Karl Boyd, Author & Storyteller

 

Frank's New Boat

My buddy Frank decided to buy his first new boat at the age of 68. He boated with me long enough and wanted to own his own boat. That was fine with me. Frank bought a nice, big boat, with a powerful motor. I won’t mention the brand name of either.

He took delivery on a Monday and invited his wife, Sarah and me to go fishing on Wednesday. He imagined one day of studying the handbook would be sufficient for him to become proficient in operation of his new toy. At the time, neither of us questioned his ability, or knowledge of his new craft. Looking back, I guess that was our first big mistake.

We loaded up our gear and headed for Goose Island State Park to unload and head out to Mesquite Bay to do some serious fishing. Frank backed the trailer into the water fairly easily and then climbed in to start the engine. That’s when he found he forgot to bring the keys to his boat with him.

We managed to get the boat off the trailer and he left us there to hold it against the pilings while he motored back into Rockport. Sarah and I moved the boat to the far part of the landing area to make way for others. She and I enjoyed small talk as we waited for Frank’s return.

We’d been there for a few minutes, when Sarah noticed the boat seemed to be lower in the water. I jumped down into the craft and found myself in six inches of water. It seems Frank forgot to put the plugs in and his boat was sinking.

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I rooted around in the murky water and found the plugs lying on the floor. I managed to get them in place and stopped any more from entering. I started to bail the water out with an old coffee can, but that got tiresome, so we decided to wait until Frank returned so we would pull the boat out of the water and allow the excess water to drain.

Well, Frank returned and parked the trailer in the second parking lot from the dock and walked down to the landing area. He wasn’t too happy when he had to retrace his steps to retrieve the truck and trailer. I guess that’s what caused him to run into the side of the wall as he backed the trailer. It put the first “ding” in his new trailer.

We struggled and managed to get the waterlogged boat back on the trailer and Frank pulled it out. It took about 15 minutes for the water to drain out. Then, we put the plugs in and returned the craft to the water. This time, Sarah backed it in, with Frank at the wheel of the boat.

The motor started quickly, so Frank warmed it up and then backed off the trailer once again, while Sarah parked the truck and trailer. Then she trotted over to where we were sitting on the bank of the far side of the landing area. We loaded her up; Frank gave the motor the gun and we sailed out of Goose Island.

Now, those of you who are familiar with the area know there are a series of poles to guide you out of the landing area and into Copano Bay. At the end of the poles is a sharp right hand turn to the channel. For years, there has been a “Stop” sign erected beyond the series of poles. Just before you reach this stop sign is when you begin your gentle, 90 degree turn to the Bay.

Some unknown person or organization recently placed another pole in close proximity to the “Stop” sign. If you aren’t careful, you can easily mistake these two poles as another set of poles you must travel through before making the all important turn. I guess Frank wasn’t paying attention.

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He had the engine running close to full throttle and we were leaving a wide wake behind us. Sarah was sitting up front, on the cushioned seat, enjoying the ride. I was on the rear seat, sitting to one side, holding fast to a chrome support on the center console.

Just before we reached the “Stop” sign, Frank realized he had gone too far. In desperation, to keep from running onto the reef directly in front of him, Frank made a “Power Turn” to the right at full speed. The only thing he forgot was to warn Sarah! She went flying out of the boat into about two feet of muddy water.

If I’d been judging her dive, I would have awarded her at least an eight out of a possible ten points for form alone. But, it was no laughing matter. Frank managed to slow the boat down and turned around within a few hundred feet. We returned to where Sarah was standing, covered with mud and mad as a wet hornet!

Hell has no fury like a woman thrown out of a boat! Frank apologized at least 50 times before Sarah calmed down enough for us to continue on our fishing trip. I tried to help her clean up with several towels we kept on board, but neither of us accomplished much. I was amazed she wanted to go on. I thought she should have returned to the landing area and at least used the showers in the bathrooms to clean her hair. But Sarah is a trooper, and a fisherwoman. So, we continued.

Looking back, I wish I had insisted. But…

Frank slowed things down a little. The water was fairly smooth and the sun shining. He decided to press on. We almost made the exit to the Intercoastal Channel. I say almost, because Frank got disconcerted and mistook one of the red buoys in the channel as the marker for the small deep channel from Copano Bay. We ran hard aground on a shell reef.

Luckily, we all saw what was happening and no one left the boat this time. We all climbed out and rocked the boat until we removed it from danger. Things were not looking good. Frank’s new boat now had several new scratches. We climbed back in and Frank fired up the motor again. We didn’t go anywhere. He sheared off the pin for the prop.

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I find it hard to believe, but Frank actually had a couple of spare pins on board. That was the only miracle of the day. And, he had the proper tools to allow us to change the pin. After about an hour’s delay, we were once again on our way.

We arrived at one of our favorite fishing holes in Mesquite Bay without any other incidents. Frank was feeling pretty frisky. Sarah’s hair was drying with clumps of mud imbedded within. Her clothes dried on the way down the Inter-coastal waterway. We settled down to fish.

Sarah reached into the live bait well and found all our shrimp (3 quarts at $12.00 a quart) were dead. It seems Frank forgot to turn on the aerator of his new boat. Since we were fishing for trout, and they don’t care much for dead shrimp, it appeared it would be a long day watching our “Popper” bobbers.

We baited up with dead shrimp and cast our lines. We sat there for two hours and never got a bite. Frank got mad and decided to change over to fishing on the bottom. He rigged up his new line with a 3 foot leader, reared back to cast, and… caught Sarah in the leg with his hook. He was using a small treble hook and it caught her in the skin just below her knee.

Now, anyone who has been hooked knows that isn’t half the problem. Since the hook was not sticking back out of her skin, we had to push it on through her skin so we could cut off the barb before removing the hook. This is not a fun process. Sarah gritted her teeth and allowed me to finish the job. Frank stood there looking like he wanted to die.

We finished the surgery, and patched up her leg with methiolate and a bandage. At this point, Sarah decided enough was enough, and told Frank we were going home. He attempted to start the motor and all we got was a clicking noise. The battery was dead!

Luckily, there was another boat fairly close to us and they were able to jump our battery with theirs. They had jumper cables. Frank did not!

We made it back to the landing - Sarah did a nice job driving the new boat and we had no further trouble. Frank sat up front with his head hung down nearly to his lap.

If anyone is interested in a slightly used boat (a few scratches), with motor (two hours total time) and a trailer (one fender dinged), at a fairly decent price, you can call Sarah at 555-6563.

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Short Story Collection

True Competitor
Ballad of Billy Bob & Bubba
Grandmother & the Wicked Witch
To Kill or Not to Kill; That is The Question
Frank's New Boat
My Island in the Sun
George and the "Thunderbolt"
Honesty is the Best Policy!

 


Award Winner for
"The Nearly Perfect Plan"

 


Member of the Military Writers Society of America

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