Oh No on the Ohio! by Sue Lockwood
As CC steered I busily set up our floating home. You can drive the Wanderer from the cabin or the top deck. The views from the top are glorious. However, the Wanderer has had a tough maiden voyage! Rains, wind, and engines have been our foes.
After lots of rain, we started downstream happy to have CC’s best buddy Jimbo aboard as a deckhand for a few days. Life was great….heading home to Louisiana wetlands! In our first few river miles, the massive McAlphine Lock and Dam appeared. This huge structure was built to help boats travel up and down a river that used to have rapids and waterfalls. Our craft dropped 34 feet in this “water elevator” as we held on to big ropes, which kept us from ramming the metal sides.
There are many locks and dams on the Ohio River and 28 of these “water elevators” on the Mississippi River. There is a pecking order going through these manmade contraptions. Emergency vessels get to go first, and then commercial boats like tugs and barges, next passenger ships, and lastly pleasure boaters.
The dam holds the water which allows the lock to raise boats up or down. Behind each lock and dam a big pool of water forms. Have you ever dammed up rainwater in a ditch? A big pool of water fills quickly behind your dam. The more rain that falls the deeper your pool gets, right? Well, in Brandenburg, Kentucky we saw this rise of water between 2 dams. Our Wanderer rose over 15 feet in 3 days due to heavy rains!
We stayed there for 3 days because one of the Wanderers two engines failed. This was the right place to break down because the folks here are great. Annie will tell you more about them in her report!
Our problems took days to solve because we needed a vehicle large enough to pull a 48 foot houseboat filled with stuff out of a huge river on to level ground for an engine repair. OH MY!!!!!Greg Tomkins came to the rescue with his 18-wheeler. The truck pulled the Wanderer up and out of the Ohio. Scott Davis came with a forklift to raise the Mercruiser engine, which is under our bedroom floor!
Mechanics Larry Bohn and Bart Bomar saved the day working until midnight to fix a coupler and a few other problems our Wanderer had. Our Brandenburg adventure gave us the opportunity to share our Marshmission story with many folks that were not aware of Louisiana’s a land loss problems. Even the mayor came help and to see the Wanderer repaired.
We said good-bye to our friends in Brandenburg, Kentucky and continued down the now swollen Ohio River to the next lock. Huge trees and lots of debris created dangerous conditions for the next part of our journey. We drove very carefully for about 8 hours. Guess what happened at the end of our action packed day? The other engine broke down!
We limped into Owensboro, Kentucky where more nice people are helping us!
Have you ever experienced a run of bad luck? Yet every cloud has a silver lining! We have made lots of great friends who will now follow our mission in Louisiana and be spokesmen for our wetlands!