This post is a work in progress. If you are a future boater or casual reader, here are some of the terms we learned so far.
I thought sailing had its own set of terminology; well the river traffic has its own language too! refer back to this list as I will be adding to it:
Easy reference for starters:
AGLCA Americas Great Loop Cruising Association
GLCC Great Lakes Cruising Association
Starboard- right side of the boat
Port- Left side of the boat
Easy so far… lets continue:
Down bound- Heading down river
PC or Pleasure Craft – those of us who are not commercial boats
Towboats- (they are not called tugboats or pushers) , commercial boats moving the barge
AIS – system for identifying boats on our chart plotter
Vhf 13- channel monitored by bridge tenders
VHF 14 -channel monitored by commercial captains for barge traffic (always ask permission/ instructions for passing)
VHF 16 general channel
VH68- standby channel for conversations
Passing on the Whistle:
One whistle/ 2 whistle instructions for passing the barge – one whistle pass to starboard/ right; two whistle pass to port/left. The Pleasure craft calls the towboat to request permission to pass, or advise on which side to pass. The captain will say the one or the two; (usually verbally, not with an actual whistle)
LDB RDB left descending bank; right descending bank (not north or south bank, as the river winds and curves-
Lockmaster- person in charge of the locks. The commercial traffic is priority; so we must ask permission to be locked, and wait our turn. (one lock was 4 hours waiting for barges to come and go)
Example: we might radio the lockmaster and state “downbound PC calling the Brandon lockmaster, requesting a lockdown; what is the wait time?)
Example: We received a radio call from a towboat captain; “to the pc downbound near high bridge, see you on my 2; suggest you speedup past the bridge ; it’s not a good spot to meet the barge. Stay starboard and safe travels.”
** Imagine this in a slow southern New Orleans drawl and you will better understand our challenges***
Bridge Tender- person in charge of opening the bridge. some bridges are off sight tenders; they receive the call and operate it remotely. Others are located on the bridge and will see the boats coming. We found a few bridges that don’t open during rush hour; a few railroad bridges remain open and close when a train is coming. There are lift bridges that will raise on demand. Glad we have a reliable reference book with us.
Lock and Dam- Boat enters lock , then the water level is reduced dropping the boats between 8 and 30 feet . the gates open, the boats move on below the adjacent dam.
Whicket – submersible dam. Based on water levels, the lockmaster can “lower the wickets” and boats go through. The first time is odd- the chart shows a dam; and when you get there, the dam Is gone and you boat right through.
Barge Traffic- who knew that 30 % of the worlds grain is moved through Alton MO on the Mississippi via barge ? Grain, crude oil are examples – the tow boats push 4,8, 15 barges at a time. (what weve seen so far.) I’ve heard the barge traffic on the MISSISSIPPI can be the size of multiple football fields.