July 4th Part 1 - Locked out of the Lock
03 July 2018 | Boston
July 4th Celebration in Boston sounded like a very special event, so Linda's siblings planned a reunion near there.
First Linda's brother, Paul and his wife, Meg, met us in Boston harbor where we had reserved a mooring right in the Harbor at Long Wharf. We all enjoyed touring Boston on foot using the audio guide to see the commentary on all the historic sites.
Planning how to see the special fireworks and hear the concert of the Boston Pops, however, proved to be a challenge. Everyone told us that there would be a crowd of over 500,000 and to see the fireworks, we should camp out early at the Esplanade near where the Boston Pops concert would perform. We really didn't want to sit on the grass all day, so we thought we might be able to take our dinghy up the Charles River to hear and see from the water. To test our plan the evening before (July 3rd), Paul and Linda and Dave took the dinghy the mile and half from our moored boat toward the Charles River (Meg stayed on the boat because she wasn't feeling well and thankfully she was on board to close up all the hatches because it poured rain during that time.) It was 7 pm when we set out and knowing it would be dark in an hour, we took the dinghy nav light and a high powered flashlight.
Turning up the river in our dinghy, we were surprised to see the river blocked by a huge structure of wood -- locks. We hadn't planned on encountering this and pulled off to the side of the river to contemplate what to do. Just then a small power boat came up and the lock gates opened up, so we followed the boat into the lock. The boat owner was friendly and said that the locks would be very crowded the night of July 4th.
Past the locks, there were 3 different bridges, one of which had a very low clearance so it was clear that we could NOT use Frisky itself to come up to the July 4th fireworks.
When we came up to the area where fireworks and the concert were to be performed, we found that the Boston Pops was giving a July 3rd "advance" concert, so there were about 15 medium sized power boats anchored just off the river. A friendly man on a pontoon boat said we could tie up our dinghy to him and we sat in the dinghy hearing the music which started out with the National Anthem. A friendly couple in a kayak pulled up and hung onto our dinghy. Our little "raft-up" was enjoying life....until the rain started. After getting quite drenched, the pontoon owner invited us to climb up onto his boat under cover. The concert stopped during the rain and by now, it was quite dark. The kayakers and other boaters told us that the next night on July 4th, the lock on the river would be CLOSED until 2 am....Yuck! That would mean we would have to sit in our dinghy for 3 hours AFTER the concert ended at 10:30 pm. Our dinghy plan for the next night was starting to sound impossible. The rain slowed to a drizzle but the concert wasn't restarting, so we decided to head back down the river to our boat out in the harbor.
Unfortunately, when we returned to the River Lock, there were no other motor boats transiting, and we were faced with the challenge of trying to contact the lock master. The sign near the lock said to signal with 2 long blasts and 2 short blasts. We didn't have a horn with us in the dinghy. Dave and Paul tried their best to make very loud "horn sounds". Nothing.
Paul shone our high powered flashlight on the sign to see if there was some other way to contact the lockmaster. VHF channel 13 but we didn't have a VHF radio on us. The sign also said to stay back 100 feet until the lock opened and there was a green light. We waited and debated. Suddenly the lock opened and a small motor boat came OUT toward us. We debated speeding into the lock but we didn't get a green light....and the lock gate quickly closed.
We felt that the lock master had seen us (from wherever his office was) and he was now punishing us because we were not following protocol.
After much more debate among the 3 of us, we resorted to an act of desperation. Along one of the wooden walls outside the lock, there was a ladder. So we offloaded Paul (who borrowed Dave's sandals since Paul was barefoot) onto the wooden platform to climb up the ladder. Hopefully he could find the lockmaster's office and respectfully ask for the lock to be opened.
Paul negotiated a nearly rotten wood platform and was half way up the steel ladder to the street when SUDDENLY the lock opened and we got a green light. Now we had to speed up in the dinghy and enter the lock, abandoning Paul. The lock slowly filled and the gate opened depositing us at the other side. A loud voice (like a voice from God above) said: "Next time do NOT shine a bright light at me. Next time use the VHF radio." We felt duly chastised.
So now we are on the downriver side of the lock but where is Paul. To shorten the story, we saw him standing on another derelict dock waving his arms and shouting at us. (During this whole time, traffic in the nearby bridge is so loud that it is difficult to hear anything....except the voice of God the LockMaster.) Paul had been able to get advice from some friendly police stationed nearby to find the dock where he was standing.
We dinghy-ed back to Frisky to contemplate how to see/hear the July4th celebration the next day.