Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sea Level? HA!

We have been on shore leave (unintentionally, I might add) since mid-Jaunary, and it looks like we'll be here until at least some time in October. And how have we, two devoted boaters, been handling our being banished to the un-boaty land known as Colorado?

According to Lisa, I have been taken over by some alien being and she very much would like to know what it has done with her husband. Apparently, the alien has been acting odd. It does things like eat the legs of the furniture, screams for no apparent reason, and mumbles incoherently for hours upon hours on end. But alas, it is not an alien incursion. It is little ol' me, going nuts.

Oh sure, I have tried to do things to assuage this feeling of tempestuousness that has consumed my soul. I've read and reread every book and website having to do with anything remotely close to our former live-aboard lifestyle. I have lurked in the depths of social media about it. I even watched Steve Greviskis on Ship Shape TV on an endless loop of episodes. But it has all been of no avail. It may not be an alien from outer space, but the feelings I have are certainly alien to me.

I needed a fix. I needed to get out on the water.

Fortunately, I am married to a rather pugnacious bulldog of a woman. Lisa decided that we needed to try something, anything, to get our sea legs back. She was going to come up with an answer. But what? We are in a desert and mountainous region after all.

It turns out that Colorado is not devoid of boating opportunities. There just aren't many of them, and they're rather limited in scope. The eastern plains really are a grassy desert and there isn't really anything out there—a few fishing lakes and that's about it. There are a couple of big, long Lake Powell wanabees down in the southwest part of the state, but they're four or five hours away by car. The best bet is the large Denver Water Company reservoirs out in the mountains, about an hour or so west of the city. The two main destinations are Lake Granby, northwest of Denver, and Dillon Lake, slightly southwest of the city and the closer of the two. Dillon was our choice because they had several things going for it over Granby; two marinas to choose from, and places to boat to and visit. Oh, and the scenery was spectacular.

Friday, June 26th, was our playdate. We drove out Interstate 70 one whole whooping hour west of Denver. The trip took us through the Eisenhower tunnel under the Continental Divide, and we drove right at the 11,000 foot tree line. The weather was absolutely perfect; 74 degrees with bright sunshine.

Just a handful of miles west of the tunnel, we pulled off the highway at the Dillon, Silverthorn exit. The reservoir is right off the exit. (This is the same exit to get to the Arapaho Basin, Breckenridge, and Winter Park sky resorts.) The city streets were windy, as you would expect in a mountain area, and it took us a few minutes to reach out destination, Dillon Marina.

Dillon Marina is a full service marina with about 150 slips. But they're all small. The largest boats out there are 26 or 28 foot pontoons. There were a lot of 26 foot sailboats. The entire lake is surrounded by mountains, and we still saw snow and ice on the peaks around us. But at lake level, bathed by the sunshine, it was very, very comfortable.

So, you're down in Florida or Georgia. Maybe you're up on the Hudson River, making your way to the Erie Canal. Maybe you're in the Great Lakes or the Western Rivers. Wadaya at? Sea Level? Maybe you're 300 or 400 feet above sea level. And the highest point on the Great Loop is what? 850 feet? HA! We laugh at your low elevation. Out on Lake Dillon, in our 18 foot rented Larson bowrider, we were boating at 9,017 feet above sea level. 9,017! And the boating was fun.

It's 3,233 acres of deep clear mountain water with amazing views all around. And as it is an impounded lake in the mountains, as you might guess, it's rocky almost all around. But the rule of thumb is to stay 50 feet from any shore and you're in good shape. Our starting point, Dillon Marina, is on the northern-ish end of the lake. The only other destination is Frisco, Colorado, on the southern-ish end. At full throttle it's only about a twenty minute jaunt from end to end. But we took our time. We savored every moment. And when we got down to Frisco, we docked at a fee dock at the marina and explored the quaint tourist-trap downtown area. In Frisco, it was an odd juxtaposition that they promoted both their boating attraction and their skiing livelihood side by side.

It was glorious. Even though we were in a runabout on a lake, it was tremendous fun. And, to be frank, I felt much, much better afterwards. My mind was clearer and I felt more relaxed. Heck, that night I slept an entire seven hours uninterrupted, just like when we're on Why Knot. (I don't sleep that well here on land.) Lisa looked better too. She smiled more broadly (she always smiles!) and it was fun to see her handling lines again. We were in our element. We're mariners stuck on land.

Without boring you all with the details, this shore leave has been very challenging for us. We have had to endure many difficult situations. And to have just a few hours on board a boat, on Lake Dillon at 9,017 feet above sea level, was a welcome respite from it all.   

Sunday, March 2, 2014

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Saturday, March 1, 2014