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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