YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

Launch ramps and boat docks


October 25, 2001|By AL KALIN, Special to this newspaper

If you're looking for quality entertainment, head for the nearest launch ramp. You won't be disappointed.

To legally drive a car takes hours of practice, instruction, a driving test behind the wheel, and a written exam. When you receive your driver's license, it's because you deserve it.

But not so for boat owners and that's where the fun begins. Every time I think about boat docks, I get the giggles and think of the lady at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. I was peddling fishing tackle to the owner of the bait store on the dock. He also sold boats.

As we discussed fishing tackle, a lady docked her brand new boat in the slip next to where we were standing and started yelling at the guy because the new boat she had just purchased had no power and ran sluggish. The fellow that sold her the boat remained calm and poker faced as her verbal lashing wore down. When she quit talking, he peered down in the water next to the boat and calmly suggested she try removing the trailer from the boat.


Launching my boat early one morning at a Central California lake, I noticed an older fellow rapidly pulling the starting rope on his outboard motor but the motor refused to start.

At midmorning the old man's face was red from exertion as I motored by. The motor still wouldn't start. At noon I came back to get some lunch and noticed the old man undoing the motor. Emitting a roar, he raised the small outboard above his head and heaved it into the lake. As the water calmed down, a small oil slick formed on the surface as the old man walked up the ramp, headed for the lake's store.

An hour later while fishing a jig and pig off a nearby point, the old man trolled by with a brand new, shiny, outboard on the back of his boat. A six pack of beer, half consumed, sat next to him and he was the happiest guy alive.

Then there was the guy who took his wife fishing because she thought he was having an affair instead of fishing. He dropped the wife off to use the restroom and drifted across the bay, fishing while waiting for her, but within minutes a young lady, riding a wave-runner, tried to jump a wake and crashed. She hit so hard it knocked her out and ripped her bikini off. As the husband pulled her from the water and revived her, both parts of the bikini sank to the bottom as the wife came out of the restroom and waived for the husband to return to the dock. But, but, but honey, honest…..

Boat docks are a good place to watch husbands and wives duke it out as they try launching a new boat, especially when neither of them know what to do. Imagine the following scenario and you can realize the entertainment value from a day at the docks.

The husband doesn't know how to back up a trailer and listens to screams from the wife to go the other way. Then the wife can't start the motor because the gearshift isn't in neutral, amid screams from the husband. When the motor starts, the husband unhooks the boat from the trailer winch and backs the boat further into the water but the boat won't budge because it's still attached to the trailer at the stern. The husband jumps in the pickup jerks the boat out of the water without telling the wife. The wife falls from the sudden surge of the pickup and cracks her head on the floor. The motor is still running and the whirling propeller fans the blue exhaust smoke.

The husband jumps in the boat, turns off the motor, and revives the wife. First aid and ice packs are applied. The whole scenario is repeated again, this time successfully, and the wife idles the boat near the boat dock while the husband parks the trailer.

When the husband returns, his wife is screaming because water in the boat is up to her knees. Husband remembers not installing the plug and runs for the pickup and trailer. Husband finally backs the trailer into the water amid hoots and laughter from the gathering crowd. Wife is hysterical and tries to maneuver sinking boat onto trailer. Bandage on her head comes undone, blocking her vision. Sinking boat screeches onto trailer sideways and husband pulls boat out of water with cheers from the crowd. Whirling propeller gets smaller and smaller as it tries to chew up cement ramp. Shower of sparks are emitted from cloud of blue smoke surrounding engine.

Ranger arrives and turns off motor. Ranger consoles both husband and wife as crowd begins to disperse. Ranger rewraps wife's head wound as water drains from the boat. Husband stands nearby, sobbing softly.

Ranger installs plug, backs boat into water, loads boat on trailer, pulls boat out, and secures it to trailer. Husband and wife drive off sitting as far apart as possible.

Outdoor Tales writer, Al Kalin, can be reached on the Internet at

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles