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 Post subject: Re: Erie Canal Beer Tank Barge Transit
Unread postPosted: June 2, 2017, 10:32 am 
The return journey has begun.

Otter told Lock 33 that the 4 empty barges are now "staged" at the Genesee River West Guard Gate.

Recreational boat traffic is now present in the Canal plus there is extreme congestion in Fairport due to their Canal Days festival starting today.

The crews are going to have quite a challenge bringing empty barges and a shallow draft tug eastbound, which is downstream in the Canal, across the heavy Genesee River northward flow. Then they have the low bridges, tight bends and traffic congestion to contend with.

I suspect the barges will be handled one at time back to Lock 30 to deal with all these issues.

If I understood the radio traffic, they are expecting a fuel truck at Lock 33 and then it is not clear what the next move is today.

At least from Lock 33 most of the trip is downstream to Lock 23 so the barges can float out of the locks without the capstan. Lock 23 to Lock 21 is upstream and then all downstream the rest of the way.

I think this is great seamanship by the tug crews handling a difficult tow, under adverse conditions, through unfamiliar territory. I also see the Canal lock tenders, as always, making the extra effort to facilitate the transit.


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Canal Beer Tank Barge Transit
Unread postPosted: May 31, 2017, 8:13 pm 
A pike crewman gives the Pittsford NY RR bridge E-139 an appreciative love tap after the 20 foot diameter tanks fit under the bridge, which is 15 feet and a few inches above water level, depending on flow. It's one of the lowest on the route, and both tugs appear to have fully retracted their pilot houses before passing under.

Lots of conflicting stories floating around, some were saying the reason they switched to single barge hookup on the last leg of the trip was because of the unanticipated congestion of private powerboats tied up on both sides of the canal at Fairport NY, approaching a turn. The transit was originally scheduled to happen before the canal officially opened to recreational boating.

At any rate, it estimated that 10,000+ people turned out along the route, so maybe some of them will become boatnerds (/tanknerds/beernerds?).


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Canal Beer Tank Barge Transit
Unread postPosted: May 30, 2017, 6:01 pm 
One additional item for the record:

The tug on the second tow today is the Pike not the Margot.

The Otter left their barge at the destination for unloading and is now at Lock 33 running light back to Lock 30 for their other barge. The Pike and one barge is upbound now at Lock 33 and is going to tie up there for the night to wait for daylight to deliver their barge.


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Canal Beer Tank Barge Transit
Unread postPosted: May 30, 2017, 12:48 pm 
There was an interesting development today for the final leg of the tow. After transiting Lock 30 each tow is leaving one barge behind and proceeding to the destination in Rochester with a single barge and then going to return for the other.

I first assumed this was to facilitate transit through Locks 32 and 33, which are only a mile apart, without the need to split and make up the tow again at each lock. I found out that the main concern was the high flow in the Genesee River at the junction with the canal was likely to produce a cross current more than the tug could handle pushing two barges.

I was at Lock 30 today and it was interesting to see the capstan used to move the first barge out of the lock. This is the first time I have seen the capstan used.

High water was still a concern. The Lock 30 operator was concerned about clearance under the bridge east of the lock and called the Margot to see if Lock 29 should try to drop the water level but the Margot said it was close but OK.

The Lock 30 transit with the tow went smoothly.

There is a 35 minute video on YouTube showing the capstan procedure for the first barge through Lock 8.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElxCTvijzm8


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Canal Beer Tank Barge Transit
Unread postPosted: May 27, 2017, 9:46 pm 

Joined: June 28, 2010, 12:30 pm
Posts: 341
That's awesome to watch when the tow is larger than the lock. I live on the Mississippi and south of Mpls - St P. They split the tow and winch the lone barge out and a deck hand stops the barge by hand with a rope around a bollard. It makes lots of noise and looks really dangerous. Hopefully someone can capture that.


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 Post subject: Erie Canal Beer Tank Barge Transit
Unread postPosted: May 27, 2017, 6:37 pm 
Purists may argue that the Erie canal is NOT part of the Great lakes, but the western part is certainly full of Great lakes water, so some may find it somewhat related and possibly interesting that the biggest commercial barge transit in MANY years is currently occurring:

http://www.newyorkupstate.com/breweries . dates.html

The tugs CMT-Otter and Margot are handling the tow, each pushing two 260 foot single well hopper barges (holding three of the 20 x 60 foot stainless steel beer fermenting tanks each).

Since the locks can only handle one barge or tug at a time, the tugs insert one barge into a lock and back out, then the barge either drifts or is "slung" out the other end by the lock capstans (depending on current direction). After both barges go through, the tug transits and reassembles the push on the other end (apparently without any assistance from utility tugs).

Some of the bridge clearances are a bit tight on the Rochester end of the trip so things had to be delayed a while for the recent high water levels to drop a bit.

Both tugs have retractable pilot houses, and steering poles fitted to the lead barge.

Quit a big deal for some of us that live a ways from the shipping lanes..


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