At 6:30 am we awoke to find ourselves surrounded by a thick fog bank. Gale had been up an hour earlier and said the skies were still clear then – all night we’d been enjoying looking at the stars whenever we opened our eyes. The weather radio, NOAA, informed us that there was a heavy fog advisory until 10 am, so we turned our attention to household chores. At 9 am, the fog lifted suddenly and we were on our way in fifteen minutes.
As mentioned yesterday, the trip to Kentucky Lake / Lake Barkley is upstream. The current on the Ohio River was nearly as strong as that on the Mississippi River except that we were traveling against it instead of with it. Very slow going, indeed! The morning turned out to be quite warm and sunny and we simply enjoyed the scenery as we rolled along. We did not expect to make it all the way to Paducah today since it was 40 miles upstream and there were two locks to get through. We knew that there was a new lock being constructed between here and Paducah that will eventually take the place of Locks 53 and 52, but it wasn’t scheduled to be completed until 2013. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that both of these locks were being dismantled! There was very little left of Lock 53 so we just passed right on through. Most of Lock 52 was still there; however, when we called ahead, the lockmaster told us to pass outside of the lock walls keeping them to our port side and stay starboard of the pier in the river with the posted red sign. He said we would encounter heavy turbulence as we passed over the dam.
Once we were past the lock, we looked behind us to see ominous skies and large thunderheads forming. The skies were turning very dark and it appeared we were in for a strong storm. A thunderstorm watch had been issued for our area, and there was some rain south of us, but no storms had yet been reported. Soon, the lockmaster called Gale to advise us of an approaching storm and suggested that we either cross the river over to the Kentucky side and anchor on or near a sandbar or tie up to the floating barge dolphin (pier) we were passing by at that time. The lockmaster also mentioned that there were a couple of barges headed our way as well. We did not like either of the options given, so we grabbed our life jackets and our rain gear and prepared to keep moving. After all the hatches were latched down and loose items were tucked safely away, we felt okay about whatever came next. And, what came next? The storm never materialized! The clouds started to thin, the sky brightened, the wind shifted to our stern and helped push us the remaining 4 miles to Paducah.
Our hope was to be able to tie up to the town dock where we stayed last October when we were on Adventure with Mark and Diane Holt; however, a very large and very new towboat was tied at the dock. It appeared that there was some sort of celebration going on in town and the tow was open for tours. By then, the sun was setting, the wind was blowing and we needed to find a place to stop. Before it was too dark, we located the anchorage behind Cuba Head Island that was mentioned in our cruising guide. We were fairly well protected here, out of the channel for both the Ohio and the Tennessee Rivers, and had plenty of depth. We had a little bit of rain just before we lit the grill for dinner, but no storms.