A Beautiful Sunday on the Lake
By Harold F. Hester
If you live near the water you need to know where to store "stuff"
Have you even wanted to live on a lake, a river, the ocean or any kind of body of water? I never thought about it much… until one day I found myself on the tranquil Lake of the Ozarks in a quiet cove writing my third novel. I was soon to find out water is either meant to drink or you best learn about it if you're living on or near it.
Keep in mind there is a difference between living on the water and in it. We will talk to that later. Water people are different then normal folks. Water people get away for the weekend to a quiet condo where they spend two days relaxing as they are going as fast as they can on water. They normally don’t have any particular direction and seldom have a destination in mind. They are tanner than most and they and rust are first cousins. Water people all have boats and have no compunction to constantly throwing money into that hole in the water. Water people are good at docking in all kinds of weather and they are good people. They are good at knowing all the places you can get to by land or by water. The first time I was on the water a new water person friend pulled into our boat slip in a magnificent 32 foot something or other that would go like the wind and hardly get you wet. It was pushed by two throaty in board V-8s that sounded like constant rolling thunder. Nice. There are rules for everything. Rules for driving on the right side of the road, who has the right-of-way stuff and rules for the land and rules for the water. When you have a four thousand pound twin driven Fiberglas beauty on the open water doing over 60MPH it’s kinda like driving an ocean liner. You can’t turn it on a dime nor can you stop it quickly so you go by the rules. When I was flying I use to have a plaque at home that said, Flying is like the ocean, Safe if you play by the rules, extremely unforgiving if you don’t.
With the wind blowing over my bald head, lake water forming a magnificent bow wave, our Fiberglass ride was bouncing and spraying and everyone was smiling or grinning from ear to ear. That’s what you do in a boat when you’re skimming the water. Speaking as loudly as I could over the wind, the V-8s and my insecurity about water, I said to the driver in an honest voice, “Say Gary… I see several boats coming this way, right at us. What’s the rule for meeting or passing them?”
If I hadn’t been busy wiping the spray off my glasses I would have kissed him when he gave the golden rule of waterdom. “…just try to miss um…”
I won’t mention the price of gasoline that it takes to drive those throaty monsters but I did notice that a hundred bucks got us just past the 10 mile markers and back home.
Where do boats live?
Boats live in two places. On trailers and in slips on docks. Water people normally either own a dock or rent a slip.
All docks have stuff. They have stuff to sit on, stuff to swing from, dive off and places to store things. Things you need to live on the water like life jackets, floatation devices, anchors for that hole in the water and fishing stuff. Where do you store this stuff? Usually in Boat Boxes. Now boat boxes aren’t cheap. Many times you can go to a marine store with a thousand bucks in your pocket and after buying a boat box you will have just enough left to stop at McDonalds for a dollar meal.
For the landlubber a dock can be either anchored or floating. The dock can be constructed from steel, concrete, wood or any combination but keep in mind that floating docks usually have lots of water under them.
Our dock is steel and concrete and floating on 30 feet of blue-green water where fish and snakes live and swim. I swim with them many times and most leave me alone when the water temperature is above 60 degrees.
Water people never make mistakes about their water stuff. They always take very good care of their boats, their water gear and their boat boxes.
Did I mention that there is usually wind on a lake? Wind on a body of water can and will come at you from all directions and it will come at you as a gentle breeze, gusty zephyrs or drafts. Wind on lakes loves boat boxes just as tornadoes love trailer parks and wind celebrates every occasion when it happens upon a new white beautiful Fiberglass expensive boat box filled with expensive stuff that is not anchored to that steel and concrete dock decking.
Saturday had been beautiful. The sun had been out, the weather perfect, the company had left early but not before everyone had several drinks and all had a wonderful time. Once you have a few drinks and you have a nice fire going in your gut, the world is a beautiful place so you have a few more knowing if a few drinks are good, more will be better. Ever hear of a hangover?
The sun was just burning off the morning mist Sunday morning as the words that would occupy the whole day were uttered.
“Honey the boat box is gone.”
“What do you mean the boat box is gone?” The landlubber said.
The experienced water person just repeated the statement thinking the landlubber would understand gone.
“Gone! It can’t be gone.” From the second floor bedroom window not more then 50 feet away from the dock even a person that didn’t need glasses could see the dock clearly and there was no box to be seen.
All the ducks in and around the dock were busy with their morning bath and breakfast. The squirrels were busy running up and down the trees playing and carrying stuff. The family black lab had just finished doing his morning thing and four yellow finches and three humming birds could care less at what the landlubber refused to believe.
The boat box was gone.
“Maybe someone stole it during the evening.” The landlubber tried. All he got from that effort was a dirty and questionable look on what to do next. “Should I call 911?” he tried.
He got that same look as before.
“I knew that box needed to be anchored” the water person said.
“Anchored? Why? The damn thing weighs a ton and has been sitting on the dock for nine months.” The landlubber innocently said.
The water person wailed, “It had all the life vests, ropes, anchors, towels…. There was lots of stuff in that box and now it’s gone.”
“Should I call 911?” The landlubber didn’t have any solutions for this water problem.
Over there. Look over under the neighbors dock and shoreline.” The water person said excitedly.
It was as if the stuff on the Titanic had all washed to shore. There were life jackets, and some towels but no ropes or water shoes. It was definitely our stuff from the boat box.
“Well it doesn’t look like anyone stole it last night. What’s that stuff doing over there? How did it get out of the box?” This landlubber was not the brightest bulb on the tree so the water person told him. “The box fell off the dock and apparently the lid popped open.”
“The box… how?”
The water person in all her experience said, “The wind must have blown it into the water last night.”
“I don’t see it in the water.”
By this time the experienced water person’s neighbor came over to the landlubber standing on the sea wall scratching his bald head and said something along the lines of “… if you're looking for your boat box it’s between our docks…”
Sure enough if you stand on their bouncing wave runner float and look down 20 feet between the two docks there was something white and you kinda hoped it was the boat box because if it wasn’t it meant you were looking at a eight foot mean white shark.
There was lots of discussion the next few minutes on how to retrieve this great white boat box. Scuba divers, kids with snorkels, wait till the lake goes down, or forget it and buy another were some of the options.
“That’s $900 down there and it still has stuff in it.” The water person said and it didn’t sound like she was going along with the forget it option.
Some people are cut out to be hunters. Some outdoorsmen, foresters and fishermen and then there are landlubbers. If you fish and are successful you piss off a lot of fish plus you have to clean them. Cleaning to a water person means more then a shower and deodorant. It means skinning, gutting and filleting. The eating is the good part but that’s only in nice restaurants.
“I’ll fish it out.” Talk about an innocent statement from the landlubber that didn’t have a clue what he was saying. “I can do it… trust me.” He was serious but ooh so dumb. The boat box is Fiberglass with nothing to grapple or hook onto. “How are you going to get hold of it?” That was a really good question from the water person and the landlubber didn’t have a clue.
The landlubber did do one thing right as he started fishing as he did tie one end of the rope to his wrist so when he threw out the 30 feet of rope with the four prong grappling hook he could reel it in. “Sure hope that’s the box down there and not a shark.”
For twenty minutes with no bites from the landlubber’s dock he decided that the neighbors dock was a mite closer to the white shadow but he would have to stand on a floating wave runner ramp that bounced with every boat that went by, and they all make huge wakes.
For the next 45 minutes the landlubber had several bites before he finally hooked the white shadow. He was almost seasick from the bobbing float but he managed to call for help. “Bring a longer rope… I got it but now I don’t know what to do with it…. It weights a ton… literally.”
The water person brought the longer rope and between a few well chosen military terms of endearment the landlubber and water person were able to snake the longer rope under two steel guide cables while keeping the tension on the white shadow and pull it to shallow water, lid open and full of water. There was still one towel in the corner along with three 7 inch crappie and three inexpensive water shoes.
The boat box was on dry land, emptied of water and all but a couple towels. The landlubber had had enough dumb luck to snag the one place on the box that was snagable and strong enough to drag it to shore. The rest of the story should have been that all he did then was drag the box back to the original dock, retrieve all the stuff that had floated out, anchor it to the steel and concrete dock and have a good lunch after he scared off a 4 foot water moccasin 200 meters down the shoreline that had found a new home in the missing water shoe.
Success?? Not yet. It was still windy and the landlubber was still just as dumb about water stuff as he was when the sun came up.
Don’t laugh and I’ll tell you the rest of the story.
One remaining problem to take care of before lunch. The landlubber had a new concrete bit, plenty of self tapping concrete bolts, a new expensive DeWalt cordless power drill and enough engineering and architecture knowledge to anchor that white box. No problem.
Squatting inside the box drilling the first anchor hole the bit came loose but stuck in the hole. No problem just pull the bit out, put it back in the drill chuck and continue the project. As the landlubber stepped out of the box to get a pair of pliers from a tool box the wind saw what was happening and did the same as it did the night before. Blew the box into the water – again. The landlubber was standing no more then a foot away as it went over board and he was thinking, “No problem as I had the forethought to tie both ends of the box down before I started drilling.” All true . The box was floating just out of arms reach – full of water again and all our dumb landlubber had to do was drag it back to shore. All he had to do was untie the ropes that were holding this now water filled1000 pounds white monster, don’t let it sink again, tie a long rope to it as it bobbed like a cork in cold 20 foot water just out of reach, get it to shore and back on the dock before the water person saw what had happened. Damn.
An hour later, many well chose military words and the box was sitting back on dry land, wet and covered with moss but as the water person snickered she never asked why it had been moved.
There was a tornado two days later with high winds and as golf ball sized hail went through the area destroying trees, plants, roofs, windshields and denting cars, trucks and metal roofing of docks, the newly anchored boat box didn’t budge.
Have you even wanted to live on a lake, a river, the ocean or any kind of body of water? I didn’t… until I did and I learned living on the water is a real experience. Sometime in everyone’s life they should own a convertible, a pickup truck, a sports car, travel to many foreign lands, live with two or more partners and live on the water.
Did I mention…. The expensive DeWalt power drill is still in 20 feet of cold lake water?
A short story about life on the lake.
A few hours on the lake on a windy, unsettled, cool but never-the-less beautiful late Fall day.
And pictures of a very sweet country church located right outside the main gates of Tims Ford State Park not far from our home............