The ideal early Saturday morning departure was delayed a bit by Diane’s biscuits and gravy and my procrastination while sipping coffee and shooting the bull. I had a great time with the Gorders and cannot thank them enough for all their assistance. Once again, this trip has been my ticket to meeting some amazing, kind, and generous people.
Yesterday’s (June 5th) float wasn’t much to talk about. Below the Ft. Peck dam the current is strong and the water clear and cold. Rod told me to be on the lookout for the barges that were used to build the dam and later abandoned downstream. I passed two of them and it was an interesting look at the history of the region.
By late afternoon the wind had picked up and I started to think wouldn’t it be nice to be using my sail? I had removed and stowed it during the portage and in anticipation of the free flowing stretch of the river I’m now navigating. My initial thought was that the river current would push me along and the sail’s function was to assist with crossing the reservoirs. Then again, why not use the sail, gain some needed practice, and see how well it works for river travel?
During my lunch stop I pulled the sail and outriggers from their under deck storage and reinstalled them. The wind was fairly light when I returned to the river and the sail’s use limited. Glancing behind me to check on the outrigger status I noticed the sky was getting inky in color, a sure sign that a thunderstorm was brewing. A quick check of the weather radio indicated that it was time to get off the river and make camp. Of course, that’s always easier said than done, especially in a stretch of the river where the only cuts in the high banks are occupied by irrigation pumps. I eventually located a spot and by the time I unloaded my boat and started to set up the tent it was raining. I finished quickly, threw in and joined my gear to wait things out. After about an hour the rain stopped allowing me to make dinner followed by going early to bed.
|The Highway 13 bridge|
And then it happened…everything clicked, the entire trip fell into place. All those months researching and planning and preparing came together and off I went; a happy paddler on a magic carpet (actually canoe) ride. For the entire day the wind was at my back and blowing steady and strong. The sail rig performed beautifully and I made steady progress. I quickly learned to read the GPS display to anticipate when the river would change course and bring the boat directly about into the wind. I then dropped the sail to the deck, clipped it in place, and assumed paddling.
|The sail is clipped to the deck when not in use.|
All in all, it’s been a pretty good day. 😛