Maybe it's just me? | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Maybe it's just me?

In my last post, I recalled my misfortune from Ice Fishing, for better or for worse, it helped me recall this other little gem....

Perhaps I'm just unlucky, or perhaps (much more likely) someone is sabotaging my efforts to enjoy the great outdoors!

It's another fishing story, fortuntately this episode didn't take place in the sub zero temperatures of a Minnesota winter, but on a beautiful summer's day... (in a fairly nostalgic tone) I recall,

The sun was shining that day, a bright, friendly day; the kind of day that makes you remember why you endure the months of Minnesota cold for that brief shining moment of wonderfullness that is the perfect summer day.  It must have been about 80 degrees, cool in the shade, but warm in the sunlight, and no wind.  I'm sure the birds were singing and if I could have understood them they would have been singing songs about the joy in their heart as they whimsically flitted about in the air.

But we didn't notice the birds, my dad and I, all we knew was that we'd picked a heckuva time to go on vacation!  We were in charge of launching the boat while my mom and sister got the campsite ready.  I won't divulge the location, it's still a very popular place, and even this incident hasn't deterred me from returning!  As we drove to the boat landing we had the windows rolled down, talking about how we still needed to find some firewood, and wondering what we should have for dinner. 

We arrived at the boat landing and after a little effort got the boat into the water and got everything set up.  My dad then drove the car back, I got to be the "cool guy" and drive the boat back to the campground- a very awesome resposibility for me (well, any boy) at that age- I was a little disappointed that there weren't other people at the boat launch to see how awesome I was to have this job.... but I got over it- after all, I had a job to do.

My dad left, he'd gone over the instructions on how to get back to the campground- it wasn't a remote location, but because there were eco-protection rules the boat launch was actually located on a lake was joined to another lake, which was joined to the lake our campground was on- basically I had to drive the boat across 3 lakes to get to our campsite.  It wasn't a problem though- all the lakes joined approximately in the middle, so as long as I headed straight across I'd find the outlet, and I knew where our campsite was, so there was no problem there either!  There also weren't any other outlets to the lakes, so I really couldn't get lost...

Everything was great, it was a beautiful day, it was early in the afternoon so I could take my time, and I got to drive the boat all by myself!

So I got in the boat, like a champ I started the motor, pushed off from the dock, and started on my way. Things were going great!  With no wind, the lake was incredibly calm so there were no waves to contend with, the sun was warm and life was good.  The only thing that stood out was that I was the only one on the lake- I couldn't believe that no one else was out taking advantage of the day!

Then.....

sput....sput....sput........sput.....


Then...

nothing.

The engine had died.  Ok, no big deal, I know my dad said he'd filled the tank with gas- must be the primer- we hadn't used the boat much that year, no big deal.  Checked the primer pump, gave it a couple squeezes, then cranked the engine again...and it roared back to life!

For about 15 seconds...

*sigh, what could it be?  Maybe the fuel line got disconnected?  I opened up the plywood cover lifted the tank out of the way and saw that the hose wa...

wait.

That tank was pretty light....

wait.

That tank was EMPTY!  Oh no!  Out of gas!  And of course, as my luck would have it I was in the middle of the middle lake- just as far from one end to the next.  Now what?  And what happened to having a full tank of gas? 

Oh well, not knowing why the gas tank was empty didn't help me now. I had to figure out how to get the boat to shore... again- why weren't there ANY other people out here? Still, no big deal, it's a nice day, we have a spare oar in the boat just in case of problems like this, I'll just paddle the rest of the way- after all, I'm a young guy, no problem.

So I dug the oar out of the bottom of the boat, clambered up to the front and started paddling towards my destination.

 

*SNAP!!!*

 

Oh... that can't be good...

Of course- the paddle broke, the handle, clean break about an inch from the blade. great. wonderful.

Now I have a completely useless paddle, a boat motor with no gas for it, and there is no one else out on the lake.

Ok, no reason to panic, it's still the afternoon, it's a nice day, and I'm a young resourceful guy... I'll figure something out- let's take a look at what else is in the boat

-Fishing poles: no good

-Leftover pretzels from last summer?  Ok- just in case right?

Aha!  The smaller rear anchor!  We keep that in the boat with about 30 feet of rope to help keep the boat stable over drop offs, etc when we fish!  It's only about 10 pounds and the 30 feet of rope is enough to reach the bottom of the lake and I can use that to drag myself to shore where I can get to the road and get back to the campground!  Brilliant (if I do say so myself...)

Ok, first swing- I threw the anchor out the full length of the rope!  This is going to be so easy!  Few throws of the this and I'll be in to the shore! 

Wait... the rope keeps sinking... oh yeah... because the water is deeper I'm not getting the full length of the rope... that's ok, still no problem.  I pull myself to the anchor, pull it up and throw it again- piece of cake.  I'll be there in 15 minutes!  I whistle to myself as I continue.

one hour later...

I can't whistle any more- my throat is too dry, that's ok though, I ran out of tunes-  I'm making progress, been at it longer than I thought, but that's ok.  I'm a young guy, I can handle it.  Although it would be nice if there was another boat on the lake that could help... or even just a little breeze- it's getting a little warm out...

one hour later...

Sweating now- a breeze would be really awesome... My arms are pretty tired, but I can see the shoreline now, so it can't be much farther... where the heck are the other people?  Was there a boating ban today?  Whatever.  I can handle it.

one hour later...

parched.  parched.  the sahara has nothing on me.  i can't even close my mouth because of the sandstorm blowing through!  my arms are jello, i can hardly keep my eyes open because of the sweat and WHERE THE HECK ARE THE PEOPLE! it's getting close to dusk... no boats?  not even one?  i can finally see the shore- it's so close, maybe it's just a mirage... must keep going.

half hour later...

i'm just taking a break i tell myself.  (Although that little voice in my child's brain was screaming. "That's what they all say just before they DIE!")  but i need a break, i can hardly lift my arms, i'm within spitting distance from the shore (if I had any spit left in my mouth I'd try it!) that's it.  i'll just have to drift here until someone comes to get me.  at least i'm close to the shore. what a stupid day, stupid weather is hot, stupid sun burning my retinas.

Beep Beep!! "Hey!  What are you doing here?"

My dad!  Saved!  I saw him pull up on the road, feverishly I started to explain to him what had happened, but with how dry my throat was it sounded like the problem was I had swallowed a seagull with laryngitis, so he couldn't really understand me.  So I started throwing the anchor to get myself to shore (all the while squawking like a fool) and I could see the point (at least I think so) where he finally realized what was happening...it was only a mild reconciliation to see him wonder if maybe we hadn't checked the gas...

It was a long ride back to the campground, quiet too, mostly because by this point I had even lost the ability to squawk and was content to sit in the air conditioning and hope that someday my arms would be usable again.

You know I've often heard the expression that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.. well, I don't know about that, but I can tell you that I have never run out of gas for ANYTHING since.