Dave Krantz and his beloved Dumarse. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — What does a man do after traveling a couple thousand miles down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, Minn., to New Orleans in a 16-foot aluminum duck boat appropriately named “Dumarse”?
He writes a book, of course. Then he plans another trip.
Dave Krantz is 74. The Albany man was 70 in 2010 when he took 18 days to travel 2,107 miles in the Dumarse, powered by a 25 hp Yamaha engine, from Minneapolis to New Orleans. His digital book “Old Man In A Tin Boat” recounts that trip. His journey however, was just the middle leg of three trips. The first came in 1978 when he traveled 447 miles up river from New Orleans to Greenville, Miss., in two days. He completed the final leg in 2011 when he covered 419 miles from Cairo, Ill., to Greenville.
Total time and distance — 22 days and 2,973 miles. His book covers the 2,107-mile second leg.
“You see this?” Krantz said, pointing to “DUMARSE” stenciled on the inside of the boat. “That is what I call this boat because the name has two meanings — it applies to it and to me.”
An avid outdoorsman and fisherman, Krantz had always wanted to travel down the entire length of the Mississippi in a small boat.
“It (the trip) was always in the back of my mind,” Krantz, who retired a few years back as manager of The Albany Mall, said. “So I took a year to do research. I wanted to know where all the locks were, where the marinas were located and where rooms were available along the river.”
Peggy Krantz has been married to Dave for 32 years. She knew what she was getting into when they wed. Still, Dave’s trips weighed heavily on her.
“I was very worried, naturally,” she said. “But before we got married I knew he was an avid fisherman and liked to spent time on the water. I always knew I was going to play second fiddle in that regard. I was a tad crazy during that trip, but I knew Mike (their son) was going to meet him in St. Louis. The remarkable thing is how good people were to him along the river. They kept him fed pretty well.”
So in June 2010, Krantz slid the Dumarse into the river in Minneapolis and headed south. He kept a daily journal and he emailed the entries to The Albany Herald.
Here is an excerpt from his Day Two entry:
“Idle out at 7:15 and head south …. few miles downriver, the pool widens and I enter the upper end of Lake Pepin…The huge expanse of open water stretching south is a little intimidating … Beautiful clear water and I pass several boats fishing for probably walleyes.They all are semi Vee boats with pointed bows and high sides, the kind of boat you use and need in rough water … I can feel the wind building and as the lake starts bending westward, I spot the masts of tall sailboats tucked back into a harbor 2-3 miles down lake. My river guide indicates Lake City marina is located about where the mast are, so I veer toward it. Enter what appears to be the harbor and idle up and down three long rows of boats moored but can’t find the gas dock … I’m getting impatient because every minute I’m wasting, the wind is building. I finally give up and idle back out, then spot small cut through the rip rap north of the sailboat moorings. Idle through and to my left is a gas dock. As soon as I tie off, a pretty young girl comes down the steps and and hands me the gas hose. The front tank takes seven gallons and I put another two gallons in rear tank as a reserve because I’m beginning to suspect that I can’t depend on these marinas up here to be open … Hand her my credit card, she brings a bag of ice which I quickly drop in the cooler and I’m out and running …”
Krantz said the most dangerous part of the journey was getting into St. Louis with the river at flood stage.
An excerpt from Day Seven detailed some of his concern:
“Hadn’t mentioned it before but river started rising rapidly yesterday, apparently from all the rain and there’s a lot of logs and debris floating … The current will usually push this stuff to the outside bends, and you can run alongside the “drift lines” but some places it’s just all over the river … You have to watch in front of boat constantly … And intently…
“I’ve hit several sticks and limbs but so far no big logs … The terrain along the river is changing back to hills and bluffs after a long stretch of mostly flat land … River is changing too … It’s becoming a big, strong river and it’s wider, but I don’t have the big lakes at bottom of the pools that were susceptible to wind … Water is much more stained than upriver…Towboats are pushing bigger tows and they tend to stir the river up for a few miles below them if they are pushing barges upstream … To stay out of the worse part of that turbulence and waves you have to read the river and visualize the route that towboat took before you passed him and either go inside or outside the path he took … For instance, if he had to make a left hand bend, you stay inside the bend because his stern was pushing toward the outside of the bend as he came around it … “
One would think that now, at 74, Dave Krantz’s river days would be over. That is not the case.
“This summer, Mike and I are going to put in the Missouri River and travel 1,200 miles south to St. Louis,” Krantz said. “Maybe this time I’ll use a bigger motor.”
Peggy Krantz said little has changed for her during the husband’s adventures.
“I will still have the same worries,” she said. “He’s getting older and starting to wear out. But Mike will be with him, that will help.”
“Old Goat In a Tin Boat” is available for download at Amazon, Kindle and Barnes and Noble and other online outlets.
Stay tuned for a sequel.