Saturday, September 30, 2017

Off to Paducah and their New Town Docks, Paducah, KY

Day 163 … Sat, Sept 30, 2017 … 27.8 miles; 6:15 hours … with 3 hour wait at Lock 52

Lock 53 Wall to Paducah, KY

As we were on the land side lock wall and the other 3 Loopers were on the opposite lock wall, no communication was had about leaving this am. Paducah S30 (2)

Paducah S30 (13)Paducah S30 (14)We rose early, for us, about 6. Did the fast version of our morning routine and once we saw someone else readying to leave, I quickly got Cally to shore for morning business. Back at the boat we were ready to shove off within the group. This was a new record for us ... off by 7:10 am. Wow!

We are all headed to the new town docks at Paducah, KY, but must negotiate one of the notoriously slow locks on our way.

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Luck was on our side! By the time we arrived at the pool there were 2 other Loopers there waiting. The lock master quickly informed us 2 tows had to go in front and lock thru, then it would be our turn. So, we all put our anchors down to wait. Not a bad wait, as the weather was nice with comfortable temps. It was 3 hours before those 2 tows went through and we got through.

The lock master was true to his word and called in the PC's, pleasure crafts, after the second tow.

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Unusual, we all floated in the chamber as it came up 10'. Normally you tie to the wall.

The group that went ahead last night tied to the wall to lock thru ... but, it was pitch dark except for the lock lights when they went through. Anyway, somehow, everyone one wanted to go into the lock last, we thought we were going in second to last; basically following the order we arrived at the lock. But no one was moving forward, Rip pulled us in first. This meant we had the lock water fill current pushing us. The wind was blowing us to starboard and our boat backs to starboard... making it hard on Rip to keep the boat centered in the chamber and by the 300' marker (as we were told to be beside by the lockmaster). Rip did an AMAZING job! A very short learning curve to feel out the current and wind; then he had it down pat. I was by the stern with a long boat hook, just in case.

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Then down to the new docks at Paducah. And the docks are full with just enough room for us, with the help of Firestorm directing the dock hands to slide one boat back to make more room. Firestorm clued us in we wanted to be on the inside of the docks for less rocking by the waves of passing tows. Plus Firestorm talked with the dockhands to explain, Lab Partners needed on the dock and not rafted, if space became on issue.  The dockhand has a Lab and was on our side. Being the first in the lock meant we were first at the dock, a short 3.5 miles away, so into the spot Firestorm set up for us and lots of Looper hands to help get us in. Good thing, as the 2 dockhands were not well trained (only open 9 days) and not understanding what we needed. Firestorm and One Eye Dog helped and taught the dock hands a thing or two at the same time. They were eager to learn.

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A long Day and we are caught up to our buddies ... time for docktails on GP!!

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Paducah S30 (8)Even Abby (aboard One Eye Dog) enjoyed docktails!

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It was Riverfest / BBQ fest just at the top of the hill ... carnival atmosphere with 40+ booths for food. I brought the Captain back ribs for dinner, per his request.

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However, all was not perfect ... 2 local go fast boats came in late and docked at the fuel dock; then commenced to party and play loud music. Didn't ask if we wanted to hear it ... but hear it we did until well after we went to bed.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

We Finished the Mississippi River today; Little Diversion Canal to Lock 53

Day 162 … Fri, Sept 29, 2017 … 68.84 miles, 9 hours

Today is the day no Looper enjoys and all dread … Olmstead Lock, Lock 53 & Lock 52. You never know how long it will take to get through any or all of these locks. Could be an hour or a 22 hour wait.Lock53 S29 (8)Lock53 S29 (9)Lock53 S29 (10)Lock53 S29 (11)

Up early for a quick cup of coffee and to shore the dog before we all pull out and start a long travel day. Today we will finish the Mississippi River and turn up the Ohio River, into the current ... making a slower passage.

The 4 hour trek down the Mississippi went well, passing tows with lots of notice and room.

It was quite congested at theLock53 S29 (4) turn up into the Ohio. Luckily most of the traffic was holding still on the side banks. The group had planned to anchor for the night by the new Olmstead Lock, under construction. Our group stays in communication on a specific VHF channel. Once contacted the lock master at Olmsted said no anchoring above the lock. Too many construction support vessels in the area and moving, I guess. So, he arranged for us to get thru him and then to get thru the next old lock #53. These 2 locks and the one above are notoriously slow, broken or busy with commercial tows causing Loopers lengthy delays (upwards of 6-9 hour waits). Matter of fact, several days later we heard Lock 53 was closed to everyone … they had a hydraulic issue needing repair before they could start locking anyone through. Once again … glad we made it through before the shut down.

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Not a long wait for Olmsted. No one is allowed to anchor between the two locks. Once thru Olmsted must be able to pass thru 53 ... hence the lock master coordination for us to all get thru. Half the boats wanted to continue to lock 52 and the Paducah docks. Half wanted to stay the night below lock 53. This was coordinated also.

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We left at 7:30 am and got thru lock 53 at 4pm. We did not want to go any further and were allowed to stay on the land side lock wall just outside of the small boat chamber that is not in use. 3 Other boats were given permission to stay on the opposite wall inside the chamber. Being land side, we were able to walk Cally across the ancient, crumbling wall to shore ... if I wore my life jacket. Cally didn't have to wear hers.

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OLD, decaying lock wall Lock53 S29 (66)top to cross to get to shore with Cally. This “small chamber” or 600 lock is not in use.

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Trying up was interesting, too. Not much to tie to here. Lock53 S29 (2)All in all it was quite a welcome stop ... at least for Cally. Plus we didn't want to lock through #52 at night. Stopping for Cally potty time was a good decision for us. The others that pressed on were happy with their decision and handled night docking in Paducah with the help of other Loopers already there.

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Tows did continue to lock the the main chamber through the night. Was kind of cool to be so close and yet, mostly, protected from the wakes by the lock walls. I did hear a couple go thru during the night. Commerce never seems to stop on the rivers.

Scenes along the way today

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kaskaskia River Lock Wall to Little Diversion Canal

Day 161 … Thurs, Sept 28, 2017 … 69.5 miles; 6 hours

Kaskaskia Lock to Little Diversion Canal

There are few places to anchor off the Mississippi River, especially now that the water is so low. Several potential anchorages are too low water depth for our boats to enter. SO?? We make a long run of 69+ miles to a well known canal for the night.

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There isn’t anything here, but a place to stop for the night with a spot for Cally to get to shore by the rocks under a bridge and then get up to dry, hard ground for business. the canal banks are too wet, muddy for her; she would sink in the mud.

Tomorrow we move on.

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