Thursday May 15 Page AZ and back on the grid-somewhat.
It has been a week since we last posted anything. I will try to get caught up over time. It may be hit or miss. We are staying tonight at the Lake Powell resort right by the marina where we rented the houseboat. The hotel only has internet in the lobby and my hotspot is still slow-but operational. The lodging for the next three nights is in Monument Valley Utah/Arizona and I am not sure internet connections will be better.
We thought houseboating on Lake Powell would be an adventure. We got it-and more. Yes, we thoroughly had a great time but it was work and nervousness also. I hope I can do the full story justice. It may come out in bits and pieces over several postings as we get caught up to a week without internet.
WE rented a houseboat at Wahweap Marina, part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation area formed by the construction of the Glen Canyon dam completed in 1966. The damming of the Colorado River has created the second largest reservoir in the US. The reservoir,Lake Powell, has created a water mecca in the middle of the desert. (No ecological or environmental analyses today.)
Our trip was born of a conversation early last winter as Chris and I were planning another southwest US trip. We mentioned our thoughts to Lucien and Joyce, who live in Phoenix, and we agreed on a joint adventure. Boy, there was no way Chris and I could have done this by ourselves. Lou did a wonderful job talking to colleagues who have done this and researching options. We ended up getting a great, pre-summer price on a 53′ boat that is the top of the economy line. (Picture on May 8 posting.) There were two staterooms, two bathrooms, two refrigerators and two lower level sleeping areas. There was a combined kitchen/living room, upper deck, and decks on the aft and stern ends of the boat.
We did our homework. We practiced tying boating knots. We read reviews and made lists of the items we should bring with us. We had pie tins prepared to run the anchor ropes through to prevent mice and shore critters from running up the anchor ropes and getting on board the boat. We agreed we would also rent a powerboat to more easily go exploring in narrow canyons. Joyce was designated captain since she had experience driving powerboats-although not houseboats. Joyce worked up the menu and Lou and Joyce brought most of the food and supplies. A colleague of Lou and his wife, Dave and Toni, agreed to join us for the weekend. They had boated here before and provided not only great companionship but also technical knowledge.
Another member of our group was Manning, Lou and Joyce’s new Corgi. He behaved fantastically. Took to the houseboat, powerboat, romping on the sandy beach and rocky areas alike. Never made a mess, was quiet, well-behaved but never fully warmed up to Chris and Ed.
Dave and Toni arrived at 8 am Friday and by 8:30 we were receiving our instructions. All of us listened in to share the knowledge. The gas tank had not been topped off so it necessitated a stop at the fueling station before we headed out. Ah, heading out. Wisely Joyce decided to opt for the free pilot services to get the boat out of the dock. Even the pilot bumped a few things and it gave Joyce some experience in observing how to handle tight corners. The pilot gets a ride back to the dock once the boat is past the breakwater. The power boat is picked up separately and Lou and Dave drove that out to the breakwater, tied it to the rear of the houseboat and we were off around 11 AM.
The views were breathtaking. Canyon walls are all around you. The width of the channel varies, sometimes narrow leading to driving challenges to avoid other boaters. Sometimes the channel is wide with coves and bays leading off of it and despite periodic marker buoys, you are constantly using binoculars to spot the main channel ahead. There are also areas where you have to slow down, to avoid creating wakes in marinas or narrow channels.
Initially we thought about “beaching” the houseboat in two or three locations during the week we had it. Our first spot had to be relatively close to the marina since we had to return Dave and Toni on Sunday afternoon. It is 150 miles on the Lake from first to last marina. Gunsight Bay was our first choice, only about 20 miles from Wahweap. The houseboat goes about 8-10 miles per hour. The optimal location would be on the west side of the bay, protected from winds, and several turns into the bay to protect from waves on the main channel. It had to be rockless, room to anchor, shallow enough to beach the boat but without getting stuck in mud, and it had to be available-other boaters are out and have the same goals. After three hours, we lucked out with a spot at the very end of Gunsight Bay.
“Beaching’ the boat involves several steps. After the captain rams the boat onto the shore, the crew gets to go dig holes. Four anchors have to be placed in holes three feet deep and several feet long and wide. Two anchors are to be at about 45 degree angles and two anchors at about 60 degree angles. They have to be placed far enough on shore to avoid rising waters. (The sand was heavy and rocks were abundant.) Wind and storms come up frequently and pull at the boat.
The anchoring of the boat was Chris’ biggest concern during the week. The lake level rose each night as snow melt from the Colorado mountains came down river. We had wind gusts of 35 mph Saturday and Sunday night that pulled at the boat, making it sway in the wind. Over the week’s period, we dug new holes once for each anchor to move it higher up the shore. Chris’ frequent mantra was “This is outside of my comfort zone.”
The Friday night meal was hamburgers cooked on the grill on the bow of the boat.
Ed and Chris Friday May 16 11:15 AM