Wednesday, May 21, 2008

OK Boat Trip, Day 27, 05/21/2008

So long Memphis. We left Mud Island Marina at 5:30 AM. Great city, but we were ready to leave and get closer to Muskogee.

Before the day was over, we put 153 miles and 3 locks between us and Memphis, a record day's travel for us, ever. We did get some help from the current - we saw 17.5 on the speedometer at one point which means we had a 7.5 mph current. But it generally averaged 4 to 5. Today we saw "submarine bouys." One minute you would be watching a bouy, and then it would take a dive and stay underwater for several seconds or in some cases never resurfacing. All you would see would be a huge swirling circular wave where your bouy had been. In any event, the MS River was absolutely beautiful today. The surface was like glass most of the day with a light wind out of the north. But even with those mild conditions, the MS is tiring because of the continuous swirls in the water, and you always have to be on the lookout for debris. The glassy surface is obvious below. Look closely and you might be able to see some of the swirls. Each one tries to turn your boat, so it's an all-day affair steering where you want to go rather than where the river would prefer you go.

The first 35 miles of the river was deserted and then in the middle of nowhere, a resort and casino pops up on the riverfront in Tunica, MS.

About 70 miles down the river is the town of Helena, AR. Not much town to see from the river, mostly industrial and shipping.

We saw more barges today than ever before, probably around 25. Duh, Wayne - if you go 153 miles in one day you'll probably see more than if you go 70. We did not take a picture of these but they were huge. The large tows (they actually push the cargo so not sure why they call them tows) put out about 5 huge 8-9 ft wakes behind them. So, you try and avoid these as long as possible but eventually you have to cross them, but at a lesser height of course. In fact, you don't just cross them once - there are about 5 more sets of waves that follow the original ones and they last for about 2 miles behind the tow.

So, we were excited to put the MS River behind us and entered the White River at 2:57. Talk about night and day. The White River here is actually a man-made canal that joins the AR with the White and feeds both into the MS. It's very narrow (about 600 feet across) and very calm.

This is again Rhonda's kind of river!

We were a little anxious that the current would still be running strong but it was only about 1 mph. However, the water is still high and we just went over the top of the Montgomery Lock and Dam (#0 since it was added after all the originals) at mm1.5. The two poles you see here are light poles which are attached to one wall of the lock which is completely under water.

The next lock, Norrell L&D #1, is not under water but the water is still high enough that they don't actually lock you through, just keep on cruising. Rhonda wishes all locks were this easy!

Our final lock for the day, L&D #2, and we actually had to lock through this one.

We anchored 1.5 miles past L&D #2 at Merrisach Lake. Here's the L&D behind us.

And some water lillies next to us for the night. We also had a copperhead swimming beside the boat.

Tomorrow, 3 miles ahead and one lock is the AR River. We plan to be at Island Harbor Marina in Pine Bluff for the night.

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