Well, it's that time again. But this year, I find myself quite a bit late in getting this seasonal summary going. Between all of the various activities and the increasing addictions of social media, I haven't sat down to do much in the way of writing. But better late than never I always say.... As of the time of this writing, my second season as a seasonal site holder is just about a third of the way through, and the 4th of July is a week away. I am hoping and praying for good weather so that I can catch the fireworks display, from my personal floating lakeside vantage point this year.
From a weather perspective, this year started off a bit unusual. But what defines unusual anyway? Every year is different from the previous, so I guess it's normal to be unusual... This year, the theme was: "The Winter That Wouldn't Quit". On average, this past winter was a little bit colder than last, but not excessively so. The lake did manage to freeze over enough that ice fishing and other venture-out-on-the-ice activities could occur. But while we did have a colder winter, we didn't get all that much snow with it. The handful of snow events which we did have, were not of the heavy accumulating variety, with no more than 2" or 3" totals each. Just enough to be annoying, but not so much as to have to run to the store to stock up on milk, bread, and eggs. So to recap, the winter was not THAT cold, and not all that snowy. So what made it unusual? Well, he biggest downside to this winter was that the cold temperatures just kept hanging on. Usually you start to get little glimpses of spring as early as late February, and definitely by March. But this year the cold blew right on through February, and through most of March (we still were getting snow in late March). Even when we finally made it to April, the temperature just didn't want to warm up until the very end. And those few times, when there would be a one or two day spring temperature teaser, the event would be short-lived and the temps would immediately plummet right back down to winter levels (which usually occured on the weekends). This extended cold season was very frustrating to say the least, and it precipitated a bit of irrational behavior in quite a few people. For instance, our local groundhog, "Punxutawney Phil", had predicted an early spring this year on Groundhog Day, and when that didn't happen, there were people actually calling for his head on a platter. Seriously? You actually believe the groundhog is an accurate weather prognosticator? Wishful thinking for sure, but let's be real. But I do sympathize with everyone's frustration, and I share their pain, and I was a bit angry about it as well. I mean, it's not very much fun watching a softball game while shivering uncontrollably, with stiff NW winds and temperatures barely in the lower 40's, when it should be at least 10 degrees warmer. The ice didn't completely leave the lake either, until the beginning of April, at least 3 weeks late. When I set up our campsite this year at the beginning of May, the night time lows were still dipping into the upper 20's, with patchy frost! Now that we're at the end of June, we've finally broken the 90 degree mark, but in between those brief "heat waves", the temps were far more moderate, with upper 70's being the norm (Global warming my ass..). Now granted, I happen to like these more moderate temps as I'm not a big fan of hot and humid weather, any more than freezing cold weather, but it's not starting out like your typical summer. Our pool water has yet to break 80 degrees, and the lake is still barely at 70. Hopefully things will warm up soon as I'd like to be able to dive in at least a few times before the north winds of fall arrive........
One thing that has remained "usual" is the high price of gasoline. The price is still hanging up there in the $3.45 range, which is right in there with the last few years. I guess people have become accustomed to these crazy high prices, and they're doing their best to live their lives despite this nonsense. It's even worse on the water, as marina gas prices are running just under the $5 a gallon mark. That's just wrong on so many levels.........
I finally managed to set up our summer campsite in early May. I can remember in years past, having witnessed everything from hot and summer-like conditions, to cold with occasional snow flurries. This year it was much closer to the latter, although it was sunny and clear, which made the daytime temperatures bearable. But based on the current weather pattern, the camp director was not all that motivated to get the docks into the water all that quickly. In fact it still looked like the graveyard of wayward docks in the parking lot.
Looks like the gas dock is making a wrong turn out there......
The boat finally hit the water on Memorial Day weekend. As stated before, it was a chilly weekend, with high temps only into the low 60's. I kept the bow cover on to keep the pass-through air from chilling us to the bone as we made our inaugural run for the season. No one had any interest in getting wet for obvious reasons. But I was seriously wondering if summer would ever get here. I also put the finishing touches on the campsite. I also had a chance to add lights to the golf cart over the winter, so I can still use it even after the darkness descends upon us.
Well, one of the things new for this year, is another crazy water tube for the girls to ride on. Last year we gave the big thumbs up to this tube:
This year's tube is the same basic make and design as last year's but is a 3 person capacity, rather than only 2. This makes it a bit wider, which also seems to help it grab a little more air on those wake launches. My daughter wanted the 3 person in case more than one friend comes along and they can all ride together, or if Heather is alone, she can ride in the center to keep things balanced.
Well, the 4th of July came and went, and I'm happy to say that this year I was able to catch the annual fireworks display. But like many other planned events, there was looming doubt about whether (or should I say "weather"?) or not our plans would get disrupted by influences outside our ability to control. In this case, it was the continual threat of rain. Remember this summer season started off somewhat on the chilly side, and I wondered whether summer would ever get here. Well, by the middle of June, it looked as if summer was finally here to stay. But then a stubborn weather pattern set in where warm and unstable humid air continued to get funneled in from the south, and for a 2 or more week period, we had hot, muggy days, with a scattered shower or thunderstorm nearly every day. This pattern would just not budge and you really had no way of knowing, from one day to the next, if your number would be called, whether or not you'd get rain, how much, and for how long. After 2 weeks of this, people were starting to get antsy. The 4th of July was looming large in front of us, and I remembered what had happened last year, with a rain delay resulting in my inability to attend the event. This year we had planned to take the whole week of the 4th off, and spend it at the lake. The extra time would hopefully cover a potential rain delay if the fireworks were not able to be launched on the 4th. However, things didn't look very promising initially. The preliminary weather forecast was grim, with rain and/or showers predicted for every day up until the following weekend. There was talk of canceling the trip but, at the last minute, we decided to go anyway. Monday turned out to be pretty much a washout, but things started looking better on Tuesday. There was still scatter cloudiness, but we managed to get out on the lake and took the girls tubing. A sudden thundershower appeared out of nowhere, and we tried to outrun it as it followed us across the lake. The radar showed that the storm would eventually exit the lake to the north, so we kept heading west toward the dam end of the lake hoping the storm would veer off completely and miss us. But eventually we ran out of lake and had to stop. The shower then caught up to us, and we got hit by the edges of it, but managed to avoid the brunt of it, and only got a little wet. The next days got progressively better, with more sun and fewer threats of rain. When the 4th of July arrived on Thursday, the forecast looked good and the fireworks display was on! So after enjoying a wonderful camp dinner, we headed down to our favorite viewing spot in the cove adjacent to Spinnler Point. Like 2 years ago, there was the mad rush of sport boats and runabouts, followed by the slower flotilla of "Barnacle Barge" pontoon boats, each of them vying for that perfect viewing angle. We arrived ahead of the bulk of the spectators, and we could only look on in awe, as seemingly hundreds of boats filled up that last mile or so of the lake.
A storm off in the distant background helped to enhance the fireworks show with its own show of cloud-cloud, and cloud-ground lighting strikes. It was a show within a show. Also, like in years past, the fireworks display was choreographed to go with patriotic music which was broadcast by one of the local FM radio stations. Once again, I tried taking pictures, and once again the unsteady nature of the boat made for some "interesting" smear effects. I also managed to video the finale of the show, and that looked far better. After the show, we carefully limped our way home, while trying to avoid the other boats making the same journey. But at least this time, there was no "bathroom urgency" driving us to go faster than I was comfortable with considering the conditions.
More of the same activities took place throughout the month of August. Different friends, more tubing, and some interesting sights. Here's something I'd never seen before. Normally a sailboat of this size has a small 9.9 HP high thrust outboard motor clamped to the transom for auxiliary engine power. It's enough to push the boat along at about 5 or 6 MPH, but not much more. Evidently the owner of THIS sailboat is a closet stinkpotter and he felt that a 9.9 was just too wimpy so he clamped something considerably larger to his transom. I can't quite make out the exact size of the engine in this pic, but it was large enough to actually PLANE the sailboat. When you consider that a sailboat hull is usually not a planing hull (and I'm pretty sure this boat didn't have a full keel), it's quite a feat indeed. When I first saw it, I had to do a double take, and then I grabbed the camera. That was probably the fastest that boat would ever go, under sail or engine power:
And, of course, every summer at the lake brings about a plethora of world class sunsets to enjoy. So far, this one is probably my favorite:
I'm also saddened by the realization that this season is just about over. Yes, I have until mid October before I have to close up the trailer, but for all intents and purposes, once Heather goes back to school (at the end of August), long weekends are out, and with the fall softball season ramping up, my weekends will be few. I'll probably pull the boat in mid September like I did last year. Boy these summers sure do fly by!
Labor Day weekend was here and gone before we knew it. It was my last chance at having an extended (4 day) weekend, since school starts in ernest after that. It was also another one of those "iffy weather" weekends with chances for showers and thunderstorms being called for every day. But since we've had good luck this summer in beating the weather odds, I felt fairly confident that we've be able to enjoy ourselves back out on the lake for what would most likely be our last time tubing. Once September hits, the nights start to cool off, and once that happens the lake water temperature drops quickly. So it was now or never. Friday and Saturday were fairly good weather-wise and my wife and I did (and enjoyed!) our usual job in beating up the kids on the tube, and taking video and pictures of the carnage. But by the middle of Saturday afternoon, our tubing exploits came to an unexpected end as the tube started losing air quickly and it was determined that we had sprung a leak. Oh well, at least it waited until the end of the season. The next day, I wrestled the inner tube out of its covering and found two holes in the opposite corners in the back of the tube. I was able to patch them, and with a cross of the fingers, here's hoping that it'll hold for next year. But now I'm wondering what punched the holes in it in the first place? Did we hit something floating in the water? Or did we do it while trying to wrestle the waterlogged and heavy tube into the back of the boat? I don't know the answer to that one. I can only hope it doesn't happen again.
The older you get, the more time flies whether you are having fun or not. And the end of this season was no exception. The boat was pulled out of the water at the end of September, the bottom cleaned, and put away for its winter rest at home. I'll have more touch-up painting to look forward to on the outdrive again, as well as replacement of the slowly disintergrating zinc anodes.
I might be able to get another season out of them, so I'll wait and see. That's one thing that I'm not happy about with respect to keeping the boat in water - the aging of the outdrive. With all of my previous boats, the boat was never in the water for longer than 2 or 3 days at the most, and the outdrive still looked new, even years later. This boat's outdrive is already showing signs of aging, well beyond that displayed by my earlier boats. Hopefully this won't lead to expensive drive failures in the near future. After 3 seasons, I'm also expecting that the boat's battery will need replacing next spring as well. I'll keep my fingers crossed, but I'd rather pony up for a new battery, than risk it deciding to fail while we're in the middle of the lake next summer.
Our campsite was closed up a couple of weeks later, with the trailer put into hibernation for the long winter nap. I am now looking toward the long winter (but even the long winter seems shorter than in years past). Hopefully it won't be too cold, or too snowy for too long. But considering the global cooling we seem to be experiencing, I'm not all that hopeful.
See you next spring!