The Mississippi River Project
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Mississippi River Project: Day 16

You look at the river, and estimate its width in places to be between a half and one mile wide…maybe wider. Yet the navigable section of the river may be but a fraction of that width. Today we had to share a very narrow section of river with barge traffic headed northbound and southbound. Northbound traffic can pause until we pass if need be, but southbound traffic does not have that luxury. We hugged the buoy line and the barges played chicken with the bank. With a 300 ft (one football field length) streamer towing off the stern and having lost the primary streamer to an underwater, buried tree, we had some sweat on our brow. We can squeeze past one another, but barges create enormous wake and standing waves that create localized currents. At one point, we were concerned that the streamer would either ride up on a buoy or get sucked backwards into one of the barge’s wheel wash. At this point, we decided that either we needed to stop and pull over earlier on or enforce the rolling right-of-way grated us by the US Coast Guard. The rolling right-of-way gives us priority passage within reason. It was decided that a combination of both pulling over and requesting right of passage would provide the safest situation for all. Hence, the Corps of Engineers stayed in constant communication with river traffic about a mile upstream and downstream of us, planning who would go when and how.

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Last Updated: 1/23/12