Boat Driver Needed!!


It seemed like every time we went camping, it rained.  The only time I can remember when it didn’t rain was the time when LP’s dad, John, went with us.  By then, we had sold the tent and invested in a pop-up camper.  Believe me, that camper was much nicer than that tent.  For one thing, it had an air conditioning unit and two nice, comfortable beds.  And, most importantly, when it rained, we didn’t get wet.

We choose a campground that we had never been to before.  LP and I made reservations on-line and picked out a spot that was pretty close to the lake and very close to the restrooms.  We planned to stay two nights and return home on the third day.  We needed something to do in the day time while we there so we were trying to decide what kind of activities John liked.  LP and I enjoyed hiking, but John didn’t really like to hike.  We wanted to go fishing, but we didn’t have a boat.  So, we looked on-line and found a place where we could rent a boat .  LP nor John had ever driven a boat and it had been years since I had driven one.  But, I figured it was like riding a bike and it was something you never forgot how to do.   And, anyway, it’s pretty much like driving a car.  So, we reserved a boat so we could go fishing the morning after we arrived.

When we arrived, we were pleased with the campground and our campsite.  It was about six o’clock in the afternoon when we had our camp all set up.  Sitting around the campfire that evening, we started talking about fishing and we were all getting excited about it.  We ate supper and drank a few beers and about ten o’clock, we went to bed.  The next morning when I woke up, LP and John were already outside and cooking breakfast.  I laid in the bed thinking, “It sure has been a long time since I have driven a boat.”  The more I thought about it, and the more I thought about what could go wrong, the more nervous I got.  This lake is the biggest lake in Kentucky and I had never been in this area before.  What if we got lost?  What if we get out in the middle of the lake and we run out of gas, or what if we cut the motor off and we cannot get it started again.  The longer I thought about it, the more I realized all the things that could go wrong.  My thoughts were interrupted when LP came in and told me breakfast was ready.  All through breakfast, I didn’t say a word.  LP asked me if I was okay and I nodded my head and said, “Yes.  Just have a bit of a headache, but I’m fine.”

We packed up a small cooler with sandwiches, water and sodas; loaded up our fishing gear and headed to the boat dock.  I was still very quiet and didn’t say too much until we arrived at the boat rental office.  I told myself I was just being silly and everything would be fine, so I decided to just relax and try to enjoy myself.  We filled out all the paperwork and put a deposit down on the boat and then some young guy who worked there took us down to our boat.  When we got to the dock, the young guy points at a boat and says, “Here’s the boat.  It’s full of gas so you’ll be alright for five or six hours.”  He gave us life jackets and three small cushions to sit on and started to walk off.  I said, “Wait a minute.  Can you give us a crash course on driving the boat.?”  I focused really hard and concentrated on every word he said.  It didn’t sound too difficult after he told me which way to shift the gear to make it go forward and which way to shift it when I wanted it to go in reverse.

I stood there for a second staring at the boat.  We paid $180 to rent this boat for six hours, so I thought it would be some nice boat that at least had nice cushioned seats.  No, it was a small boat that barely had room for three people.  The seats were hard metal and it didn’t even have a dry box to store things that you didn’t want to get wet.  I thought, “Well, at least it has a steering wheel and we have flotation devices to sit on.”  So we all put on our  life jackets and loaded everything into the boat.  John got up front; LP got in the back and I sat down in the middle, in the driver’s seat.  I started the boat and it died.  The young guy came over and started it and black smoke came out of the engine, and it died.  I got out of the driver’s seat; the young guy sat down and started the motor again.  Finally, the motor stayed running and I got back in the driver’s seat.  I yelled, “Okay!  Let’s go fishing!”

I put the gear in reverse to back the boat out of the dock area; looked over my right shoulder and then gave it gas.  Evidently I gave it too much gas because we took off pretty fast.  And, much to my surprise, we were not going backward at all.  Instead we were going forward, and we were headed directly for the boat dock office.  I let off the gas and saw the young guy running beside us down the wooden pier.  He was pushing the boat with a fishing net to try to keep the boat from hitting the office.  Right before we hit the office head on, John stuck his leg out and made contact with the building and pushed us away from it and I when I was able to, I pushed off with my arm.  When were safely away from the building and I heard LP say, “You sure you can drive?”  All it took was for me to say, “Do you want to drive?” and I never heard another word about it.

We got out on the lake and I’m staying pretty close to the shore and not too far away from the boat dock.  The last thing I wanted was for us to get lost on the lake.  I found a nice cove and drove the boat into it.  We fished for a while before they started biting.  LP caught the first one and shortly after, I caught one.  John wasn’t having much luck so LP told him to use a different type of bait.  He changed from crickets to mill worms.  No luck.  I didn’t think if was fair for LP and I to catch all the fish, so I decided to move to another cove and maybe John would have better luck. We got back out into the main channel and John points and says, “Hey! That looks like a good spot.”  I couldn’t figure out what he was pointing at so I asked, “Where?”  He says, “Over there.  See that grass sticking up out of the water?”  Well, I saw it, and that grass sticking up out of the water was all the way across this gigantic lake.  I said, “You want to go all the way across the lake to fish?  I thought we would just stay around this side and try our luck.”  He said, “Yes.  That’s where we’re going to find all the fish.”  Well, LP and I had already found the fish and I was hoping to stay fairly close to the boat dock and stay pretty close to the shore, but if that’s where he wanted to go…  I looked at LP; smiled and said, “Okay.  Looks like we’re headed across the lake.  Hang on.”

The water was choppy and the waves were smacking up against that little boat and every once  in a while the boat would become airborne and come crashing down on the water.  Hell, I wasn’t sure we would make it across in one piece, much less make it back.  Now, I’m not sure how wide that lake was, but it took us at least forty minutes to even get close to the “grass sticking out of the water”.  The closer we got to that grass, the more it became clear that it was not grass at all.  It was small trees sticking up on a small island sticking up in the middle of the lake.  The water was still choppy so, we decided that it would be best not to stop at the island so we continued on to get closer to “real” land.   After about an hour of crossing the main channel, we finally made it all the way across and got about 35 feet away from the shore; we dropped the anchor and started fishing.  John was fishing from the front of the boat; LP was fishing off the back of the boat, and I was in the middle.  I bet we hadn’t fished for fifteen minutes, and I got thirsty.  As I was digging in the cooler looking for a bottle of water, something caught my eye.  I looked toward the left away from the shore and my fishing line and I was startled by what I saw.  There was a damn pink snake about five feet long swimming right toward the boat.  It scared me so much, I couldn’t say anything for a couple of minutes.  As the snake got closer to the boat, it stuck its head straight up out of the water and its little, beady eyes were looking right at me. I finally managed to scream, “SNAKE!!!!”  By then, that snake’s upper body was sticking more than a foot out of the water, and it was moving fast, and it was after me!  Needing something to defend myself, I grabbed my “flotation device” and as soon as the pink snake got close enough, I smacked at it with all my might and just about fell out of the boat.  I missed it, and I don’t know where that snake went.  But, I can tell you where we went.  Yep; back across the lake.

I must say, that trip back to the other side of the lake went much faster.  I had that motor on full speed throttle and we were moving so quickly that LP and John both had to tell me to slow down.  I was relieved to reach the other side.  I found another cove and drove the boat into it.  We anchored the boat and sat there and ate lunch and fished for a while.  We weren’t having any luck catching fish, so we decided to move on.  I put the boat in reverse and I gave it some gas.  And I will be damned if I didn’t have it in forward again and just about hit the wall of large rocks in front of us.  By this time, I was pretty aggravated with myself and I said, “I am such a dumbass sometimes!”  LP said, “Oh it’s understandable since it’s hard to distinguish between backward and forward.”. Then both LP and John started laughing.  I shot a mean look that way, and LP giggled and said, “You gonna hit me with your flotation device?”  I said, “You wanna drive?”

We fished for another hour or two, then returned the boat to the boat dock.  The young guy must have seen us coming because he flagged me over to the first docking area.  I guess he didn’t want to take another chance on me hitting the office building.  Later that day, we checked out renting a house boat.  Everyone, including me, agreed that someone else would have to drive.

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