Captain’s Log,
Voyage of the Wildwind II on the velvet waters of Lake Powell, Utah,
September 9th to 16th, 2001.

Surviving crew include houseboat owner David Herberg, with guests Craig and Betty, Bert and Patty, Charlie, and Monica.

The crew

Sunday: Our crew met up at the Bullfrog marina store at 10:00, but I spent several hours tracking down the meaning of a mysterious phone message from association president Bill M about the new boat.  I really should bring the owners phone list with me to the lake!  That quest ultimately failed, as we found the boat anyway and met previous user John Z at the boat ramp.  His group unloaded at 1:00, while he was giving me a training tour of the new boat.  John had used the old boat for most of his week.  Then houseboat maven Bill H had flown out to launch the new boat on Saturday, and John had switched over for 1 day only.  After the tour, loading, and icing, we were off at 4:00.  With the lake level so low, there are no short cuts available.  After pausing for a mid-lake swim, we spent the first night in Lake Canyon.  Barbecued steaks and salad for dinner, aaah!  Sunday night proved to be the coldest of the whole trip.  What a perfect night to discover the entire zipper on my sleeping bag had failed! 

Monday: Slow start, due to spending time attempting repairs on the generator, which was refusing to start.  The rest of the crew came through with extra bedding for me to avoid our going back to the marina.  Headed down lake and tried for a campsite in Cottonwood Canyon (if not now, when?), but it was entirely full.  Wildwind 2 in Ribbon Canyon Rats.  We then backtracked and found a nice spot in Ribbon Canyon.

Monica and I went paddling and hiking up the canyon, while others went skiing.  We mysteriously ran out of fresh water, even though Jack had assured me the tank was full.  Is there a leak?  I dunno; tune in tomorrow for the answer.  For dinner, I fixed quesadillas and tacos.

Tuesday: Another slow start due to more generator work.  Whatever is ailing the generator is beyond me, and I eventually gave up.  Also, we attempted to diagnose lack of fresh water.  After some rooting around under the bed, we found the freshwater tank, empty.  Discovered that the boat has a confusing water entry system, and concluded John must have attempted to fill the tank using the wrong hose.  There was no sign of recent leakage from around the tank.  We decided to live without lights at night and without fresh water.  We made drinking water by chlorinating lake water; we just didn’t want to go back to the marina if we could possibly avoid it.  But I did start making a list of “new boat“ caveats to present to the owners, things that when fixed or altered will turn Wildwind 2 into a really comfortable resort.

Made it to Piute Bay, and went sailing in the waning breeze.  For dinner we dined on barbecued chicken and salad.  Even though I thought I had brought too many tomatoes for the trip, we ran out of them on Tuesday.  Unbelievable!  We heard about the September 11 terrorist attacks only because of a random call home Betty made on the cell phone.
Wildwind 2 in Piute Bay

Wednesday: Some went exploring by ski boat, others went paddling.  Paul M, former Wildwind owner, was coincidentally there on a rented houseboat, and took a tour of Wildwind 2.  We refilled the ski boat, and waited out a brief thunderstorm.  Sailed in light air (I hesitate to call it wind) over to hunt petrified wood in the Chinle above the next wash.  Others took the ski boat, and got there and back much more quickly.  It wasn’t hard to find; I took several photos of large petrified logs.
Pertrified wood Petrified wood Even more petrified wood

Several of us took the ski boat up past Alcove Canyon and the Great Bend of the San Juan, searching for the canyon from which Doug, Alan, and I made the Great Overland Hike to Iceberg Canyon in ’98.  I eventually found it, but even at 3665', the lake level was so low that the correct canyon was hard to recognize, and Sailing on Piute Bayit was impossible to boat up the canyon to the hike's starting point.  Bert, Patty, and Monica showed off their considerable skiing skills on the way there and back.  Juicyburgers on the menu tonight, and just one would do you in.  I wasn’t cooking, and can’t tell you what went in them, but I knew the cooks were pretty excited about them!  The water was so peaceful that you could clearly see the constellations reflected in the lake.  Did you know that the Big Dipper still points to Arcturus, Polaris and on to Cassiopeia, even in reflection?

Thursday: A fine sail in the morning, up the south shore a ways, then back west around an ideal attitude adjustment island.  Others went paddling.

Began the long drive back out of the San Juan, during which we were pelted with a medium thunderstorm complete with hail.  We saw only one ephemeral waterfall, though.  We must have driven out of the heavy rainfall area by the time the water came down off the rock.  Drove on to Reflection Canyon, and got the cherry camp spot at the end of the left fork.
Wildwind 2 in Reflection Canyon Flowers in Reflection Canyon
We all hiked up 3 different creek forks of the canyon, and Monica and I climbed out into and hiked all over a wonderful giant Navajo bowl, dotted with dripping springs and hanging gardens.  I couldn’t quite get out of the canyon, because even as high as I could go, I was still surrounded by vertical Navajo.  Try to find 3 different people in these photos of the bowl!
Monica up Reflection Canyon Craig and Betty in Reflection Canyon
It was Chinese stirfry night, and Monica ate dinner in the dark out in her kayak.

Charlie paddling Reflection Canyon Friday: After some early morning paddling, Friday became a major ski boat tour day, beginning with Rainbow Bridge.

The Crew at Rainbow Bridge
Click on photo to see large version.

Rainbow Bridge Monica holds up the bridge

Views of Kayenta all the way up to the Dakota Sandstone of the Kaiparowits plateau, and of course the lavas of Navajo Mountain.  Then toured Cathedral, Oak, Music Temple, and Secret canyons.  Oak Canyon was a narrow slot that opened up into a bay inside, with a huge beach good at many water levels.  Unfortunately, everybody else had already discovered it, with 7 different parties sharing the same beach, even in September!  After lunch back at the houseboat, I debated in my mind the merits of moving on, what with the strong shifty winds whistling through the narrow canyon versus the incredibly long drive we would have otherwise.  Eventually decided to leave by backing out, letting the houseboat “hang” off the motors in the wind, thus driving more like a car.  The flying bridge makes backing up a breeze in a breeze!

Drove over to the Escalante, where we parked in the second sound cave,
Deep in Cathedral Canyon Wildwind 2 in the Escalante
since the first sound cave was taken.  This was our most exciting anchoring, since the ski boat towrope got wrapped on a prop, and the canyon is pretty narrow and windy.  Spaghetti with Italian sausage sauce and garlic bread was on the menu; I joined Monica for late-night takeout in the kayak under the stars. Paddle-up Italian take-out

Saturday: A few of us went on a short ski trip in the morning,
Bert goes right Bert amid a shower of spray Bert goes right again
while Charlie paddled away for a couple of hours.  When he came back, he told us he had made it all the way up Davis Gulch to LaGorce Arch.  Our neighbors across the way chose to run their generator all day, and their cave focused all that noise directly at us.  Somehow, I felt the overwhelming need to practice my trumpet without the practice mute.  They still outlasted me.  Later in the morning, everyone piled in the ski boat to tour the Escalante, including Davis Gulch, Fiftymile Canyon, and the restored Indian ruins.
LaGorce Arch High arch in the Escalante Deep in Davis Gulch

After that, there loomed the long drive back to Bullfrog Bay for the switchover tomorrow.  I worried a great deal about the houseboat’s listing, since the list seemed to be growing.  I woke up several times during the night to check on changes in the waterline, but it seemed to stay constant.  For dinner that night we had lots of good leftovers, from steak to chicken to sandwiches and didn’t have to resort to chili! Bullfrog Sunset

Sunday: I woke up find the pontoon not sinking, which was a great relief.  I decided that running just the port engine tends to increase the list, while running just the starboard engine tends to decrease the list.  Most of the driving during the week had been on the starboard engine alone, so the apparent difference was double.  But now one of the props was lying astonishingly close to a previously unseen rocky shoal.  “Retroactive nervousness,” Bert called it.  It’s a good thing nobody tried to use the water slide!  We divvied up the excess food, cleaned up the boat, filled it with gas and fresh water, pumped out, and met Jack B and his crew of 20 at the boat ramp.  I took him through the training tour, pulled our boats, and was on the road by 1:00.  We all met up at Blondie’s in Hanksville for lunch before heading off our separate ways.

I would really like to thank my hard-working and pleasant crew for making the trip so enjoyable.  I would happily have any or all of them on any trip with me in the future.  This was one of the most pleasurable trips to Lake Powell I’ve ever taken.  I eventually made it home to California on Monday night, after surviving a tire blowout near St. George.  The tire blowout had the unplanned benefit of forcing me to spend a comfortable night in a motel rather than try to catch a few winks uncomfortably at a rest stop.

P. S.  I have heard that Jack B fixed the generator on his week by installing a squeeze pump in the fuel line.  Hmmm, I had checked the fuel flow and thought it was fine...

P. P. S.  2003 update: The houseboat manufacturer found and fixed a couple of flooded chambers in the starboard pontoon.  That and the addition of another fresh water tank on the port side has relieved the starboard listing as well as providing a more adequate fresh water supply.  Ah, new boats!

All images and content copyright ©2001 David Herberg.  All rights reserved.

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