When boating, always plug the hole!

Lake Erie fishing boat
A fishing boat leaving mainland on Lake Erie.

We have been boating for nearly two decades. We have been boat owners for nearly half as long. For the most part, it’s a fairly smooth operation. I pride myself actually in my ability to load and unload a boat onto the trailer.

So this weekend, like we have countless times before, we launched our boat to kick off a weekend at the lake. I backed out like a pro (if I do say so myself). I slid that boat into the dock pleased as punch with myself.

In reverse

Mr. Wonderful deftly hopped aboard, put it in reverse, and cruised us out of the No Wake zone and into the open water. On board, we had a family of dear friends, Boywonder, and the cute little girlfriend of one of the friends who at 16 had not boated with us — or much at all.

There I was chatting with her and assuring her that it was going to be a fun, safe day. I was just thinking “weird, why is the front end of the boat so high? We usually get on plane immediately.”

Not that I didn’t enjoy the view of the clear blue sky but something seemed “off.”

At that moment Mr. Wonderful turned to his friend, a nice guy we will call “MaybeMike.”

“Does it seem sluggish to you? It seems sluggish to me?” MaybeMike concurred that it seemed sluggish.

As males are prone to do he decided “more power” could probably solve any problem, so he sped up. The front end of the boat lifted higher. More sky.

Mr. Wonderful, then said firmly but calmly “get to the front of the boat.”

Crammed boat

We immediately crammed seven people into the bow. It seats three. Suddenly, I just knew.

“You didn’t?” I asked. Mr. Wonderful, pursed lips says “I didn’t.”

He flipped up the back seat to expose the motor — and a whole lot of water pouring in. Both pumps were working. There was no plug.

Now, it is absolutely amazing to me that something as high-tech as a speedboat is still at the mercy of a simple plug. Still he’s amazingly calm. He says, now more firmly, “everyone fasten their life jackets.”

We always have jackets enough for our boat and neighboring boats too. Still, I’ve always been a big fan of not sinking. In fact I have always believed that one of the key benefits of boat ownership is not ending up treading water involuntarily.

Taking on water

Through it all our newbie boat guest was wide eyed. We had now been in the water, and taking on water, for nearly ten minutes. Leap.

At this point “MaybeMike,” proving to be a most capable First Mate, says “phone and wallet?”

Mr. Wonderful hands them over and before I can even give wifely advice like “be careful” he dives off the boat — still in his socks! He disappeared under the boat. Pops up within seconds, huge grin, still in his sunglasses, “Got it!”

He put the plug in by diving under. He climbed aboard, wrung out his socks, and got back to the business of boating. That’s our captain.

So … we now know the bilge pumps work. You can float for about ten minutes, and if you take the plug out to really dry out your boat, you should probably put it back in.

Being the forgiving souls we are, we spent the rest of the weekend finding it the height of hilarity to yell “is the plug in?” — at him each and every time we launched the boat.

More problems

Then, at the close of the weekend, at the end of the last day, he backed down the boat ramp. I drove the boat onto the trailer, and he turned to realize that we (he) had apparently locked the keys in the truck.

It was a good half-hour stuck on the ramp while he and Boywonder, apparently sneak thieves in their spare time, jimmied the locks with a stick.

Of course they got it open. I wasn’t even worried. So now we know. Always plug the important holes in life.

It’s best to have lots of reminders. Apparently, we also have to add “and grab the keys.”


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