Flathead Lake Dennis Jill
Sunny, No wind, slight ripple in spots
Recon mission around Flathead Lake looking for water (as opposed to
ice) at boat ramps. What we discovered is that the water level is very
low. It's low to the point of most boat ramps ending at the water line,
and the docks ending before the water is reached! We drove 82 to 35 to
Wayfarer's Park- bad road (narrow), bad ramp (narrow, long), lack of
Wood's Bay- bad road, no dock, angled ramp with turn, no parking
Blue Bay- good! Parking good, camping, wide ramp, port-a-potty, dock.
Finley Point- bad road (windy, narrow), closed for season
Riverside Park (Polson)- behind bridge, low water
?- difficult access from hwy
Big Arm- low water
Elmo- undeveloped good other than low water
Flathead River- narrow, low water
Looks like tomorrow we go to Blue Bay for the maiden launch!
(ps. found a
for the water level in the lake.
Level this date was 2,885.75 feet.)
Sun Blue Bay, Flathead Lake Dennis Jill Cappy Matey
Sunny! Light breeze. Lake level 2885.25
Attended church in the morning (no sense taking chances), came home,
loaded the boat, the puppies, lunch, and left for Blue Bay for our
maiden voyage. Arrived at Blue Bay, proceeded to make fools of
ourselves trying to step the mast for the first time! After fighting
for an hour, we finally did get it up.
Backed down the ramp, trailer in the water, boat won't budge. Backed
farther down, Jeep wheels in the water, boat still won't budge. Pulled
forward some, backed fast, boat still on trailer (yes, it is untied).
Backed until trailer dropped (2-3 inches) off end of boat ramp. Did
anyone mention that the water level is VERY low in Flathead Lake (there
is a reason for this). Boat nicely floated off as if she were wondering
when we were going to finally put her on the water.
As we motored away, we noticed it was 415PM. The sun would be setting
in a couple of hours. Decision time. Would we putt around a little,
then unstep the mast, and drive 60 miles back home to come back again
tomorrow? (weather report said good weather Sun and Mon) Or, should we
do the foolish thing and spend the night on the lake?. We stayed. We
motored over to Wild Horse Island, arriving as the sun set. I pulled up
to where I figured it would be deep enough, but not too far out. Since
the power cord for the depth finder is on order, and I don't have a
chart of the lake, I guessed. I dropped 100 foot of anchor, chain, and
rope before hitting bottom. Another 50 ft for good measure. I stopped
the motor and we listened to the lap of waves against the hull.
We ate tuna fish sandwiches and Cheetos (it was supposed to be for
lunch). We discovered the puppies (dachshunds, Cappy and Matey) looove
Getting the boat ready for the night, I checked the anchor light. Not
working. I checked the rest of the lights. Only 1 mast light worked,
the deck light. So I officially named it an anchor light. We didn't
really expect anyone to run into us as no one in their right mind would
be out there at night. Let me tell you where we were. Flathead Lake is
in north western Montana just outside Glacier (you know what glaciers
are? ICE!) National Park. There is still ice on the lake. There were
small sheets of ice floating near our anchorage. Needless to say, it
was chilly. The weather report the next day said 11 degrees (F). We
lined the aft bed walls with the cockpit cushions and wrapped ourselves
with space blankets from Wal-Mart. They really work, but putting a
blanket over them holds them in place better.
Mon Blue Bay, Flathead Lake Dennis Jill Cappy Matey
Sunny! Light breeze. Lake level 2885.20
We woke to a condensation coated cabin inside and frost covered decks
outside. We ate the rest of our "lunch", fed the puppies their treats.
I went out to meet the glorious day.
We weighed anchor (heavy and cold), and motored to the "beach". Jill
was below neatening up as I motored to the gravel that looks like a
beach. I neatly slid into the shore, hurried forward, hopped off, and
tied the boat to a tree stump. I came back and found I left a little
bottom paint on an underwater boulder just to starboard. Note to self,
next time, have someone on the bow watching. I took the puppies
exploring, took pictures, and came back aboard. We departed our
luxurious resort and headed back to Blue Bay.
Jill asked when we would sail, and since the "wind" was coming from our
destination, we motored until we were past the island and had clear
water. Motor off. Genny unfurled. Main hoisted. Jill on the tiller, I
on the sheets,and what to my wondrous eyes should appear? A wake!
much of one. I figure we had 2-3 knots of wind. I don't know if it's
the nature of Macgregors, or my sailing, but we didn't point worth
beans. We tacked back and forth for an hour to gain experience. We
fired up the "iron jenny", lowered the sails and headed towards the
boat ramp. I went ahead and removed the main and boom while Jill
steered. Then I steered while we looked for that boat ramp. I think my
landmark was "the third mountain over". I headed east to my landmark.
It was hazy, visibility low. I did remember a large clearing being
north, so I kept just south of it. Another note to self, binoculars
would be nice. And a GPS. A chart and compass would be nice too. Of
course the compass was on the pedestal steering the prior owner had
removed. We saw a power boater heading down the shore, so I followed
him for a bit. Jill pointed to an area thinking that was where we
needed to go. After several mind changes, we decided to follow the
boat. There was our home dock.
I backed the trailer off the ramp, got back in the boat, motored it onto the trailer (most
of the way, anyways), and started pulling it out. As soon as it was
partially out of the water, I climbed in and set the ballast tank
draining. I cranked on the trailer winch. When the boat was down to a
couple of feet it stopped. I guess she didn't want to come ashore. But
I have four wheel drive. Up she came to dry land. We parked out of the
way as the ballast tank continued draining. and draining. and draining.
Finally it's empty. I cranked the boat the rest of the way up, boarded
and readied the mast un-stepping operation. Lessons learned yesterday
paid off today. The mast was brought down without a hitch. Everything
tied down, off we go to our bath and warm bed. Arriving home the
mundane sets in when we see all the empty trash cans at the street
sides. Oops, forgot about Monday morning pickup. Another week with a
full can. What to do for supper? Neither of us feels like cooking,
we'll let Pizza Hut do the cooking. We are both dead tired, but we had
the time of our lives, launching, motoring, anchoring, beaching,
sailing our 26' Macgregor, Vivant.