Useful terms and phrases for the loop

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.

MORE Terms

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. 







About mnsailors

Our blog will highlight our travels along America's Great Loop. We sold our sailboat on Lake Superior for a Trawler to do America's Great Loop in 2016.
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