Six friends, 25 miles, Penns Creek, and a sunk canoe



Where to start on this one. This past weekend a handful of my friends had been planning a 25 mile long boat trip down Penns Creek. Thanks to my travels, I never had time to partake in this adventure either due to working to much or I was just to far away to get home in time. So you can bet your sexy ass I was excited to travel for this adventure. I mean who wouldnt. Six friends, three coolers of  beer and food, camping, and a historical Pennsylvania creek. The trip was set to launch on Friday night and push through till Saturday afternoon while spending Saturday night into Sunday at our buddy’s cabin. This was going to be a fun weekend

Everything that was planned for went accordingly. We loaded up two cars with supplies and one with the three canoes. How we managed to get three canoes to travel onto one car is beyond me but when two of your friends are engineers and the other being a mildly innovative person you tend to find a way. I can tell you it involved a trailer, roof rack, quite a few ratchet straps, very careful driving, and some loud swearing. Everything was set and ready that Friday morning so all we had to do was push through our last day in the work week and then converge on the meeting spot to get going.

We had all punched the time clocks and were on our way. After a quick meeting at cabin we began the half hour long drive crammed into two cars to set off to the launch point. It was slow going due to the car with the overloaded canoe’s but we managed. Once we arrived we had hit a small snag while trying to back into the parking area. Unfortunately one of the canoes was angled to a point that when, lets call him Dirty Dan, had turned the wheel the canoe poked a three inch long scratch into the hatch of his escape. Okay not to bad that was a little upsetting but for how we managed with such ridiculous cargo I’d say we made out pretty well. Dirty Dan was about on par with it and understood that a car needs battle scars for these adventures. Once we had parked we began off loading the canoes with local fisherman and kids staring on. After we had all loaded up, canoes in the water, pre-float beer’s drank, and hit the head/tree stump/ gone number 1 or 2. We set off on our adventure down Penns creek to the beginning of a crazy time.

The First Four Miles

The creek was running strong but also incredibly low. It had not rained in this section of the state for probably a solid two weeks. We of course had had thunderstorms here and there and some torrential downpours but nothing that would hang around long enough to rise the creek up a considerable or helpful height. Our Canoes that we had commandeered ranged from the following. The first was a large black plastic canoe that was engineered for trout fisherman. This canoe looked like a navy seal vessel which was commandeered by my buddy Peas (like the vegetable and Dirty Dan. Our next canoe was a standard luxury canoe, also plastic, that was about 15 to twenty years old that was blue and had a flatter bottom. This canoe was commandeered by my friends Anold (say it like Schwarzenegger) and Stigius. Last but not least is my canoe. This Canoe was built for speed on deep lakes or rivers, was painted yellow like a banana, and sat low to the water due to the narrowness of it. I had christened it the H.M.S Spritty Tinkles. We scraped a lot when we were backed against a reef of rocks. This boat was steered by yours truly and a friend I’ll call Jerry.  Our launch was accompanied with some shallow spots with a little scraping here and there which eventually led to a lot of evasive navigation but we managed. It was smooth sailing (pun intended) till we ended up capsizing the HMS Spritty Tinkles. Jerry and I managed to save everything but all of our water tight containers ended up seeping in water since most of them became submerged. This was going to be an interesting trip.

It will makes bergs hard to see, with no breaking at the base


It had been a bumpy ride since launch. We had had a few calm deep areas where we could rest and re-cooperate but these were for maybe two minute spans at best. Nobody could enjoy the beer/scenery/or each other since we were constantly dodging shallows and rocks for most of the journey. As the sun began to set visibility became more and more difficult which reduced us to viewing the white water to identify upcoming rock rather than staring into the stream which was now just a giant glare. Everybody was struggling but the HMS Spritty Tinkles was taking the full brunt of the creeks shallow force. Rock after rock and shallow after shallow kept bashing against the Tinkles hull. It wasn’t going to be long before the creek decided to make a killing blow and have Jerry and I shin deep in creek water with nothing but the oars and our soaked possessions. At least the beer cooler was surviving. Penn Creek is a cruel mistress and shows no mercy. Before I could recollect myself after everything that had happened Jerry yelled how “Oh shit hang on!” followed shortly by a loud *BANG*. Everything strapped became unstrapped, our nose started veering forward, water started coming in from being knocked sideways, and we started going down. The creek had scratched a foot long gash down the seam near the front of the canoe that was about an inch wide. The HMS Spritty Tinkle was sunk.


So there we were. Jerry and I stranded on shore with nothing usable except a completely full cooler of beer, two bottles of liquor, and one functioning lighter. To our left we had a compromised canoe as well as a very soggy set of provisions along with a few odds and ends we had picked up from the creek. Our outlook was grim. With night settling in on the tail end of spring it began getting cold quick and with no dry clothes we’d survive but be completely miserable. After a quick pow wow with the rest of the armada I decided I needed to venture off on my own to take care of our misfortune and return the following day with the kayak, also known as the Molli A, to continue the adventure. I was not going to let this ruin the entire float trip. I had decided first it was time to make friends and fast since I certainly couldnt lug a 15 foot canoe 4 miles or very well leave it stranded on someones property. Thankfully the occupants of Penns Creek were very friendly and accomodating. I happened to meet up with a very elderly couple, we’ll call them Earl and Agnes, who were pushing close to 300 a piece and were probably legally def with mean that each one of their answers came out like a bull horn. Sweetest people on earth though. Earl decided he would give me a ride back to the truck while Agnes allowed me to stash the canoe in the yard. Jerry, my boating comrade decided he was going to continue the adventure onward and gatherd up his hearty provisions from our shipwreck. This consisted only of a handle of Sailor Jerry spiced rum and an oar….no sleeping bag…no shirt…nothing else. He then set off in the blue canoe with Anold and Stigius and rowed out of sight.

The Finale


After a slow and swervy ride, Earl had finally reached our truck up by the launching spot which I had learned learned was called Rainbow Reek. I then shook the mans hand, thanked him for all the help he was willing to give me and left to which I honestly never saw him again. At this point it was well into the night so all I had to rely on were the trucks headlights and Anolds high powered flashlight he had lended me to help me pack up the canoe. Once I returned to the crash sight I was left with a very unique problem. Our truck we had used only had a six foot bed, which was less than half of the canoe, and a large handful of bungie straps, not ratchet straps, bungie straps. With the help of five other strangers I managed to make the canoe reasonably secure but was not willing to drive 30 miles, in the dark, with a strangers truck, and no license. Fuck that. With some quick thinking though I came up with the idea to drop the canoe at the launch point, a mere two miles away. Perfect. I fired over the engine, held onto the boat and prayed it wouldnt slide out the back of the bed. Thankfully I made it there without to much of an issue and dropped it like a bag of bricks right next to the transport car. I mean hell if anyone stole it it would be there loss. Who would steal a boat that doesnt float, right? From there on out the night consisted of me getting lost behind the towns off Penns Creek and New Berlin, gathering up my car, and driving it back to my house where I proceeded to sleep the events off till the next morning to begin all over again. I had decided that the whole misfortune had ran its course when I woke up to the sound of a text message displaying  two words “BRING FOOD”. I guess their night camping out near the creek left them hungry. I did feed them though when they eventually got around to meeting up with me.