Boating on the rivers is very different. We do not worry about the big waves, our decisions to stay or move to our next destination is not nearly as dependent on the weather. Having no mast or sails makes the decision easy, we will NOT sail today. We do have to worry about all the commercial traffic. Tows, freighters, barges all have preference at the locks and through the rivers.....in other words, we need to communicate with them and get out of their way! As we worked our way south, the tows and barges got bigger because the last lock on the Mississippi is near St Louis. The barges are huge and take up the entire navigable river, in certain areas. Now that we are on the Cumberland and Tennesse rivers, there is a LOT less commercial traffic.
Locks are also what makes river travel so different. Some are very easy to negotiate and others...not so much. Yesterday we had two locks to go through. The first one was open. We were told to pass right over the wickets, there was plenty of depth. This was true, but the wind was blowing against the current and it made for a very choppy, confused sea. In other words it felt like going through a washing machine. The second
lock was open and we only waited for about 30 minutes to get in. We were told to have two thirty foot lines ready and available. Ed and I navigated in and got set up fairly quickly but others locking with us kept getting blown off the wall before they could get the lines set. It took them three tries. This was a very stressful situation with the wind howling and nothing we could do to help. This was our first lock that we traveled up.
Today we traveled through the largest lock yet. This one was 57 feet up. You enter into a big cavern and the gates close....very intimidating. Despite the intimidation factor, we did just fine. It was one of the easiest locks yet.