So after all the fiasco with the outboard and my second trip up there, I finally got out on the water and out in the woods. It was a good experience where I learned some useful stuff, and now I've got that out of my system.
I ran the Sport Boat downstream on the Tanana about 32 miles (according to my GPS.) No lift. Had the engine on the factory transom. I still need to figure the lift thing out so the water pump doesn't suck air, but there is plenty of time for that. I hit soft bottom enough that it got frustrating, but I learned how to deal with it quickly, so it wasn't THAT big of a deal. One time, on a backwater slough, something grabbed the lower unit, turned the engine hard to the left, and jerked the tiller out of my hand, which cased the boat to roll a little. That was the "worst" of it
Things I learned:
Boat loading. Even though the boat is rated on the data plate for 1000lbs, and it may float level with 1000lbs in it, I don't want to be in it when it does. I had 700 in there this trip (counting everything but the weight of the boat itself, including my...largess...) and I think that was as heavy as I'd like to see it. The boat rode well and was still floating at the level of the splash rails, but it chine walked easily, and didn't respond well to sharp turns or jerky movements of the tiller. I will be taking stock of my gear and looking for ways to reduce the weight in the boat. Volume of gear was an issue as well. The boat was loaded from stem to stern, with only a small area at my feet open. Everything else held some piece of gear.
Fuel consumption. I burned more fuel than I planned. Remember that rule of thumb of 1 gal per hour per 10 hp on a 2 stroke outboard? Forget it. I burned 11 gallons over 7 hours for the whole trip. 3 gallons going down stream 3 hours at half throttle, but I burned 8 gallons in 6.5 hours going upstream at WOT. That was almost all the mixed fuel I brought on this trip, not counting the 6 additional gallons in jerry cans that I could have mixed on the spot if necessary. As with aviation, fuel is insurance, but it costs fuel to carry fuel. Engine ran great. 6 hours up stream at WOT without so much as a hiccup.
I learned that if you only see boats tied up one side of the river, there is a reason for that. In this case, it's because the river is 6" deep 50 yards out on the other side. I had to do some dragging. Once. Then it became like Apocalypse Now; "Never get out of the boat."
Most of my gear worked well, but it's time for a new sleeping bag. I don't do that much cold weather camping (i.e. none) and I froze pretty good at night. I had condensation frozen to the inside wall of the tent and rain droplets frozen tot he outside of the tent fly. I woke up to frozen nalgene bottles. Not that any of that should surprise an Alaskan. I also had some trouble with my ham radio antenna, but that's another story.
Tarping the boat worked pretty well, mostly. It kept much of the rain out of the boat, and I'm sure that saved me a lot of bailing. However, running over about 8 mph, the bungee straps attached to the splash rails plowed water which ran inboard and required bailing three times going back up stream. Also, the oarlocks had a similar effect.
I need better tie downs on my trailer. About 30 miss south of Nenana on the Parks Hwy, headed home, the boat flew off the trailer, higher than the truck, did 360's in the air, bounced once n the pavement, then laded in the ditch. One small crack on the bow mast stay, (totally repairable) some scuffs on the left side oarlocks. No other damage that I can find. No one hurt. I got lucky.
So overall, it was a good trip and a good experience. I don't think I'll be doing it again. I kept getting strange looks and questions like "you're going out THERE...in THAT?" And I was the only small boat on the river, and I think that says something. Additionally, this going solo really put a lot of stress and worry on my gf, and I don't think I want to put her through that again. To be honest, I was worried a lot, especially with that drowning out in Lake Louise last week fresh in my mind. When you're totally alone, you're totally alone. I think I'll look for smaller rivers in the future.