Posts Tagged: ‘camping’

Cast Iron Canoe: 2017 Edition

May 31, 2017 Posted by Deb

Namekagon River

Namekagon River

A traditional canoe trip that started decades ago and which we’ve been a part of for many years. Our sailing life has kept us away too long, but we made it back this year. Old sailing friends, Forrest and Yvonne on s/v Nazdrowie, who we met in the Dominican Republic in the 1990s introduced us to the group; and it has been a party ever since. This year we picked the Namekagon and Saint Croix rivers over the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Tent City

Tent City


We Know How to Fill a Canoe

The weather started out great and stayed better than the forecast for three days. We did have rain and hail, but we built a tarp city and we’re pretty much impervious to bad weather. True to Cast Iron tradition, we had two Dutch ovens, plenty of liquid refreshments, and a wrap-up five-pound bacon fest on the final morning that forced Deb to stay upwind. No injuries to report other than a number of tick bites that sent Deb to the doctor for the anti-Lyme routine.

Tarp City Going Up

Tarp City Going Up

Hail On the River

Hail On the River

We did have a longer than normal 22-mile day due to full campsites that featured a 1.5 mile sprint to beat out another group to 12.3 mile campsite. Unfortunately, Deb and I won the race but missed the campsite sign. The sprint pretty much turned our arms to noodles for the next two days. Oh well.

Land Ho

We look forward to the transition both from the ocean to land in the spring and back to the boat in the fall. With each move, we have a high energy vision of what we’re going to do “this time.” Yeah, right. We seem to forget that the seven-plus days it takes to put the boat away and the exposure to air conditioning and airplane air usually leaves us half dead with colds. This switch was no exception but we did get a couple of days of Casa Grande Palm Creek pickleball in before the bad colds really set in. We motored north in the RV on a three Wal*Mart run with 102-degree fevers. It is now late May and we’re just barely back on our feet again. And hey, it’s cold up here in May.

Wanna Go Outside at 100 Degrees and 100% Humidity?

Wanna Go Outside at 100 Degrees and 100% Humidity?


Our plans change weekly but our high-energy vision included an extended summer on land with biking, pickleball, a variety of water events, camping, and other north country fun stuff. Now we’re toying with the idea of getting rid of all the mobile stuff including the RV and Neytiri and looking for a home or a townhome. Our future yacht broker is begging us to bring Neytiri back to Florida again and to do so immediately. That ain’t happening but we may get back on the boat early in the fall and sail her back to the U.S.

So … we’re going house hunting at 10:00 tomorrow morning after moving the final leg of our RV trip from Melcher-Dallas, Iow,a to Woodbury, MN. For us, home ownership again is a big and scary change.

Toys Are Out in Iowa

Toys Are Out in Iowa

Celebrating Hayden's Soccer Win with Dorothy, Cindy, and Halle

Celebrating Hayden’s Soccer Win with Dorothy, Cindy, and Halle

Late Entry: The Famous Roatan Yacht Club

We thought it was famous and very nice 22 years ago. We were worried that we weren’t dressed well enough to go into the restaurant. It seemed very British. We had just finished a long ten-day passage from Cartegena, Columbia, somewhere around November, 1995; and we weren’t too presentable. We stored our dinghy there during our last visit four years ago even though it had been closed for new owners and renovations. The carpenters were banging away.

Roatan French Harbor Yacht Club

Roatan French Harbor Yacht Club

Little did we know how far the Yacht Club had fallen. This year, the property has been seized for money laundering and the official government “Stay Out” signs are up. We had to find another dinghy dock to get to town and our Plan B four years ago was the shrimping/fish station. They’ve had a very bad fishing season and we were advised to stay out of that area. So … by word of mouth we found a lady in a small house down from the police station car graveyard with a little dilapidated dock on a shoreline filled with floating garbage. The routine is to hand her 50 Lems (2 bucks) and walk to town.

Only Sign From the Street

Only Sign From the Street

Murder at the Yacht Club: A German Hotel Owner is gunned down at his Business
Nicolai Winter, the German owner of the French Harbour Yacht Club was gunned down at his hotel by a man in this thirties, presumed to be from the mainland.

On March 6, 2007, around 9:30pm, the murderer checked into a room at the hotel and came back to ask for Winter’s assistance in opening the room door. While Winter with three other Yacht Club staff walked towards the room, the assailant pulled out a 9mm gun and shot Winter several times. The assailant then fled the property on foot.
According to Yacht club staff, Winter was alive for some time after the shooting. Bay Islands Voice was notified of the shooting and called Preventiva Police, DGIC and Ambulance in Dixon Cove. No one picked-up the phone. After a visit to the Dixon Cove ambulance station the attendant said “none of the vehicles are working.”
The frontier police and DGIC police arrived at the crime scene 30 and 60 minutes after the shooting, but no immediate search of surrounding area was done and no road blocks were set up. The murderer, presumed by the police to be a contracted killer, was not apprehended.  Winter bought the Yacht Club in 2004 for in excess of one million dollars. The legal future of the Yacht Club is far from certain. According to Honduran law, in absence of a testament, Winter’s closest relatives: his mother, or his sister will inherit the property.
According to Felipe Danzilo, a lawyer involved in the sale of the Yacht Club, Winter did not yet make all the payments on the property. The previous owners of the Yacht Club: Marcel Hauser and Peter Beuth, still hold a mortgage on the Yacht Club.

Within a week of Winter’s death the old owners of the hotel brought the “Pluribus” company owned by Daniel O’Connor, a American business owner from Tegucigalpa, to serve as a “safe keeper” of the Yacht Club business interests. O’Connor made efforts to assure the continuous functioning of the business: that the employees received their salaries, hotel stayed open and he plans on having the Yacht Club’s restaurant open by Semana Santa. “Every business has a value as long as it is running,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor, who has lived in Honduras for 12 years, was shocked by the lack of concern about the murder displayed by local business community and local business leaders. “This is disappointing in a community that prides itself on being tourism oriented,” says O’Connor. “This will bring a negative impact on tourism here.”

Source :

Leaving the North Country

October 11, 2014 Posted by Deb

In about 12 hours we will fire up the V10 and start the RV moving south toward warmer weather. We stuck it out in the north country at Lake Elmo Park down to 35 degrees two nights in a row. That’s enough. We came north for Deb’s surgery on 9/22/14. It was major surgery involving two bone spurs, two disks, and three vertebrae and they went in thru the front of her neck. She went home the next day and took a 6 hour road trip on day four. She is pain free on the right arm for the first time since December and can feel her thumb again. Not bad.

We currently call Lake Aquabi home in south central Iowa. It is still t-shirt weather until 8:00 p.m. and we can’t believe the difference one state makes. We’re breaking out the summer toys all over again.

Morning Fog on Lake Ahquabi

Morning Fog on Lake Ahquabi

Hiking Lake Elmo

Hiking Lake Elmo ~ Therapy

Rolling on South

Rolling on South

Four Hundred Pounds

October 11, 2013 Posted by Deb

We decommissioned our U.S. visit which included putting away two cars, winterizing the Sea Ray, mouse poison everywhere, and stashing all the toys we got out. The trailer and old Sanity dinghy found a new home over the summer; and we built a second floor in the pole barn in Iowa so for the first time, we had room.

We planned on shipping several hundred pounds via ocean freight to Guatemala but Deb decided to try and fit everything on the plane. After two trips to Wal*Mart for new bags and shuffling stuff around to make five 49.5 lb. bags, we were packed with, including very heavy carry-ons, a total approaching 400 pounds. Of course we had to pay at the airport but it was cheaper than shipping. The only problem was that we had to carry it through airports and bus terminals and fit it all into the odd cab. It is quite doable in the U.S. where you can rent large carts but imagine a scenario where five or ten guys are trying to grab everything to “help” or get you to go to their cab, all in a foreign language. It was too much luggage for two people so we were planning on the old Venezuelan caterpillar approach of advancing about 20 feet at a time moving quickly between piles and yelling NO a lot.

All That and Three People in One Cab for 5 Hours

All That and Three People in One Cab for 5 Hours

Waiting at Bruno’s for the Final Boat Run to Texan Bay and Neytiri

Waiting at Bruno’s for the Final Boat Run to Texan Bay and Neytiri

Decommisioning - How Many Boats in This Picture?

Decommisioning – How Many Boats in This Picture?

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.


Whiteface Reservoir

July 30, 2013 Posted by Deb

We were invited on an annual tradition camping outing that included four of the Cast Iron Canoe couples.

The weather was bad at the Tall Ships show but by the first night up at Whiteface, the temperature plummeted and it started to rain. The rain pretty much didn’t stop all through Saturday but Forest was ready with two huge tarps and several hundred feet (actually several miles but that’s another story) of quarter inch poly line and we strung up a large canopy, stoked the fire, and most of the campers congregated on our site. Great socializing but a bunch of boats were sitting on trailers and we were definitely on plan B for entertainment. The food was incredible as well as exotic. Bacon wrapped olives grilled over a fire was a hit for some.



The final day (for some) started out equally ugly but in true MN fashion, everyone went down to the landing and started rigging their boats. The leap of faith paid off as the weather broke and temps made close to 70 when we hit the water. The eight boat fleet consisted of two Hobie 16’s, a two masted daysailer we don’t know the name of, two power boats, two kayaks and a wind surfer.