Today we were on a mission to pick up our Washington State voting ballots Alex sent us from Tacoma. Sounds simple, but there was a lot to do. Our marina last night was conveniently located within a stone’s throw of our first lock so we could call from the dock to find out when we might get through. At the same time, someone else on the dock had an AISIS (or something like that) system which tells you who’s on the water so you know where the barges and other ASIS carrying vessels are. Turns out we’re one of the few boats without this electronic gizmo. Anyway, bottom line is we were well informed about the lock traffic and able to pull into the channel to conveniently make our first lock down.
BTW….we were easily able to see other boats heading downriver ahead of the lock without the ASIS, but the system is pretty cool and I understand would become progressively more helpful as the barge traffic increases and the river begins to wind a bit more. It’s very useful for boats that are less maneuverable than ours to avoid “pucker-up” moments as you around a bend and confront a big barge heading the other way. As for us….we’re using our eyes (and of course our image stabilizing binos!).
We are now into the heart of a pack of boats heading downriver. We had three locks to clear within about 30 miles and the group basically moved en masse through each lock.
The lock masters have the dual responsibility of moving water traffic and managing “pool depths” so they like to consolidate river traffic when possible to avoid moving too much water thereby lowering upriver pool depth beyond certain targets. It’s unbelievable it costs $6/time to cross the Narrows Bridge while there is this entire managed river infrastructure you can use for FREE!
Although there were 10 boats in the first and second lock, two guesses on who was first out and first to arrive at the next one! These big boys might have nice salons, but they cannot catch us on the water.
We left the pack after the second lock to go into a little marina to get our mail. We had to get through 2’ of water to get off channel and into Aberdeen marina.
Couldn’t even find it and the guy at the marina didn’t speak English. Whoa, this was deep banjo country with a Pakastani flair! Honestly, once we were there I had to use sign language to communicate we wanted some eggs.
We’d forwarded the mail to the marina (without contacting them first) and they’d refused to accept the delivery, but maybe they hadn’t understood(!). The absolutely AMAZING thing is the local post office held it and then called B (she’d included her cell number on the forwarding info) to let her know it was there. Once we arrived, B called the post office and the guy came down and personally delivered the stuff! I’m one of the first to generally complain about gov’t operations, but that was unbelievable and great! Well done Aberdeen, MS post office!
Mail in hand we headed back into the channel to clear our last lock for the day. We very nearly couldn’t make it back into the river as there was some inconsistency about the channel to and from the marina so we sort of navigated by braille with the out drive tilted up. The bow nudged the bottom at one point, but we made it with a little patience. Did I say we were comparatively fast? Despite our detour and all that waiting around, we still passed half the boats we’d previously locked down with in the channel downriver from the last lock. Now we’re in Columbus Marina for a few days.