Cruising on Last Dance

This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shanty Boats

The river systems tend to have smoother waters which do not require the most seaworthy of craft.  Oh, they can get rough in storms, particularly when the winds blow up the river rather than across it, but compared to the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic, they are comparably calm waters.

Rivers have called to people for centuries to ride their waters.  Tom Sawyer rode the Mighty Mississippi on a raft.  The Tennessee and TennTom are much quieter bodies of water.  Today, people cruise the rivers in boats not much more seaworthy than Sawyer's raft.  These folks prove that it does not take a large investment to be able to enjoy the waterways.  Their term for these vessels is "shanty boats."

The unnamed boat above is stopped along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway so the boater can walk his dog.  This boat, and the one on the left, are constructed on aluminum floats from an old pontoon boat.  All Ya Need, the name of the left boat, is descriptive of the boater's philosophy on cruising.  Instead of a port of call, he has painted "Shanty Boat" across the back.

Slanty Shanty, the most rustic of the shanties encountered, had an interesting story.  The boat was constructed with a plywood deck floating on blue, 55 gallon barrels and dock floats.  Powered by a 9.9 outboard, it has a top speed of 2 mph.  A young couple piloted this boat from Pittsburgh, down the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers with the goal of making it to Panama City, Florida.  They did accomplish most of the trip, ending the journey at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.  After a rough crossing of Mobile Bay, where following seas swamped the outboard, they decided that the big bays between them and Panama City were more than the shanty boat could handle.  And, they had a buyer for the boat in Pensacola (you thought this was a tough boat market).  Appropriately, the young lady who led this adventure is named Faith.  (That's a pet chicken in her lap below.)

Reading List

Living on a shanty boat was once a way of life in which many lived.  In Shanty Boat: A River Way of Life, Harlan Hubbard describes a four-year journey undertaken by he and his wife down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, during 1944-1948.  Their self-built boat was made of timbers from a building that was being torn down.  It was an unpowered barge, controlled on the downriver flow with long paddles, called sweeps, on deck and with a rowed john boat tied to it to assist with steering in sometimes heavy currents.  When upriver travel was needed, as when they traveled up the Cumberland River to spend a summer in Kentucky, the shanty boat had to be towed. They lived off the river and land, trading fish caught on the rivers for dairy and meat, and spending the summer at one spot along the shore where they could cultivate a garden - a way of life that would be difficult to duplicate today.  Shoreside land owners easily gave the Hubbards permission to tie the boat to their land and allowed them to have a nearby piece of land to maintain a vegetable garden.  Today, many waterfront landowners get quite angry if a boat even anchors in view of their property and the river fish population is much less.  Shanty Boat is well written and detailed description of their years living on the rivers.

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