Originally created 05/02/04

Cruise, cookout bring Augustans to enjoy canal



By the time the Quibeuf family had readied their bicycles Saturday, the rain started to clear away for a nice ride along the Augusta Canal.

The Quibeufs - Margie, husband Jean-Pierre and daughter Caitlin, of Martinez - geared up for their first Augusta Canal Cruise and Cookout.

"We're going to make it all the way," Mrs. Quibeuf said, adding that they usually ride along segments of the canal.

In its 17th year, the cruise and cookout attracted about 170 canoeists and about 40 cyclists to enjoy the afternoon along the Augusta Canal, said Rebecca Rogers, the marketing director for the Augusta Canal Authority.

She said that the event is used mainly to raise awareness about the canal and also to have fun.

"It's been more of a 'fun-raiser' than a fund-raiser," Ms. Rogers said.

New to this year's cruise were the Petersburg boats.

"We have had phenomenal support as the weather has gotten better," Ms. Rogers said.

Though the tour usually takes about an hour, operators gave "mini-tours" from the boat launch at Enterprise Mill upstream to the Sibley Mill and back.

"I try to leave (boat passengers) with a unique sense of Augusta's history," said Will Hodges, a tour guide on the boats.

He said that one of the unique things he wants to tell visitors is that the canal still does one of the things it was built to do in the 19th century: provide power.

The canal continues to provide hydroelectric power to Enterprise Mill - now a mixed-use building with offices and loft apartments - and to the two other mills along its banks.