Sunday, June 20, 2021

Salt River to Louisville, marina

We learn all the time while on the water. We learned quite a bit about the rivers yesterday and today.

Odd things we noticed yesterday.

1. About 3/4 of the way through the day more debris filled the pool. We passed that off as "getting closer to the lock" but it was still a bit far. Even as the day started we're 20 miles from it. 

2. About that same time we noticed our speed decreased. We started the day running over 7 knots, but by the end were only getting 6.2 to 6.5. We passed that off as "the river is narrowing, so the current is growing."

3. Our anchorage, on a tributary, ran opposite of what we believed it ought to be. We just passed that off as "the waters are higher than usual" and ran with it, anchoring facing the Ohio. We didn't move all night.

Um, where those trees like that when we
went to bed last night?
What was really happening? They were filling the pool. There were massive storms to the north of us yesterday and odds are those dumped a bunch of water. Or, due to the high heat, they were generating lots of power at the lock and dam, McAlpine, to deal. Whatever the reason, they started pushing as bunch or water down river (and at us). All our weirdnesses were explained by that fact. When we woke we noticed the water was nearly 2 or 3 feet higher than when we went to sleep. 

We were a bit worried about getting through McAlpine. While they have 2 chambers, 1 is in repair and will be until November. About 2 weeks ago boaters we know who are ahead of us has to wait over 3 hours to get locked through here. Our lock luck held out -- as we approached the doors were opening.

The RiverPark Marina. Note how tall those 
pilings are. Everyone remembers the great
flood of 1937!

The marina sat just behind a small island, which protects it from passing traffic. There was a small miscommunication between the linesman and the pilot, but no damage or incident occurred. On our second attempt we docked just fine.

Despite the heat we had a late lunch at the Silver Dollar, a local cafe run by SoCal transplants. Vegetarian menus options abound there. We had the chilequiles, and vegetarina biscuits & gravy, and a side of hashbrown casserole. 

Total lock count: 18

Welcome to Louisville!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Sinking Creek to Salt River, anchor

Longer day today. But no locks. A bit more traffic due to the weekenders and, for some reason, and a few more tows. Oh, and back into Eastern time.

Right off weather looked like it might be an issue for the day. Our weather apps showed massive rain to the south of us (from the tropical storm) and massive rain to the north of us. While we traveled the north storm dipped down just a bit. It looked like we were going to get a deluge. The winds kicked up into the mid-20 mph. But we got a spritz of rain ad that was it. Clouds parted, and the day remained mostly overcast but pleasant. It wasn't nearly as hot as it had been predicted.

Looks like rain, don't it?
The Ohio is receding but still well over it's normal levels, which means travel for us is much slower. We are constantly running up a really big hill.

All these anchorages are new to us. Russ reads reviews of them on various guides so we're as prepared as we can be when we get there. Salt River was no exception. We were told there were a number of bridges, all of them high, and that the last one had a "none shall pass" sign on it warning about it being a military area and you just might get blowed up! 

We traveled all the way to the "blowed up" part, seeking anything looking like a reasonable anchorage. The problem was, while the river wasn't crazy wide, it was crazy deep. Mostly 25 feet or more. We have the rode, so we can do it. But setting it is always tricky, since you need to let out a LOT of rode to be able to pull the anchor more horizontally instead of vertically. Also, once set (say to a 5:1 ratio) that makes for a big swing circumference. I already mentioned, the river is not that wide. To deal with that you set a stern anchor or "med moor", which is to tie a line to something solid on the bank, like a tree.

The bridge has a warning sign.
Turns out, that's Fort Knox!
This river was bizarre. The further back we traveled the deeper the thing got. We tried to anchor at the "none shall pass" sign, but couldn't get the anchor to dig in. Taking that as a sign we came back out and found the shallowest spot we could. Dropping an anchor there worked but it took a bit of coaxing. None of that made us feel good about dropping a second anchor. With me at the helm holding position Russ dropped the tender and we attempted to med moor. But (crazy thing 2) the river ran in reverse. You'd think it would run TO the Ohio, but no, the current came from the river, turning the boat to face our entrance. Moreover, it looks very stable there. So we just shut off the engines and walked the dog.

Check out the debris. It looked like we wouldn't be
able to get through. The left side was open, though.
So. Here's hoping that all works fine for the night. (Did I mention the tropical storm south of us?)

Total lock count remains: 17

Friday, June 18, 2021

Owensboro to Sinking Creek, ancho

When we woke this morning we noticed that the river had receded about a foot. Good news, since that should allow us to travel a little faster.

Our next stop was an anchorage about 50 miles up river, Sinking Creek. But the day was supposed to be crazy hot and we thought hanging out in the heat of the afternoon didn't sound like much fun, so we had a secondary target about 10 miles further upstream. But... boater life.

Yep, about a foot lower this morning
We arrived at the only lock today, Cannelton, around 11:30 am. The doors were a bit slow to open but we basically were able to glide right in. We got secured to the wall, then I called the lockmaster and confirmed we were ready. Waiting... waiting... waiting... the doors aren't closing. I asked Russ if the lockmaster responded to me (we've had that happen, where they didn't hear my call and didn't close the doors). Nope, there was an acknowledgement. Waiting... waiting... waiting... The lockmaster hailed us. There's an issue with a valve so this might be a few minutes. "Copy that, inQuest standing by on 13." Waiting... waiting... waiting... Lockmaster hails us again. "So, we think a log is blocking the valve and if it doesn't close I can't fill the chamber. There's a tow in the big chamber coming down. As soon as he's out you can go to that chamber and we'll lock you up." "Copy that. And you'll tell us when that is?" "Yep. Stand by on 13."

This shows 1) how high the water had been and
2) how much wood is in these waters
So, we made lunch, played with the dog, drank some iced tea and waited for about a hour while the other chamber got ready for us. When we heard the horn (indicating the tow could leave the chamber) we untied, spun around in the lock (a first for me), slowly made our way out the in-door. We watched as the 15-barge tow crawled out of the lock, then we scurried in behind him and secured ourselves again. During the wait the lockmaster talked to another tow, also wanting to lock down. He told them we were going to be in the lock but they could tie on the wall, just make sure they leave us enough room to get out. So when the big doors opened, we could see the wee gap we were supposed to get through to get out. But we managed.

Lock doors open... drive around THAT!
The delay was about 90 minutes, so getting to Sinking Creek was no longer going to be too early. 

All day long Russ was training his battery remote, which meant we have to burn the batteries down to a certain voltage before charging them. Throughout the day he checked their levels. Took a long time, even with running the AC upstairs and down nearly all day. But that's why we have these new batteries. So we     can run the AC all night if we have too without power.

Total Lock Count: 17

See how we did it. Movie below...

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Evansville to Owensboro, town wall

Technically, we docked along an old lock wall (Lock 46) that is no longer being used. More on that in a bit.

Getting out of the Evansville marina was a little tricky. We made 2 attempts. When we docked we slipped in between 2 boats, all of us parallel on a pier. The one ahead of us left yesterday. The river flowed pushing us down stream and into the boat behind us. Our first attempt felt too rushed, and we didn't want to have the current push us into them. We move forward, rolling on our fenders along the pier until we could swing the stern out and let the current ease us backwards and clear. 

Farewell, Evansville
Once on our way we notice a lot more traffic than we'd seen a few days ago. At one point there were 4 of us almost side by side, 2 up and 2 down, passing each other. The next lock, Newburgh, was about 15 miles from the marina, but a number of tows were on the water heading up with us. They looked spaced out enough that we didn't feel we'd have much of an issue. Moreover, all the locks we've been through on the Ohio have had 2 chambers, a big one (1200 feet) and a small one (800 feet). All the tows need the big one. And we are just a tiny PC by comparison. We called the lock about 2 miles out, and the doors were open and waiting. We went up a whopping 6 feet.

The Wall at Owenboro. More like "The Curb."
The description of the Owensboro Town Wall said there was over 1000 feet of wall to tie up onto using the ballards. However, the pool is about 5 feet higher than normal. As a result, most of the wall is just at the water line, which is impossible to fend off. There were a couple of 80-foot juts that are a bit higher. We tied up on one of them.

Then we hoofed it into town, which was about a mile away, and enjoyed a fabulous Mexican dinner. I originally wanted pizza (for those who know me I always do) but I noticed this place had Camarrones Al Mojo De Ajo (Garlic Shrimp). And that's just a dare! We judge our Mexican restaurants by it. And this one was in our top 5. Possibly our top 3.

Total lock count: 16

Oh yeah! Check out the ajo! Outstanding dish.
Can't wait to come back!

The lonely boat on the Ohio.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A Day in Evansville

The Nu-Plaza Yacht Club marina
A number of packages had been shipped here for us, not the least of which was a new battery remote that would give Russ actual data from the new batteries. The app he'd been using was suspect, and we don't want to trash these bad boys. He opted for "more data is better". As a result we'd planned a day layover so he could hook up the new device and get that working. Also, there's a Costco here, so a bit of reprovisioning was done.

Oh, and recall the shower I was gonna take? Pump died again, thankfully when I was only wet and not sudsy. Russ attached a hose to the shore water, which got us through the night, and did a bit of research to discover that the pump's issue is a switch in the pump. He also discovered it was less than a year old and had a 3 year warranty. After calling the manufacturer they started the "trouble ticket" process, but that wouldn't get us up and running. He called around and found a marine store that had water pumps. Using the handy courtesy van here he went there, bought a new pump, and installed it. So far, so good, fingers crossed, and knock on wood.

We weren't totally unprepared for that. We did have a backup pump which used to be the primary one. And we hated it. So we really didn't want to use it again unless we were desperate.

We expect to get to Louisville by Sunday, and stay there for a couple of days. Another round of Amazon ordering has already begun. Such is boat life.

This awesome graphic is posted at the marina.
It shows all the locks we'll go through to get to Pittsburgh,
the nearby towns, and elevations. Another 17 to go.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Wabash to Evansville, marina

subtitled: Every Day is a Frickin' Adventure!

The anchorage last night was lovely but, yet again, there wasn't much opportunity to take a dog to shore. I could tell she needed to go when she stared at the front door to the bow, where I'd put all those pads. But we went out for about 30 minutes and she refused to do anything. Since her buddy passed away about a year ago she's been sleeping with us. Oh, yeah. You know where this is going. We woke to a mattress emergency around 2:30 am. Thankfully I have spare sheets.

At the town wall in Mt. Vernon.
The tow with the new crew it in the distance.
We got underway about 6 am, later than yesterday, but still early. Got through the John. T. Myers Lock without issue -- the chamber door was open and waiting. We had a reservation the Nu Plaza Yacht Club in Evansville, but after a little research Russ found a highly rated laundromat in Mt. Vernon that was just a 5 minute walk from the town wall. We decided to stop there, get all the bedding washed, then go on.

As we approached the town wall we noticed some people with luggage walking down to the very dock we were headed for. There wasn't a boat tied there so where were they going? We then realized a commercial tow was headed their way and Russ put together that that tow was doing a shift change. We didn't want to be in the way (the tow would clearly take up the whole pier) so we bagged our docking/laundry plans and headed out. Once by the tow we saw it's tender, what they were actually taking to the dock, and we definitely would fit with that. So we did a 180 and made for the dock a second time. Went like clockwork. 

You can't tell but this is a yellow finch.
Landed on a safety line right at dawn.
While I walked the dog Russ started the trek to the laundromat with our wagon full of bedding. I met him there where he took another walk to the local IGA grocery and bought some blackberries. About 90 minutes later we were firing up the engines and heading out.

Side Note: Awesome laundromat, and I highly recommend it to any boaters. I've been using laundromats over the last 5 years, including our RV adventures, and I rate it among the top 5.

Just before leaving I used the head ... and discovered the boat no longer ran water. We left anyway since we have some drinking water stored and Evansville is 4 hours upriver. Russ went to see if he could suss out the cause quickly while we were underway. Within 10 minutes of leaving the dock the starboard engine sputtered and died. Just died!!!

Logs everywhere. Eyes open if you're at the helm.
I ran slowly on the one engine while Russ took a look at that problem since he thought the two were related (the water pump is located in the starboard engine room). They were ... in a sense. While mucking with the water pump he bumped the engine's fuel filter selector, which effectively shut off fuel going to the engine,  thus starving it. The engine turned over right away when put back into the correct position.

We got docked by 3 pm. Wind came up a bit, blowing around 16 mph, but fortunately it was on our nose at the marina so docking was smooth.

Russ took apart the water pump to find a small piece of solder in the relay. Once removed, it worked like a charm. I'm off to go take a shower.

Total lock count: 15

Monday, June 14, 2021

Towhead to Wabash, anchor

Another 92 degree day. Hopefully the last or a week or so.

Everything up to this point we'd done before. Starting today, it's all new. We haven't truly explored "new waters" since the loop.

Up crazy early, 5 am, and not for any good reason other than we left the windows open (since the low was in the mid-60s) and that let the sunlight in early. Russ immediately took a look at the lock ahead, Smithland. It looked open. He called to confirm. Yep, come on down.

Before we even had coffee we hoisted the anchor and headed out. The lock was about an hour away. I heard them talk to a down-bound PC. As soon as he was in I hailed the lock to let them know we were coming. We assumed we'd lock through once the down-bound was out of the chamber. Took a while to get the lock to listen to us, but we locked through with ease, only a 27 foot raise.

Sunrise departure
We are headed upriver for the rest of the trip to Pittsburgh. At the moment there is about a 2 knot current against us (water will be high for the next few days), so we were poking at around 6.5 knots. The was a tow behind us, going about 7 knots. I really don't want to be passed by a tow so we kept the spurs to her.

By 10 am we're reached Elizabethtown. The place is largely famous for the E-town River Restaurant, which is built on a floating platform over the river. They didn't open until 11 for lunch. But we were able to dock the boat with ease, walk a dog (who did NOT get walked last night, and needed it), lay down for a few minutes, then go get an early lunch. It also gave time to the Speed Racer tow behind us to pass. Side note: not a huge fan of catfish but this place was amazing! We had catfish, hushpuppies, fried okra, potato wedges, and coleslaw. Just wonderful!

We couldn't get her to shore. So I'm trying to 
give the dog options! Nope. Won't go.
The owner came by and asked where we were headed. We said Pittsburgh. He gave us the strangest look. Then I volunteered, "For the summer. We'll be back this way when we go back." He asked, with some shock in his voice, "To Florida?" He went on to say he wanted to start a paddlewheel restaurant but the thought going just a couple hundred miles was terrifying. Russ mentioned we'd done the loop, and that's a nearly 6000 mile trip. He was floored.

inQuest docked at the E-Town River Restaurant
By noon we were on our way again. There are only 2 anchorages that are marked between here and the next lock; one was very close and the other far away. We opted for the far away one.

We dropped anchor off of Wabash Island around 5 pm. From here we can see the next lock but we have to go the long way around the island to get to it tomorrow. If it works out we'll be in a marina in Evansville around noon.

Total lock count: 14

Lots of bobbin' and weavin' between big logs and debris.
It comes in clumps -- we'd have a lot of it, then none whatsoever.
Russ thinks that's because of the lock. It clumps in the chamber
and gets released into the river in batches.