Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Vessel

Every great voyage needs a worthy vessel. Magellan had the Trinidad, Columbus had the Nina. Leonardo DiCaprio had the Titanic. Next year, when we embark on our great river voyage, we too will have a worthy vessel. 2,400 miles of the continent's mightiest river awaits and to conquer it, we'll need the best canoe money can buy.

Weighing in at a mere 65 lbs. our Old Town Penobscot will be light as a kayak, but the rolling rocker and shallow arch will keep it nimble, despite it's length. At 17 feet, it'll be able to carry 1200 lbs. of adventurers, dog, food and gear.

Why purchase such a canoe? The answer is simple. The Mississippi doesn't fool around. In the north it's lined with boulders, turning the gentle stream into Class II and III rapids, occasionally widening into massive lakes with wind and waves fully capable of capsizing small vessels. Further south, dams and locks force paddlers to portage their craft, hauling the canoe overland for as much as a half mile before getting the hull wet again.

Downstream, the river might as well be one giant lake. At over a mile wide in some places and 200 feet deep, it's used as a major shipping channel where barges that dwarf football fields chug along. 650,000 cubic feet of water discharge into the gulf every second from its mouth. It drains 31 states.

The undertow is among the worst in the world as far as rivers are concerned, and driving over bridges that cross it, especially along the Arkansas/Mississippi border, once can see whirlpools the size of large houses and currents that could spin, flip and rip apart a canoe or kayak.

The Mississippi kills people. That's why we're going all out with the canoe.

And the vessel will be powered by the best paddles money can buy. A pair of custom-made wooden paddles with curved shafts and smooth grips.

But a great vessel isn't complete unless it has a name. And ours will have a name... and a logo. Soon, the world will know the awesomeness of the LIBERATED STURGEON.