College Ambassadors

Livin’ Spontaneously

Adventures come in many forms, and can happen due to many different circumstances. In my experience, most of the time the super structured, super planned out adventures are always a blast with relatively low stress. However, the spontaneous, fly by the seat of your britches adventures are some of the most memorable. This one started out with a simple call. A “Hey whatcha doin’ Friday night?” type of call. Little did I know what was in store that coming weekend.

Three kayaks, a pick-up truck, a sedan, a bag full of MRE’s and three knuckleheads all set off toward Cincinnati, Ohio on a whim. A four and a half hour drive through the heartland of Ohio. Needless to say, plenty of road trip shenanigans can ensue with hours of nothing to do but jam out and drive straight. Somewhere between Cincy and the Indiana border, we stopped for fuel and some 12 ounce curls for the hotel room later on. We arrived in Lawrenceburg, Indiana around 8:00 pm and settled in for the night.

The next morning was when the magic started to happen. We loaded up into our rides and began scoping out locations to put-in on the Ohio River.  Our search landed us at some sort of municipal park just shy of the riverbank. One of the locals noticed us unloading and eyeing up the shore line and offered us his patch of river to cast off from. We were much obliged considering much of the rest of the bank was being used up by multiple industrial complexes. 

Now kayaking flat water on a lake or navigating an occasional rough patch on a river is one thing, but paddling across a major shipping/maritime waterway is a complete different story. Not to mention we had unknowingly chosen the day of a speed boat rally as the day we were going to paddle the full 0.6 miles of stormy river. So between the churning river water, fighting the wakes of some 25 speedboats, dodging river barges full of coal and other material and the now developing rain, I can easily say it was one of the most thrilling paddles I had ever experienced.  The payoff however would be totally worth it in the end.

In the distance we could now see a small inlet forming on the bank of the river so we knew we were getting close. Paddling into the channel we could slowly start to see her, the USS Sachem, the Ohio River “Ghost Ship”. We paddled up to the stern and made our way to the bow of this lost ship. It was actually amazing to see a ship with the life story that this one had, just discarded on the side of the river. She lived many rolls in her life, starting as a luxury yacht. From there she served in two world wars as a submarine hunter, spent time as a fishing vessel, an Edison testing ground, a cruise ship and lastly as backdrop for Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach”. She was sailed up the Mississippi and discarded where she sits currently.

The final pain job she had still shown through all the rust and decay. No propellers or old nautical items were left behind, and luckily, it appeared that her fuel tanks had been drained prior to her entrapment in the mud. Maybe I’m just a bit of a history dweeb, but getting to see this ship first hand was really rad. It was also pretty sweet that the best way to get there was to kayak across one of the largest rivers in my home state. I’m glad that I had taken this opportunity to embark on this mini-adventure and got to share the experience with two good friends. It just goes to show, spur-of-the-moment adventures can almost always be an awesome experience.