Thursday, May 22, 2008

OK Boat Trip, Day 28, 05/22/2008

We left our Merrisach Lake anchorage early, but not quite at the crack of dawn, and joined the Arkansas river about 3 miles later. The current was not too bad - we averaged 5.5 to 7.5 mph most of the day. The lockmaster said they were flowing 107,ooo cfs and tomorrow should be around 90,000. So, things are getting better every day. A week ago it was flowing around 165,000.
Today would have been a really nice easy day but we ended up with a 3-hour delay at Lock #3. The current was a bit strong to just drop anchor in the river so we ended up circling and waiting and waiting and waiting. Not sure what the problem was but the lockmaster said they were "waiting on some approvals from above to get this barge through." Once we were in for our turn, it was the quickest lockthrough (is that a word?) we have ever done, no more than 10 minutes. You have to keep in mind though that these first few locks only raise you about 3 to 5 feet each. We made sure we passed that barge ahead of us ASAP after leaving the lock so we didn't have to wait on him again at Lock#4. And sure enough, we called lock #4 by phone and there was no other traffic ahead of us. He had the doors open when we got there. When you leave the lock, you have to call the Rob Roy bridge tender to have him raise the bridge if no train is coming, and there wasn't.

I decided to wash the boat between the two locks - she was looking a little dirty. We have a freshwater pump and line that draws direct from the river so Rhonda drove (piloted) the boat while I walked around on top and cleaned. This was her chance to get rid of me with a man overboard trick but she didn't so I guess she still loves me. I'm sure she thought about it though - we've been pushing it hard the last 2 days.

I'll mention one thing about anchoring out as we did last night that contributes a little to some fatigue today (not to mention covering 153 miles on the MS yesterday!). There was only a narrow area for anchoring last night on Merrisach Lake and that area was right next to the main channel. Four barges came through after dark and before we went to bed. When that's the case, you sleep very lightly and wake easily. We also usually set an alarm on the GPS or depthfinder so that if the anchor pulls loose for some reason, the GPS or depthfinder senses the change and an alarm goes off so you can check it out. The anchor held just fine but I slept in the pilothouse just in case I had to move quickly during the night.

Anyhow, here are some shots from during the day. Just after entering the AR River, we spotted lots of white pelicans - you need to enlarge this photo if possible. Beautiful.

Later, more white pelicans and a sandy beach.

A blue silo which is a little different. Most are usually red, silver, or white. Lots of farmland today.

You don't want to stray from the channel on this part of the AR - lots of dikes. Here are some pilings for one dike and another of stone. Dikes and revetments keep the rivers flowing where man wants them to go. Without them, rivers go where they want to go.

And finally, we're docked at Island Harbor Marina in Pine Bluff. Chris Wade has recently purchased the marina and he is doing lots of renovations. I called him yesterday to be sure he could provide us a slip and fuel. He provided us a slip at the fuel docks and had some new diesel trucked in for us. His diesel service is out of service on the docks so he pumped it from up on the hill through a water hose. Another first for us but that is service. When he found out I was headed to Muskogee for the harbor master job, he decided our slip fee should be free. Thanks Chris!

Now this is strange. One of Island Harbor's claims to fame is the only known floating chicken house. The chickens were gone at the time I took the photo but here's the house. Now who do you think thought of this? By the way, that's Chris's boat, the big white one to the left of the chicken house. It's about a 70-footer which was previously used to shuttle crews to and from oil rigs.

One other neat story of the day. All day long, swallows flew playfully around the boat, kind of like the dolphins that swim along the bow of the boat in salt water environments. They had a pretty blue color and just seemed to be having a great old time. Things you see on the water!

There's a nice easy rain this evening - should make sleep that much better so maybe we'll get a good rest tonight. Tomorrow - Little Rock at Little Rock Yacht Club.

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