a bit and it could not right itself or stay underwater very long. I do know Tarpon gulp air from time to time. But I’ve never seen one do this before, other than that an uneventful trip.

    Got into Apalachicola in the early evening, fueled up and had a really great meal at Boss Oyster. http://www.apalachicolariverinn.com/boss.html

    Hit the rode just before dawn and headed out into the Gulf. Beautiful sunrise with oyster men tonging oysters from their boats thrown in. we had a nice 10 hour ride to Clearwater. The wind was 5 – 10 knots with slight chop and swells of 2 – 4 feet left over from the storm that had been in the Gulf for the last several days. But it only got calmer as we neared Clearwater.

    Fueled and docked for the night at Clearwater Municipal Marina. Headed to Sarasota tomorrow where the boat will spend a few days getting some work done to it before we take it to its new home on Marco Island.

    I think I’ll run on the ICW to Sarasota tomorrow as it should make for more interesting video than running in the Gulf.

  11. capt.bill11 says:

    8/7

    Well we made it. Pulled into Sarasota Hotel & Marina yesterday afternoon after a very pleasant run down from Clearwater. Lots of dolphins, calm day and a stop for a burger at the Mar Vista Mar Pub on Longboat Key. Checked in and then washed and straightened up the boat. And gathered up the linen to take it home to wash and dry.

    What a great trip! I highly recommend it to any boater. The scenery and differences in the waters on each river are just amazing. Going from major cities and then little towns seemingly in the middle of no where makes for quite the contrast. And as is usually the case on these trips, the people you meet along the way are friendly, helpful and memorable.

    I would do it again tomorrow. Especially if I could take my time and really get to see and spend time in all the areas we pasted right through.

    As to my experience with the EarthNC charts and GooPs tracking software on this trip, while it may not take the place of a full function plotter, and nor does EarthNC claim it will, it is a great backup. Or perhaps have them running side by side with a nav program like Maptech or Nobeltec.
    The amount of charts and detail for the cost is amazing. And seeing your track over Google Earth photos is pretty cool too.
    I could also see how it would be very comforting for those not used to, or just getting used to, looking at and interrupting marine charts. Money well spent in my opinion.

    In the next day or two I thought I’d post the total running hours, Avg. speed, fuel gallons burned total, total fuel costs, etc. Just for the fun of it.

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