Our boat “Boomdiada” resides in the marina at Dock 44. The marina at Dock 44 is probably one of South Dakota’s best kept little secrets. I talk to a lot of people about boats, sailing and fishing cause I lead a very boring life and there is just nothing much else I have to discuss nor would care to. I am amazed at how many people have no idea there is a marina located a few miles west of Platte, S.D. Perhaps it is not necessarily a tourist destination but the Snake Creek Campground is always packed full of people. I would venture to guess the reservations there are made the maximum amount ahead of time as allowed by the SDGF&P Department. The place appears to be full all summer long. The few first come, first serve spots are usually gone early in the week taken by someone who lives close and has very good timing. Ten miles to the south of Snake Creek is a place called Platte Creek and I frequently sail by to see just a few open spots on the weekends. I have never really checked if these are supposed to be reserved site or if they are the first come, first served sites but they are open and available for those who only feel like planning a week or so ahead of time. I frequently see these open sites at Platte Creek but even more so after the 4th of July Weekend.
Dock 44 has a good selection of bait and tackle, a small assortment of rods and reels, ice, beverages, snacks, and a very good assortment of those little things you need when you are camping that were left on the kitchen counter as you pulled away for your weekend adventure. They have a full bar and restaurant that serves some fantastic food. I love cooking and in fact, love cooking so much that I only “eat out” about 5-6 times a year but I must admit, this is the only place I eat out at. I know this is starting to sound like a paid advertisement so I will stop but the fact is; I have found us a summer home. We had gotten on the waiting lists at 2 other marinas near Yankton, S.D. before we happened across this gem. I would not move now even if they offered us a free slip for the boat. That is how much I enjoy launching out of Dock 44 and that is saying a lot as I really am a cheap bastard.
We wandered out Saturday morning knowing full well of the high wind warnings in the forecast. This is South Dakota for God’s sake, the wind never quits blowing. A sailor afraid of wind should consider perhaps, knitting or mini-golf instead. The world was after all, discovered using nothing more complex than a few canvas sheets and some wind. Again, I will reiterate, it is better to be lost at sea than found on the couch.
The winds measured 35 mph and gusted to just over 50 mph when we arrived. The wind was bitter and non-stop but we were already here so what can you do but get on the boat. The wind only got worse as the day progressed and became sustained at a bruising 55-60 mph with gusts over that I measured on my anemometer at just over 75 mph. Water literally misted from the surface of the water all of Saturday in what looked most of the time like the small dust devils you see twirling across dry fields in the heat of summer. In the better part of almost 50 years, I have never seen sustained wind like this that has ever lasted more than an hour or two and I have never seen so many little water funnels sucked up from the surface of any body of water before.
The boat rocked and swayed as bad as I have ever felt with Suzie and Sadie both nearing the edge of seasickness. The wind like that really takes the temperature down and I must admit; I was the only knucklehead in shorts this weekend. There was really no control whatsoever in the boat and all we could do was ride it out. This was all done sitting on the trailer in the yard. We went assuming we would get the nearly predictable little break in the wind that normally comes either early in the evening or first thing in the morning but it never came. Had we gotten a small break, I would not have hesitated in splashing my girl and take our position on a mooring ball out in the bay. I am confident in my ability to keep the boat from danger but it was the transition from the boat ramp to the open water that made me nervous. Ten years ago I do believe I was capable of getting this done in these type of conditions but I am no longer capable of such a feat and the rocks look like boat eating teeth when the water slams them this hard. I am no longer a gambling man and I know most of my limitations. My sense of adventure wants nothing to do with being anywhere within thirty feet of having rocky shorelines on both sides of me in that kind of wind.
So we ate some great food at Dock 44 and talked to some fantastic people. We relaxed while planning for a launch again next week. I will try and try again until the bottom of my boat is soaking and I am once again exploring the 540 miles of beautiful and almost completely uninhabited shoreline and clear waters of Lake Francis Case. This is my first trip to Dock 44 where the boat ramp was empty when it was not flooded. It appears I was not the only one who attempted a wise decision today.
Our weekend was nowhere near the best adventure we could have had but I will not hesitate to do it all again next weekend. I will hope for better results but I am impatient and would hate to show up only to be told, “You should have been here a month ago or even last week. “ I honestly do not really care if I am the first boat in the water but the summer as well as life itself, is short. Thus, I will remain impatient, Thank you very much.