CROSSING THE MASON/DIXON LINE

To catch up from my last blog posting, we left Little River Diversion Canal off the Mississippi River and continued our journey South.

11:57AM ON 10/24/16 AT MILE MARKER 944 WE CROSSED OVER INTO THE OHIO RIVER!  Amazingly there was this clearly visible  LINE IN THE WATER where the water color changed from the muddy Mississippi to a more clear, Bluish-mud color of the Ohio.  Having lived near the Ohio River for many years while in Cincinnati, I never realized how wide this river was near its end where it connects with the mighty Mississippi!   The barge/tow traffic also increased big time.   We were in the area of Cairo, pronounced KARO – like the syrup – Illinois.   OH, and besides this water color change, we were also now going against the current, so the boat almost came to a stand still.  Actually, it really wasn’t that bad.   7MPH    We had just been spoiled for those few days whizzing along the Big Muddy with a speed of 13-14 miles/hour!!

There are two dams and locks once on the Ohio River that we needed to pass thru.  From other  Loopers who had gone before us, there were reports of  waits, up to 3 hours, to be able to lock thru.   The first dam , Olmsted, is a new lock and dam that is being built.   It is replacing  OLD lock #53 that is no longer operational, but does have these things called wickets which are below the level of the water and you can just cross over them when they are “down” at the bottom of the river.   In order to go thru this Olmsted dam, you MUST be escorted thru by a lead tug boat.  And at this point one just follows the tug right thru the lock, which is open at both ends.

The protocol was to hail the lock master who then passed you over to the tug captain when you got close.   This guy was a hoot and a bit of a feisty one.   Said he was going to lead us thru the lock and then once we got past the wickets at the old lock #53, he was going to “drop us off like a bunch of red headed step kids!”    So that is what he did and we followed with “Bonnie Jean” on our stern.

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ESCORT BOAT AT OLMSTEAD LOCK AND DAM

As we crossed over the wickets and were “dropped”, we noted around 10 or so huge barges waiting for this tug captain to escort them thru this lock heading down river.   They will be at this ALL night long!

We anchored long the Ohio River at LITTLE CHAIN BAR.   Buddy boat, Bonnie Jean, and eventually North Star, anchored in the same spot.   When we awoke early the next morning, ALL of those barges were gone!!

TUESDAY  OCTOBER 25, 2016            As we headed out into the blinding sun (see below)

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OHIO RIVER 

SIDE NOTE — cataracts being ripened on the fast track having to deal with this every AM!!    It is a killer……even with those expensive sunglasses.    Prep the day surgery op-suite, here I come….

Sorry, moving on.   We cruised for another 26 miles on this day as we headed to the next lock #52 ( also notorious for long waits) and  afterwards the mouth of the Cumberland River.

9:17 AM               WHOOP WHOOP  – FAST  RED ZODIAC APPROACHING, RED AND BLUE LIGHTS FLASHING, WHOOP WHOOP….. HERE COME THE COAST GUARD!!    The  Coast Guard eases on up to the port side of the boat and sure enough, they wish to board us.   I stay at the helm to hold the boat while Hank greets them on the lower deck.   First things first……”We do not have any firearms on board.”   Hank felt they were relieved to know that.   We maintain a documentation notebook that we can quickly pull out, just for this purpose.   There we keep the updated Coast Guard Documentation and Registration for Salt Lick, the insurance information, etc..   They also wanted to check our ID’s.   SURPRISINGLY, they did not check our safety equipment — i.e., flares, radios, life jackets, etc..    After about  15-20 minutes hand shakes and farewells were said and off they went and so did we.

Our travel buddy boat, just eased on by us and waved as we sat there in the channel with these guys on board.   OK —- they were really cute, looked about 12 years old and I wanted to give them cookies!!   BUT —- my duty was to maintain a straight position and keep the boat from floating down stream from which we had just come.   🙂

Lock #52  – what great luck we had with this one too!!    The wickets were “down” so we just cruised right on over the dam bucking the swirling waters, but hey — beats waiting for hours to do a lock thru.    SOON we were entering the Cumberland River.

Here we noted another big change……..the water is more clear yet , the river is smaller, there is much less debris, and we know for sure we are in the hills of KY!

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CUMBERLAND RIVER – THE HILLS OF KENTUCKY

MAN, those birds were fat — oh wait a minute……THOSE were TURKEYS!!    Two turkeys flew right across our bow shortly after turning up the Cumberland River.   FUN!!   The Cumberland River is more winding with sharper bends in the river.  It is also much more narrow than either the Mississippi or Ohio.   We elected to travel to the Cumberland vrs. the Tennessee River, as literature and others we talked to said that the Teen. River is extremely busy with barges and the wait at the KY DAM can be long.   Buddy boat Bonnie Jean elected to go that route…..they had a two hour wait.   But arrived at Green Turtle Bay, where we are, at about the same time.   Choices….. we are glad to have taken the “road” that we did.   BARLEY dam is a 52 foot rise from Cumberland River into Barkley Lake.  We were the only boat to go into this lock.  Thankfully , there was no wait for us to lock thru.  Green Turtle Bay Marina is about 1 mile from the Barkley Dam.  After almost 8 1/2 hours of cruising, it was good to be docking!!

TODAY IS THURS. OCTOBER 27, 2016           As I write this, we cruised for 5 straight LONG days down the Mississippi, up the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers to get to Green Turtle Bay Marina, here along Barkley Lake in a place called Grand Rivers, KY.

We have met “again” several other Loopers, plus a few others too.   No one seems to be in a hurry to leave this place.   Nice place, good boat store, and boat works, restaurant, and even a spa.    A good place to re-stage for the next part of the adventure.   One of Hank’s friends is coming tomorrow to visit.  We have been conducting the usual boat chores and any minor repairs that need to be done.   The local yacht club opens its doors to the transient boaters, so that is where we have watched the Cubs in the World Series.   Plan to leave in a day or two.

We are South of the Mason – Dixon line and feeling warmer already.   Actually enjoying temperatures in the 70’s & 80’s for this weekend, with cool nights.   PIRATE BUC tried to escape and stay back at HOPPIES MARINA WITH the lovely MS> FERN…..but we grabbed him just in time to continue on this adventure.    Tonight he bitched around about not having any rum.   So guess I will add that to the shopping list for tomorrow………..

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BOAT MATES –PIRATE BUC AND HANK!     ( A MOTLEY CREW FOR SURE)

 

 

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