Boating The Milwaukee River
Shared by: Alaina Lawrence
Hello, my name is Alaina and I am a 12-year-old female boater. I have been on boats my whole life. My first memory in a boat is at South Shore Park in Milwaukee, WI. I finished my boater’s safety course in June 2019. After a season of practice, my grandpa said we could pull his old boat out of his garage to see if we could get it running again.
The boat was neglected for the last 5-7 years and needed a lot of work. My dad and I went to work cleaning up a 1972 Starcraft Jetstream V with a 2001 30Hp Yamaha on the back. The engine did not start and the boat’s interior was bad. The carbs had some jelly-looking stuff in them. My dad said it was from gas sitting for so long. My dad cleaned the carbs and gas tank. He also changed the fuel hoses and filters. The engine started up but there wasn’t any water out the telltale. Dad again showed me the water pump impeller and how it works and what it does. Now that the engine was fixed it was time to clean the boat.
We vacuumed the carpet and realized some of the wood floor was rotten and had to be replaced. Once we pulled the floor up, the foam under it was wet and heavy and chewed by mice or squirrels. So we cleaned all that up and replaced the foam, floor and carpet. The boat was in good shape now – it just needed some paint.
Our first time out on the boat, we took it to the all familiar South Shore Park. Maiden voyage here we come. We headed out from South Shore Park with the Milwaukee River our destination. It was a beautiful ride coming in under the Hoan Bridge from the lake. Seeing the city from the river was so cool. We went 6 miles from where we launched the boat and then it happened.
The river narrows to 80 feet across from bank to bank and there aren’t any water depth markers. The last one we passed said 20 feet of water. There were no signs and no marker buoys. We hit a rock at 5 mph and broke off the lower unit. Our boat was dead in the water. Luckily there was a very nice man and his family helped us tie our boat to shore. He said he was a regular fisherman there and he sees this happen all the time. One time he tried to warn someone and they tried to fight him so now he keeps to himself. Sir, if you see this thank you again to you and your family.
I am doing everything in my power to get some kind of hazard markers installed. So far, I have called the WI D.N.R and am in the process of getting a Waterway Marker Application and Permit over to the Milwaukee Mayor’s Office. If anyone is interested in helping, you can call or email Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (firstname.lastname@example.org) (414-286-2200) and ask him to help Milwaukee residents and tourists navigate our lovely city via the water just as safe as the roads.
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