Day of motoring
Long arduous day from Pepin Wi to Red Wing MN
It’s 4 P.M. in Red Wing and I just had to completely shutter the hatch boards/companionway to stop getting rain into the cabin. My alarm was off at 6 this morning so I could complete the journey to Red Wing in daylight. I layer up with just about everything I had because the weather prediction for the entire day is dismal. Daylight is barely light. The only good thing is the wind and waves are directly into the bow. Any other would mean a day’s postponement. There will be no last lake sail today, motoring is the only option for today. 2 hours to get up past Lake City MN and then another hour to pass Stockholm WI. There is a gradual left turn in the river around a landmark called Point No Point named because you never really know when the rounding is made. It all just looks the same and then it doesn’t. The waves have dropped some so that is good. My old rain gear however has failed, great wind protection but the rain is soaking through and I am drenched to the bone and cooling fast. As my water hopes rise, so do the waves. I have to cross an area that has a shallow bay to the north and the wind gets a chance to stir the waves into a nasty chop. First time I have ever buried the bow under an oncoming wave and wash the foredeck. Whew, that was crazy! Lucky only one of those. I’m committed by now, turning around is not a better option, forward is the only choice. As I focus ahead a barge tugboat comes into view heading south. We have plenty of room to navigate past one another, port (left side) to port as is normal. There is a stump field in the water to my right, but I have a new nav aid to help me monitor depth to make sure I don’t get into shallows when I have to pass barges. I need 3 feet of water to stay afloat. There are no nav aids in the water to the right to help know where the stump fields begin (red floating cans/buoys) only Black/green cans on the left side of the river to make sure you don’t go aground along the shore. I’m sure the barge captain is thinking what the hell is that little boat doing out here in this chop! I’m thinking the same. 5 hours into the day and I finally reach north end of the lake where the lake now becomes more like a river that it is. The weather is still intermittent rain and big black clouds but now the wave action is a lot more manageable. I figure out how to drop my legs into the cabin and reach far back just enough to grad the tiller for steering, helping keep me warm and my legs from getting any wetter, not sure they could get wetter. The narrow area seems a lot skinnier than summer of 2019 at extremely high water, it is really low water now, end of summer 2020. Probably more than 15 feet lower. Lake Pepin has been about 25 feet deep mostly on the way upriver today and about 20 feet in the channel. Nice to have that information. There are still a few die-hard fishing boats out even in this nasty weather, hope it’s worthwhile. Soon I spy the small town are of Reed Wing MN, slowing to get dock lines and fenders set for docking, this is my overnight stop. The little marina looks deserted which is to be expected, poor weather and late in the season, I wouldn’t be out here either. Lots of current here as the river makes a big turn so I remember from 2019 to prepare eventually getting alongside a dock that I probably used a year ago. Tie up and breathe a sigh of relief, I’m about done for the day after about 6 hours. Made it with daylight to spare. Lucky that this dock has a power outlet, so I get to connect my mini heater and try to dry out my completely soaked clothes. I have some extras but wasn’t expecting rain gear failure. Time to fire up the alcohol stove, make some dinner and hot drinks and hie in the cabin for the night. Early to bed because tomorrow is just as long a day, weather not getting any better, but the wave action should be manageable in the river proper.
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