Thursday, March 10, 2011

Maiden? Not So Much...

So, 3 months later I continue this story…

After hitching the boat and trailer to the Jeep, we headed down to the public access boat ramp on the Cumberland near General Burnside Island – boat in tow.


There is no other way to describe this boat launch/ramp. It was maybe 10 vehicles wide and a 10th of a mile long? Two-tenths? It was huge. I do not recall a launch this big in my memory. And boy, was it a busy launch.

My person backed the boat down to the water, we pulled it off the trailer and I walked it around the ramp to a floating dock. I looked like (as well as felt like) I was walking a puppy. I started talking to the little boat; “here you go little fella. Right over here. You mind so well”! Right then and there I named the boat “Little Puppy”. ‘Nough said.

The boats I saw while waiting sort of forced the question; “I thought the economy was bad”. Cigar boats, fishing boats, large pleasure craft. The only puny and old looking boat in the joint was mine (although in reality it IS cute).

My person parked the Jeep up at the parking area, walked the 4 million miles down the ramp to the dock in 900 bagillion degree heat only to realize he had left the water-proof container with my temporary boat registration in it.

Let me explain something to you all here… I do NOT do that well in heat. He seems to do even worse in heat (as far as I can tell). But, one of us MUST go back for that registration. This boat is so out of the norm out here, due to its age, that we would be noticed straight away so not having legal documents would be a bad idea. This boat was drawing attention. Or stares of disbelief maybe… We needed that document just in case. Period.

One of us has to go back up the 40 mile ramp in the heat to the jeep to get the container.


So I knew (and know) too little about the boat to mess with it and get it going. I volunteered to walk the walk (or climb the climb as it were) while SKW takes care of the boat prep. This was the first time this puppy had been started on the water in 10+ years we think. I was not going to be the one pulling the string!

I think I was also postponing getting in the boat until I knew it would hold us all without sinking. “Us All” is defined as my Person, the full gas tank, the motor, the battery, the cooler, the tool box, the, the, the, and me. I had this horrible thought as we added items to the inventory that we would overwhelm the boat and it would sink straight out the gate! This was a fear for like over a month. Y’all, did you know there is a math equation for that? Had I confessed my fear to my engineer favorite person, he could have told me (proof positive) that the water displacement was going to be minimal…

Fast Forward past the cussing, puffing and mumbling under my breath…

I put my vest on upon arrival back at the boat with the water-proof vessel (which also acts as a bucket for bailing water). I climb into the boat and feel an immediate sense of pending doom, death and destruction. What is this? The boat does not sink far in the water which is great but it is so unstable with the turbulence caused by my person’s weight, my arm flailing, waves, fish blowing bubbles, rocks tumbling on the river floor, seagull farts and cat meows that I was about to have a heart attack!

While I quietly shit my britches, he used the trolling motor to putter away from the dock towards a small inlet – mainly to get out of everyone’s way! In the mean time, I was HEMORRAGING! The motion. I was sure we were going to tip over and die. Why!????

We had on life vests. The worst that could happen would be the boat would sink. The probable outcome is embarrassment and the boat takes on water and we have to have it towed ashore and use that stupid orange water-proof container to actually bail the water out of the boat…

We were going to die.

When we were out of everyone’s way, SKW went to start the little old motor. It ran, a little… We could hear it running, but we were not gaining ground (or water as it were. So SKW is moving around trying to figure out the problem, the boat is a rocking and I was pitching a good old southern hissy. It is like an anxiety attack on steroids. I never saw stability as a concern until I was in the boat. Damn.

Turns out, a pin had broken. The shear pin. That is the shear pin’s job. It is found in the transfer connector that connects the shaft from the motor to the shaft for the prop. The pin is designed to break under times of stress (such as the prop hitting a rock, stick, submerged log or running aground) forcing a sudden stoppage. This stoppage, without the pin, would reverberate right up to the motor and basically destroy it or the shaft (not sure which, but both equal BAD).

We pulled the boat out of the water, headed back to the campground to drop it and went to town where we found material at Home Depot to make a new shear pin because, AGAIN, all the boat places were already closed. SKW sat for a few hours making pins, lots of pins. SPARE pins so this would not happen again.

Little did we realize that my ever prepared cousin Wiley had two pins stashed in a holding area in the motor. Had we taken the time to familiarize ourselves with the motor, we could have STAYED ON THE WATER!

To make a long story no shorter - we did not end up getting the boat on the water that weekend.

Lessons learned:
  • Launch the boat at a more remote/unused location
  • We need to learn to pay more attention to details
  • I need to learn to speak up with concerns
  • If we both have life vests on, stop stressing
  • The boat is not so important that I need to stress my Person out on the road or on the water…

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