Thursday, September 28, 2017

It’s funny – because it’s true!

This is a load of coal headed north...less than 90 days til Christmas. Just sayin'

 So I have been waiting to share this story in order to protect the parties involved…but it has to be shared!!!  There are no pictures to reveal the area…

Navigating the river system is an exercise in patience, courtesy and knowledge of the barge traffic.  As previously stated barge traffic has priority when it comes to lining up for locking through and we completely respect that.  Charlie & I have discovered the less pleasure craft in a group, the easier/faster we seem to get through the locks.  So we have tried to position The Lower Place in a small group when possible.  That being said – here’s a real-life event:

Traveling up (or down) an unnamed river one day we were having a good easy day…all alone, minimal barge traffic and nice weather – our destination required locking through only ONE lock near the end of our day.  We were about 6.5 miles from the lock when the AIS (barge alert software) indicated a barge 2 miles in front of us…headed to the same lock.

Charlie radioed the lock to ask if the barge was locking through (sometimes they “beach the load” until the next day). The lock master confirmed the barge was locking through.  Charlie asked the lock master if he thought the tow operator would allow us to lock through with him (it’s the tow operator’s decision) & the lock master said he would ask…here’s the dialogue – in general…

Lock master:  Mr. Tow Captain, can the pleasure craft lock through with you?

Tow Captain: Well, I have to break my load – they can come through with me on the second load. (gulp, sometimes that takes a couple hours and it was late in the afternoon). 

The Lower Place: Roger that, Mr. Tow Captain, thank you. (hey, you take what you can get sometimes).

Lock master: Mr. Tow Captain switch up/down one channel

Well – we aren’t stupid…we switched our radio to that channel too!!

Lock master to Tow: Do you have any margarine? (I thought that was a code word for something!)

Tow: Huh? Margarine? (sounding surprised)

Lock master: Yeah, I need some margarine…stick, soft I don’t care, I’m begging

Tow: Well, I suppose we can scrape something together for ya. (still sounding a little bewildered)

During this exchange, I tell Charlie “Hey, we have REAL BUTTER!! I’ll give him 2 sticks!!”

The Lower Place: Lock master, my wife says we have real butter and she will give you 2 sticks.

Lock master: Roger that! If you can get here before the tow, I’ll have the lock ready for you!

The Lower Place was full speed ahead (12 mph), we passed the barge & thanked him and made it to the lock!!  All alone we locked up (or down).  And before I pulled off the lines a bucket was lowered via L O N G rope, the butter (secured in a zip lock bag) was deposited – thank you’s were exchanged!

I pulled off the lines, we headed to the lock doors wasting no time – we wanted the lock turned around with minimal wait time for the VERY KIND and understanding tow operator.  Yes, kids, this proves that kindness is rewarded…sometimes in sticks of butter!!

We have several more locks to navigate before the end of our journey…I have more butter in the freezer!!

God Bless

Ever wonder where the empty rail cars are parked??


  1. That's TOO funny!!! You guys are smart...and kind!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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