Embrace America's Rivers

Ohio River & Green River trip log

Boat: 1975 22ft center console open boat with 2008 115hp Mercury 4-stroke outboard motor.


Equipment: 2 VHF radios...Hand-Held GPS...Extra Battery...Extra Prop...Rain Shield...2 Bilge Pumps...Charts...State Maps...Ohio River Guidebook...Tool Box...Safety Gear...Depth Finder...Extra Rope...2 Cell Phones...300 Watt Inverter...Porta Potty...Portable Shower...Tent...Air Mattress


Crew: Jerry Hay & Debbie Hay


     I have always wanted to explore the lower Green River in Kentucky. Since 1981 most of the locks were abandoned but the river remains open for the first 109 miles to Lock #3. One plan was to trailer the boat to Newburgh, IN and go from there but I decided to put in at New Albany, IN and enjoy more of the beautiful Ohio River. The New Albany city ramp is in poor condition and during low water my tandem trailer would drop off, so we put in at Middle Creek Ramp at river mile 613. Following is a brief log of the trip.

Day 1, 11am

     Put in at Ohio River mile 613 with 54 gallons of fuel. The weather was perfect and wind was calm. We cruised at around 20mph. Made a stop at Magnet, IN at mile 683 for a late lunch at Betty Ray's, which is conveniently located right at the dock. Arrived at Cannellton Lock at 5:30pm and locked through with no delay. At 7pm we landed in the chute of Anderson Island at mile 735 to spend the night. This small island was perfect for us. We landed near the beach at the head of the island, giving us a breakwater, a nice beach and a view of the channel. Picture is our landing. We enjoyed the evening on the beach drinking Baileys & coffee by a fire while watching the tow traffic go by.

Day 2, 9:15am

     Departed Anderson Island. Made a quick stop at Grandview, IN (mile 742) to get ice at a convenience store. I also bought a new ball cap, since I contributed mine to the river the day before. 12pm we locked through the Newburgh Lock with no delays, then went to Inland Marina at mile 791 to fuel up. I was not that low on fuel but knew that their would be no fueling opportunities on the Green River. Went back up the Ohio to the mouth of the Green River at mile 784 and proceeded up the Green river. The river is busy with barge fleeting at the mouth (photo) but soon becomes very scenic. We arrived at Lock & Dam #1 at 3:45pm. We would have locked through then but I knew of no places to safely anchor on the narrow river, except for below the dams. We anchored there for the night, with the only annoyance being the bright lights along the lock walls

This photo appears to be a coal barge and towboat about to go over the dam #1, but is an optical allusion. The vessel is headed into the lock chamber to the left of the spillway dam. That would be a very scary thing if it was happening as it looked.

Day 3, 10am

     Locked through Lock #1 with no delays and continued up the Green River. Except for the occasional power plant and coal loading facility, the Green is a beautiful river. Even though there is a lot of farmland along the river, the corridor of tree-lined banks gives one the feel of wilderness. At 1:30 pm we locked through Lock #2 with no delays, then stopped at Calhoun, KY (Green River mile 63). There are two restaurants and an IGA store very close to the city dock, so we had lunch then stocked up on supplies and ice. I had read other accounts of trips on the Green River that indicated no good anchorage but on this day I did see two of them. Pond River mouth at mile 55 and Rough River mouth at mile 71.5 would make good deep-water anchorage locations. Also from mile 84 to dam #3 there is no commercial traffic anymore so one could anchor in the Green River. The towboats on the Green River haul coal downriver or empty barges upriver for loading. We had no problem passing or overtaking the tows on the narrow river. On bends, I made certain to stay on the inside of the bend in order to avoid the swing-out of the towboat and their prop wash.


At 5:30pm we arrived at Dam #3, mile 109. This is a rock dam and a great deal of the dam has washed out, making a beautiful waterfall (photo). It is a popular place for fishermen and we saw several of them net fishing in the swift water. I decided to anchor fairly close to the dam but not too close, so that we could enjoy the sound of the water while we slept. After about an hour of the sound of the water slapping the hull of the boat, I had had enough, so I got up to move the boat downstream. After re-anchoring about 200 yards downstream the water was much calmer and we could still hear the falls. There were eddys in the river that could cause an anchored boat to swing around so I put a second anchor off the stern to stabilize the boat and keep it pointed upriver. This is a beautiful place and we slept well.

Day 4, 8am

     I brought up the anchor and let the boat drift for about 5 miles while we broke down the on-board tent, got organized and had breakfast. It was so beautiful that I would like to have drifted longer so I compromised and continued for several more miles at high idle. Rivers are much more enjoyable at a slow pace. We stopped again at Calhoun, KY for lunch and ice then locked back through Lock #2 with no delay. We saw this impressively equipped dock near Calhoun, Kentucky along the left bank (as can be seen in the photo). 


Upon arriving at lock #1 we again locked through with no delay and at 6pm we once again anchored below the dam. We had seen many fishing boats on the Green River but absolutely nobody that appeared to be “tripping” on the river as we were. I am certain that there are many boaters in Evansville who never enjoy this great natural resource so close to them.


Day 5, 9:30am

     We had planned to continue down the Ohio then up the Wabash River but the Wabash is running extremely low, which means that we would likely be hitting snags and sandbars. Given this we decided to head back up the Ohio and home. We topped off the fuel at Inland Marina and departed there at 11:30am. We locked through Newburgh Lock with no delays. At mile 690 we came across the LST 325 retired and restored Navy Ship. I had seen it docked at its home port in Evansville but never underway. They were on their way back from Pittsburgh and other ports on a tour. A large Navy ship with guns is not something you see on the river every day. We arrived at the mouth of the Little Blue River at mile 679 at 7pm. After passing by the busy dock and camping area on the Little Blue we got into a quite remote spot and tied off to a snag for the night. I noticed that the current on the Little Blue was running slowly upstream. That means that this is Ohio River backwaters, so the river level in this small river should stay stable or rise slightly. Important information to know when anchoring in a shallow stream.

Day 6, 8:15am

     When we were leaving the Little Blue River we could see the sunny Ohio River ahead (photo) but as soon as we got to the first bend we encountered heavy fog. It was so thick that we pulled over to the bank to wait it out. Without radar it would be foolish to continue. Towboat traffic is out there sounding their fog horns but from a small boat you really can't tell the distance or even direction that the warning is coming from. Fortunately it only took about 30 minutes for the fog to burn off enough to proceed safely

When we put the boat in for this trip I had my stepson Barret drop us off and take the vehicle and trailer home. Middle Creek ramp is very remote and I was hesitant about leaving the vehicle there. That morning I called Barret with an ETA of 12pm for him to meet us back at the ramp. We arrive on time and found him backing the trailer in as we approached the ramp.

Summary

     We chose September for this trip for a better chance of good weather and cool nights. We got exactly that, along with mostly calm winds. We had one windy day on the Green River but it is so narrow that it had little affect on the water. The boat performed flawlessly and even running heavy with fuel, water and supplies we averaged 6.7 mpg. The total trip was 616 miles. We got lucky at all eight lockings with little wait time. They usually keep lock chambers half full when there is no traffic so that it will take less time to raise or lower the lock chamber for up-bound or down-bound traffic. This drain or fill was all we ever waited for. I knew going into this trip how beautiful the Ohio River is and was pleasantly surprised to find the Green River exceeding my expectations. I only wish that more locks were open so that it could be explored farther. I highly recommend taking a trip up the Green River. The channel depth runs from 20 to 30 feet. If going up to Dam #3, make sure that your boat has a range of about 250 miles, as there are no marinas. The range of my boat is about 360 miles before needing fuel so it was no problem. Anyone with questions about the Green River are welcome to write me at iwahay@gmail.com.

Jerry Hay