Oct. 21, Day 29
The barge operator with whom we locked through the John Day Dam told us that, if the timing worked out, we could lock through The Dalles with them as well. We appreciated the offer, but their cruising speed was about twice ours, so we couldn’t take them up on it.
This left us with the question, then, of how to get through Lock and Dam #3. We hadn’t been seeing a huge number of westbound barges, and the fishermen were loath to give up an hour or two of their fishing time to help us out – one even told us that they “didn’t have the equipment to go through the locks.” (Hint: the only equipment you need is a couple of ropes, life jackets, and, depending on how closely you want to follow the rules, a motor.)
So what did we do? Well, friends, I hate to admit it, but we caved. We cheated. We bought a tiny 4-horsepower trolling motor and jerry-rigged it into the stern of the boat, which involved a machete-ed piece of wood and gorilla tape. And then we turned up at the locks with our dinky, but functional, little motor.
And it was too small.
But the dam workers were so nice about it. It was a safety concern because the lock only had one working valve, which they told us when they came down to chat in person, and they called up some park rangers who put a boat in the water for us and took us through. So we aren’t too mad at them for being the bearers of bad news.
And the end result of all this? We made it through The Dalles Dam, we get to carry an additional 50 lbs in the form of a useless motor for a little while, and we made it into the dam newsletter.