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Going from bad to worse

Posted by on December 11, 2012

Today looked to be a fairly easy day, so I was in no great rush to get moving. I had to wade in rather chilly water for about fifteen minutes as I loaded and readied the boat, so I was actually pretty much ready to work up some body heat to warm my wet feet and hands when I got underway at 8:00. That didn’t quite work out, though. My feet stayed in that unpleasant state between numbness and discomfort all morning. Around noon, I started to get some favorable wind, so up went the sail. I still paddled, but my speed was up a good mph.

After about 18 miles travel, I was within four miles of Robert F. Henry Lock and Dam, but it seemed like the water was rising and the current was faster. Within ten minutes, there was no doubt: large volumes of water were being released at the dam. Within just a few minutes, the mid- channel current was up to an apparent 8-9 mph, faster than I can paddle, all out. And then the wind quit.

I worked the edges of the river, particularly eddies behind obstructions, and mad pretty good progress. Around 3:00, when I was a couple miles from the lock, I radioed, as I had been instructed, to give the operator time to get the locking chamber ready. He replied that since I was only two miles away, I should be there in a couple of minutes, which was good because their last lock through time was 3:30. This was news to me, since I had been told be a Corps employee that the locks were open 24/7. Guess not. I paddled as hard as I possibly could, knowing that I couldn’t do two miles in thirty minutes against this current, but I had to try. I did not make it, but I kept paddling, and the kind operator waited on me. I arrived at 3:44, but he locked me through.

Tomorrow will be my last day on the river for a couple of weeks. I will spend the time with family, and then get back on the river right after Christmas.

This was early in the day.


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