Solo To Nashville

Page 3


Actually, for me approaching a pin like this is easier than trying to come up alongside running parallel to the concrete wall. I can more readily control the turn and place the boat right at the pin as I meet the sidewall. This as opposed to trying to skim down it and edge over at the last moment.  It is very easy to get too close and drag the fenders down the rough concrete sometimes causing them to pop out over the gunnel.  When that happens the rub rail can directly scrape on the wall and get nasty wounds in the process. 

When rigging Seaquinn I took special care to install hardware to accommodate singlehanded locking.  I positioned a cleat aft of the sliding side door as close as possible to amidship but close enough I could reach it without leaving the cabin.  The idea is when preparing for the lockage to attach a line to the cleat and drop the rest of the coil inside the door at my feet.  When near the pin I pick up the line and drop it over and then reach back and secure the bitter end on the same cleat.  This single line centered on the hull will hold the boat against the lock wall and normally needs no attending during the lockage.  When complete I loosen the end and flip it back off the pin and again drop it on the floor. Once I am clear of the lock I stop and stow the fenders and line. That’s the plan anyway. 

As I am waiting for the lock to open the river gods decide this is going to be too easy and another distraction is warranted.  Suddenly, the sky opens up its own gates and begins dumping water.  No sooner than this starts and the miter gates open and the horn direct me to enter. I proceed following my plan and swing a smooth 180 to bring the pin up to the side.  But now I need to open the sliding door and catch the bollard but bucketfuls are still falling. To make matters worse, now the wind is driving the rain into the lock wall above me and it is splashing back compounding the volume.  Not only that but is knocking loose dried marine growth in black ½ inch flakes, which proceed to cover all the horizontal exterior surfaces as well as splash in the open doorway.  As quickly as possible I loop over the pin, tie off the bitter end and slide the door shut to hold back the hydraulic onslaught. 

Once isolated from the downpour I take time to mop up the mess on the interior of the cabin and dry myself off.  The rain continues for few minutes and then totally stops. It is great that it ended but I would have preferred it continued until I was out of the lock and maybe had a chance to wash off most of the black debris.  No such luck..

Next, while in the chamber the lockmaster tells me the next day at 6PM the lock is going out of service for two weeks (Yes, I failed to check the lock status BEFORE I left on the trip!) and unless I wanted to stay up there for two weeks I would need to be back through. I had planned to stay in Nashville for a couple days but not two weeks. After some thought I decided I would still make the run.  The GPS put me at Nashville about 5pm.  That meant I could make dinner, knock around for the evening and spend the night at the city dock.  Then early the next morning I could depart and make the lock by lunch - plenty of time before the 6 PM closing.  

  With this decision made, I motor from the lock, looking like someone dumped a barrel of peat moss all over the topsides. And although the rain had stopped the wind had now picked up and was blowing at a brisk pace of about 20 MPH. I run up the river about a mile but decide to stop and try to rinse off the lock debris before it dies and sticks in place. So I find myself standing on top the cabin with a plastic bucket and a rope trying to lower it into the water and haul it back up to wash things off.  All while attempting to maintain footing on the rocking, slick and wet surface and trying not to fall overboard!  After the third of fourth bucket load my hastily tied granny knot (I knew better) decided that was enough and let loose sending my bucket to the bottom on the channel.  So much for cleaning off the junk. (Yea, I know – it sounds like I am a real novice at this!)