Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Ballard Locks- Here We Come!

We are getting ready to transit down to Seattle for Zodiac's annual dry-dock this weekend.

There is a certain amount of logistical preparations... and well, shoring up the mental fortitude that comes with transiting through the Ballard Locks chambers. (See my excerpt from Prepare to Come About on facebook for details).

The process of locking through requires a cool head and ability to react rapidly when asked to do so--but also, not to react unless given the order. It needs one to possess a thick skin and good sense of humor.  Because between a tense captain and surly line handlers... oh well, you get the picture. The experience is not for the timid or overly sensitive soul.

On the other hand, the opportunity to ride onboard a 160', 147-ton, 90 yr old wooden schooner, (largest of her class on the west coast) through a marvel of engineering such as the Hiram Chittenden locks is a special and  pretty rare experience for most people.

Those massive gates close behind you and you watch as tons of water is pumped in through the chamber... you ride atop this bed of water until the ship is almost even with the passers-by and line handlers on the wall.  You brace for the gates to open and a wave of lake water to sweep into the chamber--holding fast on lines and heaving against pike poles to fend off from the moss covered concrete walls. Finally, getting the go ahead from the line handlers... you are free to motor through the huge chamber and into the canal that connects Seattle's Lake Union and Lake Washington to Puget Sound.


So, I'll brush up on my sheet bend and zeppelin knots and thicken up the old psyche for what might lay ahead-- but what a trip it always is!

                          Schooner Zodiac sidles up to the large chamber wall in preparation to lock through.

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