After Christmas, I had the opportunity to join 8 other adventurers for a river trip on an old-fashioned keel boat down the Ouachita river in southern Arkansas. The boat is captained by Ed Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas and crewed by James Thompson and Tim Richardson. Also joining us were Gary & Bryan from Texas, English Don, Don the Elder and Emily from Arkansas.
The Aux Ark is 40′ long and 8′ wide with 6 rowing stations and either a steering tiller or sweeping paddle attached to the rear. We used the steering tiller on this trip. Since we had 9 of us on the boat, we separated into 3 crews of 3 for the rowing. Each crew would row for an hour, then rest for two hours. During the rest periods, someone would man the tiller and keep an eye ahead for snags, other watercraft, trot lines, etc. We camped two nights on the river bank and Ed cooked us some marvelous victuals.
We put in at Camden, Arkansas and traveled about 21 miles to Locust Creek river access. The temperatures were upper 40’s to low 50’s during the day and mid 30’s at night. We saw very little sunshine with light rain, drizzle and fog most of the time. The Ouachita river is controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers. It has a center channel dredged in it and the levels and flow are controlled by locks and dams. I’m guessing the current was less than 1 1/2 miles per hour.
We were not able to make 3 miles an hour due to the slow current, so we had to pull out sooner than planned. We will put in here next time and continue on down stream. What a great way to experience history on this 1840’s style keel boat. This was another great historical adventure!