Saturday, October 16, 2021

Second Creek to Wilson Lock, wall

Thunderstorms came during the night, as predicted, and dropped temps by nearly 20 degrees. It's gonna be a nippy night. But that's not the interesting part of the day...

While at Second Creek we noticed a bunch of tows around (again!). Russ called Wheeler Lock around 8 am and was told to call back in 3 hours. He called at 11 am and we were told we'd be able to go in the next hour or so. We hoisted the anchor and headed out. The lockmaster gave us permission to tie up onto the auxiliary lock wall while we waited, and that we'd lock down with a small tow. 

Side note: From below Chattanooga all the locks have smaller chambers, or auxiliary locks. They just don't like to use them. We -- everyone -- must wait and go through the big chamber. 

In Wheeler Lock with a barge.
The day was blustery, probably the windiest we've had in months. It made getting onto the lock wall a little challenging, but we managed.

The tow entered the chamber. We got ready ourselves, getting off the wall, and standing station at the lock. Once he was secured we got the green light, and were instructed to pull ahead of him and tie on the port side. We would be out first. We were so close to the lock door Russ could have reached out and touched it when it opened.

It all worked well. When we pulled out we were greeted by 11 or 12 looper boats waiting to go up. They were headed to the Rendezvous.

AIS sigs of all the loopers waiting at Wheeler
The wind had made the Wilson Lake choppy, something we haven't experienced since we got on the rivers. We'd been really lucky. It was in no way the worst we'd ever been on but a reminder of what lies ahead in a couple of weeks once we get to Mobile Bay and the Gulf.

We arrived at Wilson Lock around 2:30 pm. The lockmaster was hopeful about locking us down tonight. All that had to happen was this tow (who was in progress of being broken down) had to get the rest of its barges in the lock, tie 'em together, lock down to his other barges, tie them together, then be on his way. Loopers down there would lock up, and we'd lock down. The process should have taken a couple of hours.

On the wall above the aux lock.
Those are the doors...
that's a little unnerving.
It's 4 hours in and the lower loopers still haven't gotten into the chamber. The current time is 6:30, and it's getting dark.

The plan: There still is no room for us at the marina. So, when we lock through, we're going to tie off on the lower auxiliary wall for the night. The trick there will be not to run into the tow that's also parked there.

So, yeah. Gone be an interesting night.

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