The Big :Lock

Ambler Isle
V and S
Fri 1 Jul 2011 11:24
    June 30, 2011
The sky turned black, and rain began as a torrent, then got stronger.  Lightning flashed, and thunder boomed.  Visibility was very poor.  We pulled off channel and anchored the boat to wait it out.  The bottom seemed rocky, but we set on the first try.  Watching an odd rock formation on the starboard side proved we were not dragging. We sat several hours, and finally we could see the bridge ahead.  We decided to go to the Wilson Lock, about 4 miles away.  The rain continued but was lighter.  Passing the town of Florence storm drains gushed into the river, leaving mud, debris, and logs.  Five inches of rain had fallen in less than 4 hours.  Even more logs were washed down the sloping shores.  This was the most littered water we'd seen this trip.  We passed the tow barge Jerry McNeil and asked if we could go ahead of him at the lock if we got there 45 minutes before him. He agreed.  Calling the lock, we learned that another tow was already in the lock.  But Jerry McNeil could not get to the arrival point before Ashleigh  was ready to exit.  The channel was too narrow for two tows to pass one another. Jerry  would have to wait several miles away til Ashleigh was clear. The lock operator allowed us to slip in as she left the lock and had the lock turned around by the time Jerry was ready.  At 94', Wilson Lock is the largest in the river system.  Although we'd started at 4:30am, after hours of rain, then lock delays, we wondered if we'd reach our destination of Decatur AL.  Decatur is one of the most industrial cities on the river.  Lots of barge loading sites, smoke stacks, and traffic.  We skipped our usual stop at the Riverwalk Marina and anchored past the bridge off channel.  The early hour, the storms, the delays, all wore us out and we were looking at bed after eating a bowl of chili for supper.