Pickwick Landing State Park

26 October 2014

We left Clifton Marina first thing in the morning. The early fog had lifted and we could see out into the river and the far shore. So we would be good to go. We checked with our dock mate Seas the Day and they seemed to think we would also be good to go. So we headed out of the lagoon through the wall and into the river.

We traveled south about a mile and the fog came rolling back in. Both boats had RADAR running and our eyes open as we slid along in the fog bank at 7kts. We went almost an hour before the sun heated the fog enough to got it to dissipate. We were then back up to 8.5 kts about 10 miles an hour.

It was pretty uneventful, lots of pretty scenery, lots of birds, tons of herons, a few eagles. Susan got a number of good shots of the eagles in the air. Very impressive. This section of the river is pretty, still having a tough battle passing the beauty of the Canadian North Channel.

The current coming up river was very strong, about a 3 knot current against us. We passed a fully loaded tow Lisa Marie that was running wide open and going about a foot per minute. We heard the Captain ask a number of times about when they would turn the flow rate down. “Soon” was always the answer.

We got to Pickwick lock and were told that they had one tow to lift and we would be next. The tow was a double, so it would take two lifts to get both ½s of the tow processed. We tied off to the lock wall at 3PM and figured with an hour per cycle, we should get in the lock about 5, plenty of time to get out before sunset.

Seas the Day and Quo Vadimus were joined by two other boats, one was a trawler, the other was a catamaran. After another hour a small 18′ foot fishing boat joined us on the wall.

At 5:50 PM we were told to get into position along the lock wall, we were next.

We still had some hope, there is about 30 mins of twilight we could still make it to the marina.

At 6:08 the sun sets.

6:25 the siren that signifies the start of dumping the lock goes off. We know that dumping the lock takes at least 25 minutes. We no have no hope of getting through in daylight and are sort of stuck. Our new plan B is to go to the Pickwick Landing State Park and either find a slip in the dark or just anchor out.

Lock doors open at 6:50 and we all go in to get settled. By 7:05 we are in and set. Doors close and the fill process takes place. At 7:25 PM in total darkness we slowly file out of the lock.

In our case both GPS displays are on and the radars is doing the best it can. Susan is out on the bow doing sweeps with her flashlights looking for markers or snags. I had to move to the flybridge since the glare on the glass in the pilot house made it almost impossible to see.

Using the GPS as directions, with glances at the RADAR looking for boats / land masses. We came around the corner safely and into the channel for Pickwick Landing Park. Susan was on the bow and sent commands back up to me. Lucky for me the most recent chart had a pretty good drawing on the park layout.

We were able to turn the corner and go along the sail boat docks to make it to an empty slip. The two boats that were following me also were able to get into slips.

We had some help, there was a sailboat Half Moon on the dock, and the crew from another boat helped us get tied off. So by 9PM all the boats were safe for the evening.

We heard again from the Lisa Marie she had made it up only a mile in the last 10 hours. So she was going to anchor and wait for the flow to drop so she could make progress. I looked the next day, she locked up at 1 AM. Another good reason to NOT be a tow operator.

Dinner was scrambled eggs and toast. We were both pretty fried for the day, so an easy quick meal was the way to go.

Short trip for tomorrow, Grand Harbor Marina