I pull away and head back to the small dock. I really didn’t want to tie up there as I wanted to spend sometime walking around town and I would be blocking the only decent boat access to shore. Even though I had seen only one other boat on the river all day I really hated to be in the way if someone else did decide to use the dock.
After weighing the situation I decided that there was one way that might work. On all my boats I carry a device called the “Anchor Buddy” bought from Overton’s for about $26. It consist of 50’ of 3/8 polypropylene rope with a 12’ piece of heavy surgical tubing inside. It forms a bungee type cord that will stretch from about 15’ to 50’. The idea is to attach one end to the stern and the other to the anchor. Proceed to about 30’ off the shore, drop the anchor and then continue on to the bank or dock stretching out the line. Secure the bow line holding the boat in place until everything is off loaded and then pay out the line and allow the boat to be pulled back towards the anchor. Once a comfortable distance from shore tie off the bow line and the boat will now stay in place out of harms way.
This works very well on my boats (all under 20’). I use it often when pulled up to sand bars or rocky shorelines as it saves a lot of wear on the bottom of the hull. If large wake from passing boats is a problem I will even use it at a dock to back it away and keep Therapy from getting beat up.
Again, I said it works well but with Therapy two people are really required as one is needed to power up to the shore while the other hops off to hold the bow line. Being by myself complicates things. I will need to drop the anchor and then build some forward momentum, cut the throttle, climb around the cabin and berth with rope in hand and step off on to the dock and catch Therapy. No problem – right? Well to complicate things just a little more there was enough current that was causing Therapy to be pushed to the port during the process. I had to try to time the forward movement and correct for the drift in order to have the boat end up at he dock as I walked around.
The first time I was low on speed and didn’t make it to the dock. I added a little more power with my next attempt and everything looked good. I scampered out and around. On Therapy walking around the cabin is no problem as I have handrails on the top. But when I move past the berth it is a bit more precarious as I have no hand holds. This has not been a problem before as I usually just lean in with a hand on top the berth and walk on to the bow.
But now I am in a hurry. The dock is quickly approaching and I realize I have over shot. Therapy’s bow is going to drift sideways and hit the side of the dock. The dock has nice bumpers installed so it really shouldn’t hurt the hull but I would rather catch it. I stand up straight and quickly move past the berth trying to keep my balance. But I’m too late. Therapy’s bow smacks the dock and her sideways movement comes to an abrupt stop. This wasn’t to bad except my sideways movement continued! MAN OVERBOARD!!
It all seemed to happen in slow motion. I knew I was going in so reached out and grabbed the dock with one hand and the bow cleat with the other. All I needed was the bungee line to pull the boat out where I would have to swim to get it. Fortunately, the water was only about waist deep so I stood there and secured Therapy to the dock before dragging my soggy butt out of the water.
The water was about 52 degrees but really don’t even remember thinking about the cold. I climbed out and looked around to see if anyone had witnessed this fiasco. I can see the headlines – Hot Shot River Boater Manages To Fall Overboard – film at 11…... I didn’t see anyone nor could I hear any laughter so maybe my embarrassment could be contained to my own thoughts. Pretty humbling though.
I made my way back around the cabin leaving a trail of water and mud. I changed into some dry clothes and chuckled to myself at what a sight this must have been. I then realized the one extra item I did not bring was a spare pair of shoes. I had on a heavy pair of white cloth/leather walking shoes and water and mud oozed out with each step. I tried to rinse them off in the river but they were still a dingy dark gray color. Oh well, I grabbed my camera and made my way up the ramp with my shoes sloshing with each step.
It was now about 3 PM and I decided to stroll around town. I have been at the helm most of the day (sans my short swim) so stretching my legs would feel good. Hermann is a popular attraction as it is home to two wineries, restaurants, over 40 bed and breakfasts, antique and craft shops, hotels and a museums all housed in 100+ year old building all of which are in excellent condition. Although it is mid November the streets are busy with visitors hitting the shops and enjoying the day. I also noticed that there was a gas station just a block from the ramp so fuel could be carried dockside if necessary.
I wondered around town for a while and then decided to grab a bite to eat. It was still early but I thought I would get a hot meal and then head back to Therapy. The Riverview ramp situation was still in the back of my mind and I still had time to start back and get a few return miles behind me. I had no idea if there would be a fog problem in the morning and as I said before I didn’t want to get back too late. Also, I thought it would be a little quieter away from the town’s activity.
Departing the dock was pleasantly uneventful. I guessed I had about 30 minutes before sunset so I decide to see how for I could get downstream before dark. The current was now working with me and I was making good time. As the sky darkened I found myself near New Haven and the vacant marina. I went a little farther downstream and idled to the opposite shore were I pulled in behind one of the dikes to escape the current. Here I found the deepest water I had yet encountered on the Missouri – 26’. Most of the channel was about 13’ but it places it was as deep as 18’ and as shallow as 7’ in others.
I allowed Therapy to drift out into a little shallower water and at 15’ I dropped on anchor off the bow and as it weathervaned into the swirling current I dropped another one off the stern. When anchoring for the night close to a rock covered shore I always sleep better with two anchors holding Therapy at a safe distance.
Although it is completely dark now it is only 5:30 pm and I settle in for a long night in Therapy’s berth. I had brought along today’s newspaper and a good book so I planned to spend a quite evening reading. And then a blast broke the silence of the night.
On my trip upstream I noticed the Katy Trail on the north shore and also an active set of railroad tracks on the south shore. I really hadn’t given it much thought although I had seen a train or two in route. But now an engineer was sounding the alarm as he approached New Haven and the locomotive’s horn roared. In the windless night it echoed across the water and sounded as it were but a few yards away.
I settled back into my book and a little while later it happened again. I didn’t think much about it until the third train rolled by in a short period of time again laying on the air horn to clear the way. I then started to time the intervals and found a train was passing through New Haven almost every 15 minutes. In the next four hours the lowest count was three per hour (there were two tracks and the traffic seemed to be alternating in direction). Hard to believe that I had come out to what I thought was a fairly isolated spot to spend the night only to find my self in Grand Central Station.