Saturday, July 7, 2012
Treasure hunting hovercraft style
My buddy Phil lives on the Rock River, the other day I was talking to him about the draught in this area back in 1987. I told him back then I wanted to take the hover over to the Mississippi and use a metal detector to see if I could find anything of value. He said "I can get a metal detector, bring your hover down to my place and we'll see if we can find anything on the Rock". I wanted to get my hover out so I figured this was as good a reason as any so we made plans to meet up on Saturday and give it a try. I had my hover in the shop trying to take care of an annoying electrical problem and my mechanic finally thought he had it fixed so I planned to check it out first then stop by Phil’s place and we’d launch from there. When I arrived at the river where I planned on starting a trial run I was shocked at how low the river was and how much sand and gravel bars were exposed. It was interesting to see what the contour of this river bottom was really like I’d heard a lot of horror stories by boaters who never run their boats in the part of the river because there is a channel that keep shifting and boaters are constantly hitting rocks and breaking props. After eyeballing the small channel where there was some water flowing I could see why boaters don’t like this portion of the river. It was actually rather fun flying out there where I knew the boats could not go. As I took off from the launch and rounded the south corner of the Ace of Diamonds launch I was using I caught a glimpse of two Eagles just setting out on a flight, it was an awesome site. Then I noticed the bugs, thousands of them and my hover was spitting them up at me as I flew along. I thought I should have brought my helmet with a face shield. It’s the one bad thing about flying on a river in low water; I would imagine they have a perfect habitat for hatching out. Oh well got to take the good with the bad so on I went. My hover started perfectly at my house and at my launch site and now it was running really well no hesitation and lots of power. I felt like we were in for a great time on the river. As I approached Phil’s place I saw him standing out on what used to be his floating dock but it was now just a wood platform on some barrels sitting on dry ground. It’s actually a real shame when the river drops down this low but then it just reduces the number of boaters you have to watch out for. I pulled up to Phil’s dock area landed on some rather soft mud and shut the hover off so we could load up his gear. Now this is a guy who fishes nearly year round and in Northern Illinois that’s pretty amazing so I was a little surprised when he stepped up to his ankles in mud while trying to get into my hover. At any rate we got all of his stuff settled I unloaded some of the extras I brought that I really didn’t need and Phil settled into his spot in my hover. I asked if he was all set and he nodded to the affirmative and with that I hit the key and…. Nothing! The engine turned over but would not fire. Dang that really was not what I wanted to happen or should I say not happen. From that moment on it was call this friend, then my mechanic (who was not available) and then try a couple of things to get it going. I have tried to take Phil out on the hover several times but we just couldn’t seem to get the schedules together now here we were all set to go and nothing. The engine had no spark the hover just wouldn’t cooperate. To add to the situation the temperature was sitting at a cool 103 degrees and here we were stuck on the back by Phil’s dock and the closest boat ramp was 5 miles north of us or 15 miles south of us. Hovers are a blast when they run but they’re like a brick when not on cushion. Neither of these launches were a workable option for me. So now what? I’ll write more later about this experience but for now I’m going to go sip on something cool to drink while I ponder my next words.
Ok so this picture is a bit of an exaggeration but I think you get the point it was dry and really hot