Muscoda, WI, Saturday, May 26, 2001

WHAT A WAY TO BEGIN THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!

It all began with an email from Dennis Alm (New Brighton, MN)......looking for someone to hover with! The weather around Cuba City to Muscoda had been terrible for a week now, rain constantly, intermittent with occasional droplets of sleet, which tells you what the temperatures were.....not good. Various emails went back and forth between the StarCruisers yahoo group and the Hoverlovers yahoo group, and a few crafts seemed to be willing to 'Hover Between the Raindrops', a quote from Bob Steinhauer at Muscoda, WI. Everybody knows that the one thing you should do before a hoverin is to phone someone to be sure it's still on...this was a tough one to call, should we go or quit trying! It was cold and damp...

Gathering at the Webers! Five of us were ready to go.....almost looked like a hovercraft convention as we pulled out and proceeded thru the towns.
We drove as far as Highland, WI, where it now was raining cats and dogs, so I radioed Bob Steinhauer to see what the weather was doing over the river. He stated jovially that the sun was shining and it was a great day for hovering!

That was all I needed, from that point on, my car and the PL Express fairly flew to the Victora Boat Landing at Muscoda.

Arrive at Victora Park!
First stretch between the sandbars! How many times have we seen this picture, as the hovercrafts stretch their wings alongside the sandbars of the great Wisconsin River and forge their way upstream.
We now had a total of 7 hovercrafts....all StarCruisers. Dennis and Carol Alm, Ray Matthews (Freeport, IL), Vernon Weber (CC), Verdon Weber (CC), Bob Steinhauer (Muscoda), Mike McCullough (Mason OH), and myself.

Mike McCullough just happened to be at the Weber Residence getting some new retrofits to his cruiser.......especially that new Moeller fuel tank which olds 13 gals! (This fact will be very important towards the end of our cruise!)

Pullup on sandbars.....
Eagle resting beyond nest.. We took time to view the 2 eagle nests that are along the river with the fledglings.

But the most surprising thing that happened to me, was the deer that almost jumped into my hovercraft. I was coming around an island and all of a sudden a deer flew off the bank of the island into the water next to me, actually splashing me, and then began swimming across the current to the side of the river.

By the time I realized what had happened, I was downstream 1/4 mile and fumbling for my camera to go back and get a pic. I got the pic but not good enough for the web site, sorry! But I sure got excited.....!

There now looked like trouble brewing above the river......occasionally the sun would be out and warm up our ponchos and such, and just as quick as it came out it would disappear. Occasionally a rain drop would slap us in the face, but nothing to stop a great day--YET!

Trouble brewing in the skies above the river..
Following the crowd. It was fun following everyone.....we had crowned Dennis and Carol the leaders of this hoverin. It seems that the hoverins I have been planning have occasionally been wet and windy!

This was Dennis' chance to make a good one for us!

At the Hwy. 14 Bridge between Arena and Spring Green, we decided to pause.

I really didn't want to go into this bridge landing, as everyone else ahead of me had kicked up a huge dust storm around them. But eventually I gave in....

Hwy. 14 Bridge near Spring Green, WI
And then they left me..... I suspicioned no one wanted to hover with me, when they all took off without me! I do remember showering...
Ray Matthews takes off in his Prowler....

It now was early afternoon and some of us hadn't had lunch.....tripping the rest of the way upriver to Sauk City and the restaurant from this boat landing looked a bit risky insofar as the weather could treat us....

Ray Matthews
What a view of the river! So we headed back to Bob's place on the river, while his wife, Gloria, called for chicken from Ernie's restaurant downtown.

I am always on the lookout for a great picture and thought I had the Lone Rock eagle in my sights when he flew off. Do you know how difficult it is to fly a hover and shoot a digital camera? This was going to be a tough day to get good pictures, for sure!

Bob and Gloria have the most beautiful view of the Wisconsin River. When the river was high, this area of the lawn was pretty much flooded, allowing him direct access to the river without using the 'chute'! Mike McCullough, Ray Matthews, Verdon Weber
Trouble brews in Boscobel.... After lunch, we decided to hover downstream to the Boscobel boat landing access and then back home, hopefully still dodging rain drops!

As we pulled near the boat landing, several of the crafts headed right in, but 3 of us waited our turn, watching a jet ski play around in front of the access area, but dangerously near some downed trees in the current....

Well, you know the story from the pictures. I had seen this young gentleman fall off his jet ski and attempt to get back on, but with the water temps being so chilled and possibly he being a bit tired from the day's fun, he couldn't get back on and stay on, literally falling back into the waters. I hovered over by him and asked him if he wanted some help. Bracing my hover against his jet ski in the current, he was able to get his grip, but soon let go again, and then asked for a tow over to the landing. By this time, however, I had gotten myself into trouble with the downed trees, and motioned for Bob Steinhauer to take over.

Bob now had his rope out and ready, anticipating the need for it, and the lone skiier got a tow back to the landing.

Bob Steinhauer and jet ski in tow...
Bob and Boscobel Bridge. It was slow going, but Bob did a grand job.....another rescue on the Wisconsin River for him. Some of you may remember his rescue of the overturned canoes and occupants.

I got a great picture.....a rescue squad member had seen it all happen and awaited us on the boat landing, too! Bob told me that the kid was in his craft holding the rope tied to the jet ski. They wrapped the rope around the steering column.

We went into the boat landing, and this young man decided to go back out on the jet ski again, as well as his buddies doing the same, but it seemed that either the water was too cold or they were just not too adept at handling the craft, as they occasionally fell back in and drug the craft back to shore and start over. I didn't notice any wet suits and I do remember how cold I was even bundled up. Closer...
13 gals... On the way back to Muscoda from Boscobel, Mike McCullough began having fuel problems, and realized that his 13 gallon Moeller recently installed was empty! Having no extra fuel on board, since this was to be a test run only, I went back to Muscoda for fuel for him. (I had recently emptied my 2 gal. can into my 6 gal. when I got close, and of course had nothing left to spare, as any one else did either.)

The thing to realize here tho, is that Mike says he left with only about 4 gals. total in the tank and we had done 90 miles already.....so I guess that was pretty good mileage after all!

He and Verdon had stayed in that one spot halfway between Blue River and Muscoda while I drove the PL Express at top notch speed back to Muscoda. When I returned they had slipped downstream aways and now were at the Blue River bridge. But I'm sure they would have gone ashore somehow somewhere if I would have been late getting there. Mike and Verdon...
Getting the water out of the bag.... Now to get the water out of the bag and away we go! Mike needless to say was very grateful. But it's a lesson to me, from now on, I carry a lot more extra gas.

By the pictures, you can see we had a grand time. But the best part of it all, was the comraderie, as in any spontaneous hover-in. Sitting on the Steinhauer porch and watching the river and the birds and just relaxing with everyone's company (and of course eating that delicious chicken) gave us the rest needed to go on with the remainder of our trip. A 90 mile trip is not for the faint hearted or those with crafts unable to stand the cruising speeds of 35 to 55 mph either. But on this date, not too much went wrong for anyone. We all had a blast, a few laughs and a lot of raindrops! All the hovercrafts here have owners that are constantly maintaining them, preparing them for that next trip out--either alone or with a buddy! All 7 crafts at the hoverin had been built by Verdon and Vernon Weber. That alone is an impressive statement, but far more impressive is flying along with them!! See you at the next hover-in!!

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