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Friday, September 4, 2009

A Lesson on a Navigation Channel Lock & Dam

Here is the gang who went up the river on a pontoon boat for Regan's 14th birthday.
Don't forget that I am in that gang...I'm just behind the camera.
Last year, we went downstream.
This year is upstream.
I want to thank my mom and dad for providing the boat for this excursion.
Oh, and I might mention here that we did run out of gas....
just as we pulled back into the cove to unload.
God is AWESOME!!
It was a very beautiful day....we experienced rain and winds...but, it was still a wonderful trip.
Last year we went through Lock and Dam #17.
We are on the McClellan Kerr Arkansas River Navigation channel.

Notice where the lady is...because at the end of this post, you will be
looking at pictures of the lock from that perspective.

While we are in the lock...the north end is leaking and is a little unnerving.
There is a HUGE wall of water on the other side of that gate....
notice the water line....
There is grass growing in the gates....Hellllloooooo.

This is the SOUTH gate (looking behind us)...we are now in the lock.

Regan is holding the wall because as they pump water into the lock, it bounces the boat around which makes it hit the wall. We have to tie up to a rig that inside the wall and raises and lowers with the water.
The gates are closing behind us...notice the watermark on the gate.

The gate is closed and to give you a perspective of the size...that is the engineer driving in a golf cart ON TOP OF THE GATE to inspect it before they start pumping the water.
We start seeing the whirlpools forming....which means the water is being pumped into the lock.
The whole process takes at least 30 minutes.
I often wonder if they roll their eyes when little boats come through this....
it seems like so much work for one little boat.
They are very friendly and will stand on the wall and talk to you as you wait for the water to rise.
They told us of a sailboat that came through and was headed all the way to the gulf!
They had NO ENGINE...just the wind and paddles.
They said they must have made it because they didn't have to send out the coast guard.
The water level is now full and the gates on the north end start to open.
As we exit, we get to see the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers HUGE
barge that will be doing some repairs to the lock and dam.

Say hello to Mr. Pat....to get perspective on the size of this barge...the tug on the left is
a normal tug for this river.

Now you are looking from the visitor's center...because they've pumped out almost all of the water to do some repairs. It has been 17 years since they last did any repairs of this magnitude.
The engineer told us that since this system was built back in the 50's, they've only done this TWICE.
I am sooooo glad I found this bit of information out AFTER we had traveled through the lock or I doubt I would have gone through it....lol.
You are looking at a lot of sludge and rocks on the bottom.
This is the SOUTH gate....

This is the NORTH gate...remember where the leak was?
They also have put up a temporary dam.
We were told that there was about 7 ft. of mud that they've been removing.
See Mister Pat back there behind the gate?

See that hole? That hole is big enough for a person to stand up and walk through.
That is where the water is pumped into and out of the lock.
There are several of them all down both sides of the lock.
Those holes are what creates the whirlpools when filling up the lock.
They have working on Lock 17 and Lock 18 for about 2 weeks.
All travel has been suspended until the repairs can be made.
One lock said they are on schedule to open on Sunday, but this one said...NO WAY.
It was only supposed to be for 2 weeks.

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