Illinois River Float Trip (Sailboat Style) and Other Musings

Wow what a weekend!  Yes it was hot but when you are on (and in) the water everything seems mo betta!  I went to the boat on Friday afternoon just to prep and visit with no one in particular.  After ensuring that the boat was ready I had to return to the home HQ to ensure the “dancing girls” were okay and fed.  I don’t like leaving them for multiple days, as it appears they have taken a disliking for their food and water when we are absent.  Yes the Admiral is away as well visiting a friend in Santa Barbara, CA.  So I have “dancing girl” duty (too bad there are eight legs instead of four).

Anyway, Saturday dawned and in due time I was off to the boat for a weekend raft-up in Sallisaw Creek.  The afternoon started with great anticipation as several boats headed on out, among them Rhapsody.  Well anyway, when I arrived GC Enchantress (you remember:  the “Gender Confused” vessel) was already in Sallisaw Creek with guest aboard.  They were swimming and I didn’t want to invade on their privacy so I anchored off a bit.  Some short time later GC Enchantress decided to head on back to the marina.  She was worried about her deck getting wet (they are in the midst of a major re-fit to include re-doing the teak deck).  So we waved and exchanged “air horns” as she headed back in.

The Power Boats Rafted on Sunday AM

Not to worry, shortly afterwards M/V Kat BaLu arrived and S/V Apogee entered the anchorage, set their hooks and the party was on.  We were sitting about having a cocktail aboard Kat BaLu when we looked up and saw another vessel approaching.  At first we were not sure who it was but then recognized M/V Milady coming into the anchorage.  After assisting them with rafting, we were all set for the evening.  Well mostly.  Apogee’s skipper was a bit anxious for a moonlight sail and began to get a bit “antsy” as soon as the moon popped up.  I tried to “Curb his Enthusiasm”, but to no avail.  So somewhere in the vicinity of 2130 O’BengeRy and I set out upon Apogee for a moonlight sail.  Actually we mostly motored: to the south shore of the lake where we hoisted cloth and caught a slight breeze.  The moon was magnificent and while we were not sailing fast, we were sailing.  Well we tacked a time or two or three and them O’BengeRy announced that we are not moving.  I personally think he was mistaken, but hey its his boat.  So we furled the cloth and headed back into the anchorage somewhere in the vicinity of 0200.

O’BengeRy re-anchored Apogee just downwind of Rhapsody and ferried me back to my boat for the night.  I slept soundly and awoke (yeah), looked outside and wondered where everyone went.  Upon further examination, they were still there, just in a different location (no I didn’t need a bath)!  During the course of the night Rhapsody had drug her anchor and they were now in front of me not behind me (where I had left them).  After I had a much-needed breakfast, I joined the other boats for a bit.  While we were commiserating about something very important (I have no clue what) we discussed the possibility of a future trip to the Illinois River, some 25 miles upstream.  Now it should be noted that the Illinois River is a beautiful stream that was impounded to form Tenkiller Ferry Reservoir.  And it should be noted the river downstream of the damn is a designated Oklahoma Trout Stream!  Hum, what could that mean!  Clear Cold Water!  Anyway we discussed it and then everyone decided to head on back to the marina except for Rhapsody.  We stayed put, cleaned the galley and read some of book number 17 (of 20) of the Master and Commander series.  Then some folks showed up in jet skis and water skies and were making a pretty smooth lake mostly rough, so I decided to head on in myself (using the excuse that the dancing girls needed attention!  Read HOT).  So we brought to an end another wonderful weekend with great friends.

O'BengeRy Departing the Raft-up

Now comes part two!  After returning home to care for the aforementioned “Dancing Girls”, we (and they, after all their human was home) had a wonderful quite evening at home in AC.  I have no idea what time I went to bed, but I awoke at something like 0530 on Monday and was lying there thinking to myself.  Self, I said, the summer is ‘bout over and you have to work a day or two this week, plus the grandson has dental surgery on Friday.  Why don’t you head on back to the boat (the “Dancing Girls” could see this coming), load up and go scout the Illinois River?  What an interesting idea!  There were several chores to be accomplished prior to leaving the home HQ (to include voting), but I thought I could pull it off.  So I set in motion an impromptu run to the Illinois.

Everything was dealt with in due course and the boat was prepped and off we went heading the 20-25 miles to the confluence of the Illinois and Arkansas Rivers.  I checked with a wise ole sage in the marina about entering the Illinois (as I had never been there by sailboat) and he enlightened me with his wisdom.  Rhapsody departed her slip at 1025 and after several milestones dropped the anchor in 12 feet of very murky water (at 1645).  Not to fear.  I understood perfectly well what was up.  Lock 16 was discharging water and Lake Tenkiller was not!  (Oh for the uniformed Tenkiller is a Cherokee surname) so the Arkansas was back filling the Illinois.  Not to fear, as I knew at some point, Tenkiller would dump and when they do it would be grand.  I talked with several fishermen trying their luck for both Walleye and Strippers, but none were having much luck.  It was about this time that the dump began.  You could see all kinds of debris flushing past and eventually, the water cleared and WOW.  I eased, yes eased, myself into the now 65° water which only 30 minutes earlier was more like 85°ish.  What a hoot!

Anyway, I was able to get in and out of the Illinois so there is a distinct possibility of a future raft-up pending (sailboats draw a lot).  However, remember that wise ole sage’s advice?  Well he ran me straight aground!  Nothing I couldn’t handle mind you, but aground!  Wait until I see that goob again.  That pretty much sums up my extended weekend here on the inland waterways, so take care, have enjoyable rest of your summer and Fair Winds!


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