Monday, June 23, 2008

Girls Can Drive Boats, Too

Do you have a hobby that brings you deep happiness? One that refreshes your outlook? One that you are able to share with your family?

How about boating? My family had a boat since I was able to look the family beagle in the eye. Sometimes we would go boating in lakes near home and once a year in the Gulf of Mexico, after hauling the boat and four children in a station wagon for more than 20 hours straight. Were my parents crazy??? Oh, the memories.

My husband and I walked the gang plank a few years ago and bought a boat and on Friday, we hauled it over to Milford Lake. Milford is a beautiful lake with limited development along it's shores. A couple of marinas, some beautiful wooded campgrounds and two towns: Milford and Wakefield grace it's shores. The lake is big enough to anchor peacefully, run the throttle full out or turn circles draggin' a tube.

This boating trip included some firsts. On the way we needed to stop at a marina to by a plug...without a plug the boat sinks and ours was mysteriously missing. After several years of tubing, the older boys were ready for something new, so at the marina they picked out a knee board and off we went.

The weather was gorgeous, low 80s, sparse, white, bushy clouds and no wind. As the day wore on thunderclouds formed on the horizon and rather than be threatening, they added to the beauty of the day. The boat has been in the neighbor's barn for six months, so there was a long moment of silent prayer and hopeful thoughts, when my husband turned the key. After a few false-starts and sputters the boat hummed to life and we cruised into the lake.

Not to waste an ounce of gold-laced gas, we threw a kid in the water right away. Knee-board, shmee-board, Mason conquered it in a flash. By the end of the day, he figured out how to turn backwards and board in reverse. Dane was next and he, too, took to the knee-board like a natural. Later in the day, he rode the tube, which by that point felt rather easy for him to he did some hotdogging. He turned backwards and showed us his rear, rolled over to get a good tan and stood no-hands. At 25 miles an hour, I was laughing one moment and sucking air the next. He didn't fall off until we needed to slow down.

Spencer waited patiently while the older boys rode the new knee-board. You see, Spencer has enjoyed watching for several years. During thefinal outing late last summer, he rode the tube once. Look out, this year, the little man is ready! He hit the tube full of excitement. We have developed hand signals over the years...slower, faster, I'm done, turn, circles, just right. At first his hand was stuck in the faster signal and then it moved directly to circles. Circles are where you drive the boat in circles so you can run over your own wake. Our boat makes a rather large wake for it's size. Not good for water-skiing, great for tubing! The sheer delight on his face after hitting the big waves made us all crack up.

When we got hungry we headed for Nudee Beach. We've never seen anyone nude there, just lots of boats...only this year, no beach. The lake is up 10-12 feet, so the usual beach is under-water. We did find a few feet of mud off to the side where we anchored. Reaching land was an adventure because the mud/sand of shore was quicksand. "Honey, could you throw me a life preserver. Well, no, I'm not drowning exactly."

After chowing down, a little more knee-boarding and tubing, we headed back to the dock. Bart and I take turns backing the trailer into the water or driving the boat onto the trailer. It was my turn to drive the boat onto the trailer. Girls, I'm sad to report sexism is alive and well. It kind of cracks me up. As I drive the boat toward the trailer, the fisherman and other ski boat operators (almost all male) will stop what they are doing mid-activity to stare...not just look, stare. If I manage to drive the boat on first try, their jaws drop open and I get comments ranging from "Good Job there, little lady" to an astonished "Wooooow". I once heard "How'd you learn that???" Uh, let's see, probably the same way you did! Yesterday... two "Good Job"s. Noone notices when Bart drives the boat on. The most satisfying comments come from the other gals, "That was great", "I need to just try it!"

We drove home, unpacked, took showers and headed for deep slumbers. A good day - full of new memories.

I'd love to hear about your favorite hobby!

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kimj said...

Awww... such good memories of adventures in your boat... from book club with wine and cheese, to an outing with the girls and a sudden thunderstorm, to all the kids taking turns tubing... Thanks for the memories Bart and Jenny!

Hobbies?... You mean like my weedy garden, or reading for two minutes before I fall sound asleep? Sadly, that's about it these days!

BonjourBruxelles said...

This. This is one of my hobbies. Not sure if it gives me great pleasure but it fits the definition.

Maybe this and body surfing. And laying in the sun. And cocktails. Can I have more than one hobby?