Bad Day at Champagnolle Creek

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Slick

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True story.

Champagnolle Creek (It's French, pronounced "Sham pan ole") empties into the Ouachita River (It's Indian, pronounced "Washitaw") in South Arkansas. It wanders through the river bottoms and is filled with bass, cypress trees, Spanish moss, mosquitoes and water moccasins. This creek would be called a river up here in Oregon. And where it went there was nobody for miles around.

I put in at the mouth of Champagnolle Creek around 4 PM one Spring afternoon. The water was way up due to seasonally high waters but was falling fast. I had just purchased a new 15 hp Yamaha outboard for my little 12’ aluminum jon boat. It was a little over-powered but man it would fly. The transom was pretty thin but if you tightened the transom screws down as hard as you could it was “pretty snug”. I knew I should have a safety chain on there but the motor was new and the fish were biting. I didn’t have time for that.

I motored wide open for miles up the narrow creek to a spot that had a slough coming into the creek. This slough had a beaver dam across it and created a small lake behind the dam. During normal water this slough would be just a dry wash off the side of the creek. However, from past experiences I knew that the water level was just right for catching bass as the receding water poured through a small break in the beaver dam as the little lake drained back into the creek. Bass would stack up on the creek side of the dam and wait for food to come washing through the cut in the dam.

Fishing was good as I had predicted and I stayed until I had my limit. As I cranked up to go I noticed that it was starting to get dark. I was going to have to hurry if I was going to get back to my Jeep before dark. I rode up on plane as fast as the 15 hp would push me. The little motor was wound out as high as it would go when suddenly I felt a jolt that ran all through the boat.

Here it is. My buddy spelled Champagnolle wrong. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9NPtjp8Ss4

More later..........
 
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S

Slick

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I instinctively turn my head to see what was going on. What I saw was something I hope to never see again. I had hit something hard. The motor was hanging in mid air about 2 feet above the back of the boat, screaming as only a two stroke motor that has severely exceeded it’s RMP range can. I still don’t know how I reacted so quickly but I knew what was next so I grabbed the gas line hose as the motor was descending toward the water. I was going to follow this motor down to the bottom. But as fate would have it the gas line came loose from the motor as it pulled me over the back of the boat and into the dark water.

I came up spitting water with the gas line in my hand and the six gallon tank floating beside me. The boat had skidded out from under me and was about 30 yards below me and floating away. I mentally marked a landmark on one side of the creek and then another upstream. I knew this area of the creek as I had fished there before. I grabbed the gas can and used it as a float to kick paddle downstream to the boat.

I threw the can in and tried to get myself in but the little boat would tip and start taking on water. I had seen several large water moccasins earlier and their image was invading my mind as I swam, one hand on the gunnels, pushing the boat toward shore. I finally got it to shore and managed to get in and get it pointed downstream. Luckily I had an electric trolling motor and a full charge on the battery and was able to troll the last 2 miles to my Jeep.*

It was pitch black when I arrived. My body and clothes were drying out but I felt that something wasn’t right with my side. As I climbed into the CJ-7 and the interior light came on I could see that my shirt was torn and blood was streaming down my side and soaking into my jeans. The motor had shredded the aluminum where it came over the top of the transom as it lifted off the boat As I was drug overboard that metal had raked my side from just under my armpit to down at my belt line and I was bleeding profusely.

After loading the boat on the rack I tended to the cuts down my ribs. I had a first aid kit in the Jeep and managed to get the bleeding stopped with some gauze and tape. I made it home that night without further incident.*

More later.........
 
D

DB Crouper

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Sounds almost worse than shooting oneself in the foot. I can see why you moved out west. Just like Lilsalmon and Jeanna; If it weren't for bad luck.......
 
S

Slick

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The next day I borrowed a motor from a friend and went back to the creek to see what I could do about finding my motor. When I arrived at he spot where I knew I’d hit something I immediately saw a stump sticking up out of the water directly in the center of the channel that had not been visible the day before. I had motored over that stump on the way in but with the falling water it was close enough to the surface for the lower unit to hit on the way back out.

The water was still high and was getting muddy so I knew there wasn’t anything I could do myself to get the motor. I had a friend that knew a guy named George that was into scuba diving so we gave him a call and he agreed to dive for it for $200. I thought that was a bargain so two days later myself, George and a friend of George’s went back to the site. The water was so muddy by then that visibility was near zero. They tied a 100’ rope to the stump and George went down holding the coiled rope. He worked his way from one side of the creek to the other crawling along the bottom feeling his way. After that sweep he let out an arms length of rope and made another sweep and so on as he kept working his way downstream, sweeping from side to side. The biggest concern was that he might run into an old trot line down there and get tangled up in the line that would have multiple old rusty hooks on it. The creek was probably about 40 yards wide at this point. Eventually he ran out of rope and still hadn’t found the motor so we quit for the day.

Back home George made a call to another friend of his that was also a diver. This diver had an underwater metal detector but due to work schedules it would be a week before we could get it from him. We finally got the detector and headed back up the creek for another try.

The detector was a rectangular plate that looked like it was made of expanded metal and was about 15” x 24” in size. A small 2’ chain on each end came up to meet a longer chain which had the wires from the unit braided up through the links which eventually connected to a meter that had a needle and a sound indicator.*

I'll finish later today..............
 
N

n8r1

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Portland, OR
I knew I should have a safety chain on there but the motor was new and the fish were biting. I didn't have time for that.

Right when I read this, I could tell the direction that this story was going...
 
S

Slick

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OK, OK lilsalmon.

We lowered the unit and then pulled it up just enough to keep it a foot or so off the bottom as I slowly motored back and forth across the stream. The water was probably about 8’ deep at this point. As we worked our way downstream there were a few small blips but nothing that would indicate anything the size that we were looking for. We were about 50 yards downstream and just about to give up when all of a sudden the meter started squealing at full volume. George threw a marker buoy on the spot and I held the boat in place as he got ready to go in. I crossed my fingers and watched his bubble trail as he descended into the murky water. A couple of minutes later he popped up with one hand up in the air with a thumb pointing to the sky. I could see that he was smiling even through the mask. I let out a whoop and started doing a victory dance like football players do in the end zone when they make a touchdown. I had let go of the throttle handle and didn’t realize I was drifting away while I was acting like an idiot. I looked up and there was George’s little head wrapped in neoprene way up the creek. He was waving both his arms as he tread water over the motor.

I came to my senses and motored back up to George. I could here him cussing as I got nearer. I tossed him the rope and back down he went to tie on to my new Yamaha. A gasoline slick came to the top as we lifted it up off the bottom. We got it into the boat and it didn’t look too bad considering it had been down there for around 2 weeks by now. It was a good 50 yards away from the stump. I think that because it was still running when it went under that it ran for a few seconds underwater and, along with the current, it propelled itself downstream. I don’t know for sure.

Anyway, I got the motor home, took the bowl off the carburetor and flushed it out with fresh gas and it cranked up on the first pull. My biggest surprise was that there was no damage to the lower unit. I’m not sure if that’s a testament to Yamaha motors or two stokes in general but I was certainly happy. Since then I have put a safety chain on any outboard that just mounts with the two screws.

The End.
 
S

sherman

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southern Oregon
If this isn't a ficticious story you could send it to Yamaha Marine. Maybe they'll send you ball cap with Yamaha on it & a bottle of two stroke oil. :lol:
 
D

DB Crouper

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I lost my 8 HP Honda kicker in the shipping channel between Hammond and Ilwaco about 10 years ago. Do you think your diver's busy? I'd pay him $300.
Other than life- threatening wind waves 6' high and 6' apart combined with a ripping ebb, not much of a story, as we made it home alive.
Another great southern story, Slick.
 
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OnTheFly

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Regarding the last two stories; maybe you should stay away from the water. I think someone's trying to tell you something.:think:;)
 
D

DB Crouper

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Regarding the last two stories; maybe you should stay away from the water. I think someone's trying to tell you something.:think:;)

Remember the #1 rule on my boat:
Stay in the boat. I'm going to trust that with age, comes wisdom. Hope to see you Saturday (dry).
 
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OnTheFly

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Remember the #1 rule on my boat:
Stay in the boat. I'm going to trust that with age, comes wisdom. Hope to see you Saturday (dry).
lol...or maybe say 'Get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on!'
 
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JeannaJigs

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Holy shirt, this thread made my day. Hope Andy doesn't see it, he never did recover his merc...
 
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