River cruising, honeymooning

Published 10:27 pm Monday, October 26, 2009

After I retired and was still living on the lake, we had a 28-foot pontoon boat that we had converted into a sleeper for our trip from Montgomery to Mobile that we never got around to making. So, my bride and I often took lots of “honeymoons”—still do—and since we were both still a little adventurous, we decided to take our boat up on the “pond” and go as far as we could (47 miles) to Logan Martin Dam for an overnight river cruise.

When we bent the borrowed trailer with the oversized boat, we should have known that “the stars were not exactly in line” for this trip. Knowing that there were going to be very few places to get fuel as we got closer to the dam, we made a trial run in the fishing boat. I made my calculations as to how much it would take on the bigger boat, and doubled that. We took 36 gallons of gas!Folks, we ran out at Childersburg and had to walk up Highway 280 to a service station and refill. I had underestimated the very strong current on the pontoons. But, I’m supposed to be the expert in this field, right?

My sweetheart was still speaking to me at this point. I was trying to impress her as to how smart I was and how lucky she was to have me. Well, anyway, we finally reached the dam, and I had planned that we would dock there in the mouth of Kelly Creek.

We found a nice quiet place—not another boat for 10 miles! All the time, I was telling my new bride how, unlike Lay Dam, the water would rise and fall fast and a bunch. I tried to impress her with my knowledge and skills of tying off a boat as I allowed enough line for the boat to slide off the bank as the water went down.After all the well-made plans, it was suppertime. Now I could really get back in her good graces by grilling a steak on deck. Everything was perfect. We were doing a little of that sweet talk that newlyweds do. We both knew the drill, and we moved the furniture around, made the beds and pulled down the curtains.

I was sleeping great, but every few minutes, things would come rolling back to the bed—bottles, candles, little things. Then, bang, crash, ashes as the grill rolled by. What? “I’ll just check that in the morning.”I woke up with my feet a lot higher than my head. I heard my bride talking to these strangers and was shushing them: “Don’t wake him up!” Turned out that they were fishermen offering to help. Folks, the front of the boat was 12 feet higher than the back, we were hanging from our bowline, and the motor was under water stuck in the mud!Our precious gasoline cans were all floating. “Sweet thing” had run off all hope of any help—just as well because I was bad company.

I had to cut the line and let the boat fall, but first of all I had to get the motor out of the mud. Tools? I had remembered wrapping a handful of carefully chosen tools in a towel with some new spark plugs. Wasn’t that clever, honey? I tried an old trick: I removed my plugs, turned the starter over several times to clear the cylinders, replaced the new plugs and prayed Finally, it fired off!

On the way back, after a long silence, I said, “Honey we should talk about our trip to Mobile.” More silence—in fact, lots of silence.

My mother told me a long time ago, “When you learn to laugh when the jokes on you, you have truly earned the right to laugh at others.”