In a past article I wrote about my hobby of building and flying ultralight airplanes. Today I'm writing about my other hobby, boating, and how flying led to it.
Because Ultralights only have one seat, flying them is a very solitary hobby. When I would go to the airstrip, seldom was anyone around. Often I would spend a few hours flying from what was then my home field in Braceville to a small grass strip in Alliance and never see another person, other than the boaters on Lake Milton and Berlin.
After landing in Alliance, I would walk around looking at all the tied-down airplanes and not see a soul. Returning to my home field, it would be the same.
One day while looking down at the boats, I realized that most of them had boatloads of people in them (excuse the pun) having what seemed to me, from my lofty and lonely perch, boatloads of fun. That night I listed one of my airplanes for sale and started shopping in the classifieds for used boats.
It wasn't long before I was the proud owner of a shiny but old 1978 Arrowglass boat, and thus began my boating education.
The thing that struck me the most was the difficulty of launching and retrieving the boat without a helper. I went from not being able to involve others in my hobby to not being able to enjoy my hobby without others. I was used to pushing my little airplane in and out of the hanger with ease. Now I was stranded on dry land unless I had a helper.
A search of YouTube videos showed that people could do it alone, but it took skill and planning. You can't just back your trailer into the lake and let your boat float off the trailer, unless you want to swim after it.
One of the other things new boaters should be told is that boats do not have brakes. This is very important. I learned that a 2,000-pound boat in motion wants to stay in motion. Personally I think all boats should have a placard prominently displayed on the dash panel that says ''Boats don't have brakes.''
I remember handing my son a rope attached to the boat and telling him all he had to do was to stop the boat as it floated off the trailer. I backed the boat into the water and slammed on the brakes. It came off with such velocity that my son looked like he had roped a steer as it dragged him down the dock.
Luckily the boat came off at such an angle that it smacked into an upright at the end of the dock. Had it come off a little straighter, I would have had to drive around to the other shore to pick it up.
I also learned that boats don't back up well. This should require another warning placard. In fact, there should be bigger dash panels with lots of placards. After driving the boat crookedly onto the trailer, I tried to back it off. It became stuck momentarily, so I gave it a blast of throttle. It came off far more crooked than it went on and I ended up going in circles as I bounced between two docks.
There is actually a video of this, but it is only shared between family members and only when I'm not looking. Luckily, it's ''R'' rated so my son can't put it on YouTube.
I eventually learned how to launch and retrieve my boat all by myself and went onto the next step, which of course is learning that all the boating adages you hear as a newcomer are true. ''A boat is a hole in the water where you put your money.'' ''The two best days of boat ownership are the day you buy your boat ... and the day you sell it.'' Etc., etc.
A few batteries, a $200 starter, a $700 trim pump, cam shaft bushings, trim sending units, a few lost anchors, and I'm well on my way to becoming one of those happy boaters I used to see on Lake Milton. Now where did I put those flying goggles?
Moadus is a Girard resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.