Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 18 on the river

We got a good start in the morning. Got up to the lock about 1 mile away from the dock just to wait for the barge to get though the lock, oh well. The Jamie Whitten lock has the biggest change level in all of the 30 plus we go though. We start 84' higher going in, than when we go out. From the time the water started to drop till the lower gate started to open was about 14 min.  The lock is 110' wide by 600' long and a drop of 84' that is 41,469,120 gallons of water in 14 min. Or about 50,000 gallons per second going out of the lock chamber. It started slow and they open more of the gate as we were going down. We really moved down fast during part of the time.

Wo off to the the next lock, which had only a 30' drop. Most locks work the same. They have stop light like at an intersection on a street. We wait for a green light, and a horn blows, indicating we should go in. Then we grab a line from them, floating in the middle sometimes or we use the floating bollards. When we reach the next level, they open the gate and blow the horn, which signals to us that it's okay to leave the chamber.  So at the 2nd lock today everything was the same as all the other locks. Dave let off his line, got it in gear, and after the horn sounded, I pushed off the wall and released my line. Dave starts to get us going out of the lock.  We had started in the middle of the lock, was 300' from the lower gate. We started to pick up speed and at about 150' off the gate we saw it was closing. We can't stop quick and there is no way we are going to get through before it closes back up.  Dave was able to get in reverse and crank up to full throttle. I and the other boat in the lock called on the radio to the lock with no call back. I tried to call and got a busy signal. After about 5 min the gate opened again but nothing from the lock. Had the boat got caught in the gate as it closed it would have crushed it. Period. We still don't know what or why it happened. Just glad we had time to catch it before anything bad happened.

A few miles after that lock the motor lost RPMs a few times. Then we decided to do a short day and install the new fuel filter system at a Marina. The only one that worked was the Smithville Marina. It looked good on paper. We could not reach anyone on the way in to check how deep every thing was. When we got there no one was there at 2 in the afternoon. Dave did get a hold of someone by phone after we docked, said he would be there in a few hours. Nice people but this Marnia has seen better days. Most of the dozen or so boats here, not sure when the last time they have left the dock. One house boat is 1/2 sunk. We got the new system installed and ran the motor for about 20 min so no air bubbles, then got our showers 2 day in a row, wow. Scott from the marina got us all set. We asked about a car to use, and he had one, and suggestions for places to get a good dinner. That is where things fell short since none of the restaurants are open tonight. About the only thing was fast food McDonalds, Wendys. KFC, Taco bell is not what we had in mind. We did find an ok mexican place.

The weather was much better. I was wearing only a t-shirt today, and I think it got to around 78 today and the wind was not too bad.