Capitan! My Capitan! While a Walt Whitman title, it was something I was quoting (more hollering) in this tale of boating misadventure with my friend, John Stacy, one afternoon on Lake Sammamish located in Lake Sammamish State Park.
In recent weeks, the sun has been making an appearance or two in the sky on my drive to my Clark Kent Job which reminded me of warmer months in Washington State. Then I remembered a boating misadventure with my friend. Several years ago, I was connected with John. One night while visiting, drinking beer and tossing around ideas, he suggested taking out his boat on Lake Sammamish to have some fun.
We made a plan to boat the very next day. In the morning, I showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. As an unwritten courtesy, I donated $20 to the gas for the boat. This is to help the cost of operating the vessel, and good faith that you’ll assist the captain in any way, shape or form.
Our plan was to troll around with no set agenda other than talk and drink beer in the sun. We had no idea what was about to happen to us, though.
If you’ve never been boating, then you’ll have to trust me when I say it’s a process to launch a boat successfully. And if you have, then you know by experience that it’s not easy as 1-2-3. Especially at busy boat launches, such as Lake Sammamish.
We have the experience, but learned separately, and before this day. So picture this …
After paying for the launch fee, John backed up the truck and trailer with the boat to the launch. I’ve done this several times with my father, and other boat owners. I positioned myself on the pier with the tow lines in hand. I prepared the boat for release from the trailer, so John can pull away with the rig.
As I climbed into the boat, there was water in it. HM! John exited the truck to confirm I was ready. I asked if any water or rain was present in the boat prior to leaving his house. He said no. Then I pointed to the puddle of water that is accumulating more water.
Finally, I asked him the critical question, “Did you place the boat plug beforehand?”
The answer was no again. In fact, the boat plug was in my hand along with the key to the boat. We quickly, reattached the boat to the trailer, removed it from the launch, so we could plug the boat. After that minor setback, we returned to the launch. Second time is a charm, right?
Once we cleared the no-wake zone, John being the captain, opened up the throttle, and we were running! We thought we should get somewhat near the end of the lake first, then idly make our way back to the launch. That should take us a majority of the day.
We found a non-busy area of the lake, turned off the engine, and opened a few beers. There we were, just drifting along, talking about anything and everything, having some fun under the sun. We would crank the engine every once in awhile to move us closer back to the launch.
After a few hours of this, and eating through our lunch, we thought it best to make our way back. As we started up one more time, all seemed to be normal. Captain John throttled up, and pointed us home.
Unfortunately from the engine bay, I heard a loud bang, and the engine power cut immediately. Captain John turned off the boat so we can investigate what happened. A plume of smoke rose out of the engine once we removed the engine bay cover.
Captain John grumbled something about hoping this wouldn’t happen. I asked what needed to be fixed, and can we make repairs onboard. He sighed, and said yes. Thankfully he was conditioned for incidents like this on a boat with his experience in the US Navy. He MacGyver’d a fix with empty beer cans that we drank and his utility knife.
The jury-rigged fix wouldn’t last us long, he mentioned. Thankfully he had oars. He and I started using the oars to move the boat closer to shore, which unfortunately was quite far from the launch. As we oaring, the oar slipped outta my hands and into the lake. I blamed the beer drinking with a laugh.
He didn’t find it amusing.
With only one oar and my arm, we were able to recover the oar. Once done, John wanted to risk the engine start one more time. It cranked up, and we slowly made our way to launch. I thought it was best to continue drinking, so I cracked open another.
I started quoting lines from movies about boating that I’ve seen: Captain Ron, Jaws, U-571, Das Boot, Titanic, Open Water, Summer Rental and The Hunt for Red October. That’s just to name a few!
After a few minutes another bang was heard in the engine, and yes, you guessed it, the engine died again. By the grace of God, another boat was around us, and heard the same noise. This would conclude our boating misadventure today.
They offered to tow us in. They were super nice about it as well. Once back at the launch, we were better prepared to get the boat outta the water than we were with any other aspect of boating as noted above. I shrugged and laughed.
I thought, we didn’t sink the boat, and no one is hurt, it could’ve been worse! Besides, we would (still do!) have quite a story to tell over and over again for years to come.
So Seattle and Spaceship Earth, with 75% of this planet being covered in water, what was one of your misadventures on the sea? Please comment below or message me directly.
Until next time,