Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Plover Project -- Overview

In May of 2010, Chris and I found Plover on the internet. A 1966 24 ft. custom Atkins ketch, she was located in Dana Point, California. We immediately put down a small deposit and Chris flew to California to look at her. We decided to buy her and made arrangements to have her shipped to Galveston. We both went to Dana Point to get her ready for shipment and took a brief sail in the Pacific Ocean.

When you look at these pictures, you are probably thinking, "What a cool boat. Perfect in every way." Unfortunately, what we found was that Lin Pardey was right when she advised, "Paint hides rot." And, of course, there is the point that this boat is almost 50 years old, a long time for a plywood boat to survive if not cared for properly.

One small project led to another until we were beyond the point of no return and a total renovation was the only answer. Fortunately, Chris has a good working knowledge of boat building and repair so we have been able to do all the work ourselves. With his good supply of salvaged materials from previous boat projects, we have been able to reduce some of the cost.

Our boat is now "on the hard" in San Leon, Texas. We are close enough to the water to hear the work boats chugging up and down the channel and, if we listen closely, a whistle buoy on Galveston Bay. There is a pack of coyotes who sing to us at night and cause us to keep a close watch on Major as they sometimes come quite near.

This is Plover while in Dana Point, California:

The Interior:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Arkansas River Trip -- Notes About the Trip

These are things we used many times, every day, on the trip:

Our friends, Stan & Bride, gave us this great set of binoculars as a wedding gift. They were invaluable for checking mile markers, searching out anchorage coves, eagle watching, checking to see which direction a tug was headed, etc.

We referred to this cruising guide daily. Not only does it have information about possible anchorage and details about side trips, it gives all the historical information about the area you are going through.
Arkansas River Cruise Guide, A Wilderness Adventure
by Bruce and Joyce Johnson
ISBN: 0-9651508-0-1
Contact: Paradox Press, 1220 S. Norwood, Tulsa, OK 74112 {918-243-7751}

This is a picture of our chart book. It is available online from the Corp of Engineers. I printed out all the charts on 11 X 17 paper and put them in a notebook. Yes, those are onions hanging to the right in the picture.

1. NOAA doesn't lie.
2. Keep clean set of going to shore clothes set aside for onshore visits.
3. Lighters always break, have spares and matches. (I did.)
4. Bring Frontline flea and tick preventative for dogs. Major got ticks every time he went ashore.
5. We used about 1-1/2 gallons of water per day. We washed dishes with river water.

Arkansas River Trip -- Days 29-30 -- Pine Bluff Marina

Day 29: For some reason, we are both ready to get back to Kemah and finish our work on Plover. We had both figured it would be this way. We've had a great time on this river trip, but cruising on Plover beckons. We motored all day today and, except for another eagle sighting, it was an uneventful day. The eagle was swooping low over the water, looking for fish, and on the 3rd try was able to snag a good lunch. What a remarkable feat to witness !!

We anchored late in the day at mile marker 91.3 near Tar Camp Park. It looks like a pretty nice park with restrooms and showers but we didn't go over there.

Day 30: This was our last day on the river as we were 20 miles from Pine Bluff, our take-out point. We got an early start but got behind a barge at the lock. Knowing that we were in for a 2 hour wait, we pulled ashore, got out our chairs and books, and relaxed on shore. We have perfected the art of relaxing on this trip :)

Major doing something besides sleep:
All that activity wore the little guy out. Some pictures should not be taken, but here it is:

After we got through the lock, the wind picked up and we had some great sailing. We started out with full sail and mizzen, then the mizzen alone, and then a 2nd reef in the main and the mizzen. What a great way to end the trip!

Mile Marker 71.3
Entrance to Pine Bluff Marina

Monday, November 5, 2012

Arkansas River Trip -- Day 28 -- Little Rock

Sunrise, Little Rock Style:
I will add more later today. I wanted to go ahead and post this picture now, while I'm drinking coffee, before we go on our city hiking tour. Major will stay in the boat due to his dislike for hiking when there are no holes to dig or squirrels to chase.
After breakfast, we rowed over to the submarine museum and tied up to the wharf. We didn't know the park was closed on Monday so when we entered the building we surprised the staff who were there to prepare for an upcoming fundraiser.  They were only going to be there until early afternoon but said we could leave the Sherpa there while we went on our city tour.

There are 2 bridges designated for pedestrian traffic and we walked across to the Riverfront Park. After walking around for awhile,we ate lunch at a food court and then visited the sculpture gardens.

After our city tour, we picked up Sherpa, rowed out to Caprice, and left Little Rock in the late afternoon. We motored to Willow Beach Park at mile marker 110 where Chris had a hot shower but mine was cold !!

One thing I might add at this point is that Chris and I are looking rather homeless ourselves. Our clothes are dirty, we are dirty, and the office crowd at the food court glanced at us the way I used to glance at the homeless in downtown Houston on my lunch hour. Note to self: Keep a nice set of going to shore clothes set aside for times like these.

Arkansas River Trip -- Days 25-27

Day 25: Lots of motoring again. We anchored at Cypress Creek, mile marker 168, which had a large sandy beach. Major enjoyed digging in the soft sand. I was digging the big sandy beach. No mud. No ticks on Major. Almost like South Padre !

You might notice in this picture that the Sherpa is rafted up to Caprice rather than being towed behind us. We found that this method works best for towing the Sherpa when the water is smooth and we are motoring.

Day 26: We started out early today and motored about 10 miles to Cadro Settlement Park. We tied up at the old steamboat wharf and went hiking on some of the trails. It's a historical area and really makes you think about the "Trail of Tears" and how Native Americans were treated.

We left the park and our next lock was this one. The name comes from the 1800's when there was a taven located here. Lots of heavy drinking resulted in one traveler remarking, "Those fellows suck at a bottle til they swell up like toads."

After the Toad Suck lock, we were able to sail again and enjoyed great sailing all afternoon. We went up Palarm Creek at mile marker 136 and anchored for the night. We had to take the masts down to get under a railroad bridge but the sky looked like it might get stormy and we wanted good protection. No storm came but we were good and protected anyway.

Day 27: We arrived in Little Rock about 4 pm today. This is a beautiful city of parks, restaurants, shops, hike and bike paths, and sculpture gardens. We tied up at a floating dock (old, small barge) and went up the stairs to the Riverfront Park. We went to dinner at Bosco's which is famous for its beers and spent a week's food budget on one meal. It was great !! I can't wait to explore the city tomorrow.

We just now moved the boat away from the wharf (at midnight) and anchored across the river. There was a homeless dude that seemed to be keeping an eye on the boat from the shadows above. We had seen him earlier in the evening and then, around 11 pm, Chris stuck his head outside and the guy was watching the boat from the railing above. He asked about the boat and if it was just the two of us traveling down the river. None of that seemed so bad, but when Chris turned off the computer (lights) the guy had moved into the shadow of the stairwell and was staring down at the boat. Chris kept an eye on him and something just didn't feel right about it. When he started down the steps, we quickly untied the boat and vacated the premises !! Maybe we've been away from civilization too long but my belief is that if your instinct tells you to do something, you better listen. So now, as long as the anchor doesn't drag and we don't get run down by a barge, we are good to go for another night :)

Arkansas River Trip -- Days 22-24

Day 22: Today was a motoring day as there was absolutely no wind. We anchored off Spadra Park at mile marker 229 and grilled pork chops over a fire on the river bank. It's a little muddy here at the river bank but there is a forested area with plenty of room for Major to run (which he did). We had chicken salad with bread & butter pickles on jewish rye bread for lunch. Perfect combination !!

Day 23: We started out this morning with boat chores. The engine has been running a little rough so Chris took the carburator apart and cleaned it. Good as new! Our destination today is Dardanelle State Park. As we approached the cove leading into the park, we saw a small fishing boat waving a white flag in distress. They were having engine trouble so we towed them to the boat ramp. As it turned out, they are the park hosts for Dardanelle State Park and they invited us to tie up to the park dock for the night and use the showers. Jake and Ruthie are the sweetest people you will ever meet -- ages 80 and 84 !!

The moon and clouds that night:
 Chris working on the engine:

Pepperoni, mushroom and cheese pizza:
Day 24: Our third day in a row of motoring ! It's ok though, the sky is clear, the weather is warming up, and we get 20 miles per gallon. We listened to NOAA and there is the possibility of some wind in a few days. I made pizza for lunch and it turned out great. We anchored for the night in the Petit Jean Riverat mile marker 187.2 and fished. Chris got us 2 blue catfish. The blue catfish don't fight like the channel catfish; Chris says they are the "weiner dogs of the river."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Arkansas River Trip -- Days 20 and 21 -- Ozark City

After we cleaned our catfish from last night and put them in the ice chest (no ice but the water in there is cold enough), we sailed to Ozark City and anchored in the basin at the boat ramp of the Corp of Engineers park across the river. 5 Star bathrooms ! I tried to stay in the shower until it ran out of hot water but finally had to give up. Even Major got a bath and I must say the boat smells much better now.

The next day we sailed the Sherpa across the river and went under the railroad bridge to a city park that has a boat dock and ramp. We left the Sherpa and walked all over Ozark City. There are many antique shops, a railroad museum, and restaurants, but everything is closed on Monday! We wound up going to Subway and had a picnic. Major was with us and it would have been better if we had left him on the boat because he gets quite sullen when he has to go hiking.

After our walking tour we returned to the boat and left the anchorage. Lock 12 is at Ozark City so we traversed the lock and then sailed/motored about 3 miles to the best anchorage so far !! It had 300 ft. cliffs on one side and was covered in fall foliage. We saw 2 eagles on the way (that makes 5 so far).

This was the highlight of the day:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Arkansas River Trip -- Days 18 and 19

We left Fort Smith about 1:00 this afternoon and sailed almost all the way to our next anchorage, Big Creek, at mile marker 281.5. It's cold !! We fished but didn't have any luck, made grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for dinner, read our books, and were both asleep by 8:30.

The sound of the motor makes Major sleepy. Correction: everything makes Major sleepy.

 Frost on the solar panel this morning:
We sailed to Mulberry Creek the next day and caught 4 catfish that evening. Catfish for dinner tomorrow night !

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Arkansas River Trip -- Days 16-17 -- Fort Smith and Poteau River Side Trip

We made it through the lock the next day and sailed for Fort Smith. We took a side trip up the Poteau River and anchored there for the night since we didn't want to arrive in Fort Smith after dark.

The next day, we sailed out of the Poteau River and onward to Fort Smith. There was increased tug/barge traffic but it wasn't that bad. The railroad bridge at Fort Smith is unique in that it raises and lowers for trains. We were so busy looking at the bridge that we ran into a channel marker! We had hung a cushion across the front of Sherpa to keep her from getting dinged up and thankfully it was in just the right spot. We had a scary moment when it looked like the Sherpa was going to wrap herself around the channel marker. All is good, though, except for the cushion which suffered some damage.
We arrived at Wildcat Marina just about sunset, where we tied up at the fuel dock. They have wifi, free laundry, and showers so, since there is a cold front coming in, this is a good place to wait it out. We took a cab to Walmart and got everything we need for the next few weeks, including Arkansas fishing licenses. Our friend, Phillip Allen, came by to see us and we went out to dinner.


Arkansas River Trip -- Days 14-15 -- Cache Creek

Leaving Applegate Cove early in the day, we sailed 14 miles to Cache Creek.
 We anchored for the night and left early the next day to get through the lock. We needed to get through early because there is not a good anchorage on the other side of the lock until Fort Smith. When we got to the lock, it was busy with a tug/barge so we anchored to wait. Eventually, since we were running out of time, we tucked into this cove to wait until the next day.

Arkansas River Trip -- Days 12-13 -- Applegate Cove Marina

We stayed at Applegate Cove Marina for 2 nights. We started out the first day by taking care of a huge stack of laundry. After that was finished, we got out our backpacks and hiked about 2 miles to a convenience store but, as we expected, the prices were too high to buy much. We had passed Shad's Catfish Hole on the way there and on the way back, we stopped in for a catfish dinner. I guess we like catfish. Waddling back to the boat, we were picked up by Doug & Kaylee, marina staff, who gave us a ride back to the boat. We really enjoyed our stay at Applegate Cove Marina. Nice facilities, great people! There were a couple of dogs at the marina that Major enjoyed meeting. That's the joy of cruising -- seeing new places and making new friends!

Applegate Cove Marina:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Arkansas River Trip -- Days 10-11 -- Windy !!

A cool front arrived overnight and it was pretty windy this morning. We listened to NOAA on the radio and it said wind at about 20 knots, gusting to 40. We decided it didn't look that bad and left anyway. It was fine -- for a while -- then we came to a spot where the river widened and, yes indeed, we had a gust of about 40. Surfing downwind under mizzen alone, we gybed and wrapped our sprit around the mizzen mast, bending it in half. We took shelter in the first little creek we could find. It turned out to be a great spot near an abandoned park in Tamaha, Oklahoma. Chris made a splint for the mizzen and we were good to go for the next day. Note to self: NOAA doesn't lie.

 This is an old jail in Tamaha, Oklahoma. The water in the background is the little creek where we anchored.
 The next day we sailed to Applegate Cove Marina. We are in a slip for 2 nights and will recharge our batteries, take showers (the 2nd one this month!), do laundry, and buy a few provisions. Another beautiful sunset !!