31 August 2014: It’s Labor Day weekend here in the United States. The end of summer (for some), back to work, back to school, and the last gasp of the “official” summer holiday season. I have been playing with boats for about 65 years and have learned a thing or two during that time and a cardinal rule I have tried to observe is stay off the water on Independence Day and Labor Day weekends! Why, you ask? Why on earth would you want to stay ashore on those specific holiday weekends? The unofficial start and end of the season! Blistering barnacles, Batman, that just ain’t right!
Well, folks, take it from this old curmudgeon: it IS right, totally sane, and a much safer way to get through those glorious weekends. Let’s look at a typical situation in a waterfront area, especially with relatively confined waters.
Dufus and Elmo have a boat. All spring they have been polishing it, painting the bottom (maybe) putting air in the trailer tires and looking forward to getting their pride and joy out on the lake/river/bay (insert water of your choice). Finally, it’s 4th of July weekend – time to get ‘er in the water. But first, maybe a celebratory beer or six. And let’s get our girlfriends/wives/significant others (again, insert partner of your choice) and let the testosterone flow! These guys, if they actually get the boat in the water without mishap, have usually only two speeds: full out and stop. And they don’t use the latter much at all! Besides, what’s the big deal about driving a boat? I can drive a car and it can’t be that different? Wake? What’s that? Brakes? Who needs ‘em? Other boats? What about ‘em? Disaster in the making? You bet! And if you happen to be in another boat sharing the same body of water with these idiots you are in peril. And they’re like cockroaches: there’s never just one!
They have no conception of the rules of the road, that they’re dragging a 3 or 4 foot wave behind them, what channel marks mean, or my personal favorite, courtesy! If they survive the outing, they may only put the boat in the water again a few times, a quiet fishing excursion (with a few beers, of course) or just a peaceful ride on a calm day. And then all of a sudden, it’s Labor Day Weekend! Oh my goodness! Where did the summer go? We gotta get one more ride on the boat. So off they go!
This time, add to the mix anybody who owns something that might float; they’re out there seeing if it will. And of course, Dufus and Elmo and all their cousins, friends, and fellow “boaters” are with them.
So, with my kids and grandchildren visiting, I succumbed to their request and off we went. We were buzzed by Seadoos jumping our wake, passed close aboard by “3 story gin palaces” pulling 6 foot wakes, and nearly rammed on more than one occasion by more clueless idiots running high speed runabouts as they crossed our bow. The concept of slowing down under a bridge to leave no wake (Sign? what sign?) simply doesn’t compute.
OK, I feel better now. Thanks for letting me vent a bit. And no, I will try not to violate my rule next year!
“Now then, Pooh.” said Christopher Robin, “where’s your boat?”
“I ought to say,” explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, “that is isn’t just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it’s a boat and sometimes it’s more of an accident. It all depends.”
“Depends on what?”
“On whether I’m on the top of it or underneath it.” A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS THE PROBLEM!
Fair Winds! Old Salt (curmudgeon)