Greetings, readers. I wrote yesterday that I will be busy. While you wait for my next new blog entry, here’s something for you to feast your eyes on. From my book, Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, I chose one of my favorite stories with my buddy and brother Dave Trost, Run-Away Boat. Enjoy.
It was a hot early August day, and David and I decided to enjoy our daily afternoon boat ride. We usually took the Galileo, of which I was always the captain, but on this particular occasion we decided to take the small camp boat so that Dave could take the helm. He called his boat the Spidinkies. He got that name from a family member who used that word instead of cussing.
We made one complete lap around North Bay, which in the smaller boat took twice as long as in the Galileo. Dave asked me if I wanted to go around again. I said sure, why not? It was a beautiful day, we had plenty of gas, and nothing else was planned for that afternoon. Dave began the second lap.
Then it happened.
I do not know what possessed me to do this, but I, a crazy young teenager, dared the driver to jump out of the boat. David told me later that he yelled up to me not to dare him because he would do it, but I didn’t hear him. I yelled back again, making sure that my voice was heard over the engine, “Dave, I triple double dog dare you to jump out of this boat.” Figuring that sanity and his sense of well-being would override temptation, the thought never entered my mind that he would actually take me up on the dare.
I heard nothing in reply and for a few moments the Spidinkies turned as it should have to avoid markers and other boats.
We passed Snake Point and began running parallel to the lakefront, within sight of the cabins. There was a platform anchored about thirty yards from shore that people used for diving and lying in the sun. We were approximately eighty to one hundred yards away when I noticed three beautiful teenage girls, about fifteen or sixteen years old, sunbathing. Unless we turned quickly, the boat would hit the platform and the girls.
“Ok, Dave, nice, slow, easy turn.”
Nothing happened. Well maybe he just didn’t hear me.
“Ok, Dave, nice slow …”
Then horror hit me. Could it be that this slightly older, slightly wiser person took the dare? I realized I had to look back. To my shock I was in a run-away boat. Dave was treading water with one hand while waving to me with the other about fifty yards back. Blind panic set in. I jumped over two bench seats – carefully – to get to the engine.
I had two options. Option number one was to turn the boat to the left away from shore, which would have thrown me off balance and caused me to go into the drink as well. Option number two, and the one I chose, was to put the engine from forward into reverse without pausing in neutral. The engine whined with resistance and the propeller broke the waterline for an instant. I felt like the captain of the Titanic praying that he didn’t hit the iceberg. All three girls dove off into the water, swimming toward safety. Dave told me later that he had reduced the speed and thought I knew he was jumping out. He assumed I would have plenty of time to take control of the boat. To me, it felt like the boat was going full-speed and that it took forever for my thirteen year-old badly balanced body to avoid disaster. The boat stopped mere feet from the diving platform before slowly reversing.
After I had gotten the boat under my control, I looked back at Dave. His coy smile had long since gone from his face. I went back to him, the engine sputtering, not running smoothly at all. When I got to him, I shouted over the engine’s noise, “Do you think that was funny, mister?”
Now to this day I do not recall his reply verbatim; I think I was too angry. But suffice it to say that since he left me in the lurch, I would leave him. I drove away, leaving him to swim to shore. Granted it wasn’t that far of a swim. Little did I know that he would get the last laugh.
While all this was going on, I failed to notice that my mother was sitting on the porch and saw the whole thing. As I docked the boat, she came out to greet me. “Why did David jump out of that boat?” she said. And I, the naïve truth telling idiot that I was, offered up, “Because I dared him to.”
Mother couldn’t believe what she just heard. Oh, she was proud of her son for telling the truth, but not for being so irresponsible as to dare the driver of a moving object to jump out. Moments later David arrived on shore. He has a knack of sneaking up on me if he wants to. Oh, yes, he was going to have his revenge for being left behind. And my mother, God rest her saintly soul, never let on that he was standing directly behind me.
“But Mom,” I explained, “I didn’t think he would really do it.”
I kind of had a sense that my buddy and brother was behind me. I can just feel those kinds of things. I slowly turned my head around to see him grinning at me. I stood there, Mother to my front, David at my rear, trying to figure out how I was going to get out of this predicament. The way I had it figured was that I had two people upset with me. After several minutes of explanation, squirming, and perspiring, Mother looked at David and said, “So he dared you, huh?”
He shook his head in the affirmative with a big grin on his face. Right there I knew I’d had it. Dave looked up at her and said, “Mom, can I dunk him?”
She waited for an agonizing second before saying, “Sure, why not?”
I tried to flee. I took a step and a half before I felt David’s arms around my waist. “Where do you think you’re going, Kockelmans?” he joked.
I could always tell when David was not really mad at me. Yet my leaving him in the lake did require a good dunking. And at the count of three, that was exactly what I got. Into the shallow water I went with a kersplash. Luckily, I was in my bathing suit so it didn’t matter.
“Ok,” I said, “fair is fair. Dave, remind me never to dare you to jump out of the boat again.”
“Joe, never dare me to jump out of the boat.”
“I hate it when you do that.”
The next morning, unfortunately, we had to have the engine looked at by one of the cabin boys. He popped off the top to give it a good once over. To my relief, the damage was minimal. The engine was not ruined.
That ended my daring days. Any such further dares of my friend David occurred on dry land.
Take care, hope you enjoyed the story, and until soon . . .