Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Whitten Lock to Columbus

Between all the locks, Nebo
couldn't keep track of the day.
Thus, Google.
subtitled: The Tale of Seven Locks

From the moment we got up today it was gloomy. As the day went on it was either cloudy or rainy. All. Day. This was a 12 hour journey, for heaven's sake...

Lock #1.
We purposely anchored right next to the lock for a couple of reasons. One, great anchorage. Two, easy to contact and get through said lock. We hoisted the anchor just before 7 am and called the lock. Yep, come on down, it will be about 15 minutes to fill but he'll lock us right through. YAY! As we hovered outside the doors another boater hails him. Having heard our request he wanted to lock through, too, and they were just leaving the marina now (about 2 miles away). Lock master agrees to hold the lock. So, our expedient exit is quickly stalled by 2 boats who heard our call and thought they should go too.

<Rant>By the way, neither boat was going as far as us today. In fact, both stopped after the 3rd lock. So... why not wait? Why make us wait for you? If you were in a hurry to leave, why weren't you ready to go? We waited another 30 minutes in the lock for these guys.</Rant>
Lock #1. Nuff said.

All the locks are down, now, all the way to the Gulf.

Lock #2 and Lock #3.
We moved a bit faster than the other two boats, but it was clear we were all locking through together. We weren't at all surprised by that. The water levels are low here (shocking, I know!) so the locks have been asked to conserve water by locking as many boats as possible. Lock #1 contacted the other two so they knew how many were coming.

After #3 (now about 10:30 in the morning) one boat turned into the Midway Marina. The other followed us to the next lock. It was the smaller and slower of the two boats. Which was a bummer since our ETA into Columbus was estimated at 5 pm by Navionics. The sun set at 6:20 today, and we desperately didn't want to dock in the dark. We really hoped to open up the engines and get some miles down.

Lock #4.
We lock through with the teeny tiny boat. We knew the next lock was about 14 miles away, so we sped up, hoping to create enough of a gap that the lock master would consider letting us through. Within a few minutes the tiny boat hailed us. They were stopping before the lock for the evening. Woo hoo!

Russ waiting for the next lock in the rain.
Lock #5.
Just when we thought we had it made, we hailed the next lock. Turns out they were in the process of locking down another boat. DANG! It would take about 30 minutes to turn the lock around. We slowed down and hovered a bit until the doors open. We locked through alone. 

While in the lock the lock master hailed us. He explained that the next lock was going to wait for us lock both of us together. We told him we'd hustle it so no one would have to wait long. It was just 5 miles away.

Unfortunately, the depth in his area was sub-10 feet. Which means that harder our engines work, the more suction gets created with the ground beneath the water, so we don't go as fast as we would in deep waters. We pushed it anyway, making about 9.2 knots (at rpms that usually get us 11 knots or so).

Lock #6.
I confess, since we were in a rush I came in juuuuuuust a little hot. About 6 knots, when usually I do about 4. And I didn't slow down until I was nearly upon the lock. As a result, some of our wake sloshed in behind us, and the entire chamber, both us and the other boat, bounced around for the entire lock through. I was so embarrassed. Note to self: Don't do that again.

This picture was taken in Spanish, ON,
the northermost point on the loop.
The date was Aug 18. Less than 2 months ago. WOW.
We're about a week from the Gulf of Mexico. Double WOW.
Lock #7.
Our ETA has move to 6 pm at this point. I'm starting to get nervous. We contacted the boat that got held to discover they typically travel around 8 knots. Both of us agreed Cat-n-Dogs would lead and we'd start the lock process. Upon arriving at Lock #7 they'd just locked down a tow and needed to refill for us. Sigh... We wait another half hour and lock down with the other boat, who caught up with us just in a knick of time!

With the 7 locks behind us we only have two more hours of travel to get to Columbus. The ETA slipped to 6:15. Man, we were cutting it close. And while the day was spent with locks, the last bit of travel we dodged not one, not two, but three tows, in addition to a bunch of debris and logs.

We did indeed get in around 6:20, with just enough light (dampened by clouds) to see the channel markers. Since we got in after 6, when the marina closes, they told us to park on the fuel dock and we'd get moved in the morning.

I'm gonna sleep well tonight.

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