Temperatures were still warm, but autumn winds were beginning to blow. In many Midwest cities mid-October is late for parasailing. However, in Grafton, Illinois, 15 miles upriver from Alton, warmer weather hangs on a little longer. So when on my October visit I had the chance to go on the only parasailing adventure on the Mississippi River with Captain Andy’s Parasail, of course, I accepted.
Captain Andy, a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Master Captain, won’t take the boat out “if the river is white cappin’ and the flags are flappin’.” This day was a bit breezy but not windy enough to keep us land bound. So we climbed into the custom built First Class parasail boat, and off we went.
On Captain Andy’s Parasail you can go up alone or with a partner. Not having fully overcome my fear of heights, I had my husband join me. Not that he could save me if I suddenly fell, but at least I wouldn’t be going down alone.
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Deck hand Spank helped us into our harnesses and did whatever deck hands do to ready the parachute. We then climbed onto the back platform and hung onto a bar as he hooked us up. You can choose to get wet or stay dry. Since it wasn’t mid-summer anymore and we had a full afternoon of touring ahead of us, we opted for the stay dry version. Standing on the back of the boat, fighting the bar as the breeze was catching it, I thought for a few minutes that we might end up with the “get wet” ride after all.
Once hooked up, all we had to do was relax in a seated position in our harnesses. The boat pulled away from the dock, and up, up, up we climbed into the air. The scenery down below was magnificent. Water sparkled blue, highlighted by white wake as the boat zipped down the river. Leaves on trees along the riverbank were beginning to turn amber and crimson. Gliding through the sky, the cool breeze hit our faces as the sun warmed them.
Smooth sailing? Not quite.
Smooth sailing all the way, right? That’s the way it usually is, we’re told. But the winds picked up, and we started dipping a bit here and there. It felt similar to slight turbulence on an airplane. It wasn’t enough to bother me, though. If fact, it was kind of fun.
In the end our trip was cut short for safety precaution. After we landed, were unharnessed and back in the boat, we found out that the parachute had actually been pulling the 9,000 pound boat backward, upstream. Captain Andy made the decision to reel us in. Even though our ride was a bit more challenging than usual, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Only next time I might choose to do it in the summer and opt for getting wet.
About Captain Andy’s Parasail
Captain Andy’s Parasail is located at the Grafton Harbor Marina at 215 Water Street. It operates Fridays through Sundays May 1 to October 31, plus the three summer holidays, weather permitting. You can also make advance reservations for weekday cruises. Check the web site for further details.
We stayed in Alton during our visit to the area. Check area hotel rates
Disclosures: Alton Regioal CVB and Captain Andy’s Parasail hosted our parasailing adventure. However, any opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine.
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