Where we at

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Florence to Joe Wheeler, anchor

Shockingly, it all went like clockwork.

Up at 5 am. Called the lock -- we have liftoff! Knock on the neighbors door, they're ready and waiting. Feed and walk a dog. Engines on. Turn on running lights, turn on makeshift anchor light, and out we go. We had to wait about 5 minutes at the lock but the doors swung open. We 2 boats went in.

The land side lock at Wilson. You can see one
set of door beyond the lower set.
No wonder they don't like to use it.
Let me tell you a bit about the lock. Wilson is the highest lift in locks this side of the Rockies, over 90 feet. Approaching the doors felt like a scene from The Lord of the Rings, storming the gates of Mordor. The no-longer floating wall was built in 1959, and was the first of its kind. (I suspect the others are getting scheduled for an inspection.) It does have 2 chambers, but once there we realized why the smaller one "takes more manpower," a quote we didn't understand. It isn't 1 small chamber; it's 2. You go into the first and it lifts you half way, then you go into the second, and it lifts you the rest of the way. We did one on the Trent-Severn in Canada. 2 locks per direction take up and awful lot of time. Factor in breaking tows down to fit in each and, oh yeah, we get the "takes more manpower" thing. Lastly, and something we discovered while there, the doors on the lake side do not swing (90 feet! That would be a tremendous amount of force). It drops, sinking into the lock floor and out of your way.

She's Got A Phil'n, just when the waters
started to rise. You can see the crest line.
That green bit on the bow? That's Phil!
Eventually the doors opened but we waited; usually there's a horn or a green light that tells you to proceed. The lockmaster hailed us saying his horn was broken so come on in. We do. She's Got a Phil'n (pronounced "feelin'") took the port side, and us starboard. We both announced we're secured and they fill that puppy! It rose very fast. Once it crested we saw the door in front of us sink. It went underwater then hooooooonk! So, both of us untied and slowly started to move forward. The lockmaster hailed us, "Don't leave the lock yet. I haven't given you the go." "I'm so sorry!" I told him, taking inQuest out of gear, "We heard a horn!" "Yeah, sorry about that. We got a lot going' on over here." At that point She's Got A Phil'n hailed us, "We heard it too. Glad he said something, though. Don't want to run into that door."

Our buddy boat gets underway (Russ helped with their lines) then we do.
As the sun comes up we get to Wilson. Go in, go up quickly, watch the gate
go down... and us falsely start.

We did another lock about 12 miles later. With Phil'n leading the way we toodled through the waters. Sunny, cool, a little breezy. Even through sleepy eyes it was a great morning. Once through the second lock we parted ways. They are continuing to head home. We headed to Joe Wheeler State Park to drop the hook. 

We'll be on anchor for a fair bit of the holiday weekend. We think we'll stay here for a day, then explore another bay or two. Lots here to see.

Total lock count: 55

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