Llano River Cruise
| By Sandra Leinweber - Harper,
Texas - USA
This past Sunday we tested the River
Runner on the nearby Llano River. It
is a typical Hill Country river, winding and twisting
through rolling hills and limestone bluffs. We had
had a good rain a couple of days before, so it was
up a bit. Like most of the rivers in this part of
Texas, it has a significant spring-fed element, or
it might be dry most of the year.
and I are ready to go.
images to enlarge)
The boat is not quite done; we still have to sand
and paint the inside and take care of all the little
finishing details. We put a quick temporary coat of
non skid paint on the inside floor so we would not
slide around on the epoxied wood. It is heavier than
I had hoped, but not so heavy that we can’t
load and unload—I was surprised that hauling
it down a hill seemed harder than up. Maybe I was
on the light end going up.
|We took the
River Runner out of the shop before it was
It has been a while since Chuck and I had to cooperate
while riding in the same boat, and at first I wondered
if we would make it down the river intact. I was in
the front, Chuck in the back. There are not any real
rapids on this river, just little drops with often
narrow channels and rocky shallow places on either
side. My job was to make sure we hit the channels,
and Chuck’s job (I thought), was to make sure
we made the turn that almost always came once we were
through the first drop. I thought he should be able
to use the movement of the water and the blade of
his paddle to turn us, but he thought I should paddle
like a demon to turn us.
took this picture of me in the front.
There are no rapids here which is basically
why he was taking a picture.
“Paddle, paddle, paddle!!!” (Chuck)
“Use your blade to turn us!” (me)
“No, you have to paddle!” (Chuck)
By the time that was all said, we were through the
fast part and back into the calm water, several times
turned around backwards (which is really pretty fun),
still arguing about who should have done what. After
a few of these episodes, he said,
“Why don’t you sit back here.”
I get to sit in the back and tell Chuck
what to do.
I had to admit that he was right. If the person in
the front did not paddle like crazy, the boat got
swept toward the bank faster than the person in back
could turn it. All that remained on that issue was
to establish who was going to be captain and who was
going to be crew, who would give the orders, and who
would obey. We are still working on that one.
calm parts of the river, we practiced
Zen paddling. It's relaxing but not very
There was one other small problem that we resolved.
I thought we needed a directional skeg on the bottom.
Chuck didn’t. We are taking this boat to the
San Juan River in Utah next month, and he wanted a
completely smooth bottom painted with graphite so
we could just glide over rocks. Now that we have had
it out, he agrees that it over responds to turns,
and has agreed to install a shallow skeg to give us
more directional stability.
|Dean is an
avid birdwatcher and paused occasionally
to check out the feathered fauna.
We did not have time to find oars before this test
run, and the Llano was too narrow in the fast parts
for them anyway, but that is the next thing we will
add—7’ oars and oarlocks and sockets.
We are both excited about learning to use oars to
steer with as we think they will be perfect for the
San Juan. We also need some longer paddles—the
ones we have are 52”, and we think 60”
would be just right.
is easy to load onto our faithful Harbor
This test run was about 7 miles, and it went by fast—less
than 3 hours. We were paddling with our friend Dean
Mitchell and his grandson, Matthew. They will also
be going on the San Juan trip.