This story is completely true; I’m not even going to change the names to protect the innocent.
Back in the year of 1997 on the opening day of trout season some friends and I were headed up to the Cascade Lakes to try our hand at relieving the over population of farm fresh fish that had been recently been planted in many strategic locations through out the region. To assist us in our efforts I had secured the use of my Dad’s boat. The boat had not been on the water in over two years and Dad was just happy to see that it was getting some use.
As we neared our destination we decided to stop and eyeball some of the smaller lakes. It was then suggested by Eric, Greg and Eddie that maybe would should forgo launching the boat and just try to do some shore fishing. To this suggestion I offered a great protest. I had just hauled a boat over a 100 miles and come hell or high water (preferably high water) I’m going to get this machine afloat.
We soon arrived at or intended location and were quite surprised to find that every other boat owner the great State of Oregon was also there. We got the boat in the water and I had to drive the truck about a half mile up a skinny one lane dirt road to find a place to park. While driving up this road I got to thinkin’ “ I wonder if I’ll ever find a place to turn around or will I have to back up all the way to the boat ramp”? Well, no need to worry about matters that currently hold such little relevancy, right now I have fish to catch.
Back at the boat, I got it fired up and tooled out just a few hundred feet from our point of entry. We threw out the anchor and threw out our lines and assumed we were just minutes away from landing the big one.
A few short moments after we started fishing I noticed that the live bait well was starting to float up out of the bottom of the boat. I found this a little odd since I had never seen the bait well behave in such a manner before so I decided to investigate. I pulled open the lid and lifted the plastic tub out which revealed about 3 inches of water underneath. I figured now would be a good time to further my investigation so I calmly walked to the back of the boat and lifted the cover off the inboard engine. It was at this point that a little panic had set in. To offer a little lesson in boat construction, when you have an inboard motor you also have a large hole in the back of the boat to connect the motor to the outdrive. In between the outdrive and boat is a large rubber seal. This is the main element that protects you from an unintended swim and in our case that element had failed.
In an effort to protect my friends from great alarm I calmly told them to real in their lines because we have a small leak. I could see that they were completely unresponsive to my concerns about their personal safety so the second time I yelled “pull in your lines, WE ARE SINKING”.
I then fired up the boat and started heading toward the shore. With 305 cubic inches of Chevy small block working hard at the back of the boat I figured we could be at the boat ramp in less than half a minute. However, the boat was barley moving. I took a guess at what was impeding our travels and I had to assume that it was because the boat weighted too much from taking on so much water. As my mind started to race with the ways I could explain this to my Dad I slammed the throttle to full and hoped for the best. We were still unable to break 5 mph but luckily the boat ramp was not far away. As we arrived at the ramp one of my mates made the discovery that we had dragged the anchor the whole way. Hmm, good thing we didn’t hit any serious snags. But no time to reflect on that error right now, I need to go get the truck and the faster the better at this point.
I took off running up the road huffing and puffing hoping that the heart attack I was about to have could wait until the boat was safely on land. I then got to thinkin’ “ I wonder if I’ll ever find a place to turn around or will I have to back up all the way to the boat ramp”? I did not have the benefit of time right now so in haste I made the decision to drive up the road and find a place to turn around. Luck was on my side a few times that day and this was one of those times. I got the truck turned around and made my way back to the ramp. As we tried to winch the boat up on the trailer it soon became apparent that the boat was much heavier now and we were not going to get it onto the trailer without an alternative plan. It was at this time that somebody suggested that I back the trailer much deeper into the water. I knew this was a bad idea because the ramp was soft gravel and the truck was only 2 wheel drive. Lacking any better options I decided to give it a try and well you guessed it, we got the boat on the trailer and then proceeded to get the truck stuck on the ramp There happened to be a guy at the ramp that had a winch on his truck and he was able to help me get the truck out but because of the lack of space he was only able to pull me up about five feet. With the boat still positioned directly behind the hole that I dug with truck it was suggested to me that I need to come up out of there pretty quick or the boat will get suck in the same hole. I agreed with the analysis of the situation and headed up the ramp like I was being shot out of a cannon. When the tire on the boat trailer hit the hole I felt and heard a jerk and at that point I felt we had surely traumatized some piece of already abused equipment. After stopping several feet away from the drink, I got out to do a damage assessment. It was at that time that I noticed that the axel on the trailer had slid back about three inches on the right side.
Lacking tools we had no way to fix the trailer so we decided on the next best course of action. I’ll haul the boat to my parent’s cabin since we are only 40 miles away. All the way there the boat was riding on the shoulder while I drove the truck down the center of the highway.
After we got rid of the boat we went back to one of the smaller lakes that we had looked at earlier. We all caught our limit fishing from the shore.