Rub a dub dub,
Three men in a tub,
And no, they weren’t eating, curds and whey.
But they were probably,
Drinking some fermented hops and barley.
Boat launches can be rather busy places in the summertime. Years ago, I was at one getting my semi-freighter canoe loaded. Other people were coming and going.
Suddenly, a big cloud of dust signalled the arrival of a beat up old pick up truck hauling three men and a trailer. On the trailer was an inflatable rubber raft and motor.
The three men looked like they may have worked at the mine and just gotten off from their shift. They were a little boisterous. It looked like they might have had a beer or two already. The Zodiac looked like it had seen better days and it had probably been sitting on the trailer for a while, because it looked a little low on air.
To be fair, they did argue about pumping more air into the boat before they launched it and they did have a foot pump with them. But the biggest fellow, who seemed to be the leader of this adventure, decided “We came here to fish, not pump air. We’ll pump it later, if need be.”
They proceeded to get the boat in the water and loaded it up with their fishing rods, tackle boxes, a big old cooler no doubt full of beer, some packs and a bucket of fried chicken. Then they pushed off and struggled with the oars trying to get the boat turned around and heading in the right direction, along with enough depth of water to start the engine. Maneuvering a Zodiac can be a challenging process, at the best of times.
One of the fellows was on the small and scrawny size so of course he sat in the bow. The other two were much huskier and considerably rounder. One sat in the middle on a plastic milk crate. The third, the biggest fellow was at the back with the engine. He pulled on the starting cord a few times and nothing much happened. So he stood up to get a better pull or five closing in on 10. You could tell he was getting a little frustrated.
The engine had probably gotten flooded but suddenly it roared into life and things began to happen at an accelerating rate. The big fellow who had started the engine, sort of fell and somehow opened the engine to full throttle. The boat surged forward out of control. The bow lifted up, into the air. The fellow in the middle slid to the back and got all tangled up with the captain. Now almost all of the weight was in the back and the bow lifted higher and higher. The little fellow was hanging onto the bow rope for dear life, because he was in the air and looked to be swaying in the wind. Things were flying out of the boat in all directions and screams could be heard.
The boat suddenly bent into an L shape and they soon managed to get it under control by turning the engine off. It had gone 100 metres down the lake in a spectacular display of boatmanship. With the roar from the engine stopped, it was eerily quiet at the boat launch. We all just stared in amazement. It really had been a spectacle.
When we heard some curse-like noises, ones that you wouldn’t want children to hear, drifting across the lake, it was a relief that they were still alive, and we didn’t have to rush out and save anyone from drowning. This was back in the days when life jackets were optional so of course they chose the option not to have any. They certainly didn’t look like swimmers so getting them ashore, had they flipped over, would have been a very big chore.
While the Zodiac crew sorted themselves out, a couple fellows in a Lund kindly zigzagged towards them picking up stuff that had fallen overboard. Collecting up all the beer that had floated out of the cooler, seemed to be a priority, soggy fried chicken, not so much.
If boat launches could talk, I am sure they would have some tales to tell.