Fun to be had on the Ohio River

Trip Start Oct 17, 2009
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Trip End Nov 15, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Saturday, October 31, 2009

On October 29th we left the Mississippi River and began the upstream journey along the Ohio River. It is a short stretch, only 60 miles, so we figured if all went well, we could move through in a day and a half at most. It so happened, and really this should come as no surprise, that things did not go according to plan. 

It was cold and rainy as we rounded the bend at the end of the Upper Mississippi and turned up into the Ohio. The visibility was terrible which heightened my panic caused by the dozens of tows and barges darting around from all directions, only a few bothering to use their radio to announce their departure from a loading dock (hence the lack of photos for this part).  

A little side note: Until now, tow operators had consistently referred to us as "pleasure craft" (any non-working boat). However, here in Cairo (pronounced K-row) which I will remember only for its the frenetic maze of commercial barge traffic, Tom cunningly deciphered from garbled VHF conversations amongst the tow captains that we were being referred to as the "quarter pickle." That's certainly how it felt in comparison to all these tows pushing 6-20 barges apiece.

It was a complete madhouse. So that when taken alongside of feeling under the weather, led me in short, to totally freaking out. So now poor Tom had to deal with not only bad weather, poor visibility, manic barge traffic, being called a quarter pickle but now, a sobbing wife. Fortunately, not long thereafter, we spotted Gipsea, Dick and Marge's boat whom we had become acquainted with a couple days prior at Hoppie's Marina. Gipsea was at an emergency anchorage just outside the shipping lanes. We pulled up behind them, grateful to have a place to stop.

That night, the wind continued to pick up and Hawkswood kept swinging parallel to the large wakes created from passing tows causing us to roll pretty violently. It was a sleepless night as we kept getting up to silence each banging door and locker.

Then, around 3am, still only half asleep, Tom and I sat up in bed at the same time. "Oh ----, what's that smell??" We frantically began pulling up floorboards to determine the source of burning plastic and rubber. After a couple of minutes of searching we honed in on a fire hot water pump. Apparently a bearing had seized and because the wiring was undersized, not enough current passed to flip the breaker. Instead, it just continued to slowly heat up until it was closed to catching fire. Tom clipped the wires and, nerves still on end, we attempted to go back to sleep. 

We awoke the next morning to more rain and wind and decided just to stay put. Setting a stern anchor helped to steady us from the wind and wakes and were left to busy ourselves with replacing the water pump with a replacement we had onboard.

The morning of the 31st we departed our emergency anchorage towards the Cumberland River.
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