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Yes, I know it's not *really* the upper Mississippi, but it is if you're talking about the river within the beltway.
The original plan involved lots of charts, maps, schedules, complicated drop off and pick up, and an actual timetable. Unfortunately that got delayed until next spring, but I had a couple hours and a desire to go boating.
I headed for Boom Island. I had never been there but the images of the landing looked promising. I was not disappointed. Nice smooth pavement ramp, steep enough to get the trailer wet without much trouble, but not so slick I have to worry about the car getting stuck. Ample parking (when there are no events, obviously) and a very short walk from parking to landing are always a bonus.
Just off the ramp is a small rectangular pool that looks as if it normally has a couple piers in it. Really nice to have smooth, calm water for launching, especially on a river! I floated a bit while prepping the boat once I got it on the water and got the engine running. I usually use the electric trolling motor for "impulse power" before and after trailering, and this was an excellent place for it.
I didn't have any detailed maps, just the GPS maps, but I had studied this section of the river from Boom Island up to Coon Rapids. I would motor upriver for 3/4 of my time on the water and back downriver for the last 1/4. Or so.
The motor pushed me upriver quite nicely at about 3 or 4 mph. I didn't mind the noise so much, but when you're on a river you have to pay a LOT more attention to what you're doing. Between the eddies, the debris in the water, and the other river traffic it can get pretty busy.
I did get the chance to see some interesting sights on the river. There was even a cute little shanty/house boat docked at a house. They also had a huge houseboat looking thing, but I'm pretty sure it would get through the bridges upriver or the locks downriver.
When you're on the river you get to see a lot of things that you don't see from the streets:
The river definitely has some character to its current. I'd love to have a really clear understanding of what exactly is on the river bottom at any given point. The swirling vortex of doom in the picture above is a common sight. Quite often it means there is a wing dam down there somewhere, but I have a feeling it could also indicate other obstructions or imperfections underwater. These and other less visible currents can make the boat wiggle side to side, drift slowly in a lateral direction, or even surge forward suddenly. It's not a major issue, but it absolutely affects how attentive you must be to minor course corrections.
This trip was also my first sighting of a barge/tow vessel underway. I'm glad it was a small one. The wake it kicks up is obviously a big one, but if you quarter nose into it you cut right through it. What I didn't expect was the "echoing" of the wake off the shores. For a while the water gets choppy and unpredictable as the wake bounces around on itself. Fun!
I had been setting something on the phone/gps and hadn't been looking ahead for about a minute when I looked up and saw barges bearing down on my fairly quickly. I had a lot of time to get off to the side, but it was a very vivid reminder to Always Pay Attention! I had topped off the fuel tank just minutes before (a distracting activity) and will take more care to move to the edge of the river, anchor well, and be ready for anything coming up or down river.
Again, you see things on the river that sometimes surprise. This drain pipe was just sticking out over the water, ready to dump whatever may come. I'm sure it's a storm drain or something like that, but when I think of the dirt, fuel, tar, junk, litter, chemicals, etc. on a regular street just dumping straight into the river it makes me wonder just how nasty it is way down south. It just gives one pause.
Popped back downriver quickly and found myself having to hold my hat on. I think it was more of a headwind than a wind from the crazy 9-11mph speeds. Trailering up and getting home was wonderful due to the landing, and I called it a short but successful day.
- The "wellingtons" Jill got me for our anniversary were wonderful! Dry feet even when standing in ankle deep water at the landing!
- The river was quiet and I saw very few people, which was nice
- I rarely touched the motor handle and steered mostly by shifting my weight on the pilot's bench. A controller for trim would be nice but not needed.
- Still need a device for holding stuff on topdeck, and would like a phone charging adapter onboard as well.