Many Firsts

Jeff Ilse bio photo By Jeff Ilse

At this point in the build and launch, I had become so accustomed to unexpected delays that I rarely even thought about what was going to happen beyond a few days out. I just take it one day at a time with what is in front of me. It turns out that alleviated some stress in taking on a 1000 mile trip on an untested boat. I told Ethan that we’d just go to the gas dock. If it didn’t go well, we’d turn around and go back. After that, we’d get to the first anchorage on the outside of town about 10 miles away. If that didn’t go well, we’d turn around. etc etc. So, with that attitude we confronted a lot of new experiences.

There were a few bugs in the boat that needed working out as we went, but I had all my tools and many scraps and spares, so we had no problems we couldn’t deal with. As an unplanned treat, Heather followed us all the way to Iowa. We left her at the gas dock in St. Paul and thought we wouldn’t see her again for a month. Well, it turned out we saw her a few miles down river at an overlook and from there she kept following us for the first week. We talked via phone during the day to plan out a place we could meet and we were usually able to pick her up from shore so she could sleep aboard. It was often a challenge to find a place she could leave the car and have access to the river, but we managed.

our first bridge

first time seeing Heather on the banks following along

first (of many) barge staging areas

first tug

Ethan’s first time steering

First anchorage

First Bald Eagle carrying off a fish

First misty morning at anchor

First time overtaking a barge

First lock (of many x many)