July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

Wide-Eyed Anticipation
By Kismet, Sunday, January 1, 2012

By Jim Favors

 

 

Boater-homing in n RV park in Springdale, AZ, the only way this could be better is if it was on the water.

It has been said that you can never experience something quite the same as you do the first time around, this is why Lisa and I love cruising to places that are new to us. After sitting at dock for three days, waiting for fowl weather to push past us, we were more than a little anxious to leave Wahweap Marina and begin our inaugural exploration of Lake Powell, a man-made wonder, near Page, Arizona. We’d provisioned the boat, changed the engine and transmission oils, and studied the charts over and over. To say we were excited would be an understatement at this point; we were itching to get out onto a new body of water with the eyes and hearts of an explorer.

I bought a manual oil extractor (shown in front of my left leg) to use for changing our Tug’s engine and transmission oils

We left Wahweap Marina with clear skies and fairly calm waters; only a slight breeze was left over from the passing cold front. Our plan was to spend at least ten days (our allotted time of two weeks was shortened a bit by the storm) becoming familiar with as many rock canyons and beach anchorages as we could, without cruising more than 10 to 20 miles per day. If a spot warranted a two or three-night stay we wouldn’t travel at all those days. We didn’t want to rush; we felt it was important to spend a leisurely morning having breakfast while watching the canyon walls being transformed by the rising sun before we ventured out for the day. Knowing we would only be able to see a small portion of Lake Powell (there is 1,960 miles of shoreline and we had only a limited time scheduled) our plan included cruising a couple of canyons by water each day before we rested for the night.

When we left Wahweap Marina our sights were set on Gunsight Canyon, only 16 miles up stream and to the north of Padre Bay. Shortly after leaving the marina we crossed over the border into Utah, where we spent the rest of our trip. Because we didn’t have a mapping chip for our Garmin GPS, for Lake Powell, I knew we’d be using our I-Pad 2 with the Navionics, Marine & Lakes USA app as our navigation device. However, I was a little apprehensive, not knowing how it would perform in the remoteness of Lake Powell. My concern had to do with the availability of the 3G signal, which I understood we’d need for the app to receive a GPS signal. As we left Castle Rock to our port and headed into the original Colorado River route the I-Pad was working as anticipated and my electronic mapping concerns drifted away. It was a surprise to us that the Navionics app even worked without a 3G or Wi-Fi signal present, as long as the boat’s GPS antenna was activated we could track our route easily.

I hate to call this a typical view in Lake Powell, but it is.

As we worked our way WNW we could see, not far off in the distance, how increasingly taller the canyon walls were. It was as if we were being slowly introduced to Lake Powell and it’s rugged beauty as we cruised through what I’d call the low lands of “The Sand Hills,” to our port and, “Wild Horse Mesa,” off to our starboard. These two areas are large sweeping plateaus that lead up to higher mesas and buttes with a backdrop of the canyons we would be exploring over the next ten days.

Each new mile, we put behind us, created an entirely new vista to feast our eyes upon and we had just gotten started. Guess you could say, we were on sensory overload, in a very good way. As we entered Padre Bay we left the Colorado River basin, with a depth of over 500 feet below our keel. The further we traveled towards Gunsight Canyon the shallower the water became, as was the case in all the canyons we explored. We chose Gunsight as our first canyon cruise and anchorage because our previous research indicated there were several good campsites available there. We also wanted to make our first day a short one so we could take our time picking out a good spot and have plenty of time to practice “beach anchoring.”

Cruising around Gunsight Canyon.

A view of Padre Bay as we make our way to Padre Canyon.

As we rubber necked our way into the depths of the canyon we were in awe of mother natures gift. While taking in as much of the sandstone rock formations as we could we were also scouting for a suitable anchorage. The normal anchoring style was completely foreign to us and therefore I was more than a little nervous about how it would all work out. Over the years the many boaters on Lake Powell have, because most of the water is so deep and the bottom so rocky, perfected this technique called beach anchoring as an alternative to anchoring in open water.

We didn’t quite know what we’d find as we worked our way back up into Gunsight Canyon. We did notice that wherever there was a patch of sandy beach there seemed to be a boat of some kind, mostly houseboats with their accompanying jet skis or power boat. We nosed all the way back to the end of the canyon and found no suitable or available, beach sites to claim for the night – my anxiety level was starting to elevate as I didn’t want to get caught too late in the day testing our beach anchoring skills for the first time.

We found this nice beach at the end of Padre Canyon, however the pictured houseboat already occupied it.

With no “campsites” available in Gunsight Canyon we decided to motor out and over to Padre Canyon, hoping our luck would improve, we really didn’t have much of a choice at this point. Rounding Gunsight Butte I could immediately see some empty beaches and it was starting to look like Padre Canyon would be our home for the night. Slowly, we worked our way to the end of the canyon, this one being even more dramatic than anything we’d seen up to this point. Eventually we settled on a nice sandy beach at the foot of Little Alstrom Point, partially surrounded by sheer walls of rock and a big sandy beach.

In talking to some locals, back at the marina, I learned about the proper techniques of beach anchoring for a boat like our Ranger Tug. As previously mentioned one needs to find a sandy beach. With this accomplished you’d proceed slowly towards your chosen spot while a crewmember hangs over the bow to watch out for rocks and tree stump hazards. We found out through trial and error that although a site might have looked good from afar, after closer inspection of the sandy bottom, a boater might have to abandon their approach due to obstacles lurking below. With a good location identified you’d proceed to gently place the bow of your boat onto the sand beach, giving it just enough pressure to hold the boat in place.

That’s me working the details out at our first beach anchoring routine in Padre Canyon; this was the hardest one by far, the rest were much easier.

With the bow nudged onto shore, typically the lakebed at your stern falls off quickly therefore preventing the use of a stern anchor. With this in mind my research indicated I’d need to run a line from both the port and starboard stern cleats at a 45-degree angle up and onto shore, to properly secure the boat from moving to either side. We have a spare Danforth anchor onboard Kismet; we buried it into the sand on our port side while I found a boulder to tie off the starboard line. As an added measure we ran our bow anchor straight out 70 feet and buried it into the sand (sometimes we’d pile a few rocks on top of the anchor for added security). Upon full installation of this, new to us anchoring technique, we were confident the boat was secure for our first night on Lake Powell, in Padre Bay.

I like doing things a first time, however when it involves something that could be damaging to our boat, or ourselves, I become overly cautious and rightfully so as I don’t want to cause any problems that might be costly or possibly shorten our time while on an adventure. Because of this I was wound up tighter than the lid on a new jar of martini olives, as we tried to figure out how to anchor in Lake Powell. In the end, it came off without any problems, thanks to the helpfulness of the locals we met back at Wahweap Marina and Lisa’s expert scouting from the bow.

Just like the big houseboats do, I buried an anchor in the sand to secure our Kismet to the shore.

Sometimes you just get lucky and that’s how we felt with the above average 80-degree daytime weather, mild nights, clear skies along with the calm water we experienced once we left the marina. It’s a foregone conclusion good weather enhances ones cruising and anchoring experience but the ancillary benefits became very evident to us as we started to relax in the cockpit of Kismet, sipping a glass of wine, proud of our day’s accomplishment in Padre Canyon.

This scenery was our reward at the end of a pretty exciting day.

Most days we would beach anchor the boat early enough in the day so that we could take a hike and have a relaxed dinner. Our first night was no different, virtually surrounded by canyon walls of varying heights, colors and contours; we were introduced to the perfect setting for Mother Nature’s setting sun spectacular, which began shortly after dinner. As the sun set behind the canyon wall that separated us from Gunsight Canyon, the east canyon wall of Padre Canyon became as vivid with a luminescence reminiscent of glowing coals in a raging fire. About the time this show had climaxed, the moon, just short of its full glory, began its rise over the canyon. The moonlight danced off the rock walls, providing us with a cool afterglow that lingered for hours, as the dark blue cover of nighttime possessed the lake. To top this off even further, with no artificial lights to compete against, we were treated to a star littered sky as brilliant as any we’d ever seen. With only one day under our belt, our grand exploration of Lake Powell yielded great rewards and first time experiences and yet we felt confident – the best was yet to come.