XXXVI Bar Island to Willow Island

Sunday September 21, 2014

I got up early again this morning. After a day on the hook the batteries begin to get near the point I like to keep them above. We are not in conserve mode when we run as much as we do. This morning I decided it was time to top up the batteries with water.

I like to do this, it gives me a chance to wear one of my headlights. If any of you have never seen one it is a small LED flashlight on a strap you put on your head. The great thing is a hand is freed up and the light is normally pointing where you are looking. If it isn’t, a quick calibration using a piece of paper with an X on it helps get it right. I don’t think one should wear a headlight to all social functions but on a boat they are very handy. John Cusack started the craz in the movie ‘sixteen candles’. He played a geek in that movie.

I am still in search of a suitable coffee bean to replace my kicking horse. We have only been on the water for a short month and we are out of KH. You could help us by sending a pound of Kicking Horse beans to:

Turner Marine Supply Inc.

c/o Greg Wright – FRACAS

5010 Dauphin Island Parkway, Mobile, AL 36605

Just kidding, we hope to find a suitable coffee here.

We started just before 08:00 central and we dropped the anchor behind Willow Island at 14:00. We managed to do 56 statute miles. It is amazing how much distance you can cover with the current and without the delays that locks can bring. Fracas is fairly quick under motor power and does 6.8 nautical miles per hour easily. She will do 8 when pushed. The Illinois so far has been 1 to 2 nautical miles of push per hour. The Mississippi will be considerably more. Rumour has it that last week it was running almost 7.

We interacted with several Tows, I have learned that I simply ask them “what would you like me to do”? So far, none of them have suggested returning to Canada. Most simply say come on ahead on the 1, stay where I can see you. This one and two refers to whistle signals from days gone by. Tows meeting going opposite directions; on the one whistle means port to port and the two whistle means starboard to starboard. If we come up behind a slower moving Tow going the same direction passing them on the one is our port to his starboard and the two of course is our starboard on his port. The infamous “stay behind me a while” means he’s got a maneuver that he doesn’t want you to be part of. It terrifies me that a faster moving Tow would come up behind me I haven’t got a clue what one or two means in that situation…JEEZUZ Tabernac. I think I will just turn to the nearest bank and beach FRACAS.

We are nicely out of the channel here in a wide enough place to swing if we could swing. We are in over 2 kts of current and she sits straight as a die regardless of what the wind does. We just had three of the LOOPERS we saw at Hammond pass by. They were PBT’s and can go a little faster than FRACAS and were probably off to Grafton Marine. We have reservations at Grafton for a couple of days starting tomorrow.

We both had a solid hour nap. I’d like to say that we awoke refreshed but that didn’t happen. For those of you in the north, it is full sun and almost 80 behind Willow Island. We have been going south and it is finally starting to pay off.

We came across a busy commercial area on the river and the smaller Tows (tugs) were shunting barges around for loading and transit. Overnight a lot of the trees that float downriver collect against the barges. This morning one of the work Tows was clearing off the trees from the barges and dumping them out in the river. We had quite a time picking our way through his pile of trees, logs and stuff.

Willow Island was much like the other anchorages we have used. You have to continue down river and follow the river bank back upstream. There is a lot of sediment build up off the downstream tip of islands in the river and that is the reason for backtracking behind the islands to anchor. The island cut the wind and it was sunny and hot for the remainder of our afternoon and evening.


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