Thursday, May 21, 2015

M/V William R. Barr

Passing Huntington WV recently.

In the news, 5/21/15

Several news reports have noted that states in the Ohio River Valley are prime candidates for wind farms using turbines twice as tall and with longer blades than those now in use. Some of this wind-powered electrical generation could replace coal, it is said.

It's been a while since I looked at the maps, but if I recall correctly, most of the wind potential is in the flat area of Ohio and almost none in the hill country along the Ohio River itself. In West Virginia, about the only place with real potential was in the highest mountains in the state, mainly along the border with Virginia.

Even then, people who lived there to get away from urban areas complained about how the turbines interfered with the view they wanted from their properties, namely one free from the invasion of technology.

Now that all was with towers and turbines of the size in use now. I don't know what people in the Cincinnati-to-Toledo corridor would think of supertall towers with big blades spinning. Plus spinning turbines have been known to generate noise similar to that of airplane propellers (imagine that). If you put long blades on tall towers in flat country, how far will the sound carry?

And we can't forget what happens when birds and bats encounter wind turbines.

It seems there's no way to generate electricity without tradeoffs. If you want electricity, you just have to decide which devil you want to make a deal with.


The Courier & Press of Evansville is running a poll asking readers to choose which of four cities in its area has the best riverfront. Candidates are Evansville, Owensboro, Newburgh and Henderson. As it's been almost 30 years since I was in any of those cities, I am in no position to offer any advice or preferences, although I would like to get back down there next summer.

In the spirit of that poll, if any readers of this blog have any nominations for best riverfront along the entire 981.5 miles of the Ohio River, I would like to hear them.


Meanwhile, a columnist for the Courier & Press asks what it would take to get Evansville's divided city government to make improvements to that city's riverfront.

All quiet on the head of the tow?

Someday I want to ride a towboat pushing barges. I want to be on there long enough so I can go out to the barges in front, a thousand feet in front of the boat's engines, and learn what I can hear and cannot hear.

When I'm getting pictures of boats approaching me head-on, often I cannot hear the engines. Maybe it's because the structure of the boat blocks the noise. I really don't know. I do know that all I hear is the sound of the barges against the water. The choppier the water, the louder and more varied the sounds.

That's why I want to be out there at the head of the tow, listening for myself.

When the lead barges pass, their sound disappears and soon the rumble and whine of the engines take over. That's another reason I want to ride a boat -- to catalog the sounds that are in the background.
Maybe someday.

The picture above shows three barges with rake (slanted) ends leading a tow of nine empties and six loads. A barge with a box (vertical) end kicks up a good spray of water on a choppy surface. Even one with a rake end and loaded to 10.5 or 11 feet can kick up a good spray, and in winter it forms a heavy coating of ice in the wires that hold the barges together.