The Great Loop. My husband Brian’s retirement dream, to boat from our house in the Finger Lakes to a Great Lake, down the Mississippi and back north through the intracoastal waterway. Time to buy our first boat.
There’s a lot to learn about boating and thankfully we have neighbors, family and friends who help us along. Not to mention paying for services that we are unprepared or uninterested in learning. But there comes a time when you need to be self-sufficient.
Though the wind was still warm and the sun was still bright, we picked Wednesday at 2 PM to pull the boat. We wanted to minimize the chance of boater embarrassment. We were going to do this solo for the first time. We wanted no lake folk watching.
My job was to put the trailer in the water. With plenty of room, I set up to back straight in. Straight back, easy does it. What is it in me that I feel the need to adjust??? Just go straight back. No, not me, I need to tweak. And I’m tweaking without understanding the science of mirrors and reverse motion. Anyway, 6 tries and I’m in. A little close to the dock, but I’m in.
Brian, on the boat, watched me “tweak” from afar. With the trailer finally in place he drove confidently right up on it. We locked the boat in and I got the signal to drive out. I give the car some gas. “STOP”, I hear seconds before that familiar sound of metal scraping. I was definitely too close to the dock. We did a little “untweaking”.
Next stop, the boatyard. A few miles from the launch we turn down a lane to the boatyard. Nope, wrong lane. OMG – we have to turn around: SUV, trailer and boat on this narrow lane surrounded by mud. Back and forth, patience and inches, back and forth, patience and inches.
Finally we are parked at the boat yard but the hitch isn’t unhitching. Brian tries to strong-arm the disconnect, then he jumps up and down on the trailer, nothing. We look around for someone who might know what the heck to do. We are alone. (Or maybe there is someone up on a porch, sipping an iced tea watching and laughing.) We make one last effort and jerk the SUV back and forth a bit. RELEASED! We did it. We dropped the boat and headed for safe harbor, home!
Self-sufficiency is important – but it isn’t always pretty. Thankfully (not to Brian) his retirement is a few years off. Perhaps we need a bit more learning before we take on the Great Loop. (The Great Loop-Wikipedia) But we’re the perfect combination of bold and stupid. What can go wrong?