Announcing My River Adventure

I have got interested in boats big time. Which leaves me with a trip that would be fulfillment of a life long dream. A little back story is required.

My great-grandfather made a trip down the Youghiogheny River in a homemade scow. Some years later his sons made the same trip in another homemade scow. These weren’t just an adventure run, The adventure paid as they were hauling freight. The trip was from Confluence PA to the Monongahela river  town of Mckeesport Pa where they changed their loads, were paid and continued up the Mon to the town if Monongahela PA.

My Pap and his brother, both in their late teens, almost lost their lives on that trip near a rock called dimple. The cargo wasn’t talked about, But their silence on that account could be put down to the time they made the trip. It was just after the prohibition was made law. I do know what the boys carried up the Mon though. Machine tools and glass from nearby Glassport Pa. Pap always complained that his sons were not man enough to take a trip like that, even for the adventure of it. I was game to try and with Paps help I constructed a scow worthy of the trip. The trip that never happened, as my father took an axe to the boat and a miners belt to my back. That was the last time for that and I went down the Yough in a kayak the following summer. But I never got to try it in a square boat of my own making.

Till now. This Spring, It happens. Before I’m to old to make the trip. The boat will be a 4×10 scow in the front, square at the stern with a smidgen of rocker the length of her bottom. Minimum of 20 inch free board with a minimum of 1 inch thickness of her hull. Stitch and glue construction with a linen liner and some fiberglass on her hull. I also have decided on one center prow cut water and some rub boards on her bottom. She will float in inches of water with a good shoal depth. Their are also some to be added later features…. This isn’t a PDR, nor a Bolger Brick, or even a Bolger Fast Brick… Pap called these type boats, Puddle Jumpers. This will be a “legal” build with all the Pa rules and guidelines followed. Most of them make good sense for the “Hell” I’m gonna put this boat through.

Here’s the Mid Yough river:

Now that’s not to tough you say…Except for the rocks and the ever shifting sand bars. Each and every time I’ve been on that river, It has always been different. After a Portage around the falls at Ohiopyle PA.

Here’s the lower Yough:

That’s where things get interesting… And that “Dimple Rock”, that has a body count.

The rest of this river has it’s dangers also, from swirling water marking sink holes and pot holes, to quick mud….

This is all going to be a primitive expedition style. Primitive camping and run what ya brung. The main exception here will be that I’m going to pre-position a motor downstream below Connelsville Pa and have a food cache or two along the route.

We will be testing some DIY equipment as well as items from others. Contact me ASAP if you would like us to test Your water related or survival gear. I am actively seeking a sponsor for the trip. As always let me know what Ya’ll think .

Till next time, Dragon out.


About theelderdragon15601

This entry was posted in Boats, Design, DIY, Flooding, Homebrew, Preparations, Rowing, Sailing, Scow, Water Safety. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Announcing My River Adventure

  1. Sixbears says:

    That should be a fun trip.

    I’ve gone on extensive canoe trips on the Saco in Maine, the Connecticut River on NH/VT border and the Androscoggin.

    Portage is a French swear word.

  2. Elder Dragon says:

    There are two swear words on the route. The first at Ohiopyle due to the falls and the second down at the Connelsville dam. The route after Connelsville heads into progressively deeper waters where the main dangers are the sand bars and submerged rocks. The amount of free board ( 20″ ) will help in the white water part of the journey as well as on the Mon. My main concerns on the Mon river will be the barge traffic and the wakes and bow waves from them. The travel plan there is to row, scull, and sail with very little use of the motors. I have to navigate one lock and damn site at lock #3 Elizabeth Pa. Then its clear sailing up to Monkey town. A good prevailing wind with help there, but on the river everything changes all the time. In my Paps day the were places you could hire mules to tow you on the tow path for a few miles. They charged two bits for small boats. The motors are mainly to get out of any danger zones. Including the dreaded head winds that sometimes occur. Those can sweep the unsuspecting several miles down stream and are sometimes enough to make boats look like they are standing still even though the motor is at full revs. It’s bad juju to get swept onto a dam. It still boggles the mind that those boys made it all those miles with a homemade craft that was overloaded most of the time. They claimed that they only had a few inches of free board showing and they had another portage or lock through than my trip. The old lock near West Newton on the Yough. It wasn’t manned 24-7 like todays locks. One oldster who knew them claimed they had maple syrup as a cargo down the Yough. They only really dicey part of my route is crossing the white water. Anything wider than 4 foot will get hung up on the rocks. Depending on the water levels when I make my trip, Dimple rock has a sneak around on the opposite side of the river…with lots of little rocks in the way. If I run out of options, I can always resort to a belay to get around the roughest parts.

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