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The longest houseboating trip

Canyon Glen

Well-Known Member
So we tied up our myacht in a favorite place at the head of a canyon at the top of Good Hope Bay. We had learned to prefer parking the houseboat in deep water near the main channel. Not sure if you've experienced pulling into a prime spot deep in a canyon only to find the still water that has the last houseboats urine and other what not polluting the water.

We prefer open water without fetch if possible. Choosing a steep shoreline is helpful because we usually stayed on the lake for as supplies would allow(3-5 weeks) and as those who know the lake is an ever changing beast/lover. Most trips we have to back the boat off the shoreline every few days and readjust the lines as the lake slowly recedes. Inevitably the rain or wind would sometimes fill up that part of the lake and make our tight lines loose. In a storm in the middle of the night in the dark I use to think it best to tighten every line but in the morning when the water receded we'd be hard ashore. So letting her float was the new normal but when she would reach the end of her lines and bounce back was hard to sleep through.

A few years earlier we were in Popcorn that night of the October storm that pushed the Bullfrog Marina 70ft+ of kilter. I really thought the picture window was going to burst from the wind that night. But the myacht held strong! I checked later, sustained winds of 60-80mph in Bullfrog that night . Cant imagine what funneled through popcorn. Since, I've looked at the topography of popcorn and there doesn't seem to be enough canyon to allow winds that strong. A healthy reminder don't mess with the desert just because there's a lake doesn't make it any safer. But I digress.

With a months provisions we went to bed after parking. The next morning some of the guys launch the little boat(24ft Lund) while I cook the rest of the crew breakfast. As the grease sizzles and the bacon smell fills up the boat a deep rumble can be heard far away and slowly roars towards us. Focused on the grill I assumed it was another military flyby. All of a sudden my wife yells " Honey come look."
I look up and there's a huge cloud of dust every where on land. I took a geology class freshman year in college and I'm not sure why but I quickly shut down the grill and turned off all the propane valves. I was pretty sure an earthquake had just rolled through the canyon. By the dust that had been kicked up it must have been a big one. We didn't feel the shaking because we were on the water. But now my worst fear on the lake could become a reality of an underwater landslide causing a seiche wave to form.

That got me to action. I yelled to what crew was that was left on board to let loose the lines as I started the engines. I figured we would have a better chance of survival floating in the middle of the lake rather then near the shoreline if a wave forms. Luckily my trained crew got us under way in record time. Pulling out and scanning the horizon I see no rogue waves. After a few minutes we get to the middle of the lake and idle the motors. We start talking about what we witnessed and wonder how our buddies in the little boat are doing. Just then I can see their wake in the distance returning from striper city.

That's when I notice the boat "sliding" sideways. This usually only happens on windy days but this morning was still. So as on a windy day I turn the boat into the wind a idle to stay in place. But now we're sliding backwards. The boat in idle is pointed upstream but we're sliding downstream. So I give the motors a little gas and it holds for a minute. Then we slide some more. More gas. After playing this game for 15 minutes I'm at half throttle and still sliding downstream. That's when it occurred to me. The earthquake took out the dam. We are no longer houseboating on a lake. We're houseboating on a river in extreme flood stage!

We needed a plan. Head to shore immediately? If we did that we could be stuck in muck miles from anywhere. I couldn't be sure we could even walk out of the canyon from where we were. If stuck we could wait for a helicopter rescue but what about the boats? Another thought was to ride the river down towards Bullfrog and try and beach it there. We all agreed to go for the ride. So I turned the boat around and throttled up. By this time we are leaving Good Hope Bay. Couldn't help but notice 3 houseboats anchored on shore. You could tell they were already listing towards the channel. It looked like they were scrambling trying to launch their little boats.

The myacht was handling well we were floating steady at about 5 knots. Nobody said anything for a while as we watched the scenery float by. I had my hands white knuckled on the wheel. That's when I noticed my coffee on the galley table. "Honey" I broke the silence "can you pass me my coffee please?" Shocked she looked at me like I had just killed someone. Then her face changed to realization and she nodded and got my coffee.

That's when we heard a boat motoring up behind us. Our little boat. I'd forgotten about them. What should we do? Try and tie up? Never done it under way before. Probably best they stay on the little boat. The tank is topped of so they have plenty of fuel. The myacht has a little over half in each tank. I open the window as the little boat pulls up. The crew is smiling. They even have 2 lines trolling behind them. "Can you believe it" Rimrock shouts smiling from the little boat. "We're gonna try and beach near Bullfrog" I yell back. Rimrock nods in understanding.

Just then Gold Cup gets a hit on the line. Rimrock yells "We're catching! Boated 5 stripers just trying to catch up to you!" That's why they were all smiles. "You could probably catch some from the big boat" He wasn't done saying it when the crew on board ran for their fishing gear. Sure enough both boats were "harvesting" enough fish to fill the freezer. Big smiles all around. This is why we go to so much effort to be in the most beautiful place in the world. To catch fish!

As we floated towards Tapestry Wall we saw a houseboat with just its rear end touching the water. People milling about scratching their heads. That's when I noticed we were going a little faster. We were up to 10 knots and still catching fish. The little boat pulled in a nice 8 lb striper. Maybe the fish knew something was up and they rather end up in a freezer then rotting in the desert.

Another mile later we were at 11 knots. Some quick math, approximately 20 miles to Bullfrog. I'm gaining 1 knot a mile so by the time we get to Bullfrog we'll be going 20 knots faster than my current speed. Hmmmm. Has a myacht ever gone 31knots before? Maybe on a trailer on the highway! I wave the little boat closer and explain my math. Smiles turn to grimaces as the problem presents itself. "Throw us a some lines. We'll tie up and tow you out of the current when we get near Stanton" Rimrock yelled. The crew dropped their fishing gear and got to work getting the lines.

"Hey everybody" I said. "Let's all put our life vests on ok?" The guys on the little boat already had theirs on. Rule on the little boat: vest on always! The big boat was still riding smooth but now I had to throttle up more to steer. After another mile we're at 13 knots. Picking up speed faster then my prediction. Also I'm noticing rocks and reefs that can be whales at certain lake levels are now rock faces I'm looking up at 20ft or so over head.

As we round the bend at Moki we're doing 27knots and gaining. We have the little boat cleated tight to the port side of the big boat. Coming down the last straightaway before halls I try and edge the boat towards the Stanton side of the channel. About halfway down I can see a whale in front us and quickly try to maneuver back towards the main channel. Too late! SCRAAAAAATCHH. The starboard pontoon scraped over the whale. Oh oh. Instinctively I steer the boat back towards the main channel to avoid any more collisions. I look at my gps to help keep the boat in the main channel to avoid any more whales. Are we listing? Has the pontoon started taking on water? Hard telling. 35knots!

As Halls Marina comes into view you can see that the docks are listing near shore. Police lights are flashing on shore and there seems to be a fire somewhere behind the marina. Then a huge fireball with black smoke shoots up in the air. Halls Gas Dock! Then BOOM! The shock wave hits us from the explosion. Felt like the windows on the boat were going to shatter and all the rivets pop but the myacht held strong.

Are we listing. Are we in the main channel, looking at the gps? I look for Stanton, but it's not there? I mean its there but it's above us on a bluff! 42 knots. It's time to try and maneuver towards Bullfrog. I try to throttle up some more but apparently in Star Trek parlance "I'd given her all she got". I yell to the little boat to punch it. But Rimrock already has the peddle to the meddle and we aren't making any headway towards shore. 50knots. Are we listing? Realization sunk in. "Rimrock, cut loose. We'll never make it but you might be able to" Rimrock looked like he was thinking hard. He realized what I had too.

We're going to have to ride this out. All the way to Lake Mead? Through the Grand Canyon? maybe by the time we get to Wahweap we can figure something out. "No" Rimrock says, "I think the big boat stands a better chance with the little boat around" whew. I'm glad he said that as we drifted past Halls in a black smoky haze. More math, 55 knots 80+ miles to the dam? An hour or a little more? Are we listing? My coffee had gone cold

to be continued
 
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botnb

Well-Known Member
I've had some terror at the lake in almost 50 years, but nothing like this.... Hurry and finish before I have a heart attack... Butch
 

Canyon Glen

Well-Known Member
........continued

"Honey?" ," Is there any more coffee in the pot?" We use an insulated French press made for camping on the boat and it can keep coffee warm for a long time. That's when Rimrock yelled from the little boat. "Permission to come aboard Captain?" I just shook my head in disbelief he would keep to protocol at this time.

Resumed to our fate we again paid attention to the boats and how to keep them afloat under the circumstances. Phenomenally the boat rode steady in the channel. The worst of the rapids were up against the walls of the canyon. So it became clear, safety resided in the deeper main channel. During a safe lull past Halls but before Lake Canyon Rimrock safely hopped on board the myacht. "What do you think, Captain?" He asks. "What do you mean what do I think!?! We are going 50+ knots in a myacht!

"How much fuel in the tanks Captain" Rimrock asks, all business. I look down and the needle is wavering back and forth with the rocking of the boat. "Little over half but these fuel gauges have never been that reliable." I reply

"What's you depth?" Rimrock asked. Funny, all the time steering into the main channel by gps I never thought to look at the depth. What would it matter?

200dft I reply"

Rimrock gets that thinking face on again. "I think we can ride this out to Whaweap except for just after Slickrock Canyon there's two 90 degree bends in the main channel before the Rincon. At the rate we're going and the depth of the water I'm not sure we're going to make it."

Quiet descends on the boat. The noise outside the boat is a pleasant rush of current with a louder froth cutting along the canyon walls.

"Is anybody hungry?" The Boat Queen chimes in. "Nobody has had breakfast yet. If you thinks its safe I'll make sandwiches."
Nobody answered but all eyes said yes.

"So how should we handle the Slick Rock bend?"

Rimrock knew more about the Colorado River than most men alive. He'd paddled, fished, hiked, floated, crawled every nook and cranny of this rivers Canyons. If ever you needed someone onboard with his knowledge it was now.

Rimrock knowingly "Let's tie up the little boat with a long line. The little boat will go ahead to the up stream point of the bend. When we get there the little boat in full throttle will pull in the line and act as a pivot for the big boat." Gold Cup nodded immediately knowing what need to be done.

"Then the little boat will have to race a head before the next 90 degree turn before Iceberg" Gold Cup said

Rimrock smiled at Gold Cup "We can do this"

"Yes Sir" he smiled back

That's when I notice that we were slowing down a bit. The flood of water was getting backed up trying to get through the Slick Rock Canyon bend in the river. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. Then we heard the roar. Passing Annie's Canyon it became clear we were in for a ride. The crew set to task. If Rimrock's plan didn't work we were toast.

Rimrock walked Gold Cup to the little boat. Beyond earshot the two of them had a short conference. I saw nodding and disagreement and then a finally nod of agreement.

Gold Cup and crew took off in the little boat with an anchor we were willing to lose. They gunned it downstream ahead of the myacht

(I don't know if you've ever had the fun of full throttle on a glassy lake, well picture the same but the lake is going 50 below you in the same direction. I was still on the big boat so you would have to ask Gold Cup about that)

The little boat set an anchor at a pivot point. Then boated the line upstream to a point where he hoped he could toss it to us on the big boat.

As we got closer to the cliff wall below Slick Rock we could see the why the flood had slowed down a bit. The water was flowing so fast it was pushing up the cliff a hundred feet higher than full pool, then tumbling back down in a froth of whitewater 30 feet high!. No way a myacht could get through that.

We see Gold cup with the rope ahead of the maelstrom. As we get closer Rimrock hooks his leg in a line just in case before edging to the starboard side of the gunnel to fetch the rope.

"Sandwiches are ready" The Boat Queen announces. She had proudly paid attention to the sandwiches she hadn't looked up in a while. Her jaw dropped to see the giant standing wave 100ft above her line of sight out of the galley window., hitting the cliff below Slick Rock Canyon.,

I've steered the myacht into perfect position to retrieve Gold Cups rope. Rimrock was ready with the gaff just in case. Perfect toss and a perfect retrieve. You could tell these two had spent a lot of time together and knew what to expect. (I blame how much time they spent chasing and catching fish on this lake. It takes a certain sort of folk to dedicate the life to the lake. When you find a fellow brethren the lake takes on a whole knew meaning)

Rimrock has us tie the anchored line to the port side cleat on the bow as we flow towards the white water. That freshman year in college when I took geology was on the coast and I spent more time surfing then studying. Surfing is 99% waiting, !% paddling and the remainder is surfing if your lucky. To surf you need the athletic ability but many who could can't. Because in that 99% of time surfing your "reading" the waves.

I read the wave. Keeping the line tight would bring us in to a rip current and certain disaster. Taking the turn wide heading towards Slick Rock and riding the wave, bouncing off the cliff made more sense to me. I yelled my concerns to Rimrock and after assessing the situation he agreed and let go of the line as Gold Cup looked on confuse but quickly accelerated the little boat to the next 90 degree bend before the Rincon.

We had slowed down to 30 knots as the water bunched up against the cliff. I had the throttle full forward as i waited till the moment I thought best hard to starboard and hit full throttle. The myacht eerily quietly slid up the face of the far left of the standing wave with roar of the froth not far away. When the myaht reached the apogee of it's flight int then the "surfed" down the wave again in calming silence as the flood's torrent roared nearby.

Every one on board took a breath, Not so fast. We have another 90 degree bend to contend with. Luckily what we call Owl Canyon is absorbing most of the energy of the flood in that turn. Gold Cup scouted ahead for another pivot point in the little boat. I'm reading the current and looking at the gps.

The little boat comes racing back after a recon. Rimrock and Gold Cup exchange a few shrugs and hand signals from a distance.

"Rimrock, Where should steer the boat?" Still a bit in awe of what the myacht just had been through it took a second for his reply.

"Someone catch Gold Cups line! And turn the boat full throttle upstream, Quick!"

Now I saw what they saw, a whirlpool that had been their concern.

"Take it wide " I said with the confidence of safely navigating the last elbow we had passed. With seconds to decide the taking it wide option offered many rocks and other unfriendly things to boat hulls.

"No, tie up the little boat and with all our might pull upstream and float into the middle of the whirlpool" No one argued. With both boats tethered but this time the Lund was cleated to our bow with 50ft of line.

It worked!! After a few circuits in the whirlpool it let us loose to continue downriver in relative safety towards the Rincon.

Are we listing? Nope. Knots? 35. Crew morale? "Big boat needs fuel I announce." The crew, again is up to the task and fills the tanks with the extra gas we'd brought for the trip while we "calmly" float past the Rincon

"Sandwiches'?" The boat queen offers. All the crew eats thankfully.
 

Canyon Glen

Well-Known Member
......A strange quiet settles over the boat as the crew eats their sandwiches. The flood had slowed down a bit with room to spread out in the broad bay below the Rincon. In the distance a motor can be heard. The sound was coming from down stream and getting louder. Looking out it's another little boat struggling to head up stream against the current. A bit closer we could see it was another Lund, a black one.

"Wasn't KBass and his wife and dog camping on the San Juan this week?" Rimrock asked. No one answered as the boats closed the gap between them. Sure enough it was our friends. Kbass's dog was on the bow barking at us, but when she saw Gold Cup she started wagging her tail. Kbass pulled closer and we threw him a line to tie up to the big boat.

"I wish I could say I was glad to see you because were almost out of fuel but not sure you're in much better shape" Kbass said.

We quickly filled him in on what we'd been through and what we hoped would happen next. Kbass listened intently rubbing his chin and thinking while listening.

"Well," he paused "We were up early fishing the mouth of Wilson Creek when the earthquake hit. Just for safety we decided to high tail it back to Bullfrog. It wasn't until we were in the middle of Cha Bay that we noticed the lake level falling. By the time we made it through the Goosenecks the current was really moving. When we got to the confluence the 2 rivers were crashing into each other creating a huge rapid as far downriver as I could see. We were just able to skirt by sticking to the shoreline. As we got up stream we saw a huge Somerset head into the rapids. They got swallowed up quick and I thought I heard aluminum meet rock in a unfriendly way. Hole in the Rock was easy to maneuver by. The confluence at the mouth of the Escalante wasn't too bad but a bit rough"

Noticeably the big boat started picking up speed as we left the Rincon. Nobody spoke for a minute.

"Let's top off Kbass's gas tank" Rimrock broke the silence.

"What if we try what worked at the whirlpool." my offer is met with silence.

Gold Cup chimes in "When we run whitewater rivers we try and float above the rapids, what if we tie the little boats tight port and starboard giving the houseboat maximum buoyancy."

"And all motors at full throttle" Kbass added with an encouraging gleam in his eye.

"That means 2 of us are going to have man the little boats helms" Rimrock added.

Silence.

"I'll do it" Gold Cup says. "Well it's my boat" Kbass volunteers.

With a task at hand everyone gets busy. Buoyancy. Hmmmm. What about all the extra gas/provisions? Should we toss them overboard? I broach the subject with the crew.

"With pontoons this size that amount of weight won't make a difference." Rimrock jokes "Besides we might need it when we we get to Baja"

the boat queen hands Kbass and his wife sandwiches nobody noticed her making.

"Thanks we're starving"

After rigging the boats we put extra life preservers on Gold Cup and Kbass. then we rig 2 lifelines, one attaching them to their boats and another to the myacht so they won't get washed away but with quick releases if anything should wrong. What could possibly go wrong?

By now we are approaching the Escalante
 

Canyon Glen

Well-Known Member
Good stuff. It reminds me a little of the book "Wet Desert"
That book has come to my attention since I started this short story. I hadn't heard of it before but I'm not surprised that the story has already been told. I wasn't going to continue writing after I heard about it but my buddy who told me about that book encouraged me to keep going. Surprised, with as many books I've read about the Lake, I've never heard of that one.
 

Canyon Glen

Well-Known Member
I apologize for skipping over what happens next, My process is, I think it I write it and I just thought of this....



Amazed we made it past the confluence, Soaked to the bone Kbass and Gold Cup on the little boats were hootin' and hollerin' that we made it through. Even Rimrock shared his broad smile that made you feel all was right in the world.

For now.

We still had to potentially navigate the Grand Canyon!

After the rapids, the torrent was more manageable. More and more boats hanging above the shoreline could bee seen. When we passed Dangling Rope you could see the Aramark employees on the bluffs looking down, cheering at us as we floated by.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, the powers that be had sprung into action. Aramark called the Park Service who called the Forest Service who called the Bureau of Reclamation who called Washington who called the President.

"Who do we have down there we can trust?" The President asks.

All the senior staff assembled look quizzingly at each other

"Wayne Gustaveson, Sir" An aide whispers

"Wayne, Wayne who is Wayne" The President asks

"Sir" the aides superior interrupts. "Mr. President, Mr Gustaveson doesn't have the security clearance for such matters.."

"Nonsense get him on the phone"

In the morning when the earthquake hit Wayne happened to be in Big Water driving home from dropping a friend off who had spent the night after a long day of fishing. He was about to cross the bridge to head to his office in Page when the earthquake hit. Not sure if you've been in a "Big One" while driving, but your cars suspension absorbs the shocks so it feels like your truck has gone over speed bumps. So he wasn't sure what happened as the desert sent a cloud dust in the air.

Continuing to cross the bridge he made sure to look fondly to the right at the healthy fishery in the cool clear waters downstream. Also to take time to look the left to admire the dam like he had done thousands of times while driving across the bridge. But this time was different. A dark pattern like a lightning bolt was on the face of the pale grey concrete dam. Slowly like a Hollywood movie Wayne watched the dam of his beloved lake burst. Quick to think he pulled out his phone to record the devastation but then changed his mind.

"I need to get to the office!" Wayne thought. Putting it in gear leaving the destruction behind. Driving faster than normal he couldn't help but notice that the street lights were out and a few black smoke plumes around town.

Quickly parking and rushing to his office he could hear the phone ringing.

Fussing with the keys to unlock the door as the phone rings on, Wayne burst into his office and answers the phone.

"Hello", Wayne says, catching his breath.

"Is this Wayne Gustruvean"

"Yes" He was long past getting annoyed at folks mispronouncing his name

"Are you satisfied with you long distance carrier?"

click he hangs up.

The phone rings again

"To whom am I speaking" the voice says with authority'" and can you get Mr. Gustruven on the phone immediately please"

"May I ask whose calling please?" Wayne responds annoyed , wanting to free up the line.

"This is the White House,." Silence.

"The White House of America?" Wayne repeats.

"Yes, can you please get Wayne?"

"Well, I'm Wayne, Wayne Gustavenson"

"Please hold"

"Wayne is that you?" A familiar voice from the television comes on the line

"Yes"

"Thanks for taking the call, this is the President and apparently we have a situation in your neck of the woods"

"A bit of an understatement sir" Wayne answered

"No time for sarcasm son, I've got the smartest people I could gather in this room to deal with this situation and the best they came up with is to call you. This is how America works sometimes son. America is asking you Wayne Grustvesin. What would you do right now in this situation? I'm not asking as your president I'm asking as your country."

"Call McClellen. NOW!"

The president asked "Did I hear you right?"

"Scramble the fighters and drop ordinance on the cliffs where the dam use to be. Creating a temporary dam of what's left . The sooner we can stop the flood the better the chances of saving the dams downstream"

"Do It" Wayne heard as the phone line disconnected.
 
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Canyon Glen

Well-Known Member
So, I'm kinda stuck on what to write next because I've been making it up as I go. I'd intended to make it to Baja then I heard about the book that already did that so I switched gears. Every thread to continue the story I think of doesn't bubble up to the level of wasting time to type and edit to share on a fishing related message board.. Notice I skipped the ride through he confluence.

So. I'll let it up to you, the bored out of your mind thinking this entertainment fellow Wayne's Worders to decide which story you want to be told next.

Should I:

1 Return to the myacht with Gold Cup, Rimrock and Kbass?

2 See what Wayne does next after the phone call?

3 Stay in the situation room with the president?

4 C.O.'s office at McClellan A.F.B.

6 other
 
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DreamWeaver

Active Member
So, I'm kinda stuck on what to write next because I've been making it up as I go. I'd intended to make it to Baja then I heard about the book that already did that so I switched gears. Every thread to continue the story I think of doesn't bubble up to the level of wasting time to type and edit to share on a fishing related message board.. Notice I skipped the ride through he confluence.

So. I'll let it up to you, the bored out of your mind thinking this entertainment fellow Wayne's Worders to decide which story you want to be told next.

Should I:

1 Return to the myacht with Gold Cup, Rimrock and Kbass?

2 See what Wayne does next after the phone call?

3 Stay in the situation room with the president?

4 C.O.'s office at McClellan A.F.B.

6 other
All of the above...
 
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