Ghost Marina on the Mississippi

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Chapter 43 – Post Meeting Activities – Modern Day

There was a strong discussion on who would foot the bill for the meal, but Caroline eventually won the day insisting it was her idea originally and she had, after all, promised to pay. They all left the pub, except for Dexter who felt obliged to help his wife clear away and run the pub. Outside, it was another beautiful day and Bill reminded Caroline that she had promised to go for a ride in his classic car.

“You’re right Bill, I would love to,” Caroline replied, and Bill’s chest puffed out like a frigate-bird. “But can we take a boat ride to the State marina first? I want to see it for myself.”

“Well, there’s not really much to see there,” a deflated Bill replied. “You may as well come and see the local sights with me.”

“Bill is right Caroline,” Jason added, “there really isn’t much to see. The Coastguard is making sure any onlookers move along.”

“Regardless. I’d still like to get close to it.” Caroline replied.

“Boat trip!” Chuck shouted with some gusto and he waved his arm towards Jason’s boat, “let’s go.”

“Wait a minute, I’ve had too much to drink!” Jason told the group, “I won’t be able to handle the boat, well not legally anyway.”

“I can.” Bill said nonchalantly, “I only had one.” But before Jason could protest, everyone was walking towards his boat with Caroline smiling back at him.

When they reached the boat, Jason went below to retrieve the seat cushions and began passing them to Bill who placed them appropriately on the benches. Once everyone was seated, Bill went through his checks and turned on the engine while Jason found himself in the unfamiliar position of being on the dock ready to cast off. Bill gave him the nod and Jason adroitly boarded and pushed the boat away from the dock, all in one motion. Bill responded with perfect timing and before they knew it they were headed towards the State Marina.

Although it was a warm day it was still, nevertheless, spring and Jason could see that the wind blowing across the boat was making Caroline cold. He went below and found one of his wind-cheaters, he returned with the jacket and Caroline gratefully accepted it. After she had put on the jacket Jason sat down beside her and she snuggled into him for a little-added warmth, without thinking he placed his arm around her shoulders and that’s how they remained until the boat arrived at the marina.

Bill had slowed the boat down to just above idling speed and traversed the boat as close as he could to the marina while still remaining within the channel. There was a large Coastguard vessel guarding the entrance which had been widened considerably since their last visit. Furthermore, the marquee that had been erected to hide the authority’s excavation was no more and that section of the wall had been demolished together with the sign welcoming boaters to the State Marina of Missouri. Although they couldn’t really see what was going on inside the marina they could hear plenty of noise resounding around the walls and they could see the tops of numerous cranes.

“Would they be floating cranes?” Caroline asked.

“The bigger ones that we can see sure are. Judging by the size of those cranes.” Chuck said. “No wonder they widened the entrance.”

“Would those cranes be for salvaging the Streamer?” Jason asked.

“Ach, they may help out but usually a diving team would fasten lift bags or inner tubes to the sunken vessel then fill them with compressed air. Then the salvage team would make a temporary fix to the hole that caused the sinking, once that is done they can start pumping out the water. The crane may be used to stabilize the boat or add a bit of lift.” Chuck explained.

“So why the big crane?” Caroline asked.

“I’m not sure,” Chuck replied.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they are removing all the docks and the wall so that there is no trace of a marina ever being here,” Jason stated.

“What would be the purpose of that?” Caroline asked.

“So that there would be no trace of anything remaining. That would absolve the government from offering a reason why access has been prohibited for all these years.” Bill said. “Then they could deny, deny, deny.”

For a couple of moments, the occupants of the boat mulled Bill’s profound piece of reasoning over in silence until Jason spoke.

“It would be interesting to see if they have re-opened the road to the marina,” Jason said to no one in particular.

“Well, that could be our little road trip when we get back.” Bill replied, and he immediately turned the boat around to head back to their marina.

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