After writing this post yesterday evening on the river we lost internet before we were able to post.
After months of paperwork, long hard hours building and planning we have finally begun our journey. Yesterday was full of last minute errands, but by 5 o’clock we were headed to Watkins Landing in Powhatan, VA. The boat was unloaded without incident, and we busied ourselves organizing our gear. After a few hours of visiting with friends and family in the Richmond area we dozed off to sleep to the comforting sounds of the river and whining mosquitoes. After a cup of coffee and bagels from Ford’s parents, The Marshall Expedition Launched at 7 AM.
We brought oars in anticipation of deep placid pools in the backwater of Bosher’s dam, some 12 miles downstream. On the contrary, the river was holding a healthy current and we were able to touch bottom with our poles without exception. It was a true joy to finally begin the work we looked forward to for so long. Battling a headwind most of the day, we were still able to make about 14.5 miles. We encountered many more shoals than originally anticipated in this section. The Mary Marshall is significantly more maneuverable than my previous batteau, a trait I attribute to her round hull and tapered design. With one man working the sweep and the other five on poles we ascend at least ten very swift moving shoals. We have found that in ascending the river in general, and particularly fast water it is imperative that we pole in unison and maintain momentum. It is a great feeling to sink poles simultaniously, bite in the middle of a rapid and shoot the boat upstream.
The crew is elated to finally be on the water turning our vision into reality. Though many challenges lay ahead, there is a feeling of inevitability that pervades the crew. I can’t wait to see what lies in between.