Okay, the $25 only got me a 17-foot canoe, but it was one of the best "cruising" experiences of my life. My friend Eddie and I canoed 100 miles down the Green River in Utah, from Ruby Ranch to the confluence with the Colorado River.
The canoe is a ticklish craft. I hadn't paddled one since I was twelve. You'd think forward movement would be straightforward, but a canoe wants to spin out of control at all times. Let me revise that: A canoe loaded with as much crap as we had in this one wants to spin out of control at all times. The guy in the back does the steering, and it makes little difference what the guy in the front does, as long as he keeps paddling. Our first day was a lot of overcorrecting, undercorrecting, anticipating spins, and spinning out of control, but after a few days paddling straight became second nature.
One of the few other craft we passed was even harder to control than a canoe:
This whole stretch of river is a no impact area. This means that all waste had to be carried out with us. Being a big lover of toilet talk, I was very curious about this. We rented our canoes from Tex's Riverways, and they've got it covered. They have these custom made alluminum toilets, which seal with clamp-downs and an o-ring when not in use, so no bad smells in the canoe. Urine and dishwater go directly in the river: "The solution to pollution is dilution." Even campfires have to be in fire pans, so the only traces we found of prior humans were footprints in the sand and the many cliff dwellings, thought to be 800-1800 years old:
We also found many petroglyphs:
The one above plainly depicts a flying saucer shooting a laser, proving that aliens colonized the earth and will return to harvest the human race for food. Sorry you had to hear it from me.
The weather was perfect the whole week, with just ten minutes of wind. This ten minutes was enough to show us how wind could ruin a whole trip. Not only would it be a bummer to paddle against, but it only takes about five knots of wind to send the talcum powder sand, which we camped on every night, airborne.
That bottle of Jack Daniel's was purely medicinal.
The folks at Tex's really make it easy. They dropped us off by van at the put-in, then picked us up by jet boat at the confluence with the Colorado. The jet boat goes about 35 m.p.h., so we covered the 64 miles up the Colorado, back to Moab, Utah, in about two hours. They trailer the entire jet boat, with all the gear aboard, right back to their base in Moab, so everything gets unloaded from the jet boat right into the car, and that toilet full of a week's worth of solid waste just magically disappears.
It's pretty hard to get lost on a river, but being a cruiser I couldn't resist bringing along a sophisticated navigation system:
At Bowknot Bend the river makes a seven mile meander:
We had a full moon for our trip:
We ate well:
And found some cool critters:
There were no dangers, unless we count the quicksand:
See all those sandbars in the river? Each one is a perfect, private campsite, and we figure we had about ten miles of river to ourselves every night:
Just about any very shallow draft, lightweight, motorless craft could make this trip. I'm thinking next time I might take the old family rowing dory.