8 days, 14 hours until the race.
$4,112.00 dollars pledged for Haiti!
I spent the weekend out on Cross Lake. Two long days on the water to find out how everything will work. Saturday morning I got up and hauled just about everything I’ll need over to the boat.
It’s a lot of stuff, and I won’t need most of it all the time on the river. But I wanted to make sure the boat would handle it. And paddling all that weight would be a good work out.
So I took off and had a great morning blasting around – until the thunderstorm hit. High winds, really heavy rain, lightening, and thunder. The waves were two to three feet high, coming over the front of the boat, rolling back to me, and slamming into my chest. It was NOT what I had in mind. But after about a half hour of struggling against the storm I found shelter under a dock. Unfortunately the dock was too high off the water for me to get out of the boat. So I spent about an hour sitting there waiting for things to calm down. Pretty scary but it proved that the boat can handle tough conditions. I feel a lot better about barge wakes on the Missouri now.
After that I spent the rest of the day cruising around the lake in a light rain (nice and cool), set up my tent for the night, and put my weary bones to bed. Sunday was a beautiful sunny day and I was out until about four. So, I covered about sixty-five miles over the sixteen hours and figure that on the river, with a 4 mph current, I’d have covered 130. I think I’m ready for it next week.
The game plan is for us (Sharon, the ground crew guys, and me) to call Elisabeth from time to time and let her know what’s going on. She’ll then update the blog with the latest news. You won’t get any e-mails to let you know things have been updated. You’ll just need to check back between Wednesday and Friday to see how it’s going.
There are some terms we’ll be using to describe the race that might be unfamiliar. Here’s a short outline of some of them:
- Barges. Ok, you know what these are, but let me tell you about them anyway. They come in a couple of flavors – moving and stopped. The moving barges are easy to see at night because of their lights. But, they’re moving. The stopped barges stationary, so that’s good. But they aren’t always lighted at night, so that’s bad. Either way, the river can easily suck a small boat under them. There is nothing I want to see under these so, I’ll try to stay clear!
- Wing dams. Piles of rock extending out into the river to direct the current out into the channel. Normally I’d be able to swing in behind them for rest and to avoid the barges. This year the river is high and it’s running over the tops. I’ll need to stay away from them. If I run over one I run the risk of flipping the boat or tearing the bottom out of it. There are also some wicked currents around the ends – whirlpools and such.
- Bouys. The Army Corps of Engineers puts these in the river to show where the channel is. They’re anchored to the river bottom by huge chains and when the water’s moving fast they tend to submerge and then pop out of the water. Nothing like a ten foot long steel missile flying out of the water to wake you up. They also collect a lot of debris. Again, I’ll stay away from these when I see them.
- Boils. The hydraulics of the river are such that you sometimes have flows of water moving straight up. So, instead of a whirlpool pulling you down, these want to pop the boat up and over. The trick here is to hit them head on and power through.
- Whirlpools. You know what these are. Fortunately they’re really not as big as you’ve heard. They can’t swallow a boat but they can flip it over. As with boils the trick is to just gun through them.
- Lisbon Bottoms. This is an area just past Glasgow where the river has cut through a bend. There’s a picture of it in an earlier post. The cutoff, while shorter, it’s full of snags (underwater trees that you can’t see), strainers (above water trees that you CAN see but are difficult to get past), and sawyers (trees that are partially submerged – and bob in and out of the water), rocks, mud flats, and other interesting things. I’ll stay out of that cut-off but the main channel flows past some huge wing dams. These are big enough that they’ve had people get lost in them at night and paddle the wrong direction. My ground crew has instructions to take my paddles away from me if I want to run this stretch after dark!
That’s about it for the week. One more regular post next week from the hotel, then it’s show time! Oh, yes, parakeet man. Here’s the deal. Sharon’s worried about my comfort out on the river and bought me some shirts and pants to wear. Very comfortable. They protect me from the sun and keep me cool. She also wanted something that would make me visible to the barges. So………. she got a few outfits that will probably make those crews remark on my sartorial splendor………………….. as they run over me.
Go on. You know you want to click that button and leave a comment. I can handle it. I’m tough….