Saturday, August 06, 2016

Wind, Waves, and Flies! by Antoine de Dad and Nick

I waited in Bismarck a few extra days... both for Dad to come back out and sail the next lake with me and also for a new set of sails.  I am pretty sure that the old sails were original equipment on The Black Pearl... so they did OK for cloth legitimately being from the 1930's...  Of the four sails I made, 3 of them were shredded by the wind.  

This whole trip has been a school of hard knocks lesson in doing things right, using the right tool for the right job, and paying for better equipment up front and saving time and money later... or maybe I need to get better at using crap to make shit work.  Still learning...  So, I finally have ordered legitimate sails from a legit sailmaker, that fit the boat correctly.  She is now most technically a Bermuda topsail schooner.  Also, surprisingly the sails were significantly less expensive than I had expected... and should have just done this from the beginning. So, with a rush job from 
Squeteague Sailmakers, who priority shipped them to the community organizer and dissenting voice to big oil, The Bakken Resistor, in Mandan SD for me... The Mermaid Now has a new outfit to wear!  

WHAT A DREAM!  These sails pull the boat better than the bigger old sails, less stress, easier to run up and down, legitimate reef points.  MY GOD THEY ARE GREAT!

The new sails... Full sail! 
Also, Dad is there thinking about reorganizing something.  Probably the cooler again... maybe the utensils.  

Anyways, so Dad came out and we left Bismarck. The intention was that we would sail the leanth of Lake Oahe from Bismarck ND to Pierre SD,  capitol to capitol, then rent a car and get him back up to his own. 

The first thing we found when we got going was a boat that was suspiciously upside down in the mudflats just entering the lake.  It was a sixties or seventies speed boat, upside down... numbers removed, crusted with algae, and seemed to have two bullet holes blasted through the bottom of the hull. (.45 if I were to guess...) Well, maybe it isn't so suspicious after all.  Someone just scuttled it unsuccessfully.  I guess fiberglass boats are hard to get rid of so some geniuses thought they could sink it in the lake.  Unfortunately for them it had internal flotation and probably has been drifting around the lake for years now.  Sort of the ghost ship of Lake Oahe!

(Forgot to take a picture.  Use your imagination)

Next we encountered massive headwinds.  Pretty much this the embodiment of no fun.  Huge waves, slow progress... having to stick next to the shore just so the wind and waves aren't completely horrendous.  If you want to draw a map of Lake Oahe, basically, you draw a vertical line up and down.  


It is a long straight lake and the wind seems to blow straight up it or straight down it.  THERE IS NO LEE SHORE!! So, the winds have a clear path to build waves for about 80 miles.

Eventually we had to stop.  It was to brutal for us and for the boat. We found a point to hide behind, bailed out the boat, and ate lunch.  And waited... I was happy to hang out and wait for the wind to calm down.  

This is how I wait for the wind and waves to die down.

Unfortunately it was full of flies.  They weren't even the biting flies... but I think this is about when Dad declared war on flies... or maybe they finally drove him over the edge!  From then on... he was attacking every fly he saw.  I am not sure that he ever did get a single one, but from then on they were enemy number one!  In the tent, out of the tent, in the boat... always the flies. always the flies, always the flies!!  Needless to say, we didn't sleep there.  We continued against the waves over sleep with the flies. 

Well, the second day out, we had The Night of Thunderstorms.  Meteorologically I don't even know how it was possible, but we literally had eight hours of thunderstorms in the same spot.  I don't know where the water vapor could have come from, I don't know how there was that much energy in the air... but eight damn hours of thunderstorm.  Luckily this time we had a concrete picnic table where we camped so we used it as a sort of fortress to hold all our stuff from getting blown away and trashed.  Pretty much everything, to include the boat was tied to the concrete picnic table... except the dirty dishes.  We left those in a field hoping the storm would wash them for us.  It sort of worked, though we washed them again... actually it didn't really work that well.  

This is the next day after the night of thunderstorms.

This is what The Mermaid looks like now.  Sailing through the Great Plains.  As you can see... even if you do go to the side to try and get out of the wind and waves... it isn't like there is a lot of wind blocking stuff out there.  It turns out the as a wind break, the great plains blow!  

Also, the varnish and bright work has taken a hit.  When dragging the boat over sand bars and through mud, you get a lot in the bottom of the boat when you jump back in.  Slowly it is getting cleaner... but the initial problem of the bottom being to smooth and slippery is no longer a problem. 

Typical loaded configuration. Probably still to much stuff... As The Big Engineer said, "on any trip, take half as many clothes and twice as much money."  I would say this trip is the same unfortunately. I probably could have brought two shirts, one pair of pants, no socks and three pair of underpants.  (One clean pair, one pair on your butt, and one pair for going into town.)  I have gotten to the point where I have actually taken baths with my clothes on in the river.  It might sound crazy in your house, but it makes sense out here.  Gets everything clean all at the same time!  No fussing with doing laundry!  Basically, if I can smell my balls, I go swimming (which I consider a bath) sometimes with soap even!  Actually, it isn't that bad.  Like I said before, my body seems to be self cleaning now.

Yea, I have no idea what is going on in this picture. It is about a million degrees out, we are in the middle of the lake on a boat, the next time we get to shore we will probably have to jump out in the mud and water...  Dad puts on his socks.  I didn't ask, I just took the picture.

I just like this picture... 

So, as a part of getting Dad back to his car, we were "conveniently alined" to go see John Yunker up at the site of what as far as i can tell, Fort Mandan.  

The evidence is pretty solid... Mind Blowing actually! Granted, it might be nothing, but dang... After being there, I absolutely feel like I was standing in Fort Mandan.  You stand there, you read the journals, you look at the land... and you know it is right.

Dad, John, and the dog Mercy... standing next to what was probably Lewis and Clark's bedroom.  (I have no idea why my Dad is making the mister yuck face.)  He was having a good time as far as I could tell.  I think he is counting paces in his head. That is his thinking face. I have talked to some professional Archaeologists who are friends of mine... just to see if we are all batshit crazy or if this is reasonable.  Talking to archaeologists feels a lot more like hiring a private detective than I would have ever expected.  We will see...

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