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Thread: High Water On The Ohio - then and now

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  1. #1
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    Default High Water On The Ohio - then and now

    The City of Louisville maneuvering at the Rising Sun, Indiana landing in high water of 1908. Yep, they still ran in high water.

    In the last two weeks, with the river at Cincinnati running 40 to 50 feet, two towboats came unglued down bound hitting the Markland Dam just before Christmas. Then Christmas Eve two more incidents closed McAlpine Dam at Louisville. The most serious laid fifteen loaded coal barges up against the Indian side of the structure. At present, at least six have sunk.

    Friends, what has happened to piloting skills? Is it a fleet management issue at the front office? Is it a training issue of today's "lake" pilots?

    Keep your steam up, and safe!

    Russ Ryle

  2. #2
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    Default Image from 1908 that goes with first post

    Somehow this got lost in the either.
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  3. #3
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    I think a combination of those things. Barges are loaded heavier than they used to be. Outdrafts are wicked, and did not exist with the old wicket-type dams, which were lowered and tows ran over them during high water. There was more “tie up and wait” in the olden days, now it’s go, go, go, all the time. Pilots not as familiar with the areas they’re running — the office (and many pilots) think they can go anywhere, and the mindset among many on the boats is that the Ohio is a “retirement river”, where it’s as easy as it gets.

  4. #4
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    Hi Bob,

    Yep, now another question from a non pilot. What is an "out draft"? I think all of the incidents were above the dams yet the out flow would be below the dams? What am I missing here?

    Russ

  5. #5

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    Hi Bob and Russ. I'll let Capt. Reynolds explain, but he must keep it under 500 words. Both Markland and McAlpine will prove to be piloting fault.

  6. #6
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    Until Bob or Bill give a real answer, an 'outdraft' is above the dam. It causes the vessel to be pulled 'out' from the lock entrance and toward the dam. The DQ incident at 22 near Hannibal in 1982 was a result of an outdraft, for example.

  7. #7
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    Here it is (in less than 500 words): Judy explained it.

  8. #8
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    Thanks, Judy and Bill, and Bob (let's see your 500 words). Makes sense to me.

    River at Cincinnati back down below 40 feet. Markland running daylight hours but no real big tows. No news on the barges sunk at McAlpine.

  9. #9

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    HI RUSS: News from McAlpine is that six coal loads are sunk and three more are lodges on the dam, one of which is blocking the operation of the dam gate. You have to admit Capt. Bob Reynolds is a man of few words. Judy did really tell the story. To explain it a bit firther the draft at the Ohio River Locks is determined more by the volume and velocity of flow by dam gate openings rather than river stages. At Markland a downbound boat needs to get pretty tight to the KY. shore right after passing Beatty's old ldg. and stay along that shore till just above the bull nose wall between the two locks. Stop and the tow will just set over to the long wall of the 1200 ft. chamber. It is not really that simple but the best I can explain. Look up the dam on the satillite maps and maybe you will get a better idea. It's not just Markland, Meldahl just above me is as bad or worse. None are as bad as Gallipolis Lock was before they built the canal. Lots of "old time" rivermen have white hair due to that place!!!!

  10. #10
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    Hi Bill and all,

    Looks like I have the honor of making the first post in this new year. Thanks to you, and Judy, for the education.

    Hope we do not see a repeat of the 1968(?) incident down at Markland where they could not hold water in the pool above the dam. Looks like the river at Cincinnati will rise some to about 45 feet Thursday then really fall fast.

    The ferry folks at Rising Sun seem to be getting a better handle on piloting. They shut down Monday night early rather than buck high winds. They shut down at about 45 feet on the Cincinnati gauge for about two days last last week due to high water. I think there are three pilots operating the ferry of which two are better at making a landing on the Indiana side than the third. Old man river is a stern teacher.

    Lock reports posted for today do not show activity since midnight last for either Markland or McAlpine. Wonder if this is the results of the Washington flap?

    Best regards to all.

    Russ

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