Column: Slices of Life: By Jill Pertler
There isn’t much that makes my husband nervous. Heck, he’s raised four teenagers, which included teaching three of them (so far) to drive. Anyone who can do that can do anything. Or practically anything.
I’m confident in him. He isn’t. Not always. Not last weekend. Not when it comes to new chores involving a new boat.
Summer’s waning and in my part of town that means one thing: time to take the boat out of the water.
We’ve been lucky boat owners for more than a decade. Except this year things were a bit different. We traded in our boat for a pontoon. A pontoon is larger and more formidable than a regular boat, so we were unsure how complex and arduous the task of getting it out of the water and into storage might be. At least my husband was concerned. He was the one who had to complete the demanding parts of the job. I was mostly responsible for emotional support and wiping down the vinyl seats.
The first step in getting a boat out of the water is getting the boat out of the water. This is done by backing a trailer into the water so you are able to drive the boat up onto it. Maneuvering the boat and trailer into their respective positions can be a challenge resulting in propeller dings, boat scratches and wet feet. In the past we’ve experienced all three.
I’m happy to report our current encounter included none of the above. Whew. Our toons slid out of the water like they were greased in butter.
After winterizing the motor and cleaning the interior and exterior, we were ready for the next dreaded step in the process. We (by we I obviously mean my husband) had to pull the boat to a storage garage and back it into its assigned spot. The door to the storage space is tall. Our pontoon easily fit underneath. That’s the good news.
The other news relates to width. The difference between our boat and the doorway was about a foot, leaving 6-inches of leeway on either side. Six inches is not much when you are moving a 22-foot boat backward up an upward-sloped driveway. It was like threading a needle, except instead of thread we had a boat that weighed more than a ton.
Luckily we had friends helping us. One told my husband to go right. The other left. Slowly, slowly he backed his way into the garage. It took some doing, and about 10 minutes of maneuvering (which felt like seven hours) but we got the job done (again, by we I mean my husband).
By the end of it all I was out of breath and sweating. This had been no small feat. We detached the hitch from our SUV to pull the trailer out from under the pontoon and then reattached it again and drove home to drop our friends off before turning right around to return the rented trailer and call it done for the season.
The trailer rental place was a couple miles down the road. The finish line was in sight. We both breathed a collective (albeit premature) sigh of relief.
Our adventure wasn’t over yet. Just as we turned from our driveway onto the road we heard a solid thump from behind the vehicle. My husband put his foot on the break. We exited to find the trailer had unhitched itself, leaving a disconnect between the trailer and SUV.
Could the day get any longer?
Before we had the chance to react to our circumstances, fate stepped in. In a good way. A nice bearded man in a pick-up truck came upon us and asked if we needed help (as if that was even in question). The nice man proceeded to help my husband push and prod and lift the trailer so it fit snugly on the hitch ball while I continued to provide the ever-important emotional support.
They got the boat re-hitched and after a couple of profuse and quick thank-yous, the nice man was gone. We never even got his name. It’s comforting to know that in modern times good Samaritans still exist.
After that, things went without a hitch. We got the trailer returned and have vowed not to think about pontoons or trailers until next spring — when it will be time to complete the whole task in reverse and put the boat back in the water.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.