Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Journey of the Sun Dolphin

Here's how it all began:

My brother-in-law, Brad was taking his Sun Dolphin out to fish. My brother, the king of impatience, had already left at the first glimpse of sunlight to check his jug lines. Studmuffin had taken Les, Sarah, and Jake out on his boat. My nephews, and Popcorn decided they wanted to go fishing too. Did I happen to mention that Brad's boat is, well, err, umm, tiny? It is a 2 person boat to my mind, but according to him & my sister, they routinely go out on it as a family of 4...

Also: Did I mention that the wind was up, and it was cold, and the water was rough? I asked Brad if he really wanted to go out in such rough water. He said it would be no problem. He'd had his boat out on Lake Merideth in the Texas Panhandle, with 5 foot swells, and it was fine. Of course, the boat was so small you'd see nothing but sky, then water, sky, water, sky water...

So, he is loading up the boat with 3 kids and himself, with the plans to minnow fish, so it "should be no problem," since he won't be messing with trolling and all of that, plus dealing with 3 kids. He asked if I could help him unload his boat at the dock. "No problem, as long as you get it backed in. I'm terrible at backing trailers." And, off we went to the dock.

Brad backed the boat in most of the way, and I did a terrible job of backing it the rest of the way in, but at last he was in deep enough to unload. By the way, did I mention that his boat is tiny, and that I could not even see the boat trailer behind his pickup unless it was practically jackknifed? Not that that is my excuse for poor backing, because I readily admit to being terrible at backing with trailers...No sense denying the obvious!

Brad stepped into the boat, unhooked it, and to my surprise, he shoved off and into the water without first starting his motor. He later explained that he had never had to pull his motor more than 2 times before it caught...However this time the motor did not catch right off...As a matter of fact, I looked out of the mirrors to see he had drifted away from the trailer, and was about to collide with the rocks surrounding the dock. I reacted quickly...My baby was on that boat!!! I climbed into the frigid water, (my sister said it was 53 degrees according to my dad's depth finder) and began to push the back end of his boat away from the rocks so his prop wouldn't be on the rocks and he could safely get it started. However, the rocks were mossy and slippery, and I had a hard time controlling the boat and getting it properly positioned, and keeping it there.

Brad is not the calmest of men. He tends to react to stressful situations with...yelling and cursing. Now none of this was directed at me or my child, so I actually found the whole thing pretty darn amusing. Here I am, up to my knees in cold water, which at the time didn't seem all that cold because I was concerned with helping him before he smashed his boat on the rocks and my baby ended up in the drink! Anyway, he was yelling and hollering, and I'm slipping and sliding and the kids are not saying a word. Not a peep....

I actually got my feet under me, and succeeded in shoving him out away from shore. "Andi!!! Don't push me out too far! I'm sinking! The waves are coming over the back of the boat!" YIPES!!!! I still had hold of the tie off rope on the front of the boat, so I started dragging him back in... Brad's diatribe continues, "Kids, get to the front of the boat!!! Why the *bleep* do we have all of these Dr. Pepper cans back here? There is no reason to have all of these cans back here. Son, what are you doing?! I need some help here! But stay out of my way!" And on and on it went, with not much making a whole lot of sense, except to say that the waves were crashing over the back, the kids need to transfer weight to the front, and apparently 3 cans of soda were responsible for tipping the scales to dangerous levels, and the whole Sun Dolphin was surely on the verge of sinking as a result...

Meanwhile, my brother David shows up with my dad's pontoon. He begins to point at his boat, which is nice and big, and communicate via hand gesture that I should put the kids in with him. How exactly I was going to manage that while trying to keep Brad out of the rocks, and try not to fall on my butt in the cold water, I'm not sure....

Also, more than one person came along and unloaded their boats, and continued on their merry way...Without even busting out video cameras to my knowledge! Or offering to help, but let's not get into a discussion about the depraved and selfish world we live in.

Eventually, after what seemed like 20 minutes of wrestling with the boat, and considering grabbing the kids and carrying them to shore, to heck with the boat, but then deciding that would surely result in me falling and possibly cracking my/their heads on the rocks, the motor caught and chugged to life!

Victory!!! Now Brad can pull the boat onto the trailer, we could pull it out of the water, and let gravity drain it!!!!

What the #$%?! Where is he going? Oh, Gentle Reader, can you imagine my surprise when he got his motor started and he drove off into the lake...With my child on board!? You see, I had never actually verbalized what I thought would/should happen when he got his boat started. And neither had he...I just assumed that we were on the same page.

Oh, and let's not forget David...Continuing to gesture to me that I should put the kids in the boat with him...How I was going to accomplish that at this point is beyond me....I just love helpful family members...

I trudged out of the water, tried to shake my legs like a dog, and clamored to the pickup. Another boat was unloading and staring at me like I was the best freak show they had seen all day...I smiled and waved like the world couldn't get any brighter, drug my dripping self into Brad's brand new pristine pickup, and parked it.

I trotted as quickly as my sopping jeans and waterlogged shoes would let me to the campsite for dry clothes, worrying and fretting about my child's life, and if the boat sinks, she will have her life jacket on, but probably die of hypothermia before anyone rescues them. (I have no idea where my children get their tendency to melodramatics.)

About the time I arrived at the campsite, my nephew came dashing to the camper!!! It seems Brad had simply circled the boat around to the shore near our campsite...."MOM! MOM!! Dad sent me to get buckets to scoop out the boat!"

I looked out and saw Popcorn and my other nephew standing on the shore, watching Brad deal with his boat. I decided that all was well with my world, changed into dry clothes, hollered at the little ones to take off their wet pants and shoes and socks and put on dry ones, and decided to let Paula deal with her husband....

Disclaimer: The remainder of this story is hearsay, so I may have some details wrong. Again, as soon as the children were out of danger, I decided that the whole situation was not my problem... I gotta confess, that's just how I operate some days.

It seems that Paula sent 2 big buckets with her son to bale water with...Only to discover that the boat was too small for the bucket to fit into the bottom and he had to return for....small bowls!!! Paula grabbed 2 mixing bowls and ran to shore to help Brad bale so the beloved Sun Dolphin, which Brad has caught at least 1000 pounds of fish out of, could be saved.

Well, Brad baled and baled as fast as he could. He was so relieved when he was nearly done because his shoulder was starting to ache...He stopped to rest and enjoy his success when he suddenly realized the Dr. Pepper cans were floating again!!! Apparently, the water that was rapidly filling the boat when we unloaded was due to the plug being loose, not the waves coming over the back... Brad put the plug in properly, baled the water, and lo and behold she floated just fine after that!!!

Also, to my immense relief, Popcorn and my sister's younger son decided that they would wait for Grandpa's big pontoon before they ventured out to fish again!

Oh yeah, and Brad gave Paula explicit instructions to keep her cell phone handy at all times. "Babe, this could be a matter of life and death." What exactly she was going to do from shore, when there were 2 boats from our group on the lake to help him, I'm not exactly sure... Especially when you consider we all went into town and went shopping at the junk stores!


I was walking the dogs that afternoon, and a family asked me, "Aren't you the lady who was helping her husband unload at the dock this morning?" I smiled, and said, yes, but also explained that he wasn't my husband, but my brother-in-law.

"Oh! That explains it! I told my wife that you were a lot better wife than her! She would not have been smiling at me if that was happening with our boat, and she had to climb in the water...In fact she WOULDN'T have set foot in the water at all!"

"Well, I was able to smile because it wasn't my husband, and I wasn't about to not get in the water with the kids on board."

And isn't that the truth? If that had been Studmuffin in the boat, I'd have been mad as a hornet at him. But because we weren't married we both refrained from screaming at each other....Instead I found the whole thing hilarious...

And why the heck did not one single person think to go photograph Brad baling water? Or even take pictures of the boat so you could get an idea of the size, and what the water looked like in comparison to the boat, etc...

I swear, sometimes I forget to revolve my entire day around this blog and what needs to be recorded for the purpose of sharing with the entire blogosphere! What a shame.


Dawn said...

Woo Hoo! A story successfully and well told.

Dawn said...

I posted a link to your story on facebook! My friends really liked it!

Anonymous said...

Andi, Andi, Andi, I've got to say I laughed my head off when reading this story, espically since I'm the "main" character in it. Just one thing though, the picture of the African Queen, I mean Sun Dolphin, really does not show how "my" boat sits in the water, espically since my dad put a truck battery in which weights 100#. Great story.

Your brother in law, Brad