Up the River through the locks
Trip Start May 06, 2010
33Trip End May 24, 2010
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The locks are huge and we will be making the transit with five other ships and a 25 ft cabin cruiser. The dragon boat is directly in front of us, a cargo ship beside her. I never did figure out what was next to us but it was big. Directly behind us was the 25 ft cabin cruiser; she nearly swamped the first time we re-started our engines to sail into the next lock. I am not going to give a lot of facts and figures about the locks; suffice it to say that they were huge and that the amount of water needed to fill one was in the millions of gallons.
Once inside the lock, the ships would tie up to mooring tackle along the side of the lock. The tackle screeched and moaned--metal on metal-- as the water level rose in the lock. However, the ships can't just sit in the water or they would be knocking into one another as the water rose. Noisy or not, the process was pretty amazing. The huge lock doors open in front of us. The ships sail in and moor themselves to the sides. The huge door closes behind us and the water begins to rise as thousands of gallons per minute are pumped into the lock. It takes about 25 minutes to rise up to the level of the next lock. The doors open in front of us and the process repeats itself. There are five locks in the dam and by the time we are done, we are close to 175 meters above sea level. It took us about three hours from start to finish and I did not leave the upper deck the whole time.
Finally, we sailed out of the last lock and onto the lake that formed behind the dam. I was hoping for a breath-taking reveal but he smog dashed my hopes. We sailed on for a bit through the first of the three Gorges known as Xiling Xia and moored for the night in Badong, downstream of the Wu Gorge, so that we could sail through in daylight. Xiling is the longest of theThree Gorges.