GateHouse — Listen, I’m from Indiana. We don’t know a lot about saltwater sea-craft in Indiana, given our state’s disappointing proximity to most oceans. We are, as you know, a land-borne people who spend our time farming, jerking around with daylight savings time and being Colts fans when they’re winning. My childhood, it can be safely said, was not one that involved a lot of rigging up a jib sail to the topmast or whatever.
So it was with this sort of generations-old sailor’s background that I found myself last weekend on a boat for an afternoon of sailing around the waters of my little coastal town, a pretty unconditionally delightful way to spend an afternoon, save for the brief few moments in which I attempted to sink the boat and all aboard it, which included my six-year-old son, several lovely couples from whom I will no longer have to worry about responding to dinner invitations on time and three or four large coolers, all of whom are now totally ignoring me.
In my defense, though I did, admittedly, attempt to point a pontoon boat directly at the seafloor, I didn’t do so on purpose. By definition I couldn’t, since I didn’t do anything on this trip on purpose, since I didn’t (and still don’t) have the foggiest idea how to transport a boat through waters that have waves and sharks in them, mostly sharks. We received shockingly little guidance from the company that rented us the boat, mainly the helpful advisory to keep the red markers either to our left side or our right, and, if heading directly at another vessel, to turn the wheel a bit, or, failing that, whoop and jump up and down a lot.
Luckily, I have been told that it is nearly impossible to sink a pontoon boat without several dozen pontoon-puncturing spears, a mid-size warhead or the precise coordinates of a giant sea monster that eats boats. Pontoon boats, I suspect, are specifically designed for sponge-brained dimwits like myself, which is, I imagine, why they’re the ones afforded to you when you decide you and 10 friends want to rent a boat and go out on the water for an afternoon. Like, well you might hit a house or two, but I mean it’s not like you’re going to die, probably.
Happily, I can take solace in knowing that though I might have given the deck a much-needed seawater rinse or six, some previous tenant of the boat enjoyed a much peppier experience, one in which he (or she, although, I mean, come on) rammed the front left pontoon into an object of considerable immobility, enough that it bent the pontoon’s front into an angry-looking 90-degree angle, the result being that every time we bounced into, through or reasonably near a wave, a bracing spray of water showered whoever was sitting in the front-left seat. We had, by all accounts, the Splashiest Boat In All The Seas. They’re totally gonna write chanteys about us.
Related, sort of
- Tony Hayward’s Yacht Rock, or, Everybody Look At Me ‘Cause I’m Sailing On A Boat
- “Deadliest Catch” confirms: I’m about 30% of an actual man
The upshot is that when we hit a particularly lively wave which I did not see due to the very reasonable excuse of that I was at the time consumed with the pursuit of a donut (yeah — donuts and beer on a boat BEST WEEKEND EVER), the front left pontoon dug into the wave, and rather than slice through it like a butter knife like most right-thinking boats would, this one JUST KEPT GOING down to Poseidon’s grave, further and further until — well I’m not really sure how far it went down, frankly, due to pure animal instinct taking over at this point, giving my primal subconscious instincts full control of my brain and causing me to react in the way that millions of years of evolution commanded: Squealing like a “Twilight” fan and shutting the engine off immediately, so as not to risk further danger by moving anywhere. Frankly I thought this was sort of genius. It was tough to discern my shipmates’ appreciation for my quick thinking though, what with the way they were all crying in each other’s arms like children.
All of this, incidentally, did cause some concern on the part of my son, who, after our splashification, repaired immediately to the captain’s seat, where I was sitting, now bathed in my own sweat and unable to actually remove my hands from the steering wheel, to report, with the sort of delightful bemusement only possible from a child who does not realize how near he recently came to swimming to the first grade, “Daddy, there’s a lot of water on the boat.” It’s a lucky thing he can be easily distracted with donuts.