There are still quite a few tundra swans on the pool. Experience teaches that ice is MARGINALLY safe on sheltered backwaters 3 days after these big white birds vector East to spend their winter on the Chesapeake.
On the way to Stark’s in PdC this morning to get the guide boat ready for a hopefully short nap I saw five vehicles parked with folks lightfooting out on the hardwater nearby.
The first folks out there will certainly ponder the p.i.d. perpective before their escapade is over.
Both intrepid and stupid end in “pid”. If you manage to get out & back without getting wet the reward is a Pretty Impressive Dinner. But if you go just one step too far on mostly clear ice which is 1″ to barely 2″ thick this morning the result is a Precarious Immersion Dunking.
There were a couple times in the not so distant past when I was both the first one out on the ice and the first one to fall through. These experiences have taught the wisdom of avoiding the P.I.D. dilemma entirely…waiting for the tundra swans to vamoose before grabbing the short rods & bucket.
This afternoon at the Army Rd. boat launch east of New Albin there was clear ice as far as you could see in both directions. The spud indicated there is just shy of an inch of ice.
Tailwaters below both Genoa and Lynxville dams remain open. Lord willin’ I’ll take the smaller boat out tomorrow afternoon. From now until Spring experience teaches the wisdom of always heading upstream from the launch point. If ice floes start pushing south you SHOULD be able to return to the launch and load the boat.
Even then, heading out without a common sense based Plan B can quickly rachet into a P.I. D. scenario which doesn’t include french fries & slaw.
This scenario happened twice to me last Spring. Both times I had a solid Plan B ready to go. In the first incident the Admiral called 9-1-1 against my specific order not to. I AM 9-1-1! All that was needed was help shuttling the trailer from launch A to launch B. She followed direction the 2nd time around. Same scenario, but with 2 different launch points.
I’ll admit it was a wild ride up the upper Iowa River to the hwy 26 ramp with the big boat kissing sandbars several times when i sped over them @ 35 mph. going any slower would have likely led to visiting the “what to do when you run aground ” playbook—essentially, just going to Plan C.
In the first incident I launched @ Highway 26 and headed up Minnesota slough. The outboard on the little boat crapped out about 200 yds. downstream from the Army road ramp–which was blocked by good, thick , solid ice just a 50 yd. belly crawl from shore. Wearing a PFD while pushing a PFD cushion in front of me I was standing in the parking lot when the NAFD showed up.
The small boat is a 16′ flatbottom jon. Between the launch and anchor rope I only needed about 75′ of line to slide the boat across the ice and winch it on the trailer. I had plenty of rope in the truck which was parked at the ramp just a couple miles away. When I got back the NAFD had used their rope to slide the boat ashore, with plenty of manpower to lift in on to the trailer. Their assistance wasn’t needed, but appreciated. I thanked them with a case of beer.
As a USCG licensed captain I would NEVER expose clients to either one of these scenarios! The Mississippi River is a truly dangerous place!!! From a river rat perspective all decisions include a sober risk/benefit analysis before proceeding.
Anyway…the tundras are still here. Until they leave i’ll be fishin’ out of the small boat with redundant “what if” options fully considered. Bottom line, my arms are far too short to box with God.
Sooo…if you’re compelled to explore the p.i.d experience before the white birds fly. Please be careful & file both a travel plan and next of kin contact before heading out.