About five years ago, a few of us decided to meet at Warsaw, Kentucky to ride for a day, upriver to Cincinnati. The midway point between Cincy and Louisville – Warsaw – seemed a good place. We were sitting in the Riverwatch Restaurant that day and somebody said, “I hear there’s a sunken ship near here.” Intense Googling followed and we found it, just across the river up a tiny creek. So we creeped in and took a look, and the Ghost Ship Tour was born.
The ride has grown, from a day to a weekend; and from six of us to 21 riders from nine states. Members of the Northeast and Middle Tennessee PWC clubs and some new River Rats from Illinois and Ohio also joined in. Home base was the Beautiful Smuggler’s Cove Marina, in Warsaw, where the sunsets are the crowning glory. This year we expanded the ride to three days so those traveling from far off places could ride all the water that’s available in this area. Friday, the group traveled the Kentucky River from Carrollton to Frankfort and back.
The river between these two cities contains four locks, closed for nearly 20 years until the state of Kentucky restored navigation last year. It’s a beautiful, rural ride, with no fuel stops until Frankfort, 67 miles upriver. After lunch and fuel at Frankfort Boat Club, the group headed back to the first lock.
One minor detail about the Kentucky River: the locks open at 10am and close at 7pm. We left Frankfort at 3pm; plenty of time, if there are no problems. We’ve made friends with the lockmasters, and each called the next to alert them we were on our way. The group met up with a nice thunderstorm in Carrollton, trailered the skis and headed back to Warsaw, meeting later arrivals amid a spectacular sunset.
Saturday dawned gray and threatening. Undaunted and twenty-one strong, we left Smuggler’s Cove and started up the Ohio. The few boats we encountered were taken aback at the size of the group. Even a few barge captains stuck their heads out the doors to take a look. Blue skies welcomed us to Cincinnati, making for some great photos against the downtown skyline, Roebling Suspension Bridge and the Red’s and Bengal’s stadiums.
The much anticipated Ghost Ship was 30 miles back down river. We beached on some nice soft, deep mud, and made the short walk up the creekside trail to the boat. A few climbed the dead tree limbs stretching from ship to shore and were able to explore on deck, looking into the mud and water filled belly of the old gal. Learn about the ship here. With our mission complete, we raced down river to prepare our feast of pulled pork, tenderloin and Lugnut’s Famous Beercorn; and gaze at another sunset and campfire.
On Sunday, we lost a big chunk of the group to long drives home. Ten of us were left to lock-through at Markland Dam, and head south to Louisville, KY. When we reached Louisville, the horizon was looking dismal and thundercloud gray. Low pressure was pulling up the water, and that, coupled with much recreational boat traffic, made for some fun wave jumping and choppy waters. We reached our lunch stop just as the wind kicked up, tipping over the umbrella tables and shooing damp riders indoors.
It was late afternoon when the storm turned away and we started the 72 mile ride back up river toward Warsaw. We reached our temporary digs again with fuel warnings beeping; just in time to see the most spectacular sight of the weekend—an enormous sun, dropping over the horizon like a russet fireball. Find the Tri-State River Rats, Northeast PWC Club and Middle Tennessee PWC clubs on Facebook, and join us for a day or a weekend.