On Friday 4 June I finished up a bunch of deadline stuff and drove home about 11:40 pm, conked out by 12:15 am Saturday morning. Saturday slept late, then got up, ran the line-trimmer, mowed, cleaned up.
Seventy-Six and I spent a lot of time wrestling, playing with toys, playing outside. Then we assembled the RZ96 so it would be ready to take to Henry Horton State Park on Sunday for a picnic send-off for a young cousin joining the USMC. After several breaks during which we ran around the yard, threw basketballs at a small goal, played with trucks, chased each other around trees in the yard, and rang the front door-bell to see if Caution-Lady would come to the window and say “Hello,” we completed the assembly and I let Seventy-Six play in the boat. I assembled and packed the necessary gear for a day on the water and packed it in Thursday’s trunk (I’ve found it is impossible to get the car’s trunk open enough to load anything with a boat on the roof-racks).
Back at the house after worship service Sunday, I got the >100# behemoth up on to the car’s roof using a simple method suggested by Ralph Hoehn. I opened the front passenger door, rested the bow thereon, then lifted the stern and using simple leverage lifted it and set it across the rear rack. Then I moved the bow on to the front rack, straightened the boat and secured it. No need for complicated systems of rollers and pulley’s.
The car’s handling does not seem much affected by carrying a boat on its racks. I always transport the assembled RZ96 hull-up because the frame seems stoutest at the coaming, and the ends sag downward if the boat’s on the racks hull-down. Also keeps rain out of the boat, and it rained a lot Sunday afternoon before we were able to launch at the state park.
After visiting, trying to keep Seventy-Six from getting too filthy jumping in puddles or too soaked playing in the intermittent downpours, a lunch of hot-dogs, hamburger’s, side-dishes, and dessert, it was time to launch. The banks of the Duck River are steep at Henry Horton State Park, certainly too steep to carry down to the water from our picnic site by the Highway 31-A bridge.
The gravel, asphalt, and mud track that provides river access to folks with trailered boats didn’t look like it had a turnaround at the bottom, so I backed the car up to the road again and parked in the grass at the top. My cousin and I got the boat off the racks, I got pfds, paddles, water shoes, and so forth, out of the trunk. Shoes changed, we carried the boat down to the water accompanied by my young cousin’s girlfriend, and another cousin.
After brief discussion, we decided to paddle upstream and return with the current, as opposed to paddling downstream to the point nearest our picnic area by the bridge. That was probably a mistake, because the current was not terribly swift, and we found we had no trouble paddling upstream against it from the put-in.
While on the water, we saw a number of other paddlers, some, like those pictured above, traveled with children and towed water toys behind them for occasional stops to allow the kids to play in the water. Most appeared to be paddling rental boats – red, green, yellow canoes and sit-on-top kayaks. We passed a disused yellow rope-swing overhanging the water on our right. On our left, further upstream, we observed some jumping into the river from a rock face about 20 feet up. We came to a shallow rapids and had to get out of the boat to pull and carry it over the shallow rocky bottom. I think it may have been there that we unknowingly brought the hull in to contact with some object incompatible to its continued integrity. At the time, however, we noticed nothing amiss. After the rapids, we got back in and continued to paddle. We saw floating downstream what appeared to be a family group on inflatable pool lounges rafted-up to an approximately 12 foot flat-bottomed aluminum river punt.
After reaching a point where it seemed like we’d been away from the picnic long enough, we turned around and headed back to the put in. We noticed a lot of water in the bilge, and I remember saying I didn’t think paddle splash or the water we’d brought in to the boat in our shoes when we got back in after walking the boat upstream the rapids would account for its volume. At the put in, we discovered the means by which the water entered the boat.
The surprising thing is that I’ve paddled this boat over shallow rocky bottoms, struck submerged rocks and stumps with it, dragged it over dead tree limbs blocking passage, etc., with never a problems.
A note about names: I tend not to use real names of family members and friends online – it’s bad Internet hygiene.