16 – JOURNAL
WENDS NOV 2 DAY 72 ON THE WATER – It is not easy to wait a couple of weeks and try to do a journal, get caught up on it, but I will do the best I can. We had a good night’s sleep last night. It helps to be away from the river traffic. Stormy is up half the night chasing animals. She has gotten enamored with the beavers. She can sit with her butt in the tent and her head out the door and she watches for them to swim by. No matter how dark it is she can see them with the ripples in the water.
No wind today out of the north, hopefully it will be tomorrow.
I stopped at a river bank museum, not sure what town. It also had quite a few casinos. But one of the security guys, Lee, offered to take me to the Dollar General so I could round out my supplies. I left Stormy tied up and it didn’t take but 30 minutes to get there and back. I sure have had good luck in getting help when I need it.
THURS NOV 3 DAY 73 ON THE WATER – I was caught up on the journal and for some reason it didn’t get saved. Very aggravating to say the least. The biggest problem is keeping the notebook and phone charged up. A guy at the Memphis Yacht Club showed me a battery that OEM Tools sells that you can use to keep things charged. I will get two of them, and another solar charger and the rest of my trips I won’t have this problem.
We got to sail today and probably covered a good 40/45 miles. It certainly gives me a good break from paddling. However, one still has some work to do holding the ropes to the bottom of the sail and making sure you are going where you should. There is some work and stress involved along with working the rudder. There is also some risk when the river changes direction and you get a cross wind. Doesn’t work. Huge chance of being blown over. So you have to roll the sail up on the mast, secure it and paddle until you get the wind again over one or the other shoulders or straight behind, then you can get the sail out again.
FRI NOV 4 DAY 74 ON THE WATER – Not enough wind today to sail for second day. You have to keep in mind that if the river is moving 3 to 5 MPH and the breeze/wind is 3 to 5 MPH out of the North, then you effectively have no breeze/wind. It must blow at least twice the pace of the river to be effective sailing. So you can see the trees moving, the ripple on the water or even feel the wind on the bank, but on the water in the kayak it feels like there is no breeze or wind because you are moving the same speed.
SAT/SUN NOV 5/6 DAY 75/76 ON THE WATER – It seems like it is taking forever to get down river. I am trying to make 30 to 40 miles a day, not happening. I forgot about the change in day light hours and that is making the difference. I am lucky to be getting 20 to 25 miles per day. Frustrating.
Lots of bald eagles. They have adapted over the years to the river traffic. You will see them fishing in the wakes and waves caused by the barge heading up river. They also spend a lot of time on the sand bars. There are also lots of beaver but I have yet to see a beaver hut/house. I have no explanation for that.
MON/TUES NOV 7/8 DAY 77/78 ON THE WATER – I am going to combine these 2 days, they are pretty much running together. As I was approaching Arkansas City, Arkansas I was hoping to get a few things. However, it was miles off the bank. I went by a boat ramp and there was one truck parked there. A couple miles past the boat ramp a boat with one guy in it was coming back up the river so I figured it was the guy from that truck. I waved him over and he stopped. I asked him if there was some place and he said no, it was about 10 miles from the boat dock, but he offered to take me. He towed me back up river, I secured the kayak and he loaded up his boat and we headed to the store. His name was Lee also. The store surprisingly enough had everything I wanted and needed.
On the way back he told me he had lived there in Arkansas City all his life. He works for a large farmer and has for 25 years. Doesn’t work in the winter months but hunts and fishes all the time. Here is the fishing and hunting report for Arkansas City, Arkansas:
Cat Fish- It is nothing for him to go out and catch several 100 lb cat fish on any given day. If they go commercial fishing with the nets they can net 1000 lbs a day and sell them for $2 to $5 per lb depending on the market. He was driving a nice truck.
Deer – They have White Tail. A tag allows you 2 bucks and 3 does. Needless to say, there are a lot of deer. One of his bucks last year was a 12 point and weighed in at 240 lbs. Explains why I have been seeing Mule Deer size tracks on the bank almost every time I stop. The wild life habitat between the river and the dike provides for thousands of acres of wild life area. That is why you don’t see a lot of wildlife.
Black Bear – There are a lot of black bears. They finally started a season on them.
Wild Pigs – He trapped 20 of them last year. I didn’t ask him what he did with them.
Alligators- I didn’t think there were any. Well, not true. They are all over the place. In all his year’s he has never seen a large one in the main channel, but has seen small ones. They don’t like the current. They are in the sloughs, the oxbows and the ponds/lakes in that area between the bank and the dike. The largest alligator ever caught in TN was at Vicksburg just last year. Very big.
WENDS NOV 9 DAY 79 ON THE WATER – Finally got to Vicksburg, it felt like forever. It took 9 days from Memphis, which works out to 100 miles every 3 days. Tough paddling. However, no wind up river, sunny days and balmy nights. I am being told this is very unusual, I will take it. We did have a couple of days of rain, but it is so warm it just doesn’t matter.
I had a hard time finding a place to stop and get ashore. Typical Mississippi River town, no boat ramp and no way to exit the river. I went past town and finally stopped at what looked like a gravel pit. After walking about a mile, sure enough there was a company called Dirt Works who owned the pit. A guy named Hunt helped me big time. Once I told him what I was doing he let me borrow one of their rigs and I went to the Dollar General and got a Subway. He also let me plug in to recharge which I left over night and went back early AM to retrieve the phone and notebook. It was dark so managed to get the tent up and we just slept on the ground. Stormy got into a skunk, but she was lucky and didn’t get sprayed in the face. But it smelled in the tent for hours. What a great guy this Hunt was, one of the best.