Labour Day Boat Fiasco

Thirty years ago Hubby purchased a cedar strip motor boat.  He spent that summer fixing it all up, and on Labour Day of that year he was ready to take it on its maiden voyage.  He hooked the boat trailer up to his truck and I loaded the three kids, into my van because we couldn’t all fit in the pick-up.  I followed him to somewhere near Queenston where a friend had told him he could launch without paying a fee.  He wasn’t quite sure where he was going and turned down an old dirt pot-holed road with me following.  He came to a very steep hill going towards the river and took it.  I, thankfully, decided not to follow but wait at the top.  At the bottom there were about 10 people fishing on the banks of the river enjoying a peaceful, sunny holiday afternoon, until Hubby descended.  It was not the launching place and he had to manoeuvre the truck and boat trailer around in a very small area and then try to get back up the dirt hill!  He was revving the engine, dust and gravel were flying, his spinning tires were burning rubber and smoking.  The fishermen were choking, trying to get out of his way, not impressed that their idyllic afternoon had been disrupted!  Finally he got back up the hill, we continued on and found the proper launching place.

We loaded everyone in the boat with life jackets etc. and set off.  We rode for 5 minutes at most when suddenly….the engine died!  Hubby pulled the starter over and over and over.  No luck.  He fiddled and pulled, fiddled and pulled, no luck.  Meanwhile, we were rapidly drifting out to the middle of the Niagara River!   The current was very strong.  I wondered aloud, “Are we below Niagara Falls, or above it?”  He made an incoherent answer which meant he didn’t know for sure, at which point I began  to panic!  I looked around for help but there were no boats near us.  Still fooling with the motor to no avail, I finally said, Hubby!  We need to get out the oars and start rowing!  He eventually gave in.  Once we figured out how to get them in the oarlocks and we were both pulling the same way, I felt better until I looked at the shoreline and realized we weren’t going anywhere!  The current was so strong against us we were rowing for all we were worth and staying in one place!  Thinking we were going to die, I suggested we try to get closer to shore where the current wouldn’t be so fast.  We did this but were absolutely exhausted!  Our muscles were aching but we couldn’t stop rowing because as soon as we rested, we lost purchase.  We rowed and rowed and rowed.  We eventually got closer to shore and came upon some fishermen on the bank.  Then it dawned on me, No!  These were the SAME 10 fishermen where Hubby had got his truck stuck!!  Now here we were disrupting them again, plowing through the middle of all their fishing lines!  They were desperately scrambling to reel them in, getting them tangled up.  I was hoping they didn’t recognize us!  I was so embarrassed!  LOL

We continued rowing and rowing and the current picked up but now we were near the shore.  Earlier in the summer I had taken the kids to the Voyageur museum and we had learned how they used to walk on the shore pulling the big canoes with a rope over rapids etc. so I told Hubby he had to get out of the boat.  He jumped in the water, cutting his foot on a rock but got to shore with the rope and started pulling us.  It worked great until we came to a type of weir blocking the way so he climbed back in the boat and we started rowing again.  We made it around the weir and could finally see the dock where we had launched the boat!!  But we were SO exhausted, our arms felt like jelly, we just couldn’t get the boat to go the right way.   Fortunately there were a group of teenagers sitting on the dock and they yelled to us, Do you need some help?  I cried YES!  They all jumped in the water, swam to the boat, surrounded us and pushed us to the dock!  I was so grateful! We are still married but I have never been in a boat with Hubby since!! LOL

And now, here it is 30 years later.  Hubby has a new boat.  He has been fixing it up the last few weeks.  He is ready to take it on its maiden voyage.  It is Labour Day weekend…..2020…..What could possibly go wrong?

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