BY MELANIE BUCK –
Jumper Davenport was the guest speaker at last week’s Mena Lions Club meeting, where he told the story of an exciting boating adventure. Davenport has grown up with a love of boating, following in a family tradition that started with his parents.
In the 1970’s his parents purchased a 25 ft. 1961 Owens Wood Boat, made from mahogany. Making their first long voyage on the Arkansas River, from Tulsa, Oklahoma to the White River in southeastern Arkansas, Davenport fell in love with the concept and has now, completed his own voyage.
The trip came about by Davenport joining a wooden boat society several years ago. One of the patrons suggested the idea of a journey to some of the other members and the trip was planned. In all, there were six boats, including Davenport’s. The other boats were mostly antiques as well. A 1984 Navy workboat took the voyage, as did a 1959 Criscraft from Texas, owned by a 78-year old man, a 1984 Thompson from Missouri, and two 1990 models, one of which was also guided by a 78-year old man.
Last October, he and five other boats set sail from Muskogee, Oklahoma and made the trip. The best part, Davenport did it in the same boat that his parents had, the 1961 mahogany boat, and he was able to complete the trip with his own son. “I started out with a friend and I got to pick my son up in Conway and he went the rest of the trip with me,” said Davenport.
He explained that on the first day, a Sunday, the wind was terrible and it was cold, and just not a very good start to the trip. Waiting more than three hours at the first lock, it was after 11 p.m. when the day ended, following one small roadblock after another. However, on day two, things changed and the rest of the trip was virtually mishap free, with beautiful weather and pleasant spirits. Each day the ships would port throughout the state. On day two, Russellville was their day’s end; on day three, Little Rock. “We got a tour of the Razorback submarine and that was an experience,” smiled Davenport.
On day four, we left for Pine Bluff with good weather. We made a speedy trip, traveling on average at about 22 miles per hour. On day five, we only had nine miles to travel to get to the White River and we arrived around 3 p.m.,” he explained. “The trip lasted from Sunday to Thursday and we had no real problems, no real mishaps. It was a great experience and an absolutely beautiful trip,” said Davenport.