Trial Run…

As most of us have learned, just because you buy something new does NOT mean it will work perfectly the first time out.  That’s why whenever we’ve purchased a new toy (whether new or used, it’s new to us) we take it out a couple of times close to home for practice.  First to make sure the product works properly, but more importantly that the “users” are smart enough to operate said product.

For this team, the adventures of boat ownership proved to be particularly entertaining.  It was 2005 and we excitedly purchased our first boat (our little inherited Starcraft fishing boat didn’t count).  We purchased a 1995 18′ Maxum bowrider from an acquaintance.  The previous owner had kept the boat immaculate.  It was like new.  Al and I did ok on our first outing with just a mild bump up to the dock, but nothing serious.

Our second outing….  Al is still green in regards to backing up the trailer down the steep ramp, but we picked a weekday when the Marina is pretty quiet.  All goes well and we’re off for a gorgeous day out on the lake.  We’re on the Pueblo Reservoir enjoying the deep blue Colorado skies and a view of snow-capped Pikes Peak in the background.  The winds are light, the sun is warm.  We take turns driving the boat and exploring the coves.  Life is good.

After a couple of hours it’s time to head in.  I’m still very unfamiliar with the mechanics of the boat so Al takes us into the Marina and up to the nearest dock.  We hit a bit hard causing the first long scratch on the fiberglass exterior.  We tie up to the dock, Al jumps out.  Al gets the truck and trailer, drives down the ramp, and after the third try gets the trailer somewhat straight into the water.  He then returns to the dock where I am patiently waiting in the tied up boat.  He unties the boat from the dock and drives the boat onto the submerged trailer.  Ok so far!  He jumps over the front of the boat to winch it to the trailer.  I stay in the boat and allow my man to do “his job”. 😉

Something seems to be amiss with the winch and cable and Al plays around with things awhile before he is finally satisfied.  He jumps into the truck not hearing me yell for his attention.  Wasn’t there something I was supposed to do?  Al gets the truck in gear and slowly starts pulling the boat out of the water.  The folks over to the right, putting their boat in the water start waving.  I wave back.  The guys over on the dock wave and again I wave back. “Boy, these boat people sure are friendly.  I think I’ll like this boating thing”.  Now I notice, they’re not just waving, they’re flailing their arms and trying to say something.  Gosh, why is it so loud, I can’t hear them.  Something is sure making a funny noise, but I wave back again and smile.

Wow, these folks are so friendly they start running over to us. “Will we exchange names and boating tales?”  At this point, Al jumps out of the truck and starts yelling something at me.  “God bless it, what the heck is so loud that I can’t hear anyone?”……………..oops….and double oops.  Our

checking out the “hootchie”

boat engine is still running and the hootchie thingie (i.e. driveshaft, stern drive, out drive unit, whatever) was never raised.  We pulled the boat out of the water dragging the still turning propeller across the concrete ramp.  Did I say oops already?  This can’t be good!  Engine off…I can finally hear.  All those friendly folks return to their own boats laughing.  Al and I pull our visors down closer to our eyes to try to hide our identity and total embarrassment.

Engine off, hootchie thingie raised, boat tied to trailer, faces flushed we’re homeward bound.  Now before you all blame me, the wife, for not turning off the engine and tilting the hootchie, allow me to add I was merely being a good, dutiful, obedient wife 😉  (sarcasm? perhaps!)  My wonderful husband had given me strict orders not to touch or do anything without his direction, and if you recall, he was so engrossed with the winching of the boat, he failed to give dear wife the proper instruction.  So needless to say, of course it was all the man’s fault!

Pueblo Reservoir boat ramp

Once at home, Al and I assess the damage.  The prop is too damaged to be repaired, but the bottom of the hootchie just needs some sanding.  Fortunately, the boat came with a second propeller, and the fiberglass scratch, well that was just the first of many to come.

In 2008 we took our fun little, much broken in boat to Lake Powell.  At the always busy Bullfrog Marina, with the Camper on the truck, Al backs the boat down the ramp between a large houseboat on one side and cabin cruiser on the other side.  Perfect execution….what a stud!  I’m already in the boat and with the trailer submerged properly, I start the engine and tilt hootchie down.  Al unhooks the boat from the trailer, I back’er off and cruise around the cove while Al parks the truck and trailer.  I then pick him up at the dock, without the boat coming in contact with any structures, pick Al up and off we go.

truck camper, Westcliff, Colorado

After a day of exploration and serious gas gauge observing, it’s time to return to the Marina.  Lake Powell goes on for miles and services are far and few between.  Running out of gas is not a good idea.  Once at the Marina, the procedure is now done in reverse.  I drop Al off, cruise around the cove until he has the trailer properly submerged then bring’er in.  Al ties her to the trailer, I turn off the engine, tilt the hootchie, Al drives to the parking lot, I climb out, we finish tieing her down.  More than once, we’d get compliments on how efficient we were.  One day a guy pulling his boat out next to us asked Al, “How did you get your wife to drive the boat so well?  You’re in and done, ready to roll in minutes.”  Al’s response, “It’s all in the training”.  Yeah, right smart ass!  Boy, we did get good at it though.  However, we won’t talk about the time I brought the boat in so fast the boat almost ended up in the back of the truck bed.  Al

Bear, the navigator

had a few choice words to say that time.   We’ll save that story for another time.

The moral of my story; take a ‘trial run’ or two staying close to home as you break in your new toy.  You never know what troubles you might encounter and it’s nice to have tools, friends, and familiar services near by and hopefully no audience!

Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins, CO

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