First, the fog.
The 14 boats jammed together at the free lock wall last night were eager to get “unstuck” and underway, so we moved out early. A little too early for my taste, since the fog hadn’t yet lifted. “What’s the rush?” I asked Jeff as we loosened the lines before 0700. I knew the answer. Others were leaving, so we ought to get moving too! I feel it sometimes myself, that need to “keep up.” But many of the boats were planning to go much farther than us and needed a head-start. “Can’t we wait for the fog to lift?” I pleaded. I knew the answer to that, too. Jeff is a stubborn Swede. When he decides, he decides. He does consult me more often now, and is moveable sometimes…but not always.
It usually works out.
We got a few warnings from the boats ahead about the fog, but it did lift as the sun rose higher. After that, the challenge was sun in the eyes, making it hard to see the buoys. Then, the most raucous river we’ve entered yet. It’s kind of like paddling a canoe or kayak down a river, needing constant adjustments. The eddies seemed bigger than ever today.
We left in a group of six, and one of the boats with good AIS capability — call it “electronic eyes” — offered to take the lead in communicating with barges. I gratefully accepted before Jeff could argue about it. 😉 We did take the physical lead while our entire parade-of-boats passed by a long barge just before a turn in the river. It’s interesting, and sometimes a bit stressful, to calculate time-and-distance in these circumstances. You think about fuel consumption (the faster you go, the more you use), current (how fast is it pushing us), speed of the barge (how long will it take to reach the curve) and making room for the boats behind who must also pass the barge before the curve. Overtaking a barge is one of the more intense activities when navigating a river.
Upon arrival at Little Diversion Canal, we took the lead again — since we have a shallow draft — and offered to test the depths. Jeff gave me the helm after we entered the narrow channel, as he prepared to drop the dual anchor. As we moved cautiously forward, I delivered the water depths by radio to the boats following behind. Soon we were all safely anchored for a very quiet and peaceful evening. First, we had a “conference call” by radio about our departure plans and possible destination tomorrow. I like being in a group right now. I like the collaboration. Jeff is a bit fidgety about that, being a loner by nature, but he’s accepting it for now. God knows I like my “alone time” too — but there are times when friends are helpful!
We traveled 70 miles today. With the downstream push from the Mississippi, it didn’t feel that long. It’ll be a different story when we start upstream on the Ohio. That’ll be weird!