PART OF THE
MARK TWAIN CALLED THE UPPER SECTION of the Mississippi “the finest part” of America’s great river. My husband Paul took his cue from the famous author when he planned our voyage. Inspired by the opportunity to travelseveral hundredmilesbyboat, Paul plotteda weeklong course from Dubuque, Iowa, to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This was a new kind of boating for us. We’d owned a 52-foot Viking Sport Cruiser — luxurious, spacious, powerful – and used Bramasole to travel the East Coast of the U.S., completing
the Great Loop in 2007. But living in landlocked Colorado, yearning for the water, we realized
that a smaller boat would allow us more freedom to travel to different destinations. Forget the
expense and time it took to reach Bramasole in Florida. We’d just hitch the new boat and trailer
to our Ford F-350 pickup and take off. Navetta is Italian for “little ship,” an apt name for our
reliable 27-foot Monterey cruiser. Though half the size of Bramasole, Navetta proved to be a
cozy nest for our adventures.
The journey began with a 14-hour road trip from Denver, Colorado, to Dubuque, Iowa, a
historic town that’s recently been transformed into one of the Midwest’s most modern cities.
Our goal was to follow the Mississippi from Dubuque as far north as possible to Minneapolis,
BY PAULA YANTORNO
Traveling the upper river in Mark Twain’s wake, these
cruisers see a side of America that will stay with them
) then return downriver. From Dubuque to
Minneapolis, we’d travel 275 nautical miles
and go through Locks 11 to 1, plus the two
Anthony Falls locks, a manageable distance
for our time frame, and one that put us in the
heart of Twain’s favorite stretch of the river.
There are many full-service marinas and
boat-launching facilities along the Upper
Mississippi. We used the public ramp near
American Marine at Dubuque Yacht Basin,
where we left our truck and trailer for the
week on a hot June morning. An Iowa
Department of Parks and Recreation inspector
checked our boat for zebra mussels and other
invasive species before we launched. Across
the river, the bluffs of Wisconsin and Illinois
rose high above the water. Twain, in his Life
on the Mississippi, wrote: “The bluffs that over-