October 15-17, Yankton, SD
The last trip of the season is always melancholy. We know winter is coming. We live in South Dakota where lakes and rivers freeze solid every winter. But we still wish for one more weekend on the water.
We spent a few days at Yankton and it was obvious the boating season was over when they hesitated to rent us a slip in the marina because they were pulling boats and the services were being turned off the day we arrived. But we scored a slip and had a great Saturday enjoying a final day of sunshine on the big water.
A bonus was reconnecting with Pat and Phil from H Dock plus meeting Jeanie and Tim (also H Dock) as we pulled into our slip. They arrived with a hearty welcome and an invitation to dinner on Jeanie and Tim's sailboat. First we offered a tour of Nellie May to anyone who wanted to see our little home. The tour doesn't take long when the boat is 25 feet.
Jeanie isn't in the photo because she is taking the photo! You can see some of her awesome photography on her website: http://jeanieshaferphotography.zenfolio.com/
We woke to fog Sunday morning which gave Tim a chance to navigate using instruments and I finished a book I brought along. A good day. We returned to a very quiet marina. Almost a ghost town. So we picked a covered slip in case the fog turned into rain. The covered slip was closer to the bathrooms (which closed the next morning!).
The fog continued Monday so we packed up and headed home by noon.
Time to winterize and start planning for next spring.
August 22-27, Mississippi River-mile 727 to 811 plus the St. Croix River
6 days and 5 nights on the Mississippi River proved to us that we can do The Great Loop. This was our first time on moving water and since the river was high it was moving faster than normal. We had to watch for snags and debris all the time.
We had our first experience with Green and Red Cans used for river navigation. "Red on RIGHT Returning" made sense with the charts we were using. But coming back downriver with Green Markers on the right and reading the charts backwards was tricky. But we did it!
We came to our first Lock (Lock 5A) about 5 miles into the trip. The lock was closed so we circled downstream waiting for it to open and disgorge whatever large pleasure boats, pontoons or houseboats in the lock before we would get the green light to enter. The huge gates slowly swung open and one guy in a small canoe paddled out. We had to laugh. And then we were the only boat to enter the lock so we had the whole thing to ourselves. These locks have ropes hanging from the side that we grabbed and just hung on. Pretty simple after the gate closed and the water came up about 6 inches. Whew! We did a total of 8 locks on this trip. The hardest part was waiting 2 hours for a barge to pass through one lock.
We stayed at Dick's Marina in Winona, MN then on to Lake City Yacht Club and then one night at St Croix Marina where we met Bart and Brenda for dinner. Lake City and St. Croix marinas are located within walking distance of downtown so we went to dinner and breakfast instead of cooking on the boat. And they both had fantastic shower facilities, internet and lovely neighbors. We had loads of questions and comments about Nellie May. It's always fun to start a conversation with "I love your boat! What is it?" I think we could sell Ranger Tugs as Midwest representatives. We shared boat cards and hope to hear from some of our new friends from the trip. (Frank from Lake City???)
Tim used the trip to record mileage per gallon of fuel consumed, charting, time on the engine and other technical stuff. We fueled up on the river twice. It was a challenge to find a floating fuel dock with diesel.
I was just hoping to survive the whole week without getting seasick. I have to wear a Transderm Scop patch so I can sleep on the boat but it wore off on Wed morning. Success! I always wear my SeaBands and they got me through.
We agreed the trip was a huge success.
August 5-8, Yankton, SD
We pulled Nellie May to Yankton on Friday and rented a slip in the Lewis & Clark Marina for a few nights. They have electtricity at the rental slips which is really handy. The bathhouse is close and is only used by the people in the Marina so it stays clean.
Tim discovered a handy gizmoe to use when we add fuel to Nellie. This thing keeps the diesel from bubbling up and over the tank, which is awesome. Until you have had to clean the spills and smell like diesel you won't appreciate this brilliant contraption.
Click here to read more about the CleanWay Fuel Fill.
I used my knot tying skills to rig a clothes line to keep the wet suits out of the cabin. I'm pretty proud of my bowline knot. I'm not saying I got it right the first time but I was motivated and it worked. Knot tying is best done while Tim is off the boat since I have to talk to myself while I work.
I love to read on the boat. It's so peaceful, except for the engine noise. I got transition lenses in my new glasses. Wonderful. I don't have to switch between glasses and sunglasses anymore.
We always take a swim break in the middle of the lake. We usually have quite a few boats buzz our boat to get a closer look so it's usually Surfs Up!
Notice the new tray I ordered from Daniel at Rise Woodworks. I gave him the "inside" measurements so the tray would fit over the stove burner. And I asked him to put a fiddle (lip) on the bottom of the tray so I can use it upside down as safe counter space while we are under way. It is awesome! This weekend it became the coffee area. He has an Etsy store and you can click here to contact him.
We had dinner at the Marina Bar and Grill. The new owners are good cooks!
We had 4 delightful guests on the boat for the day. We picked them up at the courtesy dock at 9AM and headed out of the marina. Captain Tim held a safety briefing before we left the marina covering the basics of "one hand for the boat" and how to use the head correctly. Then it was time for Big Fun!
We made a tour of the Lewis and Clark Reservoir so the 4 geologists could study the geology of the cliffs in preparation for a field trip next summer.
Tim set waypoints yesterday that I used to captain the boat around the lake. And the autopilot helped, too, but I often had to put the autopilot in standby mode and motor around other boats, skiers, trees in the water and other hazards. Irma was a great spotter from the Admiral's seat. And it was a great time for us to catch up on each other's kids and grandkids.
We took a break in the middle of the lake for lunch on the boat. I put quite a bit of thought in to what to serve 6 people that would be tasty, easy to balance on a plate and not make many dishes. The final menu was meat and cheese roll-ups (tortillas worked really well instead of bread). Everyone was fed, not much was spilled and all the dishes were hidden in the sink for clean-up later so I declared the meal a success. And it was fun!
We stopped at Weigand Marina for their famous ice cream and a pit stop. As always, Nellie May had many admirers while tied to the courtesy dock. We enjoy answering questions about her and spreading the word about how great Ranger Tugs are. We have boat cards with our contact information and website address that we give to people who show an interest in learning more about Nellie May.
We ended the day with beverages, appetizers and then dinner at the Marina Grill. Big Fun came to an end with promises to go out on the boat again soon.
Tim and I returned to our rental slip on C Dock and had a very quiet evening since everyone else on the dock left to go back to work on Monday. It was heavenly quiet. Saturday night...not so much.
Headed home on Monday afternoon. Notice our new vanity license plates? I couldn't believe no one else in South Dakota had snapped up TUGTRCK. The name says it all.
July 14-17, Chamberlain, SD
We put the boat in at Cedar Shores Resort and rented a slip in the marina. The marina is a short walk to the resort where we enjoyed dinner and music on the outdoor patio by the Vermillion Brothers. Had a few beers and answered questions about Nellie May. I was glad I had a few boat cards in my pocket to share with the folks who wanted to hear about our adventures.
The boaters in the marina were super people. We were greeted with "Love your boat!" more than once and had extra hands ready to help with docking.
We motored down the reservoir and stayed one night at a slip at Dock 44. A very nice marina and friendly folks. Had breakfast in their little restaurant the next morning and headed back up river to our slip at Cedar Shores. The waves were huge! Turned into a cove to anchor and swim and got a kink in the anchor rope that fouled the line in the anchor windlass. After a few moments of panic (on my part) Tim had the line secured and pulled the anchor up by hand. Those workouts at the gym paid off. Then we motored over to state park dock, deployed all the anchor line until the kink was resolved and headed back to Cedar Shores. Whew.
Storms blew through the area that night and we were glad we had put out extra lines and fenders before we went to bed. We slept well after the waves went down and the rain quit. The next morning we discovered the refrigerator had gone a little wacko and frozen the eggs, cheese and bread. Guess I wasn't going to cook One-eyed-Jacks for breakfast. We made do with bread toasted in the skillet and juice. Headed for home around noon. A good trip.