Defeated by the wind

The Wide Delaware

I was really looking forward to the chance to float the upper Mainstem yesterday, so I pushed aside my initial concerns when the wind forecast was 10 to 15 mph from the E/SE. I reasoned that, with the river flowing predominantly north-south along my chosen course, the winds would be mainly crosswinds and manageable. The weather forecasting in our region has shown itself to be remarkably accurate, particularly when compared to that in Southcentral Pennsylvania which was absolutely the worst.

I was hoping for the calm morning to continue as I tied a handful of flies for the trip until, just before leaving I looked up to.see the treetops waving in my yard. Still committed, I dropped the boat in on the lower East Branch and set off downriver. The gusts came straight upstream into my face, and I was confounded that I had to row to make headway downstream. A wiser man would have acted upon his first thought right there, spun the boat around, and allowed that wind to help row back upstream. Me, I really wanted to go fishing.

As I pushed on out of the last pool on the East Branch and into the riffles, that thought came again, stronger this time, as I still had to row in the faster water to make downstream progress. When I got to the top of Junction Pool, I could see a wall of whitecapped waves about one third of the way down the pool, The wind wasn’t just gusting then, it was blowing full on straight up the river at something more than 25 mph. I rowed as hard as I could downstream and the boat kept backing upstream.

I must have spent an hour there, trying again when the wind slacked a bit, only to have it hit me in the face again and blow me back upstream. Four attempts, four failures. Finally I relented and started the arduous trip back upriver into the East Branch.

I rowed where I could make a little headway, and I got out and pulled the boat upstream through the two long sections of riffles. At last I reached the tail of the pool and took a short break before pulling the anchor and rowing hard up the west bank where some upstream boulders directed the main flow of the current out toward midriver. When I reached the boulder field I had to row across to the east bank against the main current, then turn and follow the bank back to the landing.

To say I was exhausted would be a gross understatement. I had passed exhaustion half way back up that mile of river, stumbling in the riffles as I towed the boat upstream. I had put out around 9:45 that morning, and I climbed out of the boat, beached at the same landing around a quarter till two.

Mother Nature smacked me in the mouth this day, but the good news is I didn’t have any chest pains or any other signs from my heart. Retirement and living in the Catskills to enjoy my outdoor lifestyle seems to be agreeing with me; but I guarantee you I will treat any sort of southerly wind forecast with a lot more trepidation in the future.

Today the drift boat is staying in the driveway. The wind forecast is S/SE at 5 to 10 mph, but it is going to be warm and sunny. I know that the sun warms up the air and makes wind in these mountains, and it was close to freezing in Hancock this morning, headed for the mid seventies. Besides, this old body needs a day off after yesterday’s trial.

I plan to take a walk along some smaller water, a favorite bamboo rod in my hand, and see if I can find a few forgotten mayflies and some willing trout.

2 thoughts on “Defeated by the wind

  1. I fished 1/2 a day on Penn’s yesterday and got 3 on top and missed a few. CDX took a picky one. Back home now.

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