Monday, January 30, 2012

Some Flooding Affected Boating on the Alton Pool

  The 2011 boating season on the Alton Pool of the Mississippi was one to forget for many of the boaters in the area, but not us. Flooding occurred for most of the summer, which made for uneasy access to people's boats, and for a swift current on the river itself.
  The Duck Club Yacht Club, while being a beautiful and well kept harbor, sits at a little lower elevation than some of the other harbors along the Dardenne Slough, so the road going in and some of the parking lot goes underwater.

  In this aerial view of the Duck Club, you can see the lighthouse on the upper left at the entrance to the harbor; the ground slopes up toward the right of the picture.
  Last April, Swing Set was berthed in the second set of docks from the left of the picture, and on more than one occasion, I waded through water up to my chest to gain access to the boat. This is no big deal to someone who has been through as many floods as I have living on the Meramec River, but in April, the water temperature tends to get your attention.

  We were able to sell our slip last spring, and by the 1st of May, we had Swing Set docked in the 4th set of docks from the left of the picture and not only did this make for easier transit to our boat during high water, we were able to secure a slip on a month to month basis, allowing us some flexibility should we had been able to embark on our travels last year.
  We spent most of the summer either wading through the water to access our boat, or taking the dinghy or hitching a ride with a neighbor; really not too inconvenient. The Mississippi was in a "backwater" condition, meaning for most of the summer, the Missouri River flooding kept our portion of the river high, but with little current. Therefore, boating was still possible, keeping in mind that the areas around the river homes were susceptible to damage from boat wakes, and care had to be taken transiting in those areas.
  One good thing, among many about the Duck Club, is that all the roads and parking lots are either concrete or asphalt. Cleanup, once the water goes down, is accomplished with portable water pumps and fire hoses, and is thorough. This leaves no mud to drive through.
  The club was kept open most of the time, being accessed by a series of floating walkways and narrow gangplanks. The clubhouse proper is built on a mound. Even the 1993 flood did not get to the inside the building, but the high water at times does hinder the beer and food deliveries: more importantly the beer deliveries. There were some casualties in the way of a late night, unplanned dip, but when an overabundance of alcohol is the culprit, who could complain?
  We didn't mind the high water, it provided some adventure, even if that adventure meant wading through waist deep water at midnight and seeing snakes swimming in close proximity, hopefully away from your direction.
  For the most part, parking on part of the property is on high ground and access to boats is still possible, but with a little ingenuity and with the aid of fellow boaters, our summer of boating wasn't affected by the high water last year much at all.
  Rosie and I had undertaken some very long weekend stays aboard Swing Set last summer; I was retired by the end of May, but Rosie was still employed; so for days at a time we would set on the hook and I would ferry Rosie to her car every morning in the dinghy and then pick her up at the end of the day. Our friends knew where we were anchored most of the time, and we would get visitors occasionally during the week for dinner or just a few beers, and the weekends were typically filled with lots of boating company in the form of large raft ups day and night.
  In the interest of discretion, I won't get into the details of the activities involved during these big raft ups, but for the main part fun was had by all and Monday mornings were hell.
     By the end of August of last year, the water levels on our area of the river were back down to normal, and Rosie and I were anxious to take a cruise on Swing Set. We decided to take a week to travel upriver on the Mississippi, as we had never been further upstream than Quincy, Illinois by water.
  I'll tell some of that story in my next blog.

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