The lockmaster at Lock 52 had told Dennis, aboard Reunion, that if all of the pleasure boaters were at the lock by 0800 he would be able to lock us through. At Bean Branch we were 16 miles away from Lock 52. Figuring that the best our two boats (Sea To See and Namaste) could average would be about six mph we knew we needed to leave at 0530 in order to make it in time. This meant traveling in the dark for at least 45 minutes. Even with Jim from Namaste needing to take Sam ashore for morning ablutions we made our 0530 departure.
Traveling at night on the Ohio River is tricky business. There are lights all along the shore from industry. Then there are the tows moving up and down the river as well as parked. It was very overcast so sunrise was late and there was no moon. To begin with it was too dark to distinguish the shoreline or the shoreline interface with the sky. I was thankful we had an AIS receiver aboard so we could see the commercial traffic on the chart plotter. I opted to leave the radar off as there would have been so many targets it would have been distracting. This meant I had to trust there would be no fishing boats in our path without running lights.
Using the chart plotter we traveled along the nine foot depth line which was actually more like 13 feet with the current river elevation. This worked well keeping us on the edge of the shipping channel and well off of the sailing line. The lights of Namaste stayed right behind our stern and it was good to know we had four sets of eyes on watch. As sunrise approached the shoreline and river traffic became more and more visible.
We arrived at Lock 52 amidst a downpour with thunder and lightning. Six other boats had made their way there for the 0800 locking from their various anchorages. Upon arrival we were told that we would have to wait about an hour and a half to lock through. This stretched into about 2.5 hours. It seems that a two had been locking down and one (or more) of the barges had straight sides. When the water from the lock was being let out of the lock the barge was sucked up against the ducts and held in place by the exiting water. They had to get wedges to drive the barge away from the lock wall in order to get the water out.
We all locked through with about a 12’ rise and then we were off up the Ohio once again. Thankfully, no more locks for the day. We had hoped to get through Lock 52 in time to make it to Green Turtle Bay Marina but with the delay we decided to go to the Cumberland Towhead Anchorage for the night and then make Green Turtle Bay the next day. This would make for two easy runs instead of one long one putting us in just before dark again.
We passed the mouth of the Tennessee River where it empties into the Ohio River. There was some kind of canoe racing going on there and we were asked by the Coast Guard to go slow/no wake past the area. We were at the Cumberland Towhead Island by 1330 hrs. and anchored in about six feet of water.
The afternoon was spent in leisure. Then Vicki prepared her excellent turkey chili and invited the Namaste crew over for a joint dinner. This ended in time for the evening Sammy trip to shore and to wash dishes before dark so we could function once again with limited lights to keep the bugs our.