Archive for: ‘September 2013’

The Mighty Mississippi

September 21, 2013 Posted by Deb

Since we dug the old 1973 SeaRay out for the trip to northern Minnesota in August, it seemed like we should use it more before it got buried in storage again. We love the Mississippi River, but one of us had concerns (Chuck). It is an awfully old boat to be taking into sometimes challenging waters. The challenges come from traffic, locks and dams, and debris. We added a few more challenges to the list in our September trip but more on that later.

We would never risk taking company along on this trip due to the high probability of bad things happening and that was a perfect fit for Jeff and Marti (cousins on Deb’s side). We called with about five days notice and they signed on. We met in Muscatine, IA, in the late afternoon, loaded the boat, parked the cars and took off in search of uninhabited sand beaches with lots of firewood.

All That Fom One Boat

All That From One Boat


Fog Mini-Tornados in the Morning

Fog Mini-Tornadoes in the Morning



Friday the 13th in Lock and Dam Number 13

The challenges started on Friday the 13th. The lock operator asked us if we, “knew what we were getting into.” He successfully got us curious and his concern was that the wind was coming straight out of the northeast across a very large open lake above the lock and it did not look to him like we had the boat for it.

He offered/suggested that we ride the lock back down and turn back south. We said we were going to go for it but most on the boat got a bit freaked as the waves squirted thru the gap in the lock doors about 3 feet above the normal waterline. Lots of noise, too.

The gates opened, the waves crashed in, the water in the lock boiled; and we wrapped a handling line in the prop. Big Oops. Jeff cut his hand trying to free the line, the boat rotated 180, we thought the Mercruiser drive (sail drive to cruisers) would get ripped off, and we had a bit of a time crunch since locks don’t take a timeout for 19 foot runabout issues. There wasn’t a whole lot of choice so I peeled down and jumped into yet another body of water full of air and strong currents. I was reminded of Devi on Arctic Tern in Dominica when she said she could “feel the devil biting at her a…” near that waterfall I tried to drown in.

We freed the line while riding a bucking bronco, fired up the engine, shoved it quickly in gear, and shot a column of water about 15 feet in the air because we forgot to lower the lower unit. We cleared the lock and plowed through the rough lake just off plane and the SeaRay handled it very well.

We Had to Wait for That Guy

We Had to Wait for That Guy

They Let Us in RightTthru There

They Let Us in Right Thru There

Keeping Us Off the Lock Wall: A Slimy Job

Keeping Us Off the Lock Wall: A Slimy Job


The Galena side trip is something we would not have done with full information. It’s a kayak/canoe river that used to be the home for 16 paddlewheelers before they chopped down all the trees and it silted in. We did some prop damage, slid over sunken trees, dodged downed trees, and churned a lot of mud. Then we heard that you can’t take a boat in there. Anyway, it was wonderful and the highlight of the trip.

We Were Told Later This Hasn't Been Navigable Since the Early 1900s

We Were Told Later This Hasn’t Been Navigable Since the Early 1900s


The Kindness of Strangers

Our challenges were not over. Getting into and out of Galena put us late in the day and it was beach hunting time. We were low on fuel but felt a quarter tank would get us to Savannah, IL, easily; and our preferred campsite was about a mile shy of Savannah. It turned out that the SeaRay is out of gas at 1/8 of a tank on the guage. We were within a mile of a great campsite and the sun was getting low when the engine sucked the last drop. It is not a good idea to be mid-channel with barges lurking about so we paddled directly to shore.

Who would give a complete stranger three gallons of gas and loan out your favorite gas can? I hiked to a couple of houseboats we had passed earlier and interrupted a wonderful steak dinner for four on shore with tablecloths and all the trimmings. They gave me their generator gas and would not take anything for it. After four hikes, they had their can back and we had three gallons. The alternatives to finding those great houseboat folks were all bad and would have cost us at least a day. Now we have to do something for a stranger to adjust our karma.

Heading South

The Birds are Staging for Their Flight South and So Are We

The Birds are Staging for Their Flight South and So Are We

You Can Never Go Home Again

We tried to drop the boat off at one of the few places left that will deal with ancient boats, Red Rock Marina near Pella, IA. They, however, had shut down most of their operations and emptied their chandlery. That gave us a little time to kill so we went searching for one of the prettiest little beaches on the reservoir.

In the early 70’s we would ski until dark, camp and party on that beach, get up early, drive the boat back to the marina and stick it on shore, change clothes, and go directly to work in Des  Moines only to repeat the cycle that afternoon. We couldn’t find our beach. Years of erosion turned what must have been a small pocket of beautiful white sand into rocks and a coal seam. Bummer. Deb did get poison ivy in the search, though.


In the News!

September 4, 2013 Posted by Deb

Sail Magazine contacted us by email while we were underway from Honduras to Guatemala. They had read our blog and might want to put a little article in their new special Multihull Sailor issue. I thought that was pretty cool, but by now it seemed like such a long time ago. The magazine came out yesterday and we rushed to Barnes & Nobel to see if we had a mention. Pretty cool article in their “CAT PEOPLE” section.

CAT People

CAT People

The photos were taken by 1) a tour guide on top of a mountain in St. Kitts, 2)  by our friends John and Cyndi on Cynergy from a beautiful sunset in the San Blas islands, and 3) by Mike & Linda on Casa del Mar from Honduras’ best kept secret, Cayos Cochinos.

Multihull Sailor, special edition of Sail Magazine

Multihull Sailor, Special Issue of Sail Magazine