As far as we know, we’re the last sailboat on the river. The only other watercraft are tows with barges, a couple motorboats being delivered for winter storage, and bunch of duck hunters. It’s a bit desolate, but beautiful. It feels like we have the river all to ourselves.

At the city marina in Peoria, Illinois, the docks are completely empty. Shortly after we arrive, an employee walked to the farthest dock and hung a metal sign: MARINA CLOSED. We wondered if they might shut the power off on us, but thankfully it stayed on all night, and so did our electric heater.

Because the temperatures regularly dipped to freezing, and we don’t have a way to heat our boat without shore power, we stayed at free docks and marinas every chance we could get. But, the southern half of the Illinois River is much less developed, and there’s no way around anchoring — unless you travel at night, which is risky business — and we were not about to do that.

We ended up anchoring for a night at Big Blue Island. It took us three times to feel good about our bow and stern anchor setup, as it was our first time ever using two anchors, and our first time anchoring in a current. The night was periodically rolly due to barge traffic, but in the morning we woke to perfect calm water and lovely bird songs. The fall colors were really firing up. This video, featuring music by Common Jack, is a tribute to the beauty of the river.

Hope you enjoy!

Lauren & Kirk

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