Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Brings More Planning

Tulips in the Skagit Valley near La Conner, Wa.

Spring is settling into Washington state and I continue to plan for my trip. The latest planning is focusing around departure times coinciding with locking times. Down river locking occurs at 0930,1230,1530, 1830.
Upriver locking starts at 0900, 1200, 1500, 1800. While I will be at marinas just upriver of a dam or just after a dam which may make a 30-40 mile trip to time the arrival of an afternoon locking.

I spoke with the lock master at Little Goose Dam(Snake River) to answer some questions I had. It seems there are no places to tie up to while waiting for lockage, so one has to stand off. In reviewing all the charts again there are small launching ramps with docks usually preceding the upriver lock which one could tie up to if you had to wait for an extended time. He stated that often they will wait for a group of vessels before locking just one boat and these times would be set for all the locks. Each lock is about 85 ft wide and 650 ft long. While I have been through lots of locks I have never been through any of this size or magnitude. It will make for an interesting time.

The locking proceedures are such:
  • Notify lock master 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to arrival via VHF radio.
  • Wear life jackets while on deck
  • Wait for instructions and green light before entering lock
  • The bollards which you tie a bow and stern line to slides up and down the lock wall,
  • Select your bollard..I've been told that all the water drains and fills from the center bollard so the current is most strong at that point. I want to be the farthest from that one.
  • Wait until instructed to depart lock. Currents may be unusually strong if water is coming over spillway.
  • Tugs and barges have priority